Welcome to Mind Over Matter -- bringing you inspiration, hope and practical tools for your return to well-being. Whether seeking recovery from depression, anxiety, or stress, or looking for a greater peace, happiness and personal satisfaction with life, we can offer some light in the dark.
More than just ideas to help you during times of crisis and trouble, Mind Over Matter has something for everyone - to help you on your journey towards becoming more conscious, empowered, successful, and joyful.
We've just experienced one of the most historic moments in the history of the United States, and perhaps in the history of the modern world. For those that have been solely focused on the politics of yesterday's presidential election in America – you either “won” or “lost,” depending on who you voted for.
But for those of you who understand the deeper significance of what just happened, this is a point of profound transformation – on every level – personally, globally, and spiritually.
For the first time in decades, young people in America actually went out and voted, and campaigned for what they believe in. Most remarkable about this is that young people felt empowered enough, and hopeful enough to make their voices heard. Only five years ago, there was such apathy, hopelessness, and depression about the state of America, the war in the middle east, the corruption in government – that young and old alike, were giving up hope. “Free speech”, “free thought”, and “freedom of religion” were becoming meaningless terms to many who felt only the hypocrisy, injustice and discrimination in our society.
The eyes of the world are on America today. People are having parties and openly weeping for joy in countries that many of us have never even heard of, and in counties whose presidents we will never know the names of! The whole world has a renewed sense of hope for the future of human kind, because of what just happened in this country. Think of how remarkable that is.
Regardless of the struggle that lies ahead for this country in righting itself and finding its place in the world, as a haven of true freedom and vision, one thing is certain: Today marks a giant turning point in global consciousness.
I urge each of you to take it slow this week, and deeply contemplate – really visualize a better future for yourself and for humanity. Your imagination – your vision – is what creates your future and the future of all of us – collectively. Don't rush back into your daily grind. Take time to pause and connect with your neighbor, with the guy in the next cubicle, and the clerk at the grocery store. Take in the idea that perhaps there is an opportunity here for a collective agreement that we can live a more connected, loving, compassionate, and meaningful life. Learn to love yourself unconditionally. The power lies within you.
November 5 2008, 11:30 a.m.
"Psychotherapy is the only form of therapy there is. Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing. This does not appear to be the case, for the manifestations of this world seem real indeed."
--A Course In Miracles
I have found no psychological healing technique more effective than EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), when it comes to treating most cases of depression, (as well as anxiety, traumas, and phobias, and numerous other issues), in my own clinical practice.
I could have saved some of my clients many months of therapy, and a lot of money if I had been practicing EFT ten years ago.
The method involves simple tapping on a sequence of acupressure points on yourself (or someone else can tap on them for you), while keeping the mind focused on the specific symptom or disturbance that you are wishing to eliminate. There is an art to doing this effectively, but even beginners can often achieve incredible results immediately.
The light tapping on the sequence of 8 major meridian points produces a feeling of relaxation, inner calm, and peace for most people. For others the affect is more dramatic and they feel tingly, giddy, very deeply relaxed, or very energized after one or more rounds of tapping (regardless of the issue they are treating).
By tapping on these electrochemical activation points, the nervous system is balanced, and the emotional center of the brain (the amygdala) ceases it's reactivity to the disturbing negative thought, image, memory, or whatever the case may be. Saying key words and phrases out loud as you tap on each point, is usually an important part of focusing in on the core issue, and essentially collapsing it. Once resolved, it is usually permanent.
I must say, as a mental health professional with 17 years of experience, I never would have expected to find myself using this technique, and was very skeptical and judgmental of it for a long time (even with my strong belief in energy healing, and holistic medicine). But the method works, and I am for whatever relieves people's suffering quickly, painlessly, permanently, inexpensively, and with no side effects. For many, this simply sounds too good to be true. Fortunately, in this case, it really is true.
It will be some years before most therapists, psychiatrists and doctors accept energy healing modalities such as EFT and see their true potential. But once it catches on, there will be no turning back to the long, painful, arduous process of traditional psychotherapy and medication.
I highly recommend this very short video about EFT:
The Human Machine?
It is astounding to see that mainstream medicine still treats the human body like a robot made of meat. A machine built out of parts. The medical profession is still focused on fixing broken components, rather than on creating total health, and most doctors don't even venture so far as to give any real dietary guidelines. If they do, they are often the most obvious, and often outdated recommendations about nutrition. Fixing what's broken seems to still be the dominant paradigm in medical treatment.
The term "holistic" is unfortunately still eyed with suspicion by many doctors.
"Nothing is wrong with you, but the ideas you have of yourself are altogether wrong. It is not you who desires, fears and suffers, it is the person built on the foundation of your body by circumstances and influences. You are not that person. This must be clearly established in your mind and never lost sight of...
Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever present, ever active, until you realize yourself as one with it. It is not even very difficult, for you will be returning only to your own natural condition."
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Indian Saint
As I discussed in our last newsletter - The still mind state of Thoughtless Awareness, sometimes called "Being" or "Presence" or "No-Mind," is one of the main subjects of all meditative traditions.
We are in fact, more intelligent, more aware, more present, more intuitive, and more wise, when the mind is clear, quiet, and uncomplicated by thoughts.
Being intellectual, highly intelligent, quick witted, or mentally superior does not make a person any happier than anyone else. Thought are a great tool, but they do not open the heart or produce a state of deep peace. Thoughts may point the way, they may inspire, but the deepest places of peace and love within us are only experienced in the moments of stillness - when the restless mind stops chattering, and becomes quiet.
The meditative traditions all recognize this basic truth. And proper use of the breath is the key to that door. Breathing consciously, with awareness, is the first step in quieting the mind. Simply by focusing your full awareness on the breath -- breathing slowly and deeply from the belly (not the chest) is the best way to shift your consciousness, to become less angry, less anxious, less stressed, and less depressed. All of those restless states are produced and maintained by a mind full of restless thoughts, and by a shallow, restless, and unconscious manner of breathing.
In the ancient Yogic traditions of meditation, it is recognized that the mind is like a lake, and the breath is like a wind that creates ripples on the water. If the breath is heavy, uneven or rapid the waves and ripples distort the perfect reflection on the lake. But with slow, steady, and rhythmic breath, the breathing becomes more and more even, until it grows still. When this occurs, the surface of the lake become still - like a perfect mirror, reflecting your true Self. Only then is true meditation said to take place.
While that is an advanced state that requires a committed discipline and ongoing practice of meditation, even a little effort to be more conscious of your breath will start to clear out negativity, and bring you back to the awareness of present moment.
Meditation is not one single technique. There are literally thousands of different meditative practices, visualizations, mantras, yogic postures, and methods of concentration that are all a part of what we know as "meditation." It is important to find the method that works best for you - for your temperament, attitude, and goals. What's most important is a consistent practice, if you want to get results.
Even a moment of inner stillness - just a glimpse of a clear, silent mind, devoid of thought, can bring you enough peace to carry you through your whole day.
A Few Words of Caution:
If you have any family history of psychosis, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder - or have any of these issues yourself - then I'd be more inclined to suggest Mindfulness Meditation and only in short periods of practice - to gradually develop an inner observing consciousness, and to become more aware of the inner landscape of your mind and body. Some yogic practices are very powerful and can trigger mania or psychosis in those with a vulnerability to this. For some, a more body-oriented, moving meditative practice such as Tai Chi or Chi Gung can be extremely beneficial.
Anyone with persistent suicidal thoughts, dissociative episodes, or severe self-critical or disturbing thoughts, or unresolved traumatic memories should work with a therapist and/or qualified meditation teacher to provide close guidance and safety. Intensive meditation can sometimes worsen these symptoms before improving them, and you can become flooded and overwhelmed by emotions or upsetting memories or negative thoughts; intensive meditation may as also increase the tendency to dissociate more. For anyone with PTSD, severe depression, obsessive thoughts, or extreme anxiety, it can be extremely helpful to use EFT first, to resolve these issues, before attempting deep meditation. The meditation below is quite gentle and safe, but trust your own feelings and intuition, and only continue to use it if you feel safe, and at ease.
The Best Place to Start is Here and Now
Meditation may free you from many self-imposed limitations, fears, and unhealthy attachments, but the results come gradually, and only through regular practice. With practice, the results can be more far reaching than just about anything else you might do for yourself. For beginning meditation, it is much easier to use a guided meditation, so that you don't get too distracted by your own restless thoughts.
Try meditating right now. Put on some headphones and click play to listen to my guided meditations. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit as you listen. These two gentle 15 minute meditations should give you a good start (sorry they're not downloadable at this time):
Stay tuned for my upcoming revision of this meditation. It will be extended in length, with an additional music-only section. I hope to have it available for sale and available for download this summer!
Bipolar Disorder: Tip for the Day
Are There Natural Supplements for Bipolar Disorder that Work?
Bipolar Disorder or "manic depression" affects about one in 70 people, and is equal for men and women.
The most successful approach that I've found for treating Bipolar Disorder is holistically -- from all sides -- to achieve optimum health on all levels. Some of the most influential artists, musicians, poets and entrepreneurs have been Bipolar. By getting comprehensive treatment, the creative genius of the Bipolar mind need not be lost in a haze of medication. Medication can often be minimized by learning to reduce stress, manage relationships, recognize warning signs of depression or mania, getting optimum nutrition for a healthy brain, and building a reliable support system.
Many of my clients with Bipolar Disorder are on psychiatric medications. On average, about 4 medications. I've seen some people whose doctors just keep adding more drugs when things don't improve, or when things get worse. I've seen people on 12 or more different psych meds. Obviously, this is not the answer. This is medicine out of control, and it is not the patient's fault.
Over this past year, I've become aware of a supplement produced by a company in Canada called TrueHope. They make a product called EmPower Plus, specifically given for symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. They will talk with you on the phone as frequently as needed, and their knowledgeable staff will advise you on how to incrementally, and safely taper off your current psychiatric medications, and onto their supplement. They will even talk to your doctor (if your doctor will talk to them).
With very cautious optimism I have now watched two of my weekly therapy clients go off all of their meds and maintain a high level of functioning with this method. The longest so far has been 8 months. Both clients are doing far better now than they ever were while taking psychiatric medication. While this is not conclusive evidence for me personally, I am very encouraged by what I have seen so far. It may not be for everyone, but is well worth investigating.
If possible, include your doctor in making this decision - but use your own best judgment. Many traditional doctors will not trust a non-medical approach and may even tell you that they will no longer be your doctor if you try this natural medicine treatment. Personally I find that to be very unethical, but I suppose they do this out of fear for themselves - not wanting to be held liable for anything that may go wrong, using a treatment approach that they do not understand and have no training in.
"A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part."
Besides the daily practice of meditation,
is one of the most effective and powerful ways to shift your energy quickly, so that you can begin to naturally and easily attract a different set of circumstances into your life. EFT also almost magical in it's ability to quickly and gracefully remove subconscious emotional blocks and negative, limiting beliefs that cause us to sabotage our own efforts towards success and abundance.
If you haven't already, please read about EFT on my website by clicking the link above, and learn the basic technique, which is really quite simple. You can learn in more depth from the main EFT website: www.emofree.com.
Once you understand the basic method of tapping on pressure points, the next task is to identify "issues" to focus on. It is important to be specific. Here is an example. You can modify it to fit your own situation if necessary:
"I can't ever get ahead. I can't make enough money..."
The EFT routine:
1. Tapping on the "karate chop point" as you speak out loud, say:
"Even though I can't ever get ahead, and I can't ever make enough money, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.
"Even though I can't get ahead, and I can't make enough, I choose to love and accept myself."
"Even though I can't get ahead, and I can't make enough money, I choose to love myself anyway."
Then, tapping each point with the fingertips:
Eyebrow: "I can't make enough money"
Side of Eye: "I can't ever get ahead"
Under Eye: "I'm just unlucky"
Under Nose: "I can never be successful"
Chin: "I will always struggle to keep up"
Collar Bone: "I can't make enough"
Under Arm: "I don't have enough"
Crown of Head: "I can't make enough money"
Next round of tapping:
Eyebrow: "Maybe I can make enough"
Side of Eye: "But I never make enough"
Under Eye: "I choose to have what I need"
Under Nose: "I can't get ahead"
Chin: "Maybe I can allow more good things into my life"
Collar Bone: "I just never have enough"
Under Arm: "I choose to have enough"
Crown: "I choose to feel satisfied"
Last round of tapping:
Eyebrow: "I have what I need"
Side of Eye: "I always get what I need"
Under Eye: "I choose to accept good things in my life"
Under Nose: "I deserve good things, as much as anyone else"
Chin: "I have what I need"
Collar Bone: "I choose to feel satisfied"
Under Arm: "I choose to have everything I need"
Crown: "I choose to accept abundance in my life"
This technique is deceptively simple, but it's results can be profound. Try this technique at least daily -- preferably several times a day, and you will start to experience a shift in consciousness, and a change in "luck."
Stay tuned for more EFT tips in future issues!
Don't Give Up
Every life challenge is an opportunity to awaken. There is no situation that is hopeless. Something positive, healing and transformative is possible in all circumstances, even when we can't recognize it at the time. Sometimes we forge ourselves out of the fire of suffering and loss, and it isn't until the end that we realize what a beautiful work of art has emerged within.
May we all find peace. May we all know joy. May we all be liberated from fear, and released from illusions. May we all return to the Truth of our inner Light.
Be sure to look out for my upcoming e-Book - Natural Cures for Depression. Release date to be announced soon.
I value your opinions and your feedback. Please let me know if this newsletter was helpful and feel free to ask questions. I update my website regularly, so check the site for new information, and if you like what you see, let others know about it.
Wishing you health and great joy!
Ben Schwarcz, MFT is licensed psychotherapist (#mfc35606) and meditation teacher with a private practice at 3452 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA. He can be reached at 707-326-5566
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As with any drug, not all supplements are safe for all individuals and there may be risks and contraindications for people with certain conditions. Always consult a professional healthcare provider before before trying to treat a serious condition on your own.
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