The Lighter Side of Transformation

Observed and reported by Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Decompressin’ with Wessan: Walk and Talk Therapy comes to Chelmsford, MA

LW WATT

Since I changed careers in 1999,  morphing from science journalist to therapist, I feel as if I have given birth to three clinical children in this journey…

First, I delivered Therapeutic Laughter for Caregivers (and others) in New York City, which emerged as keynotes, workshops and seminars.  I still enjoy presenting these programs which also include Team Building with Laughter, the Let Go and Lighten Up program and LaughAnanda (laughter meditation).  Each program serves a different sector, for corporate, medical/healthcare, educational, non-profit, and spiritual organizations.

Second, after a long gestational study period,  I delivered Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups (DBT) two years ago and currently facilitate two DBT groups in my office in Westford, MA, one daytime and evening group.

Third, and brand new as of June 2017, Walk and Talk Therapy (WATT) was born.  I am very excited about the progress and results my clients are experiencing during WATT.

Over the past several years, every time I read about exercising with clients, I was more intrigued…yes, there is solid science and empirically verified research on the benefits of WATT.

In brief, the motion of walking stimulates the bicameral brain and increases activity between the left and right hemispheres.  This allows people to access more complex feelings and memories, and have the ability to process the sadness, grief or trauma even more effectively while walking. While walking, everything is flowing, and the negative or heavily charged energy from the  traumatic memories can discharge quicker.  (I’m in the process of writing an article on a few of my clients who have had dramatic shifts and turnarounds on these walks.)

So for today, I’m feeling grateful that I took the risk of starting WATT with several people in my practice.   The challenges included, but were not limited to:

  • Presenting myself in hiking clothes, instead of professional garb, and being out of the controlled office milieu.
  • Risking severe disappointment from the client.
  • Dealing with heat, bugs, sweat and other outdoor elements in a professional manner.
  • Allowing more time between clients to allow complete privacy.
  • Seeing clients from 7 AM – 10 AM, a time when I usually am not quite as perky, being a naturally nocturnal person (for DBT students, this was an “Opposite Action” experiment for me!)

I have my clients sign an Indemnity Agreement prior to the WATT, and we discuss the possible challenges that may occur, such as tripping on a rock, or falling for some reason.  For some, this often leads to a lively discussion of their previous adventures and how confident they are in their walking ability.  “Walking around a lake? This is nothing, a piece of cake!”  they say.  For others, the prospect of walking for two miles is daunting, but they understand they can do as much or little of the walk as they want.  We have a choice of several benches for resting along the way with stunning views of the lake.

If you are considering WATT, I strongly recommend it.  As the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017.   All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Gratitude Quotes

There are a plethora of wonderful quotes and passages on the topic of gratitude.
I thought I’d share a few of mine, with some annotations, and let them continue to spread more good energy in the world!
* * *
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!”
~ Author Unknown

Ralph Waldo Emerson and this unknown author really grasped the enormity of the amount of goodness which lavishes us at all times.  We are typically not thinking about how well gravity keeps us on this Earth, without crushing us; how our bodies work with such precision and accuracy (most of the time); how the air we breathe and the food we eat sustain us.  From the micro to vast macro levels, we are swimming in an abundance of complexity and richness. To be in awe of the magnificence of this mosaic of life, and let that gratitude sustain you — regardless of the cash and prizes in your life — is a path to more inner peace.

In my Wednesday night DBT Skills Group (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we recently explored this poem by Pat Schneider (Schneider, 2005)  to gain insight into the mystery of the generosity and kindness of the Universe:

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

*  *  *

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

~ Frederick Keonig

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

“The quality of your life equals the ratio of appreciation to complaint.”
~ Alan Cohen

Complaining is draining. One of my teachers in NYC once said, “If you  would abstain from complaining for 30 days, it would transform your life.”  Yes, I took on that challenge and it was an amazing month. I learned that what I focus on increases.  When I focus on what’s good, it expands.  When I focus on lack, illness, anger, scarcity, exhaustion, it gets worse. In sum, the intense energy I expend on complaining can be flipped to be uses instead in the arena of creative solutions.  As it is written, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”  (Matt. 15:11.)  Let your words be the seeds for a greater tomorrow, consider each word you speak a new seedling that will start to grow. You want to plant loving, smart, solution focused seeds.  They will turn into strong action plans, and help you manifest your dreams.

*  *  *

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~William Arthur Ward

Some people have a difficult time expressing their feelings, even good ones. Feeling grateful and not saying anything about it is a sad loss of the beautiful and healing vibrational power of gratitude.  Just saying “Thank You” out loud has a profound shift on your inner chemical factory.  It has been proven in many studies how every thought becomes a chemical reaction in your body. (Emoto, 2004)

In the 12 Step world (Alcoholics Anonymous and all the related  recovery programs) , it is often said “Grateful people don’t pick up.”  The power of gratitude can help a resentful, angry addict focus on what’s working and good, and not feel the need to reach for the substance of choice for self medication, as in “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!” Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is recovery code for focusing on what’s good, and to quit ruminating about what’s bad.

Making a gratitude list before bedtime is a classic and wonderful way to pre-pave the  way for a good night’s sleep. Gratitude calms the mind and reconnects to the Source Energy from which all our good comes to us. Here’s an example from one of my clients of one way to write your gratitude list:

“At night, I find written inventories helpful. I keep them brief and to the point, with three columns: plus, minus and gratitude.  In the first column, I list things I did well that day…In the second column, I list things I did not do well that day (binged on anger, lied or kept someone waiting).  In the final column, I list all the ways in which I am grateful.  I try to make this at least as long as my  other two columns!”
~ S. P., Massachusetts

Another way to amplify this positive energy is to send thank you notes. I love writing thank you notes in longhand on beautiful stationary because the energy  channeled from my hand gets directly transferred to the paper, and then the recipient can feel my gratitude even stronger than via text or email.

Writing thank you notes allows you to experience the deep gratitude and positive goodness a minimum of three times. First, there is the  immediate wave of gratitude in the moment of the experience. Second, when I write the thank you note  I re-experience the gratitude again.  Finally,  the third wave of gratitude comes back in a boomerang effect when the recipient calls, texts or emails me to thank me for my thank you note!  We often have a wonderful exchange, and the gratitude rises again.

In Conclusion

I invite you to experiment in the laboratory of your life…take on one or more of these practices to experience more gratitude in your life, feel better, and then create more positive results:

  • Say thank you more often.
  • See how it feels to write out your gratitudes each day.
  • Abstain from complaining for 30 days, and focus on your gratitude list instead.
  • Send out a few thank you notes to people whom have enriched your life, whether for a brief encounter or even for long term relationships.

thanksgiving2

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2016. All rights reserved.
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Sources:

12 Step Recovery Programs – There are currently over 200 free programs worldwide. After the first three, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and  Overeaters Anonymous, the evidence of a strong recovery rate was significant enough to apply the 12 Steps to many other addictions, including nicotine, cocaine, pills, hoarding/clutter, internet, videogames and more.  If you are struggling with an addiction, search for a 12 Step program that will help you.

Matthew 15:11, New International Version (NIV).

Emoto, M. (2004). Hidden Messages in Water. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing.

Schneider, P. (2005). The patience of ordinary things. In Another River: new and selected poems. Amherst MA: Amherst Artists and Writers Press.

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The awe and wonder of giving blood…

Lisa Wessan, advocating for blood donation at Red Cross.

Lisa Wessan, advocating for blood donation at Red Cross.

For most people, during the month of December we look for ways to give extra love, charity, dinners, trips, gifts, bonuses…we are in an intense giving mode.   I wish for every dollar spent at the mall someone donated blood — saving approximately three lives per donation — now that’s massively good giving!

What’s great about donating blood is that you can give it away every eight weeks, at the most, or any amount of times after that during the year.  You can give at each seasonal equinox, or twice a year, whatever you donate, it’s all good.

Back in New York City, when I worked at Elmhurst-Mt. Sinai Hospital, they gave staff three hours of comp’ time for every blood donation…that was quite an incentive in the day.  You can be sure I parked myself in the blood donor room every 58 days to acquire that much sought after comp’ time!   ^.^

So yesterday I went to donate blood at a nearby corporate site at Crosspoint Towers, in Lowell, MA. Each time I give blood I am reminded of the great mystery of our blood, and how it works tirelessly to keep us alive,  coupled  with the awe and  wonder of the human body.   Plus the amazing process by which the Red Cross extracts my blood and delivers it to someone who needs it — just astounding.  So well done.  Bravo!  Kudos to the Red Cross for your exemplary service.

So here’s your reminder that an opportunity awaits you…do you want to raise your self-esteem? Do estimable acts!  Giving blood is a mood changer, uplifter and total Mitzvah blessing, in the full sense of the word.  Go for it! Click here to find nearest donation center in USA.

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