Hypnosis?

I’ve been talking more about hypnosis lately, and I am getting responses along the lines of, “You make people cluck like chickens, and that’s therapy?” I mean, these days, I’ve heard of stranger things, so maybe that would work! But hypnotherapy has nothing to do with stage performance or making people do things they don’t want to do. (I promise you, that’s not even in my wheelhouse.) I see hypnosis as a natural extension of meditation and a powerful healing tool that has been used in traditional indigenous cultures since the beginning of human time. It’s all about taking some pathway to a deeper state of relaxation similar to lucid dreaming, where the body, mind, and spirit become more open and receptive to change. 

Doing hypnosis in therapy is really just listening to a deeper, more purposeful, and more personalized meditation, all in the service of some change you would like to see. It’s like going on a very relaxing imaginary journey, where you can feel the change you’ve been waiting for. Oftentimes, people have visions and feel a pretty profound shift in mood and energy. Or you can stay closer to the surface and just enjoy a more restful mind. You are always in control of the experience and can come out of it at any moment. It’s very safe and surprisingly effective. 

Beyond the power of the hypnosis experience, the real point is to learn to access that peaceful confidence as often as you can. They call that self-hypnosis. When we relax our minds and enter a more creative sphere, we find new solutions, and, even more importantly, we find peace in situations that are normally stressful. Because in the end, it’s that moment-to-moment okay-ness with what’s happening that makes just about everything a little easier. 

Running, meditation, music, hypnosis—lots of practices can get you in the flow state. The more you go there, the more you remember to go there often. And if you plant seeds there for the changes you are wanting to make, you’ve got some really fertile ground for growth to happen.  

I don’t use hypnosis with everyone I work with because it’s not what everyone needs, and I feel strongly about working with people in the way that feels best to them. But hypnosis is a great tool for those who want to try something new. It’s especially helpful if there’s something particular you want to shift, or if you are needing to learn how to let go of control and relax more. So far, I’ve used it to help people wanting to let go of parenting stress, to shift relationship conflict patterns, and to quit habits that are no longer serving them. If you’re curious or know someone you think might benefit, feel free to take me up on my free assessment call offer. We’ll see what would be most helpful to you, and take it from there. I have 2 ongoing client openings right now, so just reach out when you’re ready!

Wishing you much peace in this moment and in all the ones that come next,

Julia

Support for Change: Willpower and the Power of Being Willing

I love the forward momentum of January. People are making changes and trying new things, taking action on goals that have often been incubating for quite a while. I look around and see motivation and willpower. The new direction can even feel easy at first. We may wonder why it took so long to make these changes that clearly needed to happen. It feels empowering, right? 

The trouble is that willpower is like kindling in a fire: it can flare up fast and bright, but it won’t sustain the flame for long on its own. After an initial period of success with our best intentions, some kind of obstacle shows up. It can be an external obstacle, like a family emergency that throws everything off. Or the inner rebel busts through and says, “hey, why do you have to be so “good” anyway? You don’t really need to be doing all this. You should back off, give yourself a break.” Wherever it comes from, something eventually challenges the will for its power. 

This is why, come February, all those new gym memberships start getting less use, diets are quit, and people start backsliding with exes. So how do we get out of this push forward/pull back dynamic? The whole process of purposeful change longs to be more gentle and natural, rather than aggressive and eventually running out of fuel. 

It has to do with respecting cycles and receiving support. We learn to balance the masculine energy of focus and action with the feminine energy of receptivity and going with the flow. Instead of relying on willpower, we learn to be willing. We can have less control yet be more in sync, and therefore more effective. 

Being proactive about support is key. When we surround ourselves with people and practices that encourage and strengthen us, we will be in much better condition when the obstacles show up. If you’re in Austin, you are welcome to join me at our free Community Wellness Hour every Wednesday at AOMA. It’s a great place to do inner work while in community. I am also offering free assessments to identify what you personally need to move forward in a balanced and sustainable way. We’ll identify next steps to support you, whether we continue to work together or not. I currently have space for 3 individual clients, and in addition to heart-centered counseling, I teach self-hypnosis and other self-healing tools you can use on your own. If you’re interested, email me to set up a call at info@juliaaziz.com or fill out this form.

May you be supported in the changes that serve the highest good within you, and may you find grace in the process as it unfolds.

All my love,

Julia

Writing in the new year

Clarity and Focus, Laughter and Acceptance. These are the words I am feeling so far for 2019.

I would like to write more this year too. Writing has always been one of my favorite ways to synthesize the ideas floating around inside, and I love connecting with you through the exchanges we have. It’s tricky though. It’s not always easy to lead with the heart online, where it feels like a stage full of performers and an audience who didn’t ask to be there. It’s easy for me to get hooked into the old pattern of caring too much about what other people think. It’s really not about performing though. If you are reading this far, it means there is some kind of resonance between us. I would like to connect with you through that resonance, and that means being real and taking the risk of being misunderstood.

The other tricky part has to do with writing in the first person and being a therapist. I have been well-trained since the early age of 22 about the proper use of “self-disclosure” and the “professional use of self.” We are taught to be neutral and compassionate witnesses, only revealing some personal challenge if it is relevant to the client. This makes a lot of sense for one-on-one sessions. People deserve to have a counselor’s whole-hearted attention. But it can become a way of being in all public spheres, and it can create an idealized self-image that no one can actually live up to (find the place where the therapists are letting loose—it’s likely to be pretty private). Here’s the secret that’s not really a secret: people are just people. All sorts of healers, teachers, and leaders have fallen from the pedestals we have put them on this past year. I think it’s about time we drop the pretenses and tell the truth of our individual stories. We’ve all got something to teach, and we’ve all got something to learn. No one needs a pedestal; it’s a long fall from that height. 

When I work with someone in individual counseling, facilitate a group, or teach a class, I give myself some time beforehand to release my personal concerns and come back to my heart. I reassert my intention to be of service, and then I can go out and be fully present to the person or people in front of me, responding to what comes up without an agenda. With writing though, it’s almost like speaking into the dark. I don’t really know who is out there! And this is why it’s such a powerful practice for me as a therapist. It’s a stretch to just express without knowing who is on the receiving end of that expression, after being so conditioned to focus on responding to others’ needs.

So writing is a mixed bag for me, but I am committed to facing the demons of doubt and moving forward. Thank you for being here with me, and I wish you much space in your own life for creative expression, authenticity, and always plenty of laughter!

To Be Whole

Lately, I have been creating some curriculum for my son’s coming of age ceremony that we’ll be hosting in a few months. It has me thinking about what’s important for a young person to consider as they move into the crucible of adolescence. 

One of the first assignments I gave my son is an exercise developed by Maria Nemeth to help clarify your own personal Standards of Integrity. The idea being that what integrity means to me may be different than what it is for you. Rather than following institutionalized morals that tell people how they should behave, it’s about looking at what you personally value and creating your own measurement of wholeness and success.

The exercise involves coming up with names of people you admire and distilling down the qualities they represent for you. I went through this process a couple years ago and made the little integrity card pictured below to keep in my purse. I look at the card every now and then, when I need to. It encourages me to live up to what I believe in, and it reminds me that I get to decide what those things are.

I love the word integrity. It has been a major theme for me this year. I have taken a hard look at the places where I needed to get into better alignment with the truth, and it has required me to let go of quite a few things. Jobs, schooling, relationships, personal patterns, etc. If I was saying one thing and doing another, or receiving clear intuition and ignoring it, I couldn’t hide anymore. While the process has been rocky and emotional, it has made me stronger and more trusting in the long run.

This is what integrity comes down to, for me. If I am being kind, brave, and genuine, I am doing alright. I do my best. I can’t expect perfection; in fact, perfectionism has been one of the first things to go. I care more about forgiveness than getting it right the first time.

I’m asking my son these questions now too. What is important to you? Who do you want to be in this crazy, beautiful, painful, glorious life you’ve been given?

The more there is to do, the slower I need to do it

December is a weird month. Every group, community, class, and workplace is throwing a party, often at the same time. There are showcases, performances, potlucks, and all kinds of holiday gift exchanges. All with an underlying, sometimes not so subtle, pressure to participate.

I like to show up for the people in my life and reconnect with the communities I participate in. But I am not too keen on constant activity. These December days can be quite a whirlwind, moving from one obligatory celebration to another. I am finding this year to be different though. There are just as many events on the calendar, but I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Something in me is different.

I am moving slower. Taking breaks in between for a cup of tea. Saying no to requests that don’t align with my values, especially those that involve buying stuff that feels unnecessary. Letting it be OK if I don’t have anything to say at a party. Spending time just lying down, not watching Netflix, not reading a book, not looking at my phone, not meditating either. The other day, I had about two hours left of work to do, and I was just too tired to do it. So I took a nap, then woke up and got the work done in 30 minutes. It’s amazing how much can get done when my energy is truly recharged.

As a native New Yorker with a walk that has sometimes outpaced my running friends, this slower way of going about life is liberating. I love it. I don’t need to push through or pretend anything. I can just show up. Happily. As I am. 

I  wish this slower pace for all of us this December. To do what feels good to your own heart. To drop the rest, with love. To move at your own pace. To attend events in full agreement to being there, and if you can’t, to go home and take a nap. To enjoy the empty moments as well as the full ones. It’s December, and we are heading into the winter’s den. There is time for everything, and everything has its time. 

The Healing Potential of Difficult Relationships

Do you ever find yourself avoiding difficult conversations just to keep the peace, only to later end up too distant or in an even bigger mess? With courage and an honest look at our own blind spots, we can watch the transformation of judgment into permission and understanding. If you’re in the Austin area and could use a little reflection time out, come join me in this gentle exploration of how we can heal through the relationships that trigger us, freeing up more love for ourselves and others in the process.

Seton Cove, Austin, TX, Tuesday November 27th 12pm-1pm

Thankful for the trash

Today I offer a special thank you for all the life experiences I didn’t want. Thank you to the chronic pain, the people who have hurt me, the ones I have hurt, the disappointments, the despair, the voice in my head that tells me there’s something wrong with me. The shadow has reminded me to go towards the light. The pain has taught me to heal. The heartbreak has allowed me to become whole again.

This is the paradox of what it is to be human. Existence on this earth plane is suffering, and it is joy. What to keep and what to let go of is a choice we get to make. I choose to release resistance and the trash talk in my mind. I choose to follow a beautiful vision of harmony and freedom. And I choose life as is.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Many blessings on all your own complexities.

IMG_3916

Taking Space

May I be freed from all projections

So I can see clearly

Show up as an empty vessel

Listen well.

There is love here

There is darkness too.

New vision discerns:

This is my work to do

And this

Is not.

Time sees what was hidden before

Space for healing.

We come together again

More real.

Feminine power

IMG_3882This photo was taken last spring when I performed with the Wandering Bindis bellydance troupe at a women’s heart health conference. I didn’t share it at the time because I was still stifled by the worn-out belief that a woman can’t be both feminine and professional.

A professional knows how to put everything else aside to be fully present for another. A professional knows how to stay calm and do what needs to be done in a crisis. A professional steps up, steps in, and competently uses the tools available. A woman can do all those things no matter what she is wearing or how she enjoys her free time.

Feminine power is not the female version of masculine power. It is strength in vulnerability, beauty in chaos, and stillness in change. Feminine power is fearlessly emotional, wild, creative, and loving, and it is a blazing fire when it encounters something no longer serving its purpose. It is accessible within all of us, regardless of gender.

I don’t need to pretend to be less or more or different than I am, and neither do you. We can be whole human beings, expressing all dimensions of ourselves. 

The paradigm is shifting, and it feels like an earthquake. I don’t want to live in a world where women dominate men any more than I want to live in a world where men dominate women, white people dominate people of color, straight cisgender people dominate everyone else, and so on. Let the systems of external authority crumble. They haven’t been working for most of us for long enough. In the new vision, personal power serves the collective good. Lending a hand feels better than posturing, competing, or institutionalizing. We can do this when we do it together. LOVE is the greatest force ever known.