Getting started is as simple as spending an hour opening up a couple times a week. Opening your mind to the possibility there is a different way to view the world is the first step to discovering that there is! Of the many ways to get started, a good local guide is best.
Your close friends and family are not good as guides. They have grown accustomed to how you are and will fight to maintain their perception of you. In doing so, they will unknowingly want you to agree with that perception. Therefore, talking to familiar people will not be as productive as talking to a kind stranger. Take your time, do not settle for the first person if it doesn't feel comfortable. Do not hesitate to shop around. If someone gets upset then they are not the right person.
Every person is unique so what works for one person may not work for another. Different techniques may be more effective for one person than another. So although I've numbered the list below it doesn't mean that one may be better than another for you.
#1. A Good Local Guide
How do you know someone is good? Certainly not by their title, occupation, licenses, or looks. Just like every other occupation, people vary in their abilities. What you are looking for is a person who is compassionate, patient, and understanding. First and foremost they must be able to listen without reacting to you. Its actually incredibly difficult to listen without reacting. It is the greatest help that you can get, so if you find someone good consider yourself lucky! You can try to find a therapist, pyschologist, or a guide. You can find a religous organization to join. I found someone incredible on my third try, Lana Lensman.
The best guides will let you do most of the work. They provide a safe place. If you are stuck, they can provide exercises or ask questions which shift your focus in the right direction. They can remain quiet and simply be with you while you work through issues on your own. This is a vital aspect of the support you will need. When you don't receive a reaction you are compelled to reflect upon your own words. The most important quality is finding someone who will listen with understanding and compassion. Importantly, they are open with you with great warmth and compassion. This can be so strong that it will be like getting caught up watching a movie that moves you. Only in this case, its getting caught up with another person, in a strong positive connection. Sometimes you're not even aware of when you are at your happiest or deepest. A good guide can draw your attention to these moments so you can start to develop a memory for that state of mind. By offering a more positive perspective when you are most open, the very best guides can help you spontaneously shift your perspective in a positive direction.
The best guides have overcome any biases associated with their profession or field. Most likely though you will initially find someone who has biases either as a result of their personality, religion, or spiritual beliefs. These may show up when they are working with you. Within the first several sessions with my guide I asked her to filter out biases which were evident and she did so for the next year and half! She was truly amazing! Do not be afraid to ask for what you need. If you have any doubts about what is occurring refer to this site for comparison and guidance.
Whomever you talk to just remember to speak what's on your mind. If something bothers you, talk about it.
When the session is done, I encourage trying to extend the session by writing about it or going someplace to be alone after your session. Alternatively, you can think through the day before you talk to someone. If you're like me, after opening up you will run and indulge in some defensive behavior as you feel exposed. Its okay, its how we are. Over time as you improve in this safe space it will carry outward to the rest of your life.
#2. Lana Lensman
Lana Lensman helped me the most with her patience, understanding, and incredible ability to listen. She is a professional with proven experience. She is very careful and kind and really lets you do the work at your own pace. As I help others my appreciation of her only grows, she is wonderful at what she does!! She no longer lives in Santa Cruz. You can find her website here if you like. I don't receive any compensation for mentioning Lana. Lana charges $100 for a one hour session.
Consultations can be in-person, over the phone, or even via email. The first session is free, unless you choose to pay. My rate is $50 for an hour or $75 for an hour and a half. Payment is through PayPal after each session.
#4. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine teaches two courses for medical practioners or other health professionals, but they are open to anyone. The five day courses are expensive, the basic course costs $1,075 and the advanced course $1,250. Each course is held in one location in the U.S. each year so travel and lodging increases the total costs substantially. Each course is based upon educational activities and group experiences with a guide. I've taken both courses and had a wonderful experience each time. The Center's program structures the experience so the focus is on specific themes, each with the underlying thread of opening up implicit within the structure. Its works and its remarkable. People regularly have breakthroughs attending these courses. The more work you can do ahead of time, the more rewarding the experience will be for you. The Center's website is http://www.cmbm.org/.
#5. Mind-Body Medicine Practioners
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine also has a certification program and has a list of certified practioners and a list of those who have taken advanced training. The list of certified practioners all over the United States is here. You may be able to find someone holding groups near you.
#6. Undefended Love
If you would just like to read a book, then read this book. It is specifically designed to progressively open you up, more and more with each chapter! Its a good start! Even better, it only costs about twelve dollars.