Tag Archives: mindfulness

The Jetsons and Emotion Regulation

The Jetsons got it right. Clearly the 1962 animated sitcom epitomizes Einstein’s belief, “imagination is more important than knowledge.” It didn’t matter that the creators didn’t have the technology back then, or even that Bill Gates would eventually be quoted repeatedly (and perhaps mistakenly) as saying “640KB ought to be enough for anyone.” A part of me really believes that the Jetsons paved the way for technology of the future, simply by putting their ideas out there. The futuristic utopia takes place in 2062… a mere 47 years away from now and how many of their inventions have already been actualized? (We’ve even got flying cars!)This is the stuff that makes me so happy to be living in this world today. If you can imagine it, one day it will probably exist. I can remember a time back in the 90‘s when I was sitting in the bathtub, reading a book and I had the revelation that it might be nice to download at will any number of articles or books into one magazine. When I excitedly ran this idea past my boyfriend at the time, he shrugged it off, looking unimpressed. Then 2007 rolled around and Amazon introduced the Kindle. Oh how my many talents and foresights go unappreciated… alas, here I am many years later, awaiting royalties that will never come. I wonder if there will ever be a time when a mere thought can be copyrighted? Anyway, I digress. The Jetsons’ utopia is one in which work is reduced to the push of a few buttons, meals come in a pill, and everyone in general lives a more harmonious lifestyle. But I can’t remember if there was ever direct mention of emotion. So, I’ll give it a go on my own.

Here is my vision for the future, emotion regulation-wise: I foresee doctors recommending what I will call a bi-annual Emoticonvectional Readjustment Process (or ERP, for short) whereby clients will enter an isolation tank – not the epson saltwater variety of today, but a more futuristic one where you float sensory-deprived atop a gentle, coddling, magnetic field and a certified practitioner will pull your body through a heat generated mild electrical current using a fancy hula hoopy type of wand.  With just one or two swoops of said wand, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels will all be in check; left and right brain hemispheres will be in balance; and the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and the rest of the limbic system will all be fine tuned. For those who comply with recommendations, it will be as simple as getting your teeth cleaned. For those who like to procrastinate, temporary body aches and migraines may be indicated. All adjustments will be made according to government recommendations. And of course, there’s no telling where that will go. Hopefully it won’t be as scary as the Twilight Zone video (see below – season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”) where all young men and women at the age of 19 are required to undergo a “transformation” to look and act beautiful like everyone else. In it, the protagonist, Marilyn, is attempting to forgo the transformation and cites a slew of reasons not to, including character and loving, caring connections with others. Her friend, Val, who has already transformed, tries to dissuade her:

Marilyn (in desperation): “Valerie…can’t you feel anything?”

Val: “Well, of course silly. I feel…I feel good. I always feel good. Life is pretty, life is fun. I am all and all is one!”

For now, we don’t have ERP or transformations, but we do still have character. And we do still have each other. Gurus and bodhisattvas have been showing us the way for centuries. I will leave you with my favorite quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment…”

Oh, one more thing – I doubt that I’ll be writing a sci-fi novel any time soon, so feel free to go ahead and use my idea for ERP. I just ask that you include me in the credits – and don’t forget to send royalties! And if you decide to create your own version of ERP, please send a visual and I’ll post it here. 

Click here for more about ideas, inventions and lunch with a script writer for the Jetsons.

Twilight Zone season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”

Click here for October 21st, 2015: Back to the Future Day!


Copyright 2014 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Mindfulness: Don’t Kill the Messenger!!!

Recently I was asked to present the closing ritual for the alumni reunion at the eating disorder facility where I work. The theme was “shaping recovery” and since I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s writings lately, I decided to offer a guided visualization that would somehow embrace her teachings on mindfulness and compassion. In particular, I was drawn to a couple of her videos posted on youtube regarding fear and fearlessness. She talks about our tendency to perceive every situation as a either a threat or a promise. And she says that when we are able to trust that whatever we say or do in the world we will get a message back, perception begins to shift to a stance that the world is “rich.” I love that. I want to live in a rich world as opposed to one that feels so polarized.

Ever since one of my mentors introduced me to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction several years ago, I’ve been hooked. The power of learning to be aware of feelings as they arise and to be open to sitting with all emotions, has been a transforming experience for me. As with learning anything new, I initially went through the motions and wondered if I was getting it right. But when one of the instructors read aloud Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House”  during a practice meditation, it all started to fall into place for me and I’ve been continuing to practice ever since. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person and can see myself opening the door to my emotive self oh so clearly; to welcome meanness, anger, sadness, joy… and more… to realize that I could sit with feelings of hatred, disgust, fear, jealousy and not only not turn them away, but to find that I could have compassion for these feelings… it made me understand what it is to be a whole person. We experience sensations physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; sensations from within our bodies and sensations as we interact with our environment. When we value the messages we are given instead of turning them away, it gives us a whole new way of operating in the world.

Coincidentally, I’ve also been reading Attachment in Psychotherapy (2007) by David J. Wallin, PhD. While I can’t begin to scratch the surface of the wealth of information Wallin offers in the book, a few things do stand out at the moment. For one, the idea that no matter how much we may be aware that we’d like to parent our children with a different attachment style than the one with which we were raised, Wallin indicates that there remains a strong unconscious pull to repeat the same pattern all over again. Yipes. And later in the book when he addresses trauma, Wallin shares that “most of us have ‘islands’ of trauma and dissociation in our history” and “there does appear to be a link between an unresolved state of mind… and psychological problems” (p.242). It seems that we all experience some degree of trauma and as a wise person once pointed out to me, some of us get 99 pennies and others get the dollar bill. Trauma comes to us in varying degrees of severity, and thankfully Wallin seemed to confirm what I’ve been hoping all along: mindfulness will save the world. As Pema Chödrön states in her “5 Reasons to Meditate” article, “Meditation helps us clearly see ourselves and the habitual patterns that limit our life. You begin to see your opinions clearly. You see your judgments. You see your defense mechanisms. Meditation deepens your understanding of yourself.” Mindfulness can help to treat attachment issues and trauma, it will make your relationships better. It will make you a better person in this world.

Here’s the visualization I came up with for the alumni reunion, for inspiration:

Imagine that you can see beneath the surface of the earth and watch as a flower seed begins to germinate.

Watch as buds emerge, some of which find their way deeper into the earth, foraging for nutrients in the soil.

And watch another as it breaks through the surface, climbing upward as it tracks the sun.

Below, roots rest momentarily as they find nutrients, then grow deeper as they search for more. 

Above the earth the seedling appears vulnerable and yet it is blessed with the magic of its surroundings.

What are the messages that this seedling receives from the universe that will encourage it to grow?

How does it brave the storm? How does it find light when at times it seems that there is none? 

How does communication from what’s happening below the surface support the growth that takes place above the surface? 

And vice-versa. How does communication from what’s happening above the surface support the growth that takes place below the surface?

As a flower, how does it know when to blossom? 

How does it interact with butterflies and bees?

How does it know when to release pollen and nectar and eventually, its petals?

Life is fluid, ever-changing, circular. 

Take a moment to reflect on your own growth. 

How are you open to receiving the rich messages the world has to offer you? 

Where is the synchronicity that supports you in being the best person you can be? 

How does communication from what’s happening inside, shape the growth that takes place above the surface? And vice versa. 

I’d like to end with a quote from Pema: “When you turn toward fear, what do you find? Vulnerability and shaky tenderness. Place your fearful mind in the cradle of loving kindness and nurse it with the profound brilliant milk of doubtlessness, and in the cool shade of fearlessness, fan it with the fan of joy and happiness.”

Related link and videos:

Female governor brings meditation to prison in New Delhi


Copyright 2014 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders.