A Note from Arlene

Arlene Harder

Welcome to the Support4Change Blog!

I have had a continuous online presence for more than sixteen years with four websites, the last of which was Support4Change. Now I am in the process of bringing many of my previous articles here to my blog.

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Common Sources of Vitality

Explore a method for using images and symbols connected to sources of healing and strength in order to become more vibrant and healthy

When was the last time you thought about the miracle of your body? If you’re like most of us, you don’t pay a lot of attention to it unless it complains. When our body is going about its business, keeping us functioning from day to day, we don’t stop to consider how wonderful it is, nor do we think about all the ways our bodies are supported by simple things we do.

However, in working with clients, and in my own experience, I’ve learned that paying attention to these resources increases the impact they can have on one’s sense of vitality. And since your physical well-being is connected to your emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, by paying greater attention to these aspects of your life, not only will you reinforce your body’s natural healing mechanism when that is needed, but your mental faculties will improve and your spirit will be lifted.

That is why I encourage you to become aware, as often as possible, of the images connected with each of these sources of healing. To do this you may want to sit quietly and simply focus on one or two of these sources of healing. Or you may want to stop once every hour and notice how it is that, at that particular time, your body is receiving healing and vitality. Read this through once and then look it over again, choosing one mini-exercise you will do today and one you will do tomorrow. Tap into these resources every day and you’ll be sure to feel better for your efforts.

The muscles in your abdomen allow the air to come into your body without any effort on your part. You don’t consciously think about the muscles involved in breathing, although they have been doing their work since the day you were born. They know exactly how to function so that you can take oxygen from the air and use that life-giving oxygen to feed the billions of cells of your body. When the oxygen has been converted to energy needed by the body, the simple act of breathing removes from your body the toxins and waste matter you don’t need.

Mini-exercise on the power of breath
Close your eyes and allow your body to feel renewed and strengthened by the oxygen that is brought so gently and easily into your lungs as you breathe — and by the breath’s ability to remove carbon dioxide and other airborne waste from your body. And then, to strengthen this small but important exercise, what image or symbol could you use to remember the gift of breath?

From food your body extracts energy and nutrients and turns them into healing properties. The immune system would not be able to function if it did not receive nutrition any more than it could function without oxygen. The more nutritious your food is, the stronger your body can become and the better you will feel. Vegetables and fruits, grains and animals provide ingredients for the food you eat and they all contribute their energy to your health.

When you prepare these ingredients with love and participate in the creative process of cooking, you enhance your body’s health and sense of well-being. When you eat at a restaurant and take special care to select only those foods and drinks that both taste good and are nutritious, your body’s healing process is enhanced. And when you are invited to eat at a friend’s house, your health and your spirit benefit from the companionship of friends around the table.

Mini-exercise on the power of food
Close your eyes and allow an image or symbol to form that represents the healing and energizing characteristics of food and eating. Feel a sense of healing power flowing through your body as you focus on that image.

Physical Activity
With exercise you are not only able to better convert oxygen and food into healing energy, you also increase your muscle tone, have better circulation and have more energy for an active life.

Mini-exercise on the power of physical activity
With your eyes closed, picture yourself doing some physical movement, whether that is an athletic activity or simply walking as you go about your daily business. After you have felt your body energized by the picture in your mind, allow an image or symbol to form that represents the vigor and energy that comes from physical activity.

Your body needs rest to rebuild cells and tissue that are worn down during the time when you aren’t sleeping or that are depleted by illness or to prevent illness from getting a foothold in your body. And, of course, sleep is also needed for emotional renewal.

Mini-exercise on the power of sleep
Close your eyes and imagine that you are sleeping at night or taking a nap during the day and allow yourself to see, or to sense, all the various systems of your body using that period of rest and relaxation to bring your body back into balance, to restore the energies that get depleted when you are awake and active.

Ordinary Daily Activities
There are a thousand ways in which we are renewed each day when we experience any activity with awareness and focus. The following are just a few of the possibilities:

  • Reading a good book
  • Listening to your favorite music
  • Reading poetry
  • Being in the mountains or at the beach or just sitting in the backyard or in a park
  • Joy and laughter and watching a funny movie
  • Living life with expressions of patience, love, generosity, beauty and all the other qualities of the human Spirit
  • Going to work, if you can, or if you don’t work, participating in some project that catches your imagination
  • Creativity and learning
  • Active participation in a religious faith
  • Quiet contemplation of the human spirit

Mini-exercise on the power of daily activities
With your eyes closed, reflect for a moment on how healing energy is available in the activities common to every day. Then take a few moments to notice how you might be able to live more consistently with awareness and vitality.

Love and Friendship
When friends express their love for you and tell you that they care about you, your spirit is lifted. And with a lighter heart you sense that your body, in some mysterious way, actually feels better. In fact, when friends share their love with you, it is possible that your immune system gets an extra charge of energy and goes to work even more intensely to keep you well and to heal any part of you that needs healing.

Mini-exercise on the power of love and friendship
Imagine that you are surrounded by all the people who love you and who send you caring energy. . . . Allow an image to form that symbolizes the healing power that comes from each one of them.

Transformation Now! (or maybe later) 

Explore how we progress toward change by negotiating five discrete stages, from our “comfort zone” to a place where we are able to maintain momentum for change.

In the January/February 2002 edition of Psychotherapy Networker there is an article by the name I’ve given this title. It appeared in a feature called “From Research to Practice” and discussed a large cross-sectional study of 3,000 people. What they found was very interesting. We generally do not enter therapy to actively resolve our problems, reduce our symptoms and retool our lives. Rather, we tend to negotiate five discrete stages as we progress toward change. Read More

When I Am Gone

This poem of the world we leave behind can encourage us to take good care of the earth for future generations.


If the Portuguese sailors on Mauritius in 1600 could see into the future, they would have hesitated before wiping out those queer dodo birds. But our lifespans fit into no more than 70 or 80 or 90 years.

Had they been able to visualize the need for their descendants to see these delightfully incongruous birds alive, they might have saved a few for us. But one of the reasons we are short-sighted is because our lives are relatively short. Thus we are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during our lifespan and are short-sighted because our lives are relatively short. We are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during those 70 or 80 or 90 years from our birth to our death. Read More

The Marriage Contract Game

If you are having a conflict with your spouse, it may be time to look at the expectations of your invisible marriage contract.

Chess king and pawns.jpgAs noted in last week’s post, Marriage’s Invisible Contract, when we agree to marry or to live together, we all have expectations concerning what we’re willing to give our partner, as well as what we want to get from him or her. Whether verbalized or not, these assumptions fall into three general categories that frequently are sources of marital and personal trouble if they aren’t understood by both people.

You can play the Marriage Contract Game by printing two copies of this page and having each of you look carefully through the sample statements and questions, exploring which ones are part of what you each believe is in your contract. Especially notice the ones about which you feel strongly, as they are ones most likely to cause trouble if they conflict with the expectations of your partner. Read More

Marriage’s Invisible Contract

Behind every marriage lay unspoken expectations that may only be vaguely understood by the spouses, but which can cause much distress.


When satisfaction or security of another person becomes as significant to one’s own satisfaction or security, then love exists.  — Harry Stack-Sullivan

Did you know there’s a contract hidden behind the marriage license? That’s right. When you sign your marriage license you THINK you’re agreeing to the same thing to which the other person agrees. But like millions of couples before you, it won’t be long before you’ll discover you were mistaken.

You see, we all enter into marriage (or agree to live together forever outside a legally sanctioned union) with the assumption that the other person knows the ground rules as we understand them. These assumptions are not written down, of course, although some of them are discussed in the process of dating and in deciding that you want to be a couple. The rest (especially those that can later cause a peck of troubles) are kept firmly stored in your mind. In fact, you aren’t even clearly aware of some of them. Nevertheless, they are powerful blueprints you expect to follow as you go through life together. Read More