Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

We human beings are more than our minds, thoughts and feelings. Our bodies are repositories for our pasts; both pain and pleasure reside as cellular memory. For some, talk therapy is sufficient to work out challenges and traumas. For others, a mutlti-modal approach that includes somatic therapy or body psychotherapy is even more effective. Enter the world of Matthew Cohen, who refers to himself as a ‘somatic educator’; in simple terms, someone whose work is in the second category. A career psychotherapist whose work spans several decades, Cohen is also the author of When Words Aren’t Enough.

I initially met him when he founded The Body Synergy Institute in the 1980’s and have watched his career blossom and have heard stories of healing that has taken place in the lives of those who have worked with him. A few of his clients graciously allowed for their stories to be shared in this book that is both for the professional who wants to learn more about integrating these concepts into their practice and the lay person who desires to explore more about what makes them tick.

Cohen spreads out a foundation by speaking about professional boundaries, since some of this work involves close physical (but not sexual) contact. He also delves into the idea that spirituality and psychotherapy need not exist as separate realms and that combined, can enhance the recovery process. His own spiritual journey fed his therapeutic strategies as is discussed early on.

Transcripts of the sessions he did with Jeff and Emily, a couple who unlike many who enter into therapy, were not in major crisis mode, but wanted to enhance what they had already created for themselves, with Cohen as their trusted guide, are placed throughout the first section. Each had physical challenges, such as migraines and back pain that are addressed in both verbal and embodied form. They came to recognize the roots of their relational friction that showed up from time to time.

Randall is an abuse survivor who experienced many years of the trauma of sexual assault perpetrated my several family members. With him, Cohen used what he calls Emotionally Focused Touch. Many who have PTSD, tend to dissociate and even feel as if they have left their bodies. This is a survival mechanism that enables them to make it through the horrors they endured. He was diagnosed with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder that used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder)  In his sessions, Randall came to find that non-sexual, professionally offered touch was not only safe, but body and soul nourishing. He literally came back into his body and felt present in it.

Gordon arrived on Cohen’s doorstep with a rotator cuff injury. He is an attorney who once upon a time had aspirations of becoming a Jesuit priest, which made it easier for Cohen to make inroads with him, because of his own deep spirituality, even as he had approached it from a different angle. Some of his process involved integrating his relationship with his controlling, alcoholic father whose expectations for his son felt restrictive, a portion of which was symbolized by the ways in which Gordon viewed his journey, not giving himself credit for how far he had come.

At the end of the book, Cohen reviews and summarizes the progress these four courageous souls have made. He has a high degree of respect for them that is evident in this book that in all ways ‘touches on’ the resilience of the human spirit.

www.matthewcohen.us

 

 

 

I saw this video, called The Miracle of Love this morning by one of my favorite musical divas; Annie Lennox. When I get my hair cut, I often ask for it be styled like hers, since it has a wild woman, punky, faerie-esque look to it and I wonder if I can experience that feeling vicariously even if I am not always quite there in my daily life.  Her voice beckoned me into the day. As I am typing these words, sweet aromas are wafting from the kitchen and sweet sounds from the living room. The first is emanating from the pancakes that my son Adam is making and the second from a two year munchkin who has captured my heart. He is the son of Adam’s girlfriend. Both of them danced into our lives a few months ago. A bright young woman, she has led my sometimes self doubting son into a greater sense of confidence and responsibility. I have never witnessed him being happier than he is with her. Ironically, although over the years, he has balked at some of the values and beliefs of his ‘hippie mother’, Rochelle and I have much in common. She initiates hugs when she comes into the house to visit and when she is on her way out the door. She is studying psychology and we have had many conversations about all kinds of related topics. She is the first young woman he has dated that he actually invites me to spend time with, although, to tweak me, he still refers to me as ‘weird’. Her son, an adorable  brown haired munchkin, delights in Elmo and Mickey, dancing, clapping, hugging, counting (he can count up to 20)  and BUBBLES!  My kind of kid.  He seems never to tire of having one of us blow bubbles and then cavorting in the midst of them, calling them to play, as he pops them.  Last night I did the first of what I imagine will be many babysitting gigs, when they went out for her birthday. He and I hung out a bit before the porta-crib was set up and filled with his stuffed buddies and fleece blankets. Flannel footie pj’s with monkeys decocrating them were his sleeping attire. A sound sleeper, thank goodness; I checked on him a few times throughout the night; it’s been a long time since I have needed to do that, since my son is 25. Whenever Adam or Rochelle point to me and ask “Who’s that?”, he will call out “Mom-Mom!” exuberantly. Not sure I’m ready to be a grandmother, but if this little one want to refer to me with that honorific, I am indeed honored.

Adam and I had a sometimes tough road to hoe, since being widowed at 40 ( he was 11), I have raised him solo. With all the hub-bub about single parenting since last week’s debate, I can assure you that guns and violence have no place in our home, Adam doesn’t smoke,  has never had a problem with drugs and alcohol, he graduated high school, has been in the working world since he was 18, has aspirations of culinary school, is a self taught cook (and he does it well, I can attest to that, as can family and friends who have indulged in his creations)  and first and foremost, has a good heart. We still butt heads occasionally, since some of our socio-political views are a bit at odds; although I wonder if he sometimes says what he does to bait his left of center, tree hugging, flower child, enviro-conscious mother. Our housekeeping standards are s0metimes polar opposite…how hard is it, I wonder, to put dishes in the dishwasher, rather than leave them on the counter or in the sink, when both are a mere inches from their target destination? Is it too much to ask that cabinet doors are closed once opened or the toilet seat be put down when not in use?  I think not. Humor helps in almost all cases. And when in doubt, I will remember the words to this song~

The Miracle of Love

How many sorrows

Do you try to hide

In a world of illusions

That’s covering your mind ?

I’ll show you something good

Oh I’ll show you something good.

When you open your mind

You’ll discover the sign

That there’s something

You’re longing to find…

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love

Comes your way again.

Cruel is the night

That covers up your fears.

Tender is the one

Who wipes away your tears.

There must be a bitter breeze

To make you sting so viciously-

They say the greatest coward

Can hurt the most ferociously.

But I’ll show you something good

Oh I’ll show you something good.

If you open your heart

You can make a new start

When your crumbling world falls apart.

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love Comes your way again.

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love

Comes your way again.

http://youtu.be/yOGD1WkJJok  The Miracle of Love-Eurythmics

I grew up in a goofy family, with silliness, play, fun and frolic being a staple of our South Jersey suburban, two parent, two kid,  goldfish, turtles and dog, over the years, sometimes grandmothers, and extended family -visiting home. Laughter rang through the halls, made up words, silly pet names….if you promise not to tease me…my father would call me “Eeedle Deedle Dumpling”. Family home movies show us (my younger sister Jan and me) dancing  un-selfconsciously at The Worlds Fair in NY at ages 5 and 3 or thereabouts. Another image was of my mother going down a sliding board at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA, hands in the air….wheeee! My father would sled, fly kites, bicycle with us. My mother would sing and dance in the living room with us, and as a romantic gesture, throughout their nearly 52 year marriage, they would dance in the kitchen. When my cousin Jody and I lived together, she and I would have impromptu nightgown dances and laugh at all kinds of bizaare things.

When I was married, my husband Michael and I became clowns, partly as a way of helping him alleviate pain from Hep C and partly for the pure fun of it. His character Bashful,  was silent and communicated through gestures. One time we went to the supermarket and someone assumed we were either heading to or returning from a kid’s birthday party. She said:  “Where are you going?” and Michael pointed in front of him. “Where did you come from?” and he gestured behind him.  Another time, we had a craving for ice cream and were already in pj’s, but we jumped in the car anyway, Michael’s outfit was accessorized with fuzzy bear paw slippers. Other customers looked at these two seemingly mature adults and likely thought “I would never do that.” or perhaps secretly wished they could.  When my son was in his teens, his mom who continued clowning, went to a local peace fair and ran into a fellow laugh monger who was wearing a button that boasted “I embarress my offspring.” to which I responed with delight “Ooooohhh, I would love one of those, where did you get it?” He took it off, handed it to me and told me that he had more at home. I wore it proudly. Adam still rolls his eyes at my behavior, but has come to accept it as part and parcel of being my son.

I sing in the car, with full hand motions, dance in supermarket aisles, still dress flamboyantly at times, wear sparkly glitter that a friend has said comes from my pores. I carry bubbles in the car to use while in traffic jams to lighten my mood, and surround myself with silly friends who aren’t embarressed by my antics and sometimes join me in them. Many of my friends are childrens’ ‘edutainers’ whose groupies are under 4 feet tall and under 4 years of age and I suspect this joyful work keeps them youthful. My own genetic goofiness helps this newly minted 54 year old remain ageless as well.

www.youtube.com/davidcperry.  David Perry

www.petermoses.com  Peter Moses

www.twoofakind.com  Two of A Kind

 

 

A few days ago, I reported that my new iphone had taken a vacay and hadn’t asked me to join it. As any adept spiritual practitioner might do, I combined both the practical and the prayerful. I went through the process of filing an insurance claim, ordering a replacement, got one of those mini ‘go’ phones that felt like an infant version compared to the heft of an iphone and without the bells and whistles. I then tossed into the mix, a petition to the Universal Locator to find the wayward communication device and bring it safely home. I put out a call on facebook to friends who have psychic abilities to chime in with their ideas of where it could be and was rewarded with folks reminding me to hold the vision for finding it, some suggested letting it go and not fret over it. Some were expressing certainty (like a lost dog) that it would find its way back from whence it came. I went about my day yesterday with a sense of uneasiness about how it had slipped from my grasp; much like my memory these days. Last night, as I was immersed in the Presidential debate, my son comes in and says “Mom, I have a funny story to tell you. Your angels must be on your side, because look what I found.” and he holds up my phone. Incredulous, I ask “Where did you find it?”  He responds ” Near the bush out front,” indicating that it was by the walkway, by which I had passed several times and never noticed it. It had also rained quite heavily that day and yet the phone was dry and it worked. Still, I followed the instructions of friends to place it in a container of rice to be sure it passed muster and was dry.  What was just as remarkable is that my son doesn’t consider himself spiritual and yet he was being used by Spirit to locate what I couldn’t.

This morning, I brought it back to AT &T and the salesman checked it out and remarked that the insides were dry as well; which came a surprise to him but not to this miracle minded mama.

http://youtu.be/QwOU3bnuU0k I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder