• David Unger, PhD

A Path to Your Peace


I have a friend who teaches orchestra to high school students. Sometimes when a student explains to him why they are behaving in a certain way he asks them, “How’s that working for you?”


I think that is a great question. If a student tells him he had too much to do the night before and didn’t practice, he asks them how that is working for them. He wants the student to realize the connection between a decision she/he made and how it is affecting what is happening in the moment. I really just think he wants them to know that if they don’t practice then it makes it harder for the rest of the orchestra as well as themselves.


Teachers and parents attempt a lot of motivational techniques to get their kids to behave in ways they would prefer. My friend wants his students to practice and he wants them to understand that even though the night before they may not have wanted to prioritize their playing if they don’t put the effort in it shows up the next day. Decisions one day will ripple out into the pond that is our life. Some decisions cause little ripples and some hit you like a tsunami.


Reflecting on how things are working for you is a part of most psychotherapies. It is akin to taking some steps away from your life and looking over at yourself and observing how you are doing. Becoming an observer of your life as well as a participant is often a dynamic that therapy promotes. It goes back to Socrates who said the unexamined life was not worth living.


Personally as much as I treasure being able to be aware of myself as I proceed through life I also know there is something to be said for just turning off your thoughts and letting your senses lead the way. Fritz Perls, the creator of Gestalt Therapy and a pioneer in Humanistic Psychology believed we needed to “Get out of your head and come to your senses.”


I like that quote. Sometimes when I find myself in a worrying state and full of nervous tension I remind myself of that quote. I take few deep breaths and focus on my senses. What do I smell, hear, taste and touch. Often just taking the time to slow down into my environment and attend to that peaceful place within myself. Not to sound too woo-woo, but I do think sanctuary is within ourselves. Yes, the world provides an abundance of sanctuaries along with a big dose of fearful realities. While another’s arms may be comforting and sharing your burdens can lighten your load, it is the peace we find within ourselves that provides the greatest comfort.


The path to inner peace travels many highways. We all get in and out of there in our own ways. Some dwell there longer. Some rarely know it. Often sleep is a refuge where peace is found. The door to sleep opens when you surrender yourself to it. Some people get in bed and very quickly fall asleep. To others sleep does not come easily. Some are fitful. Others still. Our sleep patterns differ night to night, but most of us find a fairly common routine.


Often if a day is full of mental activity or there is higher level of stress it is hard to turn off the thoughts in your mind so your body can rest. There are many exercises and approaches to sleep that you can avail yourself of if you google how to sleep.


However you sleep, there is a larger quotient of your life that needs attending to. Freud said you need to have work and love. That was he thought it all boiled down to. I guess we all have our own theory about what life is about and how to make the best of it. Freud basically thought if you loved your work and loved your love life you were in pig heaven. He didn’t actually say it that way, but I think he would go along with my interpretation.


Regardless of what he thought,


• What do you need to do to live a well lived?

• How is what you are doing working to help get you those things you want?


Those are the big questions for all of us. I am happy to share with you my thoughts and read yours and let’s see what we learn.

#Pathtopeace #relationships #FritzPerls

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