What Causes Couples To Become Distant?

JUDGMENT

 

by Alex Katehakis at the Center for Healthy Sex
“Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more
important than the judgment we pass on ourselves.”
~ Nathaniel Branden

 
Judgments can create a wedge in relationships through our own insecurities, and keep us from loving more deeply or at all. Judging can prevent us from exploring our own intimate and sexual limitations because it’s easier to diminish the other person than to look at ourselves. In the electric flash of a single thought, we can turn the reality of another to rubble. But hidden in the debris are our own silenced truths. Cultural and familial programming creates false standards that hijack our focus and block us from our greater humanity.
One of the greatest truths we can realize is that everything perceivable is in process. When we judge ourselves and others, we are judging works unfinished. “He’s not worthy.” “She isn’t good enough.” “They’re on the wrong side.” All we think, we convey nonverbally, and our negative judgments only reinforce our prejudiced, narrow-minded positions in a relentless loop. We can’t change people, but we can change our judgments through risking intimacy. Each performance, project, gesture expresses the reality of the person who creates it, and the reality of each of us is irrefutably, ipso facto, beyond reproach.
Constant judging is akin to saying “I hurt. I need help.” But we rarely offer love and empathy to those who judge. No; we judge them in turn. Yes, sticking to our principles and perceptions is valuable. But our own false judgment, which hinders rather than helps someone’s process, is a wholly learned form of psychological abuse. No one should play the role of Higher Power for another. Only when people seek our expertise may we serve the spirit of the wisdom with which we’ve each been tasked. Ask permission before offering unsolicited advice, and know that internal negative judgments make us lose our connection with true life.

Questions for Reflection and Awareness
  • What recurring judgments do you make about others and about yourself? How are your judgments different from objective evaluations? Whose voice from your past is really speaking through you?
  • Know that your judging mind is a product of your past. Today, recognize your judgments for what they are, and let self-love fill the void gnawed out by carried shame. Love yourself and others. See how intimacy creates new reality.
Advertisements

Culture, Religion, and the Impact of Color

psychology of color

“The mainstream of creativity appears to be the same tendency which we discover so deeply as the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities.” ~Carl Rogers On Becoming a Person

“Nature always wears the colors of spirit.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box.” ~RuPaul

The Impact of Color

Color plays a big role in our feelings, perceptions, and actions. It can set a mood, draw attention, and even influence purchases. Color has historical context and cultural effects. Different colors invoke physiological reactions and impact our thinking. Color is a powerful influencer for our behavior, physiology, and mood.

Cultural Context

Culture can sway many meanings we have for color. Common phrases like “green with envy,” “the grass is not always greener on the other side,” “red with rage,” or “feeling blue” portray shared cultural influences.

Cultural associations have malleability. They change with time. For example, in the 2000’s, the color red emerged as an association with the Republican Party and the color blue implied the Democratic Party. Pink is also on the forefront that represents breast cancer.

History of Color

The first discoveries of cave paintings dates back to 25,000 BC wherein red ochre compared to the common place of black today.  Iron-rich soil made the red pigment readily available for expression and communication.

Over time, a palette of black, brown, yellow, red, and white emerged as artists mixed animal fat, burnt charcoal, chalk, and soil.

Iconic hues progressed from cochineal insects that produced a popular red pigment. Later lapis lazuli, a gemstone from Afghanistan created some of the most sought after and hefty priced paintings.

Green came from toxic arsenic and then later mixed with copper. Cezanne, Monet, and Renoir all used the vivid yet poisonous pigment.

Colors of Religion

Color helps express core beliefs and traditions of the foremost religions. The Christian Bible, the Buddhist scriptures, and the Torah have many references made to color and symbolize specific principles and ethics.

Christianity

In Christian countries, red is linked to the blood of Christ. It symbolizes pain and suffering and some times used as an alternate color for the Season of Lent.

Blue is the color of royalty. The hue is used to welcome the coming of a King, symbolizes the night sky and the birth of Christ with the rising star.

Violet is associated with repentance from sin. Black is a traditional color of mourning. White and gold partake in celebrations, holy days, festivals, and any presence of joy and brightness.

Buddhism

In Buddhist traditions, the highest level of meditative achievement is the rainbow body wherein the body is transformed into pure light. To achieve the rainbow body is to possess pure light, which contains all colors.

Red is one of the five color bands in the flag. Red (Lohita) is the Blessings of Practice, wisdom, virtue, achievement, dignity, and fortune. Red is a marker of sacred areas and a protective color often seen on the garments of monks and shamans.

Orange, also in the Buddhist flag refers to the Buddha’s teachings of wisdom.

Blue, a strip in the Buddhist flag is representative of healing, tranquility, purity, wisdom, and universal compassion.

Yellow is the middle path in Buddhism. It means avoiding extremes and emptiness.

Similar to Christianity, black refers to darkness, hate, anger, and evil. White represents purity, longevity, and knowledge.

Judaism

The history of Judaism dates back to 2000 BCE. It is one of the oldest religious practices in place today. Blue is a common pigment of the Jewish faith. It represents the Divine and the color of God’s Glory. Blue is part of the Israeli flag, the Star of David, and in fringes. The blue threads, or tzitzit often are worn on the corners of garments to separate the eating habits from those of gentiles’ and discourage acts of sin.

White symbolizes purity, intelligence, and innocence.  Red has contrasting symbolism of joy and happiness and sin.   Purple is the purification from sin.

Psychological and Physiological Effects

Color influences our physiology. For example, the primary color red is often associated with injury accompanied by the sight of blood. Red often associated with anger or embarrassment may cause a flushed face. Red also has been known to increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Red is also stimulating and evokes passion often times seen in women’s cocktail attire, ruby red lipsticks, and in sports. Research conducted at the 2004 Summer Olympics found competitors who wore red were more likely to win.

Blue, another primary color is often associated with tranquility, relaxation, nourishing, and calmness. It is the color of the sky, water, and sea. Blue is a cool color of sadness and may evoke feelings of depression for some.

Yellow, one of the three primary colors has shown to speed up metabolism. Yellow requires intense focus and grabs people’s attention.

Bubble gum pink tends to relax and have a calming effect on children. A pilot study conducted at the San Bernardino County Probation Department in California showed that a room painted bubble gum pink tended to reduce violent behaviors of children. When the youngsters were put in the 8-foot by 4-foot cell painted pink, they stopped yelling, banging, and fell asleep within ten minutes.

Conclusion

Color has many common associations. Readily obtainable mineral mercury gave way to the use of cinnabar, or red, during rituals in the Iberian Peninsula territory between Spain and North Africa, burial sites in the ancient culture of Yangshao in China, and in weddings and special occasions in the Chinese culture. In India, red is seen as a color of luck.

White across all cultures and religions symbolizes purity, light, and innocence.

Blue is also quite popular and universally represents wisdom. Red esteems condescending meanings across all cultures from passion to anger.

However, there is no definitive connotation to pigment. The article is intended to stimulate your thinking about color and its personal meaning to you. Colors can be contradictory and ambiguous. It is up to you to explore your color palette and what associations you have concerning color.

Here are some inquiries to ponder taken by Cathy A. Malchiodi, ATR, LPCC Using Art to Express Feelings: Drawing on Loss.

  • How do you use color in your dress, in your images, in your home décor, to express emotion?
  • Do certain colors have specific meanings for you?
  • Does your family, religion, ethnicity influence your associations to certain colors?
  • Do certain colors remind you of a specific holiday or event?
  • Are there colors that you wear for a specific occasion or situation?
  • What colors have you used the most in your artworks, wardrobes, or decors?
  • Are there areas of heavy uses of color? Light uses of color?
  • Do you like to use particular combinations, such as black and white; earthy, golden colors, pastels, deep, dark tones; colors found in nature?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your feelings, meanings, and preferences for colors over the years?

Positive Affirmations Don’t Work but the Truth Will Set You Free

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”  ~Thomas Jefferson

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” ~Buddha

I have noticed it with myself that when I decide I’ve done all I can to make this all happen and I decide to just let it go and move on, that’s when the universe takes over.

The minute you release your tight grip on the vision, the vision appears. I believe there are no accidents.

Oprah gives a great example of the belief, ‘there are no accidents.’ While she was living in Baltimore she was asked by her boss to attend a party at her house who happened to be one of the wealthiest people she had known. When Oprah arrived, she noticed the house was large but what amazed her the most was that the host had six large trees in her backyard. She had never seen a property with so many trees. She thought to herself, “Oh rich people have trees. If I ever have some money that’s what I want, six trees in my yard.” She could care less about fancy pocketbooks or cars but she was sure she was going to get those trees.

Just a few years ago, Oprah stood in her kitchen looking out the window as she made her morning coffee and she saw six trees. She was so taken back by that moment that she went onto the back porch to actually count them. That’s when she realized that she could dream the six trees but beyond that were thousands more all in her yard.

What she witnessed was way more than she could have ever imagined for herself. Suddenly it clicked, she could imagine and dream the six trees but all that there is due to the forces of her life, her experiences, and that only the universal energy, God could see way beyond that number.

Dream and Dream Big

The point is to surrender to the bigger dream that life has in store for you. Oprah admits that she is not special but claims that she was obedient to the call of the dream.

What is life’s dream for you? What is the universe dreaming for you right now? So many people spend their lives hoping, and wishing, and desiring things. But what is certain is that you don’t get what you hope for or wish for; you get what you believe. Surrender the dream for your life to the bigger, more divine flow that is your life.

Positive Truths

One way to go about changing your beliefs is positive truths. Many people have heard of positive affirmations such as, “I can achieve anything.” “I am beautiful inside and out.” “I am a great public speaker.” “I have an abundance of money in my bank account.”

Repeating them throughout the day can certainly improve your mood. You may feel empowered, ready to conquer the world. Unfortunately, they never stick. After awhile, you begin to feel like you’re lying to yourself.

A large unexpected bill, a rejection from a recent pitch you made, or even a friend not returning your call, can cause the mind to flood with anxiety and fear again. Nothing changes.

The truth of the matter is positive affirmations don’t feel authentic. The difference between positive affirmations and positive truths is that positive truths define what is really happening.

Personal permanent transformation takes honesty, respect, and love. When you say, “I have an abundant of money in my bank account” and you know you only have a few hundred dollars you are trying to fool yourself. The reality is you don’t have unlimited funds. Your mind knows this and angrily lashes back.

Positive truths look for the truth and put a positive spin on your honesty. They work because they are scripted with total honesty.

Here are some examples of positive truths:

  • I am frustrated with my lack of income, but I am exploring new ways to bring in more money and networking every week.
  • I am scared about my new business venture, but I am learning to have confidence in my ability to achieve my goals and reach out for help when I need to.
  • I am sad that I’m still single after all these years, but I am meeting new people and taking action. I am learning to listen and trust myself in the process and relate to diverse individuals in a more open capacity.

As you begin to write your positive truths, sense what an unlimited back account would feel like, and then use your imagination to visualize abundance. Repeat the mantra for two minutes a day, three times a day, and with consistency watch things start to shift in your life.

It may be helpful to create a collage, a painting, or some art piece as a symbol of your abundance. Each time you see the finished piece, take the time to sense the feeling of abundance and say your mantra at least ten times.

Positive truths are honest, self-respecting and loving assessments about your present situation and actions taking place to change them. They are friendly reminders of how you are taking care of yourself. You aren’t just sitting on the sidelines of life. You are living life, feeling all your feelings of joy, sadness, fear, gratitude, and worry. You are honoring who you are, what you are doing, and affirming your truths with compassion.

You are capable of becoming your dreams.

You honor yourself with honesty, self-respect, love and positive truths. Then let go of the rest. Let the energy of the universe take care of you and the rest will come.

About

As a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC #96155) residing in Los Angeles, I offer a safe and comfortable environment for individuals, couples, and groups to heal from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and neglect; anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and adapt easily through life’s many transitions. We meet weekly for 50 minutes in a non-judging environment in West Los Angeles, or via Google Hangouts or FaceTime. We work together to determine your goals, access your needs, and create a healing plan. Mindfulness, ACA tools, and nurturing support in the here and now are part of my approach to unleash critical thoughts, destructive beliefs, and assist in helping in parenting the child within. I welcome you to contact me at april@aprilwrighttherapy.com. l will contact you within 24 hours of receiving your email.

Happiness is Possible Every Day

“My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe.” Deepak Chopra

Time is the constant in the changes and seasons of life.  It is up to us to determine our perspective and use of that time.

Age

Many people worry about age. Children want to quickly grow-up. A favorite pastime of mine as a little girl was to play dress-up. I would raid my mother’s closet, searching for the perfect outfit, trying on many changes of clothes. I scavenged through her make-up drawer and would paint my face with various shades of pinks and purples. It was a fun past time imagining myself as an adult.

As I’ve gotten older, I now reflect upon times when my hair was a little thicker, fine lines weren’t quite as apparent, and my skin was plumper.

No matter the timeframe, the focus was on my outer appearance. One thing I value, as I’ve gotten older is my experiences have led me to be wiser, more confident, and self-assured. As I’ve become more aware of whom I am, I feel more at peace and ease with the natural flow of life. I am less forceful and resistant and more open and flexible.

With age, there are certainly changes but overall time allows for more gifts than drawbacks.

Oprah has been fortunate that she has never been one to worry about age. Her belief is it doesn’t matter how many candles there are on the birthday cake, you get to choose how you feel and see that number.

She shares such a wise perspective. Just as a little girl, I hoped to be older and as I aged, I thought at times, I’d love to be younger. The similarities exist in that both describe wanting to be something I am not now.

We all have a choice on how to view age. When Oprah turned 60, she felt, okay, I’m grown now. She said, “I am more myself than I’ve ever been.” Her outlook is throughout the years she’s been taking lessons from life’s experiences and today she is in awe of her journey on here on planet Earth, as it continues to unfold.

Feeling Alive is a Blessing

All our lives, no matter your background has been blessed with so many miracles.

Today it is our chance to feel alive; not just be alive. Admit just to be alive and breathing is a miracle. You can choose to be healthy and strong in whatever capacity available to you. It’s the comparing to others and wanting to be something we are not; just as I have done many times in my life, causes suffering. The moment I choose to accept this moment as I am right now, I find that peace I spoke of.

Oprah has learned from her milestone occasions, turning 30, 40, 50, and now at 63 is that if you allow yourself to breath in the depth, and the wonder and also the difficulties each year brings, you can live fearlessly. Look what you have already overcome and you’re still here.

You Are Timeless

YOU are timeless. Every experience brings to you a piece of the fullness of your life including the disruptions; the trauma, the divorce, the loss. Even the moments of pain and suffering offer the opportunity to explore the question, “ Is this worth my time?”

What is the best way to approach the issue of leading a happy life?

People have their own perspective on how to answer this question. Some work hard during their productive years, sacrificing happiness and fulfillment until they retire or until the children leave the home.

Some grind away five days a week and save play for the weekend. Only a fraction of the population thinks about happiness as a daily requirement. Positive psychology which studies optimal psychological states suggest the best strategy for a happy life is to have happy days.

Happy Days

The late 70’s/early 80’s hit show; Happy Days was wiser than it’s time. The lyrics to the theme song stresses every day is a choice to be happy and to be free to share in our happiness.

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days,
The weekend comes, my cycle hums
Ready to race to you

These days are ours
Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)
These days are ours
Share them with me.(Oh baby)

Goodbye grey sky, hello blue,
there’s nothing can hold me when I hold you.
Feels so right you can’t be wrong,
Rockin’ and rollin’ all week long.

Saturday, what a day
Groovin’ all week with you

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
The weekend comes, my cycle hums

Ready to race to you
These days are ours
Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)

These days are ours
Share them with me.(Oh baby)
Goodbye grey sky, hello blue,
There’s nothing can hold me when I hold you.

Feels so right you can’t be wrong,
Rockin’ and rollin’ all week long.

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
Saturday, what a day
Groovin’ all week with you

Happiness is a Conscious Choice

Striving for happiness is a conscious strategy. To consciously make each day a happy day, find ways to mediate, to journal, and to reflect inward. Treasure an approach that works best for you to have some time alone, some downtime and some playtime. This process is part of treating yourself with love because you can taking the time to cherish you.

Connection

Another important aspect of a daily habit of happiness is to connect with those that are close and important to you. The time can be spent on the phone, through email, or in person. The more personal the contact, the stronger the emotional bond.

Seasons of Life

According to Deepak, a successful life means that with each season of life we become more conscious and we continue to evolve.

The seasons of life begin with infancy and early childhood where biology dominates. Genes mainly at the cellular level control our development.   Divided by parents’ influences children don’t bare the responsibility for major life choices.

Personal choices loom larger after childhood as biology and family influence become less dominate. By adulthood everybody is involved in some sort of project; building a sense of self. Yet most people don’t see that this is happening.

Happiness Begins Within

Instead, most people focus externally on relationships, work, and family. But these can’t be fulfilling without personal evolution, a self that continually grows throughout all ups and downs of external events.

Although society offers a template for each phase of life such as going to school, getting a job, raising a family, then retiring. These stages are not a guideline to evolution. The only guide is within. Personal growth is measured by your vision of life as in your individual values, self-awareness, character, and fulfillment.

Evolution can’t be quantified on a chart. We are the judges of our lives. We determine whether we are happier, more loving, filled with kindness and consideration, more open to differences, and finding new outlets for creativity and self-discovery.

Happiness is a Conscious Daily Practice

The journey of consciousness unfolds each day from dawn to dusk. Our full life span, from beginning to end is an opportunity to grow in character, self-awareness, compassion, and understanding. We learn as students, we progress through our career choices, we grow via our choices for family or not, and later toward retirement. Every phase offers opportunities to stay in the present moment. Each day brings occasions to be the observer of your internal and external experiences. As we become more aware of our character and values, fulfillment is possible at every stage of our life.

How Your Wounds Share Wisdom

Many people begin their spiritual journey focusing on all that is whole and good in their life. Gratitude for the things we value is a key to having mindful living but equally important is continually excavating the long buried wounds you’ve hidden beneath layers of a protective shell.

Oprah says, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” She likes to think of it as this way, “When you are triggered by something, like an argument, pressure at work, money issues, or even someone cutting you off on the road, this is an opportunity to bring awareness to your feelings and how your body feels.”

How to Let Go of Pain

During triggered moments, unresolved feelings of anxiety, confusion, and frustration will rush to the surface.

Pause.

Take a deep breath.

Become still long enough to ask the question, “What is this experience here to show me, or to teach me?”

As you learn to interpret your internal responses, you’ll begin to recognize a pattern. We all have them.

The more you become familiar with that emotion, allow it to rise and unfold without resistance.

Welcome it.

Experience it in the body.

Release it.

Spiritual Disturbances

Think of these moments that trigger something inside of you as spiritual disturbances. A spirit of disturbance is a troubled heart, a stress-filled life, or a disturbed heart.

Since stress is part of most of our personal lives, either in our homes, part of our families, found in our churches, and experienced in our nation. It is slowly killing and robbing us of our daily peace of mind.

Pharmaceutical companies make a fortune off prescriptions to help reduce stress and other spiritual disturbances.  No matter how hard we try, pills can’t and won’t cure a disturbance of the heart when it is really a spiritual issue.

Spiritual disturbances lose their power the moment you stop pushing against them. The result is a constant and exhilarating sense of flow.

Perception of Time

Our perception of time changes according to our stages of awareness. This means our awareness can be a powerful agent for healing the past.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Time heals all wounds.” This is not truly accurate. Time does not heal all wounds because this implies a passive attitude; just wait long enough and time will do everything.

Attitude With Time

For this to be true, our attitude toward time has to be active, not passive. We need conscious responses, not unconscious reactions.

The negative experiences that happened yesterday or years ago linger as memory and trauma. These wounds are the main obstacles to making every moment matter.

Emotional Debt

Whenever we relive the past or anticipate a painful future, we are allowing old wounds to take on new life. Some psychologists call this emotional debt from the past.

Emotional debt can be equated to a bank. During negative experiences, when we react by just putting our head down and getting on with it, this response builds up emotional debt. Anger, hurt, stress, and grief withdrawals money out of the bank while conscious awareness, relaxation, and nourishment deposits money in the bank.

A Healing Approach to Past Pain

Things we have choice over, attitudes, beliefs, lifestyle, and self-care; allow us to consciously heal the wounds of conscious time and avoid their unwanted effects.

A healing approach to time begins with noticing your reaction in the moment. When you are in a stressful situation or are reminded of painful experiences from your past, take a few deep, long breaths, and be aware of how you feel. Notice your emotions and how your body feels. Be aware of any instinctual reactions, to retaliate, to resist or runaway.

Recognize that those responses are coming from your past hurt but your inner awareness, which notices these reactions and feelings is not hurt or limited in any way by the past.

This conscious presence is your real self. And it is the place through which you are free to choose a new response, different from your conditioned response.

Continue breathing and open yourself to an appropriate response to the situation that isn’t solely determined by your past pain.

But don’t try to respond like a saint or pretend to be indifferent. An artificial response does not heal your past hurt because it’s not coming from your present moment awareness.

As you become more familiar with the remaining connection to the conscious self during stressful situations, you become free from your conditioned reactions and heal your past.

By directing your attention to your inner awareness, you align your heart and mind to living in the present moment. When you learn to live from your timeless self, every moment of time is healing and everyday is filled with the joy of transforming yourself.

This is what is means to make every moment matter.

Centering Message

A centering thought for mediation is, “I heal my past by being in the present.”

7 Festivals Around the World that Celebrate the Dead

Halloween lies on the last day of October in the United States where candy, costumes and haunted houses come to life. Modern Halloween is more about fearing spirits and dressing-up as a character for the day.

Many other cultures instead of fearing spirits honor the dead and commensurate their spirits.

Today is not only a new moon; it is the day of the dead. I thought a fresh look at festivals around the globe that celebrate the deceased would be eye opening.

  1. DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICO

Possibly the most famous celebration of the deceased, Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead festival, traces to the pre-Columbian era and spans from October 28 until November 2. The Day of the Dead is about remembering loved ones and honoring family members who have passed away.

The country’s most vibrant celebrations take place in Mexico City and Oaxaca, where cemeteries and homes display altars adorned with yellow marigold and red terciopelo flowers, intricate sugar skulls, and papel picado, a colorful perforated paper engraved with skeleton designs.

  1. FIESTA DE LAS ÑATITAS, BOLIVIA

 Bolivia’s Fiesta de las Ñatitas (Festival of the Skulls) is an ancient ritual among the indigenous Aymara people, honoring the special bond between the living and the deceased.

Ñatitas are exhumed human skulls that some Bolivians believe protect them from evil, help them achieve goals, and even work miracles. The skulls spend most of their time indoors, but are paraded in La Paz’s main public cemetery every year in early November, where they are decorated with flowers and pampered with cigarettes, coca leaves, and other treats.

  1. HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist commemoration, celebrated in China on the seventh month in the Chinese calendar. It is believed that spirits are able to roam the Earth throughout this month, and on the 15th night specifically, these spirits have the chance to visit their living descendants.

Throughout “Ghost Month,” gifts are made to the deceased, traditional theater is performed, and people set places at tables for dead members of their family. After the festival, people light lanterns and float them in bodies of water to help lead spirits back to the underworld.

  1. FÊTE GEDE, HAITI

This annual voodoo festival in Haiti takes place throughout November, but the majority of celebrations occur during the beginning of the month. Voodoo believers converge on Port-au-Prince’s main cemetery to honor the Gede (a family of spirits with the powers of death and fertility), laying out gifts such as homemade beeswax candles, flowers and—to warm the Gede’s bones—bottles of rum stuffed with chile peppers.

Dances, rituals, and costumes play a large part in this unique festival celebrating the dead.

  1. OBON FESTIVAL, JAPAN

The Obon festival is a Japanese Buddhist holiday celebrated July 13-15 or August 13-15 (depending on the region in Japan), honoring the return of the spirits of deceased ancestors. People revisit their hometowns to tend their relatives’ graves, which are cleaned and decorated with flowers.

There are Obon festivals all over Japan that combine traditional dances and celebrations. On the last night of Obon, people light candles and have bonfires to mark the departure of the ancestral spirits.

  1. CHUSEOK, SOUTH KOREA

Chuseok is one of the largest and most widely celebrated holidays in South Korea. The primary reason for Chuseok, held on the fall equinox, is to honor ancestors and deceased relatives. However, the holiday is considered a general time for families to congregate, reconnect, and enjoy fantastic feasts. Traditionally, Chuseok has also allowed South Koreans to celebrate the autumn harvest after a season of hard work.

Chuseok is largely centered on the culture and history of South Korea. To honor the traditions that connect them to their roots, many families will visit their ancestors’ villages, perform rituals and ceremonies, and visit graves while wearing traditional garb.

  1. GAI JATRA, NEPAL

Gai Jatra, also called the Festival of the Cows, is celebrated in August and September in Nepal. During the celebration, a procession of cows is marched through the streets of Kathmandu, led by family members who have lost a loved one within the last year. Cows, which are considered holy in Hinduism, are thought to be able to guide the recently deceased to the afterlife. Following the cow procession, participants dress in costume and dance in the city center.

Gai Jatra is regarded as a celebration, meant to help people accept death as a reality of life and to help ease the passing of those who have died.

Do you have a ritual or particular way to help ease loved ones who have passed? I’d love to hear how you have dealt with death in your life. If you need help with the grieving process or want to explore your spiritual growth, please feel free to contact me at april@aprilwrigththerapy.com.

How to Release From Emotional Blocks

The Mind

Our mind is constantly working. It has three basic functions of thinking, feeling, and desiring. We then respond consciously or unconsciously depending on how aware we are of our thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Many patients share stories claiming they don’t think. When I inquiry deeper, they discover they do think but deliberately distract themselves from paying attention.

The pain of their thoughts is too great to face. They rationalize, “if I’m not aware of my thoughts; they don’t occur.” It’s the old adage, “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.”

Suppressed Emotions

It is not uncommon for a child to be conditioned to suppress their emotions. Cultural views or mishandling of a child’s natural reaction to pain, hurt, or not getting what they desire teaches the child not to show feelings.

Suppressing our emotions doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it makes it more difficult to manage imminent life distresses. Research shows when we deny our thoughts, feelings, and desires they become stronger.

The Body

Our emotions don’t go away, they build-up in the body. Neglected emotions cause inflammation in the body, which then increases stress on the body. Risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety rises.

Unreleased emotions causes the immune system to weaken and then bones begin to fracture easily, joints become stiff, and illnesses become more frequent.

Relationships

The effect of suppressing emotions continues to not only have detrimental effects on our mind, body, and overall health but also on our relationships.

Relationships start to deteriorate due to unfamiliarity of social cues and gestures propelled. Frequent misunderstandings cause resentment, anger, hurt, and sadness. As communication skills decline, consequently relationships begin to fail.

The Brain and Trauma

During a traumatic event such as an assault, a robbery, or a car accident our thinking part of the brain naturally shuts down to protect us. Our brain is then able to fully focus its attention on surviving. Our body responds immediately ready to fight, flight, or freeze.

The similar way our pain receptors block us from feeling intense pain at the time of physical harm, the mind functions to suppress intense, negative emotions during times of crisis to defend us.

The brains’ response to trauma protects us. However, when we consciously disconnect from our emotions during normal life’s tribulations such as a fight with our spouse, death of a family member, anxiety from work, or from the loss of a job; our mind, body, and relationships suffers.

Common signs of stored emotional pain:

  • You overly distract yourself to maintain self-control.
  • You keep yourself extremely busy and moving to avoid negative thoughts.
  • You avoid talking about the incident because you don’t want to feel undesirable emotions.
  • You avoid people, places, or objects that remind you of the incident or that bring up adverse emotions.
  • You numb emotional or physical pain with alcohol or drugs.

It takes deep reflection, awareness, and efforts to uncover denied emotions let alone release them. Many of us, have a hard time even putting words to the sensations felt.

Nevertheless, it is important to find time to express your emotions in a healthy way.

Modified from Deepak Chopra teachings, here is a beneficial method to release emotions.

  1. Think of a specific event and write what happened. In your narrative, explain how you felt using feeling words such as:
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Hostility
  • Rage
  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Sorrow
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Apprehension

As you are experiencing these emotions, feel them in your body. It may be a physical sensation of stiffness, discomfort, tightness, or pain in the stomach or around the heart. A headache or a tightening of the throat is also common.

  1. Next write what other people did and how you reacted afterward.
  2. Write another narrative but this time from the point of view of the person who hurt you. Pretend that you are that person. Write down what they are feeling, why they acted as they did, and how they responded afterward.
  3. Finally write a narrative using the same event but from the perspective of a reporter. In the third person, write how an objective observer would tell readers about the incident. Be as objective and even-handedly as you can.
  4. Share your experience. Tell your experience to a good friend, loving family member or a therapist. Keep from relaying your three stories to the person who hurt you. They will most likely not understand or be supportive. It is crucial to tell your tale to someone sympathetic and has your best interests at heart.
  5. Create a ritual to set free your three stories. Burn them, flush them down the toilet, make paper airplanes and release them to the wind. As you release your stories, visualize all your pain; sorrow, and frustration leave your body.
  6. Take yourself on a date. Go out to dinner, get a massage, buy yourself something nice. Choose an activity to cherish the work you did and the emotional release.
%d bloggers like this: