If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now. When you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong ~ Masaru Emoto
If you are suffering and feel like you are in the murky mud of our world and need insight and guidance to grow and change, know that you are not alone. You may be feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or maybe even out of control? You may be seeking help with a problem and ready to explore new possibilities. Even if you are nervous, I encourage you to take a positive step to stop the unhappiness and suffering cycle by emailing me for a free 15-minute consultation. I’m here to help you.
If you are looking for a counselor and wondering if we might be a fit, let me tell you a little about myself. I am a Canadian certified counselor in practice for 30 years with a wide range of clients that span the globe. The things that have shaped my life are the following: Buddhism, Vipassana meditation, psychodynamic therapy, Buddhist psychology, my sons, The Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the Four Immeasurables. I believe the amount of happiness you feel depends on how much freedom you have in your heart. Burdens that take space in our hearts may come from early childhood memories that are not remembered but shape our lives. Sometimes these issues interfere with our functioning. It may be necessary to explore, understand and integrate them before we begin Vipassana or other meditation practices. We can examine your experience together. Everyone can grow and reach potential. Together, we will create a space that opens to the opportunity for self-exploration and development. We will meet all your concerns with compassion, kindness, and non-judgment.
My approach is eclectic and grounded in Contemplative Therapy, which combines Buddhism principles and integrates them with Western Psychology. Mindfulness techniques in traditions of the East are the hallmarks of this therapy and hold acceptance at its core. It has a present -moment-centered approach. Two of the modalities that I utilize are non-religiously based mindfulness meditation programs rooted in the Satipatthana Sutta. They are secular programs and open to everyone. Both programs are rooted in spiritual teachings and on proven medical, psychological research. Longitudinal studies showed that these programs demonstrably helped patients during and after the 8-10week program. I offer programs to individuals, one-on-one, or groups.
If you want to grow and change, consider the words of Carl Rogers, who so eloquently stated, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Seeking counseling with a professional is a choice to advance your acceptance of self, even though it may seem daunting. Seeking help is the first step, and we can start right now with baby steps.
Here's a place to begin on your own. We can gain many benefits by practicing being present and in- the- moment with our attention on our breath. Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that the breath is like a bridge that links our body and mind. If you come back to your breathing, your body and mind begin to come back together again. Arriving in our body and being present with ourselves and others is a step in recognizing our wholeness. In the state of being present, we experience the richness and vastness of who we truly are. Coming home to the breath in the body, simply breathing in and breathing out with awareness even for a minute can calm anxiety.
You might say I am aware of breathing in, and I am aware of breathing out or body expanding, body deflating, in-breath, out-breath. I am paying attention to the breath and being present this moment in the body, breathing in and breathing out with the awareness of breathing in and the awareness of breathing out. Breathing in, I am aware of breathing in and breathing out, I am aware of breathing out. Our presence deepens and begins to expand into whole-ness. Change has occurred! Peace is here now! Everything you want for yourself is already within you waiting, to being discovered. It is my honor to journey alongside you and help guide you to feeling connected to yourself and more grounded in the world.
For more information regarding my professional counseling practice, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned, my Website is under construction.
With Metta, Patricia Snider MA, CCC, RCC. _/\_
Project Compassion in Action
As of January, 2021, there are 178,710 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia alone. Some 154,140 are from Myanmar and 24,560 refugees and asylum-seekers are from fifty countries fleeing war and persecution. Asylum-seekers from Myanmar are served by a robust network of NGOs. Support mechanisms for the others is more limited. I was introduced to this population whilst living in Malaysia, where I worked as a Clinical Counsellor for an NGO, counselling refugees and asylum-seekers, men, women, and children, from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. In 2018, I conducted an in-depth study with an aim to provide understanding of the lived experience of grief due to the profound impact of loss, conflict and displacement on the individuals.
The study was a serendipitous coming together of my interest in and passion for people, personal experience of grief and creative experimentation as a therapist and researcher over the past thirty years. I have come to appreciate the needs of this population and can attest to the lack of available resources refugees and asylum-seekers require, education services, health, legal, and social services. It demands the building of strategic relationships with all these sectors as well as government and non-government divisions. The absence of a strong network negatively impacts the mental-health of this population. In fact, most refugees with mental health issues will never receive suitable services.
My practice included twenty-five refugees and asylum seekers during a five-day work week. They presented with a range of symptoms: anger, depression, despair, distress, hopelessness, sadness, suicidal ideation, PTSD, as well as complicated grief. My curiosity about their resilience has led to the desire to understand the breadth and depth of this population’s felt experience of grief and ultimately gain insight into their unique and subjective experience of grief and loss.
The concepts of “Mean Making”, “People-making”, and “Bearing Witness”, have been central to my life personally and professionally. Therapy has helped me to understand my own grief story and therapy informed my creative choices to reconcile and accept the events as well to embrace my own grief story. This process has informed my counselling approach with individuals suffering from grief and loss. I had not been exposed to the uniqueness of the grief and loss suffered by the vulnerable and most resilient refugee population until working in Kuala Lumpur with this population.
My sense was that they were not only suffering from grief that in fact their trauma was anchored in grief. In other words, grief underlies trauma and trauma is the symptomatic response as much as it is a result of an event. The sadness in these people and their helplessness and hopelessness spoke to me. When interviewed they shared that they had lost loved ones, belongings, countries, and their lives. They fled for their lives and came to Malaysia because it was a Muslim country, thinking it would be safe and welcoming. Actually, it is a non-signatory country which makes it easier for asylum-seekers to enter but in truth Malaysia is not a safe country for them. They suffer at the hands of police who shake them down for what little money they have and/or harass them for protection money. They watch them for documentation issues keen to throw them in jail where horrible things occur. They are Shia in a Suni country and aren’t permitted to pray in the mosques and if someone dies in their family no Imam will offer a funeral service. The Shariya police are on the look-out for them and continuously surveil their movements. They say they live in Limbo waiting for placement to the West. They, adults and children alike, are beaten in the streets, in elevators, alleys, and stores, spat upon and humiliated publicly. This is their everyday!
As if all that weren’t enough Covid-19 pandemic struck the globe, leaving us all unprotected. Asylum-seekers and refugees are especially vulnerable during the Pandemic. According to a recent WHO survey Covid-19 pandemic has impacted mental health in most countries. In fact, it has either halted or disrupted mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. Residents of most countries have managed this disruption to in-person health service with access to telemedicine. However, refugees have no such availability to such services. Furthermore, during this period, NGOs are losing their funding support from foreign contributors who find themselves financially burdened and not able to continue to support them. The NGO I worked for lost its funding last year leaving the refugees without mental health services or livelihood support. Many of the refugees I provided mental health care to have remained in touch with me over the years and report that UNHCR has told those with refugee status not to come to the UNHCR office and not to call them on the phone. This means their cards are not up-to-date meaning they have no legal status in the country. The Malaysian government announced that they believe Covid-19 comes from foreigners and if they are found on the streets without legal status, they will be deported to the country from which they fled. The system has gone from inadequate to broken. Their material well-being has been supported by UNHCR and a patchwork of NGOs funded by external/foreign sources and without their help how can they eat, or survive? This is a population that nobody wants to know. Some have been evicted from their already meager accommodations taking refuge in the basement of schools residing with rats.
Surely, this is true suffering that we can all relate to. Thich Nhat Hahn offers instructions on seeing suffering, “When you’re sitting on a bus or in a subway, look at the people around you, looking deeply at the expressions on their faces. You will see suffering. When you touch suffering like that compassion is born in you. Looking at living beings through the eyes of compassion is a very strong practice. A week of practice like that can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of others.”
The difference that this practice can make is perhaps one of action. It is said that action is an organic consequence of our compassion for one another and how we action our compassion depends on how we direct our inner and outer resources. For me, “Bearing Witness” to their suffering has impacted my life profoundly. It began with Awareness of their suffering and Empathy for them in their predicament and then I experienced a rising call from my heart to direct my efforts towards relieving the plight of their suffering living in abject poverty. My curiosity about their lived experience of grief has fostered PROJECT COMPASSION IN ACTION to give voice to their relentless suffering. In the West there is a new movement Vital Voices which promotes our voice as a Superpower. That said, in the spirit of Vital Voices and intending towards a Compassionate Heart I ask for your help in this grassroots movement to create awareness to the suffering of this population.
With Metta, Patricia Snider MA, CCC, RCC. _/\_