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How to Enjoy the Holidays When You’re Not Well

Christmas has moved to a dramatically different kind of holiday than its beginnings: it could now be more accurately called “Stressmas.”  It has truly become a time of stress: having to get the right presents for the right people; getting enough presents; how much money to spend or not to spend; expecting certain gifts from specific people, who and how many to invite to celebrations.  Our attachment to people’s reactions to our gifts and our reactions to others’ gifts reminds us of what the Buddha said, “Attachment is the cause of all our suffering.”  To celebrate the birth of Jesus—one who taught unconditional love, perpetual forgiveness, and said, “I came that your joy might be full!”—perhaps we need to rethink the whole picture; otherwise, we are not celebrating unconditional love but instead creating stress.  And since stress causes 80% or more of our physical symptoms, this could be seen as a season we have celebrated in a way that brings illnesses or intensifies the ones we are already manifesting.  It is the “ego mind” that has taken over—that internal voice which promises love, safety, peace, and joy, but always gets us to think or do that which produces the opposite.

Why not start by consciously deciding that we want to promote love, joy, and peace instead of stress and sickness during this season. Can we risk letting spiritual values—happiness, peace, and love—dominate rather than pressure, “have to’s,” guilt, and therefore, stress and possible sickness? Do we really want material objects and corporate profits to dominate our holidays and our lives?  We might even tell our family and friends about our decision to make these changes.  And, if we are already sick, why make it worse by creating more stress?  And if we are healthy, why create stress to make ourselves sick and unhappy?  We must remember that sickness is a choice; though, we often make it more unconscious by blaming it on something external.  Now is the time to begin to make it conscious.

 

Some tools for keeping love, peace, and joy—and, therefore, health—more of a priority this holiday season:

  • Give priority to meditating at the beginning and end of each day.  You might even keep repeating to yourself this mantra: “I choose joy, love, and peace instead of stress today.”  Breathe deeply and say the mantra 30 or 40 times.
  • Whenever you find yourself feeling pressure, start breathing deeply, fully emptying your lungs and then breathe in fully, filling the belly, and then adding a little more into the chest.  Keep repeating throughout the day, so that you do not play out the American saying: “I didn’t have time to breathe.”
  • Make sure that each gift you buy or give only comes from the heart—no “shoulds” or “have to’s.”
  • Do the thymus heart rub when you start to feel anxious, pressured, or guilty. Place your hand flatly over the upper chest.  Begin to rub gently and soothingly in a circle, to the right, looking on from the outside.  Then, as you continue rubbing, say, “I deeply love and accept myself even though I have started to feel stressed (pressured, guilty, etc.).  I deeply love and accept myself because I am so glad I caught these negative thoughts.  And I deeply love and accept myself as I choose to let these thoughts go.” Repeat this throughout the day every time you catch yourself thinking a thought that takes away your joy, peace, or love.

 

You might also say, “I make this a holiday of love, peace, health, and joy,” remembering that it is your thoughts that cause your pain or joy.  “And I am in control of them.”

 

Looking for more great reads?

 

Excerpted from Your Power to Heal: Resolving Psychological Barriers to Your Physical Health by Henry Grayson.

Henry Grayson, PhD, has been lecturing, teaching, and providing professional training for more than 30 years. He is the founder of the Synergetic Therapy Institute, co-chairman of the PTSD division of the Stand for The Troops Foundation, and author of Your Power to Heal: Resolving Psychological Barriers to Your Physical Health. For more information, visit henrygrayson.com.

Henry Grayson: Your Self-Healing Power

Henry Grayson, PhD, is a psychotherapist, public speaker, and the author of such books as Changing Approaches to the Psychotherapies and The New Physics of Love. With Sounds True, he has published his newest book, Your Power to Heal: Resolving Psychological Barriers to Your Physical Health. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon talks with Henry about how our beliefs and cultural conditioning may affect our long-term health. Henry discusses how identifying our subconscious limiting narratives can help us embrace our own self-healing capabilities. Tami and Henry also speak on methods of pulling ourselves out of entrenched conditioning and seven steps for identifying what might be underlying physical symptoms. Finally, Henry shares a practice for approaching and eventually getting clear of a limiting personal belief. (69 minutes)

Henry Grayson: Change in an Instant

Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Henry Grayson, a leading psychologist who has spent decades exploring the connections between psychology, physics, and the spiritual traditions of the world. Dr. Grayson founded and served as chairman emeritus at the National Institute for Psychotherapies in New York. With Sounds True, he has created the nine-hour audio training course The New Physics of Love: The Power of Mind and Spirit in Relationships. In this episode, Tami speaks with Dr. Grayson about the role of thoughts in our relationships, how the non-local nature of the universe impacts our consciousness, and the possibility of “deleting undesirable and obsolete core beliefs in the twinkling of an eye.” (60 minutes)

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Compassion as a Superpower

Michelle Maldonado is founder and CEO of Lucenscia, a firm dedicated to human flourishing and mindful business transformation. She is a graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University and The George Washington University Law School, as well as an internationally certified mindfulness teacher and founding faculty for Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification Program. With Sounds True, she’s on the faculty of our Inner MBA program. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon talks to Michelle about how a brush with mindfulness at a very young age instilled her with a sense of presence that has guided her personal and professional path. They discuss why nurturing authentic connection and deep, intuitive care in the workplace leads to better human and organizational outcomes, and some of the challenges businesses face in making sustained change. She explains how unconscious bias seeps into our perceptions “like melted butter into nooks and crannies” and offers insights for addressing bias from a place of healing. They also discuss treating others as “human beings rather than human doings,” the journey of discovering our own power, embracing “compassion projects” as a means of public service and emotional release, and how we can best bring our care and attention to matters that affect us all.

The Trauma-Trigger Cycle

When you are stuck with old unprocessed experiences living inside you, they can create what I call a trauma-trigger cycle because they are still very much alive in our systems.

Here’s my analogy to help you understand how this works and why it causes so much trouble. Imagine that you have a very difficult experience, for example, having to say goodbye to a sick pet. All of the details in the form of individual feelings, smells, images, sounds, and more get bundled up and deposited into a metaphorical glass trauma capsule—which gets stored in the body. It sits there with all of the old feelings we experienced at the time the event happened. While you might not be aware of it constantly, you are likely feeling those emotions at a low level all the time. When any current situation reminds you of any of those details hanging out in the capsule—either consciously or subconsciously—the old trauma gets “poked,” or reactivated. This is how we get triggered. Being triggered can bring up flashes of those memories, including images, feelings, and any sensory stimuli.

For the most part, except in certain cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from major life events, where sometimes the trigger is known, this trauma-trigger reaction actually happens at a subconscious level, outside of your awareness. Even in obvious situations, you may think you know what the trigger is, and try to avoid it, but it may be something totally different that got stuck in the metaphorical glass trauma capsule. Often, people come to me and say, “Nothing set this off,” “I’m depressed for no reason,” or “I suddenly started feeling terrible but nothing happened.” While this may seem true, I can bet on the fact that while the bad feelings might seem random, they are being triggered in some way that you simply haven’t yet identified. Triggers can be foods, colors, smells,sounds, weather, or anything, really! Finding and resolving triggers can become almost an entertaining game if you let it.

As you can imagine, this entire trauma-trigger dynamic is very unsettling and unpredictable—which can feel like danger to your system and keep you stuck in that freakout response. Not only that, but in this state, you can actually be excessively tuned in to your trauma, seeing reminders of it everywhere, which further traumatizes you.

I had an experience after going through a loved one’s difficult health crisis where every single place I looked, I saw reminders of the experience. And for someone who wonders if everything is some greater “sign from the Universe” (fact: not every single thing is) or my intuition is trying to get my attention because another loved one might be in danger (second fact: trauma and fear clouds intuition), it felt like torture to me. I kept meeting people who had the same illness that my loved one had had, saw posters and billboards advertising medications for the condition, and more. As a distraction while on vacation, I had deliberately picked out several seemingly lighthearted books to take—and it turned out a character in every single book had that same medical condition! I was constantly on edge and further traumatized by all of these things. This is a perfect example of what happens to us in a traumatized state: we become highly attuned to the world around us, perhaps subconsciously scanning for danger, but in the process, we see and get triggered by everyday things we’ve probably passed by a million times before. I realized that had I been tuned in to any other single thing out in the world, like peaches, I likely would have seen that everywhere. This recognition actually led to a funny mantra I used during that time to keep things light while I did the deeper healing work: Look for the peaches! But in all seriousness, what happened as I worked to release the trauma, just like you’ll be doing in this chapter, was that I stopped seeing reminders of it. I have to be honest in that this took months of using energy therapy in different ways to overcome the trauma I had experienced, like you’ll be learning soon—but it worked. Did all the people with this condition go away? Did all the billboards get taken down? No. The less traumatized I became, the less heightened my sensitivity to it was. This is a perfect example of why it’s essential to work with unprocessed experiences.

Emotional memory is stored throughout the entire body. Thanks to the work of Candace Pert, we know that “unexpressed emotions from experiences can get stuck in the body at the level of cellular memory.” This is such a simple explanation for why we feel bad when we haven’t resolved our past experiences. We are still quite literally feeling them. And even if it’s at a subtle level, it may only take a “trigger” from that metaphorical glass capsule to awaken it.

While your own unprocessed experiences may not disrupt your life in the way that clinically diagnosed PTSD does, you may relate to what it feels like to have PTSD, when one or a few memories from life takes over all of it. This is, again, why we must deal effectively and consistently with our emotions instead of suppressing them. Otherwise, we are at risk of our emotions becoming part of future unresolved experiences.

Even knowing all of this, there’s no need to panic. Again, not all experiences traumatize you. And, not all traumas will need to be dealt with in order to get you feeling better. But the ones that do need careful attention. I want you to understand that by working with trauma, we are not trying to force a positive perspective on it or make you be okay with something bad that happened to you. Not at all. What we want to do is release the stress it’s causing you, even if that stress is undetected consciously. We don’t want these traumas taking up space and energy in your body anymore or triggering you without your knowledge.

Working with unprocessed experiences will help empty the metaphorical glass trauma capsule so we stop becoming triggered by the world around us. In other words, you’ll be seeing peaches more easily instead of trauma triggers.

This is an excerpt from How to Heal Yourself From Depression When No One Else Can: A Self-Guided Program to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Amy B. Scher.

 

amy b scherAmy B. Scher is an energy therapist, expert in mind-body healing, and the bestselling author of How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can and How to Heal Yourself from Anxiety When No One Else Can. She has been featured in the Times of India, CNN, HuffPost, CBS, the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Curve magazine, and San Francisco Book Review. Scher was also named one of the Advocate’s “40 Under 40.” She lives in New York City. For more, visit amybscher.com.

 

 

how to heal

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The Importance of Being Vulnerable

Emotions are the primary way we connect with others. In fact, for all the ways we perceive that sharing our emotions causes trouble, it’s actually worse for us not to. Sharing our truest, most vulnerable selves actually prevents us from the isolation that occurs when we miss out on the deep connection that only comes from this type of transparency. While social media can be a place of great support, it’s also caused a huge challenge. Because we’ve created a world in which we are addicted to showing our curated emotions, social media posts rarely tell the entire story. We’ve gotten accustomed to holding back our real selves—so much, in fact, that we have a totally distorted view of what’s “real.”

On a wet fall day as I was researching the negative effects of social media for this book, I noticed that a heavy sense of melancholy had fallen over me. Pushing myself to go out for a short walk in my beloved Central Park, only a block away, took every ounce of energy I had. When I was out, my sadness didn’t fade, but astounded by the colorful change of leaves, I felt inspired to take a handful of photos. They were the kind that Instagram is made of. When I got home, I decided to post them on social media. But earlier that day I had read something that was still with me: what happened when Tracy Clayton, host of the BuzzFeed podcast Another Round, asked people to repost photos they’d previously shared on social media, but this time, with the “real story” behind them. The photos that most of us would have longed for had painful stories behind them. One woman admitted to a terrible anxiety attack that took her all day to overcome, someone else shared the grief over a loss of a loved one stuffed under their smile at a party, and so on. What this shows us is that we are all running after a farce. But what’s worse, it shows that we’re all co-creating it.

So after a brief pause, I posted my gorgeous fall photos from the park with this: Full disclosure: Inspired by research for my next book about how social media posts screw us up by making everything and everyone seem OK even when they are not, I’m adding the truth here. These pictures were taken on a walk I dragged myself on because I felt sad today for no particular reason (except for that life is a lot sometimes).

I am typically not a sad person, nor am I one who shares it on social media when I am. I am very transparent on my author account, but for some reason, I am less so on my personal page. The response that day when I shared how I really felt took me by great surprise. Dozens of people I rarely heard from came out of the blue with comments, texts, and private messages. And what most of them were saying was, “I feel that way too.” In our technological age, we are more connected than ever before, but also lonelier and more isolated than ever before. I wondered that day, What if everyone stopped staying so busy pretending everything was perfect? What if instead of hiding our vulnerabilities to prevent the isolation we fear, we are driving it?

The bottom line is that, over and over again, I’ve learned that emotions are better in every way when they aren’t kept inside and to myself. 

This is an excerpt from How to Heal Yourself From Depression When No One Else Can: A Self-Guided Program to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Amy B. Scher.

 

amy scherAmy B. Scher is an energy therapist, expert in mind-body healing, and the bestselling author of How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can and How to Heal Yourself from Anxiety When No One Else Can. She has been featured in the Times of India, CNN, HuffPost, CBS, the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Curve magazine, and San Francisco Book Review. Scher was also named one of the Advocate’s “40 Under 40.” She lives in New York City. For more, visit amybscher.com.

 

 

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