The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

More PRESENCE, less presents…the Mindful holiday season

 

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. – Dr. Seuss

Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling. – Edna Ferber

For it is in giving that we receive. – Francis of Assisi

May you practice connecting with more Presence during these holidays, and have less of a need for presents…and I hope you and your loved ones have a healthy, joyful holiday season and New Year!

No matter what, each day is a new beginning…

Onward and Upward,

With warm blessings and love,

Lisa Wessan

 

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Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2018. All rights reserved.
www.LisaWessan.com

 

 

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Compare and Despair: How free do you want to be?

A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my top-tier, close relatives unfriended me on Facebook…ouch! My first reaction was tightness in my neck and throat, I took a deep breath. Yes, surprisingly, breathing always helps dissolve some of the stress. But then I remembered that she was a teenager, and that it is possible she wanted more privacy in her postings with her friends. I made a choice to believe the best possible reason, and let it go.

This relative is dear to my heart – but I will not ask her, “Why did you unfriend me?” It could only lead to more grief. In the past, when I have asked other relatives “Why?” questions, I was scolded. “Why are you angry?” or “What’s wrong?” can trigger some people who would rather not discuss their feelings. I learned from those times.

The past few weeks, however, when I visited my Facebook page (once or twice during the week), I noticed I had this sad, unresolved grief about being unfriended by this relative. It wasn’t going away, despite my rational emotional response to it.

The good news:

Here is another moment in life when I can actually experience free will – I have a choice: will I let this Facebook event bother me and dwell on it, allowing this teenager to interrupt my thoughts and mental flow, living in my head rent free, causing me to spiral into a possible depression?

Or…will I focus on the strengths of our relationship and trust my first reaction?

I have a history of getting caught up in the toxic realm of negative thinking, which I prefer to call the Compare and Despair syndrome…

What is the Compare and Despair syndrome (“CAD”)? CAD operates on two levels. The first level is when I CAD myself to myself. There is the idealized version of me, and then there is the Lisa du jour; however I happen to be now. How this looks: I tell myself stories about how I could have been better…the classic CAD vernacular is fraught with guilt, self-wounding words and phrases such as I shoulda, woulda and coulda, always, never, and if only. CAD thoughts try to figure out how XYZ could be avoided.. In this case, how to avoid being unfriended on Facebook.

For example, “If only I were more athletic, thinner, richer, my relative wouldn’t have unfriended me…” As if my alleged lack of worth caused this teen to unfriend me. Nay, nay, I say, we don’t go there anymore…

The second level of CAD is when I compare myself to others, which always leads to pain. Practicing CAD with siblings, peers, colleagues and other is always a lose/lose situation; CAD becomes torturous when I read Vogue Magazine or The Week and am triggered by a tsunami of CAD, as I compare my voluptuous body with anorexic models and celebrities. It’s wonderful to read about someone’s success and be inspired – that’s always worthwhile. But to read about someone and feel less than, well, it’s time for some treatment for CAD.

So how can I choose to have a better mental health day? For today, I choose to focus on who loves me, who wants to be with me, who are my real friends, and who does care to connect with me. This is a choice! It’s also a practice –a psychospiritual practice.

From my experience, there is no will power when it comes to transformation. I cannot just make myself think about something – or not think about it — as if I am a programmable robot. No, it takes an army of angels to help me turn around these negative, toxic thoughts. From experience, professional training and years of helping others do this, I have come to understand that we have many kinds of helpers, both fleshly and invisible, who will, for the asking, intervene on our behalf.

Most healthy people by default are non-invasive and non-interfering with our troubles and thoughts. We need to pick up the phone and ask one of them for help. Sometimes this can be accomplished in a five-minute phone call. Sometimes we need to meet with someone for a longer talk, or seek professional help. Whatever, getting better starts with asking for help. Once we roll that stone away, the Universe can move in and fill us with the wisdom, compassion, unconditional love and the connection that we truly crave.

The good news here is that my little relative did a big favor for me. By unfriending me on Facebook, I was able to deconstruct this painful moment and turn it around into a joyful affirmation of my life.

So it’s true: my joy, my love and my experience of life are not dependent on who is my friend, on Facebook or otherwise. Instead of asking, “Why did she unfriend me?” I can ask “How can I be useful today? How can I make a difference? How can I give support, love and creative energy on this planet today?” Yes, asking the “HOW?” question is uplifting and invigorating. Asking “WHY?” just leads to a dip into negative thinking.

I have a few favorite affirmative prayers that can transform Facebook pain into something better. One of my favorites: “I am an irresistible magnet for God’s Goodness, and I attract the right friends, clients, peers and always get what I need.” I repeat this many times, until the soothing effect feels complete. Each time I say it, I am reminded of how much goodness and love IS in my life…and in my big picture, all is well. I am better, not bitter…

There’s also the old saying, “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” I can choose to believe that this relative and I are really on very different vibrational planes – maybe even different Universes – so why can’t I accept that she is truly not a close friend to begin with? Let’s face it, trace it and erase it, DONE! (This is a great philosophy for people who are dating. I used to say this whenever a romantic situation wasn’t working out well. ) Whenever I am rejected, it is surely for the best, because everything is working towards my highest and best outcome.

Finally, we all end up at the Cosmic Café…at the end of time, at the beginning of time, forever; our souls are connected to each other in the web of life, in the Oneness of the Universe. There is no way to NOT be connected to this delightful little teenager! She and I are already One…why is my pea brain stressing over being unfriended, while our souls are joined together at the Cosmic Café forever? Indeed, whenever I want to connect with her, I can still pick up the phone, text her, or arrange for a visit. It’s all good.

Facebook is a great test for how lightly I am wearing my life. Am I experiencing my life as a loose garment, comfortable and easy, or is it tight, constrictive, punishing and unbearable?

Our greatest achievements do not show up on our résumé, on television or in the media, or in our bank accounts. There are no cash and prizes for these personal victories. Each day is another day of turning a defeat into a victory, a scar into a star, and the feeling is priceless. I can laugh at it and move on, free of any Facebook baggage. How free do you want to be? That is the question.

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2011. All rights reserved.

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Worthwhile film, “Enlighten Up!”

The film, “Enlighten Up!” is full of transformational wisdom and fun, (available at Netflix). Just loved it… http://ow.ly/3vvzg

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World Peace Through Laughter? Is this a joke?

When I did my first training for certification in Laughter Yoga, Laughter Meditation and Laughter Therapy, my teacher, Madan Kataria, MD, talked about his vision for world peace through laughter. Some scoffed, but he planted a seed in me during that training…I had a vision of having a large room, or even Madison Square Garden, filled with Muslims and Jews, experiencing extended, massive periods of laughter together. Not laughing at jokes – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but laughing at the absurdities, incongruities and paradoxes that surround the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and that permeate the prejudices in all confused religious conflicts.

Besides all the extraordinary physiological benefits from laughter which you have experienced – the lowering of cortisol levels, muscle relaxation, and improved memory and cognitive functioning – I have seen what laughing together in groups can do. It dissolves anxieties, tensions, prejudices, fears and allows people to feel safe enough to say what they need to say. Laughter is surprisingly disarming, and when we laugh together our walls and facades come down. Laughter is the great equalizer, one of the most profound democratizing energetic forces available for transformation.

Well, it happened this summer…right here 30 miles north of Boston, due to the progressive spiritual leadership of the Qutbi Masjid (mosque) of North Billerica, MA, and Congregation Shalom of North Chelmsford, MA. These two enlightened communities teamed up for a day of healing in the Merrimack Valley. I was invited to be the keynote speaker at this Health and Wellness Fair…what an exciting moment!

My vision for a harmonious Middle East, for more brotherly acceptance and respect (and eventually love) seems to be happening now. My hope and prayer is that this moves from the micro to the macro level, one laugh at a time. Read more about this incredible event in this recent article from THE JEWISH JOURNAL.

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Lisa Wessan’s hotline review…

Lisa Wessan’s hotline review…Suicidal? Homicidal? PMS? Boozer? Tune in @ 10 AM for the lighter side of hotlines….listen here.

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“The Beauty of Hoarding”

There is an exceptionally good article posted in THE WEEK, May 7, 2010, “The Beauty of Hoarding,” excerpted from STUFF: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. Copyright © 2010 by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. Learn how hoarders are making social connections and staying in touch with the world via their hoarding patterns…

We need to understand that people who are hoarding see endless opportunities in their stuff – for themselves and others. This is a breakthrough concept that needs further exploration.

It has been my experience when I work with clutterers and hoarders that we need to do a step by step process I call “Face it, trace it and erase it.” Every object in your home has special and unique emotional connections and memories attached to it. Once those connections are revealed — and deconstructed – it then becomes possible to release and let go of the unwanted stuff. This happens through talking, writing/journaling, role playing, meditating and going a bit deeper, using art and other forms to get behind the reasons for holding on. This can have an element of fun and playfulness – it does not have to be grueling work.

To get an experience of this process, check out my next clutter program 9/21/10 in Westford, MA (see calendar of upcoming events at http://www.MirthMaven.com for details.)

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What is the Internet is Doing to Our Brains?

I know I’m not alone in wondering how the internet is changing the way I think, write, respond and create in this world. But I choose to believe that it’s all for the good, that this is part of our evolution. I might be wrong.

More and more documentation is showing that advanced internet use does decrease our attention spans, although it may improve our analytic skills. I’m at the point where I can’t write as smoothly in longhand (and my penmanship is nearly an illegible code), whereas in front of the keyboard I feel lucid and quick. I used to think I was just a kinesthetic learner — but there’s more to it. I need to be able to sit at a keyboard to think about certain subjects with maximum focus. I am clearly conditioned to work with several web pages open at once, fact checking and spell checking as I go.

The research is mounting….pros and cons…this is a good overview of the issues in this recent clip from Scientific American (June 15, 2010).

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Nashoba Valley Medical Center chooses laughter therapy to celebrate Nurses Week

I know my group has hit the sweet spot when people are laughing and crying, maybe even a little drool is running down their faces, from learning to have an extended, massive laughter session without a stream of funny jokes….learning to “laugh for no reason” is key in this work.

The Nashoba Valley Medical Center, Ayer, MA, invited me to be their keynote speaker in honor of Nurses’ Week. So May 12, 2010 we had a large gathering at the Groton Country Club in order to experience “Therapeutic Applications of Humor and Laughter for Caregivers.”

Everyone starts out serious – because laughter therapy is part of a serious multimodal stress reduction program that aims to lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immunoglobin A to prevent flus and colds, and release all kinds of stress in the muscles and joints, oxygenate the brain and leave everyone feeling refreshed and energized. That, plus much more. What is beautiful is to watch a group of intelligent, noble, dignified people give themselves permission to let their guards down for a few minutes to experiment and have a roaring good time. The psychological benefits are so numerous – increased cohesiveness in the group, open to forgive, enhanced compassion and team building strengthened. I will continue this in a separate article.

Mary Mathieu, the Director of Case Management at Nashoba Valley Medical Center summed up her experience of my keynote: “Lisa Wessan, ‘The MIrth Maven’ was invited to be the speaker for the Nurses’ Day dinner. She presented a program, ‘The Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter for the Healthcare Professional.’ Having been to many Nurses’ Day dinners in my 21 years as an RN, I enjoyed this presentation the most. She began by providing evidence-based research on the physical and psychological benefits of laughter and the second half of the program was lots and lots of laughter…I laughed until I cried….I laughed on the way home…the next day…and thinking of the event still makes me smile. I look forward to attending many more of her events in the future. I very highly recommend her!!!”

In the meantime, it was my honor and privilege to participate in this expansive event. Nashoba Valley Medical Center joins with several other large hospitals and organizations in Massachusetts that are clearly on the vanguard of a growing movement to include laughter therapy and team building with laughter as part of an empowered management strategy. Based on my short time here, it is evident that New England health care facilities seem to trust that laughter therapy will help prevent burn-out, reduce turnover, and keep their professional caregivers high functioning and more productive.

My professional goal: to have a full time certified laughter therapist in every hospital!

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My Love Affair with Tango

The tango changes the way we relate to strangers, and to the world at large. There is a safe intimacy with tango, a possibility for oneness and separateness that works well. Loved this article in THE WEEK (2/26/10) for it captures a novice tango student’s growing relationship with tango, her body and the other dancers in Central Park.

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