PUTTING OUR HURDLES TO GOOD USE
Is Mental the New Normal?
As I previously shared on my ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is... article (please see under References):
“According to NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (which corresponds to 43.8 million or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year; and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (corresponding to 10 million or 4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (for more numbers, please see link under References). That means a staggering amount of people with some level of mental health challenge. Considering that a whole lot of people don’t seek help and go undiagnosed, the real numbers are likely to be even scarier.
No wonder words like OCD, OCPD, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, chronic depression, etc, have become commonplace. Look around yourself. How many friends or family members display behavior that has been qualified as (or suggested to be) a mental health disorder of some kind? Or look in the mirror. When was the last time you’ve felt emotionally, mentally and physically (not to mention spiritually) healthy and balanced? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a mental health challenge, or do you suspect you or someone you know might have such a challenge?
One thing is certain: when a system says that a big chunk of the population has some type of mental health issue that requires medication, maybe it’s time to change a lot of things in that system. Mere common sense dictates that something is seriously wrong with that picture.”
Whichever the sources of such a dismal state are, the main question is: What do we do with this knowledge? Do we hide? Do we numb ourselves with soft and hard addictions? Do we convince ourselves that we’ll never be good enough to follow our dreams or achieve anything in life? Or do we make the decision to become comfortable with who we are in this phase of our lives, seek wholesome solutions and put our issues to good use?
What We Can Do:
- We can use mindfulness tools and holistic therapies such as Hypnotherapy.
- We can explore brain stimulation and biofeedback therapies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Neurofeedback (please see the articles under References).
- We can share our story and help inspire others to deal with their own mental issues.
- We can empower ourselves and choose to put our hurdles to good use! What we often consider to be our flaws or issues can be used in positive ways to help ourselves and others, by simply learning how to redirect these shadow aspects of ourselves and channel that energy towards accomplishing our goals and dreams!
What’s something about yourself that may have a negative side, but can also be used in positive ways?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/18/23
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is...
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications
Are you afraid to fail, succeed or both?
These twin siblings walk together, arm in arm, and it can be really hard to separate them or even tell them apart. When we’re afraid to fail, we usually feel paralyzed and unable to take the necessary steps to achieve success. Succeeding can’t happen without failing; ergo, being afraid to fail often translates into being afraid to succeed.
What’s behind these fears? If we dig deeply enough, sooner or later we come to realize that most of our surface fears stem from three major core fears: Not being good enough; being unworthy; and being afraid of living and getting hurt in the process. If we believe we are unworthy or not good enough, and if we’re afraid to live, we end up attracting people, events, circumstances, etc, that will reinforce those fears… As we believe, so it is.
As everyone else, I’ve had my share of failing. One of the most significant failure experiences happened in 2010. As a consequence of the 2008 economic crisis, among other factors, my business partner and I had to close our graphic design and publishing business. Since I had unwisely connected my personal credit to the business, I had to declare bankruptcy and lost my home in the process. I had to start over in my 40’s, and everything I had believed in or counted on didn’t make sense any longer. I was feeling lost, confused, depressed and very angry. After a period of grieving and a short stretch working for the U.S. Census, I came to the realization that I needed to start reinventing myself.
Since 2002, I had been learning about and experimenting with different forms of holistic practices as a side activity. I really enjoyed that work, so I decided to pursue the integrative arts as a career. The research I conducted about federally accredited holistic healthcare programs led me to SWIHA - Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, AZ as the best choice for my purposes. In 2011, when I enrolled in the SWIHA AOS degree program in Holistic Health Care, I had the choice to specialize in nutrition or hypnotherapy; I chose the latter, which led me to a fulfilling career in hypno-coaching. I obtained my AOS degree in Holistic Healthcare in 2013, became certified as a Master Hypnotherapist by the ABH and as a Certified Hypnotherapist by the IMDHA, and founded The Healers Home (formerly The Ragi Center for Self-Awareness), through which I practice Clinical Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching and other holistic modalities. In addition, I teach SWIHA online classes and offer corporate workshop series and presentations about hypnotherapy for the local community. Currently, I’m co-authoring a book with my mentor and former teacher about implementing a volunteer-based guided imagery program at a hospital or health care facility.
As I often share as part of resistance coaching for the classes I teach online, failure paves the road to success. However, there's a big difference between failing and feeling like a failure. As my wise friend Judi L. once shared during an online group meeting, “failure only exists in our minds—mistakes are essential to set us in different directions and on different paths. We can't let fear of making mistakes prevent us from moving forward. When we fail or make the wrong choice, we're meant to learn from those experiences and take the next leap. Everything is pushing us to our higher purpose.”
Learning how to make mistakes and fail with humility, without beating ourselves up, is one of the most courageous, empowering and self-loving choices we can make in life.
Failing is especially good for business. As a matter of fact, the current trend is to fail fast to get that part of the process out of the way and fail mindfully to acquire the necessary knowledge and successfully apply the lessons (please check out some of the awesome videos from The Failure Institute; link under References). Also, sharing our struggles is one of the most effective ways to connect with and engage our audience.
How to Address Fear?
To help you further on your own journey of bringing fear to light, I recommend hypno-coaching to work through resistance and fears. A good script to begin with is Wall of Fear, by Linda Bennett, with focus on the fears of not being good enough and/or being unworthy. A good follow-up script would be Removing the Armor for releasing limitations, also by Linda Bennett.
In addition to hypno-coaching, there are many effective exercises and tools to help deal with fear:
- Asking yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Our wild imaginations can create some far-off doomsday scenarios, making it easier to laugh at and dismiss our fears.
- Visualizing the process of making mistakes and failing as if you were watching an old black-and-white comedy-capers-style silent movie (or another funny, cartoonish story style) is another effective way to make light of our failings… and related fears.
- Self-parenting through soothing, confident-building self-talk. Be the parent that you wish you’d had!
- Repeating positive affirmations and powerful mantras.
- Doing mirror work, which also involves using affirmations and mantras.
- Writing your eulogy: What do you want to be remembered for? What does a meaningful life with no regrets mean to you?
- Testing your fears: Ask yourself powerful questions, or ask a professional therapist work with you.
- Mel Robbins shares effective tips to trick the brain into action (please see two of her videos under References). As per Becca Briley’s fitting comment about the 5 Second Rule brain trick during our live talk, "Instead of RETRACTION, we choose IN-ACTION" (please see link under References).
- Activities like rock climbing or singing karaoke can reveal your fear patterns and help you work through them. For instance, when I started indoor rock-climbing a few months ago , I noticed that, whenever I had a successful climbing session, I’d start making excuses about why I probably wouldn’t be able to do so well next time… I recognized it as a defensive mechanism through which I’d justify myself in advance for possible failures. Once I was aware of this pattern, I would catch myself every time I’d be thinking of such excuses and take action by responsibly challenging myself and learning to be ok with not-so-good climbing days.
- Asking for help and support is an important part of this process, too. No one does it alone! In addition to friends and family support (or if you can’t count on friends and family), look for other sources, such as local and online groups and orgs that support the work you do (or the work you would like to get involved in).
What other tools are you familiar with?
FINAL THOUGHT: Life can be much better if we stop constantly listening to our inner critic and being so hard on ourselves and others. Life already has enough challenges without us having to make it any harder… In short: It would behoove us to just lighten the “freak” up a little.
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 03/09/23
"Faith Over Fear" Image by Alex Shute at Unsplash
Image of me rock climbing (taken by my husband)
The Failure Institute - Videos
Mel Robbins: 5 Second Rule
How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over - Mel Robbins
SWIHA Lean Into Your Success Facebook group - March 8, 2023 Live Talk hosted by Becca Briley, with Gisele Marasca-Vargas
I was a French soldier on active duty in a French-occupied territory somewhere in Eastern Europe around the 1,600s. I was in my early 30’s when I was ambushed and chased in the middle of the night by a group of men who stabbed me to death with their swords. The lesson I learned from that life time: I didn’t want to be part of violent fighting and wars any longer.
I was a French young lady named Genevieve in the 1,700s who was forced to marry a much older nobleman. He was loving and kind, and I grew to love him over the years. We never had children. I was vibrant with life! I loved dancing, horseback riding and breed dogs. I was kind and generous with our servants and also helped the poor. My husband died many years before I did. I died from old age, surrounded by loyal and caring servants. Lesson I learned from that lifetime: The beauty of different kinds of love.
I was a gold prospector in 1,800s California. I had found gold and brought my claim to a rich investor, inviting him to become my partner. He stole my claim and had his men beat me up and leave me for dead in the back of the building where his office was. I was all broken up and in pain, and it took me hours to die. The lesson I learned, as I lay slowly dying, looking up at the beautiful starry sky and hearing the happy music and laughter coming from a nearby saloon: In spite of my pain and suffering, life all around me was still full of beauty. Lingering issue from that life time: Lack of trust in and respect for rich men in power/authority figures.
I was a young boy of 12 or 13 years of age in England in the early 1,900s. I was fearless in an irresponsible and careless manner. On a personal dare, I decided to dive into the sea from a high cliff and died instantly from hitting rocks at the bottom. Lingering issue from that life time: Fear of taking risks; being too serious about life; not wanting to waste my time on frivolities.
These are just a few of the intriguing and intense thoughts or memories I experienced during past life regression sessions, along with meaningful lessons and insights into current issues.
Are you curious about Past Energy Release (PER) or Past Life Regression (PLR)?
Many people want to try it just out of curiosity; however, it can also be very effective as a therapeutic tool. PER Therapy, also referred to as Past Life Regression, is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what many practitioners believe to be memories of past lives or incarnations. During a PER session, the client experiences such memories as mental movies, slides, images, thoughts, feelings and sensations. Although there is no conclusive evidence to prove the reincarnation hypothesis, and many people consider past life memories to be just creations of the mind, there are enough studies and researches to demonstrate that it is a plausible hypothesis. However, true or imaginary, these memories can be used to work through and help release, resolve and remove current issues and root trauma, as well as promote self-development. In other words, you don’t have to believe in reincarnation to benefit from past life regression therapy.
PAT ENERGY RELEASE/PAST LIFE REGRESSION FAQS:
• How Will I “See” My Past Life?
It’s different for each person. Some people might “play” it in their minds as if they were watching a movie; others might “hear” in their minds a description of what’s happening; yet others might just have a “knowing” of what is transpiring. Also, some people might perceive scenes of one past life in a linear progression; others might go back and forth, or even jump to scenes from other lives. The best way is to go in with no expectations of how you might experience it; just go with the flow. And if your subconscious does its own thing and doesn’t follow the script, that’s ok, the script is meant only as a guideline.
In case nothing at all happens, it’s also ok. There’s nothing wrong with you; maybe it’s not time for you to go through this experience at this point in your life, or in this group environment. Whatever happens (or doesn’t happen), it is your decision and only yours, even if it comes from a subconscious or unconscious level.
You can choose a theme for your PLR experience or leave it open ended; if you choose a theme, however, keep in mind that your subconscious might have its own agenda.
• What If I'm Making It All Up?
It's ok. Scientific studies show that past life regression therapy works if the client believes the experience is real or not. The bottom line is that whatever you feel you wish to experience is the right thing for you. The important thing to look at is what comes to your mind. Once you are in a relaxed state, your mind will offer you the information you are meant to work with at that time. It can happen that your conscious mind will try to be critical of or interfere with your experience as you go through the session; allow it to do what it must. However, try not to censor yourself in any way; again, just go with the flow.
• What If I See Something Or Someone I Don't Like?
What a great opportunity that will be! That way, you can discuss what bothers you and why it came to you at this time in your life, so that it can be taken care of and resolved; sometimes, the healing can be instant. Occasionally, an abreaction can happen (the release of a repressed emotion through reliving an experience). Since you are the one in control throughout the process, you can choose to experience the regression as an outside observer, or to not feel any emotions or pain. You can also choose to come out of it at any time. However, unless you really feel you can’t handle it, it’s recommended that you allow yourself to go through it, as it’s a great release/healing opportunity (as mentioned above).
• Will I Speak In A Different Language?
In most cases, the experiences are reported in the person’s current language, although there have been cases of people who were able to speak in a language previously unknown to them during a session. In such circumstances, they can be asked to “translate” the experience by speaking in their current language.
• Can I Also See My Future Lives?
You may also look into your future through progression sessions. Rather than premonitions, I tend to believe that such sessions show you more of a symbolic representation of future possibilities. Again, true or imaginary, your visions of the future can be used as an opportunity for higher awareness when making life choices.
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 02/27/2023
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss
Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives, by Tom Shroder (based on the research work by Dr. Ian Stevenson)
Children’s Past Lives, by Carol Bowman
FOR THOSE IN GRIEF
As some of you may know, I recently lost my father. [If you’d like to know more, please see the tribute to him that I posted on Facebook: TO DAD, WITH LOVE.]
Since many of my family members, friends and acquaintances have also suffered the loss of loved ones recently (and in the past 3 years, especially due to Covid), I’m sharing the revised version of an article about loss and grief that I published in 2018. My hope is that it will help you with your grief process. Blessings, Gisele
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 01/23/23
LOSS IS ABOUT MORE THAN WHO OR WHAT WE LOSE
My husband and I recently lost one of the rescue cats we’d been sheltering, feeding and trying to get adopted. His name was Solo, a sweet, gentle and friendly Tuxedo cat who was very loving and protective of the other cats in the colony; especially his smaller siblings. After a week-long search, we found poor Solo’s body in a neighbor’s yard, close to the fence between our homes. We believe he got into some rat poison. It was quite shocking to find him that way. I wept inconsolably because of the sad way he died, as well as the condition of his body, which was already in the first stages of decomposition; and for not having had the chance for a proper goodbye. But I also cried for not having realized how seriously ill he was and tried to do more about it (he had looked shaky and non-responsive a week before, so we tried to catch him to take him to the vet but he escaped, and because we couldn’t find anything visibly wrong and he seemed to be doing better, we decided to just keep an eye on him; unfortunately, that was the last time we saw him alive). I also wept for not having been able to find him a permanent home soon enough; for the deep pain I witnessed and felt in my husband, who had developed a soft spot for Solo; but above all, I cried for the kind of world we live in, where too many living beings suffer from neglect and ill-treatment, and where too many are killed so casually and mindlessly, often just for our convenience.
After my husband asked permission to enter the neighbor’s backyard, we went together to pick up Solo’s remains and bring him back to our house, the place that was never meant to be his permanent home but was the only home he knew for the almost three years of his life, ever since he was just a little kitten hiding with his siblings under our shed. We buried him in our backyard, saying our final goodbyes. Ironically, about a week later someone called and asked if Solo was still available for adoption. They were looking for a neutered Tuxedo male to keep company with a Tuxedo female who had recently lost her companion. Solo would have been perfect. The call came about two weeks too late.
A few days later, we attended an event with a few friends and acquaintances. One of the people there was a man who had lost his younger son to suicide just a few months before. I can’t even imagine the kind of pain that man had gone (and was still going) through. I also remember feeling embarrassed about how much I was still suffering for the loss of our rescue cat, and how self-conscious I felt after a friend asked what was wrong with me, and I shared it with him. I caught myself trying to justify what I was feeling and why I was still feeling that way.
Over the years I’ve suffered my share of losses, as everyone else. In the past year alone, my grandmother (with whom I had a very special connection) and a cousin-in-law (a special and wonderful young woman with whom I also shared a special connection) passed away. In addition to Solo, we also lost three other rescue cats; one was them was especially hard, as it was a sweet little kitten who got severely sick and had to be put to sleep. I still carry all of them with me.
As these events caused me to muse about loss more than usual; and considering that every single one of us deals with loss on a regular basis, I decided to write down some thoughts and feelings in relation to this important and reoccurring theme.
1) Loss is always about much more than who or what you lose. As it happened in relation to the death of Solo the rescue cat, loss can bring up many other issues to the surface, including fear of death, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, etc. Generally speaking, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, as our losses can be connected with so many different aspects of our beings and existence (including past experiences of loss), the significance of each loss is quite personal and individual.
2) Loss is loss is loss. There’s no competition or comparison in grief... In other words, no loss should be considered greater or lesser than another; comparing losses is an exercise in futility. There’s no right or wrong here. So I shouldn’t have compared my grief for the loss of our rescue cat with the grief of the gentleman who lost his son. Losses cannot be compared by quantity or quality. Of course, it’s still a good rule of thumb to not try to engage someone who just lost his son to suicide by speaking about the loss of your rescue cat. Each person tends to feel very intensely about their own loss and most likely wouldn’t respond well to a comment that might elicit or imply comparison, especially if they are still grieving. When someone is in need to sympathy for their loss, it’s always better to address their needs without bringing up your own loss, anyway. However, you should be able to go through your own grief process without guilt or shame. Which bring us to the following thought:
3) There’s no shame in loss. Or there shouldn’t be. Easier said than done, as I happened to demonstrate with my own personal experience. However, that’s what we should strive for: understanding that grief due to loss is a natural feeling that needs to be honored and experienced without guilt or shame. In spite of the fact that many of us believe in a higher realm where souls are eternal, it’s still hard to disconnect ourselves from the pain caused by the very real losses in our physical world. The thing is, we are also physical beings, and it is OK to acknowledge and feel loss in this realm, no matter what our spiritual beliefs may be.
4) Suffering more for the loss of one person (or animal companion, etc) over another doesn’t mean caring more for one over the other. Among other things, the circumstances involving someone’s death can make it harder for the people who survive them. As I mentioned above, I lost my grandmother and my cousin-in-law just a few months apart in the past year. Although I was a lot closer to my grandmother than I was to my cousin-in-law, in some ways I suffered my cousin-in-law’s death more intensely. That’s because my grandmother died at the age of 97, having lived a full life, having had the chance to see most of her family for her 97th birthday celebration a couple of weeks before (with family coming from out of state and even of of the country), and having her wish for a good death fulfilled (she died peacefully in her sleep, and mostly in good health). My cousin-in-law, however, was only 41 and died painfully of cancer in the prime of her life, leaving her husband and her 6-year-old son behind, not to mention a mother who had recently lost her husband (my cousin-in-law’s father) to cancer, and whose son (my cousin-in-law’s brother) also has cancer.
5) Those of us who are highly sensitive people (HSP) and empaths might feel loss even more deeply. As I mentioned on my blog article “This Is Too Much!!!” About Highly Sensitive People, what is moderately stimulating to most people is overwhelming to highly sensitive people, who make up about 18 to 20% of the population. One more reason why it’s wise to not compare degrees of grief and loss.
6) The grieving process is not linear. So we shouldn’t expect it to follow a preset pattern. For instance, although the five stages of grief and loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, as per Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model) are a generally accepted standard, we can’t expect to go through one by one and be done with it. While some stages might be easily identifiable, others might be hardly noticeable or existent. It’s also common to swing back and forth among them, mix them up and even create a few combos of our own... So it’s better to just go with the flow, accepting and honoring our own process as it is.
7) There is no statute of limitation in relation to loss. Therefore, there should be no rules concerning when and how we are supposed to “get over” a loss. Of course, the exception should be that it’s advisable to seek help to cope with grief and loss whenever that is leading to self-destructive and other destructive behavior.
8) There’s always loss. We are always (and will always be) losing someone or something throughout our entire lives. Accepting this basic principle can help us through the losses we’re certain to suffer. The more acceptance we can muster, the less we grieve. Yes, easier said than done, but a state of mind to work towards nonetheless.
9) Loss and change often go arm in arm. The reverse is also true. Change is the fiber of life; so is loss. We lose people (friends, family, romantic partners, etc), jobs, homes, opportunities, memories... But there’s always another where that one came from. Which brings us to the next thought about loss:
10) Something to lose, something to gain. The upside of loss is gain. We often gain a lot from our losses, from deeper understanding and awareness, maturity, etc, to new people, things or circumstances that come into our lives to fill that void or empty space and redirect our sense of purpose. It’s a natural law of the universe. The gentleman who lost his son knows painfully well that no one can ever replace him; but he has another son who now needs him more than ever. Some people who go through similar tragedies also choose to get involved in support groups and volunteer for organizations that have suicide prevention lines. In our case, just a few days after Solo was gone another stray Tuxedo cat showed up at our door, needing food and shelter. Of course, the newcomer can never replace Solo, who will always be in our hearts. But it is the nature of our universe to create new relationships and circumstances once previous ones are gone.
11) Loss is an illusion. We take loss very personally and focus on the feeling that someone or something has been taken away from us; we even express it that way by talking about “our” losses. However, nothing and no one really belong to us during our temporary passage through this world, do they? In addition, if we believe in the eternity of our souls or energy beings, and that nothing is wasted in the universe, only transformed, then loss doesn’t really exist from a broader perspective. Likewise, if we get more scientific and consider the quantum physics principles involving space/time and alternate realities. Whatever set of beliefs floats our boat, it’s worth a try. Maybe believing that loss is an illusion or that everything happens for a reason won’t make us suffer any less; but it can offer some comfort. In my case, when things get tough I repeat to myself these well-known Abraham-Hicks words: “You are loved. All is well.”
12) We are simply not in control. One of the most important things that loss teaches us is that we are not in control. Concerning Solo, the truth of the matter is that my husband and I weren’t in control of our neighbor’s actions (using the rat poison), or Solo’s actions (eating the rat poison and then running away from our help). We were in control of our own actions, but only from a limited perspective and incomplete understanding of the whole situation. So, ultimately, we were not in control of what happened to him. And the bottom line is that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they know at any given moment. That’s worth remembering whenever we start getting into the blame game (blaming ourselves or others) concerning a loss.
13) We are not alone. There’s always help. That doesn’t mean we can’t take whatever time alone we need to mourn and grieve a loss. But there’s great value in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing it with others. For one, we are reminded that everyone of us deals with loss. In addition, if we are feeling spiritually disconnected due to loss and grief, sharing with others helps us reconnect and become part of the web of life again.
FINAL THOUGHT: If all else fails, remember these famous words: “This too shall pass...”
My heartfelt condolences to everyone in grief,
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash