Karuna Counseling’s Newsletter Articles

August 20, 2006

Personality Drive Pointers through Exploring the Enneagram – Part 2

by Metta Sweet Johnson, LCSW, MAT

Note: This is the second of a series of articles on the Enneagram. I recommend you read my first article on this subject in order to get the most out of this one.

What was your initial response to the note at the beginning of the article (recommending you read the first article before proceeding)? Chances are that your initial reaction and then action is probably indicative of your personality drive:

  • 1’s would be sure to follow the note exactly in order to “do the right thing”;
  • 2’s would do so to “give” the writer what they asked for in order to “help them out”;
  • 3’s would either read the first one to be able to feel they “got it all done” or just jump into this one to “check it off their to do list”; >
  • 4’s would follow the recommendation in order to give themselves the best chance of finding what they are looking for in their individuality/uniqueness;
  • 5’s would read it because they wouldn’t want to miss out on any knowledge source;
  • 6’s would read it in fear that they wouldn’t be able to safely proceed and, besides, they’d want to feel a part of group;
  • 7’s (if they even read the introductory note) would not read the first article—opting for the adventure of just jumping in;
  • 8’s would just read this article believing that they can rely on themselves to get what they need out of this one;
  • and 9’s would probably elect to start here as well because they wouldn’t think it really mattered if they got it anyway.

If you know your drive but had a different response than I predicted, it may be because you have already developed the ability to not allow your drive to drive you! Congratulations! But remember, I asked about the initial response. Even when we get to a place of consciousness, it usually means that we have learned to be aware of our knee-jerk reactions, acknowledge them and weigh their impact, and choose from there—sometimes to follow them, sometimes to stretch and try something “against our nature.”

And that’s the real benefit of discovering your drive—becoming aware of the “defaults” in your way of being and giving yourself the opportunity to CHOOSE your response in certain situations or to create a “custom” response that usually involves some motivation, momentum, and decision-making.

So What Do I Do Once I Discover My Drive?

Discovering one’s personality drive can be a fun and enlightening process. It can help us with our understanding of who we are and what has been the unconscious motivation of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. The discovery of your Enneagram drive is only the first step, though, as I mentioned in my first article on this subject.

After delving into a deeper understanding of yourself as mentioned in the first article, one of the most powerful aspects of the Enneagram is to find out where you are in the Levels of Development. From there you can begin elevating using your Path of Integration. First, let’s talk about Levels of Development and then discuss how to move to higher levels of development once you discover your current level.

Levels of Development

Just as with physical health and development, your psychological/spiritual health and development can fluxuate throughout your life for many reasons. As you live and grow and change, you may experience periods of good health, average health, and poor health. Each personality drive has nine levels of development ranging from healthy to unhealthy. At any given time in our lives (and at any given time during a single day for that matter), we are at a certain place of psycho-spiritual health and level of development along this spectrum.

The following is the spectrum of these levels of development and their descriptors. Notice that when people move between healthy and average levels, a “wake up call” experience is usually a part of it. And, in less healthy times—moving between average and unhealthy levels—it typically takes a “red flag” in that person’s life to alert them that serious change and help is needed. Oftentimes, it is at these “wake up call” and “red flag” transitions that people seek help—including seeking help from a psychotherapist.

Healthy

  • Level of Liberation
  • Level of Psychological Capacity
  • Level of Social Value

WAKE UP CALL

Average

  • Level of Imbalance/Social Role
  • Level of Interpersonal Control
  • Level of Overcompensation

RED FLAG

Unhealthy

  • Level of Violation
  • Level of Obsession and Compulsion
  • Level of Pathological Destructiveness

Each drive has distinct experiences, thoughts, feelings, and actions for each of these levels. For example, a level 5 for the 3 Achiever type will be different from a level 5 for a 7 Enthusiast type, even though they both involve Interpersonal Control themes. Reading through the levels of development for your drive will provide an important additional layer of insight into where you are now, where you’ve been at different times in your life, and—most importantly—where you’d like to be or your potential. Looking at the healthy levels can be very inspiring and directive to people, giving them hope for better living and a clear goal to have in mind in their efforts to do so.

So, how to get to the higher/healthier levels? The road is different for each drive and it’s called the Path of Integration, Path of Elevation, or the Response to Challenge.

Elevating To Healthier Levels Of Living

Moving up in the levels of development is the goal and purpose of discovering your drive in the first place. Each drive has a path of Integration (toward healthy) and a path of disintegration (toward unhealthy). The keys to how to move toward health lie in your drive’s Path of Integration. If you look at the Enneagram geometric figure, you will notice that in addition to being connected to other drives by being on a circle, each drive “point” has two straight lines that connect it to two different drives (either as part of the triangle 3-6-9 or as part of the hexad (1-7-5-8-2-4). These two lines indicate the different paths.

For example: if a 1 wants to get healthier, they need to focus on the healthy aspects of a 7 in order to be lifted out of their perfectionism and move toward health. When Perfectionist 1’s shift their attention to the fun/adventure/enthusiasm (7 drive qualities) of a given project/person/event instead of how it’s not quite right, their enjoyment of life increases and the way which they interact with and experience themselves and others moves up in the levels of development.
The following are the Paths of Integration for each drive:

1 to 7: Be Right focuses on Having Fun

2 to 4: Be Loved focuses on Being Special

3 to 6: Achiever focuses on Being Safe, and Loyal to Others

4 to 1: Be Special focuses on Drive 1: Reformer/Be Right/Perfectionist

5 to 8: Thinker focuses on Self-Reliance and Rising to Challenges

6 to 9: Safety-Security focuses on Being at Peace

7 to 5: Have Fun focuses on Investigating and Thinking

8 to 2: Self-Reliant focuses on Being Loved and Loving

9 to 3: Peacemaker focuses on Achieving and Doing

Integrating by focusing on and moving toward another drive is not becoming that drive or changing your drive. Your drive does not change throughout your life. However, reaching toward the healthy aspects of the drive that is your own on your path of integration while still being rooted in the trueness of your drive creates a powerful positive synergy that can catapult you to living a healthier, happier life.

Resources

There are many resources on the Enneagram, but the ones I work with most are from Riso & Hudson’s Enneagram Institute (www.enneagraminstitute.com) and The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Daniels & Price’s The Essential Enneagram, and Concept Synergy’s Harnessing Your Personality Drive Through Exploring the Enneagram

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Personality Drive Pointers through Exploring the Enneagram – Part 1

by Metta Sweet Johnson, LMSW, MAT

You may have heard a lot of talk lately about personality type tests and how they’re used to help people with career choices, relationship issues, and personal growth. They’re also used by businesses to screen candidates for positions and contribute to team building and organizational health. One that has received increased attention in recent years, including at Karuna, is the Enneagram.

Ennea–what?

Enneagram simply means “nine pointed figure”: ennea> = “nine” in Latin, and gram = geometric figure. This figure/symbol is ancient in origin and its exact birth date is debated among scholars (some dating it to 500BC). The Enneagram is the matrix upon which the nine basic personality drives in human nature flow. These nine core drives are also influenced by subtypes and variations. In addition, these drives are interrelated as shown by the three shapes that make up the Enneagram: the circle (oneness/divinity), triangle (trinity/tree of life), and hexad (law of seven/evolution). The 4th century A.D. introduced personality types and the Enneagram symbol and personality types came together under Gurdjeff’s 1875 work, thus, combining ancient wisdom with modern insights as well as bringing eastern and western philosophies together.

Know Your Type, Know Yourself–Not Exactly!

Well, not exactly. Knowing your drive can help you know what drives you—your core Self is more than that. This is key: You are not your personality drive. Your personality drive is simply a force that drives you (your thoughts, feelings, and ways of relating to yourself and others) if left unnoticed and unattended. You can discover it, though, and by discovering it, harness its power and get into the driver’s seat of your life instead of it driving you. Not to get out of “the car” entirely, but to harness the power of that moving vehicle (your drive) to go in directions you want to go in life instead of just being “along for the ride.”

Every person is a unique, complex being with reactions and responses that are impacted by many forces both internal and external. It may seem strange, then, that I would find such interest in a personality typing tool that, to some, can be used to place people in confined boxes or “types.” Instead of viewing the Enneagram as a static grid for typing and labeling people, though, I view it as a living matrix of energy that flows through human consciousness. Each person is born with a strong connection and certain rapport with one specific part of this living matrix—their personality drive.

Discovering your drive can provide awareness and insight into the following:

External behaviors

Underlying attitudes

Sense of self

Conscious and unconscious motivations

Emotional reactions

Defense mechanisms

Object relations

What we pay attention to

Spiritual potential

Before Getting Started, Keep in Mind

Aside from remembering that your drive is not who you are—it is what drives your personality (Drive vs. Type), consider the following as well:

You are born with a drive and keep it throughout your life

No drive is better than another (all have healthy, average, & unhealthy “Levels of Development”)

Take time to discover your drive (only YOU can know)

Don’t use your drive as an excuse

Don’t type others

You have aspects of all types in you to some degree

This is a test…This is only a test…

Sorting Tests are a popular and effective way to narrow down the drives to a few that may be more likely than the others. Don’t take these tests as the determining truth, though. Treat them as, say, taste tests—for only YOU can know your drive! You—yes you—are your own authority (being honest with yourself is pivotal to the reliability and validity of that authorship, however!). After taking a test, study more about that drive, checking in with yourself and your authentic experiences as you do so. There are many online resources and printed materials about the Enneagram (referenced at the bottom of this article).

The Drives and Their Descriptors

The following are each of the drives and some of the names associated with each. For further descriptions as well as basic fears and desires, visit http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/descript.asp:

Drive 1: Reformer/Be Right/Perfectionist

Drive 2: Helper/Giver/Be Loved

Drive 3: Achiever/Performer

Drive 4: Individualist/Be Special

Drive 5: Investigator/Thinker

Drive 6: Loyalist/Safety-Security

Drive 7: Enthusiast/Adventurer/Have Fun

Drive 8: Challenger/Self-Reliant

Drive 9: Peacemaker/Mediator

Discovering your Drive: A Beginning, not an End

It’s only the beginning! Sadly, many stop at this point, though, satisfied at simply finding a type or label to simply explain or justify much of how they are in the world. This short cut, though, cuts them off. Cuts them off from the movement and growth and healing that can happen when one deeply works to not only discover but to harness and direct the powerful energy of their drive toward “integration” and more healthy living and relating. This is a misuse of this valuable, living, matrix that invites us to look deeply into the mystery of our true identity.

Since our perceptions are often what’s reality to us and since our personality drive plays a key role in determining those perceptions, discovering one’s drive is an invaluable tool for changing one’s reality —that is, changing one’s life. And that’s why people come to therapy in the first place: to change something about their life through healing and growth. Therapy’s purpose of providing a space and relationship for healing and growth, therefore, provides a powerful setting to work with the Ennegram.

Because I don’t believe that any healing or growth path—including psychotherapy—is “one size fits all,” awareness of a client’s personality drive is helpful to both client and therapist. Some clients choose to use the Enneagram as integral to their work and others don’t. I simply introduce it in the initial sessions and ask clients to take a short sorting test and work with me briefly to discover which drive seems to “fit” with their experience of themselves. I use this in work with individuals and couples and also lead a weekly group called Beside Our Selves.

Resources

There are many resources on the Enneagram, but the ones I work with most are from Riso & Hudson’s Enneagram Institute (www.enneagraminstitute.com) and The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Daniels & Price’s The Essential Enneagram, and Concept Synergy’s Harnessing Your Personality Drive Through Exploring the Enneagram.

May 27, 2006

Write From The Heart

Dr. Micky O’Leary

The Christmas that I was 10 years old, I received my first diary. It was white leather, with gold lettering and its very own lock and key. I remember looking at its lined pages, one for each day of the coming year, with a combination of excitement and dread. I was excited at the possibilities that could fill it. And I dreaded the work involved.

 

For me, the “work” was a painstaking record of each day, carefully reported in my best penmanship and spelling. I was careful to detail the most mundane aspects of my life: my school assignments and grades; visits from friends and family members; TV shows and books that interested me; the clothes I wore to school.  As I look back on it, it isn’t surprising that I found the whole experience a little tedious.

 

So, when my uncle the practical joker came to visit, found my diary and read it aloud to my mother, I felt strongly justified in giving up on that project and finding a better and less revealing hobby, like stamp collecting.

 

 

A Different Experience

 

It was some time later before I again tried my hand at personal reflection on paper. I was in graduate school and several of my instructors required some form of journal keeping as a class assignment. I can remember the resistance I initially felt to sharing my thoughts with another person. I wasn’t sure I could be completely honest when I knew my instructor was evaluating me. However, this time the experience was different in a very significant way: I was to share my feelings about the things that happened.

 

After a few awkward attempts at saying the “right” thing, I started to give myself permission to say what I really thought and felt about the topic at hand. I found myself writing things in my journal that I never would have said out loud. Later, as I handed in my completed journals, I reviewed them and felt surprised at the depth of my experiences. Until I took the time to record them, I really didn’t know their impact on me.

 

It has been many years and many journals since then. While I don’t journal every day (and I admire those who do), I often find times in my life when journaling is particularly useful. Two of those times have occurred during major losses in my life. In the first, I kept a dream journal. After some months of recording what seemed to be dream after disturbing dream, the images began to show a pattern that helped me understand what this loss meant to me. Even now, when I review some of those dreams, I am startled by the clarity that my unconscious was trying to bring to my life. Another time I kept a journal of letters to a person in my life that had died. Those letters helped me express and move through some significant grief.  

 

Journaling in Psychotherapy

 

Not surprisingly, I often suggest journaling to clients. I have found it to be a particularly effective way of acquiring self-awareness and knowledge. Since I recognize my own initial resistance to writing, I am prepared for the many reasons that people have for not journaling, e.g., not enough time, not being “good” at writing, afraid of someone reading what they write, believing that if they think things through it is just as effective as writing about them. What I have found is that those who do overcome their reluctance to journaling often find that it is an incredibly helpful tool in their own growth and healing.

 

When journaling is most effective, it brings together a number of different elements. Tristine Rainer, in her book, The New Diary, writes about the process of beginning a diary: “Write fast, write everything, include everything, write from your feelings, write from your body, accept whatever comes. It doesn’t matter whether you have kept a diary in any form before. If you keep one long enough, all the important memories of the past will find their way into the story when it is appropriate for them to do so. You simply begin your diary now, in the middle of the ongoing action of your life.”

 

Natalie Goldberg, whose books include Writing Down the Bones and The Essential Writer’s Notebook, advises her students to begin their journaling by setting a timer and writing for period of time without stopping, without ever taking their hand from the paper. The idea is to allow what is inside to find its expression without interference from our “internal censor” or “internal critic.” (Our internal censor is that voice inside of us who likes to say things like, “Oh, I shouldn’t say that, it’s not ‘nice’” or “If my friend knew that’s what I really think about her she would never speak to me again.” Our internal critic tells us things like, “Oh, that’s not very interesting or original” or “Gee, I sound really ‘whiny’ here” or “I never was very good at this sort of thing.”) 

 

 

Forms of Creative Expression

 

There are many ways to journal or record feelings and experiences. Writing is the form most often used. However, there are other creative ways to access our internal processes. One way is to keep a journal of drawings – noting the themes, colors, feelings evoked. Creating personal mandalas is another way to access our inner life. Some individuals have made collages of different materials as a way to express themselves. Another way to keep a journal or record could involve creating lists such as the things that scare us, the people we love, the choices that we are making in our lives, the times and the places in which we contact our inner strength.

 

There is no end to the ways in which we can use our creativity to bring us more in touch with our soul’s journey. Keeping a journal can give us a place to release strong feelings and tensions. It can provide us with a powerful adjunct to psychotherapy, increasing self-awareness and self-knowledge. It can help identify patterns and themes in our lives and allow us to live more consciously and intentionally. It can help us be more intimate with ourselves and with others. These are only a few of the ways that journaling and other forms of creativity can enrich our life.

 

As this year draws to a close and a new one is about to begin, journaling is an especially appropriate way to reflect on the lessons and gifts we have been given, as well as the struggles we have experienced. By taking the time for this reflection, we will be able to greet the New Year with a more intentional and focused approach to our lives.

 

 

 

Journaling books recommended:

 

The New Diary by Tristine Rainer

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Essential Writer’s Notebook by Natalie Goldberg

 

March 9, 2006

A Guide to Mindful Living: Part III

Filed under: 2007 and earlier,Mind-body-spirit Integration — karunacounseling @ 5:35 pm
Tags: ,

by Andrea Schrage, MA, LPC, CMT

This section will be dedicated to an ongoing look at simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your everyday life. Over the course of several newsletters you will have a set of tools to pull out to create a healthier environment within you. One way to facilitate use of the exercises will be to focus on one for the next 2 months and really become fluent in it. Then you can move on in the succession of exercises that can build on each other.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness in simplified terms is learning to be present in the current moment. Why would one want to do this? The list of benefits is very long but here are a few:

  • Decreasing Anxiety
  • Ability to make conscious choices
  • Helps to reduce addictive patterns
  • Changes your relationship with negative thoughts
  • Allows you tune into answers from within
  • Increases your sense of peace in the world

If you missed the first exercise on Mindful Eating, please feel free to go back and look at
our article on A Guide To Mindful Living

Exercise Three:

Mindful Listening

Benefits may include:

  • Becoming more conscious of your senses.
  • Feeling more connected to what is around you.
  • Increased concentration.
  • Increased ability to stay in the present moment.
  • Stillness and peace.

Suggested Use:

  • Upon waking or before sleeping.
  • During a stressful time.
  • Short breaks during the day

“I can’t meditate!”

Many people get frustrated at meditating because they think that they are only succeeding when they are in complete silence and feeling peace. That assumption is the opposite of mindfulness because it is trying to force a result verses relaxing into what is. We have a constant barrage of voices in our heads that are always judging the world and ourselves. They are usually being critical and can keep us in a state of worry.

In the beginning it is your job to keep moving from these voices back to your focus. The more you practice this, the longer the stretches will be between your focus and the voices. What you will find in that space will very from day-to-day; some days it will be still and peaceful and some days it will be sadness or anger. Whatever is there is exactly what is supposed to be there, so just notice it. Every time you find yourself in the thoughts, be thankful that you realized it and come back to your focus. We are constantly following the voices in our heads, so every time you even notice yourself in them, you are growing.

Basic Instruction for Mindful Listening

Part One:

  • Began by sitting in an upright position with your feet on the ground and your spine straight.
  • Take 2-3 breathes and relax into your body as best as you can.
  • Bring your attention the sounds around you.
  • Open your ears and keep a focused attention on what you hear. You may notice stillness, ringing, traffic, the sounds of your house, air blowing, people talking etc. judgement.
  • Open up to the most subtle of sounds and notice them without judging them. Let go of your assumptions about what is a pleasant sound and what might be irritating and listen to them as if it is the first time.
  • When your mind wanders to thoughts, gently bring it back to listening.

That is it!

You may also want to try this while listening to people when they are talking to you. Really focus on what they are saying without your mind working on an instant reply. Notice what happens in your relationships when you really listen.

March 6, 2006

The Enneagram: What It Means to Me and How I Use It In My Practice

Metta Sweet Johnson, LCSW, MAT

I believe that every person is a unique, complex being with reactions and responses that are impacted by many forces both internal and external. It may seem strange, then, that I would find such interest in a personality typing tool that, to some, can be used to place people in confined boxes or “types.” Instead of viewing the Enneagram as a static grid for typing and labeling people, though, I view it as a living matrix of energy that flows through human consciousness. Each person is born with a strong connection and certain rapport with one specific part of this living matrix-their personality drive.

This is key: YOU are not your personality drive. Your drive is simply a force that drives YOU (your thoughts, feelings, and ways of relating to yourself and others) if left unnoticed and unattended. I work to help people notice it and attend to it with the purpose of getting back in the driver’s seat, if you will, in their life. Not to get out of “the car” entirely, but to harness the power of that moving vehicle (your drive) to take them in directions that they want to go in life instead of just being “along for the ride.”

Since our perceptions are often what’s reality to us and since our personality drive plays a key role in determining those perceptions, discovering one’s drive is an invaluable tool for changing one’s reality-that is, changing one’s life. And that’s why people come to therapy in the first place: to change something about their life through healing and growth. Therapy’s purpose of providing a space and relationship for healing and growth, therefore, provides a powerful setting to work with the Ennegram.

Because I don’t believe that any healing or growth path-including psychotherapy- is “one size fits all,” awareness of a client’s personality drive is helpful to both client and therapist. Some clients choose to use the Enneagram as integral to their work and others don’t. I simply introduce it in the initial sessions and ask clients to take a short sorting test and let me know which drive seems to “fit” with their experience of themselves. I use this in work with individuals and couples.

There are many resources on the Enneagram, but the ones I work with most are from Riso & Hudson’s Enneagram Institute (www.enneagraminstitute.com), Daniels & Price, and Concept Synergy.

Contact: Metta Sweet Johnson, LCSW

Email: MettaSweet@KarunaCounseling.com

Phone: 404.221.3238

The RHETI Sampler – Free Personality Test

Filed under: 2007 and earlier,Mind-body-spirit Integration,Not by Karuna — karunacounseling @ 4:59 pm
Tags: , ,

The RHETI Sampler’s 36 questions are only a part of the full, scientifically validated 144-question Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI, Version 2.5) personality inventory. Short personality quizzes such as the RHETI Sampler cannot guarantee that your basic personality type will be indicated, although your type will most likely be one of the top three scores in this free quiz. We recommend that you read the type descriptions at the end of this test, and in Riso-Hudson Enneagram books, to help you identify your basic personality type.

Take the RHETI Sampler Free Personality Test Now

February 9, 2006

7 Ways To Nurture Yourself

1. Make the choice to be generous and treat yourself to something you’ve been longing for. Spend time with friends, cuddle up with a favorite book or give yourself permission to just do nothing.

2. Forgive yourself for one act of self-sabotage. When we learn from our past we are able to receive it as a blessing. This opens the door to compassion and forgiveness.

3. Focus on one aspect of yourself that you love and acknowledge it for the way it has contributed to your life. This could be a physical characteristic like your eyes or your heart or it could be a positive quality like your decisiveness or sensitivity.

4. Close your eyes and acknowledge yourself for 10 positive choices that you made today – even for the simple things like getting out of bed or returning a phone call.

5. Make the choice to embrace one aspect of yourself that you dislike. Every quality comes bearing gifts – search and find a powerful interpretation of this aspect of you.

6. Allow others to love you up! Call two friends and ask them to share with you three things they love and admire about you.

7. Commit to having an extraordinary life. Take one bold action today: Find a [therapist], take a course you’ve been thinking about, or join a sacred community dedicated to conscious living.

 

These tips are from Debbie Ford’s newsletter.  In addition to “inspiring humanity to lead fully integrating lives,” Debbie Ford (www.debbieford.com) presents workshops and publishes books such as The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Spiritual Divorce, Why Good People Do Bad Things, and The Right Questions. If you would like more information about the application of integrative shadow work principals in psychotherapy and personal growth, you can reach Metta Sweet Johnson, LCSW, MAT at (404) 221-3238.

February 3, 2006

A Guide To Mindful Living

This section will be dedicated to an ongoing look at simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your everyday life. Over the course of several newsletters you will have a set of tools to pull out to create a healthier environment within you. One way to facilitate use of the exercises will be to focus on one for the next 2 months and really become fluent in it. Then you can move on in the succession of exercises that can build on each other.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness in simplified terms is learning to be present in the current moment. Why would one want to do this? The list of benefits is very long but here are a few:

  • Decreasing Anxiety
  • Ability to make conscious choices
  • Helps to reduce addictive patterns
  • Changes your relationship with negative thoughts
  • Allows you tune into answers from within
  • Increases your sense of peace in the world

If you missed the first exercise on the 3 minute breathe, please feel free to go back and look at http://www.karunacounseling.com/mindfulness1.html

Exercise Two:

Mindful Eating

Benefits may include:

  • Becoming more conscious of what you eat.
  • More enjoyment of your food.
  • Increased concentration.
  • Increased ability to stay in the present moment.
  • Better ability to monitor food intake.

Suggested Use:

  • During meals.
  • Deciding if you are hungry.
  • Letting your body inform you of what it is craving (verses your mind or habit dictating).

Any combination of the above will teach your system that mindfulness is readily available. John Kabat-Zinn teaches that if you were jumping out of an airplane, you wouldn’t sew the parachute on the way down. You would instead, sew it ahead of time so that it would be in good shape when you need it. The best way to have mindfulness be something that you automatically reach for is to practice it as much as possible. You may want to leave reminders for yourself to do the exercise, such as, post its or putting it in your calendar.

Part one and two below may be used together or separate depending on your goal.

Basic Instruction for Mindful Eating

Part One:

  1. Begin by sitting in an upright position with your feet on the ground and your spine straight.
  2. Take 2-3 breaths and relax into your body.
  3. Bring your attention to your belly and check in to see if you are physically hungry. You may find the urge to eat, but it could be an emotional hunger.
  4. Ask your body internally or out loud, “What am I hungry for.” You may get a response from the mind, so check it out by imagining your self eating that food. You may try a few foods to see what feels like the best fit. You will find that the more you do this, the more your body will truly guide you to eating what it needs verses what you want.

Part Two:

Follow 1 and 2 above if you are just doing part two and then continue below.

  1. Start by looking at your food like you have never seen it before. Look at the colors, texture, proportions, where it is on the plate and notice the smell.
  2. Notice any judgments that the mind makes and let them go without attaching to them as true. Almost like a child who is being introduced to it for the first time.
  3. Slowly take it to your mouth and stop right before it goes into your mouth. Notice the anticipation of the food.
  4. Now place it in your mouth and chew very slowly, holding an air of curiosity. Notice the texture and the tastes.
  5. Notice how you know when it is time to swallow and then swallow the food.
  6. Put your utensil back down and notice what it is like to be one bite fuller.
  7. Continue on through the meal at a slow and conscious state noticing what feelings, sensations, and judgments come up.

Alive With Color © SuperStock, Inc.

That is it!

Food and eating can stir up a lot of emotions, so you may want to journal about them, or if they get to intense, call your therapist for guidance. Enjoy a new way to look at food and allow a newfound choice about your eating.

If you have more questions feel free to contact me at

404-818-6114 or at

andreaschrage@karunacounseling.com

Keep your eyes out for a 4 series class after the New Year to learn how to use mindfulness to prevent the recurrence of depression.

January 2, 2006

The Parts Inside

Andrea J Schrage, MA, LPC, CMT

adapted from Dr. Richard Schwartz

Have you ever thought of yourself as a person with many different parts, or aspects of yourself? Thinking of yourself that can be a little anxiety provoking. You may even remember the movie “Sybil” and feel a desire to back away from the topic.

However, I am asking you to bear with me and trust that this has nothing to do with the type of personality disintegration that was happening for that character. So, for the brave souls left, this is an introduction to a way of looking at different aspects of yourself that will allow you to take better care of you.

I have been practicing as a counselor for almost 15 years. My experience includes studying different modalities that include psychology, body-centered psychotherapy, and spiritual practices. The most profound teachings on my journey have been my personal experience with healing modalities and the art of mindfulness. What feels consistent in all of these modalities is that we all have different parts of us inside, almost like personalities. These parts have been given different names, such as, the Id, Ego, and Superego and the Inner Child. I have also found that when clients identify them, they find that they have a clearer understanding of themselves and their behavior.

Have you ever seen someone who gets angry and starts to act like a kid? One example of this is when they are being told that they did something to hurt someone and they quickly retort with, “Well, you….” That’s what kids do

Another example is the part of you that jumps in and tells you all the ways that you are bad.

The parts vary and most have benefits if used properly. At different times, the parts may function as the self, child, teenager, perfectionist, overachiever, depressed part, worrier, focused only on happy, other focused, withdrawer, addict, playful, artistic, manager, parent, critical, voice, dreamer, or arrogant part/ego.

When you are not aware of these parts, it is easier for one of them to take over so that you are acting from that perspective only. You can imagine that when only one aspect of you is making decisions, you may be seeing a small portion of what is really happening. This becomes the crux of all communication problems.

A way to start understanding your parts is by looking at the categories that they may fall into. This will help you get an idea of the job that they are doing and help you to distinguish when is appropriate for them to display their talents. This will also help you reduce the habitual nature of parts that originated as a defense.

Exiles

These are often our most sensitive, innocent, open, and intimacy-seeking parts that contain qualities like liveliness, playfulness, spontaneity, creativity, and joi de vivre. They are the parts that were most sensitive and therefore most impacted by the painful events.

These parts could arise from trauma, but they may also be parts that embarrassed your parents, parts that held unspoken family rules or peer group norms, and parts that learned how to not feel.

Managers

These are the productive parts that are responsible for our day-to-day safety — often the voices that we hear most often. They are the aspects of us that want to control everything and are sure that they know best. They come from a place that will “never again” be hurt like before. They are the authors and enforcers of your stories and are created for protective reasons. They create your reality. They serve to block things from touching or hurting the exiles. They are the parts of us to try to make sure we are being externally seen in a positive way so that we can get that approval we did not receive in childhood.

Firefighters

These serve as the 2nd line of defense when the managers don’t work. They are our addictions and distractions, such as TV, eating, relationships, sleeping, alcohol, drugs, denial, rage etc. Over the years the firefighters pick less socially acceptable items because the first line of distractions stop working. Some people use physical distractions, such as illness or sudden pains. Some of the firefighters favor an impulsive retreat; they will leave the room or push the other person away. They are the parts that can make you feel fat, addicted, hostile, sneaky, sick, insensitive, and compulsive.

Managers often hate firefighters, though they have the some goal. Firefighters often rebel against managers by becoming more destructive. This can be seen as a parent (manager)/child (firefighter) relationship.

I hope this will help you begin to look at your parts and get support, as you need it. Feel free to email me with any questions about this process.

February 19, 2005

Yoga to Soothe the Mind

Adaptedfrom www.yogajournal.com

Uttanasana
(Standing Forward Bend )

Despite its name, which means “intense stretch” pose, Uttanasana will wake up your hamstrings and soothe your mind.

(OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend

Benefits

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces fatigue and anxiety
  • Relieves headache and insomnia
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility,
    osteoporosis, and sinusitis

Contraindications/Cautions

Back injury: Do this pose with bent knees, or perform Ardha Uttanasana (pronounced ARE-dah, ardha = half), with your hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to your torso, and arms parallel to the floor.

Step by Step

•Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.

• If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs
slightly inward.

• With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend.  In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly
with the breath.  Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.

• Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.

• Don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation
with a long front torso.

Modifications & Props

To increase the stretch on the backs of the legs, stand in the forward bend with the balls of your feet elevated an inch or more off the floor on a sand bag or thick book.

Variation

Padangusthasana (not to be confused with Supta
Padangusthasana
).

After bending forward, slide the index and middle finger of each hand in between the big toe and second toe of each foot. Then curl the fingers under the bottom and around the big toe and wrap your
thumb around your fingers. With an inhalation straighten your arms and lift your front torso away from your thighs, making your back as concave as possible. Hold for a few breaths, then exhale and lengthen down and forward, bending your elbows out to the sides.

Preparatory Poses

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