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

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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 Even mental health professionals are still working  on outdated models of assisting families and their loved ones.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.

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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

Counseling: 5 to Know Before You Go.

Once upon a time I had never seen a counselor.  But I was getting desperate- my life felt like it was falling apart and things were getting to a scary point. I became grudgingly willing to see someone in case there was any way counseling could help me.  I got a recommendation for a therapist from a friend, made an appointment and went…with my tail between my legs.

There, I blurted out my entire life’s story. And in answer to the therapist’s question, I admitted to smoking some pot. She told me she could not work with me unless I gave that up immediately and entirely.  She might as well have shot me in the chest.  I remember leaving feeling stunned, rejected, completely vulnerable and humiliated. She ‘gave’ me an unwanted hug as I left. I was worse off than when I went in.  I suspected help would never come. I was clearly unworthy.

To shorten up a LONG story, I went to self-help meetings for a while and then tried another therapist, and that time it clicked. She and I developed a rapport, and I went on to work hard at recovery for many months. The experience was transformative and set me on a path of recovery and growth. I am happier and healthier than I could ever have imagined. Now I am a therapist, helping others to grow as well.

I remember those feelings: reluctant, desperate, hopeful before the first appointment. I remember the agony of the first appointment- fearing rejection. I remember the mystery of not knowing what was supposed to happen.

Who says what? Will the therapist tell me what is wrong with me? Will they respect me? Will they tell me what to do? Judge me? Isn’t this stuff written down anywhere?!?

If you are new to therapy, here are a few considerations:

 

  • What is the problem and/or what is your goal?  Put it in one sentence if you can. “we fight all the time”, “I get scary mad”, “I need to get a life”, “I want us to feel romantic and sexual again”.
  • Consider how you want to pay for counseling. With the new healthcare laws, many more people have counseling benefits included in their insurance coverage. Call your insurance provider- the number is on the back of your insurance card, and ask “Do I have counseling benefits? Do I have to pay down a deductible before coverage kicks in? What is my co-pay? Where is the list of people I can see?  Would you reimburse me if I saw Susan Truett?” There are other ways to cover counseling as well. For instance if you work for a larger employer, you may have Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits. These can offer up to 7 or 8 sessions for free with very little hassle, and no loss of privacy.
  • Call clinicians and ask about specializations, insurance company contracts and about hours of operation. Counselors rarely work with more than a few insurance companies so do check into the practicalities of payment and scheduling.
  • Meet a few people and look for one you feel good working with.  Therapists are all different and you want to find the one that feels right for you.  You should feel safe, respected, and understood. You should like the therapist.  Don’t be afraid to interview a few and move on  if you don’t feel the connection.
  • Just as therapists are vastly different in temperament, skills, empathy and approaches, people are different as well in the way they receive help.  What feels like help to you is different from what feels like help to another. However you like your help is probably ok. There is help out there for you.

 

 

 

ask for what you want

ASK For What You Want

ask for what you want

It’s OK to ASK

When my husband and I first met, he wasn’t interested. He thought I was cute, but crazy. I knew right away he was someone I wanted to get to know better. He was one of 7 men in a classroom of 50 people. I kept hearing some beautiful male voice say things that really impressed me. Soulful things, intelligent things, attractive things. But I couldn’t catch him talking at first. All the men sat in a clump on the far left rear of the classroom. I couldn’t tell who was speaking.

When I finally figured out which body went with that beautiful heart and mind, the semester was getting old. My chances to get his attention were few and getting fewer. I had to make a move or lose the opportunity to meet him. So I asserted myself while he was talking to an entire group of admiring women. He was talking about heading out to hike a long trail. I gave him my business card, and told him to drop me a postcard. He didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat. My card didn’t have an address on it. But he called me. He still wasn’t interested, but that is another story.

I asked for what I wanted. Women outnumbered men in that class 6:1, but it was me he called. Because I let him know I wanted to hear from him.

Our daughter is now 14. We have cleverly kept her penniless, and she is just now deciding that she needs money and that means finding work. She’s willing to work (for anyone but us), but she is not willing to ask for work. So it’s not likely she will get any work. If no one knows what she wants, she is unlikely to get it. And this is true for you, too.

It can be terrifying to ask for what you want. What if people react badly? What if they remain calm, but they think poorly of you later? What if your request or statement puts them on the spot? What if they say yes when they want to say no? What if they resent you?! What if they Hate you!?!

But wait!…What if they…don’t? What if they are glad you asked? What if they give you what you want? What if it’s not a big deal either way? What if they say no, and it’s not a problem? What if we all try to take responsibility for our own stuff? What if we didn’t have to guess at what our partner wanted because he asks for what he wants?

It’s ok to ask. It’s even ok to pitch it, presenting your argument for why giving you what you want is beneficial to them. It’s ok to be told no. You may be severely disappointed. You may even decide you have to leave your job or your relationship, but at least you’ll know. You will know that you are not getting your request fulfilled and now you are free to make your next decision. The alternative can be spending years thinking you will eventually be rewarded at work or within your family, only to find out the thing you desired and even expected is not going to happen.

Asking for what you want increases your chances of getting what you want. Asking does not guarantee your wish will be granted, but successful people agree that not asking seriously decreases your chances of getting what you want.

OK, you say, but how is this asking thing done if one is shy and unsure?

1. Know what you want. Easier said than done! Ask yourself frequently “What am I feeling? What do I need? What do I want?” Be still and listen to that inner voice. It’s there, waiting for you.

2. Know what you are willing to trade. Are you expecting that you have already earned this, or are you asking for a gift? Are you proposing a reciprocal arrangement? What are you willing to give in return? If you want no strings attached, know that, too.

3. Compose your attitude correctly. You deserve good things. (If you are sure this is not true you are reading the wrong article.) Say this 10,000 times until you believe it in your bones. Who has power in the relationship? Do you need to be firm and businesslike? Soft and humble? Charming? Persuasive? Evaluate whether yours is a common, simple request, or is it a big commitment on the part of the giver? Or are you asking for the world? It’s ok to be confident, bold even. It’s ok to ask for a lot, but try to put yourself in the shoes of the other. Show up wearing the right attitude.

4. Find some words. If it’s tricky, or an audacious request, or you are shy or not good with words, compose your request. Miss Manners, Dear Abby, Emily Post all have some phrases that are helpful. I have a friend who is especially good at helping me say all kinds of things in the kindest, clearest way possible. I have at times written notes on index cards when I am nervous about asking. I have even read from the same cards, held in trembling hands, to a person sitting in front of me.

5. Choose your moment. Try to find a time when everyone is rested, fed and not feeling pressured by deadlines or other concerns. Make an appointment if needed, even with a family member, even with your spouse.

6. Set the tone. Sometimes I say “I want to ask a favor, but whatever you decide is fine.” Or “I have thought about this a lot, and I feel I need this/deserve this. Feel free to take some time to think about it, because this is important.” This gives people an idea of the relative importance of your request.

7. Make the ask. Be succinct. Then stop talking to underline the fact that the next move is theirs. “Why don’t you send me a postcard?” “Can I please have a Coca-Cola?” “I would prefer an ocean view.” “Our room is not satisfactory, do you have another room you can put us in?” “Do you want to meet me sometime for a meal?” “I’d like to have a shot at that promotion.” “Is it possible that I could work from home?” “Do you have any work that I could do for you?” “Could you find some time to listen to me while I tell you about a problem I’m having?” “Thanks for the advice, but what I really need is for you to just listen.” “Will you marry me?”

8. Set a time frame. Some answers are immediate, some deserve time. Suggest a time frame. “Do you need time to think about it? Can you let me know by tomorrow/next week?”

9. Let it go. People are going to do what they are going to do. You will be happier if you let go of notions about what other people should do. They make their choices the best they know how, just like you do. There are many variables that you will never know about. So respect their decisions, and now, armed with your answer, yes or no, you can make your own choices.

10. Practice this over and over and over. It gets easier. The benefits are freedom, knowledge and self-respect, honesty, intimacy, and greater success and satisfaction in personal, work and financial relationships. Practice with smaller things often, push yourself to address all the big things (you know what they are because they make you feel nervous) until you get really good at asking for what you want.

One-Day Mindfulness Meditation Retreat – Bok Tower

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

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  • 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.

 

Twelve-Point Inspection Checklist for Relationships

In the summertime, many of us take to the road and travel by car. We are bound for New Orleans, Wisconsin, New England, California or my home state, Florida. With car travel imminent, a lot of folks take their cars to the mechanic to get a check up- just to make sure their cars are road-worthy. A good twelve point car inspection can make all the difference between enjoying the ride, or spending precious vacation time waiting for repairs.

We maintain our cars, bodies, houses, gardens, tools, gear and even careers.

But if I say you must also inspect and maintain your marriage, what do you think? “I have to take her out for a meal” “I need to get some more attractive sleep clothes” “I could be nicer to my partner”. Many of us will holler “I already cook for her/let him go camping/clean the house/ bring home the paycheck!” This is comparable to saying “I already put gas in the car, what more do you expect me to do?!”

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This is Your Life! 10 Ways to Jazz it Up…10 Ways to Mellow it Down

You have the gift of a certain amount of time in this life…and you don’t know how much you are going to get. Today is the only day you can experience. If life feels bland and boring you may need to discover or rediscover your passion. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started. What sounds exciting? Break it down into small chunks and do it! Here are some tips:

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Are you alcohol dependent?

Take this 20 question test to help you decide whether or not you are an alcoholic.

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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.

What matters most?

When you live with your values in the lead, life is much more worthwhile and satisfying, even in the presence of challenges and loss.

Glance at the following list. One or two of these satisfactions are probably already in your life. They arrived either as gifts, or as conditions you created through intention and work.

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