FREE 7-Day Mindfulness Based Meditation Program

Do you ever feel that you’re burning the candle at both ends? Many of us feel this way but fail to speak up. Well, let me first say that you’re not alone. Many people feel this way- especially women. We live in a 24/7 news / event society. We wake up and check our cell phones. We go to bed right after checking our cell phones. Work never stops sending emails. Kids are kids. And, as if this wasn’t enough, there are many social and emotional challenges that all of us face daily. Our minds are racing, our hearts are pumping, and we think we can keep up on the hamster wheel until it breaks.

Don’t spin your wheels any longer. I can help you to stop burning the candle at both ends before those ends meet! Now, I wouldn’t offer you something without knowing that it could be accessible to everyone reading this post. So, as a result, I’m giving away online access to my Free (yes, free with an “F”) 7-day meditation course. It is an audio course that you can listen to and guess what- you can do this from anywhere!

Here’s the link: http://thejoyofliving.co/7day-meditation

7 day 3

If you feel passed the 7-day Free course and want more information on my in-person or online full course that deals with burning the candle at both ends, you can access more information here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/ You’re not obligated to buy this course first or after your free 7-Day meditation course. That meditation gift truly is from me to you and goes without any pressure or obligation to seek further services.

Life can be hard. I can help you to stand still for a second and understand the true benefits of both meditation and self-awareness.

GET FREE ACCESS TO MY 7-DAY MINDFULNESS BASED MEDITATION AUDIO PROGRAM

Is It Depression or Something Else?

Depression

Many celebrities are talking about the positive mental health movement. They want to take away the stigma of mental health challenges and encourage everyone to be more proactive. While I was thinking about today’s post, I came across a story on a popular TV show that dealt with depression…. only the lady didn’t have depression. In fact, she had pancreatic cancer! Her psychiatrist was seeing her for other reasons, noticed the change, and encouraged a follow-up with her doctor.

SIDE NOTE: Here’s a blog I highly recommend from Health Ambition that foods that contribute to depression.

Depression is serious on its own, but sometimes there are underlining medical issues that need to be considered (or ruled out) before anyone starts treatment for depression. We tend not to think about underlining medical causes for depression because, well – we tend to be busy people with varied stressors within our lives. Depression can happen or we can be hiding it for years, or we don’t want to deal with the stigma of seeing a mental health professional and then we decide to simply “live with it”.

I’m here to tell you, today, that simply “living with it” isn’t a good option because you deserve to address your happiness – or, in rare cases, an underlining medical condition!

I am GIVING AWAY online therapy consultations. I can help you discover what the online therapy benefits are and you get to test-drive my services and see if we are a good match. To learn more about me, my programs, and read my free blog- please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/

Non-Striving, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

Non-Striving-one-of-the-7-pillars-of-mindfulness
The pillars of Mindfulness are Buddhist principles that help us live in beauty and peace.  One of them is non-striving.

I’m the kind of person who is always striving. Stiving to learn something new.  Striving to figure things out.  Striving to get somewhere. Striving involves incredible focus on whatever it is we are striving for,  which means little or no focus on anything else. That focus is on the future – some plan or future goal we’ve developed that is important to us.

If you’re like me, then you know that this practice and habit of striving means we miss a lot that is happening before our eyes. We miss that moment of tenderness or beauty; of connecting to that person beside us and with the world around us.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll continue to strive for what gives my life meaning and purpose. Striving has its place. But striving sometimes hides dissatisfaction with what is, and can be a way to avoid what we think is, because unless we take a moment to look around us, whatever we believe is simply a thought in our minds.

This last point is important because we have such a huge capacity for self-deception. When I focus on something that engages me – say going for a hike in beautiful surroundings, or participating in a self-improvement course – I can lull myself into believing I’m into self-growth.  But if this is done at the expense of what I need to attend to – like, for instance, a failing relationship – then it’s really me striving to avoid seeing what I need to see.

So, if you’re like me, perhaps it’s time to take a breath, and simply look.

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thehjoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

We belong to the World

The world doesn’t belong to you. You belong to the world. -Indigenous saying

I came across this quote a day after hearing of another dispute between different groups of people with different agendas. The dispute involved moving into a part of a national park and mining it.  This would mean less room for the animals already there, and a probable loss of regional flora.  Even more than this, it all rests on the assumption that we humans own that land. That the land is there for our benefit, and all other life must accommodate this.

As we take over more land, encroaching on more wild habitat, there are increasing clashes between people and other animals in the region.  When I was a child, I was taught that the animal had to pay for any of these clashes.  As an adult, I know better.

There are an estimated 7.5 billion people on Earth today.  That’s really impossible to fathom.  Even if we try to come up with a figure for available land it makes little sense, unless we assume that no other plant or animal has needs that don’t include us.  Yet, it’s well known that animals avoid people because we are so dangerous. Most animals couldn’t live in close proximity to us.

So what’s the answer? The answer has to include all life, along with the recognition that we as human beings belong to the world, and not the reverse.  That we bear responsibility for the welfare of the world and all Nature. With this in mind, I believe it’s entirely possible to develop ways of living that bring harmony instead of contention.  We can all take less space and be more mindful of how we live. We can become familiar with the flora and fauna in our area, along with their needs, in order to accommodate those needs in anything we do.

One step at a time, we can begin to educate ourselves and contribute to the welfare of our planet.

***This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Nature is Speaking

Quote of the Week
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ― Albert Einstein

 Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Defeating Fear

defeating fear

I watched a moving documentary last week – Daughter of the Lake – on Netflix. It’s about the struggles of indigenous people in a region in Peru who are being harassed to leave their land for strip-mining.  The narrator is a young woman of that region who is studying Law.

Our narrator begins and ends with water – how life-giving it is – and how necessary it is in daily living, even for it’s natural beauty. She travels with us to regions where strip mining has denuded the land of everything, having diverted waterways for the sake of mining, and forcing those remaining on the land to relocate.

She is understandably worried about her people’s future, and her own future. Hence this documentary.  The workers – or paid disruptors – travel to within eyesight of the homesteads, and stand there, armed with guns, threatening people with their presence. The local police disrupt peaceful demonstrations and appear to be on the side of the miners. While it’s true that there are always two sides to any disagreement, my focus here is how the narrator and her friends and family deal with their fears.

The answer? Clearly holding in her heart the meaning of the land to herself, her family and her ancestors – both for their well-being and for the Earth’s, acknowledging her fears, and taking things one step at a time. She asks for guidance from the local priest, and his response is both eloquent and powerful: “They use fear to attack your weakest side. You are not your weakest side. The people you love most are your weakness. Fear gives us a fragile dimension. It warns us, just like [this] river: when it’s very full, it’s a bit scary. It could carry you away. So a key to beating fear, is you stop thinking only about the present moment, and focus on what would happen if you stopped doing what was right. If you stopped defending what was important to you. Wouldn’t that be worse?”

We all have fear. Fear lets us know that something is important to us and we don’t want to lose it.  It can stop us if we let it; it can also serve as a strong motivator in our lives – getting us up and moving.

As one wise man said: It isn’t what happens to us that defines us, but how we deal with it.  We defeat fear and incidentally grow spiritually every time we keep going in spite of it, every time we put one foot in front of the other, keeping a clear view of what matters.

Final word: you may think that all of this effort on the part of the indigenous people against big business and big government was probably futile.  Well in this case it wasn’t.  Both government and big business eventually backed off.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The power of a power statement

I can do this!” She said, walking in.

What’s more empowering: “What did I do wrong this time!” or “I can do this!”? The first makes me want to hide away somewhere and lick my wounds; the second fills me with energy and confidence. The first focuses only on my perceived weaknesses and helplessness; the second focuses on my strengths.

“What did I do wrong this time!” is an example of what shamans call a Pretender Voice; “I can do this!” is an example of a Power Statement, or Commander Voice.

The idea of power statements are used by career counsellors to help a person present themselves to a potential employer in the most powerful light.  But long before that, they were taught to people by shamans to help them take back their power whenever they felt powerless, at the effect of something they had no control over. Power statements can be used to mask – as in the first instance – or to energize – as in the second.

I don’t mean to imply that all power statements used to impress others necessarily mask, but the focus is on impacting others, not ourselves; in that way it can be used to protect ourselves from others.  If this is the case, then in reality we don’t feel empowered, we feel weak, needing to hide behind a wall we make.

Power statements used to empower ourselves must be true, must be positive, and energizing to work. The thing about Pretender Voices is that, even though they feel overwhelmingly true at the time we voice them, they aren’t true. They’re false!  “What did I do wrong this time!” can indicate that we feel small with someone who we think knows more than we do.

Pretender Voices almost always hold a grain of truth, but become lies because of our focus on them: “This is never going to work!” might indicate that I’ve been through this before and expect the worst so thoroughly that it looms very large, as if it’s already happened. That it’s a done deal. We don’t see for what it is – one possibility – and not usually a very big one – out of many future scenarios, that have not already happened.

The truth is that we can choose to focus on something about us that we know is true and makes us feel empowered instead of helpless.  “I can do this!”, or “I can figure this out!”, or any number of true statements about ourselves will do. That’s why learning to find and then using our own Power Statement can effectively get us from a feel-bad to a feel-good place in a matter of seconds.

Do you know what your Power Statement is? If not, here’s a way of discovering it.

  • Close your eyes, take a few long and deep breaths; then think back to a recent time when you felt helpless and weak.  Remember the circumstances. Then see if you can recall what you were saying to yourself at the time; what your self-judgments were. Open your eyes and write these words down.  Notice how you feel when you feel powerless.
  • Now look at the words you wrote down and ask yourself: are these words really true about me now? Are they about me, or about what I see as my worst fear coming true? Are they about my capabilities in a given situation or about others that I have no control over? Discover how, in fact, they aren’t true but at the least, heavily skewed towards focusing on your weaknesses or worst fears.
  • Once you see the actual truth of these Pretender Statements, close your eyes once more, taking a few deep breaths. Then imagine the presence of a person you admire, or a storybook hero or heroine, or the strong and real part of yourself stepping up.  What words would you imagine they would use?  “You can do this!” “You’ve got what it takes!” “You can figure this out!” “I believe in you because you’re strong!”

What words ring true for you? How do they make you feel?  If they make you feel energized and positive, then those words are your Power Statement. Once you have it, write it down and paste it everywhere so that you learn to see it wherever you go; every time you begin to hear that Pretender Voice inside your head, say your Power Statement out loud. Until it’s there whenever you need it.

Stacey Kramer – The best gift I ever survived

power
Quote of the Week
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
― Coco Chanel
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Patience, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

Patience

There are 7 pillars of mindfulness that are contemplated as part of a Buddhist practice.  Cultivating patience is one of these.

It’s said that with patience, we understand and accept that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.  In this way, patience is a form of wisdom – it reminds us that we, along with every thing in existence is in process, and that this process can’t be hurried.  Try forcing a square peg into a round hole: if you persist, the peg will likely break and the hole will become deformed.  The same happens with every process we attempt to force.

So often, it’s us we try to force, becoming impatient with our own process. We loose weight too slowly (then gain it back too quickly); we keep stumbling over mistakes while learning, ignoring or forgetting that stumbling is a necessary part of learning; we want it all – NOW – knowing in the back of our minds that anything worthwhile takes time.

I’d like to distinguish the mindful quality of patience from a natural energetic that some of us have that’s called impatience.  Some of us naturally move fast, think fast, walk fast.  If you’re like this, it’s as natural for you to be this way as it is for someone else to saunter.  Trying to force yourself to slow down wouldn’t work any better than trying to force a slow person to speed up, and may indicate an impatience to achieve some kind of imagined perfection that actually goes against what you are naturally.  It’s a kind of lack of acceptance and tollerance that I’ll cover in a few weeks.

Patience brings self-compassion to our awareness, helping us acknowledge and accept our own process. This kind of compassion melts away all inner resistance, allowing us to be open to each moment as it happens – without judgment – trusting that the process is unfolding perfectly as it is.

The next time you find yourself getting impatient with something you’re doing – even meditating (many of us believe there is a “right” way to meditate, for instance) – take some time to be with the feeling, and with the sensations this creates in your body.  Let is simply be, taking an interest in your natural, organic process of being with these feelings and sensations.

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thehjoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Modern living – Online

My laptop broke several weeks ago.  After trying everything I could to fix it myself, I finally had to send it away for three weeks, finding a much older standalone PC to use in the interim. I expected that it would be inconvenient having to use something that wasn’t portable and that was very limited and relatively slow.  What I didn’t expect was how incredibly lost I’d feel.

With the loss of my portable PC went also my routine of meeting up for coffee with friends and working alongside them, of walking every day to meet them, of knowing where all my important files were and being able to access them, of conversing with and connecting to my online world with ease and at any time.

I felt I’d lost my independence and began to feel powerless, at the effect of “old ways”.

Within a week, I was a mess: I spent hours trying to get the older PC to do what it couldn’t; I felt isolated and miserable; I gained weight. In short, I felt lost. I remember a short series that Oprah did inviting families to live without smartphones and TV for a week, and having to have at least one meal together every day. It would typically take them a week to adjust: at first they resented it and felt much like I did; then they began to like the change.

Well, I never liked the change. Most of my business is online – I see many of my clients online. But the one thing I really appreciated from this experience was how pretty much all of us are completely dependent on online.  It is simply part of our everyday lives.

Imagine for a moment what the continent of North America would be like – emotionally – if all laptops and smartphones stopped working. Oh I know – there are going to be some doubting Thomases out there who really believe they’d be fine.  To you, I challenge you to try it! Try living without all convenient online access for 2 weeks. This isn’t about planning a vacation away from technology – it’s about carrying on your ordinary day without it.

I agree with so many of you that we are too dependent on modern online technology. And yet it’s convenience is something we probably can’t simply eliminate: our entire world, including communications and how we work depends on it.  But perhaps we can do something that would help us become more independent of it.

  • Set your priorities, making one of them online free time. Every morning I highlight three things that must be a part of my day. One of them is getting outside.  I recall a friend telling me a story of her visit to a famous Chinese garden in Beijing: it was Spring and the park was filled with people enjoying the cherry blossoms.  There was a lake and people could enjoy the lake using paddle boats.  She recalled one such boat passing by that was filled with young women –  every one of then with their eyes glued to their smartphones. The setting of that story could be anywhere these days, but it isn’t only youth – it’s all of us. We can chose to deliberately spend time in Nature with no online connection for an hour or two.
  • Build in redundancy. This is a disaster recovery principle that might save you a lot of grief. It isn’t hard to do and doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain, although it may take you some time to build. Make a list of contacts and procedures that you need to have in the event that your online access crashes; then develop a process of storing or printing off that information periodically so that you have it in a non-technical form if you need it.  I do something similar with my living situation – have the bare essentials that I would need to support myself if I were to lose electricity for a week or two.  This kind of preparation can eliminate worry, if you take the time to maintain it.
  • Practice mindfulness.  I say this for so many things. It’s really the best way to learn to accept what is – not what we can do something about, but what we can’t do anything about.  Developing a daily mindfulness practice helps us deal relatively calmly with whatever comes our way.

In today’s modern living, I don’t believe we can go back to the way we lived prior to online technology without pretty severe consequences.  But we can gain a level of independence that makes us less a slave to it, or to anything else.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy all three parts.

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but Alone?

ted
Quote of the Week
Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.
-Steven Spielberg
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Fidget Spinning

Fidget Spinner

Have you noticed when you get anxious wanting to find a diversion that lets your mind keep going and that keeps you semi-occupied at the same time? I think that’s why solitaire is so popular – it’s kind of mindless and at the same time, engaging.  It helps us use up some of the nervous energy we generate when we’re stressed or heading into overwhelm.

What’s happening on Facebook and in anxiety support groups is the introduction of toys called Fidget Spinners and Fidget Cubes.  These gadgets are supposed to help people calm down through diversion – because playing with these gadgets requires a certain amount of focus and attention. Even if a person doesn’t manage to calm down, they may at least contain their anxiety by engaging in Fidget Spinning.

Fidget spinners are three pronged devices that can be hand-held, with a centre bearing that, when pressed, makes the spinner spin. Sounds incredibly simple, and it is; so simple, in fact, that there are disputes among many inventors who simultaneously came up with these toys – virtually all in response to their own need to control stress.

Even though they’ve been around for a few years, they really only gained in popularity when kids started using them and trading them. That’s when teachers began to notice both their benefits and problems. Yes, they served as a distraction, reducing anxiety, but they also became an addictive pastime – much like solitaire.  Solitaire isn’t addictive if what we’re doing engages us; but give us endless lists of things to do that are gruelling, and solitaire becomes incredibly attractive.  Just so with Fidget Spinners – to the point that schools are considering banning them.

The interesting questing for me is: How can these and similar devices be used to help someone through stress, and when are they simply adding to the problem?  I believe the answer to both parts of this question lie in what it is that’s causing the stress.  If it’s something important to us and we’re nervous about the end result, then distracting that kind of nervousness with something like a fidget spinner seems like a good thing.  If, however, we are engaged in tasks that don’t inspire and that generate in us a sense of powerlessness – like, for me, having to sit through hours of algebra – forced to do something I have no interest in just because someone else thinks I should do it.  In that case, eventually the spinner is gong to take over, and it isn’t such a good thing.

In my own life, I play solitaire when I watch TV; sometimes what I’m watching is engaging and worthwhile for me; and sometimes it’s interspersed with what I don’t love – like violence. It’s easy to block out the violence if I have something like solitaire to turn to.

Fidget spinners may be new, but the idea isn’t. Think of worry beads, or balling up Kleenex and endlessly rolling it between thumb and finger, or chewing gum, or knitting.  The list is probably as long as you want to make it. Bottom line: fidget spinning may prove more useful in highlighting a pre-existing problem than in solving one.  Either way, it’s worth considering.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Make Visible your Shining

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.

-Robert Bresson

I spent time with a dear friend of mine today – Jane Mactinger.  She’s a Shamanic Healer – unique in her own way, and very powerful. One of the things we talked about was becoming visible. So many of us – Jane and I included, shy away from making what we shine in visible to all around us, fearing we might offend someone.  Even deeper, fearing we might be exposed as some kind of phoney, even though, for people like Jane and myself, we have more than enough credentials and training to back anything we claim. Perhaps it’s more a Canadian thing, but I know there are a lot of us out there – in hiding.

I listened to Martha Beck recently talk about self healing, and in her talk she mentioned the name for Hawaiian healers – Way Finders.  When children show a natural talent as healers, these children are trained in navigation, and eventually earn the title of Way Finder.  When I heard that, I knew what I was, because that’s exactly what I teach – how to find your unique way to live a life filled with joy. My training in Gestalt and other psychotherapeutic modalities, my studies in ancient philosophy, my training in shamanic healing techniques and ways, and my experience in being what so many of my clients strive to become – uniquely qualify me for that title. And yet, I hesitated in applying that term to myself.

Then I listened to many others, and read the above quote, and realized that I, along with Jane and so many others, are depriving not only ourselves but also others by remaining hidden in the bushes of false modesty.

Each of us has something only we can offer the world, and in openly offering it, we can’t help but enrich ourselves and our community.  If you’re not yet sure what yours is, try this:

  • What brings you joy? Find a place where you can safely explore this question without interruption. It may be your own space in your home, or it may be a park where you can walk and explore. Once you’re there, close your eyes for a few breaths and let go of the day, the week, of anything that might distract you. Then, begin to remember times where you were happy, content.  There’s a shamanic tequnique called recapitulation, where you begin by noticing how your body feels when you experience a certain memory; then you travel back to the last time you felt that physical sensation, recalling the event that went along with it; then the time before that, and so on, until you can’t remember any others. In this instance, begin by noticing how you physically feel when you experience joy – a warmth in your belly, and sense of rising or lightness – whatever it is, take note of it. Then begin recapitulating all the times when you experienced that feeling – what you were doing, where you were, who you were with, etc.. All the things that made up that event, learning the kinds of things that bring you joy.
  • Make joy a priority. Now that you have more knowledge of what brings you joy, make a commitment that you will make this experience a daily priority. It doesn’t have to be big, or take long.  I love sitting quietly every morning with a coffee, watching the morning unfold.  This simple pleasure brings me joy and sets my mood for the rest of the day. I make sure that, no matter what else happens that day, I do something that brings me joy.
  • Make it real. Bring it into your life, starting today. You might be surprised how this simple change will begin to re-color your life.

I want to mention how this newsletter is structured, because I’ve discovered some confusion with some of my readers.  The newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope this eliminates the confusion, and that you enjoy all three parts.

Earth, Wind and Fire – Shining Star

 

Quote of the Week
You’re a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)
-Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Non-Judging, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

Judgment

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thehjoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

The one I’d like to cover today is non-judging. When we judge, we form an opinion about something.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it’s how our mind works – comparing and weighing whether something is good or not good for us.  It’s important to our security to be able to judge.  It’s what our minds do best – if our assumptions are solid and we have all the facts.

But judging can also be a sign of our lack of self-acceptance. For instance, when I find myself judging the way a friend addresses me, it’s probably because I’m not feeling good about myself and am afraid that others will feel the same about me. Let’s say I gained 5 pouds seemingly overnight; this is something I’m sensitive about, so I’ll likely notice if someone comments on my appearance, take it the wrong way, and generate a judgmental story in my mind that makes me feel miserable.

On the other hand, when I’m feeling good and confident, I’m far less sensitive to any supposed slights. When I’m feeling on top of my world, even if someone came up to me and was explicit about my size, I’d probably laugh it off, knowing that what they said was really about them and not so much about me.

When I’m busy judging, it means my mind is occupied, and I’m not even able to really see what’s actually going on around me. The act of deliberately not judging what comes into awareness means we are with whatever comes up, as an impartial witness.  It allows us to feel what the judgments hide – the pain or anguish that’s really going on inside us.

Some people believe that meditation is a means of making ourselves feel calm. Sometimes that happens. But at other times, we aren’t calm, and during those times, meditation helps us be with our lack of calmness, without judging that lack of calmness as good or bad, as some kind of failure or lack on our part.

I invite you to discover your own way of judging in your world, by takeing 10 minutes and noticing your own judging patterns – along with any underlying feelings that might arise. And when you do this, do it with kindness and compassion for whatever it is you find.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .