by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 7, 2017 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, dating, divorce, marriage counseling, meditation, personal growth, psychology, therapists, therapy, wellness, wisdom, yoga0 comments
The Valentine’s Day Love Manual For Singles, Married, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever
We develop patience because we come to understand demandingness, we best learn to love by having our hearts broken, when our dignity is usurped, and our sanity called into question, sometimes this is the starting point for some wondrous growth and opportunity. We develop spirit by first living soullessly, we begin the path toward discipline because we know the deleterious dangers of living in the aimless direction of ego and ID driven revelry. For the month of February, many of us are more focused on love and relationships with Valentine’s Day upon us. As therapists, as women, humans, lovers and people who know just a little bit about the psychology of relationships, we offer this, The Valentine’s Day Love Manual for Singles, Married, Dating, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever. Lets make love to the world with our song, our breath, our actions, and the beautiful ripples of our actions come to life.
1-“The First Rule of The Love Manual” For The Singles, The Free Birds Fluttering Brightly.
Love Your Self!
If we are going to ever get anything done in this world we must first love ourselves. If we don’t come from a place of self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion, we will never be able to move beyond animal nature, we will never have any real relationship with anyone, anything, or any project. So if you’re single and loving it, rather work on perfecting your down dog or grooming your cats mane, that’s ok, just as long as it comes from a place of mindful self-love, we think that’s swell! You see as we humans evolve, we no longer pay as much attention to where we are going but instead it is how are we getting there, what is the motivation for action? Sound lofty? It is and that’s exactly what we are going for, something a little more! We can fall in a million different directions if we don’t practice mindfulness vigilantly, we may fall backwards into lesser motivation. Motivation, if not coming from love, is then derived from ego, ego quests for power, attention, praise, control, and per The Sage and All of the Worlds Ancient Ones, the ego culminates inferior instincts.
2- “The Second Rule of the Love Manual”, To Be Used If you want to attract great love into your life;
Love Your Self!
Like attracts like or like attracts the opposite, most importantly those who we share attraction with are those who vibrate on the same frequency as our root identity or self-concept. If we are vibrating in our lower elements, or energy centers of the physical realm, we will fall into relationships that are purely on the physical realm, which can be really great if that’s what two people are wanting together. Perhaps we have entered the emotional stage of development, then we will invariably only commit to relationships which mirror that. Perhaps we are vibrating from ego, and we quest for idolatry or fame, we may look only for those who embody false values such as vanity or fame. If we value power then we connect on that plane, if we truly love ourselves, as we develop spirit, then we will only connect with those who have peaked the crescendo toward those levels of being; spirit, morality, goodness, compassion, authenticity, and respect. When we love ourselves, we only acquiesce with those who mirror to us genuine affection.
The Third Rule of The Love Manual, For Those who are in a relationship long or short term, to keep the Love Strong,
Yes, you guessed it!
Love Your Self!
How does loving yourself keep things in balance for long-term relationships? Well unless we are discussing an extreme form of narcissism, chances are we think of your partners needs and do it often. For some, it is hard or guilt inducing to incorporate some self-indulgence into life rituals. How do we make time for a jog in the park when our wife is finishing with work and will be disappointed if we aren’t at home early? Before we know it, we haven’t constructed a relationship, we have constructed a cage! We choose and choose again, others needs and requests far beyond our own and resultant we consciously and unconsciously become overwhelmed, withdrawn, frustrated, passive aggressive, withholding, and depressed. This is not helpful for our love, and furthermore when we don’t love with boundaries, healthy limits, and in loving acknowledgment of our own needs we are not participating in a relationship or marriage, this is bondage and emotional servitude. So go ahead, choose yourself, love yourself and value yourself and watch your relationships flower beautifully!
In love, kindness, warmth, and respect,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh Therapy TeamLearn More
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 13, 2016 counseling, educational, mindfulness, psychology, psychotherapy, resolutions, wisdom0 comments
Resolving to Simplicity, Less is More.
Oh it is indeed that time again, the new year with its glittering hopes, perhaps like many others, you are assessing some goals, or maybe just noticing in quiet desperation that there are some things which you feel hopeless and exhausting from last year. According to statistics over half of those who have stated a resolution have already had one or more slip ups in achieving their goals. We understand, no need to wait until next year to start again, perhaps your resolution itself could use some polishing to make it more achievable. We know the common categorical types of resolutions, generally those things which move us toward the best version of self, or to be a better spouse, perhaps your goals are professional in nature, there are indeed many ways to evolve. As a helpful tip it is known that we do best with goals which are tangible and concrete therefor more attainable. For example, instead of I want to be healthier we would do best to spend some time listing and contemplating what our ideal version of health looks like so that we can better achieve that. We also do best with goals that are focused on adding a behavior or if we are taking something out of our repertoire we should be sure to replace it with something else, for instance if we resolve to drink less soda, what are we going to drink instead? So many worthwhile goals I have heard uttered by those around town, “take the stairs more often, spend more time with loved ones, take more time for relaxation.” Kudos to us in the north east for even while plummeted with heaps of snow, we still embrace our efforts toward growth or change. It is never an easy task to do a self-assessment and then endeavor to make internal and external maneuvers which are in line with our goals. Yet any effort large or small becomes a reward in and of itself, for this we should be proud, always remembering that change is not an event but a process. Maybe you are still coming up with your resolution, and that is ok too, there are lots of people still calling out ‘happy new year!’ For 2016 maybe like us, you want something a bit different, an intangible, an inarticulate, for us, our resolution may be the anti-resolution, for 2016 what we resolve to make as our own is this one simple, elegant thing, ‘we want less’ let us explore what we mean by this.
For 2016 let us clear out the clutter, the tattered and torn blouses shoved deep into the recesses of our closet, bring the dust bunnies to the light. Not just less clutter but less time acquiring more stuff, in 2016 let us aim to take up less space, find a smaller house and fill it with only the most important and essential of items which mean something vital to us. Let us embrace less fad dieting and nutritional trends which most of all whittle away at our self-esteem when in fact there is much to be loved about the curvature of our waist line. In this new year perhaps we can best serve our selves and goals by speaking less, saying fewer things and embracing those pauses which sustain the power of our chosen words and when we say less of them we instill our speech with meaningful gravity. It may be best to devote less attention to pursuing goals and progress, even this goal and instead we can sit in quiet contemplation while staring out at the endless lessons of the sun or the river, the sun and the river have so much to teach us. In this shiny new and novel year perhaps we can do less, and need less and maybe we will notice the widening cracks of the facade of all of that artificial striving when the unnecessary, the unimportant, the artificial all fade away, we suddenly create space for peace, for stillness, we find that stillness has its own fullness, we create space for our minds to speak of their own accord instead of the ceaseless serving of our family, our friends, our bosses and coworkers needs and wants.
In Pittsburgh’s own Andy Warhol Museum there hangs a sign that says, “Less is more? No! More is More!’- a quote by Andy himself. This we do contest, less really is more because when all that is not essential is whittled away, it is peace, simplicity and serenity which unfolds upon us, cheers to the new year and best of luck with your resolutions and beyond.
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 22, 2015 counseling, couples counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, wisdom0 comments
The Grass is Always Greener, To the Brown Patches of Dirt in my Lawn, On Love and Life
The grass is always greener, the crab grass, the blue grass, the sea grass, I see it out there as one whose mind is prone to perpetual comparisons, squinting eyes contemplating between the haves and have not’s. My front lawn has large cavernous patches of dirt, etched amidst sparse littering’s of grassy blades. It’s something that really bothers me, sometimes in the way too early morning hours I lay awake and think about how to solve this problem, I should admit that I pride myself upon being a solver of life’s hasty demands. Yet this one has riddled me, how did this muddy pit get here? Once or twice I have even tried picking up all of my belongings and moving to a new home, so beside myself with this shoddy yard that I convinced myself to find a completely new house, a house with the dream lawn of my most romantic fantasies. I am not the only person to notice the grass, the grass provides the frame of ones home, the foundation for ones life, a connection to the earth, this is about so much more than the “grass,” it’s a part of ones identity, how does one manicure what is imperfect? How to maintain esteemed pride when the very things which frame my tidy house fail to meet my very own lofty standards of, “how it all should be.” Does one still thrust a pole into the lawn with a kitschy flag to commemorate each of the holidays? Does one dabble large planters upon the grass and fill them with marigolds and petunias? Maybe nobody will notice those miserable barren patches if I simply abandon all responsibility and allowing the lawn to grow long and wild, perhaps to revel in the mysterious and primal Amazonian nature of it. Coveting thy neighbors grass can become an obsession. A soothing Sunday drive to clear the mind and where am I? I am not in conversation with my fiancé who is stoically manning the wheel, I careen my neck from outside of his finely tuned automobile. I see the emerald spikes encasing the lawns of this neighbor and that, evoking for me a sense of desirous melancholy. Things can rapidly careen out of control, thoughts becoming high jacked, not wanted to walk out of the house to have someone see that this is my lawn, not wanting to be associated with those cursed drab patches of barren earth. I see my neighbors flaunting theirs, the grass that sparkles, those majestic little studs bolding jutting out from the earth, with their implicit meaning that any abode which has such grass is perfectly cared for, is more than a house, it is a home. I too want the kind that feels like that springs beneath bare feet and smells like a musky blend of lemon tart and pine needle. There are countless books written about landscaping and gardening, one can use seed or sod, barricade it to be sure nobody walks on it, or then too, one could walk on it with high heels to aerate, or perhaps enhance the soil with worms, for every curiosity help is a YouTube video, a google, or a guru away . Yet none of them say this: After a very long and drawn out rest, a celestial providence of an epiphany struck down upon me, opening up my mind with a shiny insight; nobody else is going to fix my lawn, moving isn’t going to help me find better grass, it is my very technique to tending the lawn which is lacking. It’s easy to get frustrated too much, to turn away from picnics in the grass because it doesn’t look, smell, or feel the way that one imagined it “should”. Soil samples and sod wont alleviate this eternal pondering for the clue to change the grass for good, there is a really simple way to enjoy the grassy knoll of ones dreams. Yet like all things worth cultivating, it will not be easy, lace up the old work boots and jean coveralls.
It all starts by loving the grass, those darling petite seedlings only dare rupture the earth for promise of the warming sun, give your grass warmth. Yes, I know my child, in this moment we see only barren patches of earth but I urge you to go out there and love them anyways, not just to say it but to do it, planting glorious seeds of intention. Water those blades each and every day, fill your watering can to the brim with hopeful water, set aside a collection of rainwater, the earth loves the water best which has danced amidst the clouds. Tend to your petite parcel of earth each day, when tired wield your soil crusted shovel, when fantasizing about a tropical holiday, one still must tend to the lawn. You see, I have learned something, our response to our imperfections, to those earthen patches of mud, does indeed determine our opportunities for growth. How do you tend to the patches of mud upon your lawn? Anyone can marvel at that which has been luxuriated with advantageous wonder but it takes one dedicated and master gardener to persevere with fortitude, to love a little earthen patch into a fully bloomed, springy and lustrous lawn. Just what is it in you or your relationship which just may need a little more love to blossom forth with life?
Dreaming of spring time grass, Stephanie McCracken MSPC Reviving Minds Therapy Offering Marriage or Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy 1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 *This is an intentional fictional piece and similarity to real or actual events is sheer cosmic coincidence…Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenSeptember 4, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, elephant journal, mindfulness, personal growth, psychotherapy, wisdom0 comments
As written by us and featured in Elephant Journal http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/09/serenaded-by-fire-dancing-with-anger-a-psychotherapists-musings-stephanie-mccracken/
Experiencing and acting upon anger, despite its steeping potentials, is often shrouded in uncertainty and even guilt or shame, causing many people to attempt its subterranean burial. Due to cultural and early childhood learning, anger is only given an opportunity to only to be exhumed by accessing deeper levels of consciousness. This cultural urging to truncate human richness towards the effort of appearing uni-dimensional, saccharine and serene may be especially felt by woman, “be a good girl” they say. Despite valiant efforts to remain superiorly cool, even the most grandiose attempt to dismiss anger will result in its manifestation in less healthy manners. Perhaps you are a person who has been accused of yelling or other frenetic outburst to which you adamantly deny, then this reflection may resonate with your unconscious yearning for wholeness and serve as an impetus towards allowing some of the disavowed aggression to lovingly bubble forth.
In the range of the human emotional experience, anger is a vital, valid, and often in containment of a message. Anger is alphabetically close to danger but this too means that anger has a protective function. Whether the sensation of anger propels our action to ensconce and protect the rainforest from loggers or our child from the grips of a bully, anger is an activating emotion. On a cellular level when anger erupts we will likely notice an acceleration of heart rate, pupil dilation, vasodilation, all similar to panic and anxiety these would have allowed us to evolve in our prehistoric forms by seeing better, running harder, and accessing our reserve of strength. For some this is a rapid and temporarily irreversible ascension which will require some time spent self-soothing to reenter the terrestrial atmosphere. In fact, within couples therapy and marriage counseling it is noted that divergent conflict resolution needs are a common theme, it becomes essential to understand what yours is and how it interacts with those around you with the aim of growing towards health and balance.
It is not only relationships which may benefit from a better relationship with anger, modern science supports that repeatedly experiencing activating emotions renders a tantamount physical and emotional bill. Such as the case of the “type A personality” those with the monumental drive to make the world one conquest are also often noted to linger on the precipice of fiery anger. This puts them at continued risk for heart disease, hypertension, and additionally the social cost that can come for those that motion in a perpetually haughty dance with angers tempo. Allow us to admit just this one thing, whether it be culturally or from our families many of us learn, to our detriment, that there is something dangerous or forbidden about the outward expression of anger. Perhaps it is that we will be consumed by experiencing it or act out in a way that is unacceptable, which may lead to repression of the feeling thereby becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as those things we wish to bury almost always evidence themselves in more dramatic and unexpected ways. Provided that we recognize and utilize our emotions in a productive and socially responsible manner, angers energy has the potential to become a beneficial driving force!
From Repression to Expression With heightened and hot emotions like anger there may be some cultural and personal sentiments which discourage the human experience by placing an added layer of shame, guilt, or doubt upon the expression of negative feelings, even if done in the most appropriate and effective of manners. The real challenge may be in encouraging a person who practices repression that they are even experiencing such feelings, particularly if they have learned from an early age that the expression of such feelings is unsafe as we see with victims of trauma and abuse.
Unveiling The Masking of Anger The multitude of colors and ensembles with which anger is known to present itself can be bewildering. From the exceedingly calm demeanor which may only display a mild tightening of the area around the lips, to the full out adult temper tantrum and there are even those who utilize passive aggression to make their inner world become evident, anger is indeed a human universal as much as some may wish to dismiss its being.
In recognizing aggressive and animalistic impulses we seek to nurture a healthy degree of fire, without being dominated by unconscious aggression. Even for the good girl, the journey towards wholeness and mindfulness will require that we first prioritize a relationship with our inner self to begin to recognize our anger, respect the sensation and then work within the pause between thought/feeling and action to formulate an appropriate response to anger. Some questions that you may want to ask of yourself- What happens for our internal sanctum as the heart thrums faster and the embers flicker towards rising heat? Do we trust our ability to communicate effectively in a hot state or are we the kind of person who needs a cooling off period to navigate a high level of frustration? When was the last time that you expressed anger and what emotions come up for you as you consider your expression of this human sensation? The point is that provided we are being mindful and authentic we are best honoring ourselves and our bountifully rich human experience.
In robust wholeness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Psychotherapist offering Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 20, 2014 counseling, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy0 comments
The solar energy and entrance of summers dance beckons forth beads of perspiration and the cherry blossom glow if sun-kissed cheeks. It is time to celebrate the summer solstice and this year the earth has proffered abundantly with her flourishing landscape smiling faces pleased to be enjoying more of life outdoors. Moods seem to be heightened and Peaceburgh united in celebration of earth’s full bloom. As a 30 something woman and psychotherapist the summer solstice has special significance to me as I realize that I am in the solstice of my very own life’s trajectory.
Spring and early summer are behind me, those carefree days hallmarked by revelry of free abandon, newly warmed earth encouraging endless exploration, curiosity and summers long, warm nights fueling choice and impulse to stay a little longer gazing at the starlight canopy glimmering way up there. Yet the more days of life which are offered to any of earths curious travelers, the more thought that may beckon itself towards the distance. As thinking, feeling, planning humans we know that the golden halo of the high summer sun will unfold towards to the chill of October and the stark freeze of January. So we sentient beings do our very best to both remain centered within the ebullient energy of the solstice yet we also concern ourselves with embodying the best expression of all of this heightened opportunity towards the yield of the later season’s crop. The tomato blossoms which I loving tend in June shall nourish me during the less opportune late winter. Much of human suffering is preventable when we simply act in accordance with the earth’s rhythms and offer our selves towards the infinite flow of wisdom which is contained in the grasses and groves around us.
Which portion of your life may you tend more gently, nourish and water more abundantly so that your crop yield will provide more nourishment to your and yours? Are you a staunch singleton or a part of a loving relationship or marriage? Is there an activity or hobby which you have always wanted to take up? How about that extra degree or accreditation which you have wanted to obtain? A part of your spirit urging you to take that trip? Are you uncomfortably shy or angry, what risks are you willing to take to embody the best you? What about that love or a friendship which you have wanted to repair? The solstice is a time of bountiful joy and opportunity, our terrestrial reminder that energy is in full force, to what should we devote ourselves so that we are the most whole and healthful humans we can be?
Pittsburgh has much to do this solstice to celebrate and commune in the worshiping and love of the season! Check out some of these peaceful events!
- At the First United Methodist Church “Re-Source! Creation Spirituality Gathering, June 20-22” Here you can look forward to “Integrating Spiritual Practice with Compassionate Action”, is the theme of this year’s Creation Spirituality Gathering at First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh. Deepen your spiritual practices with people who re-source their walk in the world through ancient wisdom, the new cosmology, co-creativity, and joy for the inter-connectedness of all beings. Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox’s keynote address will be “Compassion: The Next Level of Consciousness for Human Evolution”. Find out more at our website. www.re-Source!Gathering.com”https://www.facebook.com/events/597288267044768/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&suggestsessionid=81c6cef650f0c27c601a808714ea119b
- Also not to be missed is The Summer Solstice, Hear The Song of The Heart Celebration! Summer Solstice represents the highest point of light available for inner activation of consciousness, Mike Tamburo and Gallina work in unison to during their vibrational gonging and Kirtan chanting healing ceremonies, if your interest is piqued then follow the link! oin us for a very special Summer Solstice gathering. Create and celebrate community as we light our inner fire with vitality, joy, and renewal. Experience transformation and union through sound, tone, breath, and movement in this Yoga of Sound workshop. Crown of Eternity will lead you through mantras and meditations with a live music soundtrack – creating the perfect environment for you to become absorbed in the sound current. Open a space of inner stillness and allow the song of your heart to arise inwardly from the subtle currents of prana moving throughout your body. Experience the devotional aspects of the Heart Chakra; where there is no conflict; where Heavens and Earth come together in balance. Let your hearts soar through Crown Of Eternity’s live cosmic renditions of sacred chants. Let your minds dissolve in sublime stillness to the sounds of multiple gongs. Meditation on sound is a universal path to self realization accessible to any one and appropriate for any path or spiritual aspiration.oin us for a very special summer gathering. This event historically sells out! Register here: http://www.crownofeternity.com/ai1ec_event/summer-solstice-hear-the-song-of-the-heart-celebration/?instance_id=496
- At the local J and D winery, you can worship with some vino and tunes this Sunday! “Join us for”Wine & Music on the Patio w/ Joy Ike Band”. This lovely Sunday afternoon will include live music from 2pm – 5pm. You can also enjoy local cheese from Emerald Valley Artisans, and of course, delicious wine by the glass and by the bottle will be available for purchase.” Follow the link for more details! https://www.facebook.com/events/1451627521750989/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
- On June 28th head on over to Mookshi Wellness Center for the “Welcome Back Summer Trance-Chant Party/KIRTAN with Vox Lumina” “PARTICIPATE! RADIATE! ELEVATE! Celebrate the return of spring and raise your vibrational state with “trance-chanting”, or what the yogi’s call “Kirtan”. It’s amazing!” Follow the link to get your tickets in advance! https://www.facebook.com/events/1455776654643681/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
Here’s to you; may your solstice be full of radiance, peace, introspection, and connection!
In love and light,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Individual Counseling/Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 Suite 100