Category Archives: Personal growth

Five ways to soothe your heart after a breakup

If you are grieving over the breakup of your marriage or significant relationship, take heart: When you arm yourself with the tools to get through this crisis, you will find yourself on the other side, happier, healthier, and stronger than you thought you could be. It helps to have strategies and a plan. Here are five ideas to get you started.

  1. Remember the bigger picture. We humans grow through pain. (Ugh.) Of course, not everyone takes advantage of the opportunity for growth that our painful experiences contain. More’s the pity. For those of us who lean in to our experience, hold ourselves to account, and ask ourselves, “What am I meant to learn from this? How do I want to be after going through this?” there is a terrific opportunity to become more of the best of what we already are. Reframing your breakup or divorce in this light helps keep things in a healthier perspective.
  2. Take care of yourself. Going through the pain of a breakup or divorce might be the best time in your life to get good self-care: regular massage or facials, to get back to your yoga mat, to try Reiki or Healing Touch or SRT or energy work or energy psychology. Take a class. Paint. Play the guitar. However you choose to do it, make time and commitment to take care of yourself. You deserve it.
  3. Call a friend. But be careful about which friend you call. There are those who talk us off the ledge, and those who make us want to jump. Pick the calming ones. And be sure to ask them about how they are doing. It is so helpful to think about someone else’s problems, instead of our own. And it makes us a better friend.
  4. Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time. Even when you are giving it your best effort, it still takes time. Some days you will feel better, and then on other days you will feel worse again. That’s how it goes. But little by little, your heart is healing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other. You hurt, you cry, and then you feel happy, and you laugh…And that’s how life goes. After the darkness comes the light.
  5. I know, it’s hard under the best of circumstances, and when we are in pain, it seems impossible to connect and sustain our attention. Try anyway. Your Higher Self will appreciate your effort, and you will find that you are sustained by your Source, even if you think you can’t “get there.” The effort is more important than the apparent result. Luckily there are so many great guided meditations available on line today, you don’t have to work so hard. In fact, this can be a great time to take up the practice, and start to connect more deeply to Who you really Are. Pretty cool.

Every crisis contains the seeds for growth and transformation. Going through a breakup or divorce is certainly a crisis: painful, common, and growth-promoting. The practices suggested here are like tilling, watering, and adding sunlight. Do this, and we can grow into something amazing, healthy, strong, and resilient. And that is beautiful.

How to heal from a breakup and create a life to be excited about!

Do you know someone whose heart is hurting because of a breakup? With half of marriages ending in divorce, and most relationships not ending in marriage, the chances are that you do, and that person is hurting. Learn techniques to heal from a breakup to make the process a little smoother, and a little shorter.

The grieving process

Fortunately we have tools and strategies to help the healing process. Simply learning about what to expect as we go through the grieving process can be helpful. The stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), so brilliantly identified by Elizabeth Kubler Ross back in 1969, are not steps we go through sequentially. When we are grieving, we sometimes feel better, but then may feel worse again. We may feel depressed, and then angry. We may also feel shock, and guilt. Knowing the emotional landscape can help us to be patient with ourselves as we keep moving forward, one (painful) step at a time.

Reframe: a great strategy to heal from a breakup

One of the best strategies to heal is to put our pain in a bigger context. What is it all for? Why is this happening? What am I to learn from this? How is this making me stronger, wiser, better than I was before? What have I gained, that I would not otherwise have gained? These questions help us take a longer view, and put our pain in a bigger context. The result: we feel empowered.

Reality Check

There is a tendency to glorify the past. We look at what we lost through rose-colored glasses. We idealize our ex, and the life we feel we have left behind. This is natural — but it is not necessarily true! If your relationship had been wonderful, you would still be in it. Your ex was not perfect for you; your ex is not the only man or woman in the world that you could ever love. Think about it — the loving feelings you experienced were, after all, YOUR feelings. You can feel them again, right now, if you let yourself go there. Your ex is not needed! And since those feelings are yours, you can bestow that grace on someone else, when the time is right, when you have learned what you needed.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a choice: a choice that empowers us, and can set us free. Forgive your ex, and you can cut those ties that are binding you to the past. Forgive yourself, and you will have grown by leaps and bounds. Forgiveness puts things in order. Practicing forgiveness is giving yourself the keys to the kingdom. Forgiveness does not mean that nothing was “wrong” or that you are condoning being mistreated. It doesn’t mean you want to continue in the relationship. It means that the wiser part of you recognizes that everyone is pretty much doing the best they know how to do, given their unhealed wounds and traumas from the past. Feeling hurt, we are called to remember: forgiveness is divine.

Heal from a breakup and create a life to be excited about!

When we take our grieving in hand, and shepherd ourselves through the process, we avoid the pitfall of wallowing in self-pity, of anger, of victimhood, of disempowerment. We can turn our pain into something of meaning; we can have more compassion for others; we find out we are stronger and more resilient than we would otherwise have believed. We are able to fill ourselves up with grace and optimism and empowerment. From that place, we can create a life that we can be excited about.

If you know someone who is going through a breakup, please share these thoughts. Having one’s heart broken is awful. It is also common. Knowing that we are not alone, and that someone cares, can go a long way toward healing. For a little extra help, check out my Udemy course, Healing from a Breakup. I explore these ideas and support each module with energy psychology and guided meditations. The video course allows me to “walk beside” people who are healing from heartache, and guide them through their healing process. And when you need more help, you might like to work with me.

With many blessings for peace and healing,

Sarah

PS- the image is by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Past Life Regression Story

Past-life regression therapy with healing can be very powerful tools, helping to accelerate our personal growth and spiritual expansion.  We are able to re-pattern old habits of thinking and feeling that have their root in the distant past, becoming free and effective people in the present. I am passionate about the benefits of this healing technique and have often used regression with healing with clients in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr. It has been an important part of my own journey as well.

A personal tale

One of my most interesting past-life regression and healing experiences happened about a decade ago. During the session, I retrieved a lifetime in which I was a young sailor, a boy not more than 15 years of age. I was climbing the mast of a tall ship and my foot got caught in the rigging; I lost my footing and fell. I was badly injured with a broken hip.

As the regression proceeded, I saw that I went on to live as a disabled person. In those days, that meant that I became a “beggar”. I was left with deep self-esteem issues that continued to plague me in this lifetime. And, interestingly, I have a huge bruise-like birthmark on my hip.

Healing

Since the regression and healing session, I have changed in important ways. The birthmark is still on my hip; I still get dizzy when I look up at tall buildings. But my self-confidence began to improve almost immediately. I remember having two important and conflicting thoughts after the session: One, I was very skeptical that this had really happened! And secondly, I felt more comfortable in my own skin. Years later, I find myself looking back on this session as one of the most significant experiences of my journey.

You Get What You (Think You) Deserve

In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I often help clients resolve issues they have been dealing with for years. The issue may present in different forms, but at its core, it is the same thing, again and again.

Intractable issues?

Typically these intractable issues come in the areas of finance, relationship problems, or weight and other health issues. Even when we know, intellectually, that we should be able to keep our weight in check, or have healthy relationships, or freedom from financial struggle, we often let ourselves down, re-living the same problem again and again. We think we have it mastered, only to see it show up again.

Why? Why, after so much growth and effort, do we face the same stuff again and again? The problem lies deep in the subconscious mind, which is running programming from an earlier time in our lives (or lifetimes). On some level, the problem has become part of our identity; and on a deep level, we think that we deserve it. Consciously we know we deserve to be clear of it, but that doesn’t change the subconscious belief that we do not.

And it isn’t simply that the problem is familiar. Usually, on a deep level, we believe that we deserve to have the problem. That’s right: If you are struggling with some issue that seems to crop up again and again, chances are good that somewhere deep inside you believe you deserve it. On a deep level, you’ve bought the lie. The good news is that it is actually simple to find out what this reversal is and then to clear it. When we root out the mistruth we’ve been subconsciously repeating, the whole system collapses in on itself and we are free. I’ve seen clients laugh and cry when they release the lie. The world looks different and things fall into place.

And then, it shifts

Once an issue is cleared, it is cleared for good. However, sometimes there are layers upon layers that need to be addressed. Luckily, if a new facet of the issue is presented, it can be cleared in the same way the last one was. My approach combines energy psychology, hypnotherapy, and some neurolinguistic programming to efficiently resolve the issues, in a safe and peaceful way. It is always an honor to do this kind of work and so inspiring to see people make positive changes in their lives. Because they deserve  to!

Is tapping really necessary? Here’s the deal with EFT tapping.

I have used EFT and other meridian tapping therapies both for myself and with many clients in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr. I have seen issues―even really tough ones―clear up quickly, almost magically. These results intrigued me, and prompted me to do some research about the field of Energy Psychology; you can read some of it here. People sometimes wonder if tapping meridian points is really a necessary ingredient to EFT’s success. One particularly bright and educated client of mine said that he believed it was exposure (the repeated statement of the problem) coupled with a self-soothing technique (tapping) that helped people get clear of their issues. He is a psychologist, so he thinks about these things. The topic has been widely debated, and he is not alone in his suspicions. And the research shows that―he’s wrong.

EFT researchers have begun conducting “dismantling studies” to separate tapping from the cognitive and exposure portions of the protocol. The first study that attempted to parse out the components of EFT’s success were (EFT skeptics) Waite and Holder. In 2003, they conducted a study comparing three tapping conditions (EFT, sham points, and a doll) to a non-tapping condition. However, they mistakenly used EFT points, because they asked participants to with their fingertips, which contain meridian points. Participants in all three tapping groups showed significant improvements; the non-tapping group did not. Waite and Holder concluded that EFT owed its success to distraction and desensitization. But they failed to take the fingertip meridian points into consideration when they reached this conclusion. Perhaps because of this, their study is an outlier when compared to other EFT studies.

In 2013, Louis Fox conducted a study to parse out the components of EFT’s success.  He compared EFT to a control group that used the cognitive and exposure portions of EFT with mindful breathing instead of tapping. The tapping group did significantly better than the control group. In 2014, Rachel Rogers and Sharon Sears conducted a similar study but in this case the control group used sham tapping points. Again, the group that had tapped on actual acupressure points had significantly better results. The most recent dismantling study was conducted in 2015 by Reynolds, who also compared EFT to a group using sham tapping. And again, the EFT group had better results than the control group. (This study is in press; to be published in the Energy Psychology Journal)

The research bears out again and again what EFT practitioners and enthusiasts have intuited for more than a decade. Tapping meridian points and focusing on the problem is the recipe for success. EFT has helped thousands of people overcome a variety of emotional issues. If you would like to learn more about it, I highly recommend EFT creator Gary Craig’s website, along with the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology‘s.

I goofed ―and it turns out, I grew

In addition to my work as a therapist and healer, I am a yoga teacher –and I love it. Being a part of the yoga community is rewarding, being a teacher is an honor. Finding the right time-slot for a class is both art and science, as we try to figure out when people can, and want to, come to class. Two weeks ago I spoke with the owner of the studio where I teach, and we decided to start my class 15 minutes earlier. I think this is a fantastic idea: it will bring more students to the class; it will make my day end a little earlier. The new time was to begin yesterday. The problem is, I forgot. En route to the studio, I realized my mistake. Instead of being ten minutes early, I was going to be five minutes late.

And then, a miracle happened: I didn’t beat myself up.

I spoke with the studio owner, who was on site as she had just finished teaching. She was gracious and handled the situation with a problem-solver’s good humor. She said she’d start the class, and I could take over when I got there. Her grace made it easier for me to hold mine. That is huge. That is HUGE. That is something we can all learn from. We can make the world a safer, happier place by choosing to panic less and to be calm and kind.

According to the Dalai Lama, the purpose of life is to be happy. It is difficult to be happy when we are caught in a constant barrage of criticism, especially that sneaky and pervasive self-criticism. Giving others grace is profound. Giving ourselves the same grace that we would grant another is life-changing. We are going to make mistakes; we are human. How we respond to those mistakes can determine our overall happiness. It can take us closer to, or move us away from, the very purpose of our lives.

I have a history of deep, pervasive, acerbic self-criticism. But I have been really working on this stuff since 2002. I have an arsenal of effective and well-honed techniques that have helped me: hypnotherapy; EFT and other Energy Psychology techniques; Reiki and other energy healing; an almost-daily meditation practice. (Note this is a meditation practice, not a perfect. I have yet to achieve samadhi. I barely find pratyahara. It’s all good.)

I’ve also grown older, and at 46, I’m not the same gal I was at 33. My dad, known for his character and wisdom, once assured me that “these [crises] have a way of working themselves out”. Crises do pass, and while they are with us, they teach us a lot. Sometimes I think of my Higher Self speaking to me like a light-hearted Mafioso, saying “We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way….” Let’s do the easy way, please.

Yesterday’s mistake showed me how far I have come. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Sarah. Good job yesterday! Congratulations on not freaking out or beating yourself up. And please, keep up the good work―life is much happier that way.

🙂

The role of emotions in cancer

Susie (name changed for privacy) came in to my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, and she was reeling. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and treatment was underway. But she wasn’t sleeping. She was trying to keep it all together, and ended up alternating between tears and anger. She was certainly having trouble engaging in life. And she knew that none of that was helping her condition.

Cancer and the mind body connection

The mind-body connection has major implications for our health and well-being. People all across the Western world are taking up practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and they are doing it with good reason. They feel better, and there is a deep and growing body of empirical evidence showing that emotions play an important role in health.

Resources as mainstream as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic address the role of stress in health. We know that stress and traumatic events impact the hormonal stress response system in ways that impair immune function and can lead to disease―even cancer. And we know that there are ways to combat that impact and improve overall health and wellbeing.

In one study of 94 women with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer, stress was correlated to disease: women who had not experienced significant stressors remained disease-free for longer periods of time than those who did experience significant stress.

So, what are you supposed to do if you are upset?

There is good news even for people experiencing tough times. You can fare better if you deal with your emotions. According to David Spiegel, M.D., one of the study authors, “people do better in the aftermath of traumatic stress if they deal with it directly. Facing, rather than fleeing it, is important… In other words, don’t suppress your emotions.”

Please, don’t suppress your emotions. Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer experienced a significant loss in the two years before diagnosis. I can’t tell you how many times when I’m doing energy healing on a person with cancer I hear the phrase “un-cried tears “. Tears are not shameful, and we should throw away the silly lyric “big girls don’t cry” and its implication that even little boys shouldn’t. Tears are cleansing and we do ourselves a great service when we cry them.

The “Type C” personality

Not shedding those tears is an aspect of the “type C personality”, a term dubbed for the traits commonly seen among people who have been diagnosed with cancer. In the Cancer Report, Susan Silberstein, Ph.D., of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, outlines the traits. They are:

  • Repression of negative emotions (as mentioned above)
  • Feeling hopeless, that there are no options, or a lack of control
  • Not having deep emotional ties or being in toxic relationships
  • A tendency to keep the peace at any cost, to put others’ needs first, or even to be unaware of their own needs
  • A feeling (often unconscious) that they do not deserve happiness, success, or even life
  • A need to gain attention through the disease which they could not, or did not, receive otherwise

No, it’s not your fault

Now, this does not imply that getting cancer is anyone’s fault. None of us has everything all figured out. We all need to learn and grow, and some of us will learn through the experience of disease. Thankfully, when we know what we are meant to be learning, it is a little easier to set ourselves to the task at hand, and that’s why this information about the mind-body connection and the “Type C personality” can be so empowering.

When I work with clients who have cancer, we spend a lot of time re-working their emotional patterns. We create a safe space to cry. We reframe the work ethic to create less stress and a more balanced life. We practice shifting emotional boundaries to create healthier relationships. We shine the light on those tendencies to “stuff it” and practice speaking up. All of these are skills that can be learned, and learning them leads to a happier, and healthier, life.

As for Susie…

Susie and I worked together for several weeks. During that time she had a few “aha” moments. On her first visit, she cried. But after the tears were released, she started to feel lighter and clearer, and certainly more optimistic. We used some hypnotherapy and guided meditation techniques to help her find her voice. When she used it, she found that, far from driving people away, her relationships actually improved.  She evaluated her work schedule and found ways to be more efficient and less stressed. And she became confident that her treatments were working. Susie managed to learn some of the lessons her cancer had to teach and was able to get back to the joy of living.

And that, it seems to me, is pretty much the point. 🙂

My life is giving birth to me

Being born is not a comfortable process. I often feel that my life is “giving birth” to me. This is a metaphor that often comes to mind when I’m working with my clients in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr.

There are moments of comfort, certainly. But there are unavoidable moments of painful growth, when I am squeezed and pushed and molded into something new. Painful experience seems to be part of the human condition. We are told that humanity as a whole is progressing under the 4th Ray of Divinity, the Ray of harmony through conflict. That theory is hard to argue with.

Our painful experiences, though, are turning us into something more useful and pure. Pain is the heat applied in the crucible of our existence. When we hold this in our minds, it makes the pain a little easier to bear. When we are able to detach a little from the pain, we can navigate it a little better. One way I’ve found to be a little more detached is to remember that each of us is made up of many parts, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Our bodies are made up of 50 trillion cells, and each of those cells is a little unit of consciousness. Bruce Lipton, in the fabulous Biology of Belief, describes the movement of cells in a lab setting: In a Petri dish, human cells will move toward a sugar source and away from a poison. They have consciousness, of course on a different scale than ours, but consciousness nonetheless. Imagine how they respond to the thoughts we send to them…imagine how they will respond to kinder thoughts.

Our emotions exist on a different level of consciousness than our bodies or our minds. Emotions use different brain structure than thoughts. The limbic system is the emotional brain and the cortex is the “thinking” brain. The limbic system sends more signals up to the cortex than the other way around, which helps explain why emotions can sometimes overwhelm reason. Luckily we can learn to take a more detached position, and when we do, we begin to notice the flow of emotions. We still experience them, but without drowning in them.

Our thoughts are different from our feelings. Our thoughts sometimes run away with us, but with practice we learn to control them. The first step to this control is to witness them. We notice them arise and float away, and begin to realize that we have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts. We have been told that with our thoughts we create the world. As I look back on my own life experiences, it seems that there is some truth to this. But often we create by accident or default because we create the things we are afraid of. With practice we can learn to use our thoughts to create the things that are for our higher good.

The highest level of being that most of us are able to access at times is the level of our Soul, which is who we really are. Instead of identifying with the passing pleasure and pain of our 3-D physical world, we are learning to identify with a higher purpose, a higher level of consciousness. When we contact our soul, we experience pure joy, gratitude, and peace. We become more intuitive and less critical, and realize that when one member of our human family is suffering, we all suffer. We come to understand that we are more than what meets the eye.

I think that is the purpose of our suffering: To teach us to shift our focus upward. Painful experience shows us that we are placing our attention on the temporary and transient rather than the real and transcendent. Holding on to this idea has helped me to witness my suffering on one level, even as I participate in it on another. This eases the pain and opens me up to pure joy. And that is pretty fantastic!

My typo as a metaphor, and it’s OK to ask for help

I sent an email newsletter last week and it had a big mistake in it. The second paragraph makes no sense. It says: “Have you ever considered that what we do that with our spaces, we can do that with our energy fields?”

I knew what I meant.

I usually have a second set of eyes proofread for me, but this time I was late getting it sent and was impatient. I read it several times, and read it out loud. Reading my writing aloud is a good way to make sure it makes sense. But this time it didn’t work.

The problem was that I knew what I meant to say, so I didn’t notice what I actually typed. Knid of lkie you can udnresantd waht tihs syas.

I should have used my proofreader.

Which brings me to the point: We should always use our team!

Humans are social creatures. When we tell ourselves, very stubbornly, “I can do it all by myself” we are likely mistaken. The stubbornness itself is probably a sign that we are mistaken.

Of course there are lots of things we are supposed to do alone, but in the bigger scale, “no man is an island unto himself”. We humans thrive in relationships. We are happy in community. We gravitate to groups, try to find our tribe, we work out our issues in relationship with others.

When my little sister was in a high chair and just learning to talk, she wanted to do everything all by herself. One night we were having stir-fry with soy sauce, she was at that age of budding independence and wanted to pour it “all by herself”. The over-sauced food made her shudder.

This is what happens to us even as adults when we stubbornly, and I dare say immaturely, decide that we can do “it” ―anything, everything―all by ourselves. We shudder as we learn the hard lessons of ego, and come to realize the beautiful reality of interdependence.

I see many brave and strong clients who mistakenly believe that asking for help in time of crisis is a sign of weakness. I have done this too, but I try to remember what I remind my clients.

Getting help is not a sign of weakness: It is a sign of humanity. Sometimes we find that the best thing we can do is to ask for help, to let others in. When we deny ourselves the help, and deny others the opportunity to be of service, we throw things out of balance.

Sometimes we give, and sometimes we take. Sometimes we lead, and sometimes we follow. But we never travel alone. And when we forget that, we have forgotten the very thing that makes us human.

Past-life regression and a short reference to getting sick

I have seen and experienced incredible healing through past-life regression therapy over the years―on both sides of the recliner, so to speak. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I have helped clients resolve longstanding issues through regression therapy. As a client, I have used regression to gain insight and heal the patterns that kept me from thriving and to shine light on things that made no sense from my logical mind’s point of view. Regression therapy is one of the very best tools we have for making strides―big strides―in personal growth.

One of my most interesting experiences happened when I was in graduate school. I have not been afraid to speak in front of groups since I was in middle school; in graduate school, I gave many presentations without a hitch. I went on to become a professor at the local community college. I’ve given talks at corporations, taught yoga classes, led meditations….you get the point. But one time in grad school was very different.

As the final project for my human development class, I had to give a five-minute talk about “anything related to human development”. I chose to talk about the chakras. It went well, and I received a high A for my effort. But I felt sick. After class I went to meet my boyfriend at the park so we could run together. When I got to the parking lot, I opened my car door and got sick on the asphalt. So much for our run.

A few days later, I met with my hypnotherapist to figure out what had gone wrong. We did a regression therapy and uncovered a lifetime in which I had been stoned to death for having religious views that differed from the prevailing norm. I think that the lifetime was during the very early Christian era, and that I was a Gnostic Christian. The specifics of the case are interesting but far less important than what happened next. What happened next was the healing.

My hypnotherapist and I did healing on this memory. We connected to the after-death experience to reinforce the knowing that death really isn’t bad, and my Higher Self nurtured, loved, and protected that unfortunate me. Eventually that other “me” felt brave and calm and almost regal, and totally unafraid to speak her truth.

And now I’m writing a public blog post about past-lives, hypnotic regression, and metaphysics.

What would you do if you could release a past-life trauma?