Tag Archives: self-improvement

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.

Shawn picture-52

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.

Story Medicine: The Medium Of Leaders & Heroes

Story Medicine

Storytelling is a healing art and mankind’s oldest form of psychology. Stories have the power to calm, heal, rejuvenate—to invoke deeper comprehension and reflection while inviting a shift in perspective. Ancient cultures revered storytelling, which was a sacred practice reserved for the learned and holy men, and served as a powerful medium for helping tribes and clans cope with the hardship of survival.

The Hero Within

On a psychological and spiritual level, we profoundly resonate with tales of crisis, conflict and transformation. We individually and collectively identify with the hero of the story, who overcomes insurmountable obstacles in a confluent realization of innate potential and purpose. The storytelling traditions of our indigenous ancestors are the foundation of the hero’s journey, which evolved into the archetypal right of passage common to world mythologies.

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”           ~Joseph Campbell, from ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’

The metaphor of an unfolding adventure of discovery, one which presents confounding problems and challenges—each representing a threshold of realization and growth—subconsciously motivates us to reconsider the powers of faith and possibility in our lives, inspiring new viewpoints of ourselves and the world around us. Indeed, stories are how we make sense of ourselves.

Leadership Tales

There are three primary elements of story that play into the human experience:

  1. Identity: A context to interpret the past and anticipate the future
  2. Integration: A narrative for affirming life meaning and purpose
  3. Socialization: A dialogue with which to interact with others

Research in psychology has shown that people realize meaning and purpose in their lives through personal stories; this is especially true in tales of individual redemption through which pain and suffering are transformed into self enlightenment, and then conferred as a benefit to others. (See ‘The Redemptive Self’ by Northwestern University psychology professor Dan McAdams here). 

This is why storytelling is fundamental to leadership, especially the trial and redemption aspect, which provides the backdrop of crisis, conflict and transformation necessary to resonate with the listener’s inner hero. Incorporating these elements engages and motivates others to consider why they should change their world, while at the same time opening their receptivity as to how that might be achieved.

An effective leadership tale compels people to experience and examine their values on an emotional basis rather than as abstract principals, inspiring a calling to action of their own leadership qualities and ability. This personal inspiration is then integrated through social interaction to become part of the organizational identity, exemplifying why storytelling is one of the most powerful leadership tools of organizers and movement builders.

Therapeutic Imagery

According to research by psychology professor Jonathan Adler, PhD, therapy patients who experience themselves—rather than the therapist—as the focal point of the story, show the most improvement (see American Psychological Association publication, ‘Our Stories, Ourselves’ here). This is the fundamental principle of Therapeutic Imagery, which is a mindfulness meditation modality that facilitates imagination and visualization with all the senses.

A large and growing body of research demonstrates the efficacy of mindfulness meditation modalities in treating various medical and mental health related conditions. Therapeutic Imagery is particularly effective for wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development initiatives such as:

  • Increasing Emotional Intelligence
  • Managing Stress & Anxiety
  • Overcoming Physical Debility & Relieving Pain 
  • Resolving Psychological Trauma
  • Treating Autoimmune Conditions

Therapeutic ImageryThe predisposition of the subconscious mind to interpret imagery in story form, and the persuasive power of stories to dramatically shape thoughts, memories and emotional attachments, is the heart of this artistic and extremely client friendly approach. Universal symbols, mythological archetypes, and personal metaphors empower new and enlightened encounters with personal challenges, stimulating self-discovery and a meaningful rescripting of life stories.

Why The Medicine Works

Sometimes words such as ‘problem’ and ‘challenge’ elicit the need to visit our misfortunes. Stories help us stay positive and focus on the ways in which our struggles are born of personal choices. We learn to recognize attitudes and beliefs that are limiting and self-defeating. We begin reframing our narrative of self. Instead of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, we endeavor to climb mountains. The ability to inspire ourselves and others prompts us to take leadership roles and embrace opportunities to serve. Indeed, stories affirm that we each possess the innate ability and determination, the courage and wisdom, the compassion and force of will to be leaders and heroes in our own lives.

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

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

Mindfulness Meditation: The Science Of Sacred Time

In teaching my clients mindfulness meditation, I emphasize the transformative nature of the present moment, which I reverently refer to as sacred time. So much of the stress and anxiety we experience in life is directly related to our preoccupation with rehashing the past or rehearsing for the future. The ability to pay attention to our immediate experience, to truly be present in the here and now, invites a pure awareness that diffuses the habituation of negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors that are obstacles to happiness and fulfillment.

Meditation is about raising consciousness, which can only be achieved in the present, as we notice and experience—beyond preconception or judgment—the intelligent energies of the living universe that exist beyond human thought. A personal sanctity occurs in this space, an empowerment of insight and meaning, a transcendence rooted in the physiology of focused breathing and the mind-body connection, that invites us into the spiritual ‘center’ of our individual worlds.

Dancing Circles Around The Sun

Like the practice of meditation, the concept of sacred time is ancient. The cycles of day and night, the turning of the seasons, the celestial system of astrology and ancient astronomy, are evidence of time being originally perceived as circular, and serve as a basis for the enduring representations from every culture of the circle and wheel as universal symbols of life.

In Celtic wisdom, time is contemplated in two distinct aspects:

  • Historical time as being linear and consisting of the past, present and future
  • Sacred time as being circular and existing solely in the present moment

Science reveals that the physical forces of the universe which function to create our perception of time are all cyclical. The prevailing viewpoint of time, however, is that of a linear phenomenon where the future is fundamentally different from the past, a perspective that has biblical foundations and corresponds to the evolution of written language and the recording of history. But science confesses to having trouble with time because Einstein’s theories of relativity rendered over a century ago disproved the idea of time as a universal constant. Consequently, the common belief that time is a temporal occurrence is not absolute in the learned minds of those who study the physical world. (See Discover Magazine article ‘Time May Not Exist’ here).

Sacred TimeThe earth spins at about 1000 miles per hour creating a gravitational pull that curves or ‘warps’ space-time. And with the moon in its orbital tow, the earth rotates in concert with eight other planets around the celestial fireball in the center of our solar system. No “past” or “future” exists in this circular equation of cosmic force; only the here and now. Akin to the mathematical conundrum of measuring the circumference of a circle, for which no formula is precisely accurate, there is also no true measure of time. Perhaps the most palatable theory comes from quantum physics and its contemplation of a constant increase in entropy—the continual expansion of the universe—which may be the origin of why we perceive time as always marching forward. (See Wired Magazine article ‘The Flow of Time’ here).

The Absolute Now

Timelines are man-made, visual constructs; they serve as a means of looking at what has gone before so that an ordering of the world might be conceived. Yet circles, like the divinity of creation itself, are infinite and therefore defy determinite resolution. Sacred time contemplates eternity as the absolute now. Practices such as mindfulness meditation expand consciousness in the present moment and enhance our ambient communion with a living, breathing, intelligent universe. Thus, when we embrace this subtle yet remarkable discipline and become present in the sacred time of our own lives, we are in-step with the entropic sentience of the cosmos . . . dancing circles around the sun.

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery


Shawn picture-52

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. 

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

Mastering Mindfulness: A New Horizon In Coaching

Mindfulness Coaching

Mastering Mindfulness is an innovative and transformative coaching modality that cultivates emotional intelligence. The skills of presence, empathy, critical attending and reframing, and positive affirmation accelerate success by enhancing the inherent bounty of human connection.

Perhaps you have noticed how more people, especially those who have achieved a degree of the particular success they desire, have used a coach somewhere along the way. For many, a coaching relationship serves as the catalyst for achieving the growth and self-actualization they desire. A skilled coach can help you acquire greater objectivity and learn to view yourself and others in a more liberating light, free of judgment or criticism. In essence, you work on realizing how to expand not just your own self-image, but your vision of life’s infinite possibilities—to let go of limitations imposed by old attitudes and beliefs you may hold about yourself and the world, and to embrace a more profound sense of your unique value and worth within the broader context of human potential.

“Everybody needs a coach . . . every famous athlete, every famous performer, has somebody who’s a coach . . . someone who can help them see themselves as others see them.”  ~ Eric Schmidt, Former Google CEO

Because coaching is an unregulated industry, many choose credentialed professionals as coaches. Athletes, sports teams, performers and professional speakers, among others, routinely employ clinical hypnotherapists to serve in this capacity. Trance state techniques such as hypnotherapy, therapeutic imagery and mindfulness meditation have proven track records as powerful mediums for motivation, focus, concentration, and for consistently producing reliable and measurable results.

Mastering Mindfulness®

Mastering Mindfulness® is a transformative coaching modality used in the meditation and mindfulness training for corporate leadership and workplace culture designed and facilitated by Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. A combination of hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation and therapeutic imagery—each applied to the individual landscape of your life—facilitates a keener focus and conviction for attracting a purposeful existence, one that vibrates with a deep and directed intention about the particular type of success you desire.

The disciplines, practices and interactive techniques of Mastering Mindfulness® teach you to pay deliberate attention to the current moment, without attachment to outcomes predicated upon past experiences or expectations for the future, so that you become more present in your own life. Negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors that serve as obstacles to achieving your goals are diffused, and you acclimate to a new mindset of positive insights and empowering realizations that reaffirm your motivation, commitment and resilience. You acquire new linguistic skills and tools that support a mindful framework for your personal and relational success, including:

  • The Cognitive Empathy Equation
  • Critical Attending & Reframing
  • The Art Of Positive Affirmation

By developing a better understanding of your own actions and feelings—and the motivational influences that undergird them—as well as an awareness of how those actions and feelings affect both you and the people around you, the connective and transcendent force of emotional intelligence begins to resonate in your life. And as you master the practice of mindfulness, your emotional intelligence develops into an enlightened and inspired consciousness. Your ability to perceive the behaviors, motivations and emotional states of yourself and others, and to positively negotiate conflicted interactions by acting rather than reacting, blossoms into a remarkable symmetry of poise, focus and self-possession.

Four Ways Mastering Mindfulness® Can Help You

1. Happiness & Fulfillment: It is not uncommon to feel at times that life has lost some excitement and hope; perhaps your routines and daily demands have left you in an emotional rut, or important relationships are presenting difficult challenges, or you have recently lost a loved one. Indeed, these are a few of the myriad reasons one might come to believe the luster and verve for living—the awe and enthusiasm and wonder—have somehow become elusive and fleeting. Just the act of finding a coach can shift this perspective and renew the conviction to seek a deeper meaning and purpose to your most trying experiences. A structured, one-on-one coaching relationship serves as a catalyst to understanding how the conscious energy of positive thoughts and self-dialogue, the honing of your emotional intelligence, forges the motivation and inspiration to overcome hardships and restore your faith and confidence in the ability to synergize the world around you in new and imaginative ways.

2. Love Relationships: Are you looking to solve problems you are experiencing with your significant other? Are you trying to attract a special partner or soul mate? Are you attempting to discover why you seem to draw a specific ‘type’ of person? Or are you perhaps trying to figure out why your romantic relationships follow certain patterns? A coach can lend invaluable insight into how self-perception, moods, disposition, and expectations affect your love life, both in the kind of people you attract and in the affection and gratification you manifest. Intimacy is a measure of self-awareness, and fostering the trust of another person in such a way that both continue to grow is the key in successful love relationships. An experienced coach can be critical in achieving the objectivity necessary for this kind of success and fulfillment.

3. Career Success: How might you actualize a career goal, such as changing professions or starting your own business, despite circumstances and practical demands that stand in your way? Maybe you are wondering if it is possible to find greater satisfaction and attract more success in your current profession? Or perhaps you just haven’t figured out the best way to combine your talents, desires, and resources into a rewarding occupational pursuit. These are some common questions you might ask when searching for direction or considering making changes in your vocational life. And quite often, it is at these critical junctures that limiting attitudes, beliefs, and self-defeating behaviors arise, perhaps preventing you from envisioning and enacting the steps necessary to realize your true potential. A coaching relationship is about challenging doubts and fears by bringing them out into the light, where they can no longer cast shadows on your ability to see and attract the infinite pathways of possibility. Mastering Mindfulness® instills the thought processes, habit behaviors, and motivation to sustain focus and direct consciousness toward fulfillment of your goal.

4. Body Image/Healthy Lifestyle: Many who struggle with weight problems have difficulty with diet and exercise; indeed, poor dietary choices and eating habits often seem to fulfill unhealthy needs, and exercise represents acknowledging this fact. Mastering Mindfulness® places emphasis on personal integrity and healthy body image, which includes acquiring a better understanding of how practicing mindfulness changes our biology in positive ways, and acceptance that regardless of individual circumstances, the equations for fitness and healthy living are similar for everyone. The accountability and encouragement involved in a coaching relationship, along with shifts in perspective brought about by trance state disciplines such as hypnosis and meditation, quickly result in a new ease of lifestyle choices that are restorative and affirming. The idea of ‘dieting’ gives way to a welcome regimen of daily nutrition and physical activity that is invigorating and stimulating, imparting renewed energy and drive for living life to its fullest.

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“The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in the mind.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 What Is Your Takeaway?

Many people experience a nagging feeling of not living up to their true potential, a sense of failing to answer a deeper and more meaningful calling in their lives, even though on the surface things may appear to be fine. Mastering Mindfulness® is a coaching modality aimed at overcoming reactive and self-sabotaging behaviors that are rooted in fear, and at developing and trusting your inner voice—the part of you which intuitively understands the connective and enriching qualities of compassion and empathy. You learn to be present in the present by separating unhealthy emotional attachments and by utilizing the executive function required to plan and accomplish the success you desire. Hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic imagery are proven and effective motivational tools that promote emotional intelligence, inviting you to discover your own creative ways of manifesting a more significant and gratifying life.

©2014 & 2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery 


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.

 

Stop Smoking Hypnosis: The Secrets To Success

Stop Smoking Hypnosis

Stop Smoking Hypnosis: Rising To The Challenge Of A Healthier You

The Proven Method

Research evidence shows that hypnosis is far superior to drugs and nicotine patches for helping you quit smoking (See Review Of Research Evidence On Stop Smoking Hypnosis here). The reason for this success is that hypnosis goes directly to the root of the problem, which is the fight between your conscious and subconscious mind—you are fully aware that smoking is unhealthy—yet your attachment on a deeper level prevents you from letting go of the habit. Hypnosis is the proven method of intervention and the most powerful ally you can possibly enlist to achieve your goal.

In this video, Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. discusses how hypnosis works with smoking cessation:

The Secrets To Stop Smoking Hypnosis

  1. Motivation and Confidence: Your strong desire to stop smoking will be reinforced. Hypnosis will alter your long standing relationship with tobacco. The urges and triggers related to smoking will change forever, and you will immediately embrace a new identity as a non-smoker. You will wonder if it can really be this easy and effortless.
  2. Overcoming False BeliefsYou will realize that smoking never calmed you down, comforted you, or enhanced your image in any way. The idea that you ever actually needed to smoke will suddenly seem ridiculous.
  3. Regaining Your SensesTastes and smells will quickly start improving. The odor of tobacco smoke, cigar and cigarette butts, and the strong residue they leave behind, will become increasingly unpleasant; yet this will strengthen your resolve. Your ability to sustain focus and concentration will increase as you lose preoccupation with taking smoking breaks.
  4. Self-Hypnosis: The Game ChangerYou will learn self-hypnosis, which fortifies the hypnotic suggestions that have made you a non-smoker and provides a true means of relaxation and relief from daily stress and over-stimulation. 

Your Return On Investment

Costs Of SmokingGiving up smoking will save you several thousand dollars each year in the purchase price of tobacco products alone, while your health insurance and other costs directly and indirectly related to smoking will be significantly reduced (see Investopedia.Com article here). You can use pre-tax income from health savings accounts or flex plans to pay for stop smoking hypnosis. As well, the fee for stop smoking hypnosis is an allowed personal income tax deduction, while the cost of non-prescription remedies such as nicotine patches, gums, and electronic cigarettes are not (see IRS Publication 502 here). 

The more important return on your investment, however, is your health. Within hours of stopping smoking your body starts to recover from the effects of nicotine and toxic additives. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, all of which are elevated because of nicotine, return to healthier levels. Your lung capacity immediately increases and the bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Poisonous carbon monoxide decreases in your blood, allowing it to carry more oxygen. You reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases, and improve your life expectancy. 

You cannot be hypnotized into to wanting to stop smoking; however, once you have made the decision to quit, stop smoking hypnosis is the most successful and cost effective method to help you rise to the challenge of a healthier you.

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

 

 

Weight Loss Hypnosis: 5 Reasons It Works

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Hypnotherapy Helps You Integrate Diet, Nutrition & Exercise To Lose Weight

According to the National Center On Health Statistics, 30% of adults in the United States—more than 60 million people—are obese. As well, the number of overweight children and teens has tripled since 1980 (see ABC News Article here). Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Losing Weight Safely & Successfully

Weight loss requires an integrative approach that includes diet, proper nutrition, and exercise.  In the long term, combining these basic elements or “lifestyle” choices have proven safe and successful in overcoming weight problems. Yet this approach can require a serious and sustained shift in focus, behavior, and attitude that many find overwhelming.

So exactly how can hypnosis help you overcome the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges necessary to lose weight? How can hypnotherapy alter your emotional relationship with food, and motivate you to embrace fitness and nutrition?

The 5 Ways Hypnosis Helps You Achieve Weight Loss

  1. Trusting Yourself: Crash diets and appetite suppressants undermine your self-confidence. You have what you need to succeed and hypnosis engages your innate trust and judgment. Finding and maintaining a healthy weight is a matter of balance—just like riding a bicycle, it is easy and effortless once you hit your stride.
  2. The Trance State: Sugary and fatty foods stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same ways as mood altering drugs, producing a high or ‘trance state.’ Hypnosis is a positive way to alter consciousness and reinforce your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Say Goodbye To Cravings: In the same way food and snack advertisements stimulate your appetite through the power of suggestion, hypnosis dispenses your cravings and replaces them with triggers urging healthy dietary choices.
  4. Connecting Mind, Body & Spirit: Hypnosis awakens the deeper self and shifts perspective on how the mind functions, both in the brain and the body. You consciously connect with your life energy in a way that promotes health, reinforces positive lifestyle decisions, and invites new attitudes about exercise and staying active.
  5. Self-Hypnosis: Experience Is Believing: You will learn to utilize the discipline of self-hypnosis.  Studies on psychotherapy patients have shown that those who practiced self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t, and  kept the weight off after treatment (see Oprah.com article here). 

Your Weight Loss Transformation

Hypnosis facilitates physiological changes in brainwaves and neural pathways in the body, making you immediately receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations that have previously felt difficult or even impossible for you. Indeed, the idea of what it will take for you to lose weight transforms into a plan of action. And the experience is both pleasant and rewarding—the conviction to challenge unhealthy habits and behavior patterns by dieting, exercising and staying active, and practicing proper nutrition—suddenly becomes a compelling force in your life.

©2013 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery