by Stephanie McCrackenMay 4, 2015 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy, wisdom0 comments
Is our fantasy of tomorrow preventing life today? There is a Zen saying which states that we should all aspire to be like a baby, experiencing each thing anew, recovering its wonder, in this we find peace, we find joy, we find the departure of negative feeling states attached to memory’s. There are many times when the perception of life’s lengthy expanse may prevent us from engaging fully in today, we imagine that we always have another tomorrow to complete our goals, to say hello, to say good bye, or to utter I’m sorry. As an exercise in consciousness and imagination, consider for a moment that you have learned it will be your last day on earth. I imagine that most of us would want to know this information as it would likely shape how we interact on our final day. If we could harness our strength and be compelled to ride the waves of anxiety something unique happens when we let go of the illusion of tomorrow, we submerge ourselves with attention in the things that matter most, we begin to embody our true or essential selves.
What is meant by the term true self? Most people when asked what they would do on their final day, make some mention of spending time with the people who they love. We want to tell them that we love them, perhaps to lay behind us disagreements and grievances. Yet too we often want to contribute something to humanity or to our family. Our essential self, offers peace and love as its greatest legacy yet often in life we are caught up in our feelings of injustice, notion of what is right or wrong, rigid boundaries with others so then it becomes easy to hold grudges, not make time for those we care about as we check our email, lift our weights, as we save and toil for our eternally uncertain futures.
There is another Zen saying which states that if we are feeling anxiety it is because we are in the future, if we are feeling depression it is because we are in the past, if we are feeling calm it is because we are in the present. Our human minds easily drift among these layers of consciousness, with the gift of memory and planning we have evolved so well to map out our future, considering things like consequences and possibilities. It is the same too with consideration of the past, it is an evolutionary advantage to remember people and situations which cause us fear and pain. It is healthy and expected to refrain from dangers and risks and move towards help and comfort. Without concerns for the future, as we continue our exercise in imagining that it is our last day on earth, we are poised on the precipice of the great unknown, we may be better able to remain grounded “in the now”. Author Randy Pausch, esteemed writer of “The Last Lecture”, Randy wrote a memoir on living while dying, in one of his chapters he references how brilliant each moment became when we know that our time is very limited. We open ourselves to the grandeur and wonder when we imagine that the things we encounter will never be encountered again, yet the truth is for each of us, full of health and contentment, time is limited, it is ticking with finality, how vivid is today, how connected to the things and people do you feel that you are right now? How do you feel about the life that you will be living today? Have you made amends with your regrets? Are you connected to passion, serenity, to wonder? We cannot be sure about tomorrow but how alive can we become today?
In peace and joy,
Stephanie McCracken MSCP
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Counseling and Psychotherapy ‘Couples Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 Suite 100
by Stephanie McCrackenJuly 10, 2014 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy0 comments
Consciousness what? Scratching your head in preponderance of this striking terminology or perhaps you are yourself a woman considering the appropriateness of such a label for your very self? Has the world sometimes labeled you a tough cookie, or suggested that your exultant expectations are otherworldly? If you are a man who has known her you certainly will be ebullient or panic stricken, perhaps melodic blending of the two, this lady is neither for the faint of heart nor lackadaisical. For you dear reader, please allow me to continue describing this wildly dynamic and soul provoking feminine specimen.
To begin, she is seldom satisfied by the superficial illustriously tempting facade, perhaps she appreciates exterior beauty but the consciousness demanding woman craves the deep thrumming of a soul submerging connection from her male counterpart. She’s the kind of woman who doesn’t spend much time watching hours of mind numbing popular television shows either alone or with her lover; she instead wants to share a conversation considering some theory, thought, maybe even a period of history. If you are still reading on, there is a part of you which is intrigued by the notion of giving and receiving more of yourself and other, the richness to access these seldom accessed parts of you, not because she will force you but instead because you are inspired.
The opposite of the consciousness demanding woman is the maiden, the maiden is passive and demure and unaware of her feminine power so inside it remains, resting, placating, dormant. By contrast the consciousness demanding woman knows of her strengths as well as her weakness and in her effort to ever heighten her own vibratory and intellectual capacity she never courts the minimum as she understands that you receive what you give. If you are a lover contented to dance about life in the comforts of mediocrity then you are best to remain where you are. The consciousness demanding woman is hallmarked by passionate intensity and heightened awareness with which she loves you, as well as herself. Most importantly she maintains that love must be exhibited in action, not simply and auditory utterance. In ways both magnificent and meek she acts upon her love. You may notice a congruity in the consciousness demanding woman as she lives and loves in much the same manner, it is in the way which she respects and expects others to be.
If you want to buy your way into enlightenment or seeking out indulgences then find a fellow capitalist and head to Wall Street because the consciousness demanding woman is beckoned by the possibility of enthrallment with your mental constitution and emotional climate. Her not so little secret is that she strives to intimate the essence of your being and not in a covert manner much like the maiden who may seek to understand you in order to please you, or trick you into seduction. A consciousness demanding woman will be forthright in her desires as she will want to take only that which her partner is inwardly compelled to give. As a fact she places much of her self-esteem and dignity upon her ability to share even difficult truths. The resultant is that she will often tell you things that you don’t want to hear but probably need to know. In the unceasing quest for absolute verity she makes a wonderful friend and so you will often find her among an ever expanding circle of mutually respectful comrades. So without and within so she is equally contentedly alone with a book or a thought. Just as well as her ability to move beyond discomfort to deliver truth she is sumptuous in her sharing of joy and gratitude. The maiden may hold back this lavish and overt praise for fear of overwhelming her lover with the magnitude of her feeling. The consciousness demanding woman will gaze directly into your eyes and crisply annunciate to you all of the things within your essence and the world that seduce her glee, beckon her respect, and drape her in comfort. She remains ceaseless in her journey of self-discovery and recognizes the subtle and grand metamorphosis of the very universe and elemental laws, accepting that convergent truth unites all and that we are each blossoming or dormant in a state of becoming yet she is quite comfortable in those unknowns. If you are in love with a consciousness demanding woman, you just may know but will never forget because the unfolding of the relationship will take you one step closer to you or something magnificent which proffers union to all…
In loving consideration,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Psychotherapist offering Marriage and Couples Therapy
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233 Suite 100
by Stephanie McCrackenApril 30, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy0 comments
Who among us has not suffered from feelings of anxiety at some point in his or her life, it is common enough to be among the more often seen symptoms which bring an individual into a therapist’s office. Even for the most staunchly healthy psyches anxiety is a typical benchmark which exists in a range of degrees within the human emotive process. Depending upon you as the individual and the technical approach of your clinician you may be offered a multitude of conflicting remedies to intervene upon that which is ailing you.
There are the wildly popular pharmacological interventions such as Xanax or Valium, while widely popular these interventions do nothing to examine the “how’s” or “why’s” of an anxious feeling. These interventions assume that an increased cardiovascular response, heightened worry, tense muscles, sleepless nights, feelings of agitation are all in the physical realm yet quite mysterious. Indeed anxiety in its more insidious form is a grave health concern so it is with accolades that I note the vast number of humans seeking treatment to escape its grips. There is something inexplicably disconcerting about the hyper arousal of anxiety which compels one towards a greater risk for many other issues health issues such as addictions, depression, coronary heart disease, even eroding the erectile function of both the male and female, to name but a few.
Most of us recognize that there are yet other forms of anxiety which are our “bon amie,” the kind which compels our actions for good causes such as self and social betterment. Without a touch of anxiety one may hit the snooze button each and every morning and drop out of society all together. Yet for our purposes we will consider the more sinister form with its wanton undesirability which causes many to seek its avoidance at all costs. There are vastly varied approaches within the medical community in terms of treatment of anxiety, there are folk remedies, homeopathic remedies, new age methods, each with their unique utility. Yet most all of these interventions lavish attention upon the amelioration of physical symptoms but may from sheer neglect, fail to examine the psychological underpinnings of anxiety itself. For those who do experience the necessity of utilizing anti-anxiety medication it is an empirically validated fact that the best therapeutic outcomes exists for individuals who make use of psychotherapeutic settings simultaneously. It is within the psychotherapeutic setting that the focus is cast specifically upon the unique psychology which may be breeding and offering sustenance to an overabundance of anxiety. Allow the remainder of this small essay to offer a rudimentary overview of some of the more typical sources of psychological anxiety.
Significant Life Changes
This form of anxiety is a reaction to some looming occurrence which has skated its way across your horizon, it may be adaptive and is completely natural. Many of us thrive upon constancy, as much as this tendency is at odds with the nature of the universe, inevitably we experience some anxiety while changing jobs, graduating, marrying, divorcing etc. While it is normal to exhibit some emotional reaction to such transitions be mindful to give extra care to yourself even during those joyous transitions. For any anxious feeling that continues to gnaw at your innards, give yourself some time to thoroughly examine all of your thoughts surrounding the (fill in blank) transition. This reflection affords the opportunity to hone in on any ways your emotional self may be beckoning you towards a closer look at something that your conscious awareness is not seeing completely.
The more that we attempt to repress our emotional experience the more that they tend to rupture forth in greatly unmanageable ways. Perhaps you are a product of early learning which valued emotional repression and lack of expressiveness. In some way you may have learned early or later in life that it is dangerous or taboo to talk about feelings or even notice that they exist for you, yet the vast and unstoppable torrent of the feeling state will not be escaped. This form of anxiety or panic urges the person towards understanding and experiencing of inner awareness and emotional expression.
The exactitude and finite nature of time is stated by some to be the source of all anxiety. What is it that you will you do with your precious earthly allowance? By becoming more aware of lapsing time, acknowledging that life proffers beauteous opportunity, love, and abundance still too, how will you cope with mounting defeats, losses, and unrealized potentials? Ones highest hope is to make father time ones friend, utilizing our human energies to compel feats which contribute to human progress. For you that may mean many things, to raise a family, build computer software, tend the forest, love deeply, the myriad meanings for the human riddle.
For some of us it is alarming to consider doing something that risks ones perceived control over ones surroundings. That could mean riding in an airplane, making interpersonal changes like developing new relationships, people are the ultimate unknown variables full of competing needs and possibilities. Will you be able to extend the risk of letting go of the known order to enjoy the potentials?
While this is in no way an exhaustive exploration of that powerful human indicator named anxiety it is something that may compel one to begin to relate to it in a slightly different manner. Perhaps it is time to consider its possibilities, its latent messages, it may one with greater respect for behoove one to not simply extinguish an anxious feeling with a pill or an exercise but to sit with it, even for just a moment, entering its heart palpating, dizzying sensation, in reverential respect for its utility and possibility as an psychic indicator. There is an understanding that in most cases, under the layers of any symptom are a fortunate beckoning towards the best version of yourself, the unrelinquishable layers of consciousness which insist that ideals will be felt and known.
In good health and energy,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
*This article does not intend to diagnose, treat, or in any way address an anxiety disorder or supplant psychological or medical advice. This is intended for your consideration only.