by Stephanie McCrackenJuly 19, 2013 counseling, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy0 comments
Something about Nothing
The heated summer air is whirring beyond and within your skin, feet pounding upon the city sidewalks in an ever hurried procession. Preparation for yet another marathon, sweat beads forming and sliding, perspiring in cylindrical icicles down your front, back, and every inch of in between, an urgent reminder to go, go, go, harder, faster, more.
12 hour work days, 52 weeks out of the year, the paper work piling higher, depositions and court cases formulating another win, another dollar. You will make partner in your firm by the time you are 40 as long as you stay later in hopes of achievement, more, more, money, more promotions, more responsibility, more ways to know that this is worth it, work harder, faster, more.
Your neighbor owes you 50$ and tells you that she isn’t able to return the kindly favor until next week, you were counting on it to put gas in your tank to take your brother to the store and your dad to the doctor and your daughter to the outpatient drug rehabilitation program, maybe even buying some snack cakes to put in your husband’s lunch pail. Who else needs you today? Who else can you help? Move, go, do, more, faster.
Stick the needle in your arm yet again, the numbness settles within and sealing your mind from everything out there until it’s time to get up in search of another person to rob, a piece of jewelry to steal, to trade for some money to buy some silence in time without thinking of the faceless people from which you steal or the way that it makes you think to be a person who sticks a needle to go numb. More, deeper, harder, faster.
Yield, I insist upon the cessation of all of this motion for just one moment!
You, don’t move another inch towards the needle, don’t lift that tennis shoe from its connection to the ground, toss that mounting pile of paper work to the side, tell everyone to take a taxi today. This moment, this hour, this day will be sacred. In this moment you will busy yourself with nothing! Your work, your accomplishment, your effort will be the achievement of absolutely nothing at all. Settle into that seat, locate a sturdy park bench, or a shady and cool spot under a giant oak, or perhaps you will lay down in your bed, it matters not as long as you are making time to do nothing at all.
For most of us, it takes practice and effort to develop this superior skill. The ability to relax and even glean wisdom from nothing, but in time you will appreciate the restorative properties to doing nothing because, doing nothing is every bit as vital as doing all of those something’s. Moments of nothing can be brimming with einstienesque inspiration, it is the stillness and quiet that is associated with heightened vital energy. Many people are at first uncomfortable in silence, it is in those moments that the mind begins to speak and we don’t know what to feel about all of these thoughts and sensations pouring from within of us. We are typically seated with television blasted and task at hand, there is most always something that provides a barrier preventing us from hearing that inner voice the speech exuding from the quieted mind. My challenge for you is this, insist upon creating a moments time, at least several days per a week or ideally, each and every day, to sit quietly while doing nothing. Allow stillness to cloak you and with eyes opened or closed, notice the quiet settling within and without, simply be seated and breath, observe your thoughts as they meander by like rotund puffy clouds in a warm summer sky. Simply and calmly be, while at first you may find it challenging to achieve this, I will offer my unequivocal assurance that you are in technical terms “achieving.” In this quiet and calm you are equipping yourself with vitality. As the mind, body, heart rate breathing settle, thinking, feeling, and being improve. With the mind calmly alert one is best able to commune harmoniously with others in performing the thinking tasks associated with living a full life. Some may call this exercise mediation, or prayer, or even time out but I will insist upon titling it nothing, the Italians have a luxuriously simplistic phrase for this, dolce far niente, “the joy of doing nothing.” Nothing hasn’t ever sounded so good. Always remember that it is within balance that harmony is borne, silence projects sound, the yin and the yang, all of those somethings, out of nothing….
The 60’s may be an era far behind us but women all over the world may want to reconsider why it is still a good idea to burn those bras! More and more research is indicating that underwires and demi cups could be doing more damage than good for the shape and health of the breast. Furthermore I would personally encourage women to consider exactly why is it considered a faux pas to allow their nipples the experience of grazing their clothes without the interference of padding or lace? The male nipple is legally and culturally approved to expose itself wherever it may wish, yet the female nipple is somehow shrouded, forevermore to be contained in secrecy. At its most bare level, to require woman to cover their breasts is a violation of basic equal rights guaranteed by the American constitution. Women are not given the same rights as men when it comes to this point. How does this legal stance effect women psychologically, are we so different from the Muslim women who don their head coverings or hijabs to prevent men from becoming aroused by their lustrous locks? What sort of repercussions do women experience when they chose to defy these cultural norms, by either going braless or topless? What is it really like to be a woman in modern day America?
Let’s begin from the more common reasons that women may be dedicated to wear a bra. Media and transmitted popular culture has some convinced to keep their breasts supported 24/7 this allegedly prevents the breasts from sagging and dropping. The fact is that breast tissue is suspended by the pectoral muscles, just as any other muscle in the body the more that the muscle is activated the stronger it becomes. Wearing a bra is known to cause the atrophy of the pectoral muscles and thereby hastens the dropping of breast tissue long before nature may have effected such changes. Old, young, high, low, grande or petite, we love and salute the breast in all of its forms.
Form however is not the only consideration when it comes to breast tissue. America has one of the highest instances of breast cancer in all industrialized nations. Researchers are turning to the bra in an effort to understand why. Some studies have concluded that wearing a bra is correlated with higher instances of breast cancer. Some are concluding that bras, particularly those with underwire, are preventing the lymphatic system from cycling toxins out of the body, leaving them trapped within the breast fat and later developing into cancers.
With all of this confusion surrounding the bra, I wonder why Victorias Secret seems to increase their sales every year? Isn’t one of the points of covering the nipple so that a woman appears chaste, yet ironically the very bras that we use to cover the nipple have come to symbolize sex with even the youngest girls seek out the lacy sheers of Victoria’s and Fredrick’s. With all of these inconsistent messages surrounding sexuality it is no wonder sexual dysfunction and body image are topics that continually crop up in therapists offices.
Why is it that our male counterparts are not forced to cover their nipples, in fact a man can go topless while jogging outdoors without fearing legal repercussions. For a woman it is indeed against the law to exercise the same way, anyone who knows the basic tenants of constitutional equal rights is likely cringing! What is it about the female breast with its mammary glands and vital function which is the cause of such a stir? We see primates and other zoo animals topless and think nothing of this, in Europe many females visit the beaches and pools without tops and in the European countries nobody seems to care very much about this would be spectacle. Just like with most anything prohibited, the breast becomes more alluring the more that it’s mystified. We owe it to ourselves and our future generation to provide clear messages surrounding these tufts of tissue, these parts of ourselves. Breasts are beautiful, they are for some sexual a source of sexual pleasure, they are a source of nutrition for our young, yet they should not and will not be source of shame. I at times hear the whispers that others speak about women who breast feed in public places, I hear them be the subject of ridicule as they perform the most natural of all mammary functions, we must cease to shame this.
The point of this essay is to allow woman a moment to consider just why we are binding and gagging ourselves with covers that very well may be leading to our early demise. Why we are taught to be “modest” from a young age, and just what is hidden beneath our lacy bras, the female breast should be celebrated for its function, a provider of life and vital nourishment, a place for the young to feel protected and safe as they suckle to maturation. If any woman should be so bold as to desire taking a jog or a walk outdoors with the sensation of cool wind fluttering against their bare upper body, then in the essence of equality and love of the human body, we should be provided the opportunity for equal rights and equal freedom. Until that day, we are given July 9, 2013, A day to go braless, enjoy the human experience ladies.
In freedom and health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233
For Further Reading
by Stephanie McCrackenJuly 2, 2013 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychotherapy0 comments
Bliss, contentment, joy, with all of this jolly there is much debate. Are we birthed from our mothers’ wombs and onto the terrestrial sphere with an innate capacity to experience greater abundance of positive vibes or is a happy disposition something that can be nurtured? There are endless varieties of self-help books, and spiritual manuals indicating the gamut of tactics which when put into practice, may help us live a life with greater serenity. As a therapist and a woman who revels in her own personal transformation, I have some simple but powerful tools to share with you which will direct your feelings towards the more ecstatic emotions. Here are some tips for the reader:
1) Letting go of resentment. Whether it is a feud that started 10 years ago or just yesterday, when you hold on to feelings of anger and harbor grudges it is very unhealthy for you. Just like the saying goes, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick!” Letting go of grudges doesn’t mean that you are saying a wrong doing done to you is ok, it means that you recognize that these emotions do not serve you which is why you are letting them go! It may be helpful to release them ceremoniously, writing a small list and burning it and then burying it somewhere deep within the earths soil, truly putting your woes to rest.
2) Make a regular practice to reflect on gratitude. The feeling of gratitude is one of the most powerful positive emotions; it expands thinking and is composed of light and love. No matter where you are in your life, you surely have some things to be grateful for and the best things are typically the simplest- always keep in mind that the tiny moments are the building blocks of the fabric of your life!
3) Take care of your body! There is much to be said for taking the time to invigorate your limbs with oxygenated blood, allowing them the experience of vigorous contortion. We are animals and our forms are intended for motion. Furthermore, we must be mindful to consume nutritious food. Be sure to eat at least one or two foods a day that are plant based, preferably something out of the skin or rind and not out of the jar. Ancient Chinese medicine indicates that all food has energy, be sure to eat things that are live, healthy and teeming with life force!
4) Focus on the breath. When you take the time to understand your body and realize its
rhythms you are well on your way to living a healthy and happy life! The breath is the elixir which feeds our very living, it has the power to calm, or excite and when you hone in on this process you can begin to exert great power over your own mood. Slowing and deepening for deep relaxation or notice how fast and shallow breathing becomes when we are upset or after a run.
5) Value non-material things. Working is an important part of adult life, making money can feel great because money has the ability to provide for basic material necessities and those little bells and whistles which sure can be fun. Yet, the most important things that we know are our relationships to friends and families, they are the true givers of joy. Remember that when your last hour is nearing, you won’t be thinking about your bank account balance, you will crave nearness with the people who dwell in your heart and mind so make time for them now while your time is long.
6) Discover the joy of doing nothing. Most of us stay so busy maintaining the demands of our work and home duties that the idea of doing nothing comfortably gives us the shivers. Yet because of this it is even more vital that we explore the sensory bliss of truly relaxing into our own minds and bodies, far away from the phone and computer or chatter of mates and children. We will all become a bit happier when we carve out some time to enjoy doing nothing, for you maybe that is simply closing your eyes and breathing in a hot bath, or under the shade of the tree or even turning your back on your computer at work, closing your eyes and guiltlessly dwelling in your own mind for a few blissful minutes.
7) Reacquaint yourself with nature. The most content people have a relationship with and an understanding of nature. All of those forces outside of the self, the inspiration of countless poems and paintings, when we place our attention upon the attunement of our earth, she usually has some messages for us. While she speaks, she calms and there are even new studies which indicate that people who sit, plant, and place themselves near soil are happier and boast heartier immune systems. Despite what your mother may have told you about tracking it in the house, dirt isn’t so bad after all, those live microbes carry some secrets such as disease fighting and there are others who say that direct contact with the ground can have astounding effects on your electromagnetic composition, literally realigning your force field.
Besides any of things what are your suggestions for living a happier life? Please share your own personal tips!
In health and wellness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy