Monday, November 1, 2010

Wellness. Really?

I just caught a commercial for Dayquil on television.  It stars the quarterback of the last Superbowl Championship team New Orleans, Drew Brees, and his wife.  I can (with a lot of mindfulness) make peace with superstars selling pharmaceuticals.  Maybe Drew Brees does believe that Dayquil is indeed beneficial.  I can also understand people leveraging their star power for financial security even if they don't particularly believe in the products they endorse.

In this particular commercial, Mrs. Brees is suggesting to her husband that he buy Dayquil and Nyquil now, before he gets sick, so he won't have to go out when he isn't feeling well.  When he argues that he will be fine, she mocks his capacity to make good choices.  He is, after all, still wearing his Superbowl t-shirt a year later.

The tag line on this commercial is "Walgreens, the way to stay well."

Augh.  Really?  What part of buying cold medicine helps you stay well?  This message is suggesting that we concern ourselves with an illness we don't have.  Which is not living in the present, enjoying the moment.  The focus of our attention is not on anything real, it is on some imagined illness.  And making decisions based on this imagining.  In this scenario, we would likely buy lots of medicines just in case we got something.  Come to think of it, that is exactly what our 'health care' system models.  Good thinking and good business for the pharmaceutical industry.  Not necessarily good for humans' well-being.  And I'm not convinced this is the best way to use our imagination.

Back to the commercial.  The idea presented is when we do get sick, this product will help us stay well.  What this product does is cover up our symptoms.  Again, the suggestion is to not be present to what our body is telling us that moment.

Symptoms are the mechanism in humans to signal whether or not we are doing life right.  They tell us whether our needs are or are not being met.  If we can feel what's happening, we can take the appropriate action the body is calling for us to do.  Rest, for example.  If we take something that inhibits the body's natural path to shedding toxins, the immune system is rendered impotent (or worse).   The short and long term effects of taking medication can be damaging to the body's ability to determine accurately what it is supposed to do.  Taking medication of any kind is serious business.  Insert big words here about TH1 cell mediated response vs. TH2 humoral response.  It is quite complicated.  I'm concerned about people making these decisions based on 30 second commercials.

Back to the idea of staying well.  In my view, neither worrying about the future, no taking medication that masks our capacity to interpret the signals designed to get our attention, is staying well.  It may let you do more of the things you want to do, (or don't want to do -- like go to work).  It may make you feel more comfortable in the moment.  It is not making you stay well.  More likely, the opposite is true.

One more thing.  I don't like the common theme on television of men being portrayed incapable and underachievers while their women are stuck putting up with them.  This kind of thinking and language represents to me another way we are not well.  The ability to have healthy relationships, thinking and speaking well of and to each other -- or not, is just another symptom, indicating we need change in our lives.

Ok, Walgreen, sell your wares.  Ok, do it using language and images that damage the facade of healthy relating.  Just don't say it is the way to stay well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's Wrong with Right & Wrong

The last time I was in a meeting with a group of people, one person (emphatically) offered an opinion of what next steps we should take on a project. Almost instantly, the energy in the room changed. An awkward quiet descended and the air whooshed out of the room. Why? It turns out that others in the room had quite a different opinion. So what?

What happens when someone says something we disagree with? Why do we get so upset? If we were to interpret the bodily sensations in that moment, we could come to the conclusion that our life is in danger. The moment our body interprets danger signals, a sequence of biochemical events occur that make it increasingly difficult to think clearly. Then we decide to say something. Oops!

Most of us, when we are in distress will attempt to feel better. As Thich Naht Hanh might say, we mistakenly believe that something outside of us (in this case, the person with the different opinion) caused our suffering. With that belief, mixed with the chemicals flowing through our body (mistakenly) screaming that we aren't safe, we determine that other person is our enemy and we must kill them off. Effectively, we decide that we are right and they are wrong. Some folks do this externally by arguing or screaming, defending their point of view. Others internalize their thoughts, deciding it is much safer just to believe they are right without offering their point of view to anyone. In both cases, the tension between the people increases and connection decreases.

The problem when discussing opinions is there can not be a right or wrong. Opinions and judgments are quite personal. We can spend many hours, days, or longer trying to convince someone of our point of view, most often with no success. Because they are doing the same. What's the alternative? Imagine how wonderful life would be if you could just enjoy someone else's opinion no matter how it related to your own. Not only is it possible, it is simple.

Next time you feel upset about something someone just said or did, take a moment to notice what is going on for you. Notice your breath and other bodily sensations like your heartbeat. Then notice your emotions, specifically notice what you are feeling. Are you disappointed, nervous, frustrated? And finally, notice your thoughts. Your thoughts (judgments) will set you free if you let them. What are your thoughts saying to you? If you don't like what the other person said or did, then you must be valuing something that you think their idea contradicts. Put your attention on what is important to you in that moment.

When you understand what the need is that you are concerned about, you will be able to talk about it. You will be able to tell your colleague (friend, spouse, parent or anyone) what made you nervous or frustrated about what they said. More importantly, you can make a suggestion about how you may incorporate the values you have in mind in the situation being discussed. Your negotiation will be about something real, meaning how you feel, what stimulated the feeling(s), and what you want, rather than who is right and who is wrong.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Language of Life Workshop -- Two Days - Two Ways!

Saturday, July 24, 2010
9:00am til noon
Nonviolent Communication Basics

This Saturday we will begin to explore the basics on Nonviolent Communication. We will discuss the four components (observations, feelings, needs, requests) and the two parts (expressing honestly and listening empathetically). We will also talk about communication that blocks compassion.


Saturday, July 17, 2010
9:00am til noon
NVC in Action

This Saturday is dedicated to creative practices to help us to remember why we are interested in nonviolent communication and how to do it even when relationships get difficult. There will be time dedicated for those interested to practice using NVC consciousness in situations direct from their own lives.


Cost: $30.00 per workshop, $50.00 if you register for both.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Language of Life Workshop -- Two Days - Two Ways!

Saturday, June 19, 2010
9:00am til noon
Nonviolent Communication Basics

This Saturday we will begin to explore the basics on Nonviolent Communication. We will discuss the four components (observations, feelings, needs, requests) and the two parts (expressing honestly and listening empathetically). We will also talk about communication that blocks compassion.


Saturday, June 26, 2010
9:00am til noon
NVC in Action

This Saturday is dedicated to creative practices to help us to remember why we are interested in nonviolent communication and how to do it even when relationships get difficult. There will be time dedicated for those interested to practice using NVC consciousness in situations direct from their own lives.


Cost: $30.00 per workshop, $50.00 if you register for both.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Video on Network Care!!

Check out this video! It was produced by my friend Dr. Jane Arzt at The Vitality Center in Oakland, California. It highlights some of the wonderful benefits that Network Care practice members see in their lives. Click here to watch.

Language of Life Workshop in Kimberton

On June 5 & 6, I will be offering a Language of Life weekend workshop at Kimberton Wellness Connection in Kimberton, PA. This workshop is a more in-depth introduction to Nonviolent Communication. Click here for details. Call the office to register or for more information.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Language of Life Workshop -- Two Days - Two Ways!

Saturday, May 1, 2010
9:00am til noon
Nonviolent Communication Basics

This Saturday we will begin to explore the basics on Nonviolent Communication. We will discuss the four components (observations, feelings, needs, requests) and the two parts (expressing honestly and listening empathetically). We will also talk about communication that blocks compassion.


Saturday, May 8, 2010
9:00am til noon
NVC in Action

This Saturday is dedicated to creative practices to help us to remember why we are interested in nonviolent communication and how to do it even when relationships get difficult. There will be time dedicated for those interested to practice using NVC consciousness in situations direct from their own lives.


Cost: $30.00 per workshop, $50.00 if you register for both.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stages of Emotional Liberation

We all go through stages of emotional experience. In Nonviolent Communication we identify three primary stages of emotional maturity, the last of which is emotional liberation.

Many of us start at Stage 1, which is thinking that we are responsible for other people's feelings. At this stage, we feel bad if our partners are distressed and we worry about hurting other people's feelings. We often deny our own happiness so that others will be happy. We also believe that others are responsible for our feelings. Ad we feel bad when we think they have done something that causes our unhappiness.

Stage 2 is when we start to notice and grieve how much of our life has been spent denying our own happiness Very often, people at this stage feel angry and resentful, and meeting their own needs becomes urgent. At this stage, people tend to say things like, "That's your problem; I'm not responsible for your feelings." This can look like entering into a conversation or negotiation only concerned with getting our own needs met.

In Stage 3, we integrate the first two stages. We come to realize that everyone is responsible for their own feelings, and we also recognize our role if we do something that stimulates pain in another person. We also start to value the needs of everyone, not just the other person's needs or our own. The world seems more abundant as we realize that it is possible to value everyone's needs equally. As this happens, we become able to consider everyone's feelings and needs without taking responsibility for them. We are free to be compassionate and loving to many people, even ourselves. Indeed, we have reached emotional liberation.

It seems that once have an experience of stage 3, we still have moments of each stage depending on what is occurring in our lives. As you become more practiced in NVC consciousness (stage 3), you can actively direct your responses from that understanding. I use the word practice quite purposefully here. Being able to direct your attention to your needs and the other person's needs, and distinguish these from your ideas of what has gone wrong (especially when you are feeling upset) is emotional liberation. And most often will lead to productive and often intimate, or at least enjoyable conversations and relationships. And doing this take practice.


Parts of this post are based on an excerpt from Peaceful Living: Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion by Mary Mackenzie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NVC Practice Groups in February

Two NVC Practice Groups are scheduled for February. Thursday, February 4 we will be focusing on needs with a NEATEN YOUR NEEDS practice, and Tuesday, February 16 we will be doing another DANCE FLOORS. They both offer a fun way to practice your NVC skills in a playful, comfortable setting. The practice groups begin at 7:30pm with a remembering (centering process). We complete the evening with Celebrations and Mournings and will send you on your way by 9:00pm.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Language of Life Workshop - San Francisco - Jan 30 & 31

I am very excited to return to beautiful San Francisco and the Magnolia Chiropractic & Wellness Center to offer my Language of Life Workshop. Dr. Stephanie Bridwell's center in San Francisco offers practice members and friends a variety of health care programs supporting her dedication to their wellbeing. Her commitment to being a neighborhood healing center is inspiring. Please join us for this weekend of discovering our compassion and learning skills to become less aligned with our conflicting strategies, thoughts and judgments and become more aligned with the endless possibilities of life.
Workshop Dates: January 30 and 31
Location: Magnolia Chiropractic & Wellness Center, 133 Magnolia Lane, San Francisco, Ca 94123
Contact to register: call: 415-931-5878 or email: stephanie@magnoliachiropracticcenter.com

Questions or concerns or for more information: Please contact Dr. Terrie Lewine at 215-928-8898 or terrie@getbacktolife.org or Dr. Stephanie Bridwell at 415-931-5878 or stephanie@magnoliachiropracticcenter.com