Category: Self-improvement

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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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.

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 can I be more like Oprah?

So as I sat in yoga for the first time in a while, I had a realization. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I think I should be doing to be the person I want to be, and in turn, feel worse when I don’t live up to these standards. I compare myself to other successful people around and think- what are they doing that I’m not? I should do more of that. For example- I want to be reading the bible daily, going to yoga more often, going on hikes, traveling, going to fun events, enjoying the summer with outdoor activities, writing more blogs, spending time with friends and family. What do all of these things have in common? They represent what will make me “a better person”. If I’m doing all of those things, I will be the person that I want to be. Or so I think. Then I start to feel guilty when I’m not doing these things.

As humans, we use language to conceptualize our lives. We want to understand and “fix” whats wrong, so that we can be the people we want to be and live the life we have imagined. While this is a good goal to have, there lies a trap which many of us fall into, including myself. This works well on the outside (if something is not working in your house, you can problem solve and fix it), however, does not work as well with our internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, beliefs etc.). In the moments when we are doing something enjoyable, instead of being fully present and enjoying it, our mind takes over. There is a part of us that will chime in during these times and say “ohh yes, this is nice, I need to do more of this” and then you drift off into fantasizing what it would look like if you could do this all the time- how you would feel, what your life would be like, and what sort of person you would be.

This is a natural part of survival that has been ingrained since our ancestors- the basic need is to increase pleasure and decrease pain. However, they applied this survival instinct to external triggers (such as, lets stay on this part of the land as it is ripe with harvest or lets avoid that part as there are bears and it is not safe). As humanity has evolved, we utilize this same survival instinct, but apply it to our internal experience (thoughts, feelings, beliefs). So when we feel good, we associate that feeling with our action and want to do more of it. While this may be partly true (as our behaviors/actions do influence how we feel and vice a versa), it can be detrimental when its sets us up for black and white thinking. So it’s either all or nothing, I need to do yoga everyday or not at all to “feel like a better person, or to truly enjoy it”. Where is the room for flexibility? And when we feel a negative feeling (hurt, pain, shame, lonely etc)- we want to do everything we can to avoid it.

So we turn to fixing our external world (the things we do) to fix our internal world (how we feel). These two worlds are incredibly intertwined, but the freedom, joy, peace, authenticity and congruence we all long for requires a different approach. It is very hard to get there when you are stuck in this trap. Instead, I wonder if you could just start to be mindful of each activity that you are doing as you do it. And enjoy it. Notice the part of you that will chime in and try and analyze what you are doing and how it fits with the picture you have of who you want to be and what you want to be doing. Notice and just allow that to come and go, while you return your focus and attention to what you are doing right in this moment. This is freedom. This allows for much richer and fulfilling experiences, which in turn, will lead to a much richer and fulfilling life.

Call me today to explore how you are getting caught in this trap and can break free to live inspired!

If you would like to read more about this, please check out “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life”- by Steven Hayes.

How can I love myself more?

We live in an age where we get so caught up in our day to day routine and what’s expected of us, that our own needs take a back seat to everyone else’s. In turn, we are left feeling exhausted and worn out-trying so hard to be happy and be what others want us to be- we become further disconnected from ourselves and don’t live life according to what matters to us. When you look back on your life on your 80th birthday- what do you want to see? Is it possible to slow down enough to even acknowledge what’s important to you and how you want to live your life? Do you give yourself permission to?

In our culture, it has become “selfish” to take care of ourselves and put our needs before others. So, in turn, we find ourselves trying to be everything to everyone in our world and ignore the most vital person- you. As we do this, we begin to treat ourselves as the enemy- worrying so much about taking care of everyone else, we become our own harshest critic. Would you tell someone you love and care about some of the things that you tell yourself?

We set unrealistic expectations of what we think we should be and constantly compare ourselves to others. We believe that if we criticize ourselves enough, we will continue to be “motivated”, to work “harder”, to be “better”- only then will we will deserve to be loved.

As long as we continue to run this race, we will always lose. How can you stop?

1. Recognize your inner critic: Recognizing and separating yourself from the inner critic (the voice in your head that tells you all the ways that you are not good enough) is key. There is a difference between facts and beliefs/interpretations- just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
2. Create meaning and joy: Start acknowledging and aligning with what really matters to you, to your deeper purpose. If tomorrow was your last day, how would you want to be remembered? Now make a conscious choice to live like that TODAY.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others: only compare yourself to the former you. Any day we can let go of our old story and adapt a new one.

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 …