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Use the form on the right to contact me, ask a question, or set up an appointment! Looking forward to speaking with you! 

Thanks, 
Hannah 

1195 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA, 94110
United States

415-238-1915

Holistic psychotherapy in San Francisco for individuals and couples.

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Women's Spirituality

Hannah Green

Happy May! I had a recent and wonderful trip to New Mexico and perhaps as a result of sitting with so many statues of the Virgin Mary, this months email is about Women's spirituality. The above is one of my favorite paintings by Georgia O'keeffe. I had the pleasure of visiting her home in Abiquiu on my recent trip to New Mexico. It was lovely to walk around in her aesthetic and see where she lived and painted. The landscape there is hauntingly vast and beautiful.

I fell deeply in love with red chili. 

I highly recommend Santa Fe and northern New Mexico as a pilgrimage for mind, body and spirit. The history, landscape, food, spirituality and culture are amazing. Here are some wonderful things:

Ojo Caliente

10,000 Waves

Cafe Pasual's

La Choza - Get the carne adovada!

Santa Fe Farmers Market

Kakawa Chocolate House 

El Santuario de Chimayo

This charming Air BNB

Georgia O'keeffe House and this great book about her life.

The older I get the more I return to my roots. My first inklings of spirituality were found in the English countryside, wandering around as a child, sitting under willow trees and talking with the flower fairies. I felt deeply connected, grounded and alive in the bosom of the English landscape. As I age, my connection to the earth deepens. With the groundedness of age I am able to expand more and more - I think that is why 40 feels so good!. 

I see the principles of nature as having all the answers to our psychic troubles. Nature shows us the need to embrace both the dark and the light side of our natures. She shows us the cyclical nature of life, mood and energy. These are the foundational awarenesses that bring balance and peace of mind. 

In our culture we must be intentional about connecting with nature's cycles. Our culture is often out of balance and if we look to natures seasonal cycles and the moon's cyclical rhythm we can realign with the ground and with sanity.  

I see grounding as the most fundamental spiritual practice and one that powerfully lessens anxiety, benefits relationships, heals addictions, heals trauma and makes growth possible.  

Three wonderful books on Women's spirituality are Satrhawk's The Spiral Dance, Jean Shinoda Bolen's Goddesses in Every Woman and Layne Redmon's When the Drummers Were Women. The Spiral Dance changed the way I think and live. Lisa Lister's Witch is a ton of fun, includes lots of history and is a great resource for anyone wanting to incorporate earth magic and ritual into their lives. I am talking with her about doing a workshop here in October and will keep you posted on those details!

I hope you are doing well and taking good care of yourself as we move towards Summer. As always, I want to express my gratitude for being on this journey with you. You are awesome. You are doing great work. You are appreciated.Speaking of appreciation, thank you so much to those that have left  yelp reviews. Yelp is a primary way people find therapists in SF so your reviews directly help me connect with people who need support on their journey. Huge thank you!

The use of healing herbs also helps me stay grounded and connect with the earth. My evening cup of magic is created from herbs bought at the Scarlet Sage and helps me get deep sleep. My current favorite is Chamomile flower, Rose petal, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Valerian Root (leave out the Valerian if you are pregnant or on anti-anxiety medication). My favorite book about herbs and intuitive healing is Susan Weed's Healing Wise. 

 

Keeping The Sex Date

Hannah Green

Happy Valentines Day everyone. In light of the holiday lets talk about sexual intimacy! Sex is one of the most important and evocative topics couples explore in therapy. I bare witness to the tenderness, anxiety and excitement that surrounds intimate sexuality in my practice and I love supporting couples in developing rich, rewarding and reliable sex. I want to crystalize a few key concepts and give some tried and true advice regarding intimate sex. 

We have something very special that makes sexual intimacy possible - our neocortex! This neocortex makes us self aware and this makes intimacy possible. Just as this self-awareness allows us to see ourselves, it allows us to experience being seen by another. It is this intimacy factor that gives humans unparalleled sexual potential. The intimacy factor makes sexual potential something that increases with time, commitment and age. Any couple willing to do a few simple (but not easy) things can develop sexual intimacy and have great sex long after the honeymoon phase wears off. 

David Schnarch PhD in his book Passionate Marriage says that sexual intimacy has to do with disclosing yourself through sex. People who can let themselves be seen and known have better sex. This is why maturity as an individual and as a couple is potentially correlated with better sex. As we ripen we have more internal richness to share. A mature, committed relationship is secure and revealing yourself is safer and more rewarding. Popular opinion often confuses genital prime with sexual prime. Sexual prime actually develops as we mature as people and as couples and it is sexual prime not genital prime that is associated with better and more meaningful sex. 

In order for couples to capitalize on this and have increasingly great sex they must let go of certain fantasies. If you prefer reality to fantasy you will have great sex. If couples are going to have great sex they need to learn to be intentional and communicative and we do that by making friends with reality. I am a huge proponent of the sex date as a means of practicing sexual intimacy and if a couple is going to make, keep and enjoy a sex date several fantasies must be dispelled. 

  • The fantasy of spontaneity: Many people have the fantasy of “being taken” or “overcome by sexual desire.” While this can be pleasant and may be a part of a couples’ sex life or sexual history, it is not a prerequisite for great sex. I think clinging to this fantasy keeps us sexually immature because in the “being taken” fantasy there is no communication, accountability or vulnerability. In short this fantasy lacks intimacy. The sex date is an opportunity to practice intimate sex which is intentional, communicative and based in reality rather than fantasy.
  • The fantasy that we need to be young or look a certain way to have great sex. If our sexual potential has to do with personal depth and experience then it only makes sense that we get better with age. Think about it: how comfortable with yourself were you when you were 17? How self aware were you? How much life experience did you have? As David Schnarch says in Passionate Marriage, “Cellulite and sexual potential are highly correlated.” 
  • The fantasy of what sex should be. One of the most important things we can do is expand the margin of what “counts” as sex. Many people keep sex in a narrow margin in which only orgasm, erection or penetration are included. The fact is, in a sexually intimate relationship that is intentional and mature, your margin will have no bounds. The sex date facilitates a sexually intimate relationship that is highly explorative and subjective. Couples must expand their horizons if they are going to have a sexual relationship that is based in reality rather than fantasy. Sexually intimate couples are not trying to adhere to someone else’s definition of sex and don't compare themselves to other couples. Sexually intimate couples know themselves and are confident knowing what they want and need. 

To establish a wonderful practice of making and keeping a sex date follow these steps: 

  1. Talk to each other. A sexual issue isn’t a sexual issue at all - it’s a talking issue. Talk about the sex you are having now. Talk about how often you are having sex. Talk about how often you want to have sex. You know each other better than anyone - use this knowledge to determine a frequency that will be realistic but also really nurturing to your relationship. Once a week works really well for many couples but there is no prescribed frequency - it is whatever works for you
  2. Schedule a recurring sex date. Talk some more. When and where do you like to have sex. Mornings, evenings afternoons? Look at your schedules and set a recurring time that will be held as sacred by the two of you. Remember - during this time you will be prioritizing each other above everything else.
  3. Keep the sex date. You will be tested. Schedules, in-laws, menstrual cycles, moods, arguments, children, jobs, illnesses and more will try to derail you. This is part of the sex date’s magic - it makes you accountable. If changes need to be made they must be discussed and agreed upon. Sexual Intimacy is not for the faint of heart. If you persist you and your partner will create a wealth of real life sexual intimacy that will facilitate your personal growth as well as the growth of your relationship. 

Keeping the sex date has many profound benefits: 

  1. The sex date strengthens your couple bubble by making your relationship a top priority and keeping outside forces at bay. 
  2. The sex date strengthens communication because if you do this consistently you will talk through and deal with many things that will try to deter you from keeping the sex date.
  3. The sex date strengthens intimacy. 
  4. The sex date facilitates personal development. You are accountable, you communicate, you show up, etc. 
  5. The sex date deepens self-acceptance. Got a cold? You are still sexy. 
  6. The sex date facilitates couples having more sex! Many people think they have to wait until they are overcome with desire or wait until they “feel like it.” to have sex. I want you to remember the important fact that after 5 minutes of being sexual- many people then feel like having sex….

I hope this is helpful to you and that you feel inspired to develop sexual intimacy that is based in reality rather than fantasy. You are worth it. Your relationship is worth it. A sex date is structured but what you do within that structure is not prescriptive - the sky is the limit. I encourage you to be intentional, communicative and to let yourself be known by your beloved. 

What To Do When You Meet Your Edge

Hannah Green

I was speaking with one of my clients earlier this week about what it feels like inside when her fear of abandonment gets triggered. I listened to her closely as she described an experience of psychological, physical and emotional discomfort and suggested naming this experience as “meeting her edge.”  “NO!”  she said, the word “edge” didn't nearly describe deeply enough the phenomenon of being pushed to her internal limit. So - again I listened and this time carefully chose my words “YES,” I said “what I am am talking about is your Oh My God, holy shit, mother fucking edge.” “YES” she said, That’s it!”

We all have an edge.

Anyone who is in recovery, in therapy, is part of a secure functioning relationship, or is building awareness in their life is engaged in meeting their edge and I want to talk about this as a brave and rewarding thing to do! 

When I talk about meeting our edge, I am talking about meeting the place inside that feels hard and hot and sharp. I am talking about the place inside that says, “I can’t take it anymore” or “I’m going out the window.” I am talking about the place inside that feels so rough, bleak and unworkable that we throw up our hands ask with pointed desperation,  “who is to blame?” I am talking about the experience inside of feeling persecuted, dejected, grotesque and/or completely fed up. 

We all have this place. 

What do I mean by meeting my edge? I am talking about cultivating curiosity and compassion in the face of our edge. 

I meet my edge in my work, with my partner, in my twelve step group, in my family and in my relationship with myself. It may come with feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, shame or boredom. When it comes up, I can sometimes think I am fundamentally not OK or not enough. My brain will tell me that as a therapist and having done all these trainings and practices I definitely should “be better than this.” Ouch! This kind of self talk is a clue that we are meeting our edge - our mind will say emphatically, “THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING.” 

It is a lie. It should be happening and I want to help you deal with it with as much compassion and awareness as you can muster. Sooner or later we will all meet our edge wether it is in an argument, in response to a loss or just sitting on a meditation cushion. We have an edge because we are human - not because we are bad or “unspiritual.” I experience profound benefits from meeting my edge and use the experience as an opportunity do develop as a person, a partner and as a therapist. 

10 major benefits of meeting our edge: 

  1. Meeting my edge fosters growth, insight and transformation. 
  2. Meeting my edge helps me remember that this is MY EDGE. It is not caused by a person, place or thing. 
  3. Perhaps most importantly, in meeting my edge I can begin to be compassionate with myself. 
  4. In meeting my edge I can drop the blame game, drop the story and get busy bringing some desperately needed softness, friendlessness, spaciousness and warmth to my edge. 
  5. When I meet my edge I can build some empathy and recognize that everybody has an edge and see first hand how difficult it is to meet.
  6. If we can meet our edge, we do not have to compulsively avoid it by acting out or numbing out. 
  7. Every time I meet my edge and do not act out verbally or physically I rewire my brain for love rather than war. 
  8. Every time I meet my edge and I do not numb it with drugs, alcohol, food, sex or work I develop precious tolerance and self - compassion. 
  9. Meeting our edge makes it possible for those in recovery to stay sober/abstinent.
  10. For those seeking to develop or deepen secure functioning relationships, meeting our edge is essential, unavoidable and allows us to “grow not go.” 

Meeting our edge is an opportunity to grow. I want to support each of us in meeting our edge with a sense of purpose, acceptance and compassion.

The first step is recognizing and accepting that we all have an edge and getting honest with ourselves when we are meeting it. 

10 tips to help you meet your edge:

  1. Wake up to what is happening and say “I am meeting my edge right now.” 
  2. Breathe Breathe Breath Breathe. Keep breathing.
  3. Rub the palms of your hands together to create some heat and then place your toasty palms on the part of your body that feels your edge. For me it is usually my heart or my face. Focus on the sensation of warmth pouring into that part of your body. Breathe deeply as you focus on the sensation of your palms meeting your clothing or your skin. 
  4. Dialog with your edge. Sit your edge down and say “Ok edge, I am listening, what do you want to say.” 
  5. Do some writing as your edge, let it out, breathe and listen. 
  6. Do some artwork: What color is your edge, what does your edge look like? 
  7. Ask for help. Call a friend, say a prayer, go to a meeting, reach out to a therapist or mentor. 
  8. Say to yourself, “Everyone has an edge, I am enough as I am.” 
  9. Stop acting out, arguing or blaming yourself or another person for your discomfort. 
  10. Take some time to “come down.”  Whatever you are wrapped up in does not need more attention, to be resolved or “figured out” no matter what your brain is telling you - that is just the chemistry talking! 

Most importantly, remember that there is something beyond the edge. The edge is a precipice to love. Although our edge can feel like “the end of the world” beyond that edge is love and insight. I support you in meeting your edge and opening to that love - I will be here however falteringly, doing the same practice. XO

Boundaries From the Inside Out

Hannah Green

I became fascinated by the concept of boundaries about fifteen years ago. The first time I heard that I had a choice about what to let in and what to let out I was shocked! It had never occurred to me to slow down enough to actually examine how I was impacting others and how they were impacting me. I just knew that when I was in contact with other people, I had all sorts of reactions, sensations and emotions and was often overwhelmed by the experience. Slowly, I learned about taking responsibility for my experience and as I got further into recovery, I relaxed enough to get curious about my contact with others and what was actually happening. I began to tune into how I was filtering (or not filtering) energy coming in and energy going out. I learned language that was non-shaming and non-blaming and I learned pause and look at my thinking in response to a stimulus. For example….when you slammed the door, what I thought was, I am in trouble and about that I feel fear. These shifts had a powerful positive effect. Then I got to go deeper and started to really tune into body sensations. I became more interested (more of the time than not) in what was going on inside more than my story of what was going on outside. This has profoundly changed the way I think about and most importantly the way I experience my boundaries.

I now experience boundaries and energetic channels that connect me to other people rather than a fortress behind which I protect myself from others and protect them from me. I actively work towards the middle path rather than vacillating between walls and no boundaries. I have learned to pay attention to these channels and to how I experience them as sensations in my body. I experience them on a spectrum of constriction and relaxation. The constricted channels feel like a tightening in my chest and belly and the relaxed channels feel spacious, emotive and pleasurable. I have learned that a constricted channel will lead to a “blow out” like a pipe that is unclogging where a rush of too much energy goes in or goes out. This is where I become a victim or an offender. The relaxed channels are not clogged and allow for a free flow of information, energy and emotion. 

This understanding has changed and deepened my understanding of boundaries and turned them into a bodily experience I can actually track rather than a concept. Boundaries have changed from “what you should do” or “what I should do” into a more subtle and enjoyable practice that yields tangible results. If I am aware I am constricting, I have a profound choice to make. I can stay in the mind and focus on my story of what is going on outside as my internal tension mounts or I can look inside and soften in order to come back to a healthy boundary or “filter” that is relaxed and permeable enough for moderate exchange. This practice results in a profound sense of personal freedom where my sense of well-being is not dependent on outside circumstances. As one of my great teachers and friends has eloquently put it: boundaries are where I make contact with those around me, not necessarily where I break contact. As we go into the holiday season and contact with family and loved ones, I hope you will find this useful. Let me know!