Pema Wisdom

“At the root of all the harm we cause is ignorance. Through meditation, that’s what we begin to undo. If we see that we have no mindfulness, that we rarely refrain, that we have little well-being, that is not confusion, that’s the beginning of clarity”

from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

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From This Day Forward

Is it so wrong to wake each day and rewrite the plan? I think the folly is waking each day only to go through the motions you went through yesterday without asking the questions:

  • How can today be better (based on your measure) than yesterday?
  • What can I do today to create a life more reflective of my values?
  • When do I begin the authentic life?
  • How will I hang on to my own truth today?
  • Where will I find joy today?

Otherwise you will wake in 30 years and wonder what you’ve been doing. You will look behind you and sadly surmise you’ve been asleep. You might even see years of unconscious avoidance of the journey worthy of your greatness. But that’s OK because today is a brand new adventure. You will make the most of each moment and you will begin anew, again. But it’s the conscious mindfulness that will set you apart today and all the other days you choose to live in the present. And this worthy of deep respect for the self.  This honesty empowers you to do the same tomorrow and there-in lies the path to authenticity. Isn’t this what grounds us and allows more and more days like this where we develop a deep respect for ourselves?

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part 3

In part 1 & 2, we looked at some general aspects of healing spaces: the need for orderliness, supportive environments for practitioners themselves, and some color tips. This time we’ll discuss lighting the space. Most practitioners understand warm lighting with table lamps but because of the expense, we often cut corners and an unsteady, cheap lamp is not advised. Natural light is always an excellent choice.

Recently, I read a book that included personality traits the general public assigned to their favorite brands. Out of 300 descriptors, researchers distilled the list to 5 and I think these could be helpful when considering how others would describe our space. The 5 words (in no particular order) are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.

77b861e5d3b3964f98a90696c04c08c9Competence and sophistication might be your credentials,education, and your experience. Sincerity might be covered by your orderly and carefully appointed work space. Ruggedness might be the sturdy furnishings that are slightly masculine – see part 1 & 2. But excitement might need to be covered by a bit of dramatic flair in your office. Although folks feel less exposed with softer lighting and overheads with dimmers, this may be an opportunity to have a bit of fun with illumination of a different sort. A gas fireplace is an awesome touch but not always practical or appropriate however you have some creative license here. Be playful and have some fun. Remember, you spend the most time in your office and your well-being is a top priority!

FINDING YOUR LIFE’S WORK EVERY DAY

Ruminating on how many times I see an article promising the reader relief from their boredom (as in ‘find your life’s work’), I realize there was a time that I too seemed dumbstruck with the overwhelming needs in the world. But then I reflected on the previous few decades and decided I was already ‘living my destiny’ and I became empowered then to simply stay the course. Understandably, not everyone is as old as me, but my point here is that you may already be fulfilling your destiny whether or not you’ve figured out how to make a living at it.

We seem to have raised our kids to expect fame and fortune when one finds that magic destiny although those of us who’ve been down the entrepreneurial path know it takes a large fortune to make a small one – riches usually aren’t at the end of that rainbow. So what’s up with all of this? Did my parents spend so much time thinking they were missing something? I wonder if this is another one of those 1st world problems…. we certainly have the luxury to do a bit more than scrape together enough food to eat for the day and find a dry safe place to sleep at night, unlike many in this world.

Another misconception is that anything worth doing requires a GREAT idea. But most successful people, no matter how you define success, have had many small ideas, most of which didn’t pan out or were downright failures. So isn’t it more important to keep supporting your causes until you’re to the point you can reinforce them a bit more? Do we really think, like in some movie, some super idea will come to us in a dream? Then we’ll wake up, act as we never have before and take the world by storm?

The secret may be you are already doing your life’s work. You just haven’t found freedom there.  And that may be because freedom still involves sadness and loneliness. Is it how we’re defining freedom that has us stumbling? There will still be good days and bad days. You will still complain about the love of your life. The children you adore will be annoying and you’ll forget to take the garbage to the curb. Without the mundane, we can never appreciate the exciting and without suffering, we can never appreciate ecstasy. If your life feels meaningless, go out there and work towards solutions. Feed the hungry and clothe the poor. I know from experience that it helps put things in perspective. Otherwise my friends, you will reflect on a life a inaction when you are my age and realize you already had the answers but didn’t realize it at the time.

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part Two

We’re continuing our series on designing office spaces for health and wellness practitioners. If you missed part one – https://healingconsortium.com/2014/12/01/designing-therapy-spaces-a-series-to-enlighten-and-delight/ – we discussed the broad strokes that shouldn’t be overlooked. Moving on to specifics of decor, the important element is to not only empower you, the practitioner, but to also demonstrate empathy for your clients – their comfort and progress. So while no two spaces will look alike, keep the stimulation level at a minimum with muted neutral colors that allow you to add pops of color based on the season so that you yourself don’t become tired of the space you inhabit on a regular basis.

Charley's Staging- Spring 2008 026Warm, almost masculine color schemes that are organized and tidy are in order here. Start with what you have and pull out a color wheel. Try to keep to no more than 3 dominant colors, otherwise it begins to look chaotic. Let’s look at the office in the photo- the walls are a green and the furniture and window reddish-brown. Red and green are opposite each other on the color wheel. Be sure the colors have similar values/saturation levels – generally furniture, other than white, has deep saturation levels so mixing pastels with them can be tricky. Another approach is to go to the paint store and find the color combinations they provide on the sample cards, choosing what you already own and complementing from there. Then you have license to play with accessories you enjoy! Remember, don’t include anything you don’t absolutely love. Next time – lighting.

 

Depression in the Workplace

UnknownAlthough we’ve come a long way with brain science and we can now see the difference in a brain scan between a depressed person and a not depressed person, we have a long way to go. How does depression really manifest in different people? What does the depressed person act like? Why do we so often miss the signs in others and lose so many to suicide? I ponder these questions each time I realize that although I know myself, I know I suffer from seasonal depression, I know it’s winter and the light is low in my part of the world, I miss the fact that I’m depressed. If I miss it in myself, how likely is it that you’ll be looking for it in others? Until I find myself repeating the phrase “I hate my life” with my head in my hands, I often am clueless.  Why doesn’t it occur to me sooner? Why am I so surprised? But this is classic depression. The brain is still functioning but my heart has sunk a little deeper into my chest and the shades are drawn. It’s little wonder that the image above shows so much darkness in the depressed brain.

Apparently, emotions and logic are located on opposite sides of the brain which explains irrational behavior – emotions have taken over. As the human brain developed, survival depended on switching off one side of the brain (think emergency) in order for the other half of the brain to lead.

“So when we become caught up in our emotions, we actually become very stupid. We have lost the ability to step back and look at all the options and every thing is seen in black or white terms. Either everything is alright or everything is all wrong! This is a clear explanation for depression, which is a huge emotion. It also explains anxiety and panic attacks where the fight or flight system becomes permanently switched on. It also explains obsessions and compulsions like self harm, where the arousal and expectation produce adrenaline and other emotion-related hormones and chemicals, which feel as though they can only be dissipated by performing the ritual.” Frances Masters, BACP accredited psychotherapist 

So often, we humans have 20/20 vision when it comes to those around us yet we can’t ‘see the forest for the trees’ in our own life. You probably recognize when those around you are out of sorts, difficult to be around, but does it occur to you that they may be generally depressed? Instead of writing this off as a difficult co-worker, an over-stressed parent, or an impossible boss, a quiet lunch where compassionate concern is expressed may be all that’s needed to help them recognize that they need help.

So what are symptoms of depression?

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. …
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. …
  • Appetite or weight changes. …
  • Sleep changes. …
  • Anger or irritability. …
  • Loss of energy. …
  • Self-loathing. …
  • Reckless behavior

More importantly, for the purpose of this article, what does depression look like at work?

  • Uncooperative…
  • Unmotivated…
  • Bad attitude…
  • Low productivity..

…just to name a few. I want to suggest that everything you read about toxic co-workers is probably also what depression looks like at work. Untreated depression in an empowered person is hell – many of us know that scenario SOO well! But I want to suggest here that you can be some help. Just a concerned acknowledgement may be all that’s necessary to help an adult recognize the demon and take steps to get back to a better place. And since I am not an advocate of pharmaceuticals myself and have relied for years on safer alternatives, there are tools for everyone in this scenario. But recognition is the first step and all of us can be active participants!

Designing Therapy Spaces: A Series to Enlighten and Delight

Saul Robbins Photography

Saul Robbins Photography

You’ve finally snagged a great new office space and you’re ready to move in but your momentum hits a roadblock. There isn’t much research on what constitutes healing spaces and there is little training in the halls of higher education for aspiring therapists and healers entering the field of healthcare. So it should come as no surprise that designing physical environments where therapy is conducted is often left to chance. The frightening news is that the few studies that have been done find that the competence and character of a practitioner are often judged based on the physical office spaces they occupy! People actually had opinions about qualifications based on pictures of offices!!! So it appears important for those in the health care profession to take heed – your income and the success of your business seem to depend on how well you appoint your office space.

Apparently your clientele is basing their initial perception of your work on the formality of your space and diplomas posted on your walls – this is extremely important. Your professional space should also support and empower the service provider.

You would think that clutter needn’t be mentioned when discussing a work space that invites clients inside but apparently that isn’t the case. If you are one that has less than tidy paperwork habits, I suggest another space to spread out or a desk that can be closed off behind doors. This rates a giant ‘no confidence’ for clients and will likely lose you business. So comfort is defined as orderly, warm, nurturing yet formal.

This being the first installment of the series, we’re looking at the larger picture. On the macro level, the space should be a reflection of your values and your philosophy of caring for your clients. The space – the room itself, the building, and even the approach to the building should allow for client privacy.

The Feng Shui of the seating is an interesting dilemma – the power position faces the exit however that is also a safety concern for many so ideally both patient and therapist have the door in their sight line whenever possible. Being able to move the seating (non-fixed) is also a great advantage and every piece of seating needs to be supportive and comfortable.

Next time, we’ll discuss decor and by the end of the series,  we’ll also have looked at color theory, lighting, stimulation levels, and seasonal flair. Part 2 is here: https://healingconsortium.com/2015/01/19/designing-therapy-spaces-part-two/