Psychobabble4u

4 therapy on the fly…

Committed in 2015 February 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 12:03 am

Commitment is more of a skill or a practice than an innate ability. The question isn’t really can I commit to this? But more do I know how? This is a great time to think about commitment. We are a month and a half into the new year and most of you have either made your New Years resolutions or dare I say, already given up on them. It’s easy to make resolutions, keeping them is another exercise entirely.

The skill of commitment has to do with practicing both determination and flexibility. One of the biggest problems with New Years resolutions is that people set a goal, such as I am going to go to the gym 5 times a week, then they do that for 2 weeks. Then during the following month we begin to realize that going to the gym 5 times a week is near to impossible with work, kids etc. Then we usually blame ourselves, feel really bad and as a result give up on our goal.

It is precisely at the point that we feel like giving up on our goal that we need to persevere. This is when we need to apply our determination and flexibility. Be realistic. Rework your goal. Go to the gym twice a week. Achieve that first. Check in with yourself about your desire. Many people commit to do things that they do not like. This usually doesn’t work. Feeling good is important. Play around with what you might like if you aren’t sure. Do not force yourself to do something you do not enjoy or that commitment will be hard to sustain. I recently heard a statistic that at one of the gyms in NYC has 70% of their members attend the gym 4 or less times in a year. If you don’t like the gym try working out outside. Make sure you are properly prepared for the weather and then go take a walk, hike or a run. Being outside in the light is very important for our vitamin D and our well being. Try Yoga, or Salsa. Try something you have always wanted to do that involves exercise.

Look at the numbers. Keep the number doable. This enables you to meet your goal which builds your confidence. You can always exceed your goal. Perhaps focus on 3 resolutions rather than 10.

Be celebratory about what you might consider very small achievements within your goal. Being mean towards yourself when you don’t achieve your goal in the way that you originally envisioned it does not bring you closer to achieving it. In fact, being hard on ourselves is probably one of the main reasons we eventually give up on our goals.

Don’t say I am going to try this. Truly commit to achieving your goal but promise yourself that you will be flexible within that goal. When you make a commitment to this goal but you are often making a commitment to a lifestyle shift. Change takes time. So there will be times when you are too sick to go to the gym but you can manage a short walk. Sometimes you will be too sick for that as well. Taking care of yourself is listening with a fine tuned ear to what you and your body need. Sometimes what you need is rest. This can also be the time that people give up. So if you are sick, perhaps set a time and date for the next time you will exercise. The act of staying fit translates into trusting your own judgement and in time, you will come to trust your commitment. Eventually it will become a part of the way you live. Which when you realize you have truly achieved your goal.

Good luck! If you have any questions please post them as comments.

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Committed in 2015 February 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 8:37 pm

Commitment is more of a skill or a practice than an innate ability. The question isn’t really can I commit to this? But more do I know how? This is a great time to think about commitment. We are a month and a half into the new year and most of you have either made your New Years resolutions or dare I say, already given up on them. It’s easy to make resolutions, keeping them is another exercise entirely.

The skill of commitment has to do with practicing both determination and flexibility. One of the biggest problems with New Years resolutions is that people set a goal, such as I am going to go to the gym 5 times a week, then they do that for 2 weeks. Then during the following month we begin to realize that going to the gym 5 times a week is near to impossible with work, kids etc. Then we usually blame ourselves, feel really bad and as a result give up on our goal.

It is precisely at the point that we feel like giving up on our goal that we need to persevere. This is when we need to apply our determination and flexibility. Be realistic. Rework your goal. Go to the gym twice a week. Achieve that first. Check in with yourself about your desire. Many people commit to do things that they do not like. This usually doesn’t work. Feeling good is important. Play around with what you might like if you aren’t sure. Do not force yourself to do something you do not enjoy or that commitment will be hard to sustain. I recently heard a statistic that at one of the gyms in NYC has 70% of their members attend the gym 4 or less times in a year. If you don’t like the gym try working out outside. Make sure you are properly prepared for the weather and then go take a walk, hike or a run. Being outside in the light is very important for our vitamin D and our well being. Try Yoga, or Salsa. Try something you have always wanted to do that involves exercise.

Look at the numbers. Keep the number doable. This enables you to meet your goal which builds your confidence. You can always exceed your goal. Perhaps focus on 3 resolutions rather than 10.

Be celebratory about what you might consider very small achievements within your goal. Being mean towards yourself when you don’t achieve your goal in the way that you originally envisioned it does not bring you closer to achieving it. In fact, being hard on ourselves is probably one of the main reasons we eventually give up on our goals.

Don’t say I am going to try this. Truly commit to achieving your goal but promise yourself that you will be flexible within that goal. When you make a commitment to this goal but you are often making a commitment to a lifestyle shift. Change takes time. So there will be times when you are too sick to go to the gym but you can manage a short walk. Sometimes you will be too sick for that as well. Taking care of yourself is listening with a fine tuned ear to what you and your body need. Sometimes what you need is rest. This can also be the time that people give up. So if you are sick, perhaps set a time and date for the next time you will exercise. The act of staying fit translates into trusting your own judgement and in time, you will come to trust your commitment. Eventually it will become a part of the way you live. Which when you realize you have truly achieved your goal.

Good luck! If you have any questions please post them as comments.

 

A Map of Your Life February 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 3:54 pm

She crossed in front of me on my way to work. A petite woman with dark hair in a chic, cheek length bob. The wind blowing her hair from her face in the cold rugged temperature. It exposed a taut, white, blank area reaching from her cheek to behind her ear. There in the place where all of her memories should have been nothing was in evidence. Just a blank. It looked so strange. I urged and pushed my eyes to find on her the memories that I knew existed. The line from the loss of her first born. The squint from the laugh that she shared with her husband, the love of her life. The pull on her delicate skin as she moved her lashes down with pride and embarrassment while receiving an award for her book just finished. So many moving places she had been not one of them present in her face. They are I assume still in her heart but now I, the quiet observer, can no longer identify them at her brow. One cut from her surgeon and she resembles a blank doll. Not unlike a Stepford wife. But her eyes are wise and do not match her face, at least the part I can see.
I do not understand this in ourselves. I am conflicted. I do believe that our bodies are our own and that no one else should regulate what we do with them. At the same time I do not understand this obsession with youth. I understand the uncertainty and every now the yearning when you see a beautiful young girl and think, I will never again look like that. There is a little sorrow. But not much. I would never want to be searching in quite the way that I used to be. So self-absorbed and unsure about myself that I could not come out to appreciate those around me the way that I can now. I know that many others have had such different experiences in their youth, many not filled with the bouts of pain that mine was filled with.
There are so many different types of beauties. Youth has an incandescence of its own but so does the confidence and glow that comes from knowing yourself. Knowing that if I do not know anyone else I am now at the very least, familiar with myself. My niece who is 13 said so wisely that she is just getting to know herself. As it should be at 13. And hopefully with our family’s help she is going to have a ball in the process. But here is the thing wise women, we are already there. The beauty of this knowing that spreads a light that is undeniable in the presence of an older woman. This light is communicated in each line that I have. Each laugh that I have experienced. Every tear that I have shed. Every time I have stood up to a bully or read a book that I love. Or shared a beautiful and lovely smile with a stranger in the street. Each of these is recorded on my face in the map of my life. I wear them proudly. I observe their presence really without power. I take care of them lovingly with nutrient creams and times out of the sun. But to deny them, to not want to share them, is denying the amazing journey called life and dammit I want people to know when they look at my face what a fantastic life I have lead!

 

My Friend December 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 7:56 pm

I was walking down the hall of my office and I noticed this really warm and somewhat fuzzy feeling encircling my chest. I was humming to myself and jigging a little as I walked and thinking to myself in that way that we don’t actually think something but just become of aware of where we are. I realized that I had been having a really good time with the person I had been hanging out with the last couple of nights. Hmm who was that? At that the same time I realized that I was really enjoying going home to this person and looking forward to it later that night. Normally it would have been my partner whom I feel similarly about returning to when I have been away. But that wasn’t the person. Then I realized and I jumped a little, feeling a bit perplexed, that the someone was me. Wow, it’s been a long journey but that someone was finally me.

 

The Holidays November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 6:00 pm

The Holidays can be a beautiful time of the year with the lights illuminating each door and window dressed in their finest. However, it can also be a hard time of the year for a multitude of reasons. The holidays are a marker much like our birthdays bringing focus to where we are in our lives and perhaps where we aren’t. They also encompass a great deal of energy and happening: people traveling, gift buying, stress around getting the perfect something for each person, trying to be with a multitude of people either all at once or in many places in a very short period of time, and these are only if we have or are in contact with our families. For parents who are incredibly busy in our culture to begin with it adds additional stress. If you are on your own or choosing to be there are the images of the perfect holiday scenes everywhere you turn, on commercials, every store you shop in, via friend’s and coworker’s plans juxtaposed with what your life looks like at this time of the year. This can be difficult because there aren’t any scenes of us enjoying the holidays on our own or in less traditional contexts in which we can see our own experience reflected.

When it comes to family so many of our holidays are prescribed to us from the time we are very little: ie what we do and how we do it during this time. So here are a couple of tips if you are going to be with your family at this time of year.

-Take some time, perhaps just a couple of minutes by yourself to think about what you would like for your holidays. Perhaps a tradition that you already have that makes you feel good or think of one you would like to bring into your life at this time. My best friend and I try to bake cookies each year and I also bake something delicious and healthy every year for my family. This is the tradition which marks the holidays for me each year.

-If you have many places to be try to organize, to the best of your ability, these places in a way that works for you and your family. Try to be realistic about how long you and your kids can actually be at any one place before a meltdown occurs.

-If you need to be at one place that can be stressful really think about organizing your time in a way that creates the least stress. When the tension escalates:
*Leave the table to get a drink, go to the bathroom, make a phone call, get a breath of fresh air.

-If you are going to be with family for a long period of time create breaks in the time.
*Go for a long walk/ exercise
*Find a short trip to go on in the area without your family, by yourself or with your partner or a family member that is low maintenance
* take naps
*Don’t feel as if you have to get up and go to sleep en masse

-If there is abuse in your family or extreme tension consider staying at a hotel and/or limiting your time

-If there is a particular person(s) that is hard for you contemplate ahead of time how you would like to handle the situation that usually arises. If relevant discuss it with your partner or whomever you are traveling with for the holidays ahead of time so that you are clear on how you would like to respond.

-As a parent there is significant pressure to buy exactly what your child wants. Remember that you are the one that teaches your child about value and this is a good time of the year to begin this teaching. When I think about the holidays I cannot remember one gift that I received it is mostly the feeling of the holidays that I remember. In some ways that is what we want to impart to the next generation and this doesn’t cost anything but thoughtfulness. It is also a great time to incorporate service of some kind.

If you are on your own, which I have been many time in my life during this time of year which was hard at times and other times quite a relief, decide how you would like to spend your holidays. Is there a movie you would like to see or a service you would like to engage in? Like delivering meals to the elderly. Have a meal with friends or prepare a special one for yourself. Try to think of this time as precious rather than something to get through. Create your own tradition. Decorate, bake, if you have the money visit someone you love or go on a trip somewhere you would like to go.

Remember the holidays are a way of ushering out the old year and in the new year. They are supposed to be a break for us so try to treat them at least a little bit in this way. The holidays tend to feel much better to us if we really think about how we would like them to be rather than having them prescribed to us by our family or our culture. May the holidays be an enjoyable and peaceful time of year for you and your family.

 

Grateful November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 3:27 pm

The clear crystal of the blue crisp morning was disturbed only by my moving legs. Faster faster. I was late. Or almost. As usual. Everything pretty much went according to plan so I arrived at the intersection of 20th and Walnut street with only a minute available. And then the morning turned itself over as I lay hitting hard on my back at the edge of the intersection. My bag midair and landing. My bike somehow both on top of and below me. I am staring at this man talking on his cell phone who moves not one iota. Not one. I pick myself up in good form cursing up a storm. Theses damn humans etc, etc…blah blah blah cell phone, f-ing, blah blah. Still cursing I get back on my bike ride access the intersection and manage to wind up staring at the sky on my back once again. And no he has not moved. The cursing gets louder. A gentleman in scrubs approaches, I’m assuming at his own risk, which seems to make the act even more kind. Because I am in a fury this morning. Muttering muttering. He gently hands me my bag. I smile, somewhat, thanking him. I decide not to get back on my bike and walk it carefully towards the Shambhala center for my third day of retreat. I realize he is walking in the same direction and that may be his destination as well. Of course he is going to my center for meditation, of course.

Lucky for me he does not. I arrive somewhat injured but walking. Still muttering I realize I am on breakfast duty. I ask multiple people for help but nobody can. Of course I am estimating a gargantuan amount of dishes. Mutter, mutter, mutter. Suddenly one of my retreat members appears. She speaks softly to me as I do the dishes. She carries them in and I wash. As she speaks and I respond, I feel the tension sliding off of me. I realize I have finally accepted my morning. I laugh as I listen to her. We leave the kitchen twinkling, everything in its place, I prepare to sit.

I take my seat. Every color in the room is emitting clear and crisp lines. Each breath entering and leaving me. And I realize I am finally awake. I have “slept” most of this retreat and now I am awake. Grateful I lower my gaze and be.

To me this story is about openness. Being open to experience, open to waking up at any opportunity, open to yourself through kindness so that you may self examine and being grateful that you at any point have the awareness to do or even contemplate any of this. I was so grateful to be awake for the rest of the retreat and that I could, which I mightn’t have been able to prior to practicing Mindfulness, even be grateful for the wipe outs, man in scrubs, my kind fellow retreater and perhaps the most, to the cell phone man.

There was a gentleman in a group I was a part of who mentioned he experienced a moment of being present. That he is grateful for the days when he is pulling himself back into the present repeatedly because he realizes that those are days he is present more often. We discussed that being gentle with ourselves is imperative for awareness. When we are hard on ourselves we tend to get lost in that harshness and the behavior continues and continues and ultimately strengthens. When we are gentle we are able to see. Have space to accept and change.

There is a counterintuitive quality to inviting in what you truly want to get rid of. That acceptance however, allows the behavior or feeling to dissipate or at least allows you to exist with it without as much suffering. As an example of this one of our group members shared that she was experiencing quite a bit of pain due to a slipped disc in her back. She had been to multiple doctors and had decided, as an experiment, to accept the pain and to see what the acceptance brought.

Another member at this point asked about the relationship between avoidance, letting go and neglect. She mentioned that she had a problem with a toe that she ignored for quite a while and that it only got worse. Another member addressed this by differentiating between the quality of letting go and neglect. It is important to care for ourselves. Letting go does not mean not addressing an issue be it medical, emotional or any other kind. It means accepting that the issue is occurring. Doing your best to address it but not resisting it. “Oh why is this happening to me?” Etc. What we are actually letting go of is the resistance we are having to whatever we are experiencing. Essentially the resistance to reality.

This is about openness and kindness and learning to be grateful to the messengers that bring wisdom in sometimes painful forms. Being thankful for our wipe outs, verbal diarrhea, heartbreak, beautiful days and falling in love. But most of all for our ability to have an awareness of this all. These are our gifts. Our cake so to speak that we offer to others as a representation of our gratefulness. And I am so grateful to all of you. Have a beautiful week while gently noticing your neurosis, practicing acceptance, welcoming the difficulties in your life (again and again, old friends.) and offering your thankfulness for these experiences that provides your learning: your own embodiment of wisdom and the wisdom embodied in our full experience of life.
Sent from my iPad

 

Two Times September 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 4:23 pm

I went to my sorority reunion this past weekend. I was skeptical to say the least. My sorority, which is actually a fraternity because in 1898 our founding women had the sense to know that they didn’t want to be slaves to the fraternity brothers on their campus so they founded a fraternity instead. I should have focused on this marked detail alone. One of my sisters reached out to me individually to request my presence. She was so kind. And I…I was direct. I thought of excuses, many. But then it occurred to me to speak the truth. I confessed to her that I was intimidated. My life was so different than theirs. No children. No marriage. 9 years with a woman as my partner and now a man. I’m Buddhist and a psychotherapist. And on and on.

A wise friend of mine told me, “Cori, you do not know what their lives have been like. It is 18 years later.” So I stretched myself. I went. And let me tell what was missing. The cutting edge of judgement. Perfect marriages or perfect lives for that matter. They were on second marriages, were raising kids on their own, had been through trauma with their spouses. I was not alone.

Let me tell you what wasn’t missing. Their strength, warmth and the only cutting edge was their sense of humor. Most of my sisters have devoted their lives to either raising kids, or teaching them and many of them both. Three of them are principles. One of a French school and when I said “Karen I’m so impressed, I didn’t know you spoke French. She said, “I don’t.” Let out a big whoop of laughter. And then proceeded to tell me that she sits in on the first grade French class. Ha! Another one of my sisters has turned around one of the top 10 worse schools in Newark. She doesn’t serve sugar in school, has implemented 10 minute meditation every day and yoga twice a week. And it’s working. These women are amazing.

It was a whip quick speed. This one was cackling about her husband, this one is sitting me down to ask what the difference was between men and women was for me and who do I prefer. I will not quote her actual comment. But let me say we laughed for a good 5 minutes. One of my other sisters tells us her blond, blue eyed daughter comes into the house calling her “Brah.”and telling her that she likes her men dark. My sister says, “So! I don’t care. But on second thought maybe you should tell your father when you spend the weekend with him.” As she winks at us. My other sisters’ parting words were, “That’s right, two times a day ladies, if your not getting that then wake the hell up.” We screamed the whole time. I haven’t been that continuously loud probably since the last time I saw them, 18 years ago.

Their warmth enveloped me from my first step into the reunion, as my first sister, Kristen, hugged me and said, “I’ve missed you.” Their warmth enveloped not only my being but my heart as well. You see nothing had changed and everything had changed. They have always been this way. I’m surprised at how wise my younger self was at the age of 18, I somehow do not envision her that way. But I was wrong as I was about so many other things that day. Happily. The only person’s cutting edge judgement I dealt with that day was my own. And I actually think I dealt with it pretty well. I noticed the box I didn’t even know I was in and how important stretching myself out of my comfort zone was and how much joy and contentment that can and has brought me. Thank you sisters for teaching me once again about myself and life.