Monthly Archive: April 2013

I Love Quotes!

I love quotes! I collect them.  Every once in a while, I will re-read a few and they will refresh me, like a cool drink of water, or a spoonful of sparkling, refreshing sorbet.

Here are a few reasons why I love quotes. Though they’re not necessarily my top 5, they are worth sharing:

  1. This one reminds me of what can happen if I resist:  “All stress comes from resisting what is.” Oprah.
  2. And this one helps me focus on what is truly important:  “When you are in harmony with yourself everything unfolds with grace and ease.” Panache Desai.
  3. And this one keeps me humble and real:  “A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.” Jose Bergamin.
  4. And then Mark Twain is simply fun as well as surprisingly right on:  “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.”
  5. Some quotes remind me that I’m not alone, others connect me with others who have something to say about the power of inner conviction and strength:  “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”  Jesus, Mathew 17:20.

I could go on.  Each quote is a refresher to me.  The things that fill my life are important to me – they feed me and give my life meaning on a daily basis.  At times, what I doing may seem too hard, or tedious, or boring, or any number of things that stop me and fill me with anxiety or doubt.  These little refreshers literally pick me up and land me on my feet again.

Do you have any favorite quotes?  How do you connect with them?

I’ll leave you with one that I have hanging on my office wall, compliments of Nike:  Impossible is nothing.  Mohammed Ali.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Connecting Naturally

Connecting naturally to what’s around you is more than a state of mind. The other day was a treat – sunny and spring-like.  The city streets were jam-packed with people of all ages, out for a stroll, soaking in the sun and breathing in the freshness of the day.  I think it’s universal, this welcoming of spring; it’s as if our own vital juices begin to flow just as the tree sap does this time of year.

I spent a good part of the day walking along the street and through the local park, connecting naturally to the trees and to my community. I was at ease, and with no worries.

This was the topic of a workshop I recently held in the heart of the Appalachians, in a country setting, surrounded by the emergence of spring. It was about feeling and connecting with our world intimately; feeling the spirit, the unique qualities and resonance of each element within this world.

Back in the park, I notice a purplish rock that appeals to me.  I pick it up and feel its coolness.  It sparkles if I hold it a certain way towards the sun.  This is what the rock gives me right at that moment – it changes me and adds to my presence with its own.  My hand warms it; I leave some of my body warmth on it as I place it once more on the ground.  I change the rock and add to its presence.  Connecting naturally, we are both more than what we were a few minutes before by our brief connection on a sunny spring day.

I think of how shamanic teachings give me a simple way of connecting naturally:  a rock holds and transforms energy; when I touch the rock – hold it – I can feel its solidity.  I am made of the stuff of Earth – of these rocks – and this is the part of me that is solid, and that gives me a physical grounding.  Without it I would have no foundation, I wouldn’t exist as a person, walking in this park, on this sunny day.

I think of the teachers and philosophers who I’ve studied – especially of Martin Buber who wrote about this connection and called it “I-Thou”, telling a moving story of his tender connection with his horse.

I think of the poetry of Basho, a 17th-century Japanese poet, who wrote so beautifully of his connection with nature: frog_in_the_pond

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
Splash!  Silence again…..

Do you enjoy connecting naturally? How do you connect with nature?  What does it change in you when you do connect?  And how do you change it?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Summing it all up – Flower Soldiers: inspiration, meaning and purpose

For those that are just joining my journey now, the last couple of posts have been taking my readers with me through my medicine journey in Mexico.  It was an incredible journey that I am still benefitting from. And I feel it is important to share those benefits with anyone who wants them. To catch up to this post you can read “Digging for Sacredness” , “Powerful Influence” , “Honouring the Ancients” and “Ceremonial Imagery“.

After Teotihuacan we travelled south to Tula, and then to Xochicalco (pronounced So-shi-kal’-ko).  Tula is believed to be Tollán, the legendary Toltec capital, which flourished between 850AD and 1150AD.  It was surmounted by a temple dedicated to the Toltec hero-god Quetzalcoatl. Surrounding the temple are sculptured columns in the form of warriors – flower soldiers – that were sculpted from the likeness of actual warriors.  They have flowers on their sandals, and as far as I know, it represents their reverence for all life, and in their dedication to serving life.

Their statues are at least 20 feet tall, and each has distinct features – one looks ruthless and passionate at the same time, another looks learned, another stoic, and the last one pitiless.  It’s a hot and sunny day, and they are hot to the touch where the sun

Flower Soldiers at Tula

Flower Soldiers at Tula

touches them; cold otherwise.  All four wear the flower sandals, the ritual ceremonial dress and headdress, and each carries a mirror on their back representing their connection to a higher realm.

Flower Soldiers were skilled warriors, and skilled healers (including self-healing). They had to be willing to do battle in their daily life, and to live life daily to it’s fullest.  The highest level of heaven was to die as a flower soldier (the lowest – hell – was to have successive lives of lots of noise and nothingness). It was critical in their training to learn how delicate life was and that life must be respected.  Their motto, if they had one, might have been akin to:  Today is a good day to die!

They were leaders, and yet the war for a flower soldier was an internal rather than an external war; their quest in life was to walk their talk in beauty, with honesty and integrity; emotionally balanced, physically capable, a voice for their community, and connected to spirit.  I look at their faces and wonder what each of these soldiers were like when they lived. I imagine what one
of them might say to me, and I sit for an hour leaning against one of the columns and feel the energy of the columns at my back.  I want to make him my ally, and I want to remember the feeling of him when I need physical and emotional mastery and power; when I feel the need of a strong presence in times of doubt.

The next day we traveled further to the ancient city of Xochicalco ( pronounced So-shi-kal’-ko).  This city flourished between

The Mayan Calendar on the Temple of Quetzelcoatl at Xochicalco

The Mayan Calendar on the Temple of Quetzelcoatl at Xochicalco

200AD and 900AD.  It means “House of Flowers” and was the city of the flower soldiers.   It was here that the Mayan calendar was codified, and is depicted on the walls of the temple of QuetzelCoatl on the grounds.

It is the culmination of my medicine journey that began in Mexico City.  Throughout my journey, I wanted to feel the sacredness of these spaces and connect with them. I wanted to feel that life must be respected. I wanted to find allies from the past and present to help me on my own path.; allies that would strengthen my vision and clarify my intent as I wrestle with the everyday challenges I meet along my way.  What I discovered is that I met myself along the way. And I really felt a connection with the generations of men and women who have lived, struggled and triumphed before me.

Have you ever taken a journey that has deeply impacted you? How would a flower soldier lend meaning and purpose to your life? If you were able to spend an hour with a flower soldier, how would you spend your time?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

What a mirror shows: Reflecting on Ceremonial Imagery

For those that are just joining my journey now, the last couple of posts have been taking my readers with me through my medicine journey in Mexico.  It was an incredible journey that I am still benefitting from. And I feel it is important to share those benefits with anyone who wants them. To catch up to this post you can read “Digging for Sacredness” , “Powerful Influence” and “Honouring the Ancients“.

One of the temples at Teotihuacan honours the god QuetzelCoatl, the feathered serpent.  Compared to the temples of the Sun and Moon, it is small.  It sits near the south-east corner of the site, and is adorned with carved sea shells, circles (sometimes called goggle eyes) and feathered serpent heads.  Each circle represents a mirror, which makes this temple a place filled with mirrors.

Ceremonial imagery is designed to inspire.  It is designed to remind us of stories, lessons, and behaviour. Reflecting on this ceremonial imagery is a wonderful way of getting in touch not only with your world, but also with yourself.  So this temple was the perfect place for self-reflection.

What do I see as I gaze into the mouth of the feathered serpent and the goggle eyes that line the walls?  Staring into the mouth of the feathered serpent, I felt powerfully alive.  The walls suddenly became acute magnifying glasses for how I see myself at this moment. I see a kind of duality – beauty and complexity, life  and blackness, possibility and intrigue – all within me.  Rather than something that is “out there”, I see these things within me reflected in these mirrors … what I am capable of being, here and now.  Like a Gestalt experiment in owning my projections, I am in this moment all those things.  What’s this about?  What is beautiful about me in this moment?  What is causing blackness inside me? These are large, deep questions I am asking. All because I tool the time to reflect on what was around me – in this moment it was some powerful ceremonial imagery.

Near the end of the day, I stopped to enjoy the vibrant red of the flowering tree by the entrance, and spotted a hummingbird,

Can you see the hummingbird at the centre flower?

Can you see the hummingbird at the centre flower?

clearly focused on it’s daily task.  I captured a picture of it as it was taking nectar from one of the flowers.  I recalled the medicine of a hummingbird – clarity, joy and beauty in the present moment.  How fitting!

As I recall the ceremonial imagery of the temple, I can still recall what I saw inside me. As I gazed into the mouth of a feathered serpent, I saw power, personal power, and magic.  I felt a longing for something greater than myself. I felt a connection to my universe, to the spirit of my universe.  And because of that, I also felt hope and beauty.  What could be learned about yourself by looking into the mirrors of the Temple of QuetzelCoatl? What kind of reflection would the ceremonial imagery evoke in you?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.