Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

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Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

“If our environment cannot support our gut feelings and our emotions, then the child, in order to ‘belong’ and ‘fit in’ will automatically, unwittingly and unconsciously, suppress their emotions and their connections to themselves, for the sake of staying connected to the nurturing environment, without which the child cannot survive. A lot of children are in this dilemma – ‘can I feel and express what I feel or do I have to suppress that in order to be acceptable, to be a good kid, to be a nice kid?’” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate As children, we learn to sacrifice authenticity for connection. Done mostly unconsciously, our body’s intelligence recognizes that if we are our full, vibrant self, we’ll lose the attachment with our parents. We […]

4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

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4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

I take issue with teaching children meditation in school, particularly when done without a wider view of the systemic causes for child dysregulation and a more thorough understanding of trauma. Yes, meditation has been proven to be effective with young ones. I know the research is there backing it up. But… Take a moment to consider the four points below, and ask yourself: What is the real issue at hand? What do children fundamentally need? And if we addressed the issues I lay out, while better meeting children’s core biological needs for love and safety, would we still need to teach meditation? Or wouldn’t the desired result of meditation—calm—arise more organically? 1. Anxious systems The problem is not the child, but rather the systems they are […]

From Being a Helper to Being of Service

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From Being a Helper to Being of Service

One who is of service knows something the helper does not. Well-intentioned, the helper climbs down into the well of suffering to join someone in their darkness. They try to help, and so often do, but in their helping get lost in and with the suffering other, mixing and mingling with their pain. And this is because, without knowing it, helpers often seek to help themselves, to heal their unresolved pain, through the suffering other. The greater the pain, the greater the impulse can be to “help”. I will lead you out of the well I myself am lost in. And so we join together in this old dance, not realizing that on some level I am asking you to help me as I am […]

You Are Not Broken. There is Good Reason You Feel the Way You Do.

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You Are Not Broken. There is Good Reason You Feel the Way You Do.

A proud, successful man says, “My father was tough on me and I’m glad, because I wouldn’t be the man I am  without it.” A humble, wise man says, “My father was tough on me. I realize now how  emotionally absent he was and that’s why I am  a ‘success’ today.” You begin walking the healing path because you are tired of living, being a certain way; tired of feeling sad, empty, angry, lost, confused, isolated, afraid. You just want things to be different. You want to feel happier, more productive, more at peace in your heart.  A counselling client of mine once said to me, “I just want to get past being so accommodating all the time.” She spoke with a tone of judgment—self-judgement. […]

Beneath Trying

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Beneath Trying

By Vince Gowmon Beneath your trying you may discover a well of tremendous untouched grief. Trying to be strong Trying to be tough Trying to be needless Trying to be dependable Trying to look good Trying to do good Trying to be brave Trying to be funny Trying to be smart Trying to be beautiful Trying to make it, get there Trying to keep it, hold it, all together for yourself, for everyone around you So much trying keeps us from the depths of much needed crying It keeps us busy, distracted, caring for others, lost in what we think is important, looking everywhere everywhere, but within For if we were to stop long enough to feel beneath the pulse of busyness, the lure of […]

Losing Yourself to Life: Surrendering to the Ancient Cycle of Death and Rebirth, Dark and Light

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Losing Yourself to Life: Surrendering to the Ancient Cycle of Death and Rebirth, Dark and Light

Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots. ~ Rumi “Remember, like a tree, you rise into the light only as far as your roots will take you, as far as you are willing to immerse yourself into the medicine of the dark, tear-soaked soil beneath your feet. Therefore seek those who have the capacity to honor your tears, to hold you in them, to deepen your immersion into cold chambers of yesterday, and to help you rise anew, fed from the light of truth found only in darkness.” ~ from Awakening to Darkness, by Vince Gowmon The light of indescribable joy arrives in our hearts when we enter the depths of forgotten darkness. Down, through the many doorways […]

Taking Time to Feel Authentic Forgiveness: Healing in a Culture of Quick-fix Solutions and Spiritual Bypassing

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Taking Time to Feel Authentic Forgiveness: Healing in a Culture of Quick-fix Solutions and Spiritual Bypassing

Forgiving is a liberating act of love to self and others. It can free us from pain, resentment, from feeling separate from others and life. But forgiveness, if not felt deeply and given with enough rooted authenticity, can be a means of bypassing uncomfortable feelings (spiritual bypassing), the truth of one’s raw inner experience.  Long held as a virtue in religious teachings, cultures and, more recently, in new age / personal growth circles, we have and continue to be taught and even expected to forgive; to let it go and move on, for it is the kind and moral thing to do. “Be the bigger person.” “Get over your past!” “Stop playing victim!” “You are better than they are.” “Don’t let them get to you.” […]

The Developmental Impulse to Reach: Healing Trauma through Completing this Long-Held Survival Response

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The Developmental Impulse to Reach: Healing Trauma through Completing this Long-Held Survival Response

Trauma is often defined as an incomplete survival response – fight or flight that could not happen. The body had the impulse to protect or run away, but was overpowered. It could not do what it instinctively knew it had to do to survive. The vital energy driving the biological fight / flight impulse was truncated, impeding the survival response and causing trauma. There is another survival response discussed not nearly as often – reaching. Desiring or needing connection, a child instinctively reaches for her primary attachment figure. Biologically, we are wired to connect. And so we are naturally wired to reach for that connection, particularly in pre-verbal stages of development. We long to have our hand received with gentleness and love. Yet, when that […]

Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

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Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

Note to the reader: If you require a brief history of education to provide context for the first few sections, scroll further down to “A brief history of school”.    “Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it.” ~ S.C Lourie At the beginning of many of the talks I lead, the organizer of the event takes a moment to acknowledge the traditional and ancestral territory we stand on and the people it belongs to. It’s a brief period of time in which I pay my deepest respect and […]

The Power of Empathy to Help You Relax Into and Heal Uncomfortable Feelings

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The Power of Empathy to Help You Relax Into and Heal Uncomfortable Feelings

The first memory my counselling client, Sandra, had of feeling fear was when she was 5 years old. She acutely remembers her father suddenly snapping at her in the kitchen. It was just him and her, alone, his big, overwhelming presence, those fiercely intense eyes. In recalling the incident, fear rises into her throat, constricting it, which was most likely what she experienced in the kitchen 32 years ago. The first memory my client, Adam, had of been anxious was when his mother became depressed due to the sudden loss of her beloved father. She quickly spiralled downward. Adam became scared and confused. He was losing his mother. As Adam shares this painful memory he notices his chest tightening and his breath becoming shallow. His […]