Looks are Deceiving…..the Many Faces of Love

Loook at all these happy faces....a backpack trip I led on Cumberland Island
Look at all these lovely faces….a backpack trip I led on Cumberland Island

Facing our Truth?

Years ago I remember finishing an incredible backpacking trip in the Slickrock Creek Wilderness in North Carolina. Stopping at the first available convenience store so the group of us could stuff our faces with junk, I felt rather greedy and ashamed of our wealth in this sparse country.  As I was making my way back to our van, I was struck by the unsightliness of a woman entering the store. It was as if 1/2 of her face had been blown off. The sight of her face stayed with me, and for a few moments I was dumbfounded, and needed to gather myself. Part of me that was grateful that I did not have to deal with her directly. Now I know that in practicing mindfulness I would have been better equip to understand my feelings at the end of this trip.

In Buddhist psychology we are taught to face the truth of our own experience and be honest with ourselves……what this mind of ours is truly up to. I judge. We judge. And I am skeptical about those who say they do not. I wonder if they lack insight. As human beings we have a tendency to judge others often based on superficial information. We are superimposing our narratives upon the circumstances. Telling a story like that to others would have left me feeling all the more shamed and flawed. One story I sometimes share is about how much of a phony I feel to be sometimes. But being mindful-reflecting on my self- has helped me accept and begin to change those unwholesome parts of myself.

We identify with our face and others faces. I do not recognize my friend Bill as his legs, or introduce myself as my arms. We connect or disconnect with our faces. So when I see Bill, I already have my story of what Bill is about. Although the amount that I truly know about him is minuscule, I have filled in the blanks about who he is. An interesting way to practice is to be mindful of faces…take them all in.

We recognize something in every face that we see. People that we love, family friends, lovers this is a very pleasant feeling. We have very pleasant stories about the ones that we love. This is where we have imposed a perception upon the sensory data. When I see our child Lenora a pleasant sensation arises. A warm, agreeable, and heart felt connection. If I see a child that has caused my daughter some pain an unpleasant sensation arises. This perceptual process can lead to dissonance, a non attractive, not safe feeling. Disconnected, averse, distant, unfriendly. And there are those that we find neither pleasant nor unpleasant, invisible, non remarkable, and we may become indifferent, and the mind will become slothful, lazy. In some of these situations, we may try make some sense of the situation, and we fit some dialogue on top of that.  Age, culture, class, and gender has a lot to do with it. The problem is that the mind is deluded when it is becomes indifferent.  Recent research finds that neglect is worse that sexual abuse. Sometimes it seems as though the more unaware we are, the more checked out we are, and the more indifferent we become.

However all three perceptions are lacking….pleasant towards my daughter, unpleasant towards the alleged enemy, indifference towards the  non remarkable person. We sense that we are jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information, and that we really don’t want to make judgements, or assumptions- we really want to give all a fair shot. But sometimes in this frenetic, grasping society we often go to the default mode which has to do with aversion or checking out entirely.

These relationship impairments often lead to dissatisfaction, angst, and emptiness. We are coming to find in the interpersonal neurobiology of Daniel Siegel, and beginning with the attachment therapy of John Bowlby, that our sense of self is created in relationships.

Attachment research is now holding out that our entire concept of self is formulated through relationships. Those who did not have stable warm attached relationships as infants and toddlers, or were subject to trauma at some point in their life,  are likely to have a non attached worldview. Also subject to attachment issues are folks that have addictions, depression or anxiety. Their brains are not integrated; different parts of the brain, particularly the middle prefrontal cortex,  are not entirely wired together.

Mindfulness practice has been shown to lead to integration, wiring the brains’ different sections back together. This gives validation to the notion that spiritual communities and fellowship aid in developing a more healthy; and complete; mind and body.

“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Mother Teresa

As spiritual or psychological practitioners we need to have some faith and confidence that we are full of love. And that others are full of love also. What gets in the way is our own sense of woundedness, in other words non integration. This is truth for me. I see this when I am consciously connective, warm, intimate, loving. When I feel closed, cold, disconnected, I feel a lack of love, aversion, disgust and there could be a host of other unpleasant descriptors. So when we interact with others, we recognize the disconnect and accept the disconnect with mindfulness. The best place is to accept this within the body. Can I notice the sensations? What are the sensations like? Hard versus soft, hot versus cold, moving versus still etc. Then can I hold this in a space of mindfulness and equanimity? One of the most important tenets of parents who are securely attached is that they are comfortable in their own skin. So what we do is to notice and accept the unpleasant phenomena and create a loving response.

Several years ago I was counseling a young man from a local high school. As is so often the case, I would walk this person to the park and do our session there. My client was aghast when I would freely and happily say hello to anyone who happened in our path. His question was “Why are you doing that”  My response was “to not do that makes no sense!”.

So there is a responsibility with this truth (Dhamma.) How fortunate one is to be exposed to this incredible truth, and have the energy to continue to practice living in this truth. We have the opportunity to have a huge impact on our friends and families, the community and the world through this precious truth.  We can recondition our habitual responses to self and others, and create a more loving world for all.

“Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude and hearing the good Dhamma, this is the best good luck”

The Buddha

Drugs, Alcohol, Sex- We Can Do Plenty About Addictions. Seminar Saturday January 9, 2016

shutterstock_54830533Are you feeling out of control, anxious, angry, sad and helpless about someone’s compulsive behavior? Are you baffled that despite all evidence they have a debilitating or embarrassing condition, your loved one continues to harm themselves?

Or perhaps despite your best efforts and intentions, you keep going back to behaviors that do not meet your values, do not reflect the best you? Is what you are doing baffling you, and interfering with being a successful and whole human being?

You can help yourself and your loved one with a few simple techniques. Learn to give yourself a chance at happiness by attending this important and worthwhile seminar.

What: A three hour seminar that addresses compulsive behavior such as drugs and alcohol, sex, work, shopping and gambling.  You can expect safety and an emphasis on confidentiality. The leader, Andy Quinn,  has been working with families with compulsions for 25 years.

Who: All family members and/or those struggling with compulsion are welcome. Trust that you will not have to self-disclose or even state why you are present for the seminar.

When and Where: 8AM- 11AM, Saturday January 9, 2015. The building is 215 East Bay St., Suite 5, Lakeland, FL 33801.

What to expect:  Teaching includes

  • The truth about addictions and compulsions
  • What the recent science says about what works to help people recover from addiction
  • How to get help for yourself or your family member who has an addiction or compulsion
  • How to find a reputable treatment program
  • Plenty of question and answer time

How to Register: The seminar cost $50. Space is limited so RSVP soon. Call/text  Andy 863-683-9600 or email abquinn2010@gmail.com

 

What exactly IS therapy?

Therapy Lakeland
Therapy Menu

 

It’s true. You can’t change the past. You can’t change people. And many circumstances can’t be changed. So what good can counseling do?

Though the therapist’s style, skills and agenda influence the process, it’s what You need from therapy that matters. The options are many. Think of it like a menu.  Just ask for what you want. The more clearly you can articulate what you want, the likelier you are to get it. Take a look at some of the more common requests…

 

 

Therapy Menu
(Pick One Entrée and Two Sides)

I just need to vent.
Hear me and show that you understand my point of view.
Tell me whether or not I’m crazy.
Validate my thoughts and feelings.
Help me strategize my responses for this challenging situation.
Teach me to manage/overcome __________________.
I need encouragement and support.
Help me identify my choices.
I am trying to figure this out and need to talk to an impartial person.
Teach me how to accept, like and even love myself.
Tell me where I’m screwing up.
I love him, but I’m not not In Love anymore.
What can I do to get what I want?
Hold me to my commitments and help me reach my goals.
Help me ‘get a life’.
I want to stop___________.
I want to make better choices regarding___________.
Help us slow down and really hear each other.
Mediate our difficult discussion about____________.
I want one other person (who can’t tell anyone) to know.
Help me manage my anger, anxiety, sadness, compulsive behavior, work-life balance…
Tell me when I’m full of it or doing myself wrong.
I have to stop living my life for others.
Tell me where to go/who to see to get help with_____________.
Hear my secret/confession/traumatic experience.
Figure out why I think/feel/act this way.
Teach me how to forgive myself/someone else.  I can’t seem to get over__________.
Support me emotionally while I grieve/parent/get through this_________/care for my dependent_____.
Show me how to recover/survive/thrive.
Help me deal with this relationship.
Help me save/improve my marriage/relationship/job.
Help us with this difficult conversation.
Is it my fault?

Therapy can have an almost infinite variety of flavors. To find yours, you can sample a website, or talk to a counselor on the phone, but you really won’t know until you try a new therapist out. Go ahead, ask for what you want. Give it a few sessions. Then decide for yourself if you have found the best person to help you with your goal, or if you need to keep looking. Once you have found the best counselor for yourself, roll up your sleeves and get to work on becoming more effective, peaceful, and happy. Life is short. Make it a good one!

One Day Lovingkindness Meditation Retreat, Saturday October 10, 2015

When: October 10, 2015 9 AM—5 PM

Where: Olmsted House, Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853

Bok-TowerLegacy-232x300

Who: Experienced and Inexperienced Students.

Course Taught by Peter Carlson
Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Peter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Winter Park, Florida. He is  the founding teacher of Orlando Insight Meditation Group.

To Register: RSVP. Contact Andy Quinn, abquinn2010@gmail.com, 863-683-9600

Fees: $25 includes admission to  the Tower, Meditation Instruction, and lunch provided by experience students. Refreshments provided prior to the start of the course. Please send fees to Andy Quinn, 215 E.Bay St. Suite 5, Lakeland, FL 33801.

What: If you prefer to meditate on the floor bring your own cushions.

 

Help for Families of Addicts, Part I

Andy Quinn 2014Just the word “addict” makes us cringe! Then to think that our child or husband may be an addict is certainly unsettling, even devastating. Despite our best efforts at convincing, controlling and cajoling the addict to quit they keep on. And despite all the tragic events and difficulties they just keep on. Truly we are baffled and most of us in the helping professions have been confused and frustrated by trying to help these people.

So what can you do? I tell folks  that if you are going to cure addiction you have to understand the addict. There are a lot of myths about addiction, that if held onto, can actually can contribute to the problem. Even mental health professionals are still working  on outdated models of assisting families and their loved ones. The culture that we live in devalues asking for assistance,  the idea of helping one another.. Having addiction in the family can cause family members to feel shame. These dynamics can cause families to isolate and control, desperately trying to help in ineffective ways. This can lead to increased shame and more acting out by not just the addict but by family members themselves. So misguided, misinformed methods make things worse!

Most of us are going  to be traumatized by the substance using of our loved one. Susan Johnson, an attachment theorist that developed Emotional Focus Therapy, defined trauma  as a psychological wound that leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless. This is how spouses and parents of addicts often feel. When human beings are traumatized, physically, emotionally,  mentally, the mind contracts to a form of tunnel vision. Our assessment of the situation is inaccurate and our reaction is off the mark. We will spin  into anxiety  and shame and become controlling and reactive. We are often  reliving  some of the same trauma from our childhood. I would not trust such a mind for solid decision making.

Lenora gardener

This sense of losing  everything important, the trauma, reinforces a need to isolate. The isolation will reinforce, make stronger the anxiety around having substance abuse in the family. Our American culture values “being strong,” and devalues being vulnerable. Paradoxically what we are typically running from is fear…..”what will people say? (when they find out my son is an addict)”  or “what does it feel like to me to have no control?” So in a round about way it takes courage to face the pain, and relief that I do not have  to have all the answers.

Working with professionals and support groups like Al Anon leads to the most important part of helping the addict….getting help for yourself. Research consistently confirms that people are happier when they have loving relationships and talk about their problems. So getting help for yourself stabilizes the mind. Once the mind is stable, it can become more malleable, flexible to entertain new concepts about the nature of addiction. The open mind will also become more intuitive about how to help my particular addict. This openness can also be conducive to loving our addict, a powerful force in getting better.

We learn to soften toward the addict when we understand that their destructive behavior has to do with impaired neurological functioning, that may have been genetic or due to childhood experiences. Family members learn that their loved one is not of sound mind, their mind so impaired that they can not control their use. Families can learn that the addicted person is suffering, and deserves compassion like we all do. So the first step in getting help for our addict is to begin the process of understanding, forgiving and loving our addict.

by Andy Quinn

One-Day Mindfulness Meditation Retreat – Bok Tower

Bok Tower Gardens provides a peaceful setting for a day of meditation. Participants will enjoy:

Bok-TowerLegacy-232x300

  • Introduction and Dharma talks with time for questions and discussion
  • Sitting and walking meditation for beginning and experienced meditators
  • Easy access to outside garden space as an alternative for walking meditation
  • Covered dish vegetarian lunch coordinated by members of the Central Florida Insight Meditation Society. Drinks and paper goods provided.

Course Taught by Peter Carlson
Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Peter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Winter Park, Florida. See Mindfulness of Breathing for a guided meditation of this technique.

When: Saturday April 18, 2015 | 9 AM – 5 PM

Where:
Olmsted House, Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853

Fee: $25 includes entrance into Bok Tower Gardens

Please bring:  Bring cushions if you prefer to meditate sitting on the floor. The floor is made of hard tile so you may consider a small carpet square or rug. Experienced students may bring a veggie dish. Contact Sharon Hodges at sharonphodges@gmail.com if you are interested.

To Register: Contact Andy Quinn at 863-683-9600 or abquinn2010@gmail.  To reserve your spot, send a $25 check or money order  made out to “Andy Quinn” to 215 E.Bay St., Suite 1, Lakeland FL 33801. Cancellations less one week prior are non refundable.

 

The Family Balancing Act

It can be as though nothing you say is getting through to your child or teen, and very often yelling, grabbing or door slamming is what ends up happening. You wonder how you got here form holding that precious baby in your arms. You worry about your kids and you want the best for them, but you don’t know what to do. Everything you’ve tried has failed.

Counseling can help. Everybody can benefit from having a neutral person who will listen and be supportive. This is true for your kids as well as for you. Further, there may be some unmet needs, or big problems no one is talking about, or hurts and losses that need healing. Perhaps family members just need some new tools- to become better listeners, or break away before the argument starts, or ways to approach a difficult conversation that will lead to better outcomes.

Try just slowing down and listening more carefully to your loved one. Acknowledge their feelings. Reflect on their point of view. Sometimes this alone will begin to create solutions! If not, there are about a thousand other things you can try. Give us a call.

Recovery from Addictions and Substance Abuse

Andy and Susan offer a variety of services to assist recovery from addictions and substance abuse. We are most concerned with making addicts and their family feel safe from judgment or shame. We can evaluate and treat the person with the addiction, or we can meet with family to intervene with the addiction. We partner with the addict or their family, developing a treatment plan to meet their needs. We offer Individual, Relational, and Family Therapy. Groups are typically the most effective modality for addictions treatment. We offer an Adult Substance Abuse Group, and a Sexual Compulsion Group. We are able to do drug screening. We can coach people on attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Sex and Love Addicts Anoymous (SLAA). We know that people can and do take their lives back from the domination of drugs, alcohol and sex compulsions.

 

Relationship Repair

In the 1970’s the band Three Dog Night sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one.” Whether you are pretty good friends but the romance has gone out of your relationship; or you’re not able to get through a week without a painful argument; or you’re so mad at each other it’s like living in a deep freeze; or you feel like two ships passing in the night… you’re wondering “Where is the Love” (Black Eye’d Peas)?”

We can help you with regaining the stability and warmth you long for, often even if the other partner is not interested in the counseling process. We can offer you many tools for improving your relationship, such as better communication skills, regaining that sexual spark, addressing compulsions that are destructive to your partnership, figuring out how to parent, co-parent, step-parent, etc. It can be amazing how what can seem like an impossible problem can begin to resolve with the smallest changes in Your behavior (even if you are sure it’s your partner’s fault).