15 Nov 2012

What is Reiki and How it Works: Guest Blogger Katarzyna Haberko, LCSW

The word Reiki is composed of two Japanese words - Rei and Ki. When translating Japanese into English we must keep in mind that an exact translation is difficult. The Japanese language has many levels of meaning. Therefore the context the word is being used in must be kept in mind when attempting to communicate its essence. Because these words are used in a spiritual healing context, a Japanese/English dictionary does not provide the depth of meaning we seek, as its definitions are based on common everyday Japanese. As an example, Rei is often defined as ghost and Ki as vapor and while these words vaguely point in the direction of meaning we seek, they fall far short of the understanding that is needed.

When seeking a definition from a more spiritual context, we find that Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe. Rei is a subtle wisdom that permeates everything, both animate and inanimate. This subtle wisdom guides the evolution of all creation ranging from the unfolding of galaxies to the development of life. On a human level, it is available to help us in times of need and to act as a source of guidance in our lives. Because of its infinite nature, it is all knowing. Rei is also called God and has many other names depending on the culture that has named it.

Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person's Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it's challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breath, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation. When a person dies, their Ki leaves the physical body. Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.

With the above information in mind, Reiki can be defined as a non-physical healing energy made up of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy. This is a functional definition as it closely parallels the experience of those who practice Reiki in that Reiki energy seems to have an intelligence of its own flowing where it is needed in the client and creating the healing conditions necessary for the individuals needs. It cannot be guided by the mind, therefore it is not limited by the experience or ability of the practitioner. Nether can it be misused as it always creates a healing effect. ( It must be kept in mind that Reiki is not the same as simple life force energy as life force energy by itself can be influenced by the mind and because of this, can create benefit as well as cause problems including ill health.)

The source or cause of health comes from the Ki that flows through and around the individual rather than from the functional condition of the physical organs and tissues. It is Ki that animates the physical organs and tissues as it flows through them and therefore is responsible for creating a healthy condition. If the flow of Ki is disrupted, the physical organs and tissues will be adversely affected. Therefore, it is a disruption in the flow of Ki that is the main cause of illness.

An important attribute of Ki is that it responds to ones thoughts and feelings. Ki will flow more strongly or be weakened in its action depending on the quality of ones thoughts and feelings. It is our negative thoughts and feelings that are the main cause of restriction in the flow of Ki. All negative or dis-harmonious thoughts or feelings will cause a disruption in the flow of Ki. Even Western medicine recognizes the role played by the mind in creating illness and some Western doctors state that as much as 98% of illness is caused directly or indirectly by the mind.

It must be understood that the mind exists not only in the brain, but also through-out the body. The nervous system extends to every organ and tissue in the body and so the mind exists here also. It is also known that the mind even extends outside the body in a subtle energy field 2 to 3 feet thick called the aura. Because of this, it is more appropriate to call our mind a mind/body as the mind and body are so closely linked.

Therefore, our negative thoughts are not just in the brain, but also collect in various locations through-out the body and in the aura. The places where negative thoughts and feelings collect is where Ki is restricted in its flow. The physical organs that exist at these locations are restricted in their functioning. If the negative thoughts and feelings are not eliminated quickly, illness results.

The negative thoughts and feelings that are lodged in the unconscious mind/body are the greatest problem as we are not aware of them and therefore, are we are greatly hampered in changing or eliminating them.

The great value of Reiki is that because it is guided by the Higher Intelligence, it knows exactly where to go and how to respond to restrictions in the flow of Ki. It can work directly in the unconscious parts of the mind/body which contain negative Ki-inhibiting thoughts and feelings and eliminate them. As Reiki flows through a sick or unhealthy area, it breaks up and washes away any negative thoughts or feelings lodged in the unconscious mind/body thus allowing a normal healthy flow of Ki to resume. As this happens, the unhealthy physical organs and tissues become properly nourished with Ki and begin functioning in a balanced healthy way thus replacing illness with health.

This non-invasive, completely benign healing technique is becoming more and more popular. As western medicine continues to explore alternative methods of healing, Reiki is destined to play an important role as an accepted and valued healing practice.
Thank you Katarzyna for giving us some valuable information about this wonderful healing modality!

10 Oct 2012

Yoga and Depression/Anxiety-Meeting yourself on Your Mat!: Guest Blogger Marco Jo Clate, Certified Yoga Instructor


Imagine that one of your friends is under the weather. She can't leave her apartment but she really needs some medicine or maybe even just chicken soup. Say she lives in a fourth floor walk up with no elevator. Of course you offer to bring her what she needs. You might have to get on the subway, go across town and walk up four floors. It might even be raining. She is very grateful and appreciative, and it feels great. you don't mind doing it for the most part.  But what about for yourself? When you need a little TLC, can you be as generous and nurturing to yourself? In our culture there is great merit placed on sacrificing ourselves for others, (while also fixating on self obsession, funny enough) but who does this serve really? When we experience depression or anxiety, it can be so helpful to get down on the yoga mat. But what happens? We are tired, or our house is too messy, you need to make lunch, your show is on, you need to check facebook, you don't really know how to practice by yourself, it's too late to make it to class, you're not sure it's going to really help so why bother...You get stuck and your mind collaborates with that feeling of stuckness to keep you there.


In yoga, breath is the guide inside the present moment.  We call it Prana, or life force. It is the connection to our true selves that lies beyond the roles we live, the voices in our heads, our history or our future. When we wake up to this true self we feel blissful and enough. The obstacle to this blissful state is our chitta vritti, or fluctuations of the mind. All humans experience this. Even though these patterns may have been generated out of of prior relationships and circumstances, they may not be serving our true happiness.  When we are in touch with our true nature, we see that everything is connected. We are interconnected with all beings and the world. Our fluctuating minds serve our ego that wants to believe we are separate, and more special, or that we should be able to control things. When we become tangled in the mental fluctuations, it can lead to or exacerbate depression and anxiety.  They become tools in an effort to be somewhere other than here. But the more we practice we learn...there isn't anywhere else!


Through regular yoga practice we use asana (postures) and breath awareness to investigate our mental and physical patterns that stand in the way of being truly present and happy. As we open our bodies though movement or discover release in still poses, we learn about the ways we hold tension and emotion in our bodies. As we observe the inhale and the exhale we observe patterns in our self care. Can I nurture myself with my inhalation. Can I let go with my exhalation? Can we watch the activity in our mind objectively, understanding that we are not our thoughts? We find our edges, which are not always easy to embrace. We practice staying and making space around the edges.


So how do you practice when you feel like you can't even get off your couch and onto your mat , let alone to a yoga class in midtown?

Notice your breath. Allow space for what is going on with you today. Stay. Exhale fully in order to make space for a fuller inhale. Get down on your hands and knees. Feel the earth under your hands and shins. Let your spine flow back and forth with your breath through a few rounds of cat/cow pose. Keep it simple. One simple asana can give you space enough and breath enough to listen more fully to your own heart, unfettered by your mind's chatter. From here you can move into a downward facing dog,. float your heart forward to a plank pose, lower to the floor and move through cobra until you are completing a full Surya Namaskar, or Salute to the Sun! Perhaps you dedicate the efforts of your practice to someone! If you find it more accessible to do for others than yourself, then send your efforts out and both of you will benefit from the energy of your practice! After all, yoga means union. And one way to think of this is the union of your individual self with the universal self. So even if you are not practicing with a room full of people, we are connected, and you are not alone!


Sometimes showing up on the mat is the biggest challenge of our practice. Our restless minds are like new puppies that want to jump and run and chew what they please! But if we practice with them every day, they learn new habits. By working with the map of the body, our breath and our awareness, we can cultivate new habits that better serve our goal of happiness for ourselves and all beings. The great thing is, the more you show up, the more you want to show up both for yourself and for others.
Thank you Marco Jo for your inspiration and generosity!

10 Oct 2012

Depression and Dance/movement therapy: climate change from the inside-out: Guest Blogger Jane Cathcart, LCSW

Movement never lies.  It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.  ~Martha Graham

Depression is an energy disease wherein people feel down, not up. Sometimes when you have little or no energy you need to find a source outside of you.  Depression leaves one feeling stuck. Studies show psychotherapy and physical activity are extremely useful in helping to lift depression. Dance/movement therapy combines the two and adds the expression of emotions through dance and movement. Often verbal psychotherapy does not access the emotional inner landscape of preverbal and nonverbal experiences.


I have italicized certain words in the preceeding paragraph. You will notice how these words describe spatial orientation and a muscular state. The use of metaphor is a way for people to approach problem-solving in a creative way. Dance/movement therapists work with patients to find their own metaphors both in words and movement. Body metaphor is a mainstay of the healing process in this modality.




Here is the definition offered by the American Dance Therapy Association:


“Dance/movement therapy (DMT) uses movement to further

the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the

individual.  Through movement, DMT can help individuals with

a wide range of psychological disorders achieve greater self-expression.”


Dance/movement therapy IS:

- about the movement of the individual seeking relief

- for everyone: no age limit, no restriction of the senses, or of mobility

- exploration of the emotions in three dimensional form, and beyond words

- provided in a warm, accepting climate of discovery and growth

    • the inner dance can be experienced as release and healing and for material to explore in many ways


Dance/movement therapy is NOT:

- about a particular form of dance; say the tango, hip-hop or waltz

- judgmental about the “how” of someone’s movement style or body type

- only for people who can socially dance or who dance professionally

    • to this last point: Indeed it is not unusual for  trained dancers to be quite challenged by dance/movement therapy because they have habitual ways of moving that can mask the organic, spontaneous expression of emotion.


Let’s go back to the notion of being stuck and Martha Graham’s quote at the top of the page. We all have our preferred way of being in the world, and if it is not comfortable we change it. When depression is present we become stuck. Through accepting the patient as s/he is the dance/movement therapist trust and comfort are established. Once there is a basic understanding of one another and the form of d/mt the therapist models and offers other ways of moving. If for example a person is relatively still and contained, the d/mt would not suggest flinging arms open and upward to do a “happy” dance.  DMT starts with where the patient is emotionally and physically. The dialogue is verbal and nonverbal and from this relationship the healing begins. Music is often used, as are props and imagery.


In sum, when you are feeling stuck you do not have to stay that way. Through a creative, and at times enjoyable therapy you can move your way into a greater sense of well-being and a brighter inner climate. Having shared some information about this exiciting therapy I offer an invitation from Lewis Carroll’s “The Lobster-Quadrille”:


Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the


Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the


Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the





Dance is a song of the body.  Either of joy or pain.  ~Martha Graham





26 Sep 2012

Happiness, Sadness and Completeness – from guest blogger Marcela Clavijo


I think that happiness is often associated with feelings of pleasure and having fun, having a good time, and also with the absence of pain or discomfort. And most sadly, people are increasingly loosing touch with the inner dimension to experience, and turn to external stimuli for sensations of pleasure which get labeled as happiness. This superficial approach can be both frivolous and unrealistic, frivolous because pleasure is a transient state, subject to change, and dependent on many conditions, internal and external, and unrealistic because life is unpredictable and pain can arise at anytime.  This attitude deeply trivializes the human experience, and limits our capacity to access our natural resources and qualities which are crucial to mental and emotional balance.

The popularity of books about happiness can be troubling because they can lead people to believe that this is a viable objective in life, and, worse, that one should be happy. In addition, pharmaceuticals may be very happy themselves with this type of belief in place, and seem to be presenting themselves as fulfilling a cultural need by providing all kinds of drugs for SAD (social anxiety disorder), grief, shyness, worry, and other conditions which are increasingly being regarded as medical and mental pathologies instead of part of the ups and downs of the human condition and personal dispositions.

Also, the search for happiness is, in another way, the continuation of the traditional view of religion and spiritual practice, namely, a way of transcending the human condition. Paradise, heaven, nirvana all hold out the promise of eternal life, bliss, purity, and union, all at the heart of all our suffering and struggle. Or, religion and spiritual practice may be approached with a view away from transcending the human condition and toward a view that religion is about embracing the human condition. These approaches underscore the belief that we need to pursue a happy feeling, which is at the core of much of the anxiety, narcissism, loneliness, and alienation so many people experience.

The practice of Dharma is not so much about this type of happiness, transcendence or acceptance, but more about fullness, completion.  The truth is that at times everyone experiences positive feelings, feelings of elation and happiness, and at other times everyone can become fearful, sad or depressed. This phenomenon is to be observed without attraction or repulsion to it. First, because this rhythm is part of the natural cycle of the mind, and second because the mind's vast emotional spectrum is the very source of all its positive qualities.  By being very patient and not being attached to pleasurable aspects of experience and grasping at them, and not being repulsed by the less pleasant phases of experience or pushing them away, one is able to drop into deeper and deeper levels of feeling and thereby experience openness and space in the mind and heart. Life is not what one does. Life is what one experiences. Dharma practice entails learning that there are methods for experiencing life in its completeness every moment. Knowing that masters in the past have practiced these methods and gained realization gives confidence, and knowing there are living masters today who exemplify these teachings instills these qualities in those who meet them. Not long ago, these methods were taught to a very select few, but that is no longer the case. Now, these methods are available to anyone, and everyone has the opportunity to learn, contemplate, and practice these methods and gain the same realizations for themselves.

Marcela is an ordained Buddhist nun and gives dharma teachings in my office alternate Saturdays at 5:30 pm and will be giving a workshop called " Dharma and Creativity" in the Salon Astoria " Light the Match " series November 18.

Contact me for more details!

Thank you Marcela!!

19 Aug 2012

Depression: Guest Blogger Writes about Her Journey


-a depressed or sunken place or part; an area lower than the surrounding surface.

-sadness; gloom; dejection.

-Psychiatry: a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.


Depression, to me, feels like walking alone in the woods on a cold, bleak winter day and not knowing where you are going or where you came from or why you are there. Happiness and joy do not exist in these woods and it is getter darker and darker and you do not know the way out. You are all alone in the world and no one cares or notices.

My depression started, as far as I can tell, in college and got worse in the few years right after I graduated. The world seemed hostile and uninviting. I was always profoundly sad. I had a hard time performing basic every-day tasks, such as doing my laundry, getting up and going to work, enjoying social events, and maintaining friendships. I also had a very hard time pursuing any creative endeavors, particularly my writing, because I was too preoccupied with feeling sad and angry about everything.

I remember a time when I would go to work with the sense that I was walking into hell. I would sit at my desk all day and feel like everything was pointless. Being depressed, I was drawn particularly to depressing subjects, so I would obsessively research things like the Holocaust or read articles about tragedies in the Middle East at work. Those things would fuel my reasoning that everything in the world was sad and happiness was an illusion, and most importantly, that it was not attainable for me. I was doomed to be sad forever.

The future looked like a black hole; I did not know what was coming but I knew that it would not be pleasant. I did not know how to deal with this seeming “reality” so I drank too much, ate unhealthy food, slept too much during the day, and stayed up all night, unable to fall asleep, fretting about the oncoming morning. It made no sense to me that other people were able to enjoy their lives. That was completely foreign to me.

Perhaps those thoughts about other peoples’ happiness made me feel hostile towards others because many of my friendships fell apart during that time of intense depression. The friendships I did have became strained and I preferred to be alone all the time. Romantic relationships were completely out of the question, though I yearned for the comfort of a relationship and since I didn’t have that, I felt even worse about myself. I felt like there was something wrong with me.


One of the best decisions I have ever made for myself was to seek therapy. I realized, finally, that the way I was feeling was not normal and that I did not have to feel that way. In therapy you are able to constructively discuss your feelings and receive valuable guidance on how to improve your quality of life. I was skeptical about medication at first because I was worried it would “change” me. I was scared it would make my brain different and I would not be able to write. I thought my sadness was a necessary aspect of my creativity, since it had been that way for so long. Turns out I was wrong. Medication, combined with therapy, alleviates some of the sense of hopelessness so that it is possible to free up my mind and emotions for positive thoughts and creativity. Medication takes the edge off of my depressive thoughts so that they do not seem as devastating and I am able to fall asleep much more easily at night. I feel calmer, and I am still the same person I was before, only I can smile now!

When I look back on how I was a year and a half ago, before therapy, I cannot fathom how I got through the day. Depression is crippling and takes all the joy out of life. Now that I have been working on feeling better for a while, I realize that it is possible to experience joy and love and creativity, and that pain and suffering are a part of life (and art) but not all of it. I have learned that depression is a condition and does not have to be who I am. It takes a lot of work and it is definitely a gradual process, but it is worth it. And, just like with writing, the process is everything.

Thank you for your courage and for your sharing!

02 Aug 2012

Anxiety and Neurofeedback: Guest Blogger , Natalie Baker, LMHC

Anxiety is a problem of misperception. Misperception is a brain problem, and specifically an automatically functioning brain problem. What’s the misperception that we call ‘anxiety’? Our brain perceives immediate danger—there is a bear about to attack us, like, right NOW—and so we better do something. And that ‘bear’ could be a co-worker, a taxi, food, spouse, and the list goes on….

In the last 30 years we’ve learned a lot about the anxious brain, thanks to a large part, to advances in technology such as the rMRI. We now know that the limbic brain, or ‘fight/flight’ brain is in charge of producing an anxious response. It is a basic, and most important, function of our brain so the problem isn’t that we have this response, but that we have it AT THE WRONG TIME.

What we have come to understand is that the brain gets habituated. Just like if you go to a foreign country, but are going to stay in the same place for a few weeks, at first everything is a new experience—finding breakfast, a bank—but then we become familiar and start developing routines. That cute bakery we discovered the first day, is now the spot where we have breakfast every morning.

Like that route to the bakery, so too our brain develop neuro-pathways and begins to just ‘go down’ those pathways out of habit or ‘efficiency’. As if it is saying, “Oh, I know this situation and how to respond,” when it has only taken a superficial glance, and isn’t perceiving it accurately. Your co-worker is not a bear about to eat you, or that food going to kill you. (And if you just mentally responded to reading this with “Ya, but…..” then you for sure, are working off of an anxious brain response.)

What to do about it?

There are many ways to help the brain and help alleviate the anxious symptoms—talk therapy, drug therapy, biofeedback, meditation, lifestyle changes—and also a new type of therapy called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback alone or in conjunction with talk therapy, can be a very effect—and fast—way to address anxiety.

Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, is an offspring of biofeedback. Biofeedback is using a machine to illicit information about automatic functioning of the body, such as heart rate, to then use that information to consciously change the body's functioning, such as by breathing more slowly to lower the heart rate.  In neurofeedback training, the computer gathers information about the brain’s automatic (and often dysfunctional) activity and feeds or mirrors back that information in a way that will elicit the brain's organic self-correcting behaviour.  (Unlike in biofeedback, in neurofeedback there is no conscious action made to affect the change. It is the automatic brain “communicating” with itself.)
NeurOptimal neurofeedback works by training the brain to use the present moment to decide what to do next, rather than old, often maladaptive patterns—like that route to the bakery. It does this by triggering what’s called the orienting response, which is the brain’s ability to sense change in the environment and take in new information about what is different. (This is the mirror mentioned above.) And based on what it accurately perceives about the present the brain shifts its functioning. An analogue is to ask yourself the question: what’s the best way to decide what type of coat to wear today: by reading today’s weather report, or last month’s or (even one from three decades ago!)?

For more about neurofeeback and our practice go to: www.neurofeedbackny.com. We are also running a promotion for new clients: first three sessions are half-off ($50/session regularly $100/session).


Thank you Natalie for your wonderful input and work!

02 Aug 2012

How Anxiety is Diagnosed and Treated in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Deb Valentin, M.S., L.A.C.

How Anxiety is Diagnosed and Treated In Traditional Chinese Medicine

Anxiety is where one experiences worry, and fear, of the “what ifs”. People who suffer from anxiety can experience heart palpitations, racing thoughts, queasy stomach, headaches, heaviness in the chest, insomnia, headaches as well as many other symptoms. Anxiety can be extreme and can impact a person in their everyday life.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, anxiety manifests when different organs are imbalanced in the body. Therefore, it is important to understand the body’s dynamics and the imbalances that are occurring that need to be addressed.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart holds the spirit or “shen”. One’s shen is how we communicate to the world around us. The heart holds our consciousness. Joy is the emotion of the heart, so when someone is joyful their shen is at peace and their eyes shine. When the heart is imbalanced heart palpitations, poor concentration and forgetfulness can take place. Anxiety always involves an imbalance in the heart.

The kidneys hold our essence, which is passed down from our parents. The emotion of the kidney is fear. When the kidneys are imbalanced fear manifests.

The spleen in Chinese Medicine provides blood to nourish the heart. The emotion of the spleen is worry. Too much worrying or ruminating thoughts mean the spleen is imbalanced. When it fails to provide blood to the heart, the heart is then affected.

The treatment for anxiety in Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on a holistic approach. The first step is to understand the different organs that are imbalanced and diagnosing any deficiencies and stagnations that may be present. Then treatment is aimed at re-balancing the organs, nourishing any deficiencies and moving stagnation. Once the body regains “balance”, anxiety is reduced or is no longer present. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a great alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and overall aims to treat the root cause of anxiety so that a person has the ability to regain health.


Thank you Deb for your valuable knowledge and important work!

02 Aug 2012

How Susan’s 8 Week Anxiety Group Helped Me: Guest Blogger

Dealing with anxiety can be an isolating experience. For many years, I felt as though my anxious reaction to the world was not appropriate, and that I was alone in experiencing this on a daily basis. Planning, traveling, going to work, riding the train, all were extremely draining on mental and physical levels as my mind worried over the same tired scenarios again and again. Sometimes it seems there is no hope for an end to the constant cycle of worry, anger, and unhappiness.

Just knowing that other people feel the same way is incredibly helpful. Buddhists speak of Samsara, the "sea of human suffering" in which we are all adrift. Exchanging ideas and experiences in a group of similarly minded people really brought the concept home to me. Anxiety is NOT unique to me, or to any of us. It is a state of mind that can be applied to any situation in life, big or small. That vast ocean of worry and pain can wash over unexamined, numbing the mind to other valuable feelings. In the anxiety group I met other women my age, lovely, confident, successful, seemingly composed, but all suffering in this same state. Seeing my peers work on overcoming their anxiety made it much easier to deal with my own, and also made me more confident in myself. Sometimes I gave advice, sometimes I received it, and other times I was content just to listen and learn.

The most valuable part of it all was just to realize the isolation I had felt for such a long time was an illusion-- Many, many people suffer from chronic anxiety. Sharing with just a few of them completely changed my outlook.

Thank you for sharing and for participating in this wonderful group!
Next 8 week anxiety group begins in September!

02 Aug 2012

One Young Womans’ Story About Anxiety in Her Life

I do not remember a time when I lived without anxiety.  It has been a part of my everyday life, a part of me, for as long as I can remember.  In fact, if I hadn’t been told that I had a problem with anxiety, I would have just assumed that this is who I am.  The racing heart and ever-present feelings of imminent disaster are just aspects of the way I function.  I wouldn’t have known to examine my childhood--  a disturbed and absent mother, a father who put everything else first, and situations that left me no choice but to act an adult as a child—as the reinforcing source of my anxiety.  However, I do know that it is a problem, and I know that it causes me to limit myself every day.

Anxiety, for me anyway, is a constant.  It is not something that suddenly presents itself in a time of stress.  Don’t get me wrong, it is much worse during times of stress, but for me, it is always there.  It is the persisting feeling that at any moment, I could cry, the racing heart which turns into short breath, the tenseness in my whole body, and the overall inability to relax, ever.  The reasons for my anxiety are too many to count, with new reasons materializing daily.  Always at the forefront of my mind are my fear of rejection and being judged, failure, insecurities or every kind, wondering if I’m on the right path, and not knowing what comes next.  These are things that can cause anybody to experience anxiety at some point in their lives, but for me, the anxiety caused by them never goes away and dominates my life.

Anxiety makes things that are an everyday part of life feel unbearable to me.  Making phone calls, meeting new people, asking for help, and falling asleep are just a few things that can throw me into an anxiety induced whirlwind so bad that I am often reduced to panic and tears.  The truth is, I would rather avoid these things altogether so that I can escape the feeling of being crushed under my anxiety, but life doesn’t allow for that so I must find ways to, or at least attempt to work through my anxiety at every fork in the road, every day.
About five years ago, my anxiety reached a boiling point, and I decided to try medication.  Initially, the medication helped me a lot.  I was able to sleep better and I wasn’t as preoccupied with worries of what people thought of me.  However, as time went on, I realized that medication was one helpful piece but I needed a more holistic package to assist me in re-defining my life: both inner and social.

Since then I have been trying to learn different ways to manage my anxiety.  It has not been easy.  My body is still tense, I can still cry at the drop of a hat, and I do not relax even with the people closest to me.  However, I have found a way to live despite the anxiety.  I have come to many points where I was hit with a wall of anxiety, but I’ve been able to break through many of those walls with hard work and remaining present.

Every day, I try to make an unwavering commitment to focus on the positive aspects of my life, and it is this method that leads to my success in fighting my anxiety.

I love to sing, and so during my voice lessons, I try to remain present.  I am anxious the whole time, but I am also able to appreciate my chance to exercise a passion that I have.  I take solace in the quiet moments.

When I have a moment by myself, I am able to breathe.  There are no expectations, and it gives me the chance to gather myself, be reminded of how far I’ve come, and take advantage of the rare opportunity to relax.  I take all I can from the people I love and trust.  When I am with them, I try to open myself to them because I know that I can benefit from genuine and loving interactions.  The reassurance from the few people I trust gives me strength and an extra push, it reminds me to keep fighting.

Things I am passionate about, time to reflect and ground myself and the love of people I trust are the things I use as motivation to fight every single day.  In these things, I am able to see my potential, able to understand that my life is more than pain and fear.  When I feel weak, I think of these things and make the decision to fight.
I remind myself of who I am at my core, not who I am when I’m blanketed by anxiety, and sometimes I am able to push through.  Every day is a struggle, and I am faced with moments all the time when I can retreat into my anxiety or push through.  My reality is that I do not always push through, but I choose to focus on the times that I do because it means I am getting stronger.  I perceive my anxiety as a tall, thick brick wall.

Over time, I have kicked and pushed and fought against this wall, and it shows its wear and tear.  All I can do is continue to fight the anxiety.  It is a choice I have to make multiple times a day, but I know that the hard work is worth it.

Anxiety is not who I am and I will not let it run my life.

11 Jul 2012

Guest Blogger Jennifer Rau on Practice as an Actor/Writer

And here is screenplay writer and actor Jennifer Rau's idea about practice:

" 'Practice makes perfect.’ Oy. Let's break it down. Definition of PRACTICE - from Merriam-Webster online

transitive verb 1 a : carry out, apply “ practice what you preach “ b : to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually “ practice politeness “

I believe in practice. It is the only way I have found to combat my dreaded "p" words: procrastination and perfect. My fear of not being perfect leads me to procrastinate and has often kept me from practicing everything that I desire to do wonderfully, stirring me into a frenzy of the mind that can only be halted by:


By just sitting down, standing up, lying down and doing it. I realized recently that all of my creative endeavors: acting, writing, and singing are easier done than worried about. And the doing is a practice. A practice of honoring myself, my voice, my potential; by practicing.

Does practice make perfect? I think it does, if we believe in the perfection of expansion and progression and of honoring our expression in the world.”

Copyright © 2018 SUSAN LAMBERT, LCSW