The Promise of Energy Psychology

November 30th, 2017

I recently participated in an online writing course and one of the participants was asking me questions about the field of Energy Psychology.  Even though this discipline has been in existence for over 20 years it seems that still little is known about it.  I was drawn to the field primarily because it seemed to be a bridge between the worlds of science and spirituality, offering practical tools that facilitated healing.

In 2005 David Feinstein, Donna Eden and Gary Craig wrote a book called “The Promise of Energy Psychology”.   This a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about Energy Psychology and new ways to facilitate emotional wellness.  In one of the chapters, the authors describe how despite the rapid results that many are experiencing, there seems to be slow acceptance in the medical field to learn more about or implement energy healing techniques in medical or professional practices.  This is despite the fact that there are now sound scientific studies supporting energy healing tools such as Emotional Freedom Technique, EMDR and other energy modalities.

So, what’s the problem?  One of the most fundamental differences between traditional psychotherapy and medical practices and the field of energy psychology stems from a difference in beliefs.  One of the main tenets of energy psychology lies in the understanding that “everything is energy”.   Consider this quote found in the book:

“The cell is a machine driven by energy.  It can thus be approached by studying matter, or by studying energy.  In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy”
– Albert Szent-Gyorgi, Nobel Laureate in Medicine.

Therefore, if we believe that our “problem” be it medical or psychological is something that is fixed or nearly impossible to change then we approach the solution already with this kind of mind set.  If you visit a doctor, a psychiatrist or psychologist who holds this view, then they may not be open to tools or understanding of healing that might conflict with their world views.   Fortunately, though the field of medicine and psychology is changing.  Only a few short years ago, meditation was considered part of the new age movement.  Now mindfulness programs can be found in leading training hospitals and universities around the world.  Maybe energy medicine is next.

It is important to consider that there is not a one size fits all to healing and there are, of course, some conditions for which energy psychology practices may not be the best.  There is always much to learn and understand about the ways that facilitate physical and emotional wellness.  The path to healing can also be different for everyone.  Moreover, what I am considering is as new advances and scientific discoveries are made then it is up to all of us to be open and educate ourselves before closing our minds and hearts to new possibilities.  An integrative approach to our health can only benefit all.

It seems that inherent in our human nature is a part of us that may be slow and reluctant to accept new perspectives that may conflict with what we have always believed, as if we feel that our core identity might be at stake by changing our beliefs.  You know that voice that says “who am I if I challenge this belief”?  Rather than realising that, in truth, it is in the relinquishing of our old and outdated beliefs that it is possible to create ourselves anew.  This is as much true for us as individuals as it is for humanity as a whole.

Creating a safe space for ourselves and others

October 26th, 2017

Hello Everyone,

In continuing our theme of relationships this fall, I realize that one of most important aspects of creating healing loving relationships whether it be with our children, spouse or friends, is to be a safe space for others to be themselves. After all, if we come to our relationships thinking that we need to fix, rescue or change someone then at some level we are already judging the person in a certain way.

As a therapist, one of the most important aspects of my work is, in fact, to hold the space where the client can have access to all aspects of themselves. Often people come to therapy feeling there is something wrong or something to fix and they may not be in touch with their wholeness or natural brilliance where healthier choices and healing can take place. The same goes for our relationships with our children or spouses. One of the greatest lessons I have learnt as a parent is to trust that my daughter has her own innate intelligence and to listen for it rather than jumping to conclusions or feel I or someone else might know better.

None of us like to feel judged or criticized and yet sometimes we feel that this is our role in our relationships. Oftentimes, however, when we look more deeply it is possible we are also doing that to ourselves. The Buddhists call it “dropping the knife”. Our ability to create a safe place for others starts with ourselves. Do you feel safe and comfortable with your thoughts and emotions or are you engaged in any kind of self-betrayal or rejection? If you tend to judge yourself then it becomes more automatic to judge others.

This week I invite you to consider how safe you feel within yourself or as a container for others. This practice is not to correct or judge anything but moreover to bring some awareness for the kind of field you might hold for others. Just softening and breathing into our felt emotions or tensions that may arise as a result of this exercise will go a long way to ease the way. By listening to ourselves and finding compassionate ways to relate to ourselves we will naturally extend that to others.

We are all doing the best that we can!

Have a great month,
Much love,

Vivianne

Improving our Relationships

September 19th, 2017

Hello Everyone,

The fall always feels like a new year and with it, a doorway to many new possibilities. The days before I sit down to write my musings, there are always a multitude of topics vying for expression. I have learned to trust the process of creation, allowing whatever feels most compelling to emerge. The topic of relationships is always a popular one and probably one of the main reasons that many consult a therapist for. We have many different kinds of relationships, from our spouses, our children, family members, colleagues, our friends, the relationship we have with the divine and the relationship we have with ourselves.

Many years ago, I did a training in Hawaii on relationship communication and while I came away with many pearls from that workshop, one of the main ones was the importance of finding ways to let go of “blame” when seeking ways to improve our relationships.  Blame keeps us in stuck in a conflict. After all, while we are blaming ourselves or another there is no way to search for peaceful or constructive ways of resolving the situation. When we are blaming, it is as if we are at war. We become defensive and our hearts are closed for fear of attack.  Sometimes it is useful to consider what created the situation in the first place and if each person is taking responsibility for their part, then this can be a fruitful exercise. This is more likely to happen if you are involved in relationships where each person values love and connection over “being right”. You will know if someone is intent on being right if they continue to blame and have a hard time letting go of that dialogue.

We only need to consider all the wars around the world to recognize that blame and attack are still very much part of our culture. It is not our fault, as we have been programmed that way from early civilizations. To create more peaceful and cooperative ways to be with another, it takes all of us to realize that these old ways of operating are not working. It is time to find new ways that can foster growth, connection, and collaboration.

This month I invite you to take a relationship or situation in your life where you might be blaming yourself or another for something that happened. See if rather than blaming, you can just gently connect with any feelings or energy that arise as you bring the situation to mind. You might want to write down what is there with no judgment of doing it right or wrong. Often our tendency to blame covers up a deeper truth. Notice how your body feels in recalling the event gently embracing the sensations that may arise.

Maybe we might need to come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness.

Maybe we need to acknowledge the ways in which we do in fact tend to want to punish another or ourselves. These patterns are deep rooted so be gentle with yourself.

Choosing not to blame is a practice. It is a choice to look for peaceful and creative solutions that foster connection in our relationships rather than alienation. Try it with yourself first. If we just stop criticizing or attacking ourselves and make different choices from a more loving place, our energy will ultimately impact those around us.

Have a great week, everyone.

Much love,

Vivianne

 

Slowing Down

August 1st, 2017

Summer is the perfect time to slow down, create some space and listen to what is truly calling us.   Sometimes in our busy lives we get distracted and disconnected from what Judith Wright calls our deepest yearnings.  In her book “Soft Addictions”    Judith invites us to consider how much of our time is spent in activities that could be considered addictive.  These are activities that seem “normal” in our culture e.g., watching tv, constant busyness, shopping, surfing the internet, talking about others.  However, they may be preventing us from living life from a more place that is more alignment with who we truly are.

So what is the antidote to these soft addictions.  Well becoming aware of them might be the first step.  So anything that cultivates mindfulness will assist; meditation, yoga, spending some time in nature, authentic movement.  Just slowing down and creating some space in our day will also also go a long way. I also find it helpful to engage in a practice of enquiry?  Taking the time to journal or explore with a good friend:

  1. What am I feeling right now?
  2. How does my body feel?
  3. What would contribute to my health and wellbeing today?
  4. Is there something I am avoiding which would be helpful to take care of?
  5. What would be most nourishing to me?

As always, be gentle and compassionate with yourself in your enquiry.   It takes great courage to break free from our habitual patterns that may not be serving us.  This enquiry is not about making ourselves feel wrong or bad for our choices but, moreover, to become more intimate with ourselves so we can engage in life in ways that open us up more and more to who we are. Our heart and soul yearns for activities that contribute to our growth, our aliveness and our creativity.

I will be on vacation during the month of August so Vivianne’s Musings will return in September.  To assist you in your slowing down process I have included a short guided meditation.

Have a beautiful summer, everyone.

Much love,

Vivianne

Embrace Vulnerability

June 27th, 2017

Hello Everyone,

How are you all doing?  Last month I attended the 19th International Energy Psychology Conference.   While there were many amazing speakers and I learnt a lot during this 3-day conference, the speaker that continues to stand out for me is a poet named David Whyte.  David opened the conference on Thursday night with a beautiful reading of his poems clearly written from someone who has spent a lot of time reflecting on what it is to be truly human and how best to live a life from a place of aliveness and connection to everyone and all that is.

One of the topics that touched many of us was David’s invitation to embrace the part of us that feels vulnerable including the part that might sometimes feel reluctant to participate fully in our life.  The idea of embracing all aspects of our self is not a new one.  Hal and Sidra Stone, Ph.D., wrote a book called “Embracing Ourselves”.  One of the first books of its time to introduce the notion of giving a voice to each part of ourselves, even the parts of ourselves we may judge as bad or dishonourable.

David described a time when he had to give a talk in front of 600 people and found himself not wanting to go ahead with this talk.  After making the space to hear all aspects of himself he realised that he had inside of him a 7-year-old self who was balking at the idea of being so visible.  Once he had a chance to connect with this younger aspect of himself and let him have a voice he found it easier to go ahead with his planned event.   To understand that there may be a part of us who is reluctant or a fearful participant to some aspect of our life is not an invitation to necessarily think that these parts need to be fixed or changed in some ways.  Moreover, the invitation is to honour, embrace and respect all of ourselves and in so doing embrace our humanity and the humanity in others.

So, this month I invite you to connect with a part of you that you don’t like (or judge) within yourself.  It may be a part that is blocking you from showing up and expressing yourself fully.  Feel into this part of yourself and see if it does in fact feel like a younger part of you.  Notice what feelings are arising. Notice how the energy feels.  Repressed energy feels thick and dense but as we feel our feelings the constriction often dissipates allowing our energy to move more freely.

You may want to get a pen and paper and dialogue with this part of you like you would if you were writing he or she a letter.  Be gentle and patient with yourself if you find that you have a hard time befriending some aspect and still prefer to push it away.  This exercise can take a bit of practice.  See if you can welcome whatever is arising and allow any insights and wisdom to unfold naturally.

Have a great month everyone,

Much love,

Vivianne

 

 

 

 

Following your heart

May 29th, 2017

Hello Everyone,

We are deep into the heart of spring, a time of planting, seedling and blossoming.  If you are sensitive to the change of seasons you might have felt your energy shift, these past few weeks, from a more inward, reflective movement to an awareness of increased energy and enthusiasm to move forward on some of your most favoured plans and projects.

But what to put your attention on?    More than ever the choices before us can be astounding and, at times overwhelming.  Our minds tend to be logical and linear but not necessarily imaginative.  Our minds have been usually trained to ignore or override our feelings.   They might have their own to do list which makes sense in some ways but has nothing to do with nourishing us or helping us to create a life that feels good.  However, there is another way to make a choice and that is from our feelings, or our hearts guidance.  If we take the time to tune into our heart’s compass we might be able to hear the whispers from our soul nudging us to go here, do this, move this way and focus here.

The good news is that this small quiet but insistent voice is inside you.  You don’t have to necessarily ask anyone’s advice to hear it although sharing with others can sometimes be helpful.  However, what is needed more than anything is space.  It is taking the time and space to slow down our normal mental chatter in order to listen in a much deeper way to the guidance that may be arising, or what is calling us.

Oprah calls this quiet still voice her True North.  Lissa Rankin, MD. (author of the Fear Cure) calls it her Inner Pilot Light.  You might simply wish to call it intuition.

Regardless of its name, you know when you are listening because when you make a choice that is in alignment with your heart’s guidance it feels good, you feel connected to your body, you feel on track and above all you feel like you.

Like everything else trusting our inner guidance system and intuition takes practice.  It also requires feeling our feelings.  Focusing on the heart’s intelligence (see www.heartmath.com)  on a regular basis can assist us in feeling and connecting  more easily and consistently with the more truest and most honest part of ourselves.

Have a good month everyone,

Much love,

Vivianne

 

 

 

 

Moving to Heal

April 26th, 2017

Hello Everyone,

Last Spring, I travelled to Toronto to take part in a Moving to Heal workshop with Debbie Rosas, founder of Nia Dance Movement.   As many of you know, I am certified as a White Belt Nia Teacher and have practised and studied Nia teacher routines for years.  Although I do not hold formal Nia classes, I have included Nia inspired movement and practices in the women’s groups I have held in the past.

Dance is definitely one of my passions.  I truly love everything about dance and many kinds of movement art forms.  I was drawn to Nia, however, for not necessarily the obvious reasons.  Yes, I love to move to music and desired to find a body movement art form that I could learn, practise and teach, but I was drawn to it mostly because I recognized that it was also a way to heal.

I have studied and worked a lot with trauma and know what it feels likes to hold trauma in the body.   Following a car accident, the signs of any kind of trauma were not so evident as my body appeared to heal easily.  But years later I found some symptoms were showing up.   As I dug a little deeper, I realised that I was holding some unprocessed emotions around this accident.   I used Tapping to connect to any limiting beliefs (e.g. this can only get worse) and release some of the negative charge that had built up.   As I started to feel better, I recognised that navigating this experience was an opportunity to embody more of more of myself and in the process understand trauma and how we might best integrate traumatic experiences into our lives.

When I saw that Debbie had created a program called Moving to Heal I knew I needed to be a part of it.  In many ways, I was already moving to heal in my life.  Daily I would listen to my body, how it wanted to moved, where it wanted to move to, how it wanted to exercise or simply rest.   I spent many months truly listening and became excited at uncovering and discovering “My Body’s Way” of being in the world.

Even without injuries or accidents, many of us do not move in ways that feel most natural to us.  Our cultural conditioning does not necessarily encourage authentic movement.    Alice Miller in her book “The Body Never Lies”  explores how many socially accepted practices can cause havoc in the body-mind connection.  In Gabor Mate’s book, ”When the Body Says No”  Gabor says “when we have been prevented from saying no, the body says it for us.”

Fortunately, our world is changing and we are waking up to the fact that the old ways of doing things are not working any more.   With burn out, stress related diseases rampant, corporations are offering yoga, meditation and movement classes during lunchtime.  Similarly, teachers have found that children learn better and are less distracted with regular physical activity.

Spring is a perfect time to listen to how your body might want to move. We all have habitual ways to move or exercise.   Some of these ways may be working for you, however, others might feel mindless, robotic or just not you anymore. Listening to what our bodies might want is a practise, especially if we have ignored its signals for a long time.  However, if we do listen what we might hear is our body telling us all kinds of things, including how to cultivate more aliveness, vibrancy and ease in our everyday lives.

At some level, some might say that there is no right or wrong way to move but to use Nia terminology maybe there is a way to move which is your “Body’s  Way”.  Especially feel into movements that are pleasurable and create a sense of dynamic ease in the body, mind and spirit.

This spring I invite you to take the time to feel, breath and dialogue with your own body’s intelligence.  You might want to put on some music that touches and inspires you and allow your body to move freely without judgement.  See what arises and how you feel.  If you notice some stuck or frozen places try softening and leaning in as if you were comforting a hurt child.  Sometimes we have learnt to stiffen or brace ourselves against the world creating a discomfort in the body-mind.  Accept any thoughts and feelings without judgement, and with lots of compassion for whatever arises.

Be patient and gentle with yourself, and let your body lead for a while.  You might be surprised where it will take you.  I offer one –on-one, Moving to Heal sessions at the Harmony Health Center where I can assist individuals in their self-healing journey.

Have a great month everyone,

Much love,

Vivianne

Have You Noticed The Signs Of Spring?

March 23rd, 2017

Despite the recent snowfall, have you noticed the signs of spring in your gardens and at every street corner.  I have heard the birds chirping in the trees, little shoots peaking their heads up through the snow and wet grounds.  The squirrels are frolicking on the fences ready to come out to play.   What I have also been aware of, however, is that in order to truly allow the beauty of spring to shine fully, there is a lot of cleaning up that might still have to be done!  There are some dead leaves left over from the fall.  Some broken branches from the winter winds need to be collected and cleared away.  Pathways swept and repaired.

As with any transition from one season to another, there is a letting go along with a rebirthing process that takes place.  These are part of the natural cycles of nature and of life.

Spring cleaning our homes at this time of year is a ritual that many partake in. Some for religious reasons, others because it just feels like the natural thing to do.  We feel inspired to make everything cleaner and brighter, as we let in the fresh air and more light into our lives.

Emotionally and energetically we might also find ourselves in the process of sorting out and letting go.  It is a great time to embrace, accept and release old grievances, forgiving ourselves and others for things that cannot be changed.  Forgiveness can be a tool that oftentimes we forget.  We think we are blaming others while sometimes not even noticing the extent to which we blame ourselves.

I invite you to take a moment to write down any events from the past that still hold a lot of energy for you.  Events that your mind and emotional body return to time and time again.  See if there is anyone to forgive around those events.  Acceptance that we did the best we can and others too can release the hold our mind has on these events.  In so doing we free up ourselves to feel what’s there without judgement or needing to fix or change anything that happened.

Being joyful is part of our natural state of being.  The more we make peace with our past, the easier it becomes to live in the present moment and appreciate those experiences that bring us joy.  The spring time is full of opportunities to sense the aliveness and potential in every moment.  Letting go of what no longer serves is a great way to support ourselves in truly appreciating the moment….and the beauty of springtime as it emerges.

Have a great month everyone!

As always your comments are always welcome and if I can support you in this process please let me know!!

Much love,

Vivianne

It’s the Month of Love

February 14th, 2017

February has arrived and with it the colder weather it seems.  However, since February is the month of love, I feel warm and cozy inside as I contemplate love in all its forms.   Although I can enjoy and experience all kinds of love, romantic love, parental love, love in families, friendships, divine love, the kind of love that I return to again and again is unconditional love.

When I am with my clients we often end up exploring this notion of unconditional love, partly, because for many of us the way we love ourselves and others is very much conditional.  However, the very fact of being human means that we are imperfect and in the human kind of love there will inevitably be ups and downs.  The more that we can forgive and accept ourselves and others then the easier and smoother the ride will be.  It does not mean that we do not sometimes need to discuss and clarify situations and express our feelings but it does mean that just as we are not perfect we do not expect others to be.    The phrase “I love you just the way you are” does not necessarily mean I have loved every single thing that you do or say but it means that I see your spirit and your gifts and I can also see your humanness,  your imperfections and I love you anyway.

If you are interested in exploring the topic of unconditional love further, there is a wonderful article written by the Heart Math Institute this month in their blog “Heart Qualities for Resetting the Heart”.  Their website is www.heartmath.org.

Holiday Greetings

December 23rd, 2016

Welcome to the holiday season and the beginning of winter.  In nature winter is a time of rest, a time of hibernation.  And yet with the festivities of Christmas and Hanukah around the corner, we are also being drawn out into shopping, the busyness of preparations and attending family and community gatherings.  So how do we reconcile these two very different energies.  One of the ways is to take time to connect with yourself and honour your own knowingness about what may be true for you this holiday season.  There is a way to enjoy the family and friends you choose to be surrounded with and also take time to nourish and replenish yourself.

One of the easiest ways to connect to yourself is to just take a moment to slow down, connect with your breath and relax into your body and your heart.  From this place consider some of the ways you can take care of yourself and wellbeing so you have more ease and joy during this time.

Happy holidays everyone and look forward to connecting with you in the New Year.

As always, much love,

Vivianne