Greetings Clients and Friends –
Winter can be long and tough to endure with its’ cold temperatures, gray days and snow storms. Winter nights can be especially dark with the skies shielded by clouds blocking the light of the stars and moon. It can feel like everything has come to a standstill – A barrenness to it all. However, that is simply not true.
Amidst the ice, snow and freezing rains is the spring that lies beneath preparing for its emergence with all of its newness. We need the winter to allow nature to prepare for this amazing event. So, perhaps winter can also be amazing and have much to offer us.
Winter can bring an opportunity to retreat and to take time to reflect and quietly ponder things that are important. It can be a time of our personal dormancy as we regenerate and nourish ourselves preparing to blossom as we approach another beginning.
Nature has much to teach us. If we pay attention, life starts to make more sense as everything is timed and orchestrated perfectly.
This issue of Living Well News is about the application of mindfulness in helping with improving mood and sense of well-being. We will examine the role of judgment and reactivity in challenging health and learn new skills to calm down.
Many of today’s problems are created by stress and confusion. We can see how problems can grow bigger and take on a velocity. Addiction, depression, medical issues and other stressors intermingle creating a unique display of behavioral difficulties and become more chronic in nature.
I hope that you find this information helpful. If so, feel free to forward to a family member or friend.
If you find that you can benefit from help with mood problems, give us a call at (610) 692-4995 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paula Tropiano, M.A., L.P.C., CCDP-Diplomate
We live in complex times. There are many things competing for our attention and presented as emergent which are not. It can be hard to discern the difference between fact and fiction. It is easy to be driven to distraction not to mention into a pattern of hyper arousal by the many stimulus which can create a chronic emergency response to everything that happens around us.
Over the course of time we can lose our center and our health if we do not regain control of our attention and harness the power of our minds in service of our well-being.
As an Addiction Counselor and Behavior Therapist in Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania, I work with clients who come in with some pretty complex issues; addiction, mood problems, chronic pain, anger and trauma to name a few. Much of the time the issues are occurring simultaneously. One might ask, “Where do you start?”
Many issues look complex – And, they are! However, healing always starts with “the moment.” Somewhere along the way, a person may have lost touch with the moment and in doing so also lost touch with themselves. Interruptions impact our ability to be connected to what is truly going on around us and feeling what is going on inside – They impact our ability to know who we are and to act from who we are. This is where loss of personal control starts; and develops taking on a life of its’ own. It is a sneaky and destructive process.
When we fall out of sync with our immediate experience we lose our ability to appraise what is true and what is not. The ability to “feel” is lost. Distorted thoughts develop which impact the ability to respond effectively to life’s challenges. If you can relate to this experience, perhaps you question yourself often and feel plagued by self – doubt.
We can see how problems created by confusion can grow bigger and take on velocity. This is how addiction, depression, medical issues and other stressors intermingle creating a unique display of behavioral difficulties.
In my years in treating clients with the aforementioned complexities, being able to establish attention, inner connection and awareness is key for all healing.
Clients who embrace an approach of “mindful curiosity” and a daily meditation practice (even a small one) build healthy habits. They make progress. Even addiction with its’ high rate of recidivism can be gently placed into remission via the practice of mindfulness and the skills applied to work with the human mind.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that evolved from a Buddhist concept developed 2,600 years ago to a mainstream method in psychotherapy and medicine. Mindfulness is a practice of purposely focusing attention on the present moment and accepting it without making judgments. The result is shifting thoughts away from the usual preoccupations and concerns toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.
Mindfulness is a self-regulation practice that focuses on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control. The goal is to foster the ability to live in the moment and create a sense of mental well-being or increase ones capacity for calm, clarity and concentration.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. spearheaded the transition of mindfulness into mainstream medicine is the United States. Kabat- Zinn’s work has positively impacted many people. Having started at the Stress Reduction Clinic at University of Massachusetts, with patients with chronic pain Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is now available throughout the United States and beyond to patients with many issues, including addiction, psychiatric disorders, terminal illness and just plain personal growth.
His book “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness” has been a best seller and the handbook for many who seek healing from long-term mental, emotional and medical problems.
The program Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is available at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Mindfulness Institute:
and, The Penn Program for Mindfulness at University of Pennsylvania:
Making quick decisions is necessary at times. We do this in the form of judgments, which are shortcuts in the interest of survival. The problem with judgments is that they can be used excessively. They also lack complete descriptive information needed in order to see and respond to the bigger picture of a situation.
Since quick assumptions bare limited information they can evoke powerful emotions. Good – bad thinking generally has this type of effect.
Judgments can fuel depression, anxiety, and mood states that give rise to the behaviors which bring the most negative fall-out.
To reduce unwanted symptoms, unproductive thinking needs to be addressed.
MBSR, The Attitude of Non-Judging by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Tips and Tools
Skills for Decreasing Reactivity – Orienting – Calming Down
Breathe is powerful! We come into this world with our first breathe and leave it with a final breathe. There are hopefully many breathes in between.
Each breathe is a new beginning. Breathe is nature’s restart button. It is available with us at all times.
To practice slowing down and reducing reactivity try these exercises. Remember with each bout of reactivity we are using our life energy and putting strain on the bodies..
Reduce Tension & Increase Energy
1. Sit in a comfortable chair – up straight and feet on the ground.
2. Take a few deep, slow breaths in and out.
3. On the next deep breath, slowly exhale through your nose keeping your lips closed, and making
humming sound (“hummmm”) as you exhale.
4. Inhale through the nose without humming and then exhale while humming.
5. Repeat the process 10 times.
Temper Controlling Breathing Exercise
1. Do not engage in an angry reaction. Stop, take a deep, full breath from your lower belly. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth.
3. Repeat a calming word or phrase such as “relax” or “it’s going to be okay” or “I have permission to
4. Remind yourself that you are in control of your responses and that the trigger setting off your anger
is not worth the sacrifice of your peace of mind.
A respected colleague of mine recommended the podcasts of Ana Melikian, Ph.D. a business coach.
In the podcast below, Dr. Melikian talks about slowing down and creating space between stimulus and response.
React or Create – Your Choice
By: Ana Melikian | Posted in: Podcast Episodes | Friday, Nov 14, 2014 – 12:26am
New Services – Increase Your Effectiveness and Self-Mastery
This bi-weekly group will support those who have been in counseling or having engaged in self development and looking for a personal coach to support them in going to the next level. Together, we will create a personalized roadmap for success by helping you get clear on what it is you want, identifying your unique strengths, and examining ways to overcome any potential roadblocks.
Much of the time, “What’s next” in our lives involves integrating or reinventing ones’ self, developing a new lifestyle, relationship changes, career decisions and more.
Some common challenges include:
• Developing new lifestyles
• Negotiating healthy relationships
• Making career decisions
• Organizing finances and handling money
As a group we will further develop skills and resources to:
• Increase personal awareness and sense of self
• Establish new relationships and networks
• Enhance existing relationships and making them better
• Improve communication skills; including self-advocacy and conflict resolution and prevention
• Reduce self-defeating behaviors / remove barriers to goal achievement
• Increase emotional emotion regulation skills and resiliency
Whether it is improving your health, preparing for a relationship, starting a new venture, this group is oriented towards achieving your goals.
Facilitator: Paula Tropiano, LPC, CCDP-Diplomate
Projected Day & Time: Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:00pm – Bi-weekly
Cost: $60/ group
Register: Email email@example.com or call 610.692.4995 to register.