Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 4:41 PM
Our true feelings might not be politically correct, but getting past them means admitting them to ourselves.
This article originally appeared at Reality Sandwich.
It's a typical Bioenergetic healing session. My client in his late 20s (we'll call him Dave here) shares how a female colleague, Sarah, is constantly begging and bothering him to complete her tasks for her. I ask Dave to sink into his feelings each time this situation arises and share what actions he would like to take based on his own emotions. A sense of anger and resentment immediately charge the space between us and, strangely, I end up whispering to myself, "Please say you want to hit her, say you want to hit her." As awful as it might sound (especially given its violent nature), from several years of therapeutic spiritual practice, I have come to recognize this powerful psychological shadow material is exactly what needs to be acknowledged and expressed for real healing to occur, and to avoid future unconscious aggression.
Knowing Dave, I'm fairly sure that, like most of my clients, he is too polite and "kind" to express such unsavory thoughts, but then Dave's eyes widen brightly, his shoulders relax, and his chest opens proudly as if suddenly relieved and empowered by an unseen force. "Oh, my God," he smiles, shaking his head in disbelief, "I totally want to punch her!"
Now that Dave has courageously uncovered (and connected with) the 800-pound emotional gorilla in the office cubicle, we can help guide the gorilla out of the corner so that he can move and transform. Examining the scene closer, Dave suddenly realizes that he can never look Sarah in the eyes when she annoys him.
We have now successfully tracked down gorilla No. 2: the shame Dave experiences from holding anger toward Sarah. As I had initially suspected, potent emotional force impregnates this seemingly small office interaction. Dave is suffering from what we in Bioenergetics call a "double bind." While Dave is incapable of exhibiting his anger toward Sarah because he, and society at large, view that emotion as shameful or unworthy (and also potentially dangerous), he also can't free himself from those guilty feelings without first expressing them.
Rather than either/or solutions, the healing response usually offers unexpected both/and possibilities, where a "miraculous" third way emerges, one that egoic thinking and societal conditioning normally miss. In this alternative scenario, Dave grants himself permission to experience 100 percent of his anger, free of guilt, while still holding love for himself and, ultimately, for Sarah. This third path heals and unifies rather than divides and punishes.
Through some brief exercises, I share with Dave how to allow the charged energy to circulate safely up and down his spine, flowing forcefully and naturally, without him ever projecting it back on Sarah or internalizing it into his own body as guilt. By letting his anger move, instead of pushing it down, Dave is able to temporarily feel the power of his anger while simultaneously holding a space of love for both of them. Given this freedom, he soon lands at a place of personal empowerment where he can even thank Sarah for teaching him an important lesson about his own wounding and its emotional healing.
The main purpose of this kind of Bioenergetic process work (my spiritual and healing practice) is to unblock stuck or crossed energies in the human energy field, much like the holistic practices of yoga, acupuncture, thai chi or qi gong. At its finest, Bioenergetics is staggeringly improper, unwaveringly un-PC, wonderfully iconoclastic and warriorfully liberating. It asks clients to leap into emotional terrain they falsely believe to be off-limits, to move beyond their fear threshold ("the death layer" as Bioenergetic pracitioners call it), to connect with, and own, their own emotions as unredeemably dark as they might appear to be; thus, enabling them to reclaim unintegrated aspects of their lost self.
Read the rest of this article at Reality Sandwich.
Image: "scream" by mRio, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, March 09, 2012 4:29 PM
There’s something new on tap, though it’s been around for two thousand years. Kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea drink purported to have healing properties, is steadily rising in mainstream popularity, finding success with commercial kombucha brewers, home brewers, and bartenders alike.
Made by fermenting tea and sugar with a culture of bacteria and yeast, kombucha is effervescent and potent, its deep, almost musty flavor lightened by a rush of friendly little bubbles. First-time drinkers soon become kombucha groupies.
Once associated with only the dippiest of hippies, kombucha and other fermented foods have earned the respect of the health-conscious community. Kombucha is thought to detoxify the body, improving digestive and immune systems, and Psychology Todayreported that fermented foods may even be the next Prozac, easing stress and depression.
Although such positive claims lack solid scientific proof, kombucha devotees stand behind it as a miracle cure. Jeff Weaber, founder of Vermont kombucha brewery Aqua Vitea with his wife, Katina Martin (a naturopathic physician), shared this anecdote in an email: “During an in-store demo, a person returned after 15 minuets of trying our ginger kombucha for the first time to report that a stomachache she had been dealing with for three days was now gone.”
Aqua Vitea is spreading the kombucha love. The brewery bottles single-serving containers, “but more of it travels in the kegs to stores, where it’s sold fresh on tap—a niche Aqua Vitea pioneered,” writes Sylvia Fagin in Vermont’s Local Banquet. “Empty bottles and growlers are sold near the taps for customers to fill and refill, saving money and resources.”
Other kombucha microbreweries around the country are thriving, as well. In addition to its tasty finished product, craft brewer Kombucha Brooklyn sells 100-200 kombucha homebrew kits a month and curates an online Brewers Forum where devotees can swap stories and recipes. “One of our main goals for having the forum was to connect ’buch brewers and to have them share their successes and failures,” says founder Eric Childs.
Now kombucha is hitting the bar scene. Sumathi Reddy, reporting for the Wall Street Journal, sees alcoholic kombucha drinks gaining trend status in the New York metro area. Get a jasmine margarita made with kombucha at Taproom No. 307 in Manhattan, a “beer bucha” (50 percent kombucha, 50 percent light beer) at Urban Rustic in Brooklyn, or try a new high-alcohol version of kombucha called “Mava Roka” at Queens Kickshaw in Astoria.
Beware of too much of a good thing, though (even if it’s nonalcoholic), or you'll risk stomach pain, headaches, or other symptoms as your body adjusts to the detoxification process. Weaber warns, “After making kombucha for eight years, I started getting the sense that it’s powerful stuff, and you should probably be drinking only about four ounces of kombucha a day. But, being gluttonous Americans, everybody’s drinking 16–32 ounces of kombucha a day.” In other words, get out the shot glass, not the pint.
Sources: Psychology Today, Vermont’s Local Banquet, Wall Street Journal
Image by Eric Bryan, licensed under Creative Commons.
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 10:30 PM
Excrement is an unexpected hero. While not a subject discussed in polite company, in both medical and environmental arenas poop is coming to the rescue.
Take, for example, the positive buzz surrounding fecal transplants, which are heralded as possible cures for everything from asthma and depression to Crohn’s disease, MS, and the bacterial gut infection c. difficile.
As its name suggests, a fecal transplant is the transfer of feces from a healthy donor to an ailing patient. The transfer, explains Pagan Kennedy in The Atlantic is performed using colonoscopy instruments to squirt a diluted stool sample from the donor into the large intestine of the patient. If all goes as it should, the donor sample repopulates the recipient’s intestine with a healthy amount of good bacteria.
While it doesn’t sound pleasant, the simple procedure yields surprisingly positive results—sometimes clearing up chronic symptoms in only two days. “Lately, stories about the success of at-home fecal transplants have been spreading across the Internet,” Kennedy writes. Such DIY fecal transplants are becoming popular due to the hesitation of mainstream clinicians who have yet to embrace poop as a miracle cure. “So far,” says Scientific American, “fecal transplants remain a niche therapy, practiced only by gastroenterologists who work for broad-minded institutions and who have overcome the ick factor.”
Still, some doctors are reporting remarkable successes, Scientific American continues: “[A]bout a dozen clinicians in the U.S., Europe and Australia have described performing fecal transplants on about 300 C. difficile patients. More than 90 percent of those patients recovered completely, an unheard-of proportion.”
Our health isn’t the only thing that can be improved with feces, adds Sierra magazine’s Dashka Slater (with tongue in cheek): “In the future, poop will solve all our problems,” including environmental ones. She offers three examples of excrement’s energy prowess:
1) Dried flakes of human feces can be burned to produce energy. “The flakes, which resemble instant-coffee granules,” Slater says, “are made from dehydrated sludge, the fecal goo left behind after wastewater is treated.” Sixteen percent of the energy used by British water and sewage company Thames Water comes from human poo.
2) Elephant and panda poop contain bacteria that easily converts plants’ woody pulp into sugars. “Researchers at Mississippi State University (working with pandas) and at the Dutch technology company DSM (working with elephants) say that such bacteria could be key to producing cellulosic ethanol from biomass like wood chips, switchgrass, and corn stover.”
3) Manure on large hog farms produces high levels of methane. “Now Duke University and Duke Energy have teamed up to harness pig-poop power, using the methane from a 9,000-head hog farm in North Carolina to run an electrical turbine,” says Slater. The project produces enough energy to light up the kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms—and bathrooms—of 35 area homes.
Sources: TheAtlantic, Scientific American, Sierra
Image by macaron*macaron(EstBleu2007), licensed under Creative Commons.
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 9:59 AM
“I hate all the fetishistic twaddle about books promoted by the chain stores and the book clubs, which make books seem as cozy and unthreatening as teacups,” writes Luc Sante in defense of his sprawling book collection, “instead of the often disputatious and sometimes frightening things they are.”
Please enjoy the most hilarious typo of all time.
A drought-caused famine in Somalia has starved to death more than 29,000 children in the past few months, making this no time to cut foreign aid, pleads U.S. Catholic.
You’ve heard that old saw: Religious disputes fill the world with violence and strife. But new research suggests that idea is just a veneer for less spiritual issues.
The Atlantic’s exhaustive look at the state of alternative medicine and the move towards more integrative clinics, “The Triumph of New-Age Medicine.”
The Queen of Conservativism supports equal rights for gays and lesbians. Wait, you thought we meant Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann? No, no, silly—we’re talking about Lady Gaga.
Vladimir Putin, the Action Man.
Fast Company brings good news to the world. Announcing: a windshield wiper for your bathroom mirror.
Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has now been going boldly for 45 years.
A former examiner of Social Security disability applicants had forty minutes to determine a claimant’s fate.
10 buildings shaped like what they sell.
Near the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica, researchers learn more about the social world of the sperm whale, one of the planet’s most mysterious creatures. “Sperm whales have distinct dialects, complex relationships and a set of traditions passed down between generations—what scientists are calling a ‘multicultural civilization.’”
Check out this video of a jacket that collects, stores, and purifies rainwater, and allows you to drink it with a built-in straw.
Write a poem for Bill Murray, win $1,000.
Image by Saltygal, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, February 19, 2010 2:08 PM
A California hospital has banned midwives from delivering babies, saying they must deliver at a larger facility 11 miles away that has a neonatal intensive care unit. The Ventura County Star reports on the controversy and the midwives’ reaction to the decision in Camarillo, California:
The two midwives who deliver at least 60 babies a year at the Camarillo hospital said they don’t understand the reasoning because they rarely have complications. …
Midwives said they’re worried that patients who want to deliver their babies at a Camarillo obstetrics unit they described as quiet and homey may not want to go a busy, much larger hospital. They also questioned why hospital leaders decided midwives need immediate access to the intensive care unit but obstetricians-gynecologists who routinely handle high-risk births do not.
Feministing suggests an answer, writing, “It’s hard to view this decision as being motivated by anything but a distrust of midwives, especially when OB/GYNs who deal with higher-risk pregnancies are still able to use the smaller facility.”
The blog On Birthing pins the midwife ban on fallout from the hospital’s contentious relationship with a doctor who assists in home births and is affiliated with the midwives. He and the hospital have disagreed over some of his methods. “So for his non-compliance with such ‘suggestions’ on how he ought to practice, they now take it out on midwives?” writes On Birthing. “This is a travesty.”
Feministing reports that the advocacy group the Birth Action Coalition is protesting the hospital’s decision.
Source: Ventura County Star, Feministing, On Birthing
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 9:03 AM
My friend Pete has lymphoma, and it’s been inspirational to watch him as he works methodically and systematically to kick the cancer’s ass. Pete is doing everything his treatment team recommends— foremost chemotherapy and radiation—and then some: He’s gone beyond the realm of the typical hospital dietitian as he eats an all-organic, mostly vegetarian diet packed with suspected and known cancer-fighting compounds like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Writing for Diner Journal, fellow lymphoma sufferer Danny Bloomberg goes down a similar road and finds, like Pete, that he’s caught between two worlds: the old-school, cautious approach of the typical hospital dietitian and the more open-ended but sometimes slightly woo-woo ideas of the alternative dietitian.
Bloomberg visits “Dietitian A” at the hospital first and tells her about all the cancer-fighting diets he’s read about online. She’s suspicious of “wacky theories” and non-FDA-approved diet choices, and is more interested in discussing basics like the four food groups and recommended daily percentages:
She scolded me and tapped the desk gently yet firmly. Then she brought out the silicone molds. She flopped the rubbery faux-foodstuffs onto the desk: A serving of broccoli, a serving of green beans, a serving of potatoes. The molds were fleshy and their flat bottoms slapped happily against the desk, jiggling proudly to attention. The colors were wrong and faded. She demonstrated how many vegetables were recommended to eat daily by organizing different combinations of molds on the desk. … Could all that I had Googled and read have been dangerous propaganda perpetrated by evil hippies?... Clearly, Dietitian A wasn’t for me. She was meant for the guy who thinks vegetables are what’s between the burger and the bun.
Casting about for an alternative, Bloomberg visits “Dietitian B” in the Alternative Medicine building and has a wholly different experience:
Dietitian B knew what kombucha was, the Budwig diet and the possible benefits of turmeric and shiitake mushrooms. We discussed supplements and vitamins, and he was curious and enthusiastic. … He drew me goofy diagrams on ruled paper. He advised me to take only one multivitamin with 100% daily values of all the important stuff. He discouraged supplements … but encouraged the use of medicinal plants, fungi, and spices in cooking, as well as moderate juicing. … He encouraged a leaning toward veganism but expressed concern that too strict a diet would lead to slight deficiencies, which could compromise my fragile system. … The difference between the two dietitians couldn’t have been greater. While they both preached from the same doctrine—of moderation—they had completely different styles at the pulpit.
As you might guess, Bloomberg ends up leaning toward Dietitian B, forced to be “a partisan” and choose between the two schools, even though it’s clear he doesn’t regard B as all-knowing or infallible. Maybe, one day in the not-so-distant future, the two dietitians could get together and talk—and learn something from each other.
Source: Diner Journal (article not available online)
Image by Sami Keinanen, licensed under Creative Commons.
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!