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How to Meditate- a guide to get started

patterns of seeing, hearing, thinking and experiencing the world around us.

This is essential to experience life to its fullest. But it is not easy. And it does not mean we are free from discomfort, insecurity, or pain- but it can provide us with new ways to deal with it.

I can say that since beginning my practice of meditation, I am continually humbled.

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Looking for help is sign of strength

Individual treatment is often termed as psychotherapy, and is meant to help people with their emotional issues, which can range in order of their severity or intensity. The main aim of this form of therapy is to change the quality of life by defining the path of life clearly, and bringing in more clarity. Whether it is the problem of repressed childhood that you are facing, or an emotional breakdown due to divorce, failure or loss of a loved one, a professional psychologist can help you revive your mental health through systematic counselling.

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Get the most out of your work day

There are many emotional issues that find a corner in our heart, and refuse to die down. With time, these issues can transform into a sort of emotional tumor that impacts negatively on our daily life, such as lack of concentration, enthusiasm, self respect, will to change, encouragement, and so on. These issues can spiral into our lives in various ways and gets channelled into other zones, which can create problems in the relationships, professional life, and health.

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From the Root Up…

It’s springtime, so what does that mean? Time for flowers to bloom and gardens to grow.

I have always loved spring time. It is the light at the end of a dark, cold winter. Winter feels to be the time of hibernation. But now that spring has sprung- people are outside running and biking, barbeques and get togethers are happening, restaurant patios are full. It stays light later. The energy is uplifting and full.

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Why Meditate?

I’ve started meditating. Have you tried it? It is so hard. It is always something I’ve thought about, feeling it’s something I “should” do. But inevitably, I never seem to find the time to do it. Or I try, and 3 minutes later I hear a buzz on my phone and I’m back checking e-mail or getting distracted.

So really, what is the point of meditating anyway? Is it just something that people say to do?

I found this great image from the Art of Living

As you can see, there are A LOT of benefits. It pretty much affects every area of your life. As it shares in the article from Art of Living, Harvard medical studies have proven that long term mediation actually increases the amounts of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions of the brain as well as the auditory and sensory cortex. So what does this mean? It reduces stress, increases clear thinking, and creates space and openness to experience more compassion, love, empathy, and connection.

This sounds great, right? So why aren’t all of us doing this every day?

Well it is much easier said than done and really requires a dedication, commitment and intention.

Our culture and society as a whole does not promote stillness or slowing down. What is actually rewarded and praised is doing more, more, and more. There is an expectation to produce more work, always be available via e-mail, facebook, phone, texting etc., and overall maintain a sense of busyness. Next time you ask someone “what’s new?” or “how have things been?”- More than likely somewhere in their answer will be- “Things have been really busy” or “can’t believe how fast time goes”. We are over-stimulated. I recently heard that TV programs have now started to change scenes every 7-10 seconds, which trains our brains to get bored quickly- jumping from one thing to the next.

So if you find stillness difficult, you are not alone.

Again, I come back to- why meditate?

Meditation is such an important representation of our life- it is not about finding your purpose, it’s about living on purpose.

We can get so caught up in the motions of eating, working, and texting that we aren’t present in our lives- much less living them.

On your 80th birthday, what will you find important? What will you reflect upon as “almosts” or “should haves”? When we get too caught up in the ups and downs of life and the stress of busyness, we are a shadow of who we could be.

We feel drained and disconnected from ourselves, family, friends and moments.

We need to redefine success.

What happens in our lives shows us who we are. Don’t wait until your problems turn around. Put your whole self in first, and from your change of consciousness, your problems can diminish. Even if external circumstances stay the same, they will not be perceived and impact you the way they are now. This is the only way to be resilient and live fully.

“I don’t fix problems, I fix my thinking then the problems fix themselves”– Louis Hay

 

This is my why.

This is why I believe meditation is so important. And while I’m very far from mastering the art- I’m longing to be totally impassioned and energized, responsible and empowered for my own life.

A Blog’s Purpose

 

So here’s my first blog in over a year, say what?! I know, I know.. It’s been a while- which is what I talked about in my last blog post…over a year ago.

So I have to ask myself- what is keeping me from blogging? It is most certainly on my weekly to do list, I know the importance of it to connect and engage an audience, so why don’t I do it?

Well I look at a blog as an opportunity to share and learn… share more about me and life’s challenges, and help people learn or see a different perspective on something. An opportunity to feel inspired- either by “she gets it” or “wow I didn’t know that”.

I think about when I am most likely to read blogs, and continually find that it’s when it promises a solution to a problem. For example, “7 ways to feel happier”, “Top 10 ways to turn your business into a 6 figure company”, “With this simple trick, you can make your marriage happier”… the headlines of “how to” and promising magic formulas are endless. And it sells. Any business or marketer knows that.

Which is why advertisements all have one thing in common- they make you believe that you are missing something without their product, and with it you will gain something you can’t pass up- like happiness, love, success- those are the easy sells. Why do you think so many commercials show happy people doing something fun? Because somewhere it triggers in your mind… “oh wow, that looks great- I want to feel that way, oh what are they selling? They are drinking coca-cola… maybe I will too.” This is not usually a very conscious process, but I can assure you this is what happens.

So back to blogging. My struggle has been how to engage people- trust me, I want to use my training and knowledge to teach, but also promising the “one fix to your relationship problems” does not feel genuine to me. Because if there is one thing I know, life and struggles are complicated- and if there was a quick fix- you wouldn’t need therapy and the divorce rate wouldn’t be as high as it is. Anything that seems too easy and too good to be true is.

I want to be genuine. I want to connect. I want you to get to know me and how I struggle with life too. This is not my diary, but I want to be authentic. And I want to teach. So I’m changing the way I’m looking at blogging. I’m finding my own way to define it and want to write about what’s happening in the world and some struggles as well as positive things we can all relate to. I want you to feel inspired by it.

I believe that each human has a deep desire to transform and reach their true potential. And this is what I want to speak to.

We can live ordinary or extraordinary lives. So by opening the door to discuss psychological, social, physical and environmental issues that we all deal with- my goal is to help move you from confusion and limitation to clarity and expansiveness.

So if this sounds like something you are interested in, sign up to receive the blogs directly to your inbox. No, your inbox won’t be flooded. I promise not to write more than 2 blog posts a month.. which would be a huge success compared to my 1 blog post in 2016. So let’s do this.. I’m ready to start sharing!

How to live a more PASSIONATE life

Do you ever feel like life gets mundane and you are just going through the motions? You wake up each day, go through your same routine, checking things off a never ending to do list, go to bed and start it all over the next day?

 

I watched this amazing documentary last night called “Life” showing animals all over the world “overcoming challenges”. In the animal world this means being able to eat, reproduce and protect their young. I was absolutely amazed at how simple their life appeared to be, yet so fulfilling and adventurous, because animals live in the moment.

That’s all they can conceptualize- so whatever each moment brings, they are fully engaged. If danger presents, they go into survival mode, if they need to eat, they go into hunting mode, if they are relaxing- they are there fully.

If you have pets, you can understand this. Notice their reactions when it’s time to eat, go on a walk, cuddle, when you walk in the door and when you leave. Each day may be the same, but being so involved in each moment allows every experience to be new and rich. Have you ever walked outside for a brief moment and when you come back in, your dog reacts like you’ve been gone for days?

 

Why is it so hard for us to do this? What makes humans different? It’s because we spend countless hours, days, years… our life … thinking. As I went on a run this morning, I realized afterward that I hadn’t even looked at the scenery, I was so caught up in planning my day. Don’t you know the feeling when you are driving, but so caught up in thinking, you miss a turn or don’t even remember the journey when you arrive at your destination?

When we are so caught up in worrying about the past, thinking about the future, work, our family, friends, etc. (the list of things to worry about is never-ending) we have no time to enjoy what each moment brings. Therefore, all our moments run together. How can we feel truly connected with the people around us when our mind is ruling the conversation with thoughts, judgments, and worries?

“We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless, present moment, rather than our thoughts and emotions”- Eckhart Tolle

How to create more passion, fulfillment and GET OUT OF YOUR MIND:

  • NOTICE: Start to notice and recognize your “worry thoughts.” You can know they are worry thoughts if they are constant, consuming, start with “what if”, and you are not doing anything to solve the problem or move forward- but instead feeling more powerless and taking your energy from the now and focusing it on the problem.
  • BREATHE: When you feel disconnected from people or your current experience, stuck in worry thoughts, take a few deep breaths. It will help you connect to your body and in turn the present moment. Maybe even repeat the mantra “let it go” as you inhale and exhale.
  • BE MINDFUL: Practice mindfulness in each task you perform. This could be as simple as folding the laundry, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth- practice being fully engaged and focusing all of your attention on that task. This is not easy, but with practice, you can find enjoyment from these simple, mundane tasks and will re-connect to the beauty and richness each moment holds and in turn live a more vital and fulfilling life.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85608594@N00/15027560813″>Symphony of Love We can’t change the past or control the future. What matters most is now</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

How to beat Procrastination in 2016

So it’s been a while since my last post.

And every week when I have “write a blog” on my to-do list, it somehow always seems to be pushed to the bottom and off to the next week.

So what’s been holding me back from writing?

I think I have felt a sense of guilt. I haven’t written in so long, what should my first post be? And should I just ignore the fact that I haven’t written a blog in months? There is a part of me that holds shame and judgement about the fact that I haven’t written a blog post in so long, and so it makes writing one seem that much harder.

Which is why I feel that this post is so important.

The Procrastination Trap

With hectic schedules and high demands, of course the to-do list can feel never ending.

And we know that only so much can be done in one day, one week, one month, one year.

Yet, the more we have to do that doesn’t get done, the worse we feel.

Which is a trap because the worse we feel about our productivity- our ability to get things done successfully– the less likely we are to manage our time efficiently and get things done.

Time management is very similar to other self disciplines. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, but the thought of getting a gym membership and going to the gym after work can feel daunting. And yet, you feel worse every day that you don’t do it. So instead, you find yourself in the fast food drive through after work, telling yourself that tomorrow is going to be better.

The more tasks or goals are put off, the more overwhelming and daunting they can become, which creates a vicious cycle where you can feel stuck, and alas, resort to whats comfortable- telling yourself that tomorrow or next week or next year will be different.

Why do we Procrastinate?

There are many reasons people put stuff off or procrastinate.

When the task seems vague or highly demanding of your skill, and you aren’t confident in your ability to get it done, it makes sense to keep putting it off.

Or if the task is not something you enjoy, like folding laundry, it makes sense to put other, more enjoyable, things first.

 

How to beat procrastination

  • Set your priorities: each week or each day make a list of the top things that need to be done. Now, reorganize that list based on priority. Number each item based on what is most important or timely to get done today down to what could wait for tomorrow or next week.
  • Set the time: Based on the list of things that need to be done, schedule your time accordingly. Whether its household chores, making phone calls, getting work done, setting a goal for your job, going to the gym- it will never get done if there is no time set aside for that task. Look ahead at your schedule for the week, and mark in time where these most important tasks can get done (and then do them during that time, limiting distractions!)
  • Be intentional: Especially as the new year kicks off, it can be easy to overwhelm yourself with a list of goals and resolutions. This can feel so overwhelming, no wonder resolutions hardly last. Focus more on the intention of why you want to do the goal you set. For example, my intention when writing blogs is to be more transparent and authentic as a therapist and reach more people. This is a helpful reminder for the days when the task itself seems daunting.
  • Be gentle: Have some compassion and understanding for yourself that we ALL have a tendency to procrastinate at times, no one is perfect!

How to Create your Redemption Story

The Fall and Rise

Have you been hurt in your relationship? What have you done to try and manage this hurt?

Hurt doesn’t simply go away because we don’t acknowledge it.

In fact, when ignored, can fester, grow and leads to destructive behaviors- causing significant distress both for ourselves and our close relationships.

You may find yourself blaming, criticizing, becoming angry and resentful, or withdrawing, numbing and shutting down completely.

These responses to pain are common because in some way they do provide temporary relief. If you feel alone or not cared for in your relationship, it makes sense to get angry, become louder- try and be heard. It is a way to release the hurt- cover it up with anger.

The problem is, your partner is unlikely to see your hurt or hear what you are really asking for, but instead is busy putting on their boxing gloves to defend against the anger or running away and shutting down to avoid the fight.

The other response to hurt and pain is to shut down and numb. We pack down the pain so far down, we think it can’t possibly re-surface. When there is any sign of pain or discomfort, the first response is to fight it, try and make it go away- not to lean in and feel our way through.

There are many ways we find to do this– alcohol, drugs, money, sex, work, affairs, children, perfectionism, busyness and distractions… the list could go on.

In both cases, we end up avoiding the truth of what we are really feeling and don’t allow ourselves to become vulnerable enough to share it with the people closest to us in a way that invites closeness.

When we approach our hurt by lashing out at those closest to us or pull away and busy ourselves with distractions- we do not allow our true selves to be seen.

There’s a deeper part of us that just wants to say “see me, hold me, love me, accept me, tell me everything is going to be ok”, but that part gets overrun by what we do on the outside- protecting these more vulnerable needs.

Anger, blame and avoidance are how we get stuck and lead to increased conflict, isolation, distress and hurt in our relationships.

Pretending not to be hurt is choosing to become imprisoned by the pain, it may feel safe, but it doesn’t allow you to be the person that you want to be or have the relationship that you long for.

This is the fall…

Rising means we do not live in the shadows of the hurt and pain, but live in the freedom of expression- living in line with your values and allowing all parts of yourself to be seen. This allows for true closeness, connection and is what makes an unbreakable bond of a lasting relationship.

How to rise to your redemption story

  • Lean In: Your instinct is to do everything you can to get rid of and not feel pain or discomfort. This makes sense. But this way of living is so limited.

Your energy is so focused on everything you can control or try to do to make yourself feel better, you end up only feeling exhausted- and trust me the “to-do” list never ends.

Can you imagine taking a moment, taking 5 deep breaths and truly sitting with what you are feeling? By connecting with what’s happening, you actually allow it to process which makes it much less powerful and consuming than ignoring it.

Try labeling your experience- “I’m having the feeling that…Right now I’m experiencing…In this moment, I feel….” and breathe into it, notice the sensations in your body as you feel this.

  • Reality Check: What is the story you are making up about your experience?

People think, it’s what we do. And we are quick to judge. Most experiences are neutral, until we form a story or judgment about it.

A child does not know that crying is good or bad, they just do it as a way to communicate their needs. However, the second they are told “Stop crying. Only babies cry. Be a big kid. Pull it together.” Then, they now know that crying is bad and will likely carry the judgment with them the rest of their lives.

So what is the story that you are telling yourself about your experience? Are you stuck in shame? Are you being critical of yourself or your experience?

These stories create so much suffering. Recognize it. Name it. Own it.

  • Show Up: Once you allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your experience, you recognize your story/beliefs/judgements you are making up, you can then be in touch and acknowledge your true needs.

This is where true bonding, connection, and healing lies.

When you are able to be true to your experience and share or ask for what you need in that moment from a genuine place, not from your story (which just often fuels the negative reactions/behaviors mentioned above)- you can be free to live a meaningful and enriching life and have the close relationship you long for.

Showing up and owning our story is the bravest thing we can do~ Brene Brown

 

It’s a Darn Shame….

That shame and fear play such a huge role in our lives.

“I’m not good enough, He doesn’t love me, I don’t think I’ll get that job, She doesn’t appreciate me”- sound familiar?

The “Shame” Voice

We all know that critical voice that always seems to creep in at the worst times leading you to experience doubt, fear, uncertainty, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and shame.

 

As Brene Brown shares in her research, we experience shame when I am enough turns into Am I REALLY enough?

For many of us, shame and fear get triggered frequently. Often, when we experience any type of discomfort (in a relationship, in a social situation, at work, with family or friends) it can trigger the failure cue– leading us to go into our story of not being enough. This is where it gets dangerous as we often find ourselves reacting based off that story. The underlying fear of “I’m not enough” is so powerful that it actually hijacks our limbic system- sending you into fight or flight. When we feel small, unlovable or unworthy, it threatens our core survival instincts. So you may find yourself getting defensive, shutting down, avoiding certain situations or people. Exactly what we don’t want to do- we do! These behaviors often then block connection and support, which only reinforce those beliefs that you are not enough or don’t matter.

This is important- because life is constantly changing- So it’s a vicious trap and holds you back from living the life you truly want to live!

Don’t hide in the dark..

We feel most alive when we are connected with others and sharing our stories. When you are able to honor your experience and own your story, true healing occurs. The less you talk about these parts of you (fear, doubt, shame, hurt), the bigger they become. Once you name it- you then have power to change it.

How?

  1. Identify the triggers for your shame– What just happened before you formed the negative story and judgements about the situation? Notice what happened in your body as you experience this cue?
  2. Slow down and do a reality check– What is the behavior you are engaging in? Stop. Slow down. Recognize that you may be having the thought, or experiencing the feeling, but it is not who you are. You are the one having the experience. Imagine that you are the sky. And your experiences (fear, doubt, shame, discomfort, pain, anxiety) are the weather. They are always changing.
  3. Name it– This takes a willingness to lean in to the discomfort and vulnerability, which is not easy, in fact, it can sometimes feel darn near impossible. But this is the most important step in doing something different. These beliefs and stories have the most power when they are unspoken- but once you name it- it is no longer apart of who you are, just apart of your experience.

When you can make meaning of your emotions and speak them vulnerably, you can then choose your actions. Just because you are feeling uncertain about getting a new job, this doubt does not need to prevent you from applying as that limits your experience. You can choose to act according to what truly matters to you and live your best life, even if shame, fear, doubt, hurt and uncertainty still creep in. These experiences only have as much power as you give them.

How to Meditate- a guide to get started

patterns of seeing, hearing, thinking and experiencing the world around us. This is essential to experience life to its …

Looking for help is sign of strength

Individual treatment is often termed as psychotherapy, and is meant to help people with their emotional issues, which can …

Get the most out of your work day

There are many emotional issues that find a corner in our heart, and refuse to die down. With time, these issues can transform …