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So how IS a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like mindfulness meditation?

“IT’S NOT!” (…Cue awkward silence . . . )

Okay! But we can imagine! Try this:

Image

Peanut butter is sticky. So is attention.  Just like peanut butter sticks to bread, we can stick our attention to anything we need to deal with. If we’re fascinated by something, it’s actually hard to scrape our attention OFF that thing. Like checking someone’s online status that they keep changing all day. Or getting to the next level of a computer game. But if there’s a task we would rather avoid, then we have to dig out LOTS of attention from the jar and glob it onto that nasty task (if only that would make it TASTE better!) until we’re done.

Jelly is floppy. So is relaxation. Ever seen jelly stand straight and tall? Me neither. Sometimes when we first wake up in the morning, we feel just like jelly. All relaxed and peaceful. If we want to get up and do stuff, first we have to stretch and flex, just to un-jellify our muscles.

So let’s say we have two slices of life. (LIFE?) Okay, let’s start with  bread. And we want to fill the space between those slices with two things: peanut butter and jelly. It’s a no-brainer that we want good coverage. No big gaps. So we spread the PB evenly and flop the jelly all over.  But we try to keep it on the bread.  Not just spill globs over the edges. Same with meditation. Simple! Two slices of life, with a bit of time in between. (Time, space, whatever.) We just stick our attention onto ‘right now.’ We try to keep it from spilling over to other times. Most of us love thinking about times that are NOT right now. ‘Right Now’ is the hardest time to think about, in a weird way.

Next, we let our floppy relaxation spread itself, all over the same time-sandwich as our attention.

There’s one other way to explain all this. If you’ve read other stuff about meditation, like the book, Peaceful Piggy, you may have read about letting your breath just do what it ‘wants’ for a while. For most people, the breath is the easiest thing to pay attention to. –Without ‘doing’ anything, that is. It’s a very very old way of just recognizing that right now, you’re giving yourself permission to ditch, on all other times and just pay pure attention to ‘right now.’

So, usually, we don’t even think of full-on attention and full-on relaxation together. Or anyone spreading them all over each other.  But here’s the trick.  While we’re busy paying attention, we don’t have to actually DO ANYTHING. (WHAT?!) That’s right. Sure, it’s weird to think of paying attention but doing nothing. So it’s not quite totally nothing. Just nothing we have to THINK about doing. That’s where the breath comes in. It’s one of the things that our body CAN pretty automatically. We don’t have to work at it. (Okay, our bodies do other things almost automatically too. But we’re keeping it polite here!

Ever been so tired that you just HAD to do nothing? Maybe it was a ‘good’ kind of tired. Maybe you played a game so hard or got such a big chore done that YOU were done, but you felt oddly relaxed and you just enjoyed soaking up that relaxation. Nothing else was allowed into your mind or body. That feeling is close to what meditation feels like.

‘Noticing’ is an even better word than attention. All we have to do is keep quiet and keep ‘noticing’ what our breath feels like doing, in each moment. It changes a tiny bit, now and then. That’s got the sticky attention part going. What’s cool is that the floppy relaxation part kind of just spreads itself. We just let it.

If we notice some particular tense muscle somewhere, hey, flop some jelly on that part — okay not literally. Just let that part relax, especially. BUT: Just so we don’t fall asleep, we find the most comfortable-but-alert position we can. First time learning this, that might be sitting straight up. It might be in a chair or on a cushion, legs crossed or not. “Is there such a thing as TOO relaxed?” Well, only in meditation. If our PB & J sandwich has one whole jar of jelly in it, we won’t get to taste the normal-size layer of PB.

Same principle here: If we’re TOO relaxed, we can’t pay attention. We just fall asleep. The opposite is kind of disgusting too: A whole jar of peanut butter in your sandwich means you won’t get to taste the normal-size layer of jelly. (Same thing: If we work SO hard at paying attention, there’s NO WAY we can relax.)

‘Breath’ to the rescue. It’s totally enough, just to keep bringing our attention back to the breath. For sure, our attention will sometimes slop over a bit, to other times besides now (things that happened; things we have to do; things we worry will happen) kind of like a puppy that wants to run here and there to explore. We call our attention back gently and kindly, as we would that puppy. . . . Happy breathing!

Yours in health and development,

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

If you have questions or would like to see about an appointment, feel free to use the contact form, below.

psychologyisgrowth

–a ‘Use-Me-Now’ resource for teens, babysitters,

maybe parents:

So how IS a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like mindfulness meditation? “IT’S NOT!”   (…Cue awkward silence . . . ) 

Okay,  but we can imagine. Try this:

Image 

Peanut butter is sticky. So is attention. On purpose, we stick our attention to the thing that we focus on. Just like peanut butter sticks to a slice of bread. If we’re fascinated, it’s hard to scrape our attention off that fascinating thing. –Like getting to the next level of a computer game. If it’s a job we would rather avoid, we have to dig out LOTS of attention, to glob onto it, until we’re done. 

Jelly is floppy. So is relaxation. Ever seen jelly stand straight and tall? Me neither. Sometimes when we first wake up in the morning, we feel just like jelly, all relaxed and peaceful. If we want…

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WHEN EXACTLY ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS, AS A FAMILY???

Fitting a full psych-ed assessment into a month of school work can be tricky. Two months, including a Winter break booking, can make a lot of sense. And if your health benefits year renews at New Year’s, double the coverage can reduce your costs to a small fraction of the total.

familiesonline_comBut the bigger reasons for seeking assessment are the lifetime ones. Getting to the root of the problem means giving the student more durable ways to keep up grade level and permanently improve academic skills.

student writing intense HS creative writing2Accommodations and supports in school or on campus can be a new beginning. And they don’t stop at undergrad. Graduate and professional schools all must provide reasonable accommodations for the student who learns dfferently — yet completely.

WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL IT MAKE?

Individually tuned learning strategies, teaching strategies and, where justified, provincial funding for assistive technologies (laptop and learning support software) can become permanent rights. School support teams get to work. Grades, confidence and graduation rates go up.  School Team - flopped - birds eye view iStock_000017019878Large

WHY HAS MY SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE NOT PROVIDED AN ASSESSMENT?

Most educators would like to provide more assessments and learning support. It’s good for the learning environment, the future workforce and the economy. Just ask the successful teachers and professors who now practice with a learning disability and are that much better at teaching, for it. Your school trustee or MPP will be interested in your input, on these issues.

IF GIFTEDNESS AND LEARNING DISABILITY HAD AN ARGUMENT, 

NO-ONE WOULD WIN —

And both would wear masks, so they couldn’t be recognized. Bringing them into harmony, so that the student’s strengths shine and he or she copes skillfully with challenges, requires a personalized approach.  Teachers of Gifted classes know this. That does not help the student whose giftedness goes unnoticed. Criteria are strict and there is no back door. But students who need both enrichment and support have a distinct profile, which justifies both.

WILL THIS GO ON THE ACADEMIC RECORD?  

OSAID logo

In a word, “NEVER.” Transcripts do not show the student’s exceptionality. You apply to post-secondary, based on marks alone. If you are already accepted, your university or college must still consider results from a Summer assessment, toward accommodations and learning supports, in all years of study. If you take a university or college course called Learning Strategies or the like, that CAN show up on your transcript, but odds are that it will be surrounded with good-to-excellent marks that put the lie to any notions of limited potential. So unless someone on staff had a liquid lunch, your disability status remains private health information, not for educational documentation.

A December-January assessment can be more relaxed . . .

There are other advantages to assessments that straddle Winter Break:

  • Less juggling around schoolwork, so the student is often more relaxed and ‘into it.’
  • It’s easier to alternate activity & exercise between the 2 or 3 morning sessions.
  • Time to catch up on sleep first may be more available.
  • A relaxed clinic schedule at Beaches includes much Winter break availability.
  • Three-week turnaround enables families to approach the new school term with results.

Even graduate students professional-school applicants can be assessed and get accommodations:

  • LiveScribe_SmartPenSome adult students have succeeded despite severe struggles, but no-one is superhuman.
  • There is no upper limit, in educational level, on the right to accommodations and learning supports.
  • Some assistive technologies, such as LiveScribe Smartpen, didn’t even exist when today’s grad students started undergrad. A SmartPen records voice audio, sync’d line-by-line to your note-taking.
  • Sameness is not fairness, even for future leaders, so give yourself fairness instead.

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc / Queen St E. at Glen Manor Drive, Toronto M4E 2X2

416-698-0999 ext 108 / ken.psychologyisgrowth@live.ca / @PsychIsGrowth

BE THE FIRSTYEAR STUDENT WHO CAN WRITE

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Professor and seminar group(ONTARIO) “Try writing like Helen over there. She can give you some tips.”  Prof. Claritti’s comment is a bit out there, for the lecture hall. But he means well. He likes Jac’s concepts. When he can find them.

Jac got into his first-pick university because his high school averages soared. – On wings of math and science.  Now, these strict, First Year expectations for smooth, clear, concise writing are hitting Jac like a line-drive to the gut. Feedback notes on his lab reports and essays seem ‘blind’ to Jac’s best efforts.

Jac never needed special education. High school teachers consistently ‘tolerated’ his writing because he was a strong student overall (if sometimes a big show-off). His teachers had other issues to address . . .

peer editing

Teachers never had cause enough to get Jac to practice key strategies. For example:

   -Note-taking while Reading then Outlining.

   -Listen to the ‘sound’ of writing you like. 

   -Write the Abstract & Conclusion, then fill in.

   -Have a friend read your draft to you, aloud, and without commenting.

Whether you form a study group with stronger writers, hire a private tutor, or qualify for learning disability Access Centre and BSWD for software like Kurzweil and WordQ, you’re among many first-year students who have a wall to climb, just to raise their writing to expected levels. If a disability is truly unlikely, just max-out your campus network by trading your highest skills for writing guidance and arm’s length editing. -And keep your ethics. Even when a friend is happy to trade in theirs.    KM 

Psychology-Psychiatry-Blog-Version-No-para-Minimal-text

Psychology is a health profession, all on its own. Psychology has many ‘practice areas.’ The ones that most people know about are clinical psychology, school psychology and counselling psychology. In most provinces and states, psychology never uses the term ‘specialization’ (whereas, the medical profession does.)

Medicine is of course a separate health profession. One of its specializations is psychiatry.  The subdivisions of psychiatry are Paediatric and Adult.

Psychiatists, as physicians, can prescribe drug-based treatments. They may use other therapies, as well. Psychologists use only evidence-based treatments — and a very wide range of them. So-called ‘talk therapy’ may be a component (and sometimes invaluable) but other examples include home-school collaborative behaviour consulting, experiential therapies, mindfulness training, covert sensitization/desensitization, and many others.  Each is finely tuned to the types of issues or disorders one brings to the work — even when it seems it’s unheard-of, many are surprised to learn that it’s well researched and the psychologist knows exactly what to do.  But there’s more:  Based on a full, human appreciation of your strengths and needs, psychologist and client take that already-fine-tuned therapy and tune it, further, to who you are as an individual. This is very far from being just ‘pigeon-holed’ into a Diagnosis X and being given Treatment Y.  This gives the client a truly dignified and proactive way to confront a serious, psychological concern.

Unfortunately, the title ‘Psychotherapist’ has a long history of not meaning much at all, in Ontario and some other places. Efforts are underway to structure a new healthcare college, to regulate the use of ‘psychotherapist’ so that appropriate candidates can work for it, earn it, and use it proudly for the first time.

Children and teens usually don’t buy any of this, at first. Keep in mind that NO-ONE EVER wants to go to a psychologist (OMG) unless there’s gonna be FUN. Damn straight. The thing that surprises many parents is how insight-generating the fun can be. Parents also find out what kinds of collaboration and teamwork they can build with their child, through attachment-oriented or ‘dyadic’ sessions and separate, parent-only, consultation sessions.

A future post on this blog will say more about what kinds of dynamic teamwork that psychology and psychiatry can sometimes pull off, when client needs require it.

If you have questions about this topic or about psychological services at this clinic, feel free to use the contact form, below.