Tag Archives: anxiety

Move The Mountain – A Mindfulness Moment

Mastering Mindfulness®

The essence of mindfulness is bringing the entire spectrum of your cognition—mental, emotional, and physical—into the present moment. This is accomplished through the discipline of focused breathing. Mindfulness moments help you step outside the rigorous demands of multitasking that occupy your attention, and invite you to inhabit a deeper and more meaningful conscious awareness, one that diffuses stress, enhances cognitive functioning, and quickens motivation.

Begin by taking a deep breath. Match your inhale to your exhale. Now repeat this deep, measured breathing and focus your attention on it. Notice the air moving. Touch your thumbs and fingertips together; wiggle your toes. Observe yourself in relation to the space around you. Just be present with yourself . . . in this moment. Let go of all resistance, expectation and judgment. Simply allow yourself to experience the here and now.


©2017 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

The Temple Of Sleep: Communion With Our Mystical Otherworld Of Consciousness

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We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Our identities dissolve into a realm that exists beyond time, electronic stimulation and the demands of the waking world. Phantom presences swirl about as we drift through dreams. Where do these subconscious journeys lead us? And what are the benefits of a devotional relationship with sleep?

Sleep is a medium to which we are all bound, a profound and often mysterious relationship of mind, body and spirit—an ethereal connection with the conscious energy of the universe. Sleep is a sacred vessel we share in common, a circadian journey into uncharted territories of subliminal awareness and self-discovery.

Throughout history man has pondered the enigma of sleep. Many indigenous cultures hold that while sleeping, the soul transcends the body. It is believed that unencumbered by flesh and bone, the soul, or spirit, wanders to distant places or alternate realities and communes with divine powers—with angels and emissaries—giving rise to certain dreams and visions. This is akin to what is known as astral projection, a phenomenon acknowledged by science (see the article Understanding The Out-Of-Body Experience From A Neuroscientific Perspective here).

The hypotheses on sleep rendered by the scientific community over the years are numerous, yet in a profound departure from the purely physiological theories commonly preferred by physicians, Swiss neurologist and child psychologist, Edouard Claperède, observed that:

” . . . sleep has its significance not as a passive state, but as an active instinct, like all the other instincts of animal life.”

Claperède’s observation formed a valuable and influential contribution to science’s evolving theories on sleep, casting new perspectives beyond mere chemical and mechanical considerations. Many of the obscure and unexplained occurrences of sleeping, those existing more in the realms of psychology and the innate functioning of the subconscious mind, were contemplated in light of this viewpoint.

Our Dream Symbols

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Dreams have served as a portal to other realms for shaman, holy men, prophets, and medicine men from indigenous cultures throughout time, reminding us of the importance of this mystical otherworld of consciousness.

Symbols occur in dreams when events take place in our lives that we are subconsciously aware of but are not yet willing to acknowledge; consequently, the awareness manifests symbolically in the dream state. Symbols also recur in dreams, or the dreams themselves recur, sometimes in slightly varying episodes. Recurring dreams and dream symbols that invoke a similar emotional response can be rooted in a past anguish or forgotten trauma, or represent an attempt to compensate for some perceived defect in character or attitude.

Yet expressions of repressed emotions, memories, traumas, challenges of character, or events we are not ready to consciously acknowledge, are not the only basis for symbolic dreams. Indeed, certain elements of dreams commonly occur which are not necessarily particular to, nor derived from, the personality or individual experience of the dreamer. Sigmund Freud first observed such elements and called them “archaic remnants.” Carl Jung referred to them as “primordial images” or “archetypes,” and described them as:

” . . . mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.”

Jung connected archetypes across cultural boundaries and conceptualized them as fundamental, instinctual forces that somehow exist beyond our comprehension. He believed these archetypes represent mythical characters residing within the collective unconscious of people worldwide.

The Doorstep Of The Temple

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There is a difference between valuing and respecting sleep.

Science tells us that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and many other vital functions. Considering its restorative properties, psychological benefits, and overall value to our health and well-being, sleeping well is of paramount importance. Swagger, bravado, and false pride about not needing to sleep, which often go hand in hand with unhealthy lifestyles and the glorification of being busy, suggest an underlying lack of self-regard. And as for productivity, research studies show that we are far more creative and productive when we are well rested.

Sleeping well means dreaming well. We naturally hallucinate in dreams, where our thoughts, feelings, experiences, expectations, memories, and attachments are mixed together. This is a subconscious releasing and balancing necessary for emotional growth. Dreaming is imminently important in its psychological benefits. Many challenges of wisdom—assimilating, integrating and moving ahead with new insight and maturity—are related to dreams and their symbols. Dreaming is our primal and instinctive way of releasing the old and accepting the new. Not surprisingly, many who find themselves stuck in unhealthy patterns and familiar disappointing outcomes in life, practice poor sleep habits and suffer from sleep deprivation.

People routinely seek pharmaceutical solutions for sleeping problems. Yet results from studies on prescription sleep aids demonstrate the average sleeping time increases by only a few minutes each night, and the disturbing side effects of these habit forming drugs include amnesia and episodes of somnambulism (otherwise known as ‘sleep walking’). Most sleep medications function by blocking the formation of memories, which, among other negative aspects, interrupts normal rapid eye movement dream cycles and significantly alters or negates the intuitive benefits of dreaming. Users of prescription sleep aids commonly report waking up feeling groggy and unmotivated. The use of other sedative or narcotic prescription medication, drinking alcohol, or consuming illicit drugs can exacerbate this situation.

Equilibrium

The homeostasis of the total functioning of our bodies, including the critically important role of sleep, is maintained within the subconscious mind. This includes aligning our physiological and psychological processes—the relationship of our bodily functions to our attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and words—such as those about sleep. If we say “I don’t sleep well” or “can’t sleep at night,” we won’t. If we do not believe in the value of sleep or treat it with the proper reverence, we will not reap the rewards. If we disrespect ourselves around sleep, we will not manifest the inherent benefits of health and well-being associated therewith.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with sleep.”  ~William Shakespeare

The importance of dreams, in particular, cannot be underestimated. Indeed, as acknowledged by Freud and Jung, the founding fathers of modern psychology, dreams are a lucid gateway to the exploration of consciousness. Maintaining a healthy relationship with sleeping—and dreaming, involves a steadfast resolve in both actions and words. This requires being mindful about our thoughts and attitudes, our internal and external dialogue, and our behaviors related to sleep.

Here are some more helpful suggestions for sleeping well:

  • Exercise regularly and meditate or practice yoga to manage stress
  • Limit refined sugars in your diet, especially in the evening
  • Moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Turn off electronic screens for at least 30 minutes before going to bed
  • Read prose, poetry, whimsical tales or literary works steeped in metaphor before sleep (remember those bedtime stories?) to stimulate your subconscious mind

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. To sleep well, to rest and rejuvenate, to regenerate and heal, to learn and grow . . . requires embracing and respecting sleep in all its mystical and ineffable qualities. Revere it. Speak well about it. Avoid interfering with it. Practice devotions and rituals to cultivate a healthful communion with sleep, this hallowed and sublime connection of deeper consciousness.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Beyond The Shadows Of Fear

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

My father was a combat veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He witnessed and participated in atrocities during the Korean War. He made life altering self-sacrifices and lived with horrors that were not entirely of his choosing. He was predisposed to violent and abusive episodes that he could not control, and inflicted a legacy of rage, vengeance and sorrow upon those who loved him the most. Overcoming the trauma of my relationship with him provided profound meaning and purpose to experiences which once seemed hopelessly tragic and senseless. The unique insights I gained into the primal nature of love and fear and how they function in the human psyche were life-changing. And it became my personal mission to help others solve their suffering by sharing what I have learned.

Childhood Trauma

As a boy I asked my father if he was ever under enemy fire. He replied that he once saw a torpedo pass the bow of a ship he was on in the south pacific. When I inquired about the blisters and open sores on his feet, which I later learned were from a severe fungal infection he contracted in the extreme cold of Korea, he said this was from his brother throwing firecrackers at him when they were kids. My dad would never talk about the Korean War and it was clear to me, even as a child, that a deep unrest resided within him about his experiences there.

When I was 7 years old, my family suddenly wasn’t Catholic anymore. I was abruptly placed in a public school and we began attending an Episcopal Church. A secret was passed from my older siblings that my dad had a wife and son in Korea, and that she left him because he beat her. My parents began having bitter fights. I witnessed my father lose his temper and become verbally abusive and physically violent with my mother. And it was only the beginning.

“Our family became familiar with an intimate and immutable fear that would continue to shape our lives for years to come.”

I was in the 7th grade when the last of his many merciless beatings of my mom occurred. I didn’t see that one but I witnessed most of them. Blood and bruises. Police. Hospitals. Neighbors. Embarrassment. Shame. Confusion. Something inside him would snap and he would explode. And afterward, he would act as if nothing had happened. That last assault landed my mother in the emergency room. She was finally ready to leave him and take us with her. I was brave and called my dad from a pay phone in the hospital lobby to tell him we wouldn’t be coming home that night—or ever. I was 12 years old. Like my sister and brothers, I too had been brutally beaten by my father. I still loved him though. We all did. But we were afraid of him.

The following days brought a divorce filing, the issuance of a judicial restraining order, and a sheriff’s escort to our home to retrieve necessities. My dad was in his study when we arrived. He was nonchalant but we soon realized he was not in total denial. The study and kitchen were intact, but the rest of the house was eerily empty; besides the furniture, the only personal belongings remaining were our clothes and shoes. There were no books, toys, trading cards, Tonka trucks or race cars, balls or mitts, hockey sticks or ice skates, albums or record players, stuffed animals, or musical instruments. My mother’s beloved piano was gone. In fact, all the tangible mementos of our life together had disappeared. When we discovered that he had burned most of those things in the incinerator in the basement, my older brother became so enraged he had to be physically restrained by the sheriffs—yet my dad remained passive. It was one of the most surreal events in my life and ushered me into a deep state of emotional shock.

Flashbacks

FlashbacksIn a poignant moment some years later, when life had moved on for all of us, my father finally revealed to me a little of what had happened to him in Korea. It was only the second time I ever saw him cry. But he still couldn’t really talk about it. There were only a few quotes like the one below, which he retched out like bile from the pit of his soul. He contracted a brain tumor and died shortly thereafter, and I was grateful for the estranged sort of peace I had made with him. I forgave him for all that had happened. But the impact of my father’s violence and abuse had not yet taken the measure of its toll on me. Shadows of that fear, in the shifting and malevolent form of rage, still existed deep in my heart. And year by year, as I emerged from the emotional shell that had protected me as a child, I would revisit my forgiveness of him in the specter of that ash-filled basement incinerator and its forsaken providence—his vengeful razing of the village of our family—again and again, whether I chose to or not.

“We didn’t know who we were fighting over there. The villagers would bring out food and fruit in baskets to the soldiers . . . and there would be live grenades hidden inside. My buddies were blown to bits right in front of me. It happened more than once. So we razed those villages. We killed everybody.”

The vestiges of my father’s violence overtook me in my forties. By then the conflicted emotions I suppressed as a boy had finally come to the surface, raw and often unchecked. It had become difficult to avoid angry and irrational responses in certain situations, especially those I perceived as threatening or inherently unfair. I lost my temper easily. I brooded and ranted and my moods were volatile. Indeed, the repressed rage had been tapped within me. And a disturbing pattern developed which left me in anguish each Christmas Day and on my birthday, when the intrusive recall of familial trauma and abuse was somehow triggered and I would grieve uncontrollably. I came to realize I was still afraid of my father, for he haunted my thoughts like a ghost on those days and I could not dismiss his threatening presence. I was also afraid of myself and what was happening to me.

Into The Light

The psychotherapists helped me understand my own post-traumatic stress disorder. Perhaps they helped me understand my father. But I did not change as a result of those traditional forms of therapy; in fact, I got worse. The flashbacks recurred with more intensity. The rage persisted and began to threaten the homeostasis of the life I had worked so hard to build for myself. My marriage suffered. And year by year, the dread of Christmas and my birthday gradually became intolerable. I found myself tormented by recurring thoughts of those incinerated childhood treasures and the memories attached to them—the beautiful yuletide festivities our family shared, the surprise birthday parties and celebrations, the special gifts and cherished times when we were together and all was put right in our troubled world—and I cursed my father for his desecration.

PTSDHypnotherapy was my salvation. I discovered the redemptive balance of honor, dignity and grace for my father’s life, and for my own. I stepped out of my tunnel of fear and the confluence of my life paths suddenly came together in a profound affirmation of my existence. After 25 years as a successful corporate restructuring professional, I left my career and went back to school. I graduated with honors from the world renowned Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Los Angeles as both a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master of Therapeutic Imagery. In 2011, I founded Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery in Chatsworth, California.

At the heart of my approach is the use of trance state healing to help people understand how love and fear function as the primary motivational forces in our lives. My journey has afforded me a unique understanding of the landscape of suffering and shame, the fundamental nature of rage and the various ways it can be triggered, and the innate power of compassion and empathy to transform lives and connect us to the deeper significance and intention of our being.

I am a therapist. I am an intuitive agent for change. I am an inspirator.  And I am a survivor. I cannot call my traumas war stories—those belonged to my father. My suffering was not his suffering; my terror was not his terror; my sacrifices were not his sacrifices. I was blessed with a vision of making his tragic life stand for something noble, and that is how helping people conquer fear became my mission.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Managing Life Change: Our Sacred Time Of Transition

Managing Life Change

The terms distress and eustress were coined in 1975 by endocrinologist Hans Selye in his landmark work on the effects of stress

The nature of change itself creates a certain degree of stress. Our reactions can be influenced by our perceptions, which include whether the change is chosen or imposed, and if the outcome is positive or negative. Life transitions we perceive to be negative cause distress, while those seen as positive cause eustress. In either event, however, as we consider the ramifications of moving away from our accustomed homeostasis, or comfort zone, the mind and body react primarily to the fact that a change has occurred

Whether positive or negative, expected or unexpected, life transitions result in leaving behind that which is familiar and facing the unknown. They require coping with mixed emotions such as vulnerability and excitement, anxiety and resolve, disappointment and relief, apprehension and inspiration, motivation and polarization.

Among the most stressful life changing events are:

  • Death of a spouse, parent or loved one
  • Marital separation or divorce
  • Serious illness
  • Marriage
  • Career change or retirement

LOVE & FEAR

The fundamental relationship of love and fear offer a profound and fascinating framework for inspiring and transformative thoughts. They are also critical to managing the life changes that ultimately challenge each of us.

Love and fear are elemental forces we are born with and experience throughout our lifetimes, yet they defy absolute comprehension. Certain psychological theories of the mind consider love and fear as our primary emotions, with all other emotions being secondary. Physiologically, love and fear are tied to our survival instinct and the release of the stress (fear) hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and their anti-stress (love) counterpart, oxytocin. On a mental, emotional and physical basis, love connects us—within ourselves, to each other, and to the world around us—while fear separates us.

“Every human thought, word, or deed is based on fear or love. Fear is the energy which contracts, closes down, draws in, hides, hoards, harms.  Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, reveals, shares, heals.”

~Neale Donald Walsch

Fear often arises in false perceptions of threats that can turn small issues into big ones. Love frequently manifests as little things, intuitive gestures and kind acts, offered in response to larger challenges. Time factors into this dichotomy because many fearful reactions are rooted in our preoccupation with rehashing the past or worrying about the future, while the transcendent qualities of love can only be experienced in the present. This is one reason the ancient disciplines of yoga and meditation teach that tranquility and connectedness are achieved by being present in the moment, a philosophy that draws upon the sage and enduring concept of sacred time.

SACRED TIME

Time is also an elemental force that defies absolute comprehension. Time in the prevailing, linear sense is not a proven constant of the universe; in fact, it is a man-made convention. Perhaps this lends credence to the indigenous notions of time as a sacred, cyclical relationship to the celestial bodies, the cycles of day and night and the turning of the seasons, which are represented in various cultures by myriad depictions of the circle and wheel as universal symbols of life.

Celtic wisdom resolves the conundrum of time by contemplating it in two distinct aspects:

  1. Historical time as linear and consisting of the past, present and future; and
  2. Sacred time as circular and existing solely in the present.

Quantum physics considers time in the context of our relationship with the ever expanding universe. Certainly our individual and collective consciousness expands throughout our lives. We grow older.  And, hopefully; wiser. Mindful MemoriesTo the degree our memories consist of cherished experiences, footprints covered over by the course of time but which still imprint love in our awareness, we know happiness, fulfillment, and excitement. When those footprints are impressions of fear and regret, however, we can also know bitterness, disenchantment, and apprehension. Our emotional attachments to the past, both positive and negative, can create expectation for the future. By practicing being present in the moment—without resistance, judgment or attachment to outcome—we become more cognizant of anxious feelings in ourselves and others without being distressed by them, and realize how simple acts of love can diffuse that fear.

SURRENDER

Our lives are characterized by stressful transitions, events both expected and unexpected, that challenge our functioning, self-esteem and sense of purpose. As we endeavor to manage these changes, let us be mindful of the interrelationship of love and fear, and the importance of being present in the moment. The rich and storied history of our journey through the years—our relationships, vocational and avocational pursuits, health and well-being—provide the vital basis of our identity, which, in the absence of fear, lovingly surrenders emotional attachments to the past.

Even during times of grief, the tomorrow we build for ourselves happens today. Therefore, it is critical to let go of the feelings of regret and sorrow that naturally arise, which is accomplished by consciously investing in the here and now. Relinquishing expectations founded on what has gone before and embracing the challenge we have inherited; responding to the demands of the moment with compassion and empathy, both for ourselves and others; choosing eustress over distress; indeed, this is how life change catalyzes into spiritual growth, and becomes our sacred time of transition.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

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Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Creative Genius: The Masks Of Pain & Sorrow

Three years have passed since Robin Williams was found unconscious and pronounced dead at his home as a result of committing suicide. As we remember this phenomenal comedian and actor, may we keep in mind that many people live with—and are sometimes overcome by—challenges that are beyond our understanding.


The Tears Of A Clown

Often the masks that compensate for pain are brilliant and profound—insight, inspiration, and wondrous expression forged from the compress of despair and outrage at the human condition—a means of balance and equalization. This can manifest as art at its finest, yet it can be a precarious and fragile existence, an uncharted journey through the shifting moods of vulnerability, loss, isolation and melancholy. The psyche attempts to protect itself from behind the constructs of the mask, yet the vision of reality is a gestalt of the world’s wounds; and alas, even a legacy of creative genius cannot hide the hurt. Perhaps some reach a certain reckoning with that truth, while others must decide for themselves when the time has come to move along.

“Now there’s some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around.”
~Smokey Robinson

As we savor the uncanny and magnificent enchantment and laughter and unparalleled wit left by one of the greatest jesters the world has ever known, may we always keep in mind the battles others fight in their lives just to face each day, to bring themselves into our presence and share their special gifts. Let us welcome the painted faces of joy and laughter . . . and sorrow, the many masks and guises each of us wears, and may we pay special attention to those stained with tears.

©2014 By Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Managing Stress & Body Weight

Managing Stress

Manage Stress & Body Weight By Regulating Your Blood Sugar 

The Simple Truths Of Blood Sugar

How does the body react to stress? What are the impacts of diet and exercise on this process? Stress is a fact of everyday life for most people, so it is important to know how to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally in responding to stressful situations.

When it comes to weight, the crucial element is understanding how stress impacts blood sugar. Our natural stress response involves the release of hormones that elevate blood sugar (glucose), which is needed by our brain to respond to challenges. But when blood sugar levels rise too high, the body begins converting the excess glucose to fat. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates also elevate blood sugar, compounding this process. Therefore, it is imperative that we be mindful of our sugar intake during times of stress.

“Whole, unprocessed, single item foods that don’t require labeling of ingredients are the healthiest choices.”

During stressful situations we commonly feel hungry, so make sure nutritious choices are available. Include foods rich in protein such as lean meats, nuts, and legumes, and those high in soluble fiber such as fruits and vegetables; limit sweets and processed foods containing simple carbohydrates and sugars. The American Heart Association recommends restricting refined sugars added to our diets to no more than half of our daily calorie allowance. For American women, this averages about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and for men, about 9 teaspoons per day (See American Heart Association article ‘Sugar 101’ here).

Exercise & Mindfulness Meditation

Exercise regulates blood sugar by burning calories and providing a physical release for the stress hormones in the body. Even in small doses throughout the day, physical activity counteracts the effects of elevated glucose levels and stimulates our brain chemistry to make us feel better. So remember to move around; avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time. And along with incorporating a regular exercise regimen to help achieve a healthy weight, invite activities into each day such as standing to perform certain tasks, walking whenever possible, and using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Mindfulness MeditationFinally, keep in mind that caffeine also elevates blood sugar and excess amounts actually make us feel more stressed. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent alternative as it boosts our energy in the best ways possible—calming anxious reactions that raise glucose levels, sharpening focus and concentration, and improving our mental and emotional outlook—giving us a positive and powerful coping tool for managing stress and maintaining a healthy body weight.

These links will help you learn more about stress management, healthy diet and body image,and wellness.

©2014 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Fireworks & Flashbacks: The Triggers Of PTSD

PTSD Fireworks Flashbacks

Hypnotherapy resolves PTSD symptoms such as panic attacks & flasbacks

The Delayed Impact Of Trauma

In the aftermath of suffering a physical or psychological trauma, it is common for individuals to mentally and emotionally dissociate from the event or situation; this occurs as a natural defense mechanism of the human psyche. However, this dissociative state often becomes the catalyst for developing symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, which is a serious condition that can afflict a person in a variety of ways. Hypnotherapy is an effective means of helping people resolve the delayed impact of these stressful events from their past.

PTSD can occur after traumatic events such as:

  • Sexual Or Physical Assault
  • The Sudden Loss Of A Loved One
  • Military Combat
  • Witnessing Violence Or Experiencing A Catastrophe
  • Physically Or Psychologically Abusive Relationships

Post traumatic stress typically starts within a few months of a trauma, but can sometimes arise years later, especially when stemming from childhood incidents, and can be fueled by stressful situations or anxiety. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive recall such as flashbacks or upsetting dreams of the traumatic event, avoidance of talking about the event, avoiding activities that were once enjoyable, hopelessness, overwhelming guilt or shame, memory and concentration problems, difficulty maintaining intimate relationships, insomnia, irritability and misplaced anger, self-destructive habits, being easily startled or frightened, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.

“I managed to think my way through it, for the most part. I put it all up on a shelf in my mind. But then things would happen to make me remember, you know, like backyard fireworks on the 4th of July, and it would all come rushing back.”  ˜MJ.S., Air Force Veteran

Triggers To Traumatic Memories

Triggers to the intrusive recall of traumatic memories are often sensory in nature. Sights, sounds, smells, tactile sensations related to the distressing event or time in life, as well as encountering certain people or situations, may cause a flood of recollections with negative thoughts and fearful feelings. There are often elements of stress and anxiety present on these occasions, which are variables that render the intrusive recall of traumatic memories, or flashbacks, unpredictable. And expectations of situations perceived to be potentially problematic or threatening sometimes create ‘anticipatory anxiety,’ which can also act as a trigger. Intrusive recall of traumatic memories is typically accompanied by physiological changes in the body such as rapid heart-beat, shallow breathing, sweating, and panic reactions, and can result in anguished emotional responses, delusional thoughts, and irrational behavior.

Intrusive recall events can be very disconcerting, especially for someone who does not realize they suffer from post traumatic stress, or for those unfamiliar with their own triggers. Unfortunately, PTSD is not always accurately diagnosed by the medical and psychological communities. Anyone who was abused physically, emotionally, sexually, or psychologically during their formative years, which includes bullying in its various forms, or who grew up in a household where there was domestic violence and/or verbal battering, may experience intrusive recall of traumatic memories or manifest other symptoms of PTSD.

Hypnotherapy And PTSD 

Hypnotherapy is an effective, widely recognized, and scientifically supported treatment alternative for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Randomized, controlled clinical trials have shown that hypnosis significantly decreases PTSD symptoms and is more efficient than comparison treatments (see study from Effective Treatments For PTSD, Second Edition, By Edna Foa, Ph.D. here). There is also evidence that PTSD sufferers are highly suggestible to hypnosis (see abstract from Journal of Clinical Psychiatry here).

37256018_sHypnosis directly accesses the subconscious mind, where all of our experiences, good and bad, exist as picture stories that are recalled by both thought and sensory stimulation. Hypnotherapy utilizes the interactive techniques of therapeutic imagery, along with desensitization methods such as EMDR, to gently reframe unhealthy responses—both psychological and physiological—to memories of traumatic events, diffusing their emotional charge and negative impact.  Here are some of the ways hypnotherapy is effective in treating PTSD:

  1. Empowerment through immediate coping strategies;
  2. Identifying and neutralizing common PTSD triggers;
  3. Alleviating intrusive recall events;
  4. Mitigation of symptoms such as moodiness, irritability, and insomnia; and
  5. Increased ability to focus and concentrate.

While the efficacy of any therapeutic modality depends in part on the severity of the trauma and the commitment of a given participant, hypnotherapy has successfully transformed many PTSD victims into survivors.

©2014 By Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht, & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Dream Therapy

Dream Therapy

Dreams Are A Portal To The Mystical Realms Of The Subconscious

  • Have you ever consulted a dream dictionary to try and understand puzzling symbols that have appeared in your dreams?
  • Do you have nightmares or wake up with dream memories that stay with you through the day?
  • Have you ever had an out of body experience during a dream?
  • Are you familiar with lucid dreaming and have you experienced it?
  • Does the idea of dream analysis appeal to you as a way to find out more about yourself?

Dream Therapy

Dream therapy can help you realize and fulfill goals, improve your performance and problem solving ability (see NY Times article here), discover and understand your deeper self, and increase your focus and energy. Positive side effects often occur as a result of the process, including development of better sleeping habits, experiencing deep and restful sleep on a consistent basis, and gaining a new respect for the important role sleep and dreaming play in mental, physical, and emotional health. Exploring dream therapy has helped clients with insomnia move beyond the common fixation on falling asleep, and has also proven beneficial with weight loss and addiction clients who decide to improve dietary habits—mostly related to sugar intake—in order to sleep better, recall their nightly dreams, and begin to decipher them.

Many clues to the psychological reasoning of the mind can be uncovered in the symbols of dreams. Some dreams are tied to daily stresses, pressures, and challenges, while others are archetypal in nature and may represent fears, apprehensions, grief, or unresolved traumas from the past that are being triggered by current life events. Extensive scientific research has shown that everyone dreams for about 100 minutes each night (see the article Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep here), including several separate dreams during the normal rapid eye movement (REM) dream cycles. People who say they do not dream simply do not remember their dreams.  Nonetheless, almost everyone can be conditioned to sleep in a manner conducive to vivid dreaming and recall, and to record their dreams for interpretation and analysis.

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid DreamingA lucid dream is any dream in which you have conscious awareness. Lucid dreaming is characterized by elements of both waking and dreaming and has attracted the attention of scientists with an interest in further specifying the brain basis of consciousness (see Harvard Medical School article The Neurobiology of Consciousness: Lucid Dreaming Wakes Up here). Lucid dreams can happen when you have just begun to fall asleep, during deep sleep when physiological factors such as pain or illness are present, and in the early morning hours when you are about to awaken. Yet lucid dreams commonly occur at other times as well, such as in guided imagery, while under hypnosis and during meditation, or when taking a nap.

Another way lucid dreaming takes place is through dream therapy and the process of remembering your dreams.  As you train yourself to recall dreams and think about what they mean, you may begin visiting those recollections at times throughout the day and find yourself re-entering certain dreams in a detached sort of way, as if you are on a threshold between two points of consciousness. Studies and research conducted on lucid dreaming (see Wake Up World article here) show that like meditation and self-hypnosis, it is a manifestation of consciousness you can condition yourself to become more adept at, with the only limitations being your self-discipline and imagination.

Astral Projection

Implicit in the discussion of lucid dreaming is the out of body experience, also known as astral projection, which is consciousness outside of the physical body. There are many definitions and philosophical arguments about this controversial subject that has ancient roots in common world religions and is associated with near death experiences, sleeping and dreaming, illness, surgical procedures, psychoactive drugs, and hypnosis and meditation. While it defies the limits of conventional testing and thus invites skepticism, science nonetheless acknowledges the phenomena (see the article Understanding The Out-Of-Body Experience from a Neuroscientific Perspective here). Perception beyond the physical plane is supported by the quantum physics theory of a unified energy field of consciousness, otherwise known as the quantum hologram, as well as by holistic and spiritual healers, teachers, practitioners, and by many who have had out of body experiences. As it relates to sleep and dreaming, perhaps the most familiar out of body experience is the sensation of having to “get back to your body” and wake yourself from a dream.

The Secrets To Dream Interpretation

Archetypes

An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself. ~Carl Jung

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both used dream analysis with patients and wrote extensively on the subject. Freud, whose name is synonymous with the term psychoanalysis, proposed that dreams were primarily tied to the fulfillment of wishes. Considered a seminal figure in the history of psychology, Jung is widely believed to have advanced many of the ideas Freud introduced. Among Jung’s contributions were the concepts of genetic memory and the collective unconscious, which stemmed in part from the significance he placed on the familiar archetypes that appeared in the dreams of his patients; his belief was that dreams were deeply anchored in the psyche and expressed more than repressed wishes (see About.Com article on Freud and Jung here).

Dr. John Kappas, Ph.D., who founded the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (see HMI link here), was a modern day pioneer in dream analysis and developed a model of dream therapy currently used by many psychologists and hypnotherapists. This approach incorporates aspects of both Freud’s and Jung’s work, yet distinguishes itself in its separation of dream stages and individualized interpretations of the unique dreamscape of each client.

The Kapassinian model of dream therapy contemplates three distinct periods in which we dream each night. These can be described as follows:

  • The Wishful Thinking Stage: The initial dreaming period where the mind sorts and prioritizes the stimuli of the day based on emotional attachment.
  • The Precognitive Stage: The second dreaming period occurs during the middle of the night when the primal, instinctive part of the mind sorts both the familiar and unfamiliar aspects of current life challenges, which are filtered by the deeper attitudes and beliefs of our life script. In this stage, we try to predict outcomes as a means of survival.
  • The Venting Stage: The final period of dreaming is in the early morning hours when we release emotional charges attached to relationships, events, and transactions to which we are no longer invested. These dreams are the easiest to remember, the most hallucinogenic in nature, and can infuse unlikely mixes of people, places, and times with uninhibited and sometimes bizarre or objectionable circumstances.

In order for a proper analysis to take place, the dreams must be written down, no matter how disjointed or fragmented the memories of them may seem, with a notation of the time each dream occurred; it is best to do this immediately upon waking. After practicing this journaling exercise for awhile, the ability to remember your dreams will improve and you will only need to jot a few things down in order to accurately reconstruct them during therapy. Then you and your therapist work together to analyze your dreams based on what stages they occurred in, what symbols, emotions, and physiological factors were present, and how they may relate to the circumstances in your life.

Symbols Of The Dream World

Conveying more than obvious or immediate meanings and representing broader expressions, symbols elude absolute definition because they have different connotations to different cultures and peoples. As the mind contemplates a symbolic image, it is compelled to consider ideas beyond the immediate grasp of reason or conviction. Many symbols are collective in nature, having originated from religious beliefs and customs—believers contend they are divine revelations, while skeptics argue they have been invented. Examples of such symbolic images are the wheel and the cross, both of which are known around the world yet have different significance under various conditions and renderings.

A symbol may occur in a dream because an event has taken place in our life that we are subconsciously aware of but are not yet willing to acknowledge; hence, the awareness manifests symbolically in the dream state. Symbols may also recur in dreams, or the dreams themselves may recur, sometimes in slightly varying episodes. Recurring dreams and dream symbols that invoke a similar emotional response can be rooted in a past anguish or forgotten trauma, or represent an attempt by the dreamer to compensate for some perceived defect in character or attitude.

Dream SymbolsYet expressions of repressed emotions, memories, traumas, challenges of character, or events we are not ready to consciously acknowledge, are not the only basis for dream symbols. Indeed, certain elements of dreams can occur which are not necessarily particular to, nor derived from, the personality or individual experience of the dreamer. Freud first observed such elements and called them “archaic remnants.” Carl Jung referred to them as “primordial images” or “archetypes,” and described them as:

” . . . mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.”

Jung connected archetypes across cultural boundaries and conceptualized them as fundamental, instinctual forces that somehow exist beyond our comprehension. Perhaps this is why dreams have served as a portal to other realms for shaman, holy men, spirit walkers, prophets, and medicine men from indigenous cultures throughout time, reminding us of the importance of this mystical otherworld of consciousness.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

 

 

 

The Wonder Of Past Life Regression

Past Lives

Spirituality Is Often Realized As The Deeper Intention Of Past Life Regression

  • Are you preoccupied with a certain culture, geographical location, or historical period?
  • Are feelings of de-ja-vu something you have experienced profoundly or frequently?
  • Do you have recurring dreams of places, events, or people?
  • Have you ever had the powerful sense of being connected with a friend or family member that couldn’t be explained?
  • Do you experience phobias, fears, anxiety, or premonitions that cannot be traced to a particular source?

THE PAST LIFE REGRESSION EXPERIENCE

Past life regression is an interactive technique of hypnosis and therapeutic imagery to facilitate the mind’s discovery of images that may be related to memories of experiences from previous lives. Explored in books*, mainstream media, and experimental studies, the age-old practice has been scrutinized because the results are not necessarily testable by empirical means. Memories from certain past life regressions have been investigated and found to be basic knowledge of history, or from events such as novels or movies a subject may have read or seen. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has credibility due to its roots in ancient wisdom, and because sufficient numbers of people have reported memories to traceable events that could have been experienced in past lives, including some that are uncanny in accuracy. Among the most fascinating aspects are subjects who spontaneously shift into speaking languages that they have never actually learned, which is known as xenoglossia.

The mythical basis for past life regression is unburdening karma accumulated from previous lifetimes, thus the process resonates naturally for those who believe in reincarnation of the soul. At the same time, the biological theory of genetic memory, as postulated by Carl Jung in his psychological concept of ‘the collective unconscious‘ plays a relevant role, as individuals of various cultures and religious convictions benefit from past life regressions, which are also commonly experienced as memories from the lives of ancestors.

PAST LIFE REGRESSION THERAPY

Past LivesAs a therapeutic tool, past life regression connects the spiritual and psychological self, allowing for a profound shift of perspective in those seeking a deeper understanding of their life purpose and reason for existence. It has been demonstrated throughout history that many forms of pain, suffering and affliction—mental, emotional and physical—can be eased by an awakening of spirituality. And whether real or imagined, in the myriad and unique journeys that individuals manifest from the depths of the subconscious mind, it is most often this divine connection that emerges as the deeper intention of the past life regression experience.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery


*There are several popular books responsible for a current resurgence of interest in past-life regression.  Two of these, “Through Time Into Healing” and “ Many Lives, Many Masters,” were written by Dr. Brian L. Weiss, M.D., a traditional psychotherapist whose interest in the subject was inspired by a patient who channeled remarkable revelations from a past life about Dr. Weiss’s family and his dead son.  The book “Reliving Past Lives, the Evidence Under Hypnosis,” written by Helen Wambach, Ph.D., uses statistical analysis to compare details recalled in past lives with various historical records of correlating time periods.  The compelling experiences documented in these books are fascinating and thought provoking.