One Mind, Two Systems

Gaining insight in troubled times with Paul Loomans’ Time Surfing

Paul Loomans’ Zen approach to keeping time on your side is a refreshing and reassuring read with an unconventional perspective on time management. Unfortunately the unhandy landscape format, which might have been chosen to underline the unconventionality of the book, does not contribute to keep itself on your side.

This easy to read guidebook written addresses modern life time pressures and how to better deal with them. Loomans unfolds his own seven steps method that anchors in intuition and empowers readers to drop lists and other structured approaches.

The author differentiates between two systematically different approaches to managing your time. The first one is the accelerated, fast paced DOING that manages life with our heads. The second one is the slower paced, reflecting SENSING that comes from within us.

The last part of the book is dedicated to very practical applications in everyday life: understanding procrastination and deadlines; handling email mindfully, being master or servant of your smartphone and others.

I like a lot that his approach really is an alternative to the “getting things done” (GTD) and time management paradigms, which all proclaim more of the same. Namely that you can get things done by gathering tasks, detailing tasks and by then organizing them using tools and apps.

Contrary to this, the zen monk lays out how your experiencing self is able to manage your day, your personal as well as your work matters by cultivating intuition. Wait! Before your inner voice now goes off and says things like “oh well, intuition – that’s just an umbrella term for wishy-washy”, try to take this in:

“It is about using feelings and the awareness of how you relate to tasks in order to get them done. That is entirely different from letting lists determine your life!”

Remember the title “Time SURFING”? so don’t forget that it is all about the ride. There is no ride without a sense of ease and confidence. Without those whatever you do, soon becomes a bad trip. Use lists not to determine what you have to do, but as checklists to help you not to forget things. Your sense of ease will increase over time.

The house of love (Loomans calls it The four storey house) has a basement where our emotions live. Emotions are our bodies ancient, yet extraordinarily relevant communication system permanently transmitting signals from underneath. They can guide us to come to terms with whatever arises.

Background programs are rumination and worry we carry and accumulate in a day, a week or for months on end. Much like too many apps open on your phone or computer these programs eat into your capacity to function and hence bring your performance down. Address the emotional message of each background program. Not the content.

With regard to Deadlines he describes the unhealthy pattern of the procrastination monster: chronicle stress due to relying on your body’s survival system might in the short run help you to get things done and to deliver, but it does so in CLOSED state of mind and body.

Paying attention to transitions from project to project and to how to start a new project with an OPEN attitude allows us to surf time smoothly rather than paddle it gruffly.

Friday Feeds: connect and reflect.

The current social and political crisis is not the only stressor that weighs on Hong Kong’s workforce. Many employers want to address increased stress and distraction, loss of motivation and states of low mood and anxiety.

Tactful staff-care feeds productivity and well-being. Registered Counselling Psychologist Sebastian Droesler offers to bring group psycho-education, stress-reduction and individual coaching sessions into your company.

At the convenience of your office, he will take you and your team through steps to improve inner strength and enable self-reflection in the community. Offering a container for personal and collective reflection.

Stress-management in times of Crisis

The current social and political crisis is not the only stressor that weighs on Hong Kong’s workforce, but it is a major trigger of concern, worry and uncertainty. Hence, contributing to reduced productivity due to increased levels of stress, diversion, low mood, anxiety and the need for care.

I am impressed to hear how many companies take initiative to provide various platforms in the shape of team lunches, brown bag discussions and more flexible work arrangements in order to buffer disruptions but also to sharpen the sense of community with the message that we are in this together.

Last Friday I was invited to a logistics startup. The idea was to offer a lunchtime learning session followed by an afternoon of shorter 1:1 coaching and debriefing sessions that were offered to all staff. While the learning was more geared towards the psychology of crisis and interventions to cultivate inner strength, the individual sessions were greatly appreciated and quickly booked out by staff who wanted to address a broad range of personal matters and challenges at work.

All issues discussed had to do with personal and professional development linked to the special dynamics of a startup going through the phases of growth. Many team-leads were particularly keen to learn how not to cascade their stress and pressure downwards. Together, we explored effective ways of connecting with oneself and with others.

“The stories, the environment and the pure work ethic of accountability for others brought back memories and feelings from when I started working in a dot-com startup around 2000. Good times.”

Entering the open plan office with around 120 staff, I immediately felt at ease with a sense of curious awareness. A genuine vibe. It felt very much like me in Cologne in 1999, Hohenzollenring, Palmstrasse. Three floors above a fast-food chain. Dot-com spirit. Could I have been more downtown? Could I have been more right there? After my great 3 years at BOSCH automotive I went back to study Psychology. Then started from scratch. My first full-time job puzzled my parents and my friends with degrees of freedom that were unheard of. Sushi was a thing back then. I didn’t like it.

Kowloon 2019. Fatboys, pingpong table, pizza and gorges of computer screens. Face recognition to enter: People bow in front of a small screen to stare into a camera that opens the door. Almost Japanese I think. People visit me for 15′ sessions in a room that provides confidentiality. It’s fast paced, but I get the impression that it’s worthwhile to get down to one point, to probe and to challenge. As always in my job, I am happy how much trust I receive and how willing these strangers are to share with me with me some of their inner troubles and concerns.

Thank you for your trust.

F R I E N D L Y R E M I N D E R

Events September / October 2019

This is to remind you of the following upcoming events

  • Free Intro & Orientation to Mindfulness-based Cognitive Training (MBCT) next Saturday 21 Sep at 11:00am
  • Urban Dads Event on Thursday 19 Sep at 6:30pm
  • MBCT program starting on Sat 19 Oct at 2pm

Simply click the links below for all details.

Put on your partici-pants,
Sebastian

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FREE Orientation MBCT

Find out what the Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy program is about. Get to know the benefits, scientific research and program structure. Familiarise with the venue and fellow travellers.

Dates & Details

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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Training

MBCT is a solid evidence-based program with an expansive body of scientific research. It combines Mindfulness Practices, as a way of being present in a non-judging manner, with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a way of becoming aware of and to prevent downward spirals and negative thinking patterns.

Dates & Details

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daddycation

Expecting a baby or recently became a Dad? Do you have questions about labour, birth & life with a new baby? Join us for a casual yet informative Urban Dads event. Bringing expecting and new Dads together, over a drink to discuss typical and specific challenges.

Info & Registration

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Copyright © 2019 Sebastian Droesler – MCouns, Dipl-Psych, B.B.A., reg BACP, All rights reserved.
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Sebastian Droesler – MCouns, Dipl-Psych, B.B.A., reg BACPThe Mindful Men Limited1302 13/F Tak Woo House 1-3 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai FongCentral Hong Kong, Hong Kong  99999
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Keeping your Sense of Ease

Sebastian’s Events Fall 2019

Explore my upcoming events and programs for personal growth.

Expand your skillset of dealing with people, politics, pressure, moods, depression and anxiety.

Exude prudence, Sebastian

FREE Orientation MBCT

Find out what the Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy program is about. Get to know the benefits, scientific research and program structure. Familiarise with the venue and fellow travellers.

Mindful Men’s Group

This group program empowers men in their journey through life. Choosing a path of greater self-awareness and ownership. Beginning or deepening the practice of mindfulness. Leaning into the challenges of masculine and feminine energy.

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Training

MBCT is a solid evidence-based program with an expansive body of scientific research. It combines Mindfulness Practices, as a way of being present in a non-judging manner, with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a way of becoming aware of and to prevent downward spirals and negative thinking patterns.

Daddycation

Expecting a baby or recently became a Dad? Do you have questions about labour, birth & life with a new baby? Join us for a casual yet informative Urban Dads event. Bringing expecting and new Dads together, over a drink to discuss typical and specific challenges.

Mixed Group anyone?

I have been approached a few too many times about facilitating a group of like-minded men and women in Hong Kong. This group will follow a similar setting and topics to my men’s groups.

Here I want to know if you were interested to join?
contact Sebastian directly

Free Lunchtime Practice

Weekly meditation practice session with teacher-guided exercises. This group is open to the community of mindfulness programme graduates as well as beginners interested in mindfulness practice.

The Friday weekly sessions are offered free of charge.
No reservations are required

Marital Analysis – self-test intended

In my counselling work with individuals and couples my clients often address their closest committed relationships. Amongst them are typically marriage, parent/children, partnerships, siblings and friendships. When I ask people to describe the way they relate to each other, I hear for example “loving”, “explosive”, “happy”, “disciplined”, “authoritarian” or “caring”. And while we could leave it at that, I often wonder if those are really descriptions of the relationship or rather characterising the style, behaviour and personality of one or both persons involved.

It is much more difficult to hone in on the qualities of the connection or disconnection that we have with one another. In particular in couples counselling and marriage therapy it is absolutely worth to invest some thinking effort and to carve out and define what we have created with the other person. How we relate, how relations shift over time and the difference in relationships we form provides valuable insight into our live patterns, struggles and worn-out comfort zones.

A deeper analysis and understanding of the qualities and nature of a relationship with another person helps us to better manage dynamics and boundaries. Taking marriage for example: describing the marital state as “broken”, “dysfunctional, “close”, “intimate”, “illicit” or “unhealthy” seems to be valid, as neither of the partners has to be “unhealthy” or physically close to be in a close or unhealthy relationship. Or take “platonic” for that matter. Your relationship might not be sexual but rather friendly close, but that does not mean YOU are not sexual about the very same relationship.

Most adjectives are broad and remain superficial with regard to their level of information gained. Think “healthy”, “troublesome”, “beautiful” or “committed”. However! We start to gain value and insight exactly here. By asking further questions and allowing ourselves to be curious with an open heart. Can you allow yourself to be that way?

Besides the validity of your description, how precise is it? I like to think of any relationship as a bridge and when I look at my own bridges, I am often describing them very visually and in technical terms. That doesn’t mean a bridge can’t be symbolic, metaphoric or even poetic in your own words. Check for yourself from the following list of pairs and decide in each case towards which side you are leaning to.

absorbing – unforgiving

balanced – imbalanced

close – distant

natural – high-maintenance

heavy-travelled – via ferrata

historical – modern

longstanding – makeshift

romantic – functional

stable – shaking

solid – troublesome

weatherproof – season

Here are a few of my favorites (also thinking of real bridges)

convenient – life-saving

enabling – risky

exciting – boring

reciprocal – unilateral

safe – dangerous

symbiotic – differentiated

Dealing with grief and bereavement beyond counselling

If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that sooner or later, we’ll all have to come to terms with losing a loved one. Here is a source to tap into and brace yourself for such an unavoidable and profoundly difficult inevitability.

Griefcast, as their tagline clearly states, it’s a podcast about grief and death. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a first glance it sounds like a podcast that you want to stay well away from, but it’s actually presented by comedians, so it’s much more fun and uplifting than it is depressing. Every week, it’s a funny, tender and very human discussion about the pain, confusion, and often downright weird and awkwardness of death.

So why should you listen? Grief is isolating. It’s scary, disorientating, and can take many years to come to terms with. Hearing relatable stories and experiences that may very well sound familiar to you is a beautiful reminder that you’re not alone, there is no right or wrong way to feel, there’s definitely no time frame, you’re allowed to relapse, and say you’re doing just fine.

Of course, everyone’s process of losing a loved one and grieving is unique, but there are common threads, as host Cariad explores. Having lost her father as a teenager, she often talks and finds common ground with guests about the anger, and sometimes even annoyance they feel. A key take-home message, make sure someone has your online passwords and banking details! As well as things that they feel guilty about, and why that’s okay. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable and almost rude the first time you laugh after losing a loved one, or especially whilst a loved one is gravely ill. The host and her guests often talk about the strange limbo between receiving a terminal diagnosis and dying. The nervous anxiety, time standing still, and the one night you go out and forget everything for a few hours.

As well as sharing experiences about grief, the podcast explores the, if anything, even less discussed topic of dying. What it’s like to live with someone undergoing invasive medical treatment, and how it can take a while for the reality to dawn that someone isn’t going to get better. It’s packed with practical advice, not from doctors, instead from normal people who have been there. Things like the physically demanding nature of taking care of someone at home, the difficulty of communicating with doctors, and some things you might actually need to expect in your loved one’s final moments.

A podcast does not replace significant ways of healing and caring in times of loss and bereavement – like talking and social contact. Individual counselling supports people going through the grief process with a professional understanding of each of the phases that require specific care. The counsellor or psychotherapist offers kindness, compassion and empathy. Unfortunately in Hong Kong’s fast paced environment the aggrieved often receive sympathy instead and find it less helpful.

Griefcast helps to develop acceptance, by taking a scary subject that you’ve probably seldom taken time to consider, and making it normal. Coming to terms with your own mortality and the mortality of your friends and family is never going to be easy, but avoiding the topic entirely makes it far harder. Whether you’re dealing with a terminal diagnosis, the loss of a loved one or you’re not yet ‘in the club’ this podcast elegantly and sensitively lets you know what you might expect, reassures you that you’re not alone and opens the door to further healing conversations.

You can listen to Griefcast on

ACast

Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/griefcast-with-cariad-lloyd/id1178572854

BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06vttqs

You can also follow them and join the discussion on Twitter by following @thegriefcast.

Men Hong Kong

Lost connections: Male bonds.

An article in Time caught my attention last week. The headline reads “Men Are More Satisfied By ‘Bromances’ Than Their Romantic Relationships”.  We read about a study that finds that every man surveyed has a friend he’s closer with than with his girlfriend. All but one of the men surveyed have cuddled with their bromantic partner and every single man surveyed had engaged in ‘no boundaries’ activities, like swapping secrets and even sharing a bed. They talk about feeling more comfortable sharing worries with their bromantic partner than with their girlfriends. They’d even rather move in with their bromantic partners than their girlfriends! The bottom line is they find these relationships to be more emotionally fulfilling than romantic relationships.

The study in question focuses on young, mainly white men, in college, studying a sports-related subject. Can the attitudes and experiences of this group of men be extrapolated to apply to the male population as a whole? No, of course not. This study tells us what’s typical of young men, more than likely all with incredibly similar values and cultures, there’s simply not enough data to know whether this applies to men more generally. It might, it might not, either way, it’s still interesting to consider.

The first issue that jumps out to me is that these men are of college age, that’s usually somewhere between 18 and 22. It begs the question, how comparable is a relationship between college students in their late teens or early twenties to a marriage of 30 years? This is, of course, speculative, but there’s every chance that the sports-mad college students of this study don’t yet have the confidence to be emotionally vulnerable with their romantic partners, simply because they’re young.  They likely have priorities other than building romantic relationships, not because they’re men but because they’re students.

Let’s look into the phenomenon. Bromance isn’t a new concept. It’s a new word to make close male friendships, and mutual emotional support, seem more palatable in a society with increasingly prescriptive ideals of what masculinity is, and how men ought to present themselves. And on balance, we think it’s great!

Men can be a bit guilty of not taking care of their emotional health. To many men, being masculine means never being afraid, never being upset, never being vulnerable. It’s not healthy, men’s mental health is suffering because of it. Let’s never forget that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in men under 50.

Men opening up, discussing their worries and finding emotional support amongst men and building friendships is essentially healthy behaviour. There are plenty of topics that we would expect a woman to discuss with her friends as well as her romantic partner, and there are topics we wouldn’t be surprised to hear she discusses with her friends and NOT her partner. Is this a cause for concern? Of course not. Relying on your romantic partner for all your emotional support is unhealthy and unrealistic, regardless of gender.

Investing your time in a men’s group can be a great step to reconnect with yourself and other men – outside your usual circles. Sebastian’s new mindfulness-based men’s group starts on Wednesday 16th May at 8pm in Central Hong Kong. Read more …

Relationship Trauma. Reliving your parents’ issues.

Witnessing a parent being unfaithful can be deeply traumatic for a child. There can be feelings of betrayal and guilt, and often these feelings can be carried into adulthood, regardless of whether or not the parents reconcile their relationship or go onto divorce. It is likely that issues with trust and trusting manifest and take a toll on long-term committed relationships.

The trauma of witnessing infidelity in your parent’s marriage may have left you with the tendency to project your feelings of blame onto your own spouse or partner. Perhaps you see many of their actions as selfish, perhaps you are suspicious of them without good reason, or perhaps the whole idea of forming a deep attachment fills you with anxiety.  You might even recognise that your behaviour is unreasonable and has no foundation in reality, but still feel powerless to stop it. 

One catch with these behaviours is, that they may generate emotional damage in themselves: The great trouble with the kinds of behaviour associated with trust issues and anxiety around attachments is that they’re self fulfilling. These issues can often cause you to be jealous and untrusting of your spouse or partner and lead to controlling behaviour, or even punishing behaviour. Actions like withholding affection and shutting down communication are common. As a result of this, you alienate your partner and might even push them further away. 

couples acts of kindness

Like so many things, the first step to recreate a secure bond in the marriage is to recognise that a problem is there. Reading this blog is a great indication that you are enquiring into the sources of your dissatisfaction. Once you are aware and acknowledge the underlying feelings, you can begin to move towards healing. Ultimately, you can take ownership of the trauma you faced in your past, and accept that it’s truly in your past. From there, you can allow yourself to experience whatever strong emotions may show up, like jealousy, anxiety, insecurity. They are reflecting on your partner and on your relationship, but they can be dealt with in many more helpful ways.

It’s easy enough to see it written down in a neat paragraph, but making these changes in your own life and your own relationship is often easier said than done. Consider the support of a counsellor to guide you and your partner through the process of rediscovering the trust and happiness in your relationship. We speak with lots of couples struggling with issues surrounding trust, communication and overcoming traumas. Our approach is to help you identify where troubles arise, and overcome challenges together.