Monthly Archives: February 2012

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that.

And something inside me recognizes the truth of this.

It’s true. I know it. Deep in my bones.

This is the mission that the western woman has been given.
Yes, it’s huge.

Here in the west we live in absolute privilege, absolute abundance.
We have the means.
We have everything.
Everything has been given to us.

And as female embodiments we carry the void within our physical structure.
The empty fertile space through which creation happens.
Our wombs.
We hold all of creation here.
Effortlessly.

And we don’t try to save the world.
We save the world through being our true self.
100%
Through being this living Presence that we are.
Through being aware of our innate abilities and power,
the gifts that we given by God,
the Source of everything.
Through being aware of our Source.

And that’s why we meet.
In satsang. In Women’s satsang. With friends.
Not to change the world.

To be here as an anchor of Presence.

Not trying to be an anchor.
Just fully conscious of the Presence that we are.
And our connection to our Source.

And here as this that we were created to be, this that we are,
we have conscious choice.
We can consciously choose what we create.
We can choose to create a world of love, harmony and beauty.
A world of peace.
Heaven on Earth.

It’s our choice.

It’s our birthright.

Thank you to the lovely women who joined me for satsang last night in Burnaby.
We know our mission.
And thank you to all the women who also know this mission deep in their bones and have said ‘Yes!’ to it.

Anchors of Presence.

Moni Vangolen hosts weekly satsangs in Vancouver. With Eckhart Tolle’s love and blessings, Moni now functions as a guide of Presence. Her gatherings, Meeting As Stillness, are devoted to spiritual realization: being aware of being this awake, alive, radiant consciousness. You can connect with her on: http://www.livingpresence.ca/

Surrounded by poverty and escalating violence, a San Francisco middle school committed to peace and embraced a program of meditation that has made students feel safer, teachers more productive, and brought unity and purpose to the school.

Today, in the quads,it was my turn to be the observor of the client and to draw an image of the feelings that resonated within me as the client was speaking.

There were a couple of things that stood out in a big way for me in this exercise:

For the first few minutes while the client was talking I was listening and letting what I could pick up of their words – the feelings and content of what they were expressing – give rise to images and visual interpretations. I kept on coming up with the image of a “whirlpool” and this became the main motiff of what I was drawing. What struck me was that at a later stage in the process the client started to use the idea of a “whirlwind” to describe some of the way they were feeling. It was surprising that the verbal and visual imagery ended up synchronising so well…
When getting the materials together for the session I grabbed a box of oil pastels and noticed that there was no black. I considered hunting around to find a black but quickly gave up the idea since black isn’t really a colour I’m into at the moment. What suprised me was that, in the end, despite my thinking that I wouldn’t want to use any black since it’s not one of “my colours” at the moment, I actually NEEDED to use the black in order to keep the drawing “honest” to the empathy and resonance I was experiencing in response to the client’s issues. (I ended up grabbing a black white-board marker at the conclusion of the session) To not use black would not have honoured the client or given recognition to those aspects of their feelings and issues that I was resonating with.

Here’s 10 points – thoughts, quotes and observations – that I’ve brought home on day 4 of the course:

Be aware of incongruence that may occur – incongruence between the “story” being told and the facial expressions; the narrative versus the state or mood of the “storyteller”
Dealing with the here-and-now: You may need to ask something like – “At the moment, where in your body are you feeling that?”
Dealing with the here-and-now: “What are you aware of right now, now that you’ve talked about things?”
Dealing with the here-and-now: Take time to summarise the history of issues that have been presented and ask about how they relate to what the client is felling now.
Verbal language is part of the whole inter-relationship within the counselling environment. It can’t be ignored or overlooked, BUT it must be considered hand in hand with the non-verbal cues and behaviours – those forms of communication which are always there but but not always taken into conscious consideration.
The journey of the counsellor in the development and implementation of their skills is modelled, informed and influenced by interactions with their peers, their educators, their clients, the literature they are reading, as well as the everyday experiences they are immersed in. Sometimes this is taken on in a conscious implementing of new understandings and sometimes it will emerge in their practise, not becoming “visible” to them unless some event, interaction or person points it out and makes it evident. It will also naturally find its way into the daily, personal interactions of the counsellor, the person…
The counsellor does not have all the answers.
The counsellor needs to know when it is time to look after and be available for themselves.
Sometimes the counsellor will have difficulty in “being there”
In the counselling process there will always be potentials and possibilities – alternative directions – that could be taken. Other pathways of conversation will present themselves BUT there is also a flow – a dynamic – betweent the client and the counsellor that needs to be honoured in order to take the journey along the client’s “best current path”.

Guest post courtesy of Colin Read, http://theponsinstitute.com

Proactive brain: predictions in visual cognition – Moshe Bar

The philosophy of consciousness: Open University

“Does psychoanalysis have a valuable place in modern mental health services?” News tips courtesy of Ken Pope.

The new issue of *British Medical Journal* includes a debate on whether psychoanalysis has a valuable place in modern treatment.

Part 1: “Does psychoanalysis have a valuable place in modern mental health services? Yes.” The authors are Peter Fonagy and Alessandra Lemma.

Here’s an excerpt: “A growing body of studies, however, report that psychodynamic therapy is effective in the treatment of both mild and complex mental health problems. For example, a meta-analysis found substantial effect sizes in randomised controlled trials of long term psychodynamic psychotherapy, larger than those for short term therapies.1 Positive correlations were also seen between outcome and duration or dosage of therapy. Another meta-analysis found that psychotherapy in addition to antidepressants significantly reduced depressive symptoms compared with antidepressants alone.2 A third meta-analysis found that short term psychodynamic psychotherapy may be more effective than other therapies for somatic disorders.3 So evidence is on its way.”

Another excerpt: “The psychoanalytic approach makes three valuable and unique contributions to a modern healthcare economy. First, in their applied form, psychoanalytic ideas can support mental health staff to provide high quality services despite the interpersonal pressures to which they are inevitably exposed when working with disturbed and disturbing patients.”

Another excerpt: “Secondly, there are increasingly strong indications that adult mental health problems are developmental in nature; three quarters can be traced back to mental health difficulties in childhood, and 50% arise before age 14 years.8”

Another excerpt: “Thirdly, psychoanalytical ideas continue to provide the foundations for a wide range of applied interventions. Research and clinical observation show that other modalities– particularly cognitive behavioural therapy–have made use of theoretical and clinical features of the psychoanalytic approach and incorporated these into their techniques.”

Another excerpt: “Research clearly shows that there is no one size fits all approach to the treatment of mental health problems; irrespective of brand, psychotherapy only substantially helps around 50% of referred patients who complete treatment12 and medication fares no better.13 Rationally designed services should therefore provide a range of approaches for which some evidence of effectiveness exists, and should continue to broaden the research base to ensure monitoring and improvement of the effectiveness of these services.”

The article is online — but requires a subscription — at: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1211

Part 2: “Does psychoanalysis have a valuable place in modern mental health services? No” The authors are Paul Salkovskis and Lewis Wolpert.

Here is how the article starts: “Psychoanalysis is of historical value only and, at best, has no place in modern mental health services. Not only is there no evidence base for the treatment, but there is no empirical grounding for the key constructs underpinning it. In addition, we suggest that the theory and practice of psychoanalysis are inimical to modern mental health services and so are, at worst, counterproductive and perverse in that context.”

Here’s another excerpt: “Clearly, true paradigm shifts have occurred in terms of the understanding of human psychology and of the ways in which people experiencing psychological problems and distress can be helped. Freud himself deserves credit for establishing psychoanalysis as a new paradigm over a century ago. There is, however, an inevitability in the subsequent shift away from psychoanalysis, which began 50 years ago and which was de facto completed in the 1980s. Paradigm shifts are a form of accelerated intellectual evolution, where the explanatory and heuristic power of a particular theory are supplanted by another that better explains and predicts the key phenomena under investigation. Sometimes a supplanted idea is kept alive in some form; there is something charming and at times amusing about the continued existence of a flat earth society or the psychoanalytic approach to literary criticism. However, we propose that it is no longer defensible to continue ideas whose time has come and gone and which have been succeeded by more appropriate ones in an area as important as healthcare.”

Another excerpt: “Psychoanalysis rejected Freud’s original concept of psychoanalytic science.4 We suggest that psychoanalysis has become a pseudoscience because its claims are neither testable nor refutable. Attempts to identify evidence for constructs such as the id, ego, and superego and concepts such as the oedipal complex have sadly failed.”

Another excerpt: “Our opponents in this debate might choose to argue the usefulness of psychodynamic approaches, such as mentalisation and interpersonal therapy, given their associated research findings. They will find no argument from us. Neither, however, will they find a couch in the consulting rooms of those who practise such approaches–these methods are successors to psychoanalysis, rather than a continuation.”

The article is online — but requires a subscription — at: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1188

An apple a day…
An apple a day keeps the belly fat away.Red, green, tart, sweet, juicy, delicious, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals; apples are on my daily snack list. They also contain pectin, which is thought to restrict cells from absorbing fat. Pectin also encourages water absorption from food, which helps break up fat deposits. Try yours sliced with almond butter, or a piece of cheddar or brie cheese.

Super Energy Elixir
Start your morning with this incredible Energy Elixir. You can feel the nutrition throughout your body.

In your blender or Vitamix, add:
4 cups of organic, tightly packed spinach
2 bananas
3 dates
1 tsp of spirulina powder
3 cups of water

Blend and drink throughout the day for maximum energy!

Guest post courtesy of Karlene Karst, RD, leading expert in nutrition and natural medicine. She is the coauthor of the national bestseller Healthy Fats for Life and author of The Metabolic Syndrome Program and her newly released Belly Fat Breakthrough. These are all part of Karlene’s efforts to encourage people to get “back to the basics” of nutrition. Karlene holds a BS in Nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and is a registered dietitian. Karlene is a highly sought-after, enthusiastic, and passionate individual who is a frequent guest speaker at educational events, radio and tv shows around North America. Karlene is a mom to two young boys, Luca and Matteo and resides in beautiful Vancouver, BC Canada. Her website is: www.karlenekarst.com.

“Kinder kids just a breath away, meditation may be key to student focus” reported Gordon Hoekstra on the Vancouver Sun.

Simple meditation techniques, backed up with modern scientific knowledge of the brain, are helping kids hardwire themselves to become kinder and pay better attention, says neuroscientist Richard Davidson.

Davidson – who will speak at the University of B.C. Friday at noon on his new coauthored book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain – has put his research into practice at elementary schools in Madison, Wis.

About 200 students at four elementary schools have used breathing techniques to hardwire their brains to improve their ability to focus on their work.

“It’s so widely popular and successful, the district wants us to scale it up the entire [Madison] school system,” said Davidson in an interview.

Davidson, who was inspired by a meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1992 to research areas such as kindness and compassion, heads several laboratories at the University of Wisconsin including the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

In 2006, Davidson was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Davidson said research has shown why the brain’s circuitry is important in governing a person’s resilience to stress.

Research has also shown the brain is elastic, that it can be shaped by experience and behaviour.

Research, including brain imaging studies, also shows it is possible to cultivate the mind to change brain function and structure in ways that will promote higher levels of wellbeing and increased resilience, said Davidson.

His research is outlined in dozens of articles in scientific journals.

The techniques used with elementary school children are quite simple.

To improve a child’s ability to pay attention – and also improve their studying abilities – a stone is put on a child’s belly, and they learn to focus on their breathing as the stone goes up and down.

The technique can be taught to children as young as four years old, said Davidson.

“A simple anchor like one’s breath is a centuries-old meditation technique, but it turns out to have some very beneficial qualities in terms of changes in both the brain and behaviour,” he said.

To foster kindness in teenagers, students are asked to visualize a loved one suffering followed by a thought that they be relieved of that suffering. This is extended to difficult people as well, said Davidson.

This exercise has also been shown to produce meaningful changes in the brain and behaviour, he said.

Elementary schools in Vancouver have also embraced these meditation techniques as part of a program called MindUp that teaches children that it is hard to concentrate when the brain is stressed.

More than 1,000 teachers have trained in the program at the Vancouver school board, and the district has received requests from other school districts, including in Yukon, to teach the program.

“The interest continues to be there,” said Lisa Pedrini, the Vancouver school board’s manager of social responsibility.

Didn’t I Tell You

Didn’t I tell you
not to go to that place?
It is me, who is your intimate friend.
In this imaginary plain of non-existence,
I am your spring of eternal life.

Even if you lose yourself in wrath
for a hundred thousand years,
at the end you will discover,
it is me, who is the culmination of your dreams.

Didn’t I tell you
not to be satisfied with the veil of this world?
I am the master illusionist,
it is me, who is the welcoming banner at the gate of your contentment.

Didn’t I tell you?
I am an ocean, you are a fish;
do not go to the dry land,
it is me, who is your comforting body of water.

Didn’t I tell you
not to fall in this trap like a blind bird?
I am your wings, I am the strength in your wings,
I am the wind keeping you in flight.

Didn’t I tell you
that they will kidnap you from the path?
They will steal your warmth,
and take your devotion away.
I am your fire, I am your heartbeat,
I am the life in your breath.

Didn’t I tell you?
They will accuse you of all the wrongdoings,
they will call you ugly names,
they will make you forget
it is me, who is the source of your happiness.

Didn’t I tell you?
Wonder not, how your life will turn out,
how you will ever get your world in order,
it is me, who is your omnipresent creator.

If your are a guiding torch of the heart,
know the path to that house.
If you are a person of God, know this,
It is me, who is the chief of the village of your life.

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