blog & offerings

  • Perspective and Transformation

    Japanese poet Massahide said, “My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.”

                                                    

    Two weeks ago I walked into my office just like every other day. As I sat down in my chair to begin my 1st session of the day, I glanced out the window.  Until early last summer when it was sold and reconstruction began, right across the street, sat a small dilapidated brown house, and it’s inhabitants: a couple who aged from their 70s through many changes over the 2 decades I’ve worked facing their home. For years and years I observed them come and go, water the plants, sit on the porch, talk to their neighbors. About 5 years ago I almost fell off my seat when I heard, through my open window in mid-summer, the man adressed in perfect Boston dialect: "Ahnie, how's ya sistah Trudy doing?" In that flash, it dawned on me that they weren't a married couple, rather they were a brother and sister couple.

    Over time I introduced myself to them, and we said hello and chatted on the rare days when I wasn’t in a rush coming or going. Once over this past winter I was invited inside when the man was dying of cancer at age 87. His sister anxiously waited outside, and when I walked out of the front door of my building, she beckoned me with a look of fear in her eyes. She asked me to give her brother his medicine on this awful day when he was doing poorly and she couldn't figure out the dosage. A few weeks later I saw the well-dressed funeral men come to carry his body into the hearst parked by the side of the house. I wasn’t surprised, as I’d been inside and witnessed him in his small dark living room just weeks before.

                                     

    During the next few months I sat with Trudy on her porch a few times as she grieved.  She told me she’d lived in that house for all 90 years of her life, and that Arnie was born when she was only 3. Neither had ever married, so they lived out their life as a brother-sister couple, and she shared the intensity of her sadness in seeing him die. She said that she had recovered herself from cancer. She spoke of shame and sadness at not having enough money to give him the funeral and burial she had hoped, missing her brother terribly--- so long after the rest of their family had died or moved away from this family home.

    A few months later, their house was sold and Trudy moved with her niece to NH. The new owner instantaneously gutted the insides of the small brown house. He began building a shiny, upscale new home for himself and his family of 4, using portions of the small brown shell of Trudy and Arnie's family home. The construction workers have gotten to know me also, (given how close my window is to where they work), and one day offered to show me around the inside as the re-built house is nearing completion.

    The construction period has been onerous with piercing noise, and hours on end of  debree being heaved from the windows and down the roof. I've been fascinated watching as they've expanded and transformed the ramshackled, beloved structure. My witness to all of these changes has felt important; I often think of Trudy and wonder how she’s doing-- what her reactions would be to the changes to her ‘forever’ home of 90 plus years.

     On this particular day 2 weeks ago, it was sunny outside. I gazed up towards my window when I began my work day. My heart sunk when I noticed my view of a patch of blue sky had been blocked overnight --by a giant dormer they were adding to the roof. I sat through the rest of my day in a stupor of despair. By the end of the day I had found my super-powers---and rearranged all of the furniture in the room so that my view barely included the house---at all! This was a huge job! I pushed, shoved and carried a large couch, 2 giant chairs, a desk and various other pieces of furniture---all on my own with the adrenalin of a locomotive.

     When I was finished, most of the pieces were in completely different spots, but the chair I sit in had only been moved about 1.5 feet, (ie., 16 inches), over to the right.  I looked up to see outside the window, and the scene was now varying depths of shades and perpsective of green and golden leaves, and an even larger patch of wonderful bright blue sky. Attached are 'Before' and 'After' photos of the view from the very same window---after 20 years, created in barely an hour, from a 16 inch move of my chair.

     This perspective change is a metaphor for the healing which can take place inside of us all, very rapidly, with the right connection. Since I cherish those moment of un-earned intimacy with Trudy and Arnie as my neighbors and now feel their loss, it never occurred to me to  change my view until the moment of crisis: I had lost my patch of blue sky to the new dormer. Moving the chair with the rest of my furniture brought the view back tenfold.

      

     In this exact same office from the exact same chair, your own fierce self plus my trust-worthy guidance sometimes finds us at an inner feeling of crisis. An internal shift can arise from this crossroad, and what's happening inside may seem subtle: The resultant transformation feels bright and sky-blue.

     judysilvan@mac.com

                                                                   

  • healing attachment trauma

    healing attachment trauma

    "As our defenses are lowered, our heart opens, and there is a natural desire to give from the generosity of the heart." --- Ezra Bayda, "Giving Through Relationships"

    Sometimes, we are racked with feelings of fear or grief, isolation, separateness. We can snap into a state of 'less-than, 'different', or even self-loathing.  Even if our childhood needs for protection, love and nurturance weren't met, we can begin to flourish in our lives.  It only takes one special person, such as a partner, a "homey", someone from our family-of-origin, or even a trusted therapist who is unconditionally emotionally present to us, to launch us into a healing spiral of the inner turmoil that happens when our childhood sense of safety and trust is broken.

     In therapy, I support you as you bravely ask for answers to questions about your most cherished relationships.  I help you cherish yourself; we begin our search, together, for moment-to-moment clues for the real you hidden below the feelings of un-worthiness. Here you are greeted by warm, safe eyes looking back at you as you share your personal memories, stories. We find the key that unlocks the door to feeling states that are too scary to visit alone. My eyes reflect the loving guidance and sense of relief from deep inside of you. This alchemy can lead you straight to the heart of your own experiences of wisdom and delight. 

    We seek miniscule answers to your most tender questions---by welcoming your long-protected feelings---with non-judgemental curiosity. What if one of your most cherished relationships, over time, becomes the trust and bond which you have with yourself?

  • food, fat and body-love

    food, fat and body-love

    As cliche as this may sound, you can learn to accept your body and what it truly needs to eat, for pleasure and for nourishment. This acceptance replaces thin-obsession, and replaces your confusion of food with a feeling of 'love'. If this is your deep desire, then gradually over time, perhaps over a few years: you will want to eat the amount and type of food that keeps you at a weight that feels not too thin, and not too fat. You will begin to accept what your body thrives on. 

    No one has invented one pre-ordained way of eating that makes every single body feel 'right'.  There is no such thing as 'bad food', or 'good food', whether you are a gourmet foodie or a "good 'n plenty" junkie. What to eat and how you feel about your body comes from within, and believe it or not, you will eventually slow your food obsession and body-hatred down--to a manageable pitch. You may even find the doorway through to loving yourself and embracing your unique body, and this can become your 'absolute truth'.

    Imagine yourself on a walk that ends with a bad blister ---or sitting in beautiful golden sunlight, soon to become hot and sweaty. So it is with emotional eating or starving ourselves; the immediate idea seems pleasurable. As you prep for the diet, or nab the cheese and crackers then the sweet gooey food for the graze or binge, it first seems like a solution, then gradually it stops working, and even begins to hurt.

    Bioenergetic body movements, in a context of closeness and experiential psychotherapy, allows you to authentically feel  the messages your body speaks in those moments when your head beckons you to eat, or screams at you to diet. Perhaps you can imagine being in the moment-by-moment body knowledge of what feels good, what feels healthy, what feels bad. In our therapy journey, we will work to understand, and to neutralize value judgments on any of these body and emotional states. We are re-learning moments of mindful body knowledge, re-claiming the childhood 'body-love' with which each of us was born.  

     What is the value of meditation in the context of emotional eating? Meditation and slowing down, around food and our image of being too fat or too skinny, is the highway to mindfulness; it reminds you that you need not take each and every miniscule food or diet thought seriously. You begin to digest--- as a whole person-- that you are not defined by your cellulite, or by the flatness of your belly. You can learn to see your life and your body from a broader perspective. You will begin to notice the deepest yearnings to un-follow the false beliefs about yourself that you have stalwartly followed from your past. Slowly they may begin to fade.

    Together you and I will take a journey towards body-love: You will have the time and support to begin to notice your beauty again. Noticing and obsessing are unilateral opposites.

     

    cubist painting by Rita Silvan, 1949!

  • How to Begin a Meditation Practice: A Guide for Therapists

    " What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path!" ~Pema Chodrin

    If you're a therapist and want to teach your clients or patients to meditate, use this simple guide. Obviously, it's perfect for you as well (whoever you are that is reading this, in this particular moment in time.)

    Suggested EQUIPMENT:

    1) A TIMER: Many App choices are available such as “Insight Timer” or "Calm"

    2) A MEDITATION SEAT: A pillow or a chair with good back support

    3) POSTURE:  sit with relaxed but straight sacrum, lower-back and shoulders; neck upright/chin relaxed and slightly lowered

    A few other suggestions:

    1) START: 5-10 minutes daily…Not more!

    2) AFTER: 1 or 2 weeks (if it feels right) add onto the base in five minute weekly increments. So in 6 weeks, you might have 20-40 minutes per day. Or stay at 5-10  minutes daily if that is right for you.

    3) EYES: can be closed or open… If you prefer open, stare at a spot a few feet away, on the floor, or gaze at the ocean or a favorite painting.

    4) MOUTH: Relaxed, but you are breathing through your nose.

    5) FOCAL POINT or ANCHOR--suggested choices:

    a) Ambient sounds: birds singing, the clock ticking, traffic outside, any noise in your midsts 

    b) Listen to meditation mp3: For example: www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html

    c) Breath: counting or noticing when you inhale and exhale

    d) Physical sensations; Just notice: your back supported by the chair, feet on the floor, air through your nostrils, belly rising and falling, etc.

    e) Other senses:  hold or rub a smooth stone, gaze at a painting or something that is calming to you, etc.

    f) Metta phrases: Say and repeat each of them, (or make up your own), synchronizing with the in and out of your breath, in whatever rhythm you choose:

       May I be happy.  

       May I be peaceful.

       May I be healthy and safe.

       May my life unfold with ease.

    7) Mantra: Repeat a calming phrase over and over. (Eg., “breathe in love; breathe out peace.”)

                                                                   

                                              General Istructions:

    Sit and clear your mind of thoughts. Do this without judgment. Although this seems like a contradiction, you will find that it is impossible to clear your mind of thoughts.

    Therefore, each time you have a nano-second of awakening to notice that you are thinking, either disengage from the thought or 'go underneath' the thought. Don't try to investigate content like you might do when you are planning your day. When you notice yourself thinking, return your mind to your chosen anchor such as your breath-- in and out of your nostrils. Imagine going beneath the thought and then notice what you see or experience in your mind's eye. Or allow the thought to float away, as if you were waving to a cloud while relaxing on a slow moving river raft. Metaphorically, a thought might be akin to a twig that you pass at the bus stop, or a lion roaring for 30 seconds on a movie screen. Neither holds more weight in a context of meditation.

    Most importantly: Dissipate self-judgment; don't judge yourself harshly for having thoughts. The human mind naturally gravitates towards planning, day-dreaming, memories, negativity.

    Mindfulness meditation is a practice that is permissive, filled with space, possibility and self-compassion. 

    “In meditation, where the rubber hits the road is where the ass meets the pillow.” ~Judy Silvan

    judysilvan@mac.com

  • b@peace

    As human-beings in this fast-paced world, we are behooved to try and reconfigure ourselves into  'human-doings'.

    Often we think about our self, and our life, in terms of accomplishments. The thoughts might sound something like: "What am I doing to make more money or get more...?" " What can I do to make my child behave?"  "What can I do to lose weight?"

    b@peace signifies that you are fine just as you are: Be your most genuine self moment-by-moment---notice what is inside of you as well as your surroundings---feel in a deep way that yourself as a human being is enough. The questions aren't about why you do or do not 'accomplish'. They are: How can I unfold and become more truly myself,  more alive in my cells? How can I become more open to love, less afraid of seeing and feeling and being someone I can cherish? 

     

    b@peace: psychotherapy of body-mind and trust

    judysilvan@me.com

    Cambridge, MA

    Fairfax, CA (LCSW# 61755)

     A special shout-out to Rita Silvan for her indelible 'love' oil painting

  • Bioenergetic Therapy: How Does It Help Your Heart-Body-Mind Connection?

    Hiding beneath core emotions, reside some glimmers of hope. When these glimmers are expanded in a Bioenergetic body-oriented way of working, a feeling of joy and an enhanced sense of ‘me’, i.e., ‘the real ME with all of my depth and breadth’, can surface and fill us with pleasure. Changes through Bioenergetics can include psychological well-being, love, physiological aliveness, and joy as a social and sexual being.

    Bioeneregtics is a way of working and living from an energetic point of view: Talking, woven into a fabric with bioenergetic movements, can loosen long-held, core feeling states, and sometimes offer cathartic release and internal change. You may begin to sense the natural pulsations of all living beings in yourself-- a pattern of expansion and contraction. Over time the movements may evolve to become an integral, enlivening part of your life.

    Bioenergetics is the original mind-body psychotherapy, beginning in the 1930’s. Trained as a Psychoanalyst, Alexander Lowen, MD got patients to their feet in the context of psychoanalytic treatment. He developed studied movements to unblock cellular holdings, weaving together an analytic (talking), and an energetic (body movement, ie., "energy") psychological healing modality. Bioenergetic workshops often begin by asking people to bring attention to the body: to breathe down into the hips and pelvis, to feel the ground with the bottom of the feet, to shift the internal focus. Embodied attention like this can allow feelings to emerge and be noticed–-eg., sadness around the heart, emptiness in the gut, or strength (or the lack) in the limbs. 

    “Grounding” is a fundamental concept of Bioenergetics, with the feet beneath the hips, mindfully engaging all of the body weight downwards through the pelvis, legs and feet. Grounding leads to decreased anxiety, a stronger sense of self-assertion (as in “standing your ground”), and a gentler experience of reality. Gradually, respirations deepen, sometimes as a release of strong emotion – i.e. crying, laughter, anger or loneliness. Bioenergetics helps heal sexual or romantic functioning, as physical and emotional holdings begin to soften.

    In contemporary psychological trauma theory, the biological body is now understood to also source the psychological trauma. Bioenergetics addresses panic attacks, eating disorders, and the depleated energy of depression. Bioenergetics crosses bridges of race, economics and cultures since we all live inside physical bodies. Healing through bioenergetics can be a universal paradigm, to benefit individuals or groups, ages young and old.

    A Certified Bioenergetic Therapist (CBT) is trained and qualified to teach classes, workshops and practice psychotherapy.  Bioenergetics teaches ‘being’ rather than ‘doing; it can transform emotions held in the body into joy and tenderness.