Mark Bernardini, LCSW
ABOUT the WORK I DO
As we move through our day, we most often are engaged by the practical matters of life... shopping for dinner, what to buy for Mom for her birthday, what that noise is in the engine. More traumatic historical experiences hover in the recesses of our minds like formless clouds, often threatening to turn into unexpected thunderstorms at any moment. We move through life, using our senses - we listen, we touch and sense the energy of life in others and in ourselves, yet, caught up in the everyday experience, we often forget who we are.
This use of our senses, this type of communication, is a transmission about the state of our lives and the world we create for ourselves. It is an important communication, I believe, to be listened to carefully, one that is filled with profound emotion. For when we lose this level of communication, and lose our connection with ourselves, we are in danger of losing touch with our innermost desires and needs for a happy and healthy life.
I believe that at about the age two or three there is an opportunity, a window. We look out this window and see who we are. At that moment, we know exactly who we should be for the rest of our lives. This experience is one of sensation, or feeling, one that sparks an “I know exactly who you are and how you feel” response. These early internal sensations are critical to our development, to how we treat and care for ourselves and what we think about ourselves. At this seminal moment, we stand inside ourselves and feel our own presence.
In this work we use words to enter a deeper world. A world of experiences past, present and future, all of which are available at any given moment. Talking helps us to get clarity about our internal state.
The LOOP of IDEAS
And how does talking help? If we have thoughts in our heads that don’t find expression, they can form what I call a Loop of Ideas. As we carry this Loop of Ideas with us, it can influence the decisions we make about our life. This loop also causes sensate or somatic experiences. This loop can influence us to behave in a particular way, giving rise to long-term patterns. These patterns can become solidified in a way that is detrimental to our mental health, blocking other opportunities that may be available. Our thinking can become fixed, if not allowed to be expressed in a safe, public, therapeutic environment. By “public,” I’m referring to expression outside of oneself. When we hear our thoughts out loud, it changes the way we understand them. This is the point at which change can begin.
Sometimes the words don’t come or we become emotionally blocked. The term “flooding” is sometimes used to describe the overwhelming wave of emotions that can present themselves when exploring historical experiences. One can, in fact, retrieve exact physical and emotional sensations from the past and can feel as though they are happening in our present day life. This can sometimes shut us down and we can feel immobilized. If this does occur, we can move toward working with the energetic and physical domains as well as introduce meditative and relaxation techniques.
These days our lives move at an incredibly fast pace. Part of my work involves helping people “slow down the inner action.” This “slowing down” gives us the opportunity to observe our true inner state. Our external life is a reflection of our inner state. Our inner life is our truth. Our inner world and body together, make up the container that holds our dreams, desires, wishes, fantasies and hopes. Slowing things down gives us more options and more choices about how our lives can be and what we can create for ourselves.