Current Events

Monday, April 12, 2010

Relaxation Pre-101

After years of helping my clients to achieve relaxation, teaching relaxation techniques in groups and trying to make sure I am in a relaxed state myself, I have read many books on the topic and have attended numerous seminars and continuing education courses. It seems that even a relaxation 101 course does not cover the most basic thing about it in order to be of any use for the individual in need of relaxing ...

There truly are countless ways and methods of relaxation, breathing to be one of the most basic and simple approaches and Autogenic Training (a form of relaxation therapy involving autosuggestion, created by Schultz in the 1930ies) being a rather elaborate method that is being taught in 5 to 7 whole hour sessions. They all have a real effect on the physical body, its systems like endocrine and muscular. Relaxation is a necessary state for the body in order to be able to renew its cells, to have the hair and finger/toe nails grow, to detox and get rid of toxins from the body.

In our modern world life style we need to take active action in order to relax. There is just no natural room for it any more. All too fast we cram more and more to-do´s into the empty spaces in our calendar that used to be for "soul dangling" and for "just being" instead of doing.

From my experience with people I dare to propose that most people know of the importance of relaxation and also know one or two things to do in order to achieve it. So, another book or course or instruction about it would not add value, since it does not really matter which method is being used. The real key is to actually do these one or two things that each one knows about. What actually matters is to hold still for a moment and to investigate when and what will I and do I want to do in order to guarantee relaxation in my life.

Now this is the point that does not get discussed satisfactory whenever talking about relaxation. It is very simple: Decide how much time you want to take for your relaxation in your life. Also, decide what it is you want to do (important, since only things you are willing to do have a chance of actually happening). Make sure the allotted time fits with the method you choose. Go simple at first. Commit to very easy and quick things and observe the outcome for you. The most important thing is to actually stick to it! This is what is never said, because it is so obvious that everybody would agree: It does not do to KNOW the relaxation techniques, it actually takes DOING it! It´s a "Duhh", I know. But with my clients and with myself I have noticed that the action is not following that statement.

Maybe it is because the power of "Take 3 deep breaths every hour" (or whenever you think of it - please, NO stress) is being highly underestimated and therefore not carried out. In a time where things can be pretty complicated and sophisticated - how are 3 deep breaths going to save me in my fast paced and completely full day? Exactly by DOING it! The great thing is, the breath is always with me and always fits into a busy day.

So, here is my invitation to you, to simply go ahead and try it out.
Let me know, what happens...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Earthquake . All Shook Up

On Easter Sunday afternoon, on a perfect day, the earth started shaking - without any warning. It shook about one whole minute. Books and statues fell out of shelves, lamps were swinging. Fortunately, things seemed without much damage - in San Diego at least. However, I continued to shake inside...

In my life I had had experienced 2 earthquakes, until Easter Sunday of 2010. Both had been in Austria, one when I was about 5 and one in my college years in Vienna, when it woke me up in the wee hours after a long night out, wondering what had been in that last drink. Both were kind of fun to experience, and Austria is certainly not known for having earth quakes.

This one on Easter Sunday sent the shock waves right into my heart. Many things are different today - I am older, I currently have responsibility for my 17 year old niece, and we own a house by the canyon - built in 1923, where only the front wall is on the ground and the rest is on stilts. I had been sitting on the bench on our front porch, enjoying the gorgeous Easter Sunday afternoon, my husband and my niece each on a sofa in the living room, taking a nap, in sight. The scene was sheer contentment for me. Then, the shaking started. First I thought my first glass of wine since the beginning of lent was doing weird things to me, then I thought the new aluminum bench from Costco wasn´t that great after all. When it did not stop shaking I realized what was going on: an earthquake! My husband and my niece joined me in front of the house, my niece enjoying the experience. I got quiet and felt so helpless, hoping our house would be okay and mostly hoping that nobody was getting hurt amongst all the people affected by the ground shaking.

Several aftershocks were noticeable, me stiffening every time. I was amazed, how deep that experience had gone. It also surprised me that this experience was so different from the ones before. It made me think of the Buddha´s definition of suffering: Let go and freedom will be, where suffering has been. My attachment to our house and things has changed how I perceive nature on its course. Of course, I feel attached to the safety of loved ones as well. That one is much harder to let go, if at all possible for me at this point (being not enlightened). But something else is on my mind since then. The wish to control the circumstances and a dislike to be inconvenienced is also creating suffering. It would be so inconvenient, if something came that cannot be changed but changes our daily lives, our schedules, disturbs our sense of safety and security, our sense of knowing what was happening at any given moment throughout the week.

It also made me think of the fall in 2008, when the dramatic wildfires were raging in San Diego County. I volunteered as one of the Psychologists of the San Diego Psychological Association. I listened to and comforted people who did not know if their houses were still going to be there upon their return home. Amongst many impressions I mostly remember one woman who reported that she had lost her house and all her belongings once before due to wildfires. After her first shock she described it as a chance of a fresh start in life. She seemed less concerned than the others at the temporary camp at Qalcom Stadium. I remember her and remember how impressed I was by her and how deeply I understood that truth: letting go is all it takes for the suffering to go away.

For now, I am just so happy that we are all safe. Meanwhile, I continue to be thankful on a daily basis and practice non-attachment as much as I can. I can only wish to be able to live it as truthfully as that woman who lost all here belongings to wildfires and could stay calm while facing it happening again to her. About earthquakes I need to say, there is not much more impressive than nature showing its power through the ground shaking from Mexicali almost all the way up to San Francisco and stopping Millions of people in their tracks. Talking about truly getting the insignificance of mankind. Of course, the good news is, if I am shrinking to gnat-size, so are my problems. Very good news indeed.

Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Tell me about your thoughts about it, I would appreciate it.

Stay safe!