Joy Ignites Success


Coronavirus

By  - Friday, February 28, 2020

Coronavirus - What We Know and What To Do

This post is outside of the area of my normal posts here, but in the interest of mental health, I've decided to share it. As of this writing 82,721 cases of Coronavirus and 2,817 deaths have been reported worldwide (www.worldometers.info/coronavirus). While panic is not recommended, we do believe taking action to protect your health would be wise at this time.

What is Coronavirus?
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. It is believed to have been transmitted from animals to humans (which is pretty rare) but now is passed from person to person. Read More

I am not a body I am free

By  - Friday, February 14, 2020

A Course in Miracles and the Body

In the study of A Course in Miracles, one of the core lessons, “I am not a body, I am free” sends many folks into a spin. As a body-oriented psychotherapist, I understand the struggle. For over 20 years I have been teaching that the body holds wisdom and is here to teach, guide and support.  Are these beliefs in conflict? Not for me.

In my experience, knowing that I am not the body does not prevent me from working with the body’s wisdom. In fact, quite the opposite. As I learn to identify less with the body and sensations, less aversion and attachment to it arises. When I believe I am the body, I also believe if the body is not okay, I’m not okay, which cannot be true. Stephen Hawking (who some would say was imprisoned in the body) and Victor Frankl (whose body was imprisoned) clearly demonstrate that we are so much more than the body.

When overly identified with the body and sensation, there is a tendency to extremes: we either exalt it as God, or vehemently deny it as the devil. In the hands of the ego, the body becomes a problem to solve and a tool to enforce the belief in separation. Clearly, if all I am is a body and you’re also that; I am not you and you are not me. And this completely contradicts any belief that we are one.

New age thinking has also had a heyday with the body; often blaming and judging those with physical ailments with a proclamation: “if you would only think right, you wouldn’t be sick.” This is not completely out of accord with the teachings of the Course (which says only the mind creates), but it is certainly out of accord with “Teach only Love, for that is what you are.”  I have certainly dealt with my share of physical ailments. Blaming myself and trying to figure out what I did wrong to create them is an attack upon myself and not useful and not kind. When we believe we are the body, we are inclined to take credit or blame for everything it does, which leads us further into separation and egoic thinking. Instead, I choose to heed any lessons (i.e.: "slow down," "don’t push so hard," or "don’t worry") and as best I can, to allow the wave of illness or discomfort to be just that.

The Course says the body is a way of joining and uniting minds with Spirit. And “the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.” Recognizing the body as a communication device and not what we are, opens up a whole new conversation. When I think of the body in this way, it’s a little closer to the way I think of my car. I love my car, but I am not my car. My car has a purpose and serves it well. If it should break down, I would not say I am broken. When I look at the body in this way, it no longer has power over me. And then, I can truly listen to its lessons.

In my work as a somatic psychotherapist, I teach clients how to listen and respect the body. To understand that it holds unresolved emotions; that it registers upset before the mind; and that it can teach us how to open and let go. When I know I am not the body, I can give it the respect it deserves. For more on having a respectful relationship with the body, see my previous posts Using the Body to Let Go, What is Your Body Trying to Tell You, and Where the Body Goes.

I would love to hear your insights and questions. Please share below or email me directly at Melanie@melaniesmithson.com Read More

Telling Stories to Avoid Feeling

By  - Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Back in 2012 (OMG, that’s 7 years ago!) I wrote a blog about defending yourself to others and how that ramps up the feeling of being under attack. Recently, I started seeing how we do this to ourselves with telling stories about what we’re experiencing.

Here’s an example: The neighbor’s dog runs out into the street and gets hit by a car. I’m devastated. It brings up grief for the family, for the shortening of the dog’s life and the memory of my dog, Elsa, who was also hit and killed by a car. It probably also brings up fear that Beatrice (the current four-legged) will do the same thing.

What the mind likes to do in this situation is to protect us from the feelings. It will do that by making up stories about why that happened. “They weren’t watching the dog close enough.” “They didn’t take the time to train the dog.” “They must have left the gate open.” These are all made up stories (whether there’s an element of truth to them or not) to try to protect ourselves from our own feelings of fear and grief.

It would be one thing if this strategy worked. But it doesn’t. All it does it send our feelings underground, where they lodge in our bodies, to be processed at another time (and/or to create physical illness).

The choice instead requires courage. Let go of the stories and feel your feelings. Welcome the sadness and the accompanying sensations and welcome the fear of losing your loved one. When we welcome and allow feelings, they move through very quickly. It’s the resistance to them that keeps them hanging around.

We can also notice when those around us are making up stories to protect themselves. When we can see through those stories (especially if the story includes blaming us), we can recognize that he or she is probably scared at some level. When we can see our loved one as a scared child, it’s much easier to have compassion for them.

To help move through the feelings, rather than make up a story that doesn’t serve, practice simply opening to the sensations in your body and see what happens.

And give yourself some approval for the courage it might take to be with the feeling! Read More

Lets Talk About Play

By  - Thursday, May 09, 2019

Let’s Talk About Play!



Hearing about another school shooting incident in Colorado brought me to tears. Along with grief for victims and family, I feel overwhelming sadness about living in a world where this is becoming the norm. While I’m sure there are many contributing factors, the one I can speak to is the impact of the lack of movement and interactive play.
I wrote my thesis on Reclaiming An Adult Relationship to Play, as I believe it’s critically important for all of us to play throughout our lifetimes. But, today, I am looking at this from what the lack of play is doing to our children and our society.
About 20 years ago, I had the honor of participating in a playshop with my teacher, Christine Caldwell, and Dr.Stuart Brown, a leading researcher on play. Of the many benefits, aspects and implications surrounding play and the lack thereof, one of the most profound things I heard Dr. Brown say during that workshop, was that play deprivation is a leading indicator for mass murder. In fact, I remember him saying that it was the only correlation that could be found among mass murderers.
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Practicing KIndness

By  - Tuesday, April 02, 2019

8 Ways to Be Kind to Self




All too often, when I suggest to a client that they learn to be kinder to themselves, I am looked at as if I have three heads. I get it, if the only thing we learned growing up was pressure, blame and criticism, it can be hard to know where to begin in changing the way we treat ourselves.


So, I made a list. It’s an on-going list, consider this part 1.


  1. Slow Down- rushing creates a sense of panic in the body and sends an internal message of not doing enough and/or being enough
  2. Drive Kind- it’s far too easy to get pulled into franticness when driving; when you slow down to allow others to make that turn, pull onto the highway, etc., it feels good. Practicing random acts of kindness is good for both giver and receiver.
  3.  Read More

Was that a gift?

By  - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Was that a gift?


Or maybe you meant to say contract?

In our Course in Miracles group last Saturday (during a discussion about giving without wanting anything in return), the question was asked about what to do when a gift comes with expectations.
With the holidays arriving soon, it feels like a good time to review the difference between a gift and a contract.
A gift, by definition, is given freely, without compensation. Gifts can come in the form of material objects for sure; but also in kind words, listening, sharing and so much more.  In giving a gift, we have the opportunity to find joy in our ability to give, to enjoy another’s delight and to bask in the energy of gratitude (either from the other, or from ourselves for ourselves). For some, the joy is in finding the perfect gift. For others, no shopping is required.
A contract, on the other hand, to be legally binding, includes promises from both parties. I’ll mow your lawn and you’ll give me money. Read More

At the end of your rope?

By  - Tuesday, September 04, 2018

What to do when every little thing is annoying...
Do you have days (weeks? months?) where everybody and everything gets under your skin? It happens to the best of us. Maybe you haven’t been sleeping well, or you’ve eaten foods that don’t agree, or there’s simply too much on your plate. I’ve created a list of things to do and questions to ask yourself when irritability is getting the best of you.
 Read More

Are you beating the fun out of yourself?

By  - Thursday, May 17, 2018

Are you beating the fun out of yourself?



Would you like to have more fun? Are you waiting and waiting for it to happen?
Most would say they’d like to have more fun. But most are also tyrants with themselves. Thoughts like “there’s no time to play”, “there’s too much to do” and “I’m too tired” rule the day. And too often, the belief is that the way to get things done is to just buckle down and do it.
This is the opposite of the truth. Fun is one of the best (if not the best) motivator there is. Pause for a moment to consider this- someone invites you to an event and it sounds like a lot of fun. You’re likely to say yes immediately, or figure out how to move things in your schedule to get there. In a different scenario, the same person invites you to an event, but this time you think to yourself “I should go because _______”. It doesn’t matter what you fill in the blank with, as soon as you tell yourself you should go, you’re in trouble. Read More

How Do We Let Go?

By  - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In 30 Ways or Less


It’s one thing to know you should let go and to even want to let go and it’s another thing to know how and actually let go. In this post, you'll find a summary of the three primary ways to let go and a list of 30 suggestions based in movement, play and Sedona releasing.
1.    Move it!
Emotions live in the body (for more about this, check out Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert). One of the most effective ways to let go of a feeling is to physically move it. Whether you dance with it, run through it or hike it up a mountain; getting conscious to what’s happening in your body will help you to let go. Suggestions 2-4, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22-24 and 27-30 all involve moving.
2.    Play with it!
Many of our habitual patterns developed when we were little trying on adult behaviors. Playing into stuck-ness is a natural way to let go. “In play all definitions slither, dance, combine, break apart, and recombine.” (S. Nachmanovitch, Free Play) Because of its spontaneous nature, play takes us out of strong habitual patterns and brings us into the present moment, where we can make a new choice. Suggestions 5-7, 12, 13, 17, 21, 25 and 26 all stem from play.
3.    Release it!
The Sedona Method is a phenomenal technique for letting go of unwanted thoughts and feelings. I have written many articles about and incorporating the method. The first two are the basics: 5 Ways to Release and The 4 Programs (that underlie thoughts, feelings and behaviors). This link takes you to 25 blogs that reference the Sedona Method. Suggestions 1, 2 and 16 are examples of Sedona Method releases.
 

30 Ways to Let Go of Unwanted Thoughts, Feelings, Sensations

1. Be with what is here is this moment. Allow the thoughts and sensations to do whatever they are doing.  Let go of wanting to change what is.
2. Just drop it. (pen analogy)
3. Use your arms to Give Up. (arms in air)
4. Shake or bounce it loose (thoughts, feelings and sensations).
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Let Go Feel Good

By  - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Why Should I Let Go?




Welcome to part one of Why, How, When and Where to let go. As with anything, when it comes to letting go, the mind wants to know “why should I?” And, of course, if anyone tells you that you should do something, you will likely resist. So finding your own motivation to let go (or release) becomes critically important. In my personal experience and in the experience of my clients gains from releasing have been numerable and significant. Perhaps my personal favorite gain is having let go of a lifelong habit of worrying. Clients have reported new ease in relationships, more clarity about what they want in life, freedom from grief and anxiety and so much more. Here are 5 reasons you might consider letting go:

  1. When you hold on to anger, resentment or hostility in any form, the person who suffers the most is always you. Yes, you might be simultaneously punishing another (though often they don’t even know), but the bottom line is that the feeling of anger is being experienced in your body, not theirs. And the feeling of anger in the body is uncomfortable and can lead to physical and emotional distress.
  2.  Read More



About MSI

Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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