I love this grown-up version of the “How Do I Feel Today” chart. And it’s delightfully similar to “aroma wheels” that help people describe the varied and numerous characteristics in wine (or cheese or honey or beer).
The Higher Life, in June 6th’s The New Yorker, puts a face on “Andy” our narrator and meditation buddy in the app Headspace. It’s a useful little program that I have played with, as well as several of my clients. In expected app-like form, it moves you through an visually adorable process of meditation goalposts in way that feels like you’re actually achieving something concrete. The interface is a low-key and modern way to learn how to meditate without having to attend a class or workshop. The benefits of a meditation practice are well documented through studies on overall stress reduction, pain management, focus and productivity, and depression, just to name a few. Many studies on the impact of meditation have been noted to have flaws related to inconsistency application of the internal process and small sample sizes, but it is difficult to fully dismiss the impact that the practice, even a few minutes a day, can have on our ability to feel calmer and be more able to manage ourselves a bit better.
Steven Kuchuck’s beautiful piece, The Patient I Abandoned, in today’s NY Times “The Couch” opinion column so perfectly describes the emotions clinicians hold when rapid or abrupt endings occur in therapy. Even when the ending is planned and prepared for, by therapist and client, often the issues, challenges, hopes and aspirations continue to live on in the memory of the clinician. It is the rare client that is forgettable to the therapist, but some have particularly deep impacts on us perhaps due to the depth of the feelings and history sorted through, a unique connection, or working together during particularly intense or poignant moment in the client’s (or clinician’s life). We do not forget our clients, and I believe, whether or not we all consciously admit, we wish that our clients don’t forget us.
At a yoga class the other day, a teacher reflected on and reinforced the desire for her students to become “unflappable”. In the course of the class, she focused on mindful awareness of the moment and the physical experience of a yoga pose regardless of its difficulty. She stressed attending to the internal experience of the pose not just the outward expression of the pose. Unless you are magical, it’s easy to experience a potentially “flapping” moment in a yoga class, like buckling legs, losing one’s balance, or overfocusing on a classmate breezing through a pose that you find too difficult. I loved this teacher’s approach and use of that term: unflappable. It’s applicable to life and the benefits of being cognitively and emotionally flexible. It’s not about being perfect or things going perfectly, it’s about being flexible, attentive, and tolerant of what is…with a strong and positive tension between actively trying and letting go. In life, and in the therapy room, we often want to improve our ability to not lose our cool and “flap out” in moment we feel overloaded emotions. To seek unflappability is a beautiful goal guided by a truly delightful word.
Tumblr fun fact: The site has a blog-by-blog policy of reviewing and removing content that promotes self-harm or eating disorders and searching for emotionally laden terms such as “suicide”, “thinspiration”, “cutting”, “bulimia”, and so on will yield Tumblr’s “check in” message before presenting the search results. The message box asks the user “Everything Okay?” and provides information and resources for getting help with eating disorders, abuse, and immediate crisis resources as well as a site called Seven Cups of Tea, which I hadn’t heard of before. It turns out to be a free, volunteer based, peer-to-peer talking site geared at being a space for individuals to talk about things that are bothering them. It’s not a therapy site, but a place for people to actually have a conversation with someone when they feel like they need to talk. It’s an interesting format…helping to create some human connection when it’s really needed. It’s presented as a source of support with volunteers offering “active listening” and information about common emotional health issues. It seems like there could be some serious pitfalls, such potentially ill equipped volunteers managing people in active crisis or individuals perhaps misusing the system in inappropriate ways, but there is something fascinating about this opportunity to “Talk to Strangers for Free“. It is striking to find something so altruistic and unmonetized out there on the otherwise “in-app-purchase” focused or targeted marketing internet, even if feels a bit like a person-to-person version of PostSecret.
A new study discusses that the fidgeting and movement that individuals experience, particularly those with ADHD diagnoses, seems to assist in activating attention just enough…helping the individual balance between hyperfocus and distraction. In this study with boys with ADHD, more movement was correlated with better memory performance. It seems reminiscent of the doodle data that came out a few years ago indicating that there is a memory and attention boost associated with doodling during an otherwise boring task. Our brains (and our bodies) seem to know how help us regulate for better performance in situations where we know we need to attend, but have difficulty doing so.
A few of these stories (like the one noted below) have popped up lately about business and creative partners seeking out therapy to work through emotionally charged challenges. I love that the focus is therapy, not just coaching around some conflicts. It’s fascinatingly practical use of the therapy process and the shift that can occur with processing through emotions in a new and different way. Business and creative partners often begin as friends but then things get more complicated. Sharing major life and livelihood decisions can make things more complex, exciting, and entangled (sounds like a “relationship” doesn’t it?). Communication difficulties, emotional enmeshment, negotiating conflict, and commitments outside of work can make the working relationship strained over time.