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September 9, 2020

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Flowing Through COVID-19: Reflections on Summertime at PQ

By Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

WORKING IN THE HAWAIIAN HEAT wearing a mask during a pandemic requires internal cool. We’re all facing a scary reality that requires a fresh perspective. Are you, like so many, finding it challenging to keep your internal cool these days and flow with life’s challenges? Fear can be a barrier to experiencing flow. What interrupts your flow? Do your fears take you out of the present and take you into catastrophic thinking?

Here’s a little Zen story to illustrate this common habit: A monk returned to her modest hut to find a snake coiled on her bed. She felt panic and intense aversion. Next, her mind raced to the future to plan her escape! But then the light shown through the window and she saw the snake was not a snake at all, but merely a rope, and so the illusion was unmasked. How often does this happen to you?

As the well known Zen teacher A.H. Almaas so wisely offered: “To contact the deeper truth of who we are, we must engage in some activity or practice that questions what we assume to be true.” You may ask yourself: Am I sure my fear is serving me well or is even true? Can I face this challenge and see the situation with more clarity and return to my ‘flow?’

Life has been pretty great at PQ since we re-opened, and I attribute this, in part, to what positive psychology calls ‘a flow state’, or ‘being in the zone’. This is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Essentially, when we are in a flow state, time transforms or flows, as a result of this full absorption into the present moment.

At PQ we frequently notice that our students ‘future trip’ or ‘past trip’ and so we encourage them to return to the present moment. Yes, we do plan for the future and address unfinished business from the past, but we do this with present moment awareness without the distractions of technology or a chaotic home situation.

Come join me in the present moment. Do you feel like playing today? Sand play therapy is one of my choices to help nurture this feeling of flow through ‘play’. One recent student was a perfect example of being ‘in the flow’ as she worked in the sand non-stop for 45 minutes, shocked at the passage of time and the ‘art in the tray’ she so proudly created. Sand play can help students come out of their heads into their hearts and bodies, and to drop deeper into present moment feelings in a safe and protected space.

PQ does a fabulous job of providing a protected space for young people to ask these important questions. The benefit to my students and their families of staying in my ‘flow’ is that they can experience their PQ therapist as safe, centered and present.

Students and their families are safe to challenge assumptions, face fears and learn how it feels to land wholly in the wonderful present moments of their lives. Here they can experience the well being that comes with ‘flow.’

February 25, 2016

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Encouraging Kindness: Unleash the Power within our Children

One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” -Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

No matter the paths we take, it’s the power of the small wins that count. All too often, this realization hits nearer the end, when one’s path is running out of trail. It’s at this point in time that we reminisce on the things we’ve yet to accomplish and our chapters of ‘untapped potentials’ and ‘chunks of regrets.’ Perspective, you might say, shows us that moments are finite.

Life has a way of changing a person, and all too often a tragedy is a catalyst. But changing the way we approach life, and changing the way we make decisions can be ignited by another set of emotions. We can be different people if we change the manner in which we engage with others. A helping hand doesn’t have to be big in size. It is the helping attitude that matters most—a concept we should be teaching our children. After all, teaching children to care about others not only shapes their values, but it helps them to develop empathy, a virtue that is an important part of their internal compass.

Teaching our Children about Kindness

Follow these steps to help teach children to be givers of kindness, and use them as potential options for teen depression treatment if needed:

  1. Understand the importance of kindness

Understand the importance of kindness. There are three ways to define the word “nice” according to the dictionary:

  • Give pleasure or joy
  • Attractive or of good quality
  • Someone who is kind, polite and friendly

When we’re nice, we’re happier, we may live longer, it’s one of the keys to success, it brings us less stress and it simply feels better.

  1. Create a Kindness Project

Create a project where your family records one act of kindness or one pleasant activity per day. For some great inspiration, check out The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

  1. Take time to share

Rather than your child sharing everything in their diary, have them open up and share on a weekly basis during dinnertime. Sharing encourages self-reflection, and it helps bring meaning to their actions.

  1. Practice, practice, practice

Reinforcement of the kindness habit comes with daily practice or practice on a regular basis.

The Power of Empathy

Setting out to make someone smile has no pitfalls, but instead has a multitude of feel-good benefits. When children perform acts of kindness, their happiness increases. It nurtures their well-being and increases positive connections with peers. They also benefit developmentally. Happier children display more positive behaviors as they grow into their teen years, they’re more likely to show higher academic achievement and it improves their overall outlook on life. And of all things that can boost inner peace, the most important is making progress in meaningful ways. This is why when considering options for teen depression treatment it is important to consider a more holistic approach.

For more therapeutic techniques that can inspire motivation for change, or options for teen depression treatment, contact Pacific Quest today and learn more about our treatment model.
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