The Meadows Blog

The Meadows was featured on BlogTalkRadio with host Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, CSAT, PCC, on Monday, July 30, 2012. Jenna Pastore, Business Development Liaison with The Meadows, was interviewed on the topic of "Is Inpatient Treatment Right for Me" which covered a discussion of inpatient treatment program, workshops, Senior Fellows, and resources offered by The Meadows.

According to Juergensen Sheets, inpatient treatment is necessary when the trauma is so great that it cannot be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Removing the person from their environment and placing them in a safe, nurturing environment can make a difference in really healing and becoming whole again.

"What I admire so much about The Meadows is it is really an opportunity for people to learn about themselves, get strong and recover, and celebrate that recovery," Juergensen Sheets said. "They can then continue all the modalities that they used at The Meadows outside in their real world to the best of their ability."

Pastore explained that if a person has been through an addiction program and they are doing the work, but still feeling pain and living in a vulnerable state, they do not have to live that way.

"Trauma does hijack our authentic self. It does impact our ability to be functional," said Pastore. "If you haven't done the core trauma work, it's important for lasting recovery. Until you address those early childhood wounds, lasting recovery is impossible because you can only stand that pain and vulnerability for so long before that addictive cycle creeps back and you're back where you started."

To listen to the interview, visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sexhelpwithcarolthecoach/2012/07/31/strengthhoperecovery-with-carol-the-coach.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator Nat (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Effective July 1, 2012, The Meadows adopted an all-inclusive pricing model. As The Meadows launches the new fee structure, a special promotion will be offered to patients that admit to The Meadows five-week inpatient program for the time period July 1 - August 15, 2012.

The Meadows specializes in treating trauma, PTSD, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, codependency, depression, bipolar disorders, sexual compulsivity, love addiction, love avoidance, eating disorders, work addiction, and gambling addiction.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about how The Meadows can help you or your loved one or to take advantage of this limited-time inpatient discount offer, contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Sunday, 05 August 2012 20:00

“Facing the Truth behind the Mask”

"Recovery is about living more in truth than in lies... it's about facing reality and growing up."
- Pia Mellody

Over 2,500 years ago, in Athens Greece, playwrights like Sophocles introduced a form of theatrical art known as the tragedy. Greek tragedies typically dealt with weighty themes such as betrayal, loss, pride, jealousy, rage, love, courage, honor, life and death. Often these dance-dramas also explored man's relationship with God and the existential challenges that are part of the human condition. Actors wore elaborate masks with exaggerated facial expressions so that their character's role, emotional state, and intentions might be accessible to the audience. Commonly, one actor played several characters during the course of the theatrical performance, changing masks for each character and sometimes for each scene.

Fast-forward to our lives today and the Greek tragedy might be used as a metaphor for some of the key aspects of recovery from trauma and addiction. Like an actor in a play, often we are reacting to life's existential challenges according to a script. This script can influence how we move about on the stage of life; it can spell out our roles in relation to others, how we think and feel, and how we act in various situations. From the first moments of conception and throughout development, by way of ongoing interactions between ourselves, others, and the environment, this narrative is written into our psychobiology - it becomes an implicit script in the mind-body system.

Moreover, similar to actors in Greek tragedies, our implicit scripts encourage the use of certain masks or persona's. In many ways, this is completely natural and necessary for a life in which we play many different roles. For most of us, the scenes on life's stage are constantly changing; we may transition from a family mask to a work mask, then to a friend mask, and back to a family mask, all within the course of one day. However, unlike the actors in a Greek tragedy, for us these persona's are not distinct, separate people - they are aspects of a single being, linked together by the person behind the masks.

For some of us, our own life resembles a Greek tragedy, with painful experiences of betrayal, loss, abandonment, and trauma. These experiences are written into the mind-body script that tacitly flavors our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Some of these life events can be so traumatic that we don't even want to look at the script - we would rather not face the reality of our situation, it's just too painful. Yet, our bodies and minds still play the part, even when we don't pay attention to the script; something happens on the stage of life and we just react according to our past experiences, maybe without even being aware of the script.

Also, when there are painful and traumatic aspects to our life scripts, wearing a mask can become an adaptive way to hide our vulnerabilities from ourselves and others. The various persona's create a sense of security and a safe distance from the troubling realities deep behind the masks. While this strategy is protective, over time it can further obscure the truth of our scripts and disconnect us from what drives our thoughts, feelings, and actions. In fact, under these circumstances, we risk becoming over-identified with the persona's, forgetting who is actually looking through the masks. We become disconnected from the truth of who we really are and we cannot see the truth of others around us.

Moreover, sometimes these protective measures fall short and the truth of our scripts threatens to come bubbling up into awareness. In those moments, the pain, fear and shame can seem overwhelming, leading to desperate attempts to push it all back out of awareness. Compulsive behaviors with drugs, sex, relationships, and food will facilitate temporary relief from the vulnerability and pain of our tragedy scripts. While addiction can force the rawness of our reality out of awareness for a while, it comes with a whole host of complicating problems. In time, addictions only add painful prose to the narrative of our mind-body scripts and further disconnect us from our truth and from people that we love.

For several decades, Pia Mellody has been encouraging people to remember and rediscover the truth behind the masks and to face reality without addiction. For her, what started as a journey to understand the dis-ease of codependence, so that she could better help her clients, turned into an elegant, comprehensive model for addiction recovery. This model continues to be used at The Meadows of Wickenburg, a world-renowned treatment center, and has been a source of healing for many patients and practitioners.

You might ask, "How is codependence related to addiction?" Pia Mellody kept asking herself this same question when she repeatedly encountered the coexistence of these two conditions in her clients. What she and her colleagues came to understand is that codependence and addiction are frequently linked together by a history of childhood abuse and neglect. These traumatic experiences can be overt (i.e., big "T"), as in the case of physical or sexual abuse, or covert (i.e., little "t"), as in the case of emotional abuse, abandonment, enmeshment, and loss/death. Relational trauma of this kind often results in deep wounds, painful paragraphs in our mind-body scripts, which can lead to developmental immaturity and negative consequences for adult functioning.

More specifically, Pia Mellody found that people usually entered recovery treatment because of addiction, mental/emotional symptoms, resentment/anger, negative control of others, intimacy/relationship problems, and impoverished spirituality. However, usually these issues only become "problems" because other people tell the person in treatment that they are indeed problematic! Yet, given an opportunity to step back from the tornado of unmanageability created by these issues, most people in treatment are able to admit that help is necessary.

Pia Mellody came to understand that these presenting problems were only "secondary symptoms" of deeper, core developmental issues that are frequently related to childhood trauma. She surmised that relational trauma causes an individual to become polarized along five core dimensions of development: 1) self esteem (less than versus better than), 2) boundaries (too vulnerable versus invulnerable), 3) reality issues (bad/rebellious versus good/perfect), 4) dependency (too dependent versus needless/wantless), and 5) moderation (too little versus too much self-control). Furthermore, she discovered that when people are able to address their childhood wounds and identify their core issues of developmental immaturity, they discover a measure of reprieve from the secondary symptoms of addiction and relationship turmoil.

Pia Mellody has consistently taught that the recovery process requires that we honestly and courageously face the truth of our past, both what has been done to us and what we have done to others. It is no coincidence that she titled her now-classic book "Facing Codependence" (italics added). As suggested by Pia Mellody, "The recovery process is about living more in truth than lies." Yet, paradoxically, the painful truth of our mind-body scripts is what drove us to hide behind the masks and disconnect through addictive processes. The prospect of facing the reality of our condition doesn't appeal to many people - that is why the bottom can be so low.

So, how do we go about facing the truth of our scripts and reacquaint ourselves with the person behind the masks? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Develop a willingness to surrender. In the recovery process, a willing heart can take us a long way. The path of recovery has many twists and turns and very often we don't know what is around the next bend. Remembering the powerless and unmanageability of our past can invite the willingness we need to surrender to the recovery process.
  • Be willing to accept help. Recovery isn't a solitary affair. Often we need the help of a director or producer when facing the truth of our tragedy scripts. Guidance and support can be found in friends and family, recovery communities, professional treatment, and something or someone wiser and vaster than us (i.e., nature, spirit, higher power, etc).
  • Cultivate self-compassion and patience. Under the gentle, soft stage-lights of self-directed compassion and patience, we can begin to peer into the darkness behind the masks and face the perilous paragraphs of our mind-body scripts. Rugged honesty isn't the same as self-defeating judgment and blame. Let us be kind to ourselves.
  • Some discomfort is inevitable. As we learn to accept and be with the uncomfortable sensations, emotions, and thoughts associated with our implicit scripts, we find that these mind-body states are generally transitory, like storm clouds moving across a desert landscape. Gradually, our recovery can become imbued with a quiet confidence that we can weather life's storms.
  • Recovery is about growing up. If trauma leads to developmental immaturity, as suggested by Pia Mellody, then recovery must be a maturational process. Don't fight it - let go of old ways and exercise a willingness to embrace new, more mature ways of living.
  • Recovery involves grieving. As we more fully inhabit and live from our truth, we can expect to grieve what we didn't ever receive, what we lost along the way, and the gradual disillusion of the fantasies that we created about ourselves and others.
  • It's a process, not a destination. It is tempting to think of recovery as a goal or a to-do item to be checked off. But, in recovery, no one ever truly arrives... each step on the path brings fresh challenges and opportunities. "Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved." ~ Søren Kierkegaard.

Perspectives and practices like these support a recovery process where we begin to live more in truth than in lies. The traumatic narratives of our tragedy scripts are not necessarily erased, but they can be rewritten and reinterpreted on the stage of life. Gradually, we become less invested in, and identified with, our various masks – we are able to more comfortably embody the person looking through the masks.

In many ways, the recovery process is about becoming more conscious – more connected with the truth of ourselves and others. Within this field of heightened consciousness there begins to be enough space and security for the emergence of an authentic self. Generally, this kind of conscious presence brings us into contact with our own humanity, our foibles, short-comings, character defects, and our deepest wounds. However, at the same time we are able to make intimate contact with our own immutable and unconditional worth.

In that authentic space of conscious awareness we come back home to ourselves and, if only for a moment, we experience our wholeness. When we are at home with ourselves, we are better able to make meaningful connections with other humans, all creatures, nature, and a higher power. This is the essence of spiritual practice; ultimately, this is the spiritual path. May we all find and inhabit this path of recovery by facing the truth behind our masks.

The Meadows was pleased to welcome Sean Walsh as the new executive director approximately 90 days ago when he assumed the day-to-day leadership of The Meadows Wickenburg campus.

"We are so fortunate and blessed that Sean has joined our team. His passion for the work we do is contagious. In just three months, he has made impressive inroads into every aspect of The Meadows organization," said Jim Dredge, The Meadows CEO.

According to Sean, his focus was to become familiar with the staff, the systems, and the overall processes for patient care, in addition to looking for areas to grow and strengthen.

One of these areas is the relationship between The Meadows and its referral sources. "I see a key part of my role to be a liaison between referral sources and the clinical team. I've been looking for ways to bridge the gap and strengthen relationships," Sean said. "With a clinical background, I can often speak to referral sources about clinical matters more keenly than the average administrator."

In Sean's first 30 days he instituted the daily FlashMeeting. He saw it as a need or potential avenue for the department heads to have a centralized meeting to staff every patient every day. "Over the last two months it has served as a good venue for the management and leadership team to feel confident that they know what's happening on campus every day," Sean explained.

Streamlining The Meadows' ATA process is another area where Sean has concentrated his attention to have more of a sense of urgency for presenting patients. "We've developed a new system of identifying urgent admissions so that they can get in front of our psychiatric or medical teams. This allows the attending physicians to determine if a potential patient is appropriate for the Meadows in a timely manner," Sean said. "We know the patients and families are eagerly awaiting those decisions. This will help streamline the ATA process and make it more efficient by having a higher level of urgency for presenting patients."

Another important part of the admissions process, according to Sean, is the exclusionary criteria that The Meadows implements. "If we're not the right fit and the patient needs services that we can't provide, we want to make sure they get the care they are in need of. We want to connect them with other quality providers around the country so they get the treatment they are in need of, Sean emphasized.

In June, Sean attended the 23rd Annual International Trauma Conference in Boston that The Meadows has sponsored for the last seven years. The leading neuroscientists and treatment developers on how trauma affects mental and brain functioning presented to nearly 700 attendees during the four-day conference. "It was great to see the world-class leaders in trauma and the partnership that The Meadows has developed with the conference and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of The Meadows Senior Fellows, and the conference director," Sean noted. "Another Meadows Senior Fellow, Dr. Shelley Uram, also attended giving us the opportunity to learn the newest cutting-edge research and best practices that we can take and bring back and incorporate into the treatment that we are already providing."

Sean recognizes the value of the Senior Fellows on the Wickenburg campus which allows the staff to take advantage of their latest research and findings. "The Meadows clinical staff has participated in several extremely rich training weekends with Senior Fellows Dr. Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic Experiencing, and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the foremost trauma research psychiatrists in the world. Other Meadows' Senior Fellows who have given shorter trainings are myself and Dr. Jerry Boriskin. Ana DoValle,  a cutting-edge, world renowned trauma therapist, has also provided two training weekends for the staff," said Dr. Shelley Uram, Meadows' Senior Fellow.

Each week The Meadows offers a variety of one-of-a-kind, five day workshops that are available to all interested individuals. These workshops specifically address the needs of those who have not been in inpatient treatment, but are also a source of renewal for anyone who has undergone treatment. "People forget The Meadows is not just a 35 day inpatient program. Our workshops are a vital part of what we do and provide a great resource for those in need, Sean pointed out. "It can be a good catalyst for patients who aren't in need of inpatient level care, but still need that intensive foundation they can build off of in individual therapy when they return home. Workshops can also be beneficial for patients who are hesitant to enter the inpatient program. Often they will try a workshop to begin to understand what we do here at the Meadows and then occasionally decide to go into inpatient treatment. The workshops are a great tool regardless of where the patient is at in their recovery."

According to Sean, patient safety is The Meadows number one priority. "If we can't keep our patients safe, we aren't able to do the great work and treatment we pride ourselves in," Sean explained. "We're constantly looking at what we can do to provide a safe environment and a level of accountability that our patients need. Something that distinguishes us from other providers is being a Level 1 acute facility that provides 24 hour nursing."

Recently, Jonathan Henrichsen, a therapeutic and educational consultant toured The Meadows. He made the following observations echoing Sean's assessment of The Meadows:

I was really glad to have the opportunity to tour The Meadows. I was especially impressed with the continuum of care and the level of clinical sophistication the program is able to offer. When we have clients who are dealing with dual (or multiple) diagnoses, which is more often the case than not, we need a program that can be tailored to both adequately address all the issues as well as provide a longer term of care than is available under a traditional rehab model. The Meadows is able to do that.

Although The Meadows is known for having high-profile residents from time-to-time, as a visitor to the program I appreciated the steps The Meadows took to ensure the confidentiality of its clientele.

Residential treatment is a people business - it is only as good as the people who are providing it. Given that, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to meet with several different members of the clinical and administrative team, all of whom I found knowledgeable and professional, yet also very personable.

One of the areas that Sean was most excited about his first 90 days is The Meadows contract with TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a sub-contractor of TRICARE, to serve the military as a network provider. "The Meadows has a reputation of being an industry leader with expertise in treating trauma and addiction. We are honored that we can now provide that same treatment to our service members who have given so much to defend our country," Sean said. "The Meadows has set itself apart by going through the process of becoming a network provider with Triwest, which demonstrates The Meadows commitment to giving back."

Sean is now focusing on moving forward at The Meadows. Capital improvements to the campus are on the agenda, in addition to strengthening elements of the program and expanding new programs, such as the young adult population, in addition to strengthening and defining the military track.

Before coming to The Meadows, Sean was very familiar with its reputation. "After 90 days it's easy to see why The Meadows is known as one of the worlds best for treatment of trauma and addiction," Sean concluded.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Dr. Shelley Uram on One's Authentic Nature

One of America's most respected centers for treating trauma and addiction, The Meadows presents a 16-part video series, viewable on YouTube, in which Dr. Shelley Uram addresses topics ranging from the sense of self to the benefits of Somatic Experiencing.

In the installment titled "One's Authentic Nature," Dr. Uram, a psychologist and senior fellow at The Meadows, discusses the authentic nature, or authentic self, inside every person.

"Everybody has an authentic nature," she explains. "Most people are very unaware of it." While we're born with bodies and brains that are survival- and fear-based, our authentic nature often pulls us in the opposite direction.

"The more primitive parts of your brain don't even understand authenticity," Dr. Uram adds.

In other videos in this series, Dr. Uram shares her expertise on trauma triggers, addiction, and the effects of emotional trauma on brain development.

Shelley Uram, M.D., is a Harvard-trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist who speaks nationally and internationally on the brain’s survival wiring — and how it can interfere with modern life. As a senior fellow at The Meadows, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and trains staff members. She also serves as a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, and she treats patients in her Phoenix office.

The Meadows’ video series includes interviews with other prominent figures in the mental health field, including John Bradshaw and Maureen Canning; see www.youtube.com/themeadowswickenburg. To learn more about The Meadows’ innovative treatment program for trauma, addiction, and other disorders, visit www.themeadows.com or call 800-244-4949.

The Meadows is pleased to announce Carrie Steffensen, CMP, as the new Director of Community Partnerships. In this new role, Steffensen will continue managing events, many of which involve the Meadows' Senior Fellows, world-renowned experts who are thought leaders in their disciplines, in addition to engaging and supporting The Meadows' alumni in their personal recovery.

Steffensen began her career at The Meadows in 2002 as Events Coordinator. With a background in events planning, she has involved in all stages of event planning and logistics for the highly-successful events The Meadows hosts or sponsors each year, including the prestigious Annual International Trauma Conference.

Since Steffensen began her work at The Meadows, she has attended the alumni retreats every year. "I have met many of our alumni over the past 10 years and I'm honored to be working with an inspiring group of people committed to their recovery," Steffensen said.

"We are very pleased that Carrie Steffensen has assumed her new role at The Meadows as the Director of Community Partnerships," said Jim Dredge, CEO for The Meadows. "Carrie is an integral part of The Meadows' team and we know that she will continue to provide excellence in service to all constituents."

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three centers or in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

The Meadows is sponsoring a free lecture in Austin, Texas on Thursday, August 9 given Dr. Pamela Monday, LPC, LMFT, on the topic of "Trans-Generational Patterns." It will be held at the Riverbend Church from 7:00 to 8:30pm and no registration is required.

The topic will focus on exploring the unconscious family patterns that continue to be passed down across the generations, and then learn how to transform those patterns into healthy behaviors. Learning objectives include identifying three family myths or rules that people keep repeating in spite of best efforts at recovery; identifying which family loyalties are keep people stuck in dysfunctional patterns; and setting specific goals about how to interrupt those patterns and creating more functional behaviors moving forward.

Dr. Monday is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Texas and has been a therapist for more than 30 years.

The Meadows sponsors free lectures in various cities throughout the country. Speakers include local therapists familiar with The Meadows' model. Lectures are free and open to the public. Attendees can earn 1.5 Continuing Education Credits. For more information, contact Betty Ewing Dicken at 972.612.7443 or bdicken@themeadows.com.

The Meadows, located in Wickenburg, Arizona, is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

One of the most desirable fruits of the recovery process is a greater sense of serenity and peace. Yet, for those who are recovering from addiction and trauma, each day can bring challenges, both large and small, to one's sense of serenity. Encountering opinions that are different from our own, especially when they bring our own values and beliefs into question, can certainly stir powerful emotions and threaten our serenity.

In the United States, we are nearing the end of a long political season, yet the grueling presidential election process is bound to bring even more opportunities for personal and interpersonal friction. Nevertheless, it is important that we remain involved in the political process and take part in civic duties. The question is do we let politics rob us of our serenity? And if our intention is to maintain serenity, how do we go about doing that?

Recently, I was faced with this very question when I received a politically charged email from an acquaintance. Fortunately, in that moment, I found just enough space and serenity to write my feelings down (instead of shooting off my mouth). My own political views and those of the email's author are not important, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum we will face moments when our serenity is challenged. Here is my written response in the moment that my serenity was on the line:

"A contemplative response (for my own sake),

My initial response to this email was a familiar one; I felt a tightening in my chest and a churning in my gut. The world around me seemed to contract and become very small, very narrow. The gentle breeze and the sun's warmth were lost as my mind fixated on little black letters and the spaces between them.

Thankfully, I happened upon a moment of pause a brief opening of light in that familiar dark tunnel. In that micro-moment of pause came space and I realized that what I was reading and feeling wasn't the totality of me in that moment. In that space, I could reach out and feel the rushing of the river without getting carried away in it.

The space also brought a sense of curiosity and openness about what was happening inside me. It came to my mind that, far from being an exercise in logic, rational thinking, and reasonable dialogue, politics often strike at the heart of our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world around us. For me, politics are wholly an emotional affair.

Having been happily derailed from my usual emotional ruts, I reread the attached article with a degree of mindfulness. Instead of finding my old friend "anger", I touched into a deeper well of "fear". First and foremost, I could sense the author's fear: fear of differentness, fear of powerlessness, and most of all, fear of change.

It was as if the author's barbed terms were meant to catch on the fabric of time itself and stop the world from spinning out of control. Often, implicit in this idea is that, as a society, we can pull from our past a caricature of security and purity and somehow freeze the present day in its image. Yet, this would be like flying into space, chasing the brilliant shimmer of a desired star, only to find that the star had long since disappeared, leaving only its light to travel through space.

The essence of life is change... to fear it is to fear life itself.

The other emotion I found under my defensive anger was that of "pain". At first this was confusing and uncomfortable. Paradoxically, it is much easier for me to sit with anger than with pain. In anger, I don't have to look at myself, there is plenty for me to blame "out there". However, in pain, I am invited to look inward to find the wound.

As I sat with the uncomfortableness of the pain, I began to see its source... for me, it stemmed from the idea of "separateness". The author uses highly-charged terminology that I think is meant to create a sense of distinction and separateness; an "us-against-them" mentality. It seems to me that the very purpose of the article is to use fear, anger, and anxiety to "call people to arms" and to "take sides".

Indeed, my initial response to the article was to tighten, constrict, wall-off, and begin drawing lines in the sand as an effort to define myself as separate and different from others. Somehow it seems "safe" to separate myself from others, to try and define people and issues in "black-and-white". However, I am beginning to understand that, for me, there is only emptiness to this sense of separateness.

As my approach to the essay began to soften, I felt a compassionate connection to people who fear that their most basic beliefs will be challenged or changed and to those people
who feel a need to separate themselves from others to maintain a solid sense of themselves. I also found in myself tenderheartedness for those individuals who feel desperate enough about their circumstances that they join an imperfect social movement, hoping for something better for themselves and others. In the end, these people didn't seem so different from each other or from me.

In many ways, we are all searching for ground in a world that is inherently groundless. We want bedrock, we want "a sure thing", we want predictability, and we want security.

For me personally, I feel more peaceful these days when I acknowledge my own fear of change and the pain I feel when I attempt to separate myself from others.

I find serenity in just recognizing the groundlessness of our common situation... and out of that commonality comes a feeling of compassion.

(By the way, I'm now feeling the gentle breeze and the warm sun here in Arizona... it's pretty nice.)

Thanks for the email,

Jon

Certainly we need people who are politically minded, that is people who are interested in the political process and make efforts to fulfill their civic duties. However, in a world that is increasingly divided along stark ideological lines, we also need people who are politically mindful. When we can mindfully respond instead of emotionally react, our political efforts can come from a place of inner meaning and truth. In that mental and emotional place, our political activism can be devoid of harsh judgment and filled with deep wisdom- something this world desperately needs. During this political season, let us cast our vote while maintaining our serenity.

The Meadows will offer a Grief Workshop the week of July 30 from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday at The Meadows' campus. This five-day workshop teaches participants how to deal with the pain they feel after a loss.

The Grief Workshop is designed to assist participants in addressing and resolving issues surrounding losses of all kinds; death of a loved one, end of a relationship, or a major change in social or economic status. Participants will learn about the grieving process and how they were taught to avoid feelings about their losses. Thinking processes will be explored, as well as patterns of destructive behavior following trauma and other loss.

"As this workshop helps participants to start thinking more clearly, they often realize that they have been exhibiting negative, self-destructive behaviors that negatively affect those around them," said Gail Yaw, Director of Workshops at The Meadows and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. "They then receive help to properly handle their confusing emotions."

Attending a Meadows' workshop offers an individual many benefits. A workshop can be a cost-effective alternative when long-term treatment is not an option. Individuals who cannot be away from their work or families for an extended period of time can attend a workshop and work on sensitive issues in a five-day concentrated format. This allows individuals to jump start their personal recovery by gaining insight into patterns and practicing new relational skills within a safe environment.

For more information about The Meadows' Grief Workshop and other workshops offered by The Meadows, please contact Heidi Dike-Kingston at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

The Meadows Alumni Association is pleased to host a monthly alumni workshop in Houston, Texas, for alumni on July 24, 2012, from 7:00 to 8:30pm. Cara Weed, LCSW, a Meadows' trained professional, will lead the discussion on "Boundaries." It will be held at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs and no registration is required to attend.

Cara Weed's private practice in Houston has encompassed the treatment of individuals, couples, and groups for a variety of issues including depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. Although she incorporates many approaches in her work, her focus remains the treatment model developed by Pia Mellody, senior clinical advisor for The Meadows.

"I discovered Pia Mellody's work on codependence and since my initial training in 1999 with her, I have frequently spoken publicly on her model of codependence and love addiction for The Meadows. I have conducted empowerment groups, love addiction recovery groups and relationship workshops - all of which focus on healing various degrees of childhood trauma underlying adult dysfunction," Weed said. "I am committed to utilizing this groundbreaking work to assist people who are either in recovery or who just want to enhance the quality of their lives."

Additional Meadows alumni workshop dates will be announced in the future. For more information, contact Betty Ewing Dicken, LCDC, at 972.612.7443 or bdicken@themeadows.com or visit www.themeadows.com/alumni.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

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Intensive Family Program • Innovative Experiential Therapy • Neurobehavioral Therapy

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