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Reframing Resolutions

Each New Year brings us opportunities for significant personal changes that can build on our prior successes and accomplishments or help shift areas of regret or disappointment. Every year we have an opportunity to choose and prioritize that which is most valuable and leave behind what we know to be inconsequential or even destructive. The idea of New Year’s resolutions seems quaint and superficial in that we realize we are unlikely to keep them. It can end up as a pretend gesture and we can laugh that we tried for 3 weeks and then go on about our business.

We can approach this effort with a bit more sincerity and intention. It might be advisable to pick one or two changes for maximum effect – eliminate the laundry list that will get blown off by the end of January. Maybe you could think about one item that really matters to you above all else. What do you want to reinforce that will provide a true avenue for the Self – what supports your development in ways that will make you feel proud and fulfilled? What states of mind are most nourishing – peace, generosity, gratitude? Or perhaps seek times of non-activity in order to allow a sense of spaciousness.

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A View of Character – the President-Elect

We have endured an extremely long and difficult election and transition season. The polarization of the two sides has resulted in strife within our families, relationships and communities. How do we reconcile what seems irreconcilable for many? There are deep divides related to differing value systems that, at the moment, seem challenging to cross. Yet we are one people and embrace a tradition that honors our differences and shows respect for multiple points of view. It is with that spirit that I write this post.

My comments in this post may be controversial and I invite dialogue. Civil discussion and debate are essential as we venture forward at this critical time in our history.

I have written multiple posts about character types on my website over the past few years as a way to facilitate understanding of our own styles and coping patterns and as an aid to understanding those around us. I will use character typology as a point of reference as we think about the election. President-elect Trump has been a highly controversial figure who has evoked feelings of idealization, hope and excitement as well as feelings of alienation, repugnance and disdain. His character type, his life-long defensive structure, incites strongly polarizing sensibilities. As president-elect, he is in a position to lead the country and the free world – yet his personality problems have overshadowed, for many, any sign of inherent potential to be an effective, gracious and respectable leader.

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Gratitude – Strong Medicine

It may sound cliché at this time of year to encourage thankfulness and gratitude – yet those attitudes are strong inner healing medicine for our minds and bodies. That medicine warms us from the inside out and gives us a sense of wellbeing. When we act with generosity towards others, we cultivate our natural expansiveness – we can relax rather than constrict. We escape the grip of our small, tightly woven, survival-oriented egos that assert their will over our more gracious and generous values. In those moments, when we live inside our smaller self – constricted, hyper-vigilant to what we are getting – we actually feel less worthy. When we experience our feelings of sufficiency, we know we are enough and can give to others as well as experience gratitude for all we receive. We can feel connected to others and to the beauty surrounding us – we can feel more alive. We see the preciousness of others and move beyond our own petty selfishness – hah liberation!

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Couple Therapy Part 2: Fusion or Differentiation

In my work with couples for over thirty years, the balance ratio of fusion and differentiation is an important indicator of couple health. Let’s clarify these concepts beginning with fusion. The classic photo of two Americans traveling in similar Hawaiian shirts in Europe engenders the flavor — two matching bookends. Of course, individuals in a couple create resonance together that influences life style choices, plans, activities, outlooks on life and everyday habits. That resonance, as displayed in a variety of ways, helps the couple align and function with ease. The relationship can hum with the rhythm of basic routines, worked-out choices and habits that allow each individual a level of comfort in the similarity and consistency of their acquired lifestyle and tastes.

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Couple Challenges

Couple life can present many difficult challenges – while simultaneously providing the most stabilizing, anchoring force in one’s life. Living day-to-day with another can feel like receiving multiple abrasions. We often feel our partner has stepped on our toes as he walked by, and we instinctively retaliate and step decisively on his. We often feel rubbed the wrong way. Contending with major and minor incidents is one challenge facing most couples on a regular basis. If couples learn healthy ways to navigate ruptures, they can preserve and strengthen the fabric of their relationship. Learning couple skills takes trial and error and discipline.

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Finding Your Soul’s Code

Leading 5-day workshops over 9 years at Esalen® Institute in Big Sur was always an experience to remember. I often utilized transformational themes that led participants into uncharted waters of reflection and life change. The retreats were incredible experiences and many of you who read my blog were there with me! Granted, the beauty of Esalen made a major contribution to the dynamic experience. Today’s post shares a theme from one of my workshops.

One of my favorite resources is Jungian analyst, Dr. James Hillman. His book The Soul’s Code is provocative in that he feels we all have and must discover our calling, what he calls “that essential mystery at the heart of each human life.” (pg 6) Hillman suggests that many psychological treatment perspectives perpetuate a stasis in clients’ lives, that is, if therapy repetitively spins and reinforces – like a broken record – the problematic narrative of one’s history. I agree that an over-emphasis on our historic travails may create a ‘victimized’ narrative that may diminish a sense of personal efficacy and responsibility in creating a meaningful present life. Identifying with a limiting narrative stifles one’s innate potential. An over-emphasis on our childhood experiences without a balanced focus on an adult transformational perspective results in a constricted and regressed perspective. Finding personal meaning and unlocking the code of one’s destiny elevates and refines our life, enabling its full potential to unfold. Of course, it is essential that we understand cognitively and emotionally how we became who we are now and do the work to unravel our non-adaptive defenses – and that is substantial work. That very broken character style and patterning clouds discovery of who we are and how we want to live. As we drop our defensive character style, we must propel ourselves forward with newly discovered self-knowledge – to find and live our calling.

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What is Your Growth Edge?

All of us, from time-to-time, can inspire ourselves by pinpointing a specific growth edge of change we might be willing to jump-start. When I say growth edge, I am referring to something we may be afraid of or something we have wanted to try but haven’t. Maybe it is a specific activation we have procrastinated in completing. Is there a risk you could take that would make you better yourself? What is the edge of real change for you? Can you start a project you always wanted to do – or finish a project still left undone?

We can go along with our routines, repeating old mistaken concepts about how to be. We can subscribe to antiquated habits that don’t serve us. Yet, every moment provides an opportunity to change things up. Let’s delineate a point of departure for making one change. Let’s select an item for improvement.

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Learn Dr. Frisch’s Method Through Audio Courses

My Independent Study Program (ISP) offers students, professional therapists and patients easy access to audio teaching modules covering all aspects of therapeutic practice outside of a formal classroom process – in an organized and methodical fashion. After years of organizing and distilling the relevant clinical material of Reich, Masterson and Jung, I developed a method that teaches a precise clinical approach using discrete steps with functionally applicable tools – the basics of how to do therapy from soup-to-nuts.

Through teaching live classes for many years, and with the help of students who recorded a prodigious amount of these sessions, I began the mammoth job of editing all of the recordings with my terrific audio engineer, and created a compendium of CD’s and MP3’s that give public access to this abundant supply of theoretical and clinical information on Orgonomy and my own method. These audio learning programs feature lively student discussions, which include the listener as if he or she is attending the class. Of course, the CD’s were highly edited to eliminate compromising personal information in order to maintain strict confidentiality.

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Psyche and Soma

Orgonomy embraces health with a functional mind-body approach that helps patients access their naturally abundant free flowing energy, and couples it with capacity for lively contact and clarity of perception in an unarmored body. This approach is distinguished from other therapies by its energetic concept of functioning. When there is blockage in our mind and body, our capacity to function at our fullest is limited by both aspects. Our physicality is part and parcel of the health equation. As mental health professionals – why not work with the body directly? Why not expand treatment beyond a strictly verbal analytic therapy model, as we increasingly realize the importance of body-mind components that factor into the etiology of physical disease, stress-related symptoms and capacity to heal. I hope to engage you in these questions and provide answers. I am incredulous that the vast majority of analysts never engage the patient’s body in the process; likely because somatic interventions are rarely taught in a methodical way that is congruent with theoretical principles of analysis. With verbal therapies, the mind and emotions are engaged, but not the body, therefore the mind-body split continues.

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Deeper into Dreams – Individuation

Carl Jung’s concept of individuation defines a stage of conscious maturity that is based on: autonomy, differentiation, and authenticity manifested in self-expression defined by our unique, individual nature. In my last post on dreams, I focused on creating a conscious shift from preoccupation with externalized activities, outer busyness and ego identification to cultivation of silence and inner meaning achieved through a deepening relationship and exploration of our dreams. Jung teaches that as we develop this relationship with our unconscious, which speaks to us through dreams and other creative expressions: painting, writing, etc., we are engaging in a personally transformative process of becoming.

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