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.
"Happiness is your nature.
It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside
when it is inside. "
I have found no psychological healing technique more effective than EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), when it comes to treating 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. The is an art to doing this effectively, but even beginners can often achieve incredible results immediately.
The developer of the EFT technique, Gary Craig, notes that he's observed three basic categories of depression:
1) Depression that is fairly uncomplicated, and disappears within a few minutes of applied EFT.
2) Depression that is more complex, connected to multiple unresolved emotional issues - such as guilt, shame, grief, anger, past abuse, low self-esteem, and so on. This also is highly treatable with EFT, but requires more skill to weed out the various core issues, and apply the EFT to each one separately.
3) Depression that is due to a toxin, or other type of allergic reaction to a substance. I would include in this category, any type of biological or chemical factor, including inadequate nutrition, substance abuse, and other unhealthy life-style issues. Even this type of depression can be treated with EFT, but usually the offending substance must be removed in order for recovery to be successful.
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. I've seen in my own community that when a medical doctor chooses to leave the mainstream medical approach and adopt a holistic approach, and integrative or alternative health practice, that they lose the respect and support of a large percentage of their fellow doctors. And I've seen this here in northern California - one of the most progressive, health-conscious areas of the U.S.
So, when it comes to something as "radical" as energy medicine -- don't expect to get any support from your medical doctor. Consider yourself lucky if your doc doesn't laugh at the idea of EFT.
That said, EFT is finally starting to reach the mainstream, and some doctors actually are using EFT for their patients, to manage pain, speed post-surgery recovery, and reduce the need for medication. A number of my clients have seen T.V. talk shows featuring therapists who are using EFT or "Tapping" to reduce stress, quit smoking, and lose weight.
I urge you to suspend your disbelief, keep an open mind, and try it for yourself. If it doesn't give you significant results, don't blame the technique. Although it is "simple," it is subtle but profound, and there is an art to making EFT work for you. Be persistent, and "tap on everything." Try it on any and all issues - physical or emotional. And when in doubt, work with a therapist who is trained in EFT. You'll be amazed at the results.
I highly recommend this very short video about EFT:
"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 Mystic
The Wisdom of Mindlessness -
I talk a lot about “Mindfulness” - that concept that's often associated with Mindfulness Meditation. It is an attitude, or a state of intentional awareness where you simply observe all things that occur in the moment – both internally and externally. By living in a mindful way, stress is decreased, mental and physical calmness are increased, and a sense of hightened awareness, presence and acceptance develop.
Mindfulness is even being taught now in some public schools because kids concentrate better, have less negative behaviors, and learn better when they practice mindfulness meditation every day.
For more on this, see this
New York Times article.
So, what then, do I mean by Mind-Less-ness? In all of the jargon associated with mindfulness practices, there tends to be very little talk of thoughtless awareness. The state of consciousness commonly referred to as "emptiness" in some forms of Buddhist meditation, is a very advanced level of achievement. In other traditions, this same state may be called "Being" or "Presence" or "Stillness," or "No-Mind."
Most of us consider this to be an impossible attainment – to stop thinking – and it is indeed quite a lofty goal. But we can at least begin to move in that direction.
Eckhart Tolle is an excellent teacher of the wisdom of no-thought. And the Yogic traditions all share his view – that all human suffering, all mental and emotional pain, and all of life's misery is a direct result of thoughts (This is also the core principle of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy).
This is not the sort of thing that most educated, intelligent people want to hear – that their thoughts actually make them LESS intelligent! But this is in fact the truth of it: 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.
All thoughts are limiting. All thoughts are based on past impressions and past experiences. And all thoughts block us from experiencing the living here-and-now moment.
Without thoughts, would we be dumb? Catatonic? Unable to function in the world?
Fortunately, the answer is a definite "No!" When we have a break from our thoughts, we experience real joy, real peace, and true acceptance. Without thoughts, we experience bliss, gratitude and contentment. When in this still mind state, should the need to think arise, in order to act, or calculate, or make a decision, our thoughts come spontaneously and with perfect clarity, guided by intuition and a deeper source of inner-guidance. But we don't get attached to them. We use them in the best and most natural and powerful way, and then we let them evaporate and we return to stillness.
One of the best - though not the only - way to begin to quiet the "monkey mind" and shift into an awareness of inner stillness, is the practice of meditation.
Stay tuned for my next newsletter, where I will continue this exploration of Thoughtless Awareness...
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 meditative practice such as Tai Chi can be extremely beneficial.
Anyone with persistent suicidal ideation, 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!
The Dirty Truth About Drug Companies
Big drug companies have been accused of putting profits above patients, spinning false PR campaigns and more.
The price of drugs is increasing faster than anything else a patient pays for: The prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year. Some medications have a mark-up of 1,000 percent over the cost of their ingredients.
Sleep is one of the most critically important aspects of self-care, especially for anyone with Bipolar Disorder. Not only can lack of adequate sleep trigger a manic or mixed episode which can then escalate and last for days, weeks or months - but the inability to sleep can be a red flag symptom of rising mania.
If you find that you are sleeping less than 6 hours per night, AND you still have normal - or perhaps more than normal - energy level, there is reason for concern. And if you are only sleeping a few hours per night, and still feeling great - see your doctor or psychiatrist immediately. Letting this go unchecked can land you in a psychiatric hospital, behind bars, or even dead. This may sound dramatic, but I've seen this happen first hand - many times. A "happy mania" when allowed to increase, while sleep decreases, can put you into a critically dangerous state of mind, where all normal judgment and common sense are lost.
Go to bed at the same time every night if at all possible. Wake up around the same time. Try to get at least 8 hours. If you have trouble sleeping, try using EFT, or guided relaxation or meditation CD's, or herbal relaxation aids such as chamomile, valerian, skullcap, kava kava, or passion flower, or a combination sleep aid, widely available on the net, (I don't recommend marijuana). As a last resort, you may need to use prescription medication. Going without sleep for more than one day may have dire consequences.
Bipolar Disorder or "manic depression" affects about one in 70 people, across all cultures, 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.
"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."
Sometimes the best way to get what you want, is to stop wanting it.
With all the "Law of Attraction" teachings so widespread in recent years, many people find themselves frustrated, and continuing to struggle and attract negativity and drama, and loss, despite their efforts to visualize the object of their desire.
The key ingredient on attracting joyful experiences, positive people, beneficial opportunities, and greater abundance, is positive energy - positive e-motion. When depressed or anxious and worried or angry and frustrated and hopeless - we are not in a state which will attract better circumstances.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is to surrender to our present moment experience - to accept that in this moment, this is what exists and these are the feelings that are here.
Accepting our feelings and our current condition is an act of great power and compassion - not a weakness. Acceptance allows change to happen naturally and effortlessly. When a feeling is fully acknowledged and accepted, then it will begin to change.
Don't be in denial of your feelings, embrace them completely - even if it hurts. As your self-acceptance begins to release the pain, make the choice to shift your focus to something positive. It may be by making a list of things you're grateful for. If may be getting out into a beautiful natural place and reconnecting with the natural world. It may be through exercise that the mind finally begins to quiet down.
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.
Stay tuned for more specific suggestions for the use of EFT and Energy Psychology to attract abundance and positivity into your life.
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 - due for release this summer!
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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