#525 That teacher

As a former educator, I concur–this is awesome!

1000 Awesome Things

Put your hand up if you ran from doorbells, hid behind pant legs, and avoided eye contact with grownups as a shy little kid.

Brothers and sisters, if your hand is up right now, you are not alone.

Yes, mute as a mouse, quiet as a cat, I was a short, snotty, bedhead-smeared ghost of a child until about eight years old.

That was when I was head-yanked out of my turtle shell by a cotton-white, curly-haired, crinkly-smiled teacher who pushed me every single day. For some reason Mrs. Dorsman cared, she just cared, and she had me reading to the class, talking out loud, and practicing my cursive on the blackboard.

Sadly, when I was 10 years old my family moved away and we completely lost touch. But the little germs of ideas she planted in me rooted deep and grew slowly as the years bumped…

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Kids on Meditation

I love the book recommendations. Fabulous, as always, Sheila.

Sheila Singh

I am not one to force yoga or meditation on my girls, though I have been known to dangle a carrot at times to entice them to practice.  Last week, though, no carrot was needed.  My daughter, Sophia, had the day off from school and asked me, “What yoga class are you teaching today?”.  I said, “Ashtanga, why?”.  “I’d like to come to class today Mommy.”  My eyes lit up, though I tried not to look too excited.  I needed to play it slightly cool for my almost nine year old.  She came to class, moved and breathed quietly with a roomful of adults.  I was happy.  We continued on with our day as usual.

This week came around and we are getting back into our routine and I asked my girls if they wanted to meditate for a few minutes with me.  Often the answer is a simple no…

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Day 1 – Mindfulness Meditation for the Modern Life

Sheila Singh

Today I began to share and explore the practice of mindfulness meditation with a new and sweet group of students at Castle Hill.  I continue to feel fortunate to have this opportunity, and I hope to share some of the material covered in the series here.

Some of the questions we considered on day one were what is mindfulness meditation and why is it relevant to us?  These are really good questions to ponder, especially if you are committing to taking a six week series.  Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sustaining and returning one’s attention to our present moment experience, whether it is the experience of breath, physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, or even the environment.  Sounds simple, right?  Yet, practice is often challenging.  We very quickly find that the mind is very scattered.  Sometimes I can’t sustain my attention for a second, forget minutes, but don’t be so quick to throw in the towel.  The initial stages…

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Recovery: The Boring Part of Treatment

April is one of those months that drives me crazy as a counselor because there is so much going on! We have so much to be aware of and only four weeks to cram it all in. April is awareness month for the following:

As I write this, I feel a bit silly because the theme I see uniting these three issues is recovery, but that gets its own month (September.) At the risk of being out of synch with the times, I’m going to discuss recovery anyway because it is an underrated phase of treatment, and the one that (we hope) lasts the longest. It also happens to be the phase that the client takes on the most responsibility for and people in recovery deserve credit for the demons they face every day.

When most of us think about mental health and substance abuse, we usually think of a crisis situation or a traumatic situation. Straight jackets and syringes full of Atavan along with full body restraints. Realistically, even most crises don’t look like that. Usually, the most acute suffering is experienced in silence until it becomes completely intolerable. Even then, as T.S. Eliot described the end of the world, the silence ends not with a bang, but a whimper.

It takes guts to ask for help. It also takes persistence. A lot of people encounter hurdles in finding a therapist: long wait times, lack of access to specialists they need, high deductibles and co-pays, no mental health benefits, transportation issues, and the natural resistance to bringing an outside person into one’s private pain. Unfortunately, people sometimes overcome all of those hurdles only to find a therapist who is overwhelmed by what they share. Fortunately, that doesn’t usually happen, but even once is one time too many.

Contrary to what some may believe, psychotherapy is no picnic either. While in general, talking to a therapist often will make you feel better, sometimes it doesn’t. Talking about tough subject sucks no matter how interested and compassionate the person you share with happens to be. One goal in most psychotherapy is learning coping strategies for times when something upsetting happens, and in order to develop coping skills, you need to practice in sessions. Learning any new skill is difficult, and it’s important to go in knowing that some days, you’re just not going to get it. Learning how to be okay with not getting those coping strategies down the first time is a big lesson in itself.

So, we get through the crisis phase. We have our moment of insight like the “It’s not your fault” bit from Good Will HuntingThen what? We hope that recovery happens after that. Our hero now forges ahead in life armed with tools and strategies for confronting whatever challenges arise. That’s a big deal. It’s hard to do. Also, what often is missing from that part of the story is it happens to be the time when insurance companies decide you’re all better and don’t need any more sessions, and friends and family decide you don’t have “that” going on anymore. So the extra support that got you to that point is gone.

If you know someone who has been in treatment for a substance abuse problem, depression, anxiety, self-harm, or any other type of difficulty, be mindful of the reality that they struggle with their problems every day whether they are in treatment or not. It takes courage, determination, and strength, and the main reason they are dealing with those issues is statistics. Nobody chooses to have an addiction. Nobody chooses to have a mental illness. A certain proportion of our population struggles with these issues because that is the hand they were dealt.