2013 seemed to be the year of the mobile tablet: Apple iPad, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy and more. Technology and its devices are creeping more and more into our bedrooms and living rooms, our purses and pockets, and the rest of our lives. So what does 2014 have in store for us?
For those of you who have been following my blog, you might know that I am not anti-technology but I am a cheerleader for putting it down for a while in order to better connect with our bodies, our loved ones and with nature (check out Put your hands up & step away from the iPad!). My ideas about this were challenged when I recently saw Spike Jonze’ new movie, Her.
In the movie, “A lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson) that’s designed to meet his every need.” I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the writer develops serious feelings for his operating system (OS) which helps pull him out of his post-divorce malaise. The OS gets him talking about his thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, and even gets him out of the house. (Who needs friends or a therapist when you have an OS like this?!)
While I sat in the theater I considered my own ideas about current cultures relationship to technology (social media in particular), and compared it to the messages in the film. I do see how technology and social media help connect people through ideas and common interests, and how it helps isolated people (such as a queer teen in a small town or a house bound person in the city) feel less alone. But I also have concerns about how it can create a barrier to true human contact, intimacy and authenticity. The reports of cyber-bullying and how much time people spend texting instead of talking saddens me. I’ve heard people say “I feel like I’ve lost a part of my body!” when they have lost their smart phone. Jonze did a great job of showing many sides of these cultural ideas about human connection and our relationship to technology.
So ask yourself, Is my relationship with my tablet/smart phone helping or hindering my life? In the end I think my answer to this question is the same to many about addictive behaviors: bring mindfulness and moderation to your use and find out. Bringing consciousness, intention and thoughtfulness to all of our actions is important. And watching our level of frequency or consumption to make sure we are not over-dosing and neglecting other important parts of our well-being is also important. I believe that balance will be different for each of us.
Have you lost a loved one in the last year and wonder what it will be like this winter holiday season for the first time without them?
In this support group we will share our stories and be held by others in similar circumstances. We will also explore how grief can go unrecognized and that it is an important part of your life experience.
3 alternate Tuesdays @ 7 PM – 8:30 PM
November 13th, 27th & December 11th
Pre-Registration is Required
Fee: $120 EARLY registration received by November 2nd;
$150 November 3rd – November 13th
*All payments are Non-Refundable upon receipt
Register here for Grief & Loss of a Loved One.
Facilitated by Nick Venegoni, MFT
Location: Healing Arts Building
1801 Bush Street @ Octavia
San Francisco, California 94109
Many sacred holidays are celebrated this week which mostly focus on the memory of our ancestors, and in particular those who have died in the last year. It is through their memory that we honor their effect on the world and on our own lives. When anyone who has touched our lives, even in the smallest of ways, passes on, something inside of us shifts.
The loss of their presence may trigger a variety of thoughts or feelings. We may feel sadness or anger that they were taken from us. We may contemplate our own mortality and think about what we want to do with our short lives – What have I been putting off? There is no right or wrong way to move through the experiences of grief & loss.
This time of year brings these aspects of our inner experience forward, as the images of the macabre are more visible and acceptable, even if just for a short time. What is this mystery called Death? It is important to acknowledge and examine our own response to loss, and not to push it away.
Over the years of working with people it has become quite apparent that many in our culture have a hard time with endings of all kinds. Some people don’t like to say goodbye, some disappear on the last day of school or work, while others may pretend like everything is as it always was and then quietly slip out the back door. But acknowledging the end of a cycle is just as important as the beginning. There is completion, graduation, resolution, and space for something new to emerge.
So let us honor and remember what was and what has passed; let us feel our emotions of grief & loss to allow the suffering to wash through us; and let us celebrate that which is still to come in the space that loss has opened up for us.
During this last winter my friend and I decided to explore the elements in a freeform, guided meditation. When we meditated on fire we both came up with similar ideas and imagery. For us fire was about change and transformation, but also about warmth, sustenance and community. Many images came of communities gathering around a fire circle for a ritual or the hearth of a home, and even around the stove in a kitchen. How many parties have you been to where the little kitchen is full of people and the spacious living room is empty? Humans are drawn to community, connection and contact. By our nature, we are not solitary beings. Science has shown that without contact with others our physical and mental health suffers greatly.
Community and connection is paramount to our well being, and not just any community, but our sangha. Sangha is a Buddhist term, which refers to our community of kindred spirits, like-minded friends or our spiritual community. Your sangha is the community where you can be yourself, relax and find support. For some this is at work or school, for others it’s in your own family or even at the local watering hole.
There are many people who may feel isolated from that sense of community. They may feel like outsiders because of their beliefs or a particular disability. I want to acknowledge that it can be a struggle to find a sangha for some. To those people, I would encourage your to not give up and keep looking. I also offer two other options, the first being the internet. In this day of social networking we can meet people from all around the world, and we are bound to find other kindred spirits out there. The second possibility is the internal sangha, for those with a spiritual practice or believe system. In prayer and meditation we can find a multitude of support networks through a pantheon of gods and goddesses, angels, spirit guides or mythical figures. Even our imagination can create a rich center of support, perhaps by reading uplifting stories or sagas of great heroes who have discovered strength in their wounding.
We seek out these communities when we feel good and want to connect, but also when we want to take refuge from our struggles and difficulties. And even though our community may not have the answers or solutions, we feel better simply because we can rest in that connection with our people.
This time of year people usually start to make plans for what they want to make of their time in the coming months and begin to muse on how to go about making that manifest. But for some reason the concept of endings has consistently been pushing its way into my awareness recently, so I feel the call to reflect upon it.
It has come to my attention more significantly, how our culture has a difficult time with endings. We seem to rush through them, if not bypassing them altogether, as if we are in a hurry to begin the next “item on our list.” However I believe that it is the thoughts and feelings, which accompany endings that we might be avoiding. With the ending of relationships we frequently experience grief, disappointment, heartache, and perhaps judgment that we failed. Yes, these thoughts and feelings can be unpleasant, but they are a part of the human experience. They make us who we are, as beings with minds, bodies and hearts.
All of these experiences are important to look at, for they show us more about who we are, where we are now and the direction we are heading. By consciously moving through an ending without avoiding any aspect of it, we can bring more resolution to the experience and our life as a whole.
In my practice I work with couples and individuals who struggle in their relationships, and come looking for help and support. It is important for me to let them know that I am not here to save their relationship, but to help them find their own way to resolution; and sometimes that resolution means ending the relationship. When that is the case, bringing more consciousness to the couple through the dissolution of their relationship can allow more healing for each of them. Many people end relationships in anger and pain, and dwell on that suffering for quite a while, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
It takes courage to truly look at oneself through the process of any kind of ending. Moving through these processes consciously can bring a greater understanding of yourself and help you bring clarity to what is on your horizon.