Zaprzyjaznij sie ze swoim cieniem

lilostkiss

Trafilam ostatnio na zupelnie nieznany mi film animowany Disneya z 2002 roku pt. Lilo i Stitch. Film okazal sie o wiele bardziej interesujacy niz przypuszczalam gdyz jego glebia okazala sie niespodziewanie gleboka. Dopatrzylam sie w nim dosc skomplikowanego procesu ktory jest od wielu lat przedmiotem inspiracji nie tylko dla kina czy teatru ale raczej w wydaniu dla widzow doroslych. Pierwszy raz spotkalam sie z pokazaniem tematu cienia psychologicznego, bo tego wedlug mnie ta bajka dotyczy, w tak przystepny a jednoczesnie zabawny sposob w wersji anonimowej dla dzieci.

Historyjka Disneya opowiada o nieudanym eksperymencie przeprowadzonym w kosmosie ktory produkuje malego potworka o nazwie Eksperyment 626. Jednym z kluczowych instynktow wrodzonych Eksperymentu 626 jest “niszczenie wszystkiego czego sie tknie”. 626 jest dosc dziki, nieokielznany i ogolnie brak mu samodzielnej koncepcji na to co moze ze soba zrobic. Tej koncepcji brak tez jego kosmicznym tworcom. Wielka rada kosmiczna postanawia wiec pozbyc sie go i wystrzelic go w kosmos czyli do nikad zeby pozbyc sie problemu. Niestety cos sie nieudaje w trakcie tej operacji i potworek zamiast zniknac pochloniety przez kosmiczna nicosc, laduje na planecie Ziemia ktora jest dla niego zupelnie obcym srodowiskiem.

Jak sie mozna spodziewac 626 nie ma pojecia o co chodzi na tej dziwnej Ziemi na ktorej “zamieszkuja krwiopijne komary ktore zyja dzieki zerowaniu na ludziach”. 626 nie wie co ma robic po przybyciu na Ziemie. Mota sie az wreszcie zostaje zlapany do schroniska dla bezdomnych zwierzat.

W tym samym czasie mamy okazje zeby poznac mala dziewczynke o imieniu Lilo. Lilo mieszka na rajskich, malowniczych Hawajach na Ziemi. Jest sierota, ktora stracila rodzicow. Wychowuje ja starsza siostra ktora kiepsko sobie z tym radzi. Na balagan rodzinno-wychowawczy wskazuje chaos w domu oraz obecnosc opieki spolecznej ktora ma watpliwosci czy to jest normalny dom czy moze raczej nie. Rajskie otoczenie jest wiec tylko pozorem bo i dom i zycie domowe Lilo wygladaja dosc piekielnie. Jej zycie rodzinne to nieustajacy balagan. Balagan niedomytych garow, spoznien na spotkania, niemoznosci troski o dziecko ktore samo o siebie jeszcze sie troszczyc nie umie bo jest na to po prostu za male.

Zachowanie Lilo jest problematyczne i dzikie. Jej wybryki przysparzaja jej wielu problemow w jej srodowisku rowiesniczym oraz w domu z siostro-mama. Lilo wyglada tu charakterologicznie jak ludzki odpowiednik kosmicznego potworka 626. Juz wkrotce ich drogi skrzyzuja sie ze soba nie bez powodu.

Widac ze w swoim “rajskim” zyciu Lilo jest bardzo samotna. Czuje sie niezrozumiana przez nauczycieli, kolezanki, przez siostre. Czuje sie samotna i opuszczona. Wie ze nie pasuje do otoczenia w ktorym jest ale nie wie co ma zrobic zeby udalo sie jej stac czescia wiekszej calosci. Modli sie wiec do aniolka o to zeby jej pomogl. Modlitwa zostaje wysluchana i w rodzinie pojawia sie idea przysposobienia bezpanskiego psa aby Lilo miala swoje wlasne zwierzatko o ktore moglaby sie zatroszczyc.

W przytulku dla zwierzat Lilo zauwaza 626 ktory juz cos zrozumial na temat Ziemi i ludzi, psow i kotow. Na skutek swoich obswerwacji 626 zaczal zachowywac sie “zgodnie” z tym czego by mozna bylo sie po nim spodziewac jako po malym rozkosznym “piesku”. Lilo adoptuje 626 i nadaje mu imie Stitch [czyt. sticz]. Stitch oznacza w jezyku angielskim szew, jak np szew chirurgiczny na ktorego usunecie trzeba isc do szpitala. Lilo miala pocerowana laleczke zanim pojawil sie Stitch. Ta laleczka byla cala pocerowana z racji “problemow medycznych” na ktore cierpiala od dawna.

Wydaje mi sie ze laleczka Lilo jak i sam potworek 626 moga w tej bajce reprezentowac rozwarstwiona i pocerowana nature samej Lilo i jej wewnetrzne rozbicie ktore moglo byc interpretowane przez osoby trzecie z perspektywy problemow medycznych czy objawow chorobowych.

Sam potworek Stitch moze w tej bajce reprezentowac cien personalny Lilo z ktorym przyszlo sie jej spotkac na zyciowym zakrecie. Cien personalny jest okreslany w psychologii jungowskiej jako obszar psychiki reprezentujacy “brak swiadomosci czlowieka na temat stlumionego i wyobcowanego ja”. W jego obszarze znajduja sie “wyparte przezycia, cechy i wlasnosci psychiczne uznane za niewlasciwe jak poczucie niskiej wartosci czy agresja”.

Obserwujemy zatem jak Lilo poznaje swoj wlasny cien i zaprzyjaznia sie z potworkiem. Widzimy tez jak potworek, dzieki jej przychylnosci, podlega stopniowej przemianie na “dobrego obywatela”. Innymi slowy dziewczynka przez znajomosc z potworkiem zaprzyjaznia sie metaforycznie za swoim psychologicznym cieniem.

Ta przyjazn i zyczliwosc w stosunku do ciemnej strony jej wlasnej natury pozwala jej na to zeby jej cien mial racje bytu czy raczej racje pobytu na Ziemi wsrod innych ludzi. Potworek zaczyna na skutek pozytywnych uczuc dziewczynki przechodzic metamorfoze. Stitch zaczyna zastanawiac sie po raz pierwszy w zyciu kim jest, pozwala sobie na odczuwanie przygniatajacej go samotnosci i odosobnienia oraz niezaprzeczalnej innosci ktorej wczesniej nie doswiadczyl- to inni widzieli ze byl inny i ze nie pasowal. Stitch trafia na bajke Andersena ktora uzmyslawia mu ze nie znalazl “swoich” co popycha go w kierunku podazania sladami Brzydkiego Kaczatka z nadzieja ze trafi na slad sobie podobnych w gaszczach lasu.

Historia Stitcha pokazuje nam skutki utraty racji bytu u wyrzuconego w nicosc “zbednego” balastu ktory wiaze sie metaforycznnie z utrata rodzicow u dziewczynki. Nowa rodzina dla potworka to dziewczynka, jej siostra i ich dobry znajomy z ktorym spedzaja czas na plazy. Nowa rodzina dla dziewczynki to jej siostro-mama, ich przyjaciel i maly potworek. Motto filmu powtarzane jak mantra mowi ze wszyscy nalezymy do jednej rodziny i nikogo nie zostawiamy za nami w tyle. Uzywane jest do tego slowo hawajskie”ohana” okreslajace rodzine przyszywana czy moze raczej pozszywana jak pocerowana lalka czy imie potworka Stitch/szew).

Mozna by sie tu pokusic o porownanie rodziny “ohany” do osobowosci (natury) ludzkiej gdzie wszystkie kawalki tego kim jestesmy sa nami i naleza do nas. Nas jako jednej i tej samej osoby (skupiska roznych cech ktore reprezentuja roznych czlonkow rodziny) ktora jestesmy niezaleznie od tego czy sie nam to podoba czy nie. Bedac ta spojna rodzina nie zostawiamy za soba zadnego z jej czlonkow, nawet jesli jeden z nich jest dla nas nieco bardziej klopotliwy niz pozostali – tak jak psychologiczny cien.

Cien ma bowiem w sobie jakas wartosc mimo tego ze moze nieraz czlowieka pakowac w tarapaty. Wartosc cienia ktora potrafi dac radosc pochodzi z ciepla i akceptacji tego jaki ow cien jest. To poczucie akceptacji uczlowiecza cien ktory znajduje swoj wlasny cywilizowany sposob na to zeby pokazac sie swiatu i w tym swiecie funkcjonowac zamiast byc wypartym, wystrzelonym w niebyt niechcianym potworkiem. Cien ten moze ostatecznie pokazac sie swiatu jako nasza kreatywna tworczosc w szerokim tego slowa znaczeniu. Tworczosc przez ktora wyrazic jestesmy w stanie to przykladowe ukryte w cieniu poczucie niskiej wartosci badz wlasna agresje.

Jestem np w stanie wyobrazic sobie rzezbiarza czy malarza, rezysera czy kompozytora, tworce tekstow piosenek czy projektanta ogrodow, ktory wklada duzo fizycznej sily w okielznanie materii nad ktora pracuje. Materia ta moze byc bryla kamienia ktorej chce nadac jakis ksztalt.Ten wysilek moze byc napedzany agresja pochodzaca z cienia ktora znajduje swoje ujscie w procesie tworczym. Efektem tego procesu jest tworzony obiekt dziela o walorach artystycznych. Obiekt ten po nadaniu formy zyje wlasnym zyciem, zyciem ktore artysta nadal mu swym dzialaniem tworczym. Ten obiekt i zamkniety w nim cien artysty staje sie z czasem zrodlem refleksji i inspiracji dla innych ktorzy wejda z nim w kontakt. Tak jak potworek Stitch stal sie zrodlem refleksji i inspiracji dla mnie do napisania tego tekstu na temat roli cienia w naszym zyciu.

Moze warto zatem podjac porobe i zaprzyjaznic sie z wlasnym cieniem tak jak zrobila to mala Lilo?

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Shadow in the light

shadow-hand-smaller

This “3-2-1 shadow integration” process is a valuable exercise in discovering hidden and denied parts of ourselves. We often receive messages from our environment telling us about something that annoys us, disgusts us or something that keeps returning to us over and over again without any clear indication of what is really going on. If you feel like facing “it” – go ahead and try it! All you need is your honesty about the situation, a bit of acting skills and, if you choose so, a bit of writing skills.

First choose what you want to work with.
It is usually easier to begin with a difficult person to whom you are attracted or by whom you are repelled/disturbed (a boss, a parent, a friend).

You could also pick an image from your dream or a body sensation that distracts you or causes you to fixate on it (turn it in your mind over and over again).

Please note that disturbance could be either positive or negative.

YOU CAN RECOGNISE YOUR SHADOW MATERIAL IN 2 WAYS-

A/ it makes you negatively hypersensitive, easily triggered, reactive, irritated, angry, hurt, upset. It may keep coming up as an emotional tone or mood that pervades your life

B/ it makes you positively hypersensitive, easily infatuated, possessive, obsessed, overly attracted or perhaps it becomes an on-going idealisation that influences your motivations or mood.

THE 3 STEPS OF THE PROCESS

STEP 3- FACE IT
Observe the disturbing person/image/sensation very closely and then write on a piece of paper how does it look like/how does it feel in vivid detail using 3rd person narrative and present tense such as  “they are”, “they look”, “they smell”, etc. This is a way of detailed exploration of your experience with a clear focus on what bothers you about it. Do not minimise your disturbance. Do your best to describe your experience as fully and in as much detail as possible.

STEP 2 – TALK TO IT
Enter a simulated dialogue with the person/image/sensation as if you were talking to somebody next to you (you /yours/etc). This is your opportunity to enter into a relationship with the disturbance. Talk directly to the person/image/sensation). You may start by asking questions like:
– Who are you/ What are you?
– Where do you come from?
– What do you want from me?
– What do you need to tell me?
– What gift are you bringing me?
Then allow the disturbance to respond back to you. Imagine realistically what they would say and actually write it down or vocalise it. Allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges in the dialogue.

STEP 1- BE IT
Now, be the person/image/sensation. Depending on whether you chose to speak or write, express yourself in the 1st person (I / me / mine) as if you were able to see the world from the perspective of that person/image/sensation.
Allow yourself to discover not only similarities between the person/image/sensation and yourself but also how you really are one and the same.
Make a statement of identification i.e. “I am the zombie and the zombie is me”
This, by its nature, will almost always feel wrong (after all it is exactly what your psyche has been busy denying!). Try it anyway since it contains at least a kernel of truth.
Open yourself to the experience of the feeling that your psyche excluded – do it until this feeling starts resonating with you as your own. This is the process of re-owning your shadow. By engaging the shadow you integrate it (let it consciously be visible to you as yours).
If you complete this step successfully, you will experience a shift in awareness, shift in your feelings, and changes in attention/focus that was taken up by your denial. You will know that the process has worked because you will actually feel lighter, more peaceful and open. Sometimes you can also feel a bit high. It makes a new kind of participation in life possible.

XXX Practical example:

Scenario: I’m dreading going to visit my childhood best friend. I notice my sense of uneasiness about going there and my resistance to make a move and go there. My uneasiness is connected with his lifestyle.

STEP 1- FACE IT – I am horrified to see once again how my friend’s wife runs his life and how he seems to be happy about it. He’s got a super safe, dead end job and he is surely betraying himself. I am sure he’d be much more happy walking on the wild side of life once in a while. It makes me sick and it drives me nuts to be around him.

STEP 2- TALK TO IT – Start a dialogue with your friend about his lifestyle.
– “Why do you let your wife make all the decisions in your life?”
– “I don’t- I simply respect her perspective”.
– “What about your job- are you satisfied with it? It’s a dead end job to me!”
– “Hey- it’s a good, honest job- I really enjoy it.”
– ” Why don’t you form your own company and do something more advantageous?”
– “I prefer what I’ve got. It’s more secure and takes less work. What’s wrong with that?”

STEP 3 – BE IT – Become your friend and speak for him as if you were him. This is an exercise in empathy – go and see his life through his perspective.
-” I really want safety and security and a smooth, predictable life”.
– “My wife gives me a chance to have more time for myself. We understand each other very well and she knows what I want so she can decide well for both of us”
-” My job is not very challenging but that’s ok- I’m not very stressed and I have a life, don’t need to work late hours, I don’t have to compete in a hostile environment or speed to join the rat race”.

RE-OWNING YOUR SHADOW – Suddenly you might realise that you must have ignored and forgotten about your own needs for safety and security so much that your friend’s lifestyle triggered your disowned needs inside you.  Your friend, just like you, has needs for both thrills and safety/security, unpredictability and comfort. You could possibly feel more free inside after acknowledging both aspects of life- the wild side of life and the quiet side of life and a possibility to make choices re lifestyles. You could also possibly become aware of when you lost touch with your desire for safety/security in life – when your parents took charge for everything and when you had no good reason to create safety/stability for yourself.

INTEGRATIN THE SHADOW – In real life, when visiting your friend, you could stay with him for a day or so but then go to sleep in a hotel and go out in the evening to get a bit of a wild night life. In this way you could give yourself an experience of both aspects of life.

When visiting your friend you could think of your situational lack of opportunity to be independent in life and appreciate the comfort given to you by your parents. Being aware of your own circumstances might let you relax more while spending time with your friend. The feelings of dread and uneasiness would then be no longer valid when you are going to be planning to visit him at his place.

Source: Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, Marco Morelli, “Integral Life Practice – a 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, 2008, based on pages 50-53

The I in Dreaming

dream dolphins

Dreams don’t reveal your secrets and desires… they are far more important than that

By Emma Young – a writer based in Sydney, Australia

“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of he unconscious of the mind.” So wrote Sigmund Freud in his 1900 classic The Interpretation of Dreams. He saw this idea as a “once in a lifetime” insight, and for much of the 20th century the world agreed. Across the globe, and upon countless psychoanalysts’ couches, people recounted their dreams in the belief that they contained coded messages about repressed desires. Dreams were no longer supernatural communications or divine interventions – hey were windows into the hidden self.

Today we interpret dreams quite differently, and use far more advanced techniques than simply writing down people’s recollections. In sleep laboratories, dream researchers hook up volunteers to EEGs and fMRI scanners and awaken them mid-dream to record what they were dreaming. Still tainted by association with psychoanalysis, it is not a field for faint-hearted. “To say you’re going to study dreams is almost academic suicide” says Matt Walker at the University of California Berkley. Nevertheless, what researchers are finding will make you see your dreams in a whole new light.

Modern neuroscience has pushed Freud’s ideas to the sidelines and has taught us something far more profound about dreaming. We now know this peculiar form of consciousness is crucial to making us who we are. Dreams help us to consolidate our memories, make sense of our myriad experiences and keep our emotions in check.

Changing patterns of electrical activity tell us that the sleeping brain follows 90-minute cycles, each consisting of five stages- two of light sleep at the start, then two of deep sleep, followed by a stage of REM (rapid eye movement sleep). There is no characteristic pattern of brain activity corresponding to dreaming, but as far as we know all healthy people do it. And while dreaming is commonly associated with REM sleep, during which it occurs almost all of the time, researchers have known since the late 1960s that it can also occur in non-REM sleep – though these dreams are different. Non-REM dreams tend to be sparse and more thought-like, often without the complexity, length and vivid hallucinatory quality of REM dreams.

Despite their differences, both types of dreams seem to hold a mirror to our waking lives. Dreams often reflect recent learning experiences and this is particularly true at the start of a night’s sleep, when non-REM dreaming is very common. Someone who has just been playing a skiing arcade game may dream of skiing, for example (Sleep, Vol. 33, p. 59). The line between waking experience and non-REM sleep has also been observed in brain scanning studies. Pierre Maquet at the University of Liege, Belgium, looked a the later stages of non-REM sleep and found that the brains of volunteers replayed the same patterns of neural activity that had earlier been elicited by waking experiences (Neuron, Vo. 444, p. 535). Many REM-sleep dreams also reflect elements of experience from the preceding day, but the connection is often more tenuous – so someone who has been playing a skiing game might dream of rushing through a forest or falling down a hill.

Sleep on it

We do not simply replay events while we dream, we also process them, consolidating memories and integrating information for future use. Robert Stickgold of Harward Medical School in Boston recently found that people who had non-REM dreams about a problem he had asked them to tackle subsequently performed better on it (Current Biology, Vol. 20, p.1). Likewise, REM sleep has been linked with improved abilities on video games and visual perception tasks, and in extracting meaning from a mass of information (Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Vol. 92, p.237).

“It is clear that the brain does an immense amount of memory processing while we sleep- and it certainly isn’t mere coincidence that while our brain is sorting out these memories and how they fit together, we’re dreaming” says Stickgold. He suspects that the two types of dream space have different functions for memory, though what these functions are is a matter of debate. Non-REM dreaming might be more important for stabilizing and strengthening  memories, Stickgold suggests, while REM dreaming recognizes the way a memory is sorted in the brain, allowing you to compare and integrate a new experience with older ones.

Jan Born and Susanne Diekelmann at the University of Lubeck in Germany, however, have looked at the same evidence and come to the opposite conclusion- that REM sleep supports the strengthening  of a new memory , while non-REM sleep is for higher-level consolidation of memories (Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Vol. 11, p. 114). “I think this means that we’re still lost when it comes to understanding the role of different sleep stages in memory” says Stickgold.

Also unclear is how central is the role of dreams in memory formation. During dreaming is certainly not the only time our brain consolidate memories. For example, when we daydream certain areas of the brain, called the default network, become active. We now know this network is involved in memory processing (New Scientist, 8/11/2008, p.28) and many of the same brain regions are active during the REM sleep. What’s more, daydreaming, like REM dreaming, can improve our ability to extract meaning from information and to have creative insights.

Does this mean we don’t actually need dream sleep to process memories? Not necessarily, says Walker, who points out that the way new memories are replayed in the brain is different in daydreaming and dreaming. Rat studies show that reruns happen in reverse when the animals are awake and forward when they are sleeping. No one is quite sure what this difference means for memory processing, but Walker believes it shows that daydreaming is not simply a diluted version of sleep dreaming. Maquet agrees. “Different brain states may all have somewhat different functions for memory. Memory consolidation is probably organized in a cascade of cellular events that have to occur serially”, he says- some while you are awake, and then some while you are asleep.

Even if dreaming is crucial for memory, Walker for one does not see this as its main function. “I think the evidence is mounting in favour of dream sleep acting as an emotional homeostasis: basically, rebalancing the emotional compass is a good way at the biological level “ he says. Everyone knows how a short nap can transform a cantnankerous 2-year-old and Walker has shown something similar in adults. He found that a nap that includes REM dreaming mitigates a normal tendency in adults to become more sensitive to angry or fearful faces over the course of a day, and makes people more receptive to happy faces (Cerebral Cortex, Vol. 21, p. 115).

Walker has also found that sleep, and REM sleep in particular, strengthens negative emotional memories (Cerebral Cortex, Vol. 19, p. 1158). This might sound like a bad thing- but if you don’t remember bad experiences you cannot learn from them. In addition, both he and Stickgold think that reliving the upsetting experience in the absence of the hormonal rush that accompanied the actual event helps to strip the emotion from the memory, making it feel less raw as time goes on. So although dreams can be highly emotional, Walker believes they gradually erode the emotional edges of memories. In this way REM dreams act as a kind of balm for the brain, he says. In people with post-traumatic stress disorder this emotion-stripping process seems to fail for some reason, so that traumatic memories are recalled in all their emotional detail- with crippling psychological results (New Scientist, 21/02/2009, p.34).

As with memory processing, REM and non-REM dreaming may play different psychological roles . Patrick McNamara of Boston University has found that people woken at different sleep stages give different reports of their dreams. REM dreams contain more emotion, more aggression and more unknown characters, he says, while non-REM dreams are more likely to involve friendly encounters (Psychological Science, Vol. 16, p. 130). This has led him to speculate that non-REM dreams help us practice friendly encounters while REM dreams help us to rehearse threats.

The interpretation of nightmares

Antii Revonsuo enjoys his nightmares. “At least in hindsight” he qualifies, “as though they were good horror movies where you don’t know it’s movie until it’s over”. But when Revonsuo, at the University of Turku in Finland, thinks that nightmares are the main biological reason for why we dream- they allow us to stimulate scary encounters, and so be better prepared for them in our waking life.

“The theory predicts correctly several features of our dream content” says Revonsuo. For example, he and his colleagues have found that about two-thirds of the dreams of healthy adults involve at least one threat. About 40 per cent of these take the form of aggressive encounters- running away from an attacker or getting into a fight. Such encounters are high among children, accounting for over half of threat dreams in Finnish kids and three-quarters among traumatized Palestinian children.

Revonsuo argues that children’s dreams are closer to our evolutionarily original form of dreaming because children haven’t yet had a chance to adjust to the modern environment. He has found that between 40 and 50 per cent of children’s dreams contain animal characters, often as enemies, which is similar to the instance among adult hunter-gatherers. The figure is just 5 per cent in western adults. “I don’t think any other dream theory has made such specific predictions and shown that they hold” he says.

It is a neat idea, but Robert Stickgold at Harvard Medical School in Boston cannot believe that’s all there is to dreaming. “I think Revonsuo has made the same mistake as Freud- which is to limit dreaming’s functionality. I think dreaming is absolutely about threat rehearsal some of the time. Bit it is absolutely about other things, too.”

So what do dreams mean?

All this suggests that we couldn’t function properly without dreaming, but it doesn’t answer the perennially intriguing question: what do dreams actually mean?

For some sleep researchers the answer is simple- and disappointing. Born argues that dreams themselves have no meaning, they are jut an epiphenomenon, or side effect, of brain activity going on during sleep, and it is this underlying neuronal activity, rather than actual dreams, that is important. Walker finds it hard to disagree. “I don’t want to believe it. But I don’t see large amounts of evidence to support the idea [that dreams themselves are significant] he says.

Those researchers who refuse to accept the notion that the content of dreams is unimportant point to work by Rosalind Cartwright of Rush University in Chicago. In a long series of studies starting in the 1960s she followed people who have gone through divorces, separations and bereavements. Those who dreamed most about these events later coped better, suggesting that their dreams had helped. “Cartwright’s work provides some of the most solid evidence that dreaming serves a function says Erin Wamsley at Harvard Medical School. There is no hard data showing that dreaming is not an epiphenomenon, she admits, but the same could be said about waking consciousness.

In fact, Wamsley’s own research hints that the form and function of a dream are connected. She worked with Stickgold on the study which found that non-REM dreams boost people’s performance on a problem. Their volunteers wee given an hour’s training on a complex maze then either allowed a 90-minute nap or kept awake. The dreamers subsequently showed bigger improvements, but the biggest gains of all were in people who dreamed about the maze. It dod not seem to matter that the content of these dreams was obtuse. One volunteer, for example, reported dreaming bout the maze with people at checkpoints- though there were no people or checkpoints in the real task- and then about bat caves that he had visited a few years earlier. Stickgold didn’t expect this to improve volunteer’s ability to navigate the maze, and yet this person got phenomenally better”.

He points out that the dream content is consistent with the idea that during dreaming memories are filled with other past experiences for future reference. “Dreams have to be connected in a meaningful, functional way to improvements in memory- not just be an epiphenomenon” he says. “I say this with fervent emotion , which is what I use when I don’t have hard data”.

Such evidence may one day be forthcoming, though. In the past, there has been no objective way to record what someone is dreaming, but that could change. Yukiyasu Kamitani at the ATR Brain Information Communication Research Laboratory in Kyoto, Japan, and colleagues have used fMRI scans to recreate scenes that volunteers were picturing in their mind while awake. The team hasn’t yet done this with dreams, but it is theoretically possible, says Kamitani. It would not be like watching the movie, he adds, “but it may be possible to predict what kind of dream a person is experiencing using currently available technology”.

Some may think all this peering and prodding at our dream world is taking away its magic but the researchers don’t see it that way. While you are dreaming, your brain literally reshapes itself by rewriting and strengthening  connections between neurons. So although dreams do not reveal the secret you, they do play a key role in making you who you are. “The mystery and the wonder of dreams is untouched by the science” says Stickgold. “It just helps us appreciate better how amazing they really are.

Source: New Scientist, 12 March 2011

What’s mind got to do with it?

people in the information space

What is on your mind?

“Mind waits for the feelings to shift and change all by themselves.

Mind does not dictate when this will happen, or how long it will take.

Mind just holds the space for it to happen.

As the stage manager, Mind sets the tone, the lights, the colors.

And then Mind steps back and allows feelings to enter the stage,   

to share their pain and experiences and memories”.

Source: http://www.cyquest.com

Cialo, dusza i umysl

mind-body-soul

 

Nie jest zadna tajemnica ze jako ludzie odbieramy swiat na roznych poziomach postrzegania rzeczywistosci. Jednym z tych poziomow jest cialo, drugim umysl, a trzecim dusza. Jest jeszcze czwarty poziom, ktorego nieraz uczymy sie w kregach religijnych- poziom obserwatora (Najwyzszego, ktory widzi wszystko). Cztery poziomy postrzegania swiata to dosc skomplikowana struktura w ktorej latwo mozna sie pogubic. Innymi slowy, czlowiekiem nie jest wcale tak latwo byc…

Cialo ma nam do zaoferowania odczucia z wewnatrz czyli dyskomfort, bol, scisk, skurcz, nacisk, mrowienie, cieplo, goraco, odretwienie, drzenie, rozluznienie, migrena, rozstroj zoladka, inne mniej lub bardziej powazne choroby wewnetrzne i zewnetrzne dotyczace ciala. Cokolwiek dzieje sie w naszym ciele jest to sygnalem procesu zachodzacego w srodku. Np sygnalem trawienia sniadania jest lekki odglos bulgoania w zoladku. Sygnalem strachu przed trudnym egzaminem jest scisk w zoladku lub scisk w gardle. Sygnalem smutku sa lzy. Sygnalem gniewu sa przeklenstwa. Sygnalem strachu jest ucieczka.

Smutek i gniew prowadza nas do drugiego z czterech poziomow postrzegania- do duszy. Dusza w kontekscie mojego opisu to wszelkie uczucia i emocje ktore pojawiaja sie wewnatrz czlowieka w odpowiedzi na osobiste doswiadczenia zyciowe. Uczuc podstawowych mamy zaledwie piec i sa to szczescie, strach, smutek, zlosc i obrzydzenie. Pozostale emocje to pochodne (odcienie) uczuc podstawowych. Uczucia oddzialywuja na nasze cialo i wyzwalaja reakcje ciala. Podobnie dzieje sie z umyslem- uczucia oddzialywuja na nasz umysl i wyzwalaja reakcje umyslu.

Umysl odpowiada na emocje tworami umyslu czyli myslami, przekonaniami, uprzedzeniami, pewnikami ze jest tak a nie inaczej, wyobrazeniami, planami na przyszlosc, wpomnieniami z przeszlosci, marzeniami na jawie, marzeniami sennymi, jezykiem mowionym, jezykiem pisanym i jezykiem slyszanym. Umysl ma naprawde niesamowity wahlarz mozliwosci jesli chodzi o rozpoznawanie tego, co dzieje sie i w ciele i w duszy. Dzieki cwiczeniu umiejenosci postrzegania rzeczywistoci przez umysl, jestesmy w stanie o wiele trafniej wejsc w kontakt z naszym zyciem uczuciowym i z naszym wlasnym cialem. Mamy takze mozliwosc powiazania ciala, duszy i umyslu o ile wlozymy troche pracy w proces praktyki medytacji uwaznosci (mindfulness).

Medytacja uwaznosci zabierze nas na poziom czwarty- na poziom widzenia swojego ciala, duszy i umyslu z perspektywy obserwatora. Nie bedziemy juz calkowicie stopieni z wlasnym cialem, nie bedziemy juz calkowicie stopieni z wlasna dusza ani z wlasnym umyslem- bedziemy mogli widziec wszystkie te trzy poziomy postrzegania rzeczywistosci z perspektywy. Co nam uzyskanie takiej perspektywy da? Perspektywiczne spojrzenie na siebie samego daje mozliwosc zobaczenia pulapek ktore zastwiamy sami na siebie w roznych sytuacjach zyciowych. Bedziemy mogli zobaczyc rutyne ktora wylacza nasza wrazliwosc na odmienne-„podobne” bodzce pochodzace z otoczenia oraz stres, ktory przelacza tryb dzialania na automatycznego pilota. Z perspektywy obserwatora nie damy sie juz sobie samym tak latwo zmanipulowac do dobrze znanego i utartego sposobu bycia takim samym. Nasz wewnetrzny obserwator zainspiruje nas do tego zeby siegnac po to, co dla nas wazne w znaczeniu ponadczasowym. Obserwator bedzie mogl bezblednie czytac doskonale sobie znane cialo, dusze i umysl i na podstawie tej wiedzy modyfikowac wlasne zachowanie w imie dazenia do tego co sie dla nas w zyciu najbardziej liczy. Warto wiec zajac sie budzeniem swojego wewnetrzneg obserwatora do zycia, bo dzieki niemu mozemy wiele zdzialac.

Meczace uczucie

rain

Kalejdoskop uczuc pojawiajacych sie w naszym wnetrzu jest nam potrzebny tak jak przyrodzie potrzebna jest zmienna aura pelna slonca, deszczu, goraca, chlodu i neutralnej pogody, mglistych porankow i mroznych wieczorow. Uczucia, tak jak przyroda, nie pojawiaja sie w naszym wnetrzu bez przyczyny. Zwykle sa one dla nas sygnalem ze cos waznego sie w nas dzieje, ze czegos nam brakuje, ze cos sprawia nam radosc, ze cos nas boli, a na cos innego reagujemy obrzydzeniem. Uczucia, tak jak pogoda, zmieniaja sie w zaleznosci od wydarzen w naszym zyciu i naszej reakcji na te wydarzenia.

Wezmy za przyklad smutek, ktory pojawia sie w odpowiedzi na smierc bliskiej osoby. Smutek przynosi lzy, podniesiony prog wrazliwosci na smutek innych, ciezkosc w okolicy serca, poczucie slabosci, rozbicia oraz czesto poczucie bezsensu i pustki szczegolnie jesli odeszla osoba najblizsza. Zal, ze jestesmy sami, rozpacz za tym co odeszlo i niemoznosc odzyskania radosci z przeszlosci przygniataja i obezwladniaja czlowieka szczegolnie w krotkim czasie tuz po doswiadczeniu straty.

Smuek jest podobny do burzy ktora niespodziewanie nadeszla nad nasz piekny ogrod. Godzina po godzinie, niemilosiernie silny wiatr i deszcz przeciazyly delikatne zdzbla trawy i pachnace kwiaty. Trawa polozyla sie plasko na ziemi a kwiaty stracily platki i won pod ciezarem nawalnicy. Wysepki i sciezki przemienily sie w blotniste, slizkie tory poslizgowe.

Tymczasowe zniszczenia przyniesione przez niespodziewana burze sa utrudnieniem do czerpania radosci ze swojego wlasnego ogrodu. Uczucia smutku, zalu i zlosci, ze tyle naszej pracy „poszlo na marne” sa obecne w naszym wnetrzu calkiem zasadnie bo cos faktycznie stracilismy. Zapominamy jednak o jednej waznej rzeczy ktora moze miec znaczenie dla naszego powrotu do siebie. Zapominamy o tym, ze burze przychodza i odchodza, ze woda uzyznia pobudza do zycia rosliny i ze po czasie ogrod znow obudzi sie do zycia rozkwitajac i zieleniac sie swiezymi liscmi na nowo.

Niestety nie zawsze dopuszczemy do siebie mysl, ze nasze uczucie smutku i zalu jak przyszlo tak tez kiedys odejdzie na podobienstwo burzy. Tak jak deszcz, nasze lzy musza zostac wylane zeby nasze zycie moglo wrocic do normy i obudzic sie na nowo do kolejnych wyzwan stawianych nam przez zycie. Wiedzac, ze tymczasowa natura burzy jest jak tymczasowa natura smutku, mozna z czasem nabrac dystansu do wlasnego doswiadczenia smutku i do tymczasowych zmian jakie ten smutek za soba niesie. Nie jest to jednak fizycznnie mozliwe na samym poczatku po stracie, bo wtedy jestesmy skapani w smutku i przesiaknieci bolem.

Nabranie dystansu przychodzi samo jako mozliwy krok naprzod nieco pozniej, gdy wilgoc smutku ktorym bylismy przesiaknieci nieco odparuje. Nabranie dystansu z wlasnej inicjatywy to koniecznosc wtedy, gdy nie mozemy sie samoistnie z objec swojego wlasnego smutku wydostac. Wtedy gdy jestesmy w pulapce smutku, smutek trwa, lzy plyna, a na horyzoncie nie widac zadnego swiatelka nadzieji na lepsza sloneczna pogode. Nabierajac wiec dystansu do wlasnego doswiadczenia smutku akceptujemy z jednej strony jego istnienie, a zdrugiej strony z wlasnej inicjatywy zaczynamy widziec z odleglosci to, co sie nam przydarzylo oraz zauwazac tymczasowosc naszego doswiadczenia. Dystans ktory sila wlasnej woli uzyskamy, pozwoli wprowadzic do naszego serca wewnerzny spokoj. Akceptacja cierpienia pozwoli nam z pokora przyjac nature burzy po ktorej deszczu juz nie bedzie. Dzieki dystansowi i akceptcji damy sobie szanse na wewnerzny spokoj do czasu az nadciagnie kolejna burza i znow bedziemy musieli stawic jej czola.

12 Most Annoying Bad Habits of Therapists

Counselling and Support

Psychotherapy is a unique relationship, a kind of connection that is unlike any other kind of relationship a person has in their life. In some ways, it can be more intimate than our most intimate relationships, but it also paradoxically values a vestige of professional distance between therapist and client.

Therapists, alas, are just as human as the clients they see and come with the same human foibles. They have bad habits, as we all do, but some of those habits have the very real potential of interfering with the psychotherapy process and the unique psychotherapy relationship.

So without further ado, here are twelve things you wish your therapist didn’t do — some of which may actually harm the psychotherapeutic relationship.

1. Showing up late for the appointment.

Therapists will usually charge a client for an appointment if they fail to cancel it with less than 24 hours notice. Yet some therapists seem perfectly oblivious to the clock when it comes to showing up on time for appointments. While the occasional lateness may be excused, some therapists seem to be living in another time zone altogether and consistently show up late for their appointments with their clients — anywhere from 5 minutes to even two hours! Chronic lateness is often symptomatic of poor time management skills.

2. Eating in front of the client.

Unless you have enough for everyone, eating and drinking during a psychotherapy appointment is considered ill-mannered. Some therapists offer clients the same access to coffee or water that they themselves enjoy. (If you’re going to drink something in front of a client, make sure you offer your client the same.) Eating while in session — by client or therapist — is never appropriate (it’s therapy, not mealtime). And asking, “Do you mind if I finish my lunch while we get started?” is inappropriate — clients don’t always feel comfortable enough with expressing their true feelings.

3. Yawning or sleeping during session.

Yes, believe it or not, there are therapists who fall asleep during session. And while an occasional yawn is a normal component of our daily functioning, non-stop yawning is usually only interpreted one way by a client — they are boring the therapist. Therapists need to get a good night’s sleep every night, or else they cannot be effective in their job (which requires constant and consistent attention and concentration).

4. Inappropriate disclosures.

Inappropriate disclosures refer to the therapist sharing a bit too much about their own personal difficulties or life. Most therapists are warned about doing too much disclosure in session with their clients, because it’s the client’s therapy, not the therapist’s. Therapists shouldn’t plan their vacations while in session, go on endlessly about their graduate school training or research topics (especially if they were focused on rats), or share how much they enjoy their summer house on the Cape. Therapists should keep personal disclosures limited (even when the client asks).

5. Being impossible to reach by phone or email.

In our ever-more connected world, a therapist who doesn’t return phone calls or an email about an upcoming appointment or insurance question stands out like a sore thumb. While no client expects 24/7 connectivity to their therapist (although some might like it), they do expect timely return calls (or emails if the therapist allows that modality of contact). Waiting a week for a return phone call is simply unprofessional and unacceptable in virtually any profession, including psychotherapy.

6. Distracted by a phone, cell phone, computer or pet.

Therapists will often ask their clients to silence their cell phone before entering session. The policy has to go both ways, or it shows disrespect to the client and their time in session. Therapists should virtually never accept any phone calls while in session (except for true emergencies), and they should turn away from any other distractions, such as a computer screen. In a world that increasingly values inattention and multi-tasking, clients seek refuge from such distractions in the psychotherapist’s office.

7. Expressing racial, sexual, musical, lifestyle and religious preferences.

Although an extension of the “too much disclosure” bad habit, this one deserves its own special mention. Clients generally don’t want to hear about a therapist’s personal preferences when it comes to their sexuality, race, religion or lifestyle. Unless the psychotherapy is specifically targeting one of these areas, these types of disclosures are usually best left alone. While it might be fine to mention something in passing (as long as it’s not offensive), a therapist who spends an entire session discussing favorite musicians or love of a particular religious passage is not likely helping their client.

8. Bringing your pet to the psychotherapy session.

Unless cleared and okayed ahead of time, therapists should not bring their pets to the office. While sometimes therapists see clients in a home office, pets should stay out of the office while they are in session. To the client, a psychotherapy session is a refuge and a place of peace and healing — pets can disturb that peacefulness and calm. Pets are generally not an appropriate part of psychotherapy.

9. Hugging and physical contact.

Physical contact between client and therapist must always be expressly spelled out and okayed by both parties ahead of time. Yes, that includes hugging. Some clients are disturbed by such touching or hugging, and want no part of it (even if it’s something a therapist might typically do). Both therapists and clients should always check ahead of time with the other before attempting any type of physical contact, and respect the other person’s wishes. At no time is a sexual relationship or sexual touching appropriate in the psychotherapy relationship.

10. Inappropriate displays of wealth or dress.

Psychotherapists are first and foremost professionals, and any displays of wealth and style should be discarded in exchange for dressing in an appropriate and modest style. A therapist slathered in expensive jewelry is a put-off to most clients, as are blouses or dresses that show too much skin or cleavage. Too casual of dress can also be a problem. Jeans may suggest too casual an approach to a professional service that the client is paying for.

11. Clock watching.

Nobody likes to feel they are boring to another person. Unfortunately the therapist who hasn’t learned how to tell the time without checking the clock every five minutes is going to be noticed by the client. Most experienced therapists have a good sense of how long a session has gone without having to look at a clock until late in the session. But some therapists seem obsessively compulsive about making note of the time, and the client notices (and internally, they may tell themselves what they’re saying isn’t really important to the therapist).

12. Excessive note-taking.

Progress notes are a standard part of psychotherapy. Many therapists do not take notes during a session because it can be distracting to the process of psychotherapy. They instead rely on their memory to cover the highlights of the session after the session has ended. Some therapists, however, believe they must capture every detail of every session in their notes, and obsessively note-take during sessions. Such constant note-taking is a distraction for most clients, and some may find that the therapist uses the behavior to keep an emotional distance from the client. If note-taking is done during session, it should be done sparingly and discreetly.

Text by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. as published on http://psychcentral.com