The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

The Therapy Booth at the Airport

This is one of the most well-received posts ever written for The Therapy Booth Blog. Here’s an encore presentation of it. I have an inkling Southwest Airlines (and/or Starbucks) might like to get on board with this. If you have a contact with SW, send them my way! Originally published April 23, 2012.

I have cried in airports more times than I can count or recall. When I was in high school and my sister was leaving for college, I was at her gate bawling like a baby. The next year when I was in college, I lost my tickets to go to New York for Thanksgiving and my boyfriend was in the hospital, and I cried and cried in the Miami airport. I remember a man approaching me. He said,

“I can see that you’re in pain. Is there anything I can do for you?”

So nice.

A few days ago, I dropped my best friend and her boyfriend off at the airport to go to her brother’s funeral. We were all crying, and I still hate even to type that that’s what we were up to at the airport. My poor sweet friend.

What if she had a spot to find some comfort in the airport?

What if, amidst the Starbucks and newsstands, there was a Therapy Booth in the airport? Picture this: soft tissues, good water to drink, gentle lighting and a friendly and open ear to hear, a hug, some snacks, doodle and writing supplies, maybe even a place to lie down . . . The Therapy Booth meets The Nap Shack in Terminal E.

The Therapy Booth at the Airport – and everywhere – is all-inclusive and open to everyone. One could also come in to share her delight or just to have a quiet moment to rest in the midst of a bustling day of travel.

Next time you’re in the airport, look around to see if this vision is clear to you, too. Between gates 39 and 40 . . .

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Looking a Little More Closely

I’ve spent the better part of this year so far deeply engaged in both practicing and facilitating the Living Inquiries, as developed by Scott Kiloby and refined by Scott and his team of facilitators. The further I get into the inquiries, the simpler they become.

We often come to the inquiries because there’s something occurring in our lives and we’re struggling with it, often suffering from what we’re experiencing.

We could suggest that these inquiries help us relax, see through the sense of separation, resolve conflicts, end seeking, etc., but why dangle carrots? What are we actually doing in the inquiries?

This practice is sort of like a non-practice. We’re neither adding nor taking away from our experience. We’re not replacing uncomfortable thoughts with more comfortable ones. We’re not looking into our histories to understand why we feel the way we feel (though sometimes memories of the past come up, and they are met as they come), and we’re not moving to improve ourselves in any way.

I can just hear a voice saying, “So what’s the use?”

To which I’d answer, “I don’t know. Let’s look and find out.”

What has infiltrated my experience these months is a simple closer look. Right here. Right now. Noticing what is presently arising.

The subtleties of the inquiry – and of our current experience – can be awe-striking, when seen. Let me give you an example:

I’ve been living with friends for a few months, and we have different sensibilities about climate control. (Welcome to the world of relationship, Carin!) Sometimes I feel really warm, and I automatically get intensely emotional, with thoughts of I-have-to-get-away and I’m-trapped-and-suffering coming up. I have had multiple inquiry sessions with my fellow facilitators on many angles of this scenario, and, though space has been made for some of the deep-seated emotions to come through, there was still something picking at me.

In the inquiries, we meet with facilitators who help us slow down and relax our experience enough that we can start to see what exactly is happening: thoughts coming in the form of words, thoughts appearing as mental images, and sensations arising in the body; sometimes all seeming to appear at once and often seeming stuck together; and all of them seeming to form a self or an object against which we’re fighting.

And, after doing even a little bit of the inquiries, they begin to take on a life of their own. So after months of them, they pop up in the most curious and enlightening ways.

Back to the story:

I was swimming with some friends a few days ago, just splashing around in the pool and talking about how I suffer because I love my roommates and am under the comforting blanket of their generosity, but I freak out if I get too hot. And I hadn’t been able to put my finger on exactly what was bothering me. My friend suggested it might be either a power thing (feeling like I didn’t have any) or a guilt thing (I should just be thankful). Those both made sense logically, but neither really connected with me deeply. They both seemed kind of heady.

(And this is a key in the Living Inquiries: we don’t look into what we think we’re experiencing. I’ll often advise, “You’ll know what feels right when you feel it in your gut.”)

Splashing around there in the pool, I suddenly saw a picture of our thermostat show up in front of my eyes.

We experience these flickers of images all day long every day, and we rarely notice them. They are more apparent when our eyes are closed, but they happen all the time. If I start writing about elephants and how they are big and grey and sometimes have red flowers painted on their foreheads, you may start to see a faint image of an elephant, even though there’s neither a picture of an elephant on this page, nor – likely – an elephant in the room with you right now. But notice how a mental image of an elephant, like a flash of a memory, appears to your awareness.

That’s what happened to me in the pool that night: I saw a clear picture of this thermostat with the number 83 in its screen. Wow, I thought. There it is. Now, I brought in the boomerang inquiry: what does this reflect back to me about me? What seems to be reflected back to me when I look at that plastic box with the digital number 83 appearing?

Resting with that image there, I saw something deeper than the power or guilt struggle. I saw that I thought this little plastic box with the number 83 meant that I had failed. In fact, that I was fucked, and that this was it. No options, no future relief, just failed and fucked.

I’m smiling as I type this, as I can see that readers might want to jump in and convince me that this isn’t the case, to talk me out of it, to show me all the evidence that proves that I’m not, in fact, fucked and that I haven’t irreparably and finally failed. Which is all fine, and I can appreciate your good cheer and well-wishes, but that’s not quite how we play this particular looking game.

In this game, we rest. Right here, with exactly what is arising. So, if the thought, “I’ve failed completely and I’m just fucked” is coming through, we – I – rest right there. Space for the words to come and go. Space for the picture of the thermostat. And – most directly – space and rest for whatever physical sensations may be appearing along with these thoughts and pictures. Simply noticing the subtleties, our seemingly rigid experience may begin to loosen.

I was able to look to see if the picture of the thermostat was actually saying anything. And, when I got home, I got to pause in front of the actual object and listen to hear if it was saying anything. I may have water in my ears, but I didn’t hear it say anything. Not even, “You’re fucked.” I checked, Is this thermostat me? Is it the one who had failed completely?

And, if it seemed so, I could look a little more closely: what else is happening in my present experience? Is there a sensation of energy in the body? Is that feeling me? Is there another thought? Another picture? Pausing, I could directly look and see.

So now you, too, can relax

 

 

and look into your present experience, a little more closely.

 

What do you notice?

 

Thoughts?

Do you see how they come and go?

Sensations?

Do you notice how the arise and move around without making a sound?

Pictures?

Do you notice how pictures appear like flashes, like flickers of memories of the past or memories of the future?

Pause, right here. Rest, and look, a little more closely.

– – – – –

If you’d like to go further with the Living Inquiries, visit http://www.thetherapybooth.com/living-inquiries/ to make an appointment

or find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/408220892542517/ to join the community conversation.

 

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Welcome to The Therapy Booth!

This post was originally published on the original Therapy Booth Blog, 3/3/12. In the short six months since its introduction, The Therapy Booth has grown – and continues to grow – by leaps and bounds. Very relaxed leaps and bounds, of course. Here’s some background:

The Therapy Booth is Born

Almost five years ago, I was relatively new in Austin and was relishing the abundant live music scene. I hadn’t found my favorite venue in town, however, and I started to have the idea to have my own music venue, with all the sweet points that I felt would make it great –

~ plenty of fresh, clean water for everyone to drink, for free

~ no cigarette smoking, or relegated to one area

~ about 3/4 through a show, coming around with good snacks (imagine mini quiches)

– and, since I was a newly graduated and practicing mental health worker, I also envisioned The Therapy Booth. The vision was clear: a nice outdoor venue and me in my jeans and tank top and cowboy boots, all-access laminate around my neck; kicking back in my hut like Lucy, feet perched on the window, chilin’ to the music in-between clients.

Can’t you just hear the Allman Brothers Band totally jamming?

The Therapy Booth Today

The Therapy Booth vision has stayed with me, and, just recently, it has crawled over from the back seat and is now riding up the front. I’m pleased to say that it is unfolding naturally and in unexpected and joyous ways.

I am beginning to meet with friends on Skype, by phone, and in person, holding space for rest, more than anything else; and, where appropriate, deepening the conversation by directly looking into the nature of suffering: all gently and with the levity of Lucy in her booth. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and for how naturally it’s arising.

Love Signs

It also shows up by way of holding the Love sign. A few months ago, without any more reason besides being compelled to do it, I started hanging out on corners with a sign that says I LOVE YOU. Amazing things are happening. Here’s a Therapy Booth/Love Sign example:

On Valentine’s Day, I was sitting in the median of a busy intersection (Barton Springs Road and Lamar in Austin). During the red light, I started chatting with the guy who was pulled up next to me. I asked how his day had been, and he replied, right away, that he and his best friend “sleep together sometimes. And she’s late.”

He told me he’d spent the day in bed contemplating being a father and a few other personal specifics of their situation. All in the 90 seconds or so that the light was red. The light changed, I said, “I love you,” he drove away and I said, “That was so f***ing cool!” That’s what I really said! It was The Therapy Booth in full action, right there at Barton Springs and Lamar and Valentine’s Day, and I was so happy.

The Therapy Booth = Art Class

I also have the distinct honor and delight of teaching Creative Freedom Classes where full expression is celebrated and welcomed. In these classes, we aren’t trying to change anything about ourselves; and that, in and of itself, is a great therapeutic gift! I’ll write more about the classes on their own page. I’ll just say here that they are a thrill and are an integral part of the world of The Therapy Booth. They are also designed to train other therapists. I give continuing education units to social workers and LPCs in Texas (so far), and I’m working on creating some on-line classes so our friends all over the world can get into Therapy Booth Doodle Fun with us!

I’m so grateful at this unfolding and the spreading of good times, generosity, creativity, freedom and fun. I’m so happy we’re here together and I look forward to growing the world of The Therapy Booth in my town, in your town, and all over the world!

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