Friday, September 25, 2009

"Delighting in Fall"

Besides Psychotherapy, another passion of mine is astronomy! We just experienced the Autumnal Equinox – the day when the Sun crosses the equator and the day and night are equal in length. Whenever we experience an astronomical event, I think about early humans. I wonder what they were thinking when the sun was lower in the sky and the days were shorter. Were they frightened of the changes they couldn’t understand? Even modern humans have fears of change, especially of the unknown. Jen Schurman helps clients explore the dynamics that lead to a greater sense of self-awareness. You’ll hear this self-awareness in her Blog article as she “notices” the changing seasons.


Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC

“Delighting in the Fall”

I’m a summer girl. I love the lake, the sand, the sun, the warm weather and flip flops. So I got to thinking as I found myself ignoring the signs that fall is surely on its way. What is it about the change in this season that is so difficult? Surely there is something nice about the changing colors on the trees, a brisk breeze while on a walk, apple cider and even football games. But appreciating the fall means letting go of all I love about the summer and looking forward to what lies ahead. The changing seasons is a reminder of the endless changes that we face in our lives.

I often encourage clients to think about changes in their lives. We talk about preparing for change, observing change, and even delighting in change. But it often takes quite some time before the process of change actually begins. So often we say things like, “But I’m comfortable here,” or “I can’t wait for this part of my life to just be over so I can get where I want to be” or “It’s impossible to make sense of what this time is really for.” Although the season ahead may be what we truly desire, many things are required to be left behind. In order to savor the present season we need to leave the comfort, safety, and familiarity of the previous season behind. No wonder it’s difficult to get moving. The shifting from one season to the next requires a belief that the coming season has exciting, fulfilling, challenging, and new purposes for us.

The movement from one season to the next dares us to let go of the old and welcome the new. It challenges us to trust that regardless of where we are in life or what situations may be happening, there is something essential for us about this time. Savoring each season involves us being in the present moment and not living for yesterday or tomorrow but right now. I know that when I remind myself to be mindful and pay attention there are so many things I notice that typically get overlooked. I notice a child’s carefree laughter, I notice the stranger that just gave me a warm smile, I notice how difficult the moment is and that I’m actually getting through it, I notice what I love about this time in my life, I notice what I need…I notice. So often all of these little moments in life get disregarded and we feel like we are just rushing through the days.

The challenge of being present for each season in our lives does not discount the fact that there are some that are more pleasant than others. There are seasons we will look back on with lovely memories and seasons we will long to put behind us. The importance is being able to fall away from the safety of the last season and eagerly anticipate what lies ahead, for this is how we truly grow. There is a great transformation that occurs in our lives as we realize that regardless of the season we can handle it. That in each season there is something intended for us, something for us to know, learn, challenge or even a joy to simply revel in. In each and every season we have the gift of the strength within us.

So as I pack my beach bag and flip flops I am challenging myself to enjoy the bright red hues of the changing leaves and get comfortable in my favorite sweater. I know that although it can be difficult to move from a season I love, surely the one to come has much potential and promise. Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best, “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.”

Jen Schurman, MA, LPC

(773) 929-6262 x 20

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Working Through Energy Blocks" - In today’s article, Erin Diedling explores the energy and emotional blocks that clients encounter during their recovery process. Erin has extensive experience working with survivors of trauma – she co-led a healing weekend retreat for flight attendants who were supposed to be on the doomed flights of September 11, 2001. Can you believe it was 8 years ago last week? I’m sure you can still remember that day like it was yesterday! It’s like our whole nation has an emotional energy block.
(For more about that weekend retreat, please read her article “Healing from Trauma” on our website: )

When these energy and emotional blocks get in the way of moving forward in our life, we often need a safe, validating and supportive environment in which to look at the very issues that our Parts resist allowing us to see. But deep inside there is a Wise One Within who has the strength to find the truth within.

Amy Grabowski

“Working Through Energy Blocks”

What I enjoy so much about being part of the Awakening Center is that I work in a community of professionals who believe in the client's ability to guide herself to wellness. In order for a client to bring about her own healing, a validating and compassionate holding environment is key for her to feel safe enough to explore what isn't working. The client truly has her own information about how to bring in her wellness, to heal herself. Oftentimes, that means looking at the very thing that is hardest to address.

Even though I have years of experience doing trauma work, my counseling style changed drastically since I began to study energy work and energy healing. I'm better prepared to pull what the client needs to heal that particular day. Our appointments are never the same.

The work I do with clients is much like being a magician with a bag of tricks. Each client has a different need and a different area they wish to work at each of their appointments. Occasionally there is an urgent life crisis and the client just needs a bit of extra care and communication with me. Other times there is a pressing request to work on a certain area of the client's life. When the appointments are more laid back, the client is able to explore areas where she wishes to be more joyful or masterful.

What is so rewarding is taking the client through a guided imagery to establish safety and groundedness (providing a safe and holding environment) and then working directly with the blocks and impasses she is experiencing. Often she will be able to identify an image, a time, or a memory and work with that directly. Within the guided imagery I will guide her to clear the impasse using various therapeutic techniques, tools and imagery.

Sometimes there is a blind spot that does not allow the client to be consciously aware of the impasse. Using an awareness of energetic dynamics, I gently point out the thing or phenomenon that she needs to find but was unable to see. Once it is brought into her conscious awareness we can work with it. This is an amazing thing to see a client clear the patterns behind a binge-purge cycle, procrastination around a job search, lack of fulfillment in her love relationships, etc. It is even more gratifying to me when the client can do the healing work for herself.

The Awakening Center is a special place that believes in an individual's ability to unearth her identity, truth and beauty that is already within her. Besides engaging logical thought processes, behavioral components, we also work with the individuals body, mind AND spirit. I witness miraculous change on a daily basis. Daily miracles! What a gift!

Erin Diedling, MEd, LPC

(773) 929-6262 x 19

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Discover Your ‘Self’ – The Person You Were Meant To Be!"

Welcome to The Awakening Center’s new Blog: “Inner Wisdom.” We started this Blog to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of The Awakening Center! We would love to hear your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, suggestions and reactions to our new Blog. Please visit often – we plan to have two or more new Blog entries per week.

The Blog’s title “Inner Wisdom” refers to The Awakening Center’s philosophy that deep inside each and everyone of us is an inner feeling of strength, peace and wisdom; a place of peace that knows what’s right for you – not a thinking kind of knowing, but a ‘gut wisdom’ kind of knowing. This is your ‘Self’ – this is the person you were meant to be!

Your Self is who you are, your identity. If you are like many of our clients, your Self may have been sacrificed years ago – for many reasons personal to your individual history. It may feel as if there is nothing on the inside of you, you may experience an inner emptiness so profound and deep that it’s frightening. Without a Self you may not know who you are; you may feel as if you have no control over what happens to you or how you react to things. Without a Self, you may feel powerless.

The therapists at The Awakening Center believe that with therapy you can recover your Self – and get to know yourself all over again. You are not the person others told you that you were – oh no, that was just other people’s opinions of you – but that is not who your Self is. Their opinions often say more about them than it does about you. (Hmmm, there’s another subject for the Blog!)

So if you are not who others told you that you were, then who are you? That is one of the big questions of therapy. It is always exciting to me when a client finally begins to ask this question for themselves. To find the answer, I teach them to get to know themselves through what is known as ‘Beginners Mind.’

Beginners Mind is like coming to earth from another planet (like the television show “Third Rock From The Sun”) and not knowing anything about being human, in a human body, living with other humans in the world. Every experience would be totally new – you would not have any opinion, judgment or criticism about it. You would need to stop a moment, go inside and figure out for if the experience is pleasant, neutral or unpleasant for you.

I encourage clients to start with something very small. In my office I point to the various pillows sitting on my couch and ask, “Which of these pillows do you like the most?” When they give an answer, “The purple one” I ask, “What is it about the purple pillow that you like the most?”
Let’s say they answer, “I like the color; it’s calming. The fabric is smooth. The pattern on the other pillow looks too busy.”

I then encourage them to ‘put that inside and own it.’ By that I mean, you acknowledge that you know something about yourself, “I, Sally, like calming colors and smooth fabrics. I, Sally, do not like busy patterns on pillows.” Like I said, we start with something very small.

I give them the assignment to use Beginners Mind about everything for the time between sessions, “Drive yourself nuts asking questions about everyday things. Do you like tea or coffee? Do you prefer brown shoes or black with blue jeans? Do you like to wear blue jeans? Is a walk in the park a pleasant, neutral or unpleasant experience for you? When you hear a song playing over the radio listen to it as if you never heard music before in your life. How does it feel to be with other people? Whatever you notice, put it inside and own it.”

I remember when I did this exercise during my own recovery. I had an experience that opened a whole new door for me, literally. I lived in a large apartment building with many doors opening up to the courtyard. One day when I opened the front door it made a sound like a little horse whinny! And I noticed it, as if for the first time! I felt a sense of delight deep inside me, like a child laughing and clapping her hands. I realized that “I, Amy Grabowski, like doors which make whinny sounds.”

I also realized that the maintenance man probably hated the whinny sound of the door – since I had seen him on a ladder by that door many times and had not even paid attention to why. What made it profound for me was that I also gave myself permission to like something that I knew someone else did NOT like. I was giving myself permission to have my own opinion based on my experience, not on the opinion of others. (Wow! That could be another Blog as well!)

So I encourage you to slow down and look at your life through Beginners Mind. Allow yourself to feel that delighted child inside you. Own your own feelings and opinions as you get to know yourself, the person you were meant to be!

Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC

Please visit our website: - we have 15 years of past issues of our newsletter archived on our website.