Spring returning

The temperature is rising, it’s nearly April, and I’ve been seeing tulips everywhere.  I feel the sap rising in me, as well, and it feels possible that this long, hard winter is truly at an end.

I’ll be returning to more regular writing.  In particular, next week I’d like to introduce a series on the Classic Sequence, which I covered in brief in my posts about a “typical” RSM session.  But I’d like to write in more detail about the order, and about each body part and why we do them that way, particularly in a first session.

For today, though, I will simply wish you a happy Friday – and a happy Good Friday, if you celebrate it – and a peaceful weekend.  Make sure to go outside and breathe as the air warms.  See if you can smell the green and the early flowers.  Take time to walk on the softening earth.  And hold the ones you love close.

Feeling and dealing

I’m going through a bunch of personal stuff these past couple of weeks, so forgive me if I’m lacking in the deep profound posts department.  Keeping my head above water has been my first priority, while tending to the other things in my life that need tending to the degree possible.

The title of this post refers to some shorthand about attachment theory: it is the preferred type of attachment pattern for a caregiver to have with a child.  Showing empathy for what a child is feeling rather than dismissing it (feeling), then offering comfort and safety (dealing).  Sadly one or both of these are often missing from childhood experience, and the resultant adult tends to unconsciously mimic the same patterns in relationships through his or her life.

At the moment, I’m trying not to: I’m trying to be there, trying to keep an open heart, and manage the practical realities at the same time.  It’s a tightrope, especially for someone who didn’t have models for it.  But I’m working on it.

More on this topic when there’s more in me to give.  For now: tell me about you?

Bouncing off of my Vulnerability and Shame post the other day, this post popped out at me as a beautifully simple, straightforward and inspiring take on Brene Brown’s original TED talk on vulnerability. Enjoy, and happy Friday.

Free Workshop in April!

Everyone – but especially any readers in the tri-state area:

Joe Weldon and Noel Wight – two of my heroes in this work and the heads of the Rubenfeld Synergy Training Institute – are holding a workshop on Friday, April 24 in New Brunswick ahead of the INARS professional conference.  If you want to really learn something, have your heart opened, and experience this work first-hand, I highly recommend attending, whether you’re a professional woman or not.

Details are below!

————————————————————————————————

“Move from PRESSURE to PEACE”joeandnoel
Avoid the 3 Biggest Mistakes Professional Women Make that Keep Them STRESSED OUT, Overwhelmed,
And Running on EMPTY!

Join Joe Weldon & Noël Wight for this 2-hour Workshop where you will discover:
• How to relieve the pressure
• The Magic Move that will change the landscape of your life
• The 3 words that are wreaking havoc in your life and the immediate remedy
• The #1 Resource to guide you to relief and renewal !!!!!

Friday, April 26th
7:30 PM Rutgers Conference Center, New Brunswick, NJ

Tickets are $20 FREE When you Pre-Register Now
Call:
1-866-530-1662

The healing power of music

Music 01754
I’ve written here before about how music touches lives, opens hearts, and even brings back memory.  Music may not be entirely unique to humans, but it is definitely a primal need: throughout our history, music has soothed us, aided us in celebration and in mourning, been indispensable in our rituals, driven cultural revolutions, fueled protests, and been one of the most popular forms of entertainment for centuries, whether it’s Grandpa on the porch with a banjo or Madonna on an arena stage surrounded by sexy dancers and pyrotechnics.

When considering RSM, it’s helpful to recall that before she was a healer, Ilana Rubenfeld was a Julliard-trained symphonic conductor.  The extent to which music informed her work is great, and really masterful sessions can have the qualities of a well conducted symphony: separate movements, swells and climaxes, gentle andante sections, elegant resolutions.

Music moves through the body just as touch does: sound is literally vibrations which not only get translated to sound in the air, but can sometimes be felt in other parts of the body.  Think of how a really low bass note will vibrate your belly, or how drums shake the floor.  And partly because of this, music can move us in more direct ways than other things can: music is intimately connected with emotion, and for many people there is nothing that can bring tears or smiles more easily than a well-placed strain of music.

For me, this phenomenon becomes even more profound when I’m the one making the music.  Yesterday I again got to sing with the wonderful Back Bay Chorale, and we sang a new piece along with the Mozart Requiem.  I was going through some personal difficulty this weekend, but predicted that singing the Mozart would help a great deal.

I was thrilled with how right I was about it.  Breathing deeply, singing fully, letting that gorgeous lamentation for the dead flow through my body made me feel freer and stronger.  Being surrounded by 120 other voices, an orchestra, and world-class soloists peeling the paint off the walls also helped.

Even if you don’t feel like you can make your own music, though, when you’re having a hard time, let music help you.  Play it loud in your living room and lie on the floor to let the vibrations literally move you, or wear headphones in your bed.  Blast your favorite song in your car as you drive.  Let the music you love vibrate your ears and your cells to a new place.  Believe me, it helps.

Vulnerability and shame

silhouette-41879_640Last week, I saw a client for the first time, and she had a profound experience on the table.  Afterwards, she asked me what she could expect to get out of this work, and I answered as best I could.  In the moment, though, I was thinking: how could she not see?

That client hasn’t yet been back, and I’ve wondered why.  But it may have to do with something another client said to me recently.

He had rescheduled his session and told me that he had a lot of busy-ness coming up and would have to get back to me.  It sounded stressful, and so I wrote, as I tend to, “Be gentle with yourself.”

To which he responded, “Be gentle with myself?  Seriously?”

My mentor, Joan Brooks, gave me a great insight the other day – or rather, reminded me of something I’d known, but that wasn’t at the front of my mind.  I’ve experienced it powerfully myself, especially during the training, when everyone was being all touchy-feely, and my first response was to be incredibly suspicious.

And it’s this: the powerful connection between vulnerability and shame.

If you have a chance, do click either or both of those links and listen to the magnificent Brené Brown talk about these topics.  She is astonishing, and the work she is doing is clearly hitting home in a big way for a lot of people, judging by the more than 8 million views.

In brief, though: most people equate vulnerability with weakness when they see it in themselves.  Odd, though, as Brown points out: most people see it as courage when others show vulnerability.

So what is that all about?  Well, a great many of us are socialized to feel shame when we feel vulnerable.  Having feelings – or rather, showing them – is a weakness.  Taking emotional risks, being uncertain, being open to others – all of these are seen as shameful.  It’s not really our parents’ fault: it’s the world they grew up in, too.  Don’t do that, you’ll get hurtPlay it safe.  Keep your head down. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself, and so on.  What happened to you the first time you opened your heart to a lover?  The first time you got up to speak in front of people, or asked someone on a date?  The first time you did an experiment, made a piece of art, tried a new sport, wrote a story and shared it?  What happens to you at that moment of emotional risk can be its own brilliant reward…or it can be a profound opportunity for shame.

And when people are reminded of that shame, even if the vulnerability and openness feels good in the moment – they tend to close down afterward.  It’s the rubber band effect, as Joan says: they’ve stretched, and now it’s uncomfortable.

I know this feeling well.  I grew up learning how to be silent, and eventually, how to be hard.  As with most sensitive people, I had a crunchy exterior that concealed a squishy candy center, as it were.  But it took many years for me not just to be able to take some of those defenses down, but to see my sensitivity as a strength.  Later in the training, as I’ve written elsewhere, “it occurred to me, with a painful shock: somehow I had been taught to fear genuine kindness, to be suspicious of sentiment, to believe that if it wasn’t genuine poetry, it wasn’t genuine feeling.  When, I wondered, did I become so infected with irony that I couldn’t receive uncomplicated love?”

Be gentle with myself?  Seriously?

I’m still working on this, and it behooves me to remember that others are, too.  If this resonates – or doesn’t – I welcome your comments as usual.

 

 

How touching saves lives

I stumbled across this beautiful article today, by Dr. Alex Lickerman, a Buddhist physician.  He tells the story of an ER patient who was so terrified of needles that the prospect of having her blood drawn had her shaking, rigid, and in tears.  Not knowing what else to do, the doctor took her hand, which she squeezed to the point of pain.

When it was over, the patient continued to lie there with her eyes shut, my hand still in hers. I watched as she forced her breathing to slow and then opened her eyes. She dabbed at her tears with her free hand and then looked directly at me. ‘Thank you,’ she said in a relieved voice. Then she gave my hand a final squeeze—this one mercifully gentle—and let me go. My hand started throbbing a little, but I hardly noticed.

He goes on to describe how a simple touch – if we are brave enough to offer it – can help at times when nothing else can, when people are “drowning in pain” and feel “utterly defeated or terrified by their circumstances.”

One of the reasons I find that RSM works so powerfully is not just the synergy between talk and touch, but the power of the touch itself. In the simplest of sessions, I have found that what really comes across to clients is the desire for contact: uncomplicated by sexuality or need, offered with openness and generosity. It is truly amazing to many clients how powerful it really is: just to feel the warmth of caring hands, just to feel comforted, just to feel touched. It doesn’t take long to realize that there’s no just about it: it’s an intensely powerful and crucial human need.

Perhaps because, ultimately, we must all face the trials life has in store for us by ourselves—experience pain, fear, doubt, and loss in the confines of our own minds and bodies (that is, no one can do our suffering for us)—we long when obstacles appear for evidence that we’re not alone, that others care about how we feel and what happens to us. There just seems to be something inherently comforting about the physical presence of others when we’re in pain or afraid. And nothing starts that comfort flowing like a touch.

Read the entire piece here.

Blog Year's Eve – My Top 15

Birthday candle, Downpatrick, July 2010 

Tomorrow is the 1st anniversary of the start of this blog.  When I began, I wanted a place to talk about this amazing work, to explain some of its principles, and tell client stories.  What it’s become is far more comprehensive, and, as might have been predicted, more holistic.  I’ve enjoyed talking about the arts here, and how they relate to this work, as well as sharing the various things that move me throughout my days.

Right now, though, in a kind of celebration, I’d like to do a round-up of those posts I think have been most crucial in making this work clear.  I hope that those of you who haven’t been reading from the beginning will take a look at this retrospective, and thanks to all of you who have joined me over the past year.

Posts About How Rubenfeld Synergy Works

1. The Principles of Rubenfeld Synergy – An Introduction.  This post introduces, and links to, all 18 of my writings on the 18 principles.  For a really comprehensive look at the fundamentals of this work, check it out.

2. Moving From Habit to Choice.  A post on one of the touted benefits of this work.

3. Make a Move, Change A Thought.  What can fear teach us?

4. Just What Does a Rubenfeld Synergy Session Look Like, Anyway?  In two parts, a description of how a typical session goes.

Posts About the Science Related To Our Work

5. Toward a New Theory of Depression

6. How Love, Trust and Empathy Can Be Contagious

7. Treating the Whole Person: Autism, Science and Skepticism

8. How Music Brings People Back to Life

Rubenfeld Synergy and The Arts

9. Fail Better: The Joys of Gentle and Respectful Leadership. On the Back Bay Chorale and our fearless leader, Scott Allen Jarett.

10. Moving and Being Moved: Rubenfeld and Performing Shakespeare.  What Patrick Stewart has to teach me about this work.

11. Fearless, Together, and Free: An Afternoon at Double Edge Theatre.  The experience of movement based theatre and its relationship to the work.

The Spiritual Side

12. The Spirit Part of Rubenfeld Synergy.  What do we mean by “spirit”?

13. And What Is “Energy” Anyway?  Grappling with the notion of energy, chi, prana…

Personal Journeys

14. Rock Climbing for Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit.  How rock climbing helped me get over feeling like an un-athletic schlub, and how holistic an experience it is.

15. The Things That Shift Me.  A catalogue of little things, and getting through the hard days.

 

Blog Year’s Eve – My Top 15

Birthday candle, Downpatrick, July 2010 

Tomorrow is the 1st anniversary of the start of this blog.  When I began, I wanted a place to talk about this amazing work, to explain some of its principles, and tell client stories.  What it’s become is far more comprehensive, and, as might have been predicted, more holistic.  I’ve enjoyed talking about the arts here, and how they relate to this work, as well as sharing the various things that move me throughout my days.

Right now, though, in a kind of celebration, I’d like to do a round-up of those posts I think have been most crucial in making this work clear.  I hope that those of you who haven’t been reading from the beginning will take a look at this retrospective, and thanks to all of you who have joined me over the past year.

Posts About How Rubenfeld Synergy Works

1. The Principles of Rubenfeld Synergy – An Introduction.  This post introduces, and links to, all 18 of my writings on the 18 principles.  For a really comprehensive look at the fundamentals of this work, check it out.

2. Moving From Habit to Choice.  A post on one of the touted benefits of this work.

3. Make a Move, Change A Thought.  What can fear teach us?

4. Just What Does a Rubenfeld Synergy Session Look Like, Anyway?  In two parts, a description of how a typical session goes.

Posts About the Science Related To Our Work

5. Toward a New Theory of Depression

6. How Love, Trust and Empathy Can Be Contagious

7. Treating the Whole Person: Autism, Science and Skepticism

8. How Music Brings People Back to Life

Rubenfeld Synergy and The Arts

9. Fail Better: The Joys of Gentle and Respectful Leadership. On the Back Bay Chorale and our fearless leader, Scott Allen Jarett.

10. Moving and Being Moved: Rubenfeld and Performing Shakespeare.  What Patrick Stewart has to teach me about this work.

11. Fearless, Together, and Free: An Afternoon at Double Edge Theatre.  The experience of movement based theatre and its relationship to the work.

The Spiritual Side

12. The Spirit Part of Rubenfeld Synergy.  What do we mean by “spirit”?

13. And What Is “Energy” Anyway?  Grappling with the notion of energy, chi, prana…

Personal Journeys

14. Rock Climbing for Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit.  How rock climbing helped me get over feeling like an un-athletic schlub, and how holistic an experience it is.

15. The Things That Shift Me.  A catalogue of little things, and getting through the hard days.

 

Crashing your car isn't so fun

Last night, I got into a car accident.  I was driving from Amherst, where I was seeing a play, back to Medford, where I live, and somewhere on Route 2, the tires just came out from under me.  It was snowing fairly seriously; it hadn’t been sticking on the roads in Amherst, and when I finally got home it wasn’t bad on the roads near Medford, either.  But right in-between, in the wilds of western MA, it was sticking all right and the plows hadn’t made enough passes yet.

I wasn’t going all that fast, but still probably faster than I should’ve been, in the little Prius.  I don’t even remember how it started: there wasn’t anyone on the road, and I didn’t brake hard or turn suddenly; I was on a highway.  But before I knew what was happening, the car was in a spin.  I remember turning the wheel and hitting the brake (I know, I know), and saying oh shit oh shit oh shit as we spun across the highway once, maybe twice, then hit the guardrail and finally slid to a stop.  A friend was with me and I was most concerned that he was not hurt; once I found that I wasn’t hurt either, I climbed out of the car, every part of me shaking.  The car was sticking horizontally out into the road, and once I ascertained that it could still be driven, I backed up and pulled it to the side.  A man pulled over in front of us and helped, calling 911 and shining the powerful flashlight I carry with me into the dark of oncoming traffic.

At times like this I become very grateful for my body awareness, my ground, and my general health.  I’m feeling a little stiff today, but that’s about it.  I’m very conscious of the trauma that can result from such an event, and was grateful to feel my body shivering all the fear and fight-or-flight hormones out of me essentially immediately.  I’m still checking in with myself, making sure I’m really okay.  It’s a process.

Being a Synergist and having RSM in my life has made me more capable of coping with a lot of the things that come spinning and crashing in my direction, and I’m grateful for that, too.  On a day like this, I vividly remember the session in which a classmate of mine cleared the trauma from an old, old wound, a car accident, much more severe, that happened more than twenty years ago.  I’m struck by the ability of this work to help us move through these kinds of experiences – both in the moment, and much later in life.

May you all be safe and grounded today.  Enjoy the snow.