Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Passionately Curious

Passionately Curious

I get scared every time I hear someone advise me not to throw all my cards into one basket. Not to go for broke. To slow down in committing to living the rest of my life based on what moves me; no longer spending even a second on anything that doesn’t.

My partner – one of my advisors – isn’t like me. Nor are many of the experienced advisors out there that I hear.

I respect these people; admire them. At the same time, I don’t agree that everyone needs to be as cautious as they advise.  It works for them. My partner, for instance, is a methodical guy and simply couldn’t live the way I do (He witnesses it, as I witness the way he lives; and we’ve come to an agreement we can both live with).

All of us started out with curiosity and passion. We come with it; it’s part of our nature. As Elizabeth Gilbert points out in an interview she gave on Curiosity and Fear, [link to/ ], even try to imagine a 3 year old not experimenting with a set of crayons that are put in front of him or her.  That’s curiosity!

But then what keeps that toddler playing with the crayons isn’t simply curiosity, but passion. He or she likes it! It’s fun and exciting. If it wasn’t, they’d move on to something that interested them more.

For us grown-ups, passion isn’t always exciting.  At first it is, when we dream up something new, then plan how to actualize it.  But then in the doing of it, life happens; something doesn’t work and needs tweaking. It’s frustrating, sometimes simply boring.

This is when remaining curious is so important. Curious about what happens if I try this instead of that. When what moves us – what we’re passionate about – is less than exciting, it’s our curiosity that helps me keep the faith.

I’m passionate about what I do. I love it, even if a lot of the time it feels like work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But that’s me. That’s what keeps me going. What about you?

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 .

You deserve to show off!

deserve

This blog is dedicated to all of you who have had to grapple with shame.  I’m one of you and – if you listen to On Being’s interview with Maria Shriver  – she’s one too.

Most of us began our journey with shame as a result of having differences with our parents. Our parents never meant to hurt us – they were worried we’d get hurt by life if we continued to do whatever it was we did to get shamed by them. And it likely began really early, with potty training. Then with how to behave as a child in front of adults.  Then how to be altruistic to the kid who wants your favorite toy.

The adult instruction to any resistance from you might have sounded something like: “Shame on you! Look at how you hurt that boy!” or “Shame on you! Look at the mess you made!”

You end up feeling denied. Constantly. And grow up with a trigger point of rebelling against others telling you what to do, resenting being treated that way, and deep down, feeling the shame of having done “something” wrong. You’re never sure of what you did, so you simply assume responsibility for everything – it’s so much easier than trying to figure it out.

Besides developing that trigger point, this sense of shame makes you feel that you aren’t ever enough. It digs into your sense of self-worth, even if you never show it, and you begin to hide who you really are – for fear of being “found out” – of being unmasked as someone who isn’t enough.

As an adult, all of this might be unconscious – so ingrained its simply part of the way you operate.  And yet, that shame is excruciating.

There are probably many ways out of this dilemma, but I know of only one way: to stop taking on all the responsibility that isn’t really yours, and to decide to show up and be who you are.

Maria speaks at many functions, and lets people know that she shows up for herself, that she has her “I” on. In her own words, she explains: “I say that to people so they don’t despair, that sometimes it takes a really long time to feel like you deserve to be on the stage; you deserve to be in the room; you have earned your “I.””

Right on, Maria!  And right on to you!

You deserve to show off who you are. No apologies.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 .

Ah ha!

ah-haI’m a Gestalt therapist. As such, I always work with what’s present for a person in the here and now. Sometimes, the problem for my client stems from a lack of awareness of that presence; at other times, it’s more a matter of what they choose to focus on.  Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees.

For instance … and I’ll use my life as an example … I’m like a terrier. Terriers tend to focus on whatever it is they’re after to the exclusion of everything else.  I understand terriers.  Seamus – my little buddy for many years – had this thing about cats. And bones. And anyone walking past the front gate. And mail  people.  Many, many things. One at a time.  When he was interested in a particular bone, that’s all he cared about: he would chew on the bone for a while, then place it strategically in a location he could survey, daring any other being to come near it, summarily ejecting them if they dared.

I have a thing, among many other things, about walking. Especially since my partner gave me a Fitbit a few years ago.  I walk at least 10,000 steps a day.  Not because someone said so and now it’s LAW.  Well, Ok, that’s part of it.  But mostly because it’s a focal point for me, and ensures I stay fit and healthy.

In some ways, that single-mindedness is commendable. In other ways, both Seamus and I miss out. In my case, I’ll talk myself into walking even if I actually shouldn’t; like when I’m getting over the flu. I do this by deliberately ignoring what my body is trying to tell me, overruling that voice with the command in my brain that says I must walk.

I should say, I did this – past tense.  I eventually contracted an illness that would show up, very loudly, every time I ignored that voice. After getting particularly ill, I missed an event I’d planned and co-organized for 3 months. That was really disappointing, but that wasn’t the ah ha moment for me. My ah ha came when a colleague volunteered for something I would have jumped at had I been there, even though I didn’t have the bandwidth for it. With everything I’ve been through, I wanted that opportunity so much that I would, once again, have ignored my physical needs. Instead, Scott volunteered.

Thank you, Scott! And thank you, benevolent universe!

Sometimes ah ha moments aren’t a surprise, like mine was. You can discover them more regularly with the following exercise:

1. First, make some time where you won’t be distracted for an hour. Turn your phone off; put your PC away; close the door, and let your friends and loved ones know you won’t be free for that hour. Then, before doing anything, close your eyes and be still for at least three minutes.

2. Now, with pen and paper, write down 3 to 5 things that came up for you during those few minutes of silence. It might be something like “I couldn’t stop thinking about a problem at work no matter how hard I tried.” Or “I’m so tired!”.

3. Then, review what you wrote, highlighting anything you weren’t aware of before you did this exercise. If your focus was totally on a problem, were you aware of how much you missed because of that? If you’re really tired, are you aware of how that happened?

This awareness is key, because it opens a previously closed door.  Being totally focused might mean you don’t have to dwell on something that makes you uncomfortable.  What happens when you uncover that? Being tired might be from insomnia as your subconscious wrestles with an issue that bothers you deep down.

4. Finally, once you’ve become aware of what you previously missed, take anther few minutes to check in with yourself. What have you learned? How are you feeling? How can you take what you now know to a new level of awareness?

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 .

Speaking your Truth

Such an interesting topic. You and I are encouraged to speak our truth, especially if we’re women, or in some minority sub-group where speaking our truth might be risky.

I know it’s important for my sense of empowerment and well-being to speak out when I need to. It’s equally important to speak with honesty, and that can sometimes be tricky: our mind can trick us into thinking we’re being honest when we aren’t.

For instance, when I’m triggered by someone, I might choose that time to “speak my truth” in such a way that it hurts the other person.  You’ll know when that happens if you hear me begin by saying something like: “I need to speak my truth” or “I have to be honest with you”; and then spend the rest of the time speaking what I believe is your truth, not mine. Like “You’re always late! You really need to do something about your laziness and disregard of others.” Instead of something more truthful like: “I’ve noticed you’ve been late the last 5 times, and this means we’ve had only 20 minutes together. I really don’t want this. Is there something I need to know? Or some way we can come to a better arrangement?”

Then there’s the issue when I don’t say what I need to say because I’m afraid it’ll come out garbled; or where I’ll show my anger or hurt and don’t want to. So I don’t say anything. If I do that long enough, then some day down the road of the not-so-distant future, it all comes pouring out in a way I’ll regret, probably big time.

And then, there are times when I’m silent, and by being silent I implicitly allow an injustice to happen.  That’s when I need to say out loud what I’m feeling. And that’s when it’s hardest.

Speaking our truth isn’t easy. It’s risky. It takes an open heart and a willingness to dialogue with the other, leaving our assumptions and expectations behind. Speaking our truth doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to be honest.

I hope for all of us that when you and I have something real to say, about what’s in our heart, we say it the best way we can. With real power.

Oprah – Golden Globes n Speaking our truth

Quote of the Week
At least you said it! – Seth Godin

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

Confronting Mirrors

confronting

Have you ever been so committed to an idea or issue or movement that you have a hard time seeing any point of view but your own? I have, and am right now.  I want a particular person to be included at a big event next week because I believe he has something important to contribute. I believe this so much that I’m finding it almost impossible to hear the view of any nay sayers.

How could these people not see what I see? …  It’s so obvious! … I say to myself.

Then at some point I realize that I’ve done nothing but talk to myself, even if I talked to the others who I’m convinced won’t agree with me. Why? Because I’ve filtered what they’re saying and hear only what agrees with my foregone conclusions.

I miss the chance to really hear what they’re saying. It might be that they believe there’s simply no room for an extra person; or that if this person comes then so should their friend. It might even be that they  agree with me. Or that I caught them on a day their dog got lost.

Not missing what is on their minds means I can allow their concerns to register, mirroring back to them what they’re saying, and offering them a chance, in turn, to mirror my concerns back to me.

Confrontation can happen in one of two ways: either to win over the other person, or to take the conversation to a new level. The first is like a one-way mirror; the secnd like a window into each other’s soul.

From Martha Beck: Don’t be the light. Be the window.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 Positive in Pain

I regularly see people who are suffering and miserable.  They come to see me because they’re sick of it and want a positive change in their lives.  They simply don’t know how to do that.

It might look like anger and resentment, or feeling lost, anxious or depressed. It might be triggered by a romantic break-up or the loss of a loved one. Most often, it’s because they’ve landed in the same dark place they thought they’d escaped. And they’re simply sick of it.

It’s impossible for anyone to see anything but the negative when this happens. And that’s why they seek help, because they know there is something better. They just can’t see it yet.

The good news is that they’re sick of it, because this means they’re ready to commit to change. In 12 step programs, it’s called “hitting bottom”: without this kind of incentive, many people addicted to drugs or alcohol wouldn’t have the ability to get sober. They need to hurt badly enough to be willing to commit to change.

It’s absolutely necessary.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a painful situation, try if you can, to remember that, without pain, there would also be no possibility for happiness. If you’ve landed in a familiar dark pattern, it’s life encouraging you to finally take that leap and commit to change.

Why we need pain to feel happiness

Quote of the week
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. ― Rumi

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

Guilt: 3 ways to let it go and move on

I have a dear friend who happened to be born and raised into a healthy and well-off family. He knew growing up that he had advantages that many other kids his age didn’t have.  He felt guilty about it and as an adult, continues to feel that guilt.

It’s a kind of survivor guilt, and can be the motivator under all kinds of actions: the neighbor who will routinely go out of her way to babysit; the volunteer who spends all his free time helping out at outreach programs – local or global. Doing things for others is a wonderful give-away, but not so much if it’s really to make us feel better. Besides, trying to soften guilt with charitable acts doesn’t work – it doesn’t take the guilt away, and it doesn’t make the recipients feel very good.  As an Inuit elder once said to a well-wisher “I don’t want your guilt. I want your participation!”

Survivor guilt happens to us, not because we’ve done anything to feel guilty about, but because we feel a sense of unfairness: that we got a “break” when others didn’t.

Then there’s the kind of guilt where we have done something, either through omission or action, that ended up harming someone else. It might be something you said in a thoughtless moment, or something you didn’t say. Remember that news story where a woman was being beaten and passers-by did nothing to interfere, even to call the authorities? If I were one of those people, I might regret not doing anything, and carry with me a sense of guilt long after the event happened.

Guilt can motivate us and it can weigh us down. Either way, unless we deal with it, it saps our energy and prevents us from living fully and contributing to our society the best we can.
If you’re feeling guilty about something right now, here’s what you can do to effectively – and fairly – deal with it:

  • Have a talk with yourself, as if you were a wise elder offering advice. What might that elder say? Was there any realistic way you could have done something different? Own it. Be realistic about it, as an elder would.  If you did harm, then make amends in a way that fully ends your guilt trip.
  • Grieve the loss, so that you can finally let the guilt go. There is always some loss involved. It might be the loss of a friend; a betrayal; an unhealed hurt of some kind.  It might be ridicule from your father that propels you to bully someone else.  Take the time you need to feel the pain, and then let it go. You might complete this period of grief with a give-away – a small ceremony where you give away a token of your loss.
  • Expand your perspective, by seeing it through the eyes of your friends, or even of the one you hurt. How would a friend feel abut your focus on feeling guilty? How would it change your relationship if you didn’t feel guilty? I remember hearing a man talk about how he had killed a neighbor’s child in a car accident.  He was a teenager at the time, and dealt with his guilt by becoming an addict and destroying his life.  Then one day, the child’s father, having seen this, stopped him and let him know he forgave him, expressly saying that the best thing he could do for the child’s family would be to leave this behind and live the best life he could. Today, that man is owner of a multi-million dollar business, and an active contributor to his community – not through guilt, but through the resolution of guilt and the forgiveness of the family he hurt.

The only good thing about guilt is that it helps us take ownership for our actions, and then motivates us to change and grow, living the best life we can.

Pema Chödron – All in the same boat

Quote of the Week
Calvin : There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.
― Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

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

Interaction – that’s ALL there is!

Interaction

In his book Seven Brief Lessons of Physics, Carlo Rovelli talks about how Reality is interaction. Not a collection of things separated by empty space, but a collection of “happenings” where what is created is relationship through interaction. He argues that we can understand our world more in terms of the relationship among things – or happenings – more fully than in terms of the thing in isolation. Because no thing exists in isolation.

For instance: A stone at this moment might be dust tomorrow, depending on it’s relationship to the dynamics surrounding it. Today at this moment you might be relaxed while reading this blog.  A moment later you could be running, or any number of actions that depend entirely on your relationship with your world then.

This is, in an important way, a lovely way of viewing our world, and life in general.  Take each of us: We are a result of the interaction or our parents – who they were physically, mentally and emotinally at the moment of conception; then once born into this world, how we interacted with whatever we encountered shaped us. Those happenings continue to shape how we are right now.

Every interaction will change us – sometimes in minor ways, and sometimes profoundly. For instance, on a walk I might see a purple stone (I like purple stones); I’ll stop and pick it up, admire it’s color and texture, then put it back down and continue on.  That rock gave me pleasure that lingers for a while, affecting my sense of happiness and even my physiology; and I gave something in turn to the rock – the warmth of my hand, a change of relationship to its surroundings, and even some of my molecules.

We say we are “moved” by a poem, or a speech, or a piece of art, because it changes us through our interaction with it. Permanently. We are similarly moved by relationships – positively or negatively — and if we allow it, we can expand our personal field, our happening in that moment, taking the opportunity to learn and grow with each one.

It reminds me of a story Pemma Chödron told about an interaction between two buddhist monks.  They were in a garden, both contemplating a big tree in front of them.  After some undefinable time, one monk says to the other “And they call that (marvelous happening) a tree!”

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 .

When life starts to pay off

I was wondering what to write about this week when I was reminded by Seth Godin about a particular self-sabotage at least half of us do – over and over: waiting for that magic moment when all our hard work will pay off.

As Seth says, this is a myth.

What really happens is we give it our best shot, every day. And then little by little, things change. We hear about the “big break”. That may sometimes happen – after all, people do win the lottery. But for most of those people who get the “big break”, if they aren’t ready for it, it actually breaks them. They don’t know how to deal with it. They aren’t ready for it. And so they over-indulge, or get taken advantage of, and eventually loose whatever advantage they had, sometimes ending up in situations that are harder than the one they started with.

The rest of us keep at it, every day, pursuing our dreams, trying things out, tweaking and trying again.  Then moving on to the next challenge. There is no magic moment. Just an accumulation of small steps that lead to a big change, sometimes so gradually we might not notice.

Except that one morning, we wake up and feel fantastic. For no reason.

What comes first – happiness or success?

pay off

Quote of the Week

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

Inspired by Others

Inspired

Being inspired by others links me to my community and lets me know I’m not alone.  Bea Shawanda  inspires me.  Bea is an Indigenous elder and speaker. Last night she was speaking about what Truth and Reconciliation means to her. “Truth and Reconciliation” has a specific meaning in Canada – it refers to the effort that is going on throughout the country to open up truthful conversation among indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians in order to reconcile the past and the present. The hope of many is that through these conversations we can learn from one another and rebuild our community, together.

Bea talked a little about her experience in Residential School, focusing mainly on how it informed her life since that time.  She doesn’t see herself as a survivor, but as someone who has taken what she was given and made the best she could out of it.  He talk was filled with stories and anecdotes that everyone in the audience – indigenous and non, young and old, man and woman – could relate to at a personal level.

She enmphasized, more than once, that the “truth” in Truth and Reconciliation meant being open and vulnerable; that both sides have learned to hide behind walls of politeness or authority up to now; and that the only way to truly reconcile and move forward was to come with a willingness to be open and possibly to be hurt.

She spoke of one result of her early life experience – her knowing that holding resentments doesn’t do any good. She doesn’t hold resentments and is very willing to forgive and begin fresh.  She develped an iron will that helped her stay on track all her life and gives her the backbone and patience to stay with the process.

She never lost hope that her live matters and has meaning. Viktor Frankl wrote about how necessary it is for us to have meaning in our lives.  To quote him, The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.

Bea Shawanda epitomises this for me, and I thank her for being her and carrying her message to me and many others.

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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 .