There could be any number of reasons why you might seek out one of these complementary and alternative treatments for mental health recovery, but the main reason people will seek them out is to stay off medication. While I really do think most people need to see these treatments as supportive of their medication and…
Mary told her husband (respectfully) that his comment felt hurtful. She suggested that he could have spoken to her differently and offered a response that would have felt supportive and kind. Her husband erupted with anger. Who was she to be the judge and jury of him? He wasn’t interested in being controlled by her with her scripts and the words she needed to hear. Mary, who is normally mild-mannered and compromising, exploded with rage. She accused her husband of being defensive and fragile, so fragile as to not even be able to hear or care about her feeling hurt. She was yelling, demanding to know how, when given the opportunity to be supportive, complimentary, and essentially her fan, he could and would make the choice to be unsupportive, uncomplimentary, and cutting. She was sick and tired of his unkindness.
Her husband didn’t miss a beat and accused her of being too sensitive, twisting his words to mean something they didn’t. Mary, becoming even more furious, shouted that it wasn’t about him and him and more him, but rather about the fact that his words had hurt her. And it went on . . . her husband, deaf to her pain, accused her of judging him, to which she again responded that this was not about him, not about who was right or wrong, but rather about his being able to simply hear the fact that she was hurt.
Later that day, Mary called to tell me that her husband had approached her about an hour after the session and acknowledged that maybe his words could have come off as a bit insensitive. While she was still brimming with anger and hurt, Mary had offered a simple thank you for your apology. It was the first time he had owned up to any of his own behavior in 20 years of marriage. And so, while his “apology” felt light on empathy, she made the choice to acknowledge his attempt at kindness and leave it at that, and not risk doing or saying anything that could discourage him from this new, positive behavior.
But the following week, Mary reported that her husband had become withdrawn, sullen, and unfriendly. He was playing the part of the one hurt and angry, while she had stepped into the role of the one trying to win back his affection and regain a sense of peace in the couple.
This was the standard trajectory of their disagreements. Mary would be hurt by something her husband said or did; she would then bring it to his attention. Upon hearing what he perceived (only) as criticism, he would immediately attack her emotionally (which I had witnessed), and then withdraw into his role as the victim in the relationship. As a victim, he would become silent, non-responsive, and backhandedly unkind towards her over the next several days. He would, in essence, fall into full-blown episodes of passive aggression.
Mary and I had both felt hopeful the previous week when her husband was able to take a baby step forward in acknowledging his own behavior and considering how it might have affected her. And yet, it seemed that his old pattern of reverting to passive aggression after hearing he had done something she didn’t like was still firmly intact.
Mary confessed that she was completely lost as to how to deal with her husband’s behavior. She still wanted to stay in the marriage (and still loved her husband), but his passive aggression, which appeared each time she shared that he had upset her, felt unbearable and maddening. She was utterly unable to find her ground or feel at ease when he was in this mode. She couldn’t get okay until the couple was again okay.
Mary felt that she had always been stuck in the same place with regard to her husband’s passive aggression. Unable to speak her truth, she felt that her only recourse was to wait for him to get over it, after which time she could get back to her own center. But of course, when he did get over it, she then was left to deal with her own anger and hurt. Regardless, her well-being was dependent on his behavior, which she hated.
But while she felt stuck, I reminded Mary that something profound had in fact transformed within her. When we first started working together, Mary would actually feel guilty when her husband punished her in this way. She would identify with his projections of blame and try to make up for the hurt she imagined she had caused him. She would play the perpetrator (having told him he hurt her after all) to his imagined victim; she stepped into his projections and took on the role of the bad one. I was happy to remind Mary that she no longer felt guilty in any way despite his playing the part of the one abused. This was an enormous change in her and a huge relief.
While Mary could acknowledge that she was no longer suffering from this most insidious consequence of passive aggression (imagining oneself as deserving of the punishment), she was however still frustrated that she felt so anxious and de-stabilized, that she couldn’t get comfortable inside herself when her husband was acting out in this way. No matter what she did for herself, how much meditation and awareness she practiced, or how she tried to separate herself from it, she still felt afraid and off-kilter living with his punishing behavior. She was angry and disappointed with herself that she couldn’t get a grip on her experience. She couldn’t will herself into well-being, but she strongly believed that she should be able to control her inner experience regardless of what was going on in her environment.
Simultaneously, Mary was bottling up a lot of rage about the fact that she couldn’t speak her truth to her husband. In the past, when she had tried to call him out on his behavior, he had attacked her more directly and denied all responsibility and intention for his behavior. Her trying to talk about it had always made things worse, and so she felt resigned to acting as if nothing was happening. Pretending he wasn’t affecting her was the way she had learned to protect herself. The truth was, he was getting to her; she felt manipulated, controlled, and humiliated by his behavior. Enraged, in fact.
However, this pretending to not notice, to save face if you will, was breaking down as a defense strategy; it felt impossible to maintain this level of falseness, and also, more and more like an abandonment of herself. It was making her angrier and more anxious to know that he was (as she experienced it) cornering her into being inauthentic. Mary felt stuck in this either-or scenario. Either she confronted someone angry, reactive, and not self-aware and faced the consequences of that scary choice, which also included acknowledging that he was hurting her (and therefore winning in her mind), or, she pretended nothing was happening, pretended to be Teflon to his aggression, and in the meanwhile went on living in an anxious, disconnected, and angry state of being. Neither felt doable for much longer.
When I asked Mary what she wanted to scream from the rooftops, she said this (without hesitation): I did nothing wrong. I’m the one who was hurt! And now, I’m the one being punished. What the hell! But instead, she went on smiling, asking if he wanted milk with his coffee, and being the person she wished he could be with her.
The first thing I wanted Mary to know was that there was nothing wrong with feeling anxious and angry. Living with someone who’s acting out in this way is bloody awful. Her expectation that she should be able to feel well in an environment that was so un-well was absurd. She was not made of Teflon, and as humans, we are relational and porous beings; we are affected and impacted by our environment. So right out of the gate, I insisted Mary stop blaming herself for feeling anxious and off-center. If she didn’t, I’d think something was wrong!
With regard to her desire to stop pretending she wasn’t being affected, I asked her a simple question: What was it was like to be with her husband when he was treating her this way? She erupted with tears upon hearing the question. After some time, she was able to share that it felt painful, unfair, unkind, hurtful, and just terrible in every way. I asked her if she could stay with these feelings and maybe see if there was also any sense of I don’t want to be treated this way, or maybe just I don’t want this. I asked her if she could step outside the whole narrative and history attached this situation and just feel the direct, bodily-felt experience of I don’t want to be treated this way. And indeed, Mary could feel this, without any help from her mind. It was right there in her heart and gut. It was true now.
I then asked her if she could remember this I don’t want this, I don’t want to be treated like this feeling in the moments when she felt herself putting on the Teflon suit. This refuge of self and self-compassion could then be home for Mary, a destination she could go instead of having to step outside herself and into the pretender. Her self-caring truth was safe ground for her in the present moment when the unkindness was happening, and this is what she had been missing.
What we need in these situations, when we’re really struggling, is self-compassion. We don’t need more judgment or more strategies for figuring out the situation. Yes, we need to address the other person and their behavior, and yes, we need to decide if and how we can live with this situation if it’s not going to change. But in the moments of triage when we’re really suffering, what we need most is our own loving kindness. In offering Mary permission to let herself have the experience she was having and also, pointing her towards her own self-loving experience of I don’t want this, Mary was able to return home to herself and to her ground. While the situation on the outside might have been the same, her inner world had profoundly transformed. She had somewhere to go inside herself now, a refuge in which she could live in the truth in the midst of whatever was happening in her outer environment.
Furthermore, I knew that Mary’s body-knowing of I don’t want to be treated this way would prove to be a far more powerful guide and motivator than anything our minds could come up with. I trust and know (from experience) that when we let things be as they are, feel what we’re actually feeling, without judgment, and simultaneously allow ourselves to feel the heart’s authentic I don’t want this, the process itself reveals our next right step; we are led to know what we need to know. How and why this happens remains for me the great mystery and magic that is this thing we call truth.
Tips for Dealing with Passive Aggression
- Don’t fall into guilt.The passive-aggressive character will play the part of the victim. Be mindful not to step into the role of the perpetrator, the bad one. Remind yourself, you are not that.
- Give yourself permission to have the experience you’re having, to be affected by their behavior. When we’re around aggression (regardless of whether it’s direct or buried), we feel it. Don’t judge yourself for having a response; it comes with being human!
- Tap into self-compassion.Feel your heart’s genuine I don’t want to be treated this way. Drop into this feeling on your own, and when their behavior is unkind. It’s your refuge; let it guide you in how to respond.
It’s a bit like being in two places at the same time. Imagine a basketball game in a sports hall, where you play along and in the same time you watch yourself while playing from the stands. Meditation makes us aware of our inner dialogue and it leads to metacognition. This way we learn to…
Yoga for Mental Wellness, because Mental health matters the most. A healthy state of mind will always radiant a healthy you outside.
Yoga is a part of rich Indian heritage. Yog, pranayama or asanas all are synonyms to the different forms of a single holistic approach towards wellness—YOGA [. . .]
We all forget things once in a while. And most times we don’t even pay attention to this problem until and unless we find ourselves in a demanding situation. Memory loss is not something to be taken too lightly and we ought to make conscious efforts to improve our ability to memorize, retain, and recall information. Although there is no sure shot way to prevent dementia, certain techniques may go a long way in helping you improve your memory and increase your brain’s potential in general. Here are 12 strategies that can effectively boost your memory and help you remember and recall better:
1. Focus your attention: In order to store information in your memory storage system, you need to take interest in the information presented to you and give it your full attention. Information is more likely to get lost when you pay half attention to it. While reading or meeting people for the first time, give your full attention.
2. Visual/Imagery: While attending to the information add visual imagery to the information. We are better able to remember things that are visual. So while reading for an exam, use imagery as much as possible.
3. Associate: Associating new information with the information you already know or have can also help you better memorize new information. Associations help create more mental connections of the information which, in turn, helps in better retention of the memory of that information.
4. Chunking: This technique can help you memorize a large set of information by breaking the information into small chunks or groups. In other words, the information to be remembered is divided into small chunks or groups of information. For example, if you need to memorize a phone number- xxyyyzzxxx, you can make chunks of this number—xx/yyy/zz/xxx.
5. Get good sleep: Our brain gets to consolidate the day’s information during sleep. Consolidation is a process in which short-term memory is transferred into long-term memory. In order to improve your memory you need to get a quality sleep of 7-8 hours daily, whereas, lack of proper sleep can affect your memory negatively. That is the reason students are advised to get a good sleep before an exam.
6. Mnemonics: Use of mnemonic techniques can also help to memorize better. Mnemonics are specific techniques designed to improve recall. Like using first letters of the given information to form a word, for example using VIBGYOR to memorize the colors of rainbow.
7. Brain exercises: Just like any other muscle in the body our brain is also a kind of muscle that needs exercise to work at optimum level. In order to enhance memory, play brain games. Solving puzzles, crossword, Sudoku, and playing word-recall games etc. have been proven to boost memory.
8. Be active while learning: There is a saying that individuals remember 20 per cent of what they hear, 75 per cent of what they see, and 90 per cent of what they do. And this saying is fairly correct. Being active while learning something like movement of arms, pacing back and forth, and using gestures while learning a new information has been found to enhance memorization. So keep your body actively involved while learning.
9. Recite: Repeating something in a loud voice can help memorization of that information better. As you recite you involve another sense, i.e., hearing. This helps better anchoring of the information in your brain. You can also recite what you have learned to another person in your own simple words and language. This technique is especially effective for students.
10. Meditation: Meditation has been found to improve memory. Mediation helps lower the stress which, in turn, is known to affect memorization. Meditation has also been found to improve the gray matter in brain, which positively affects memory. Practice meditation on daily basis for healthy mind and body.
11. Exercise: Scientists have proven that daily exercise as simple as running or jogging can help in formation of new neurons in brain and can help improve memory. Exercising daily not only keeps you physically fit but it also keeps your brain fit.
12. Keep stress away: As mentioned above, too much of stress has been found to affect memorization and recall both. Chronic stress has also been found to damage brain cells, especially in hippocampus which is responsible for retrieval of old memories and formation of new memories. So in order to improve your memory you also need to keep your stress level under check.
Meditation is about focusing on the present. Meditation can help you feel better and reduce stress. Researchers are also studying mindfulness and related techniques such as relaxation to see if they can help treat various physical and mental health conditions. . . . read more
Concentration is the ability or power of directing one’s attention to something. But we live in a world full of distractions, where we often feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing demands from our personal and professional front. These distractions may or may not be paltry but they tend to make it difficult for us to maintain and improve concentration and do the things that really matter. Here are five ways that can help you overcome distractions and concentrate better:
1. Establish a daily routine: Creating a daily routine and sticking to it, is a great strategy to improve your concentration. Having a random routine wastes a lot of your time in just deciding upon what to do and when. But once you establish your routine, you will start doing the day’s tasks automatically. Creating a routine would save your time and energy that goes into thinking about what to do and in what order and thus helps you focus your energy and increase productivity.
2. Rank your tasks: You can improve your concentration by prioritizing your tasks and attempting the most important tasks first and leaving the smaller or comparatively less important tasks for later. While performing all the tasks together is neither realistic nor possible, thinking about all of those pending tasks can be daunting as well as overwhelming. Ranking tasks in order of merit, on the other hand, can prove to be an effective tactic for staying focused on the tasks at hand.
3. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness: Many studies have demonstrated that meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improve focus. Practising meditation and mindfulness makes you aware of when your mind wanders off track and aids in bringing it back to the desired point of attention. Both meditation and mindfulness train your brain to stay attentive for longer periods of time.
4. Listen to Music: Music has a profound effect on not just your mood, but blood pressure and heart rate as well. According to a study conducted at the Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory, listening to short symphonies engages the parts of the brain that controls an individual’s attention span, ability to make predictions, and update the event in memory. Though music boosts these brain functions and improves concentration, it’s the short period of silence between musical movements that maximizes brain activities.
5. Turn off notifications: Last but not least, the best way to improve concentration is to turn off the notifications of your personal devices. Research has shown that although a notification appears to only briefly divert your attention, it disrupts your thoughts for much longer, making it harder to bring them back on track. Irrespective of whether you interact with your cell-phone or not, checking out notifications in between can significantly impact your attention. Therefore, you should use your cell-phone judiciously and schedule some time away from the screen to be able to devote yourself single-mindedly to the tasks you do.
Intuition is sometimes thought of as the sixth sense. Basically, it’s an inner knowing that does not involve the mind, or intellectual or logical processes. It’s when we feel something instinctually without needing to be analytical. When we have an intuitive feeling, we’re receiving ideas without being aware of where they’re coming from.
Following your intuition means that you’re listening to your inner voice, which can be a huge tool in the decision-making process. A study done by Lufityanto, Donkin, and Pearson (2016) found that nonconscious emotional information can boost the accuracy of decision-making while also increasing an individual’s sense of confidence. In addition, it was found to speed up the actual decision-making process. This is fascinating information and confirmation that trusting our inner voices and intuition can be a positive action.
According to transpersonal psychologist Frances Vaughan (1998), intuitive awareness falls into four main categories: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, which we can use independently of one another.
An example of inner knowing as it pertains to the physical self might be when we’re in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation and we feel a sensation in our body, whether it’s a headache, stomachache, or a sense of anxiety. This points to a form of inner knowing that offers a message: “Learning to trust your bodily responses is part of learning to trust your intuition” (p. 186). If your body is giving you information, then it’s a good idea to listen because the information can ensure your safety. If you habitually have the same response to the same situation, it might have to do with a preexisting (perhaps childhood) trauma. Being mindful of this reaction will allow you to cope.
An example of emotional inner knowing is when you feel that someone’s energy or vibes are either positive or negative. Most often, this will affect your behavior when you engage with them. Often there’s no particular reason for how you feel; it’s just felt at a vibrational level. Moving forward, these vibrations can provide you with valuable information. Those who experience this type of intuition might have a tendency for synchronistic and/or psychic experiences. For example, you might be thinking about someone and then that person phones you.
Mental inner knowing, according to Vaughan, pertains to an awareness accessed through images or “inner vision.” You might see patterns in a situation that was previously chaotic. This sort of inner knowing or intuition is sometimes referred to as “having a gut feeling.”
Spiritual inner knowing or soul guidance might be associated with mystical experiences. Experts have suggested that regular meditation practice can foster and enhance a sense of this type of intuition.
In his classic book You Are Psychic! (1989), Pete A. Sanders says that psychic abilities can be tapped into using the “psychic reception areas.” He identifies four different psychic senses in the body: psychic feeling (in the solar plexus), psychic intuition (knowing or inner awareness), psychic hearing (on both sides of the head above the ears), and psychic vision (the third eye or the place between the eyebrows). In the same way that some of us are auditory or visual learners, we each have strengths in one of these psychic areas. Sanders says that in order to face challenges and make good decisions, it’s important to learn your own psychic strength because it can affect how you live your life. Also, when you know the psychic strengths of your loved ones, you can communicate with them more effectively.
How to Tap into Your Intuition
1. Begin a regular meditation and mindfulness practice. Meditation will help you tap into your subconscious mind and is a powerful way to awaken your intuitive powers.
2. Use the intuition “psychic reception center.” This was discussed by Sanders and describes a spot on your head where you receive intuitive messages. The idea is to imagine a funnel on the top of your head, with the larger end of the funnel touching your head and the narrow part extending into the universe. When you need to tap into your intuition and focus on something, place this imaginary funnel on your head and focus your awareness on that area. Be receptive to the messages you receive.
3. Maintain a regular journaling practice. Journaling is a wonderful way to tap you’re your intuition. For example, try to think about a recent situation you’d like more insight about. Focus on that event and pay attention to the thoughts that emerge. Write in your journal what comes to you. As you go about your day, observe others, and see if you can pick up any messages from their body language even before they speak to you. It’s all about “tuning in.” When you have the opportunity, jot down your observations in your journal.
4. Practice creative visualization: Shatki Gawain wrote two seminal books on the subject — Creative Visualization and Developing Intuition, which work hand in hand. Creative visualization is a technique where you close your eyes and use your imagination to create what you want in your life. It can open you up to new creative energies that will help you tap into your intuition.
Begin with a few minutes of diaphragm breathing. Then, let go of any thoughts that enter your mind, and imagine them fading away. Picture yourself in a cave where you remove all your clothes and lie down. Feel the moisture dripping from the ceiling, as its acidic nature begins to dissolve your skin, organs, and body systems. Think of yourself as a skeleton, while being completely aware. Being stripped of everything can offer a magical opening into your intuitive self and may also help you tap into your inner voice.
Lufityanto, G., C. Donkin, and J. Pearson. (2016). “Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence . Psychological Science Online.
Sanders, P.A. (1989). You Are Psychic!. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Vaughan, F. (1998). “Mental, Emotional, and Body-Based Intuition.” In Inner Knowing, by H. Palmer, Ed. New York, NY: Jeremy Tarcher.
Meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, have long been known to improve our ability to concentrate. A recent study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.
Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have several known cognitive benefits, such as increased ability to focus, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased mind wandering and emotional reactivity, along with many others. However, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested till date.
The study has been published in a paper entitled “Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama” in the journal Psychophysiology. The research findings has revealed for the first time that breathing which is a key component of meditation and mindfulness practices directly influences the levels of a natural chemical messenger called noradrenaline in the brain.
Noradrenaline is released when we are challenged, curious, worked up, focused or emotionally aroused. If it is produced at optimum levels, it helps the brain grow new connections. In other words, the way we breathe, directly impacts the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.
The study findings revealed that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronization between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors of the study believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilize attention and boost brain health.
The lead author of the study, Michael Melnychuk, a PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, explicated: “Yoga practitioners have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we cannot focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we cannot focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.”
The study has demonstrated that as we breathe in, locus coeruleus activity increases slightly, and as we breathe out, it decreases. In simple words, this means that our attention is affected by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. By concentrating on and regulating our breathing, it is possible to optimize our attention level and similarly, by focusing on our attention level, our breathing becomes more synchronized.
The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for individuals with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.
Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: “Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realized. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centered practices and a steadiness of mind.”
According to Robertson, these findings have noteworthy implications for research into brain aging. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More ‘youthful’ brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. This research offers one possible reason for this—by regulating our breath we can control noradrenaline, which in the right amount would help the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost their brain health using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation.