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Let’s see what the fairytale, Rumplestiltskin
has to teach about this process:

Damsel: Oh dear! I don’t know how to turn this room full of straw into gold!
What ever shall I do???
Rumplestiltskin: Never fear! I know how to help you!
But, I’ll need you to provide me something of value for my help.
Damsel: Of course! Here is my necklace in return for your help!

Damsel: Oh no! I have to turn a bigger room full of straw into gold! Will you help me????
Rumplestiltskin: Of course. But again, I will need you to provide me with something you value in exchange for my help.
Damsel: Yes, of course. Here is my ring.

Damsel: I’m so distraught! I have to turn an even bigger room full of straw into gold. Alas, I have nothing to give you in return for your help.

The little imp gets to work on the huge room of straw turning it into gold. When finished he notifies our heroine that he requires her first born child in payment. Horrors!

Our damsel is beside herself, learning of the horrible bargain. Rumplestiltskin offers: If you can guess my name, you will be released from the bargain. Our damsel employs the help of her community to learn the name of the strange little man. One of her allies hears Rumplestiltskin, as he dances around his fire, singing out his own name! Her ally returns with the news, and shares his name with the damsel.

When the little man returns for his due, after the birth of the damsel’s child, he is furious when she guesses his name. For in doing so, she breaks the horrible spell. At that moment Rumplestiltskin stomps his foot, and instantly splits in two.

Unfortunately, the process of restoring health can feel as impossible as turning straw into gold, and as harrowing as this story. And as in any house, all rooms need to be tended to.

  • The first room of straw, tending to the body, is most easily accepted as part of the process of healing. In order to make progress on the way to optimal health, payment of some form is needed. The most obvious is paying a professional for their guidance/talents. But ultimately it requires giving up the way you used to treat your body, in exchange for a new, healthier way to nourish and care for your body.
  • The second room of straw could be seen as restoration of emotional health. So often people are stressed because of difficulties in their relationships with others, whether professional, familial, or personal. These conlficts take a great toll on a persons health. At the same time, looking more deeply, you see that relational challenges begin within. Problematic relating is learned, or imprinted, in our family of origin before we had any say.

    The price to be paid here, to have assistance with transforming our relationships, again may be paying a professional for their guidance/talents. On a deeper level, it is the payment of relinquishing a way of being with others and ourselves that was uncomfortable at best, and dysfunctional to varying degrees. The former way of being is traded for new awareness and new behavior that can generate “golden” relationships and emotional health, which also contributes to improved physical health.

  • The third room requires deep trust in the process. You can see how changing your physical habits create more health. And then you’ve seen how interpersonal relationships improve your well-being. What more could there be? This is where external authority is ultimately relinquished. Here is the most challenging bargain of all, as what needs to be given up is what your family, your culture, your country has told you is TRUE.

    The “spell” of the bargain is broken. Rumplestiltskin, the mysterious little imp, stomps his foot in anger and is split in two. The illusion of power over our damsel is broken. The veil of illusion split in two. You have earned the right to keep your own new life: no one else ultimately has authority over you.

Try this exercise when you have a few minutes,
to explore how it feels when things begin to transform:

  • Bring your attention within. How are you feeling? Disheartened? Anxious? Suspicious? Let yourself take a few moments to notice how your body feels. Notice any emotions you are feeling. Don’t try to change your emotions…if you are anxious, be anxious! Notice how ‘anxious’ feels, and make space for it. And breathe.

    After you’ve taken a few deep breaths, close your eyes and gently revisit a time of moderate challenge for you. What feelings do you remember? Sadness? Fear? Loneliness? What ever those feelings were, notice what happens in your body, being with the memory.

    What happens? Does your breath become more shallow? Do your chest and shoulders constrict? Whatever it is just notice what affects it has on your body…your breathing. Now gently let that memory go.

  • Now, take a few slow, deep breaths. Travel in memory to a time when you experienced a breakthrough in your life. What feelings do you remember? Elation? Inspiration? Joy? Whatever they were, let your body feel all those feelings from that time. Feel them fully.

    What do you notice in your body? Does your spine begin to straighten? Do you feel your heart in your chest expanding? Do you feel your energy rising? Does a smile come to your face? Enjoy the memory, then gently let this one fade too.

Example: Not too long ago, one of my clients was lying on the table telling me how afraid she was of injuring herself again. Yet, she didn’t want to give up on the activities she loves. Who could blame her? In that moment I was reminded of the teachers who encouraged me to listen to my intuition…”it’s going to rain, bring your umbrella” ……”slow down, you don’t know what’s around that corner”…You know, that still, small voice within that is constantly looking out for you?

I wondered if my client was consciously aware of the value of listening for that inner knowing? We explored this during her time on the table, and I could sense she hadn’t really tuned in this way previously, even though she is quite a conscious person. She later reported that the shift in her attention toward listening to that still, small voice is helping her honor her limits. It’s keeping her safe.

My client had come to resolve the effects of a previous injury to her body, which was being tended to, during our session. During the treatment, fear arose, which she gave voice to…there was a lack of trust in herself, physically and relationally, because of the accident she had experienced. Through my sharing of the importance in bringing more attention to the “still, small voice” as trusted inner guidance, she later saw that was able to trust that she knew how to keep herself safe. She became more empowered.

Healing is a multidimensional process. The process of restoring health naturally takes committed tending to body, emotions, relationships and spirit. Through the process you are likely to become adept at transforming any “straw” in your life into a golden opportunity!

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This article is republished with permission from the author.

As a nation we are horrified by an epidemic of mass shootings at the hands of young killers, and an escalation of bullying in our schools.  Though many constructive solutions have been offered, something is being left out of our national dialogue.  This something is what science has to say.

Findings from decades of child development research have given us a new lens with which to understand children’s needs, and may shed some light on the escalation of violence at the hands of young people. The field is exploding with new information, yet pediatricians, educators, and mental health therapists are often unaware of this science, or the breadth of the research and its implications.

I was heartened to see that, recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics incorporated some of this information into a policy statement warning that toxic stress early in life, or even before birth, can harm children for life.  (Pediatrics 2012; 129:e224-e231)

Research results tell us that babies and young children are much more sensitive to stress and to nonverbal communication from adults than we ever knew. Scientists are also telling us that mutual interactions of joy and delight between parents and children, especially in the early years, are crucial to healthy brain development and to their ability to manage strong positive and negative emotions throughout life.  This ability to regulate the highs and lows of emotional life is the key to stable mental health as an adult.  Difficulties with emotional regulation are at the core of most mental health disorders.

For children, a “felt sense” (different from an intellectual knowing) of being valued and understood on the inside is essential to the regulation of their nervous system, and their ability to have full access to their neocortex.  When there is something stressful in the child’s environment— everything from mom and dad being stressed about everyday life, to a divorce, to someone died, to moving, to a medical procedure—children need to have someone they can trust to help them understand how it makes them feel.

We now know that children can be easily traumatized by everyday events without adults realizing it.  There are specific tools that can be taught to parents, to educators, and to every adult who relates to children, to help them help children manage these stressful events.  This would include right brain to right brain communication which soothes the limbic system and develops autonomous emotional regulation—for example, paying attention to eye contact, tone of voice, and timing and intensity of communication; offering validating comments such as “That must have been scary!; or “So, that’s how it was for you!”; or enjoying sensory rich activities together such as kneading dough, drawing, music, playing sports, or dancing.  Also, children can be taught to identify stress in their bodies, techniques to reduce their stress, and what to do if they are about to “flip their lid”. When this type of relationship connection does not happen for a child, we often see an escalation in difficult behaviors, from obstinacy to extreme violence.

Attachment Theory scientists talk about “attunement.”  This is a special kind of connection with the child where the adult is completely undistracted, and can relate to the child almost as if the adult were in the mind of the child.  Attunement fosters spontaneous sharing, a feeling of being understood, and allows the adult to gently explore what is on the child’s mind.  Attuned communication has a huge impact on a child’s overall behavior, and builds their mirror neurons.  Strong mirror neurons are what gives children the ability to have empathy for others—not moral teachings or zero tolerance policies.  Empathy in turn prevents aggression and violence.

Doctors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, in their book Hold on to Your Kids, explain “counterwill” (disobedience) and the “the making of bullies”. They convey that, though counterwill (“I want my own way.”; “You can’t tell me what to do.” etc.) is normal in children, it can be tamed through, and only through, a strong attachment relationship, not methods to control and punish.  That means that if children feel truly connected to their parents or to the adults in charge, and feel safe to lean on them emotionally, they are more likely to listen and to drop their counterwill impulses. In other words, if I, as a child, feel safe to tell you how I really feel inside about stuff, and trust that you are not going to judge my feelings or dismiss them, I am going to feel close to you and want to listen to your rules even if I do not want to. I am also going to absorb your core values.  You do not have to drill them into me.

Neufield and Mate go on to describe bullying as a lack of emotional vulnerability stemming from weak attachment connections.  If a child does not feel emotionally safe to lean on an adult attachment figure, then they harden their tender feelings, such as fear, anxiety, love, caring, etc., and defend them by lashing out.  Or, they may turn against themselves and harm themselves. They may also try to find an attachment substitute by becoming obsessively attached to their peers and push away their parents.  But this doesn’t feel safe either, because another child cannot protect them.

Mate and Neufield explain how a strong peer orientation culture is harmful to children and that; in fact, there is much about our modern life which interferes with the type of attachment relationships children need for healthy mental development.

So, yes, we need to get assault weapons off our streets.  And, as a society, we need to stop producing bullies and mass murderers.  Children are not born that way.  Society creates them.  No, it is not a specific gene.  The science of epigenetics tells us that the caretaking environment helps to determine which genes are expressed.

I hope that we can bring this vast amount of empirical science into our local, state, and national dialogue. We have the scientific evidence to prevent violence, but will our culture and our politics allow it?

FAMILIES UNITED
CHRISTINE A. WALKER, LCSW
PSYCHOTHERAPIST

408 EAST MARKET STREET SUITE 204
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA 22902  

434-923-8253

cwalker@cstone.net
www.christinewalkerlcsw.com

A Center for Integrative Psychotherapy and Psychoeducation
Families/Children/Individuals

Your local actions create the future;

Locally, though receiving little press, Maryland midwives are fighting for their right to exist. Over the last few years there has been a nation-wide effort by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) to take away the rights of CPM’s to attend births resulting in more than a few local seasoned midwives to have charges brought against them for practicing medicine without a license. These wise women are being terrorized for practicing their livelihood, and are in fact threatened with loosing their ability to practice and provide this sacred work to mother’s to be.

Regardless of whether or not you would consider the services of a midwife to support you in your own life, increasing numbers of women, as they become educated about the effects of medicalized childbirth on their own health and that of their newborn, are seeking out the support of these women. The World Health Organization supports midwifery as the most sensible choice to insure best outcomes for mother’s and babies. In fact, 26 states already license CPM’s to attend home births. Our state government, spurred on by ACOG, is seeking to limit the choices women have to give birth.

As a woman who supports women in rebuilding their health and along with it, their sense of being empowered persons, I urge you to sign the petition on the site; Maryland Families for Safe Birth Petition. And if so inspired, please write your legislators as well, at  Maryland Families for Safe Birth. This is an opportunity to shape the future by supporting empowered births, empowered women, and consequently their families. YOU!

With love, Angela

 

My friend Kelli is battling breast cancer. She made a decision to fight the disease through a variety of homeopathic remedies, therapies, nutrition, and detoxification. She is currently enrolled in a program at the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Fl.
Even if she decided to undergo conventional cancer treatment, I would fully support her choice. Of course health care does not cover healing disease with food and alternative therapies, and so I would like to help Kelli financially. The program is costly, and she will also need to buy equipment to prepare fresh juices and raw meals at home.

I am raffling off a 90-minute massage in an effort to raise money to help Kelli. Each raffle is $5 payable by cash or check. You can buy a raffle when you come in for your appointment, or send a check along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Angela Ferri,  MA, LMT
15127 Comus Road
Clarksburg, MD 20871

Please include your name, address, email, phone number, and number of raffles you wish to purchase. The drawing will be held on November 30, 2011. The winner can schedule a 90-minute massage at my office in Clarksburg.

Blessings,
Angela