Mental Health Awareness Month

The month of May has been Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, so lets review some facts about Mental Health.

One in five adults in the US will experience a mental health challenge at some point during their lives. One in five. And over forty percent of people suffering from a mental health event will take over a year to seek out help.

Stigmas around mental health and its treatment can include shame, embarrassment, ego and pride, discrimination and even culture. Many “isms” go hand-in-hand with mental health: substance abuse, food, and sex are common ways that people can avoid themselves. People can overwork, over acquire possessions and people in their lives to numb themselves so that they won’t have to feel what they do when there’s no action around. Simple logic dictates that we see a doctor when we’re physically ill. Working to treat our emotional health is no different.

What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is a state of emotional well-being in which an individual:

Realizes their own capabilities

Can successfully mange the normal stresses of life

Can work productively

Can contribute to their Community

What is a Mental Health Challenge?

There is a major change in someone’s thinking, feeling or behavior that interferes with the person’s ability to live their life.

The interference lasts longer than typical emotions or reactions would be expected to.

How to observe Mental Health Awareness:

1. Take care of yourself. Sometimes life’s ups and downs can seem to be heavy and burdensome.

2. Check up on your friends and family. Often, all people need is a non-judgmental listening ear. Support and encourage your friends and family if they are being treated for any mental problems.

3. The more mental health is discussed, the more accepted it will become. Learn about what behaviors and language to watch for in your friends, family and also in yourself.

Some resources:

Crisis Text Line

Text MHFA to 741741

Mental Health First Aid USA

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/mental-health…/

Finding a Behavioral Health Professional

www.psychologytoday.com/us

Facing our Fears

The feeling of disconnection and numbness that afflicts so many people’s lives comes from  habitually absenting ourselves from our difficult experiences.  

Like a mountain climber that is stuck on their rope and would rather die there that way, we’re terrified of sinking down into those places within us that we refuse to inhabit.  The grief for what we’ve lost or never had, the longing for a worthiness that we don’t feel, the unknown of it all threatens to swallow us whole.  So instead, we insulate in the form of alcohol, drugs, sex or material objects; or we find a way to exist in an anxious suspension above our fears and loneliness.

We can undermine our own efforts to move forward, remaining in fear of becoming self; because to walk the maze towards our next selves means we need to face all that we’ve neglected or abandoned, and relinquish that which no longer serves us.

Sacrifice is a show of trust in the unknown.  Like quitting a job only to have a new opportunity appear that very afternoon, or ending a toxic relationship only to meet your true love two days later, there is magic in sacrifice.  Life is calling you, and the severance of the tethers that bind you to outgrown thoughts/ideas/reactions is you answering that call.

#growth #personalgrowth #psychology #cognitivebehavioraltherapy 

Real Love

The idea of a thing, situation or person is often what is fallen prey to rather than experiencing the thing, situation or person itself.

We can see this especially at play in matters of love; in our lives, in our friends’ lives and in fictional characters on TV and in movies.  However, very little of what is offered actually leads up to us having an authentic experience of love.  It can be that when we grasp for what we think we want and fail to find it, we bring suffering to ourselves and to those around us.  We can feel that we’ve not found love, but something else…

Often the feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, and thrill in the area of love are actually romance, and not really love itself.  Romance can be a lot of fun as long as we don’t try to make too much out of it; if we do, it could become painful.  Romance may lead to love, but it can also fade without growing into anything more than flirtation.  If we cling to it and try to make it  more, we might pine for a fantasy or worse; find ourselves stuck in a situation that was never meant to last or be to begin with.

Real love is identifiable by how it makes us feel.  Love should feel good.  And its important to realize WHERE these feelings come from; from within ourselves – NOT from an outside source.  True love activates this.  Authentic love doesn’t ask us to appear in a certain manner, drive a certain car, live in a certain zip code.  When someone really loves you, their love for you awakens your love for yourself.  Its SO much deeper than just romance.  We realize that we have to trust ourselves, and not somebody else. They remind us that what we seek outside of ourselves is a mirror of what’s already inside of us.  Real love is empowering; reminding us that we always were, and always will be, completely enough just as we are.

Just sit with it

Sit with it

Instead of drinking it away, smoking it away, sleeping it away, eating it away, sexing it away or running from it in whatever manner,

Just sit with it.

Healing begins with feeling.

Gratitude

When we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive. When we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.  

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.  

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.
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#thanksgiving #blessings #breath #gratitude #beherenow

Big Steps on Life’s Path

Life is a journey composed of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change.

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen. 

There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve.

Underneath the Surface

Often, when we’re unhappy, we fall into the habit of thinking that, if only one or two particular things in our life would change, everything would be fine. We might focus on the fact that we need a new car, or a raise, or a change in our living situation. We dwell on this one thing and strategize, or complain, or daydream about what it would be like to have it. Meanwhile, underneath the surface, the real reason for our unhappiness sits unrecognized and unaddressed. And yet, if we are able to locate and explore the underlying cause of our discontent, all the surface concerns have a way of working themselves out in the light of our realization.  

Maybe we really do just need a new car, and maybe moving to another city would improve our life situation. However, it can only help to take some time to explore what’s going on at a deeper level. Sometimes, when we take a moment and stop focusing on external concerns, we get to the heart of the matter. We might realize that all our lives we’ve been dissatisfied, grasping at one thing after another, only to be dissatisfied about something else once we get what we want. Or perhaps we’ll notice a pattern of running away from a place, or a relationship, when things get too hard. We might then wonder why this keeps happening, and how we might work through the difficulty rather than just escaping it. The point is, slowing down and turning our attention within can save us a lot of energy in the long run, because it is very often the case that there is no external change that will make us happy.  

Once you’ve taken the time to inquire within, you can begin to make changes that address the deeper issue. This can be hard at first, especially if you’ve grown used to grasping for outside sources in order to quell your discontent, but in the end, you will be solving the problem at a deeper level, and it will be much less likely to recur. 

Father’s Day

The idea of fatherhood is both personal and universal. We all have ideal concepts surrounding fatherhood, and we also have our real fathers; fathers who were there or not there for us, fathers who provided financial support for our families or failed to do so, fathers who loved us or neglected us, fathers who were our role models or gave us someone to rebel against. Our father may have been there for us sometimes and not there for us at other times. The process of reconciling the ideal father that resides in our minds with the father that we actually have is a fertile one that can teach us a great deal about ourselves.

Our relationship with our father will often affect our relationships with the other men who will come into our lives. You may have learned to behave and think in certain ways because those were the ways that your father acted and thought. Certain talents that you possess may have been passed down to you by your father. There also may be personal issues that you inherited by virtue of who your father is. Understanding how your relationship with your father has influenced you can help you better understand yourself and the life that you have created.

This is why being a parent is the most important job there is.

By example, you are showing the little eyes that watch you how to interact with others, and the world. How to respect life. Teaching them about priorities and about themselves. You literally set yourself aside for this little person so that you can ensure that their needs are met; that they learn cleanly and clearly how to walk in the world.

All this requires a parent to be very steady inside; to work from that perspective of something larger than themselves.

This is why it’s said that the work we do on ourselves is the most important thing that we can do for anyone else in our lives. By example, let’s give our kids the most opportunities we can to be the best people they can be.

Judgement

Though it is human to evaluate people we encounter based on first impressions, the conclusions we come to are seldom unaffected by our own fears and our own preconceptions. We see the world as we are, and not as it actually is. Additionally, our judgments are frequently incomplete. For example, wealth can seem like proof that an individual is spoiled, and poverty can be seen as a signifier of laziness — neither of which may be true. At the heart of the tendency to categorize and criticize, we often find insecurity. Overcoming our need to set ourselves apart from what we fear is a matter of understanding the root of judgment and then reaffirming our commitment to tolerance.

When we catch ourselves thinking or behaving judgmentally, we should ask ourselves where these judgments come from. Traits we hope we do not possess can instigate our criticism when we see them in others because passing judgment distances us from those traits. Once we regain our center, we can reinforce our open-mindedness by putting our feelings into words. To acknowledge to ourselves that we have judged, and that we have identified the root of our judgments, is the first step to a path of compassion. Recognizing that we limit our awareness by assessing others critically can make moving past our initial impressions much easier. Judgments seldom leave room for alternate possibilities.

Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” If we are quick to pass judgment on others, we forget that they, like us, are human beings. As we seldom know what roads people have traveled before a shared encounter or why they have come into our lives, we should always give those we meet the gift of an open heart. Doing so allows us to replace fear-based criticism with appreciation because we can then focus wholeheartedly on the spark of good that burns in all human souls.

Sunday

Sunday evenings are my favorite.

It’s good to take a few minutes each day to unwind, but I include Sunday evenings to my daily unwind time.

Every culture uses something that pleases the senses to help in their prayer or meditation practices. Incense or some kind of fragrance is helpful, because it alone can set the tone of a room. And smells are one of the things that we remember and associate experiences with often. Lamps or candles are often used too; I prefer oil lamps because the flame is steadier than the flicker of a candle; inviting the witness to slow way down and come home for a little while.

Early on, I developed a way to learn by just observing. What to do, what not to do.. Observing is a way that I try to use to see things around me. Something that I learned about a long time ago has been coming up a lot for me lately; in all areas of life. It’s a statement that goes “People don’t see the world as it is, they see the world as they are”.

I see this showing up all over the place. Mostly between people. One of my favorite exercises to help slow down involves going into the woods and noticing how different all the trees are. And realising that we don’t judge the trees for being tall or short, straight or crooked, thick or thin. We just accept the trees for what they are and move on. We don’t get hung up on the fact that one tree might not have gotten enough sunlight and therefore grew a certain way, we just accept the tree for what it is and we move on.

I think that this is a practice that is desperately needed now with how we’re seeing each other. Chances are, we don’t know someone’s story and how they’re managing their life as a result of their story. All we see is how they’re managing their life.

I think we need to see people more like trees, and less like how we think they ought to be.