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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all enjoy your time with friends and family, and get your share of wonderful food and good company. Here are 10 things to do to make your holiday even more enjoyable!!

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1. Wake up each morning and smile! Let that be the very first thing you do, before you read your email, or wake the kids. Smile. Make the start of your day a positive one.

2. Drink lots of water! Make sure you drink about 1 liter of water for every 50 pounds of body weight. This will help you feel good, and will aid your body in digesting all the food it isn’t used to!

3. Get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise each day. It can be walking, running. I dare you to skip around the neighborhood!!!

4. Returning home, or spending time with family, can be a real treat. It can also bring up old difficult feelings. Remember to breathe, let things go, protect yourself energetically by imagining a shield or bubble of golden light surrounding you. And remember that the fastest way to dissolve conflict is with love and light. It’s easy to fight and blame, but more rewarding to find compassion, for yourself and your family.

5. Meditate! Take just 10-20 minutes, sit, follow your exhale, notice when you get distracted, label that “thinking” with compassion for yourself, and return to your exhale. Remember, the goal of meditation is not an empty mind, that is a side-effect. The goal is to get distracted, notice you are distracted, and return to your breath.

6. Really be thankful this year! Truly, seriously, what are you thankful for. In our family, we have a tradition of going around the dinner table on this holiday, and we each take a turn sharing what we are thankful for. I can never get through it without crying! It’s a wonderful tradition for us!

7. Do something active on Thanksgiving. Try taking the family on a walk, or a nearby hike, play some football! Get everyone out of the house, do something physical. Move your bodies. We know one family in our circle of friends who spend 30 minutes each Thanksgiving doing yoga together!! What a wonderful idea!2009 christmas doggies 007

8. Be careful with your animals! During the holidays, animals can get distressed. Their routine changes, suddenly the house is filled with other people, and sometimes they get these new and exciting food opportunities. Keep things as calm for them as possible, keep their exercise and eating routines the same. Remind your guests to not feed them extra food.

9. Do what makes you happy! If you notice that you are often left at the end of a holiday feeling empty, sad, unfulfilled, please make sure you get to do, say, feel, what you want to. Don’t spend the entire time pleasing everyone else.

10. Make the holiday spiritual. Thanksgiving is a time when we are grateful for the bounty of our lives, of the Earth. Celebrate friends, family, animals, nature, plants, the universe! Make a ritual with your family. On our Thanksgiving day hike, we like to do a ritual where we honor and celebrate the four directions and the four elements. Find a way to bring a spiritual element into your celebration!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

 

Chris Tickner, MFT (at Tree of Life Healing) is a Pasadena psychotherapistchild therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, combining mindfulness psychotherapysomatic psychotherapyneuroscience, and good old fashion humor and compassion to form a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic. At Tree of Life Healing, Pasadena’s Holistic and Alternative Healing Resource, we provide an array of treatment approaches including Somatic Psychology, Jungian Psychotherapy, group therapyHakomi PsychotherapyReiki Energy TherapyShamanic Healing,Intuitive Counseling, and more.

 

Pasadena Holistic and Alternative Healing

Sample Alternative Healing Methods Available in Pasadena

 
go to Tree of Life Healing’s website for more info
 

When: Sunday, November 10, 2013, 9am- 3pm. Registration starts at 9:00. Fee is $25.00. Fifteen-minute healing sessions start at 9:30.

  • Where: Tree of Life Healing, 427 S. Marengo Ave. Bungalow #5, Pasadena CA 91101. Visit our contact page for a map. Street parking available. Small lot behind bungalow.

What: Five local practitioners will offer a sampling of their work in private 15-minute mini-sessions for all ages! Sample just one, or try all five! Come for the registration/orientation at 9am and plan your day. You can schedule all your sessions back to back, or with time in-between for relaxing, journaling, enjoying the featured local art, or grabbing a bite to eat across the street at Whole Foods. (9am registration is not mandatory, just know that sessions are offered on a first come first serve basis).

How to Attend: Register at 9am and plan your customized day of healing (no pre-registration required) or drop in by 2pm (sessions end at 3pm). $25 at the door entitles you to up to five mini-sessions.

Tree of Life Healing

Pasadena Psychotherapist

“Isn’t it just a chemical imbalance, shouldn’t I take medication to fix it?”  Constantly hearing the thousands of commercials selling drugs for all kinds of problems, you can fully understand where we get this notion! Better living through chemistry, right?  You feel down, take a pill. You have a headache, take a pill. Your child is annoying, give em’ a pill. And in many cases, drugs have made our lives easier and have eased the suffering of millions. But are mental health issues really just a result of a brain chemistry?

What is the cause of mental illness? Is it a chemical imbalance? Perhaps a genetic predisposition, or maybe the result of life experience? While we need more research, a picture is beginning to emerge that the answer is Yes! All three! In order to develop a mental illness you probably will have some sort of genetic predisposition, have had a negative life experience (i.e. trauma, difficult childhood) that turned on those genes, and then a resulting chemical imbalance in the brain that we can actually measure. But is it in fact the chemical imbalance that is the problem and the best target for intervention?

Lets look to mother nature for some clarity here. Take any plant. If the leaves are turning brown and falling off, we know the plant is sick. We can see it, measure it (just like a lack of serotonin in the brain). Is then the best course of action to stick on some new leaves, or to inject some chlorophyll into the stem? That might work for a bit. The leaves might look healthier, and as long as we keep injecting chlorophyll, all will be well. But what is at the “root” (pardon the pun) of the problem. A lack of chlorophyll? Or is it perhaps something to do with this particular plant being planted in the wrong place? Perhaps a lack of nutrients in the soil, not enough water or sunlight! Holistic Psychotherapy

Depression and its accompanying shift in neurochemistry is a result of a lack of nutrients in our lives. Something is wrong, and our body tells us this via depression. We can take a med and feel better, but the nutrient is still missing. We will still feel depressed if we stop taking it. Depression, anxiety, addictions, phobias, and obsessions are our body/mind/spirit’s way of getting our attention that something needs to change. We need to be fed!

By just treating the symptoms, we miss the real origin of the problem. At Tree of Life Healing, we treat the whole person, body, mind and spirit. While relieving symptoms is paramount, we also work to heal the real cause of your problem. Drop by on November 10 for our Healing Arts Salon and sample up to five 15-minute healing sessions with some of Pasadena’s most talented healing practitioners including Somatic Psychology, Reiki, Massage, EFT, and Sound Healing.

Pasadena PsychotherapistChris Tickner, MFT (at Tree of Life Healing) is a Pasadena psychotherapistchild therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, combining mindfulness psychotherapy, somatic psychotherapyneuroscience, and good old fashion humor and compassion to form a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic. At Tree of Life Healing, Pasadena’s Holistic and Alternative Healing Resource, we provide an array of treatment approaches including Somatic Psychology, Jungian Psychotherapy, group therapy, Hakomi Psychotherapy, Reiki Energy Therapy, Shamanic Healing, Intuitive Counseling, and more.

 

We all experience times when things seem out of alignment. What used to feel comfortable or safe, or was a known and reliable thing, suddenly is no longer. Our emotions, behaviors, and experiences seem unfamiliar, like something is wrong. We can feel like we’re going crazy!!

I’d like to suggest that it is these very times, when things no longer fit, that we are actually experiencing great and powerful change. And that it is important during these times that we slow down and allow things to just be, allow them to re-coalesce into their new shape. It requires us to sit in discomfort, and we’re not so good with that in our culture.

We are so quick to jump at the chance to bring things back into comfort. We get depressed, we take a pill, we feel lonely, we reach out, we get angry, we take some deep relaxing breaths. Now, I’m not saying that is all bad, but perhaps at times we could instead just hang out in the messiness of it. Let it percolate a bit. Remember that balance and harmony come out of chaos and confusion. We have to really experience the craziness in order for things to start making sense again.

Here is a great example from the book “On Being Certain, Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not” by Robert A Burton. Read through the next paragraph, the whole thing, don’t skip anything. And when you’re done, close your eyes and feel you body. Notice your emotions, and what your body is like. Sit with it a moment or two. See what is familiar about it. Then, open your eyes, and scroll down and read the next paragraph.

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. Once needs lots of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve as an anchor. If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

Now close your eyes and just notice, without judgement or trying to change anything. When you are done, scroll down the page.

OK. Good. Now, take a look at the following image, and then read the paragraph again.

Image

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. Once needs lots of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve as an anchor. If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

Makes sense now doesn’t it!! This is what happens to us when things shift, when a new configuration is forming. Things seem like they don’t make any sense at all! These are the first stages of healing. I can’t tell you how many times this happens in my office. We all want to come into to therapy and have things just get better right away. But it rarely, if ever, works out that way. Instead, there is often a period of confusion, chaos, where things go crazy. This is necessary. We have to be in that place. But it is temporary and helps to not be there alone! Suddenly, things will make sense again. It might take one word, one thought, one action or movement, and suddenly this new way of being that had been feeling unbalanced and out of whack, comes into focus, and is the new YOU. This is how we heal, and change.

Chris Tickner, MFT (at Tree of Life Healing) is a Pasadena psychotherapistchild therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, combining mindfulness psychotherapysomatic psychotherapyneuroscience, and good old fashion humor and compassion to form a a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic. At Tree of Life Healing, Pasadena’s Holistic and Alternative Healing Resource, we provide an array of treatment approaches including Somatic Psychology, Jungian Psychotherapy, group therapyHakomi PsychotherapyReiki Energy TherapyShamanic Healing,Intuitive Counseling, and more.

And breathe 2, 3, 4…

breathing

In this, the third of a four-part series on stress reduction, we will focus on treating the cause of stress.

 

Remember that stress is an automatic response to a perceived threat. This perception is based on our previous life experience. If we had an encounter with an aggressive dog as a child, for example, we might still be afraid of dogs as an adult.

 

 In order to reduce stress, therefore, we must find a way to change our perceptions. This requires mindfulness, the ability to be clear and present in a given moment, free from judgment, criticism or intense emotions. When we develop this ability, we find that we become intimately aware of our own perceptions and thoughts. For example, as an adult we can become aware that our fear of dogs is from our childhood, and certainly should not rule our lives as adults. Once we understand this, we can change our lives. Maybe we might discover we love dogs. Replace this dog example with any stressful situation in your life. You have the power to change the way you react. This power is mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness can be cultivated in many ways including meditation, yoga, exercise, and spiritual practice. Try the following brief introduction to meditation.

 

Sit comfortably, or lie down. Start to notice your breath. There is no need to do or change anything. Just keep your attention on your breath. Eventually, a thought will come. When you notice you are thinking, don’t judge it, don’t indulge it. Just note it, and gently return your awareness to your breath. Do this for several minutes.

 

Cultivating mindfulness is not relaxation! It requires energy and discipline. It takes courage and intention to be open to knowing ourselves on such an intimate level. Research shows that mindfulness reduces stress, increases compassion for self and others, and promotes feelings of peacefulness and improved self-esteem. All of this leads to a more relaxed way of life.

 

Chris Tickner is a Pasadena psychotherapist, child therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, where he combines mindfulness psychotherapy,  somatic therapy, neuroscience, and good old fasion humor and compassion to form a a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic.  There are thousands of California psychotherapists, and finding a counselor or finding a therapist can be daunting. On his website, Chris provides a primer to help you find the therapist that is perfect for you! Chris is also a Pasadena therapist specializing in anxiety psychotherapy and depression psychotherapy

 

Stress Reduction – Part One: Take A Chill Pill!!

zenWe’ve all heard it before. Stress is bad! We need to fight it! But if you’re like most people, it’s not a priority, and you probably don’t know the whole story.

In this four-part series we will learn exactly what stress is, why it’s sometimes bad, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its damaging effects.

The stress response is a built-in, hard wired, survival mechanism that allows us to respond to perceived threats quickly and effectively. It’s the same mechanism that allows animals in nature to escape attack. When our brains perceive a threat, our body automatically responds. Ever pull your hand out of hot water and then feel the pain? It wasn’t the pain that made you pull it out. It was the stress response automatically protecting you.

When our brain senses danger, its starts a neurochemical chain reaction. Adrenaline and other chemicals course through our bodies. Systems that are unnecessary start to slow down, including digestion, reproduction and immune protection. Our heart and breathing rates increase. Our muscles become stronger and more effective. Our senses become more precise allowing us to be more alert. All this so we can either run away from or fight whatever is threatening us.  

In nature, once the animal has escaped, his systems return to normal. But for us, confronted daily with violent and disturbing images in the media, more and more traffic, and a polluted environment, we stay stressed. This is where things go wrong for us. A mechanism that is supposed to keep us alive ends up making us sick.

Take time now to notice the level of stress in your life. Write down at least three things that really make you feel stressed out!

Next time we’ll look more closely at how stress can negatively impact us.

Chris Tickner is a Pasadena psychotherapist, child therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, where he combines mindfulness psychotherapy,  somatic therapy, neuroscience, and good old fasion humor and compassion to form a a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic.  There are thousands of California psychotherapists, and finding a counselor or finding a therapist can be daunting. On his website, Chris provides a primer to help you find the therapist that is perfect for you! Chris is also a Pasadena therapist specializing in anxiety psychotherapy and depression psychotherapy.

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