Power In Your Hands

Me, as a forbidding faerie queen

Me, as a forbidding faerie queen

Halloween was always a thrilling time for me, both as a child and as an adult. It’s not that I was that into being scared; scary things were actually way too intense for me when I was little. And candy was nice, but given the weird scares of the 1980s, I wasn’t allowed to eat most of the candy I collected anyway. No: what really drew me was the opportunity to dress up and be someone different.

Costuming has always been powerful for me, especially as an actor. A different set of clothes, hair, makeup, shoes – it can all serve to change how you stand, walk, move, even think. The interaction between the body and the things we wrap it in is a source of constant fascination, changing our relationship to gender, age, place, season, cultural identity, time, and self.

If you think that’s a bit strong, think of how different you feel when you are sitting on the couch at home in your PJs, versus how you feel when you put on a suit, or dress up for church, or go out dancing on a Saturday night, or go to visit an elderly parent, or prepare to work on your car, or go hiking. If you’ve ever worn period clothing, you know how much a corset, or a loose tunic or robe, or a frock coat, or a flapper dress, can change how you stand, move, bend and carry yourself. Cross-dressing or deliberately queering gender through clothing has an effect on the wearer, as well as an effect on the viewer, depending on the culture in which it is done, the level of tolerance of the people involved, and the context. Today, a guy in my office won the costume contest dressed as Princess Leia – not, I think, because he looked silly, but because he looked so good without hiding any of his masculinity, and pulled it off proudly. Were he to show up dressed similarly on any other day, the context would have shifted, and the office would have a different response.

While it may be true that our “true selves” are inside us, what we express outwardly both reflects that internal state, and can shift it in minor and major ways. Halloween and other events like it – Carnival in various parts of the world, Purim in Judaism, and so on – offer people a chance to be something they are not, without any real consequences. As a result, it can offer a rare opportunity for people to explore something that they would like to be, or would like to play with being.

Even if you don’t go out to parties, or trick or treating, take some time this holiday to mess around with your outward appearance. What happens to your state of mind and the feeling in your body when you wear something you wouldn’t ordinarily wear? What becomes possible that wasn’t before?

I recently discovered the wonderful little comic, Things Without Arms and Without Legs (A Comic About Creatures Who Are Kind), and it delights me.

But as adorable and lovely as they are all on their own, I was especially taken when I found this old post, about some favorite topics of mine: vulnerability and shame.

Dear Things,” begins this post, which addresses the creatures directly and seeks to know what it is that their creator likes so much about them.  

You don’t carry shame. Shame that slowly steel the stars, creeping up like pollution and city lights. Stars diminishing in number, the weakest lights smothered first, then a narrowing field of the brightest lights, and maybe the smog will take them too.

Things, you don’t carry shame. Sometimes you feel guilt, but that is different. Sometimes guilt can face the risk of turning into shame and presses against you, but it is a puzzling thing to be looked at, to be asked questions, treated firmly and kindly and put down. There is no shame in worry, no shame in vulnerability, just an open, natural questioning. For you, shame is not a natural piece of star stealing virtue. Even shame is something you look at without shame.

The post then links to this wonderful video by Ze Frank:

And of course, in the end, it all comes back to Brene Brown.

Many layers of linkage for a Monday.  Enjoy, everyone, and come back here and tell me about your experiences with guilt, shame, and vulnerability.

I recently discovered the wonderful little comic, Things Without Arms and Without Legs (A Comic About Creatures Who Are Kind), and it delights me.

But as adorable and lovely as they are all on their own, I was especially taken when I found this old post, about some favorite topics of mine: vulnerability and shame.

Dear Things,” begins this post, which addresses the creatures directly and seeks to know what it is that their creator likes so much about them.  

You don’t carry shame. Shame that slowly steel the stars, creeping up like pollution and city lights. Stars diminishing in number, the weakest lights smothered first, then a narrowing field of the brightest lights, and maybe the smog will take them too.

Things, you don’t carry shame. Sometimes you feel guilt, but that is different. Sometimes guilt can face the risk of turning into shame and presses against you, but it is a puzzling thing to be looked at, to be asked questions, treated firmly and kindly and put down. There is no shame in worry, no shame in vulnerability, just an open, natural questioning. For you, shame is not a natural piece of star stealing virtue. Even shame is something you look at without shame.

The post then links to this wonderful video by Ze Frank:

And of course, in the end, it all comes back to Brene Brown.

Many layers of linkage for a Friday.  Enjoy, everyone, and come back here and tell me about your experiences with guilt, shame, and vulnerability.

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

bus stop

Happy New Year, everyone. I’ve been out of contact for some time, as the holidays were especially rich this year. This year, I’m hoping to have something new for you every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; I hope you’ll stick around.

Last night, as I was driving back from my parents’ place in New Jersey, I was listening to endless episodes of Radiolab, probably my favorite NPR show at the moment. The below episode, about 13 minutes long, describes a nursing home in Germany where a novel solution was developed for Alzheimer’s patients who wander.

As you may or may not know, one of the major problems with dementia patients in nursing homes is that they can become convinced that the world they are in is not where they are supposed to be, that they are much younger version of themselves and that they must get home to their children or even to their parents, and the urgency of this belief is so strong that they will find a way to escape the facility and sometimes wander to their own deaths from hypothermia or accident.

The solutions for this were previously rather ugly: restraint, sedating drugs, and other forceful methods that may have succeeded in keeping the patient from wandering, but didn’t generally work for returning the patient to reality, or giving them a high quality of life.

So some Germans wondered: what if we put a bus stop on the property?

After all, a bus stop is the first place patients would often go: a gateway to wherever they were trying to reach. And it turns out that this was highly effective: patients would go to the bus stop, sit there for a while, and then forget what they were doing. Attendants and nurses would go sit next to them on the bench, gently suggest that they go back inside, and return them softly to the present.

I loved this story of how we might allow people who have one foot deep in the past dwell in their memories for a time, then return without unnecessary further trauma. Give a listen.

Today I’m celebrating my 100th post!  I’m also bringing my GROUND of RSM series to a close, with the final letter: D for Discovery.

Discovery is probably my favorite of the foundational RSM concepts.  In our training, it was set against the D that is far more common in the medical and psychology world: Diagnosis.  The way our current healthcare system is structured, much of medicine is about treating a disease or condition, rather than treating a person.  I recall when I was doing my hours as a Rubenfeld Synergy client as part of my training; I was seeing a woman who was also a clinical social worker.  We found a way for her to bill insurance for my visits, but in order to do so, she had to diagnose me with a mental illness.  “Adjustment disorder” is what we landed with, which basically seems to mean that you’re having some problems dealing with this thing called Life.  Which who isn’t.  Still, it was bizarre to me – if understandable from a financial standpoint – that in order to receive mental health care, I needed to be somehow nameably sick.

With the attitude of Discovery rather than Diagnosis, we seek to know the client as a whole person, and not close off possibilities for healing by prematurely pinning down what’s wrong with them.  The focus is more on what’s going on with them, without judgment.

I may discover, for instance, that a client has a habit of holding himself – shoulders pulled in, arms folded across the chest.  I may find when I try to release his shoulder and move down his arm that his shoulder will not release, and he will not give me the weight of his arm.  It would be easy to see this as something “wrong” with the client, something that needs fixing.  Of course I want his shoulders to be free and fluid, and for the emotional implications of that posture – insecurity, anxiety, fearfulness, perhaps shame – to be healed as well.

But if I approach him instead with an attitude of discovery, I may find something more interesting – and ultimately more healing – than “I’d better loosen up these shoulders,” or “I need to help this client feel less anxious.”  In fact, I will probably discover that until I look at what is present in the here and now more deeply, that I will not be able to affect any kind of lasting change in the client.  I could massage his shoulders and get them to loosen up some.  But it’s very likely that next week or month, he’ll be back where he started.

If instead, I notice the tightness in his shoulders, bring his awareness to it, and engage it in dialogue, I may find out more.  We may find that this posture is integral to his well-being at the moment, and trying to change it without deeper work is going to send him into too much instability and lack of safety, too fast.  The approach, then, would be slow, over several sessions, establishing stability and ground, locating the client’s resources, and letting the shoulders know that they don’t need to hold on that way anymore.

The principle of Discovery is based in curiosity, in the deep listening and exploration that goes on between Synergist and client that allows for the messages of the body to emerge and be heard.  I’ll never forget an exercise we did in the training to cultivate curiosity and discovery.  We were put into pairs, and one of the pair was blindfolded.  The other of the pair had an object.  At first, the blindfolded person could only hold the object in her open palm, and would begin to describe what she could about it.  Next, she could close her palm and explore the object with one hand.  Finally, she could use two hands.

The idea was to describe the object as thoroughly as possible, without seeking to define what it was.  But the incredible temptation of everyone doing this exercise was to figure out the identity of the object, to label and name it as fast as they could.  Later, the workshop leaders described a previous iteration of this exercise, where a woman was holding what turned out to be a clip-on book light.  With her blindfold on, however, she was convinced it was a stapler.  But she couldn’t explain the bendy part sticking out of it.  Rather than staying open and continuing to try and describe the object rather than name it, she became attached to her stapler-notion to such an extent that when she took the blindfold off and saw it, she said, “Oh!  It’s a stapler with a light!”

We can lose a lot when we decide what something is without knowing it thoroughly. It’s easy to use what we know – about people, about mental health, about anatomy, or whatever – to pin down something about the client.  And we can feel good about ourselves: now we know what’s wrong, and can therefore fix it!  It is such an ingrained human tendency that it can be difficult to pull back and allow true discovery to happen.  This practice, however, is essential to our work, and allows for the surprises and ‘aha’ moments to emerge that can lead our clients to lasting change.

I’m going to endeavor to post whatever thing or things really fascinated me in a given week on Fridays.

This week, it was a Radiolab Short: I listen to this excellent podcast while I do my workouts.  In this 16-minute short, a scientist describes a phenomenon called the decline effect: in essence, the phenomenon in science whereby the at-first dramatic results of a scientific study become less and less dramatic, gradually, over time as the experiment is repeated, even under the same rigorous conditions.

The scientist concludes with a radical hypothesis he is extremely reluctant to even make: that the act of observing reality may in itself change it.

Enjoy it here!