“Francine Shapiro’s discovery of EMDR is one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of psychotherapy,” writes author, Dr. Norman Doidge.
Following a hurricane in Mexico, Lucy Arrigas and Ignacio Janero developed the Butterfly Hug in Mexico in order to work with groups of children. Francine Shapiro writes: The Butterfly Hug “has since been used all over the world to help increase the positive feelings of a safe place.”
The Butterfly Hug is one of many techniques used to activate both the left and right sides of the brain. The activation of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain is called, Bilateral Brain Stimulation. In her book, “Getting Past Your Past,” Dr. Shapiro recommends crossing “your arms in front of you with your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right. Then, you tap your hands alternately on each shoulder slowly four to six times.”
Dr. John Omaha, creator of “Affect Centered Therapy,” says that he demonstrates the Butterfly Hug to clients without emphasizing any particular speed and pressure of the tapping. He said he figures that each client will find the best rate and strength of touch that works for them.
Francine Shapiro suggests another technique to activate both sides of the brain: “alternate tapping your thighs (with the tips of your right index finger, then left index finger) at the same slow speed for the same for length of time (as she suggests above for the Butterfly Hug).”
There are several other techniques to activate both sides of the brain that are part of “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,” often referred to by the initials – EMDR. One way to active the brain is to follow fingers, objects, or images with your eyes. Another way to activate both sides of the brain is to use sound that alternatively moves from the left earphone to the right earphone. It is possible to have a recording on your iPhone to do Bilateral Brain Stimulation.
Francine Shapiro is a psychologist from Pacific Grove, which is near Monterey, California, USA. Back in 1987, Francine was walking on a long wide path on the west side of the Stanford University Campus. There are a lot of rattle snakes under the large eucalyptus trees in that part of the Stanford Campus. She scans the eucalyptus trees from right to left, thinking about a traumatic incident that occurred earlier in Francine’s life. She notices when she thinks about the traumatic incident, she feels calm. Dr. Francine Shapiro is obviously a keen observer of human behavior – both others as well as herself. She realizes that something very important had just happened to her. Later, Francine notices some thoughts that make her feel afraid. She tries an experiment as she deliberately moves her eyes to the right and to the left. It works again! The anxious feeling goes away as a result of moving her eyes from side to side. EMDR was created!
EMDR is also used all over the world to resolve symptoms like poor sleep, anger, anxiety, and flashbacks of painful events. It is also used as a treatment technique by the Veteran’s Administration to treat soldiers returning home who show trauma symptoms. EMDR is used to treat psychological problems from robberies, earthquakes, and car accidents as well.
Dr. Daniel Amen writes that “EMDR is one of the most effective treatments I have ever personally seen as a psychiatrist.” There is a great deal of research supporting the effectiveness of EMDR to improve symptoms from events that people experience as traumatic. The changes made by EMDR to the physical brain can be seen in a brain scan called, Single-photon Emission Computer Tomography or a SPECT scan.
This SPECT scan uses a special camera to create a 3-D pictures of the brain that show how an organ such as the brain works, unlike other imaging techniques like X-ray that show the structures of our body. Dr. Amen goes on to write: “We have studied EMDR with SPECT imaging before, during, and after treatment. EMDR is brain treatment. EMDR changes brain function.”
EMDR is a therapy used by trained professionals. Yet, there are EMDR self-help techniques available to help you feel better and think more clearly. These ways to activate both sides of the brain are available to everyone. The book by Francine Shapiro called “Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy,” has clear instructions for everyone who wishes to use these EMDR techniques.
A Whole Brain State is when both the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the brain begin to work together. This is called hemispheric synchronization. Bruce Lipton writes that “in our normal waking consciousness, we tend to operate predominantly from our left hemisphere, the side of the brain preoccupied with logic. In contrast, the right hemisphere is associated with processing emotions. When the left hemisphere is dominant, we tend to overrule our emotional drives with logic and reason.” Neuroscientist, Dr. Jeffery Fannin, asserts that whole-brain function is a “gateway to higher consciousness.”
Please watch my brief video and learn how to do the Butterfly Hug.
Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.”
I can remember being in Miss Santich’s kindergarten class at De Vargas Elementary School in San Jose, California, USA, in 1968. Sitting on the ground, I colorfully painted on large sheets of butcher paper with my friend, Scotty. There was no critic inside me that I could hear. In kindergarten, I had not needed courage – just paper and paint. As I grew up, I endured many years of criticism from parents and teachers as well as my siblings, friends, and neighbors. “Sit up straight. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Say please and thank you.”
I received grades in school. I was even cut from a football team in the eighth grade at Manuel Rogers Junior High. A few moments before my first game in the eighth grade, I was enjoying a wonderful conversation with a beautiful young woman named Jenny, on the sideline. I was in ecstasy. Suddenly, I heard this booming voice of my coach, Mr. John Hennig – “Davis, where are you?” I was supposed to be in the huddle hearing the call for the first play.
On Monday morning, I read the list of those who made the football team. I was not allowed to play anymore with the team. For the first time in my life, I was cut from an athletic team.
I learned to be on time. I learned to listen to those in authority. I learned to do my duty – my homework, my chores, and later, the tasks of my job. I developed a critic inside me to help guide me. When I was older, the critic got very loud. It got so loud at one point in my life that I could hardly hear anything else. When one surrenders their creativity, one becomes dead inside. Emma Jung said, “Tell the judge on your shoulder to do something else.”
“Where there is creating, there is progress. Where there is no creating, there is no progress. Know the nature of creating. Where there is joy, there is creating. Know the nature of joy. Where there is the infinite, there is joy,” says a passage from the Upanishads.
In this video, Sue Renfrew, M.A. demonstrates watercolor painting. Please get out your watercolor paints and find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Join in the fun and joy of creative expression.
Matisse said, “Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.”
Art therapy is a way of connecting with our soulful depths, the unconscious mind. Yet each of us must find our own way to express our creative impulses – drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpting, woodworking, music, dancing, sewing, making murals, poetry, and writing. There are virtually infinite ways to express creativity. Our creativity offers us an important way of resolving our internal conflicts.
A conflict is when we have a clash of opposites. I am tired, but I have work to do. A conflict can be very disturbing, keeping me awake at night. I can worry about what to do. I may get very emotional. I am mad at my teacher or boss for assigning me so much work to do. It may seem impossible; I do not have enough time. I may cry or get very angry.
Carl Jung wrote, “To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images – that is to say, to find the images which were concealed in the emotion – I was inwardly calmed and reassured. . . . Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them. . . . As a result of my experiment I learned how helpful it can be from the therapeutic point of view to find the particular images which lie behind the emotions.”
In this video, Sue Renfrew, shows how to do art therapy for teens and adults to calm emotions and learn about oneself. Please gather your paper and crayons and join in the fun. You may prefer chalk, pencils, pens, pastels, or something else with which to draw. You may wish to draw on colored paper, cloth, paper bags, newspaper, or another surface on which to create a drawing. If possible, find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted and let’s create somethings new.
Even the gospel writers have many differences in their descriptions of the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Who was this Jewish man (from modern day Israel) born over 2000 years ago? Many people don’t seem to realize that the version of events differ in many ways from the Gospel of Mark and John as well as the Gospels of Luke and Mathew.
In the summer of 2004, I spent seventeen days comparing versions of the Gospels at Four Springs Retreat Center, located in the wooded mountains just north of the beautiful Napa Valley in Northern California, USA. I was struggling in my life, feeling tired and confused about my faith. I had been attending church many years and even had read the bible from many years, yet I was unaware of many of the facts of Jesus’ life. The leaders only asked questions and did not tell me what I was supposed to think; I made up my own mind comparing the sections of the Gospels of Mark, Mathew, and Luke. I began to question my assumptions about Jesus and what he was teaching. My experience working with the Gospels at Four Springs Retreat Center changed me deeply and led me to be a more self-responsible, compassionate, and mature person.
The Roman historian, Tacitus, who lived from 55 to 111 C.E., documented the persecution of Christians and the trial by Pontius Pilate of a man who appears to be Jesus who “suffered the extreme penalty (crucifixion).” Yet some people even question these basic facts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. How do we know which version of the story of the life of Jesus is accurate and what he was teaching to his followers?
There are many different ancient languages, such as Aramaic and Greek, as well as the variety of languages into which the modern day bible has been translated. The texts of the Gospels of Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John were changed many times, even before they ended up in the modern day bible. There are scores of other early documents which describe the life of Jesus, like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Phillip. Biblical scholars have been writing and disagreeing about these differences for centuries.
Manuel Costa writes: “Jesus was gripped to his very core by the reality of what he called God or Father. It was as if some unseen Force sank its claws into his heart and brain and would not let him go. He lived in an intimate relationship with God and wanted others to do so, too. That they, too, could experience such a relationship with God was the ‘good news’ (gospel) Jesus proclaimed.” What do you believe?
In this video, Manuel Costa, talks about his book, “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,” which describes what he has learned from studying the bible and spirituality for many years – in the seminary, as a Catholic priest, through graduate studies in Religious Education and Counseling Psychology, and for over three decades as both a marriage and family counselor independently and also as a workshop leader with the Guild for Psychological Studies.
When does sex become an addiction? Has sex ceased to be fun?
The internet is now the leading source of pornographic materials worldwide. It provides unprecedented anonymous virtually unlimited access to inexpensive or cost free sexually explicit text, still and moving images, and audio. More than half of all spending on the internet is related to sexual activity. Fourteen percent of searches on the internet worldwide and four percent of websites are devoted to sex.
Addiction is when someone is unable to stop doing something that is bad for them. The addict does not see all the bad things that are happening, because he is taking this action. The key factor is that the sexual addict is unable to control or stop the sexual behavior even though there are negative results that continue to get worse. The behavior may include compulsive masturbation, compulsive use of pornography, anonymous or public sexual encounters, and cybersex or phone sex.
Orgasm is the last thing an addict wants. He creates a bubble of fantasy. Sex addicts are addicted to drugs inside their own bodies: dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. These neurochemicals suppress anxiety, anger, resentment, and shame. “Rarely does the average person get to experience, for example, love without fear, or pure joy much less ecstasy. But these higher states are so powerful that once experienced, they are never forgotten and are sought ever after,” writes psychiatrist, David Hawkins.
The bubble of sexual fantasy allows him to maintain a false set of beliefs about his own power. Addiction is like a greedy little god inside you, writes Robert Moore. Your ego is so inflated that you act as if you think you are God. Grandiosity tends to destroy you if you do not look at it honestly and accept that you have needs and limits.
Addiction is at its core a thought disorder. The underlying belief of the addict is – “I am a damaged and worthless person.” The addicts also believes if others really knew who he is, they will not love him. He does not trust that others can be trusted to help take care of his needs. The sex addict also believes that sex is his most important need.
Sexual addiction, like all addictions, is biological, psychological, social, and spiritual disease. One can see the differences when looking at the scan of a brain of a sex addict. A sex addict frequently experiences with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse during his childhood. After he grows up, the sex addict often has relationships with other addicts or someone who reduces the consequences of his unhealthy sexual behavior – a co-addict. His wife and children are affected by his addiction; addiction is a family disease.
Healing is possible from sexual addiction. Mary O’Malley writes in The Gift of Our Compulsions that “compulsions are our guides back into (being grounded in our body that connects us to wisdom, our heart, and our life.) This is the connection we knew so well when we were young (as a child); it has been waiting for us to grow up enough so we can know and live it again on an even deeper level.”
Bill Wilson said something similar about addiction – there is no full recovery from addiction, until we have actually achieved emotional sobriety. Healing our sexuality begins with accepting the reality of our sexual urges. Our healing continues as we see sex as a way to spontaneously and playfully build connection and belonging with another. In this video, Manuel Costa, MFT, author of “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,” discusses sexual addiction, perhaps, the most shamed addiction of all.
Ever had a quarrel about Facebook with someone you love? Does it frustrate you, when someone’s iPhone seems more important than you?
The comedian, Louis CK, said on the Conan O’Brien show: Smartphones are toxic. Kids need to build empathy and talk to people. One needs to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something.
We live in the information age. Smartphones and social media, like Facebook and Instagram, affect how we communicate, date, and have sex.
Peter Diamandis notes that a Massai Warrior in Africa with a iPhone in 2015 has access to more information than the US President had only 20 years ago, and he also has better mobile communication than the US President had 26 years ago. For 100,000 years, more information and better communications consistently made us healthier, wealthier, and more tolerant. Our ways of communicating provided information in doses we could digest – the drum, smoke signal, cave painting, horse, town crier, carrier pigeon, newspaper, photograph, telephone, radio, and film.
David Shenk writes that around 1945, we began to produce information much faster than we were able to process it. The invention and technological improvement of the computer, microwave, television, and satellite have produced too much information – a glut. The amount of knowledge available and the speed of reaching this information provides great benefits, like instant communication with family and loved ones all over the earth. Yet the information overload we experience leads to confusion, stress, and even ignorance.
Phillip Novak says, “Super-abundance is grand, until we understand that it can rob us of the peace that is our spiritual birthright.” Children and teens view more than 40,000 ads per year on television, the internet, billboards, and in magazines. Research has shown children younger than 8 are intellectually and psychologically defenseless against advertising, like television commercials for toys. Social media sites like Facebook create conflict in marriage and families. In this video, Manuel Costa, MFT, author of “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,” describes the impact of technology on marriage and family.
Do you want to feel good about your relationship? Love can dazzle us – baffle us! We often learn about love in film, music, and books. We talk about love a lot, but we are typically only discussing infatuation or falling in love. Love is complex, mysterious, and happens in every society on earth. Love is far beyond mere romantic infatuation or sexual attraction.
“To wake up and see your smiling face
is such a pleasure and a privilege to me
To seek the light in the brilliance of your gaze
(the way she looks at him)
is to awaken with love
To see the sun nestled in your hair
and daybreak hiding in your smile
To see that my verse now has rhythm and color
is such a pleasure
To awaken with the importance of knowing
that I am yours that I only belong to you
that never again my dreams will feel cold
It’s to have a future now
To wake-up and see that I have you next to me
To wake up and see your smiling face,
that which I have for so, so, long, sought to have
It is a pleasure, a privilege to me”
Recorded by Luis Miguel
Written by Manzanero
When the woman I love calls, I feel wonderful. When she doesn’t call, I feel sad. I would call this experience of falling in love, a positive projection. We often idealize people as teens, seeing them as more powerful, charming, or talented than they actually are. One can worship a public figure (actress, singer, politician, teacher) or older family member, wanting to learn all about them. I remember falling in love and thinking that I would feel exactly the same bliss – forever. Yet over time, we begin to see that the one we love is imperfect – has flaws. Our feelings change.
With the process of falling out of love, I have a chance of changing. I can see the person whom I love more accurately. I may still feel deeply connected to them and even joyful, yet I can see their faults, more clearly.
When we fall out of love, we gain the opportunity to take our projection back. For we see exaggerated in others that which we fail to see in ourselves. The very things we love about the other person are qualities ripe to be developed in us. I fall in love with a socially gifted and funny woman and, in time, may find it important to develop my own social skills.
This is where conscious love begins. Then we can see each other more as we are, we can choose to love even though we both have faults. I can learn about the brokenness of my beloved as well as my own with respectful communication. In this reality lies the great potential of love and intimacy to help us become more mature. In this video, Manuel Costa, MFT, author of “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teaching of Jesus,” describes healthy marriage.
One of the most frustrating things is to have time to sleep and to lie awake in bed, starring at the ceiling. Look around you if you are in a crowded room – the person on your left sleeps well. The person on your right has trouble sleeping. Sometimes, it is the demands of work, school, or children that keep us from getting enough sleep to feel rested and alert.
Before the electric light was invented in 1879, most people slept 10 hours a night. People in countries free from demands of modern industrialized society, typically sleep 10 hours a night. Americans on average sleep just 6 hours and 24 minutes sleep at night. Successful people sleep 8 hours and 24 minutes a night.
Good sleep energizes the body and enables our brains to think and remember better. Thirty percent of high school and college students fall asleep in class at least once a week. Without enough sleep for long periods of time, we can become physically ill with health problems such as diabetes. Most mental health problems are related to sleep. We can become so deprived of sleep that we do not know what it feels like to be wide awake.
Here are some suggestions to improve sleep:
*Keep a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up
*Don’t drink or eat caffeine (coffee, caffeinated tea, or chocolate)
*Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you are awake in the middle of the night
*Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before going to bed
*Get regular aerobic exercise (not to close to bedtime)
*Minimize noise and light where you sleep (quiet and dark help)
*Keep temperatures moderate-not too hot or cold
*Spend the time 30 to 60 minutes before be relaxing (quiet music, meditation, pray, stretching)
Using simple movements, natural to us as children that we have been taught to suppress as grown-ups, Laura Lund offers us ways to fall asleep and stay asleep. Laura Lund is certified as a Somatic Counselor and Educator with Zapchen Somatics. In this video, Laura Lund demonstrates techniques to help us sleep.
If you have some trouble controlling your anger, you are normal. Anger has enormous power that over shadows our clear thinking and our desire to do good. Academic studies identify it as the hardest of emotions to master. Most adults do not master anger until after age 50 – if ever. Anger can lead to heart disease and cancer.
We typically get angry when someone blocks us from our goals, lies to us, or unjustly hurts someone. Fear is an emotional signal that danger is near. Anger is a signal someone is crossing into our territory – physically or psychologically. Yet there is an upside to anger, because anger gets us moving. Anger and depression are incompatible states.
Play is the natural way we let go of our unpleasant emotions and heal. Children naturally play through a conflict they experience. Play is the natural way we let go of tension and heal. During authentic play, we are spontaneous, unselfconscious, and non-competitive as well as lose track of time. Playing is part of what it means to be human. Schiller says, (woman or) “man is completely human only when (she or) he is at play.”
Using simple movements, natural to us as children that we have been taught to suppress as grown-ups, Laura Lund. offers us ways to cope with anger. Laura Lund is certified as a Somatic Counselor and Educator with Zapchen Somatics. In this video, Laura Lund demonstrates technique to change our emotional state with childlike body movements and sounds – raspberries, horse lips, and stomping.
Think about the most mature and likable person you know. They are probably flexible, highly skillful, and self-aware in the area of emotions and relationships. She or he will genuinely and with confidence increase happiness and excitement as well as calm shame and anger inside her or himself.
It is like a thermostat inside of us. A system of balancing our inner and outer worlds. Sometimes, this system works very well, increasing our joy, desire, excitement at the best times. Our anger, sadness, and fear will decrease as needed when this emotional system works well. When this emotional system is not functioning well, we have trouble with our relationships and getting things done, like homework or tasks at work.
In the book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” JK Rowling writes: “Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. . .You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” Experiencing a dementor seems to be like being depressed.
Harry Potter learns to concentrate, with all his might, on a single, very happy memory. This frees Harry Potter from the haunting clutches of dementors. Great writers and directors of movies, like J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, know how to change the emotions of readers or moviegoers.
In order to have healthy, satisfying relationships and learn and work productively, we need to influence our emotions internally. We can try to use external methods such as food, movies, alcohol, drugs, sex, computer games, or controlling others to calm our upsetting emotions, but they eventually fail to soothe us.
Yet we can also regulate our emotions internally by changing our breathing, physical exercise, self-talk, and focusing on an images of safety, affirmation, and validation. With healthy emotional regulation, the goal is to be aware of your body and calm unpleasant emotions, not feel numb. Unfortunately, a vast majority of men have difficulty even sensing the emotions in their bodies and describing them in words.
Emotional regulation is a skill we can learn with practice. Over time, it begins to happen naturally, just like learning to tie your shoes. Do you think about it when you tie your shoes? Put simply, healthy emotional self-regulation is responding to challenges of a situation with a level emotion allowing mature actions. Affect Centered Therapy teaches us the skills to calm our sadness or fear.
John Omaha, Ph.D., MFT, the creator of Affect Centered Therapy and author of the book, “Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Emotional Regulation: EMDR and Bilateral Stimulation for Affect Management,” is in private practice in Santa Rosa, California in the United States of America. In this video, John demonstrates the important skill of down regulating emotion.