7 DAYS OF MINDFULNESS-BASED MEDITATIONS – FREE

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

The secret to winning in life

I was in front of a group of women my age, about to give them a presentation I’d prepared meticulously. I’d mapped it out, timed it out, and practiced.  I knew it cold. But when I got up in front of them, all I could think of was whether they’d take me seriously.  I had this constant inner talk going on for at least a week before the presentation.  I dressed in a way that I thought would do it – not the way I usually dress; I chose topics I thought would tweak their interest – not topics that tweaked mine.  And the inevitable happened: they, almost to a woman, looked like they were having a hard time staying awake; and left right after, without asking a single question.  I was mortified.

I had to go through that a few more times until I was worn out and discouraged enough to simply give up and be myself, regardless of the result.  After all – how much worse could being myself be? And, yes, the next time I spoke, I spoke on a topic that interested me, in a way that was natural to me, wearing what I liked, in front of a group of people I wanted to be with. That time, the listeners not only took me seriously, but really got what I was saying, using it in their own lives in a way it was always meant to be used.

I listened to a live Q&A with Marie Forleo today that brought that home.  Someone called in and asked her to suggest a baby step they could take that would help them succeed in holding their own authenticity.  I’ve included her remarks, along with my own, as ways of learning to notice what you’re doing and turning it into a win:

  • Discover your mask. When you’re in front of an audience, notice when you’re trying to be someone else. That’s all. Becoming aware of what you’re doing is always the first step to change.  Notice who you’re trying to be – someone in the audience; someone you suppose your audience admires? What exactly are you “trying on”, and why?  This, in the world of shamanism, is called a mask.  Masks can be powerful tools, as long as they’re used honestly without any intent to manipulate.  But when we’re hiding behind a mask, we always have an agenda.
  • Learn who and how you are naturally. It’s amazing but true that most of us have to actually learn this.  We knew it instinctively when we were kids, and have since hidden it in an effort to belong.  The truth is that who we are naturally is our greatest strength.  It’s the one thing that helps us stand out and be noticed.  And being noticed by the people who matter – those people who you want to be with – is the winning ticket.

It sounds simple, and isn’t: my whole work is about helping people discover that about themselves.  But it is the key – the secret – to winning in life.

Be yourself.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

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.

Being Authentically Myself at Work – Suzette Robotham

 Quote of the Week
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.― Muhammad Ali

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

How to survive holiday dinners

holiday dinners

It started for those in the US at Thanksgiving, and will continue until the New Year is finally here – family gatherings, family dinners, where everyone we don’t see for the rest of the year is together for a long while.  Sometimes, it seems, a really long while.  There’s a reason you haven’t seen them for a year or more, and that may be because every time you’re together, bad feelings result.  Your brother is hard right and you’re hard left; your sister is born-again and you’re an atheist.  There are so many things people can strongly disagree on, that we end up coming to family gatherings expecting to be bored at best, and boiling at worst.  But never actually enjoying ourselves.

Well, you know your family best, but it may be possible to change that dynamic. There’s a Native American tradition that many have heard of, called the talking stick.  In traditional households, the talking stick is used to deal with disputes between members.  The way it works is that whoever is holding the stick has the floor.  Of course, there are some rules: the person holding the floor, for instance, talks about their feelings and don’t use the stick to blame the other. The other person – the one who’s hearing the speaker out – is meant to take a position of openness, really hearing what is being said in an open and non-defensive way (which they can only do if they aren’t feeling attacked).

We can do something similar at those dreaded family gatherings: open a space inside us to really hear what the other is saying, looking from their point of view, attempting to see how it makes sense to them.  This can be really difficult.  If it proves too much, then you might try what a close friend does every time he’s with his brother. He remembers the countless times they had fun together and relied on one another.  When he does that, his heart opens, and he can have a close and heartfelt time with someone whose views are very opposed to his.

 

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 .

 

 

Lizard brain – how to make yours work for you

The Lizard brain is the oldest and, some argue, the most primitive part of our brain system. It’s something all vertebrates are born with; it’s our first warning system that acts up when anything we interpret as dangerous approaches us.

For all other animals with lizard brains, the danger they sense is as potentially real as they imagine.  Not so for us humans. Or at least, not for us humans who live in secure dwellings and eat at least one good meal a day. We don’t actually have a lot of things to be that afraid of, and yet, given the nature of our lizard brain, it will find something to tell us about.

When I think of mine, I do actually think of a lizard.  Often it’s tiny, albeit annoying.  Sometimes it’s a full-sized komodo dragon, and terrifying. Our lizard brain is always engaged when we’re stressed or anxious.

There are lots about this topic in books and over the internet – anything about stress is a big topic these days.  Martha Beck talks about it in Steering by Starlight.

The thing about our lizard brain is that it’s here to stay. So, we can either befriend it or not.  I don’t know about you, but when I don’t make friends with my lizard, it ends up ruling me. I’ve tried everything: from being “adult” and ignoring it because it’s non-sensical, to staying home, gorging on chips and ice cream, hoping I can mollify it. The only thing that works is if I acknowledge it, even appreciate what it does for me, then find a way to work with it.

Just like the real thing, our lizard brain is purely sensual. It’s responses are limited and automatic.  The minute we feel threatened – real or not – it jumps into action. So the only way to work with it is to see what it needs to be happy once again.

Seriously. I’ve talked about this before. For instance, let’s say I’m getting ready to speak somewhere.  This is an activity that can really get my lizard going. I start wondering if people will like my talk … whether I’ve got enough information … whether the topic is right or completely wrong.  The longer I wonder, the more wound up my lizard gets until it’s the only thing I can see.

When I see what’s happening, the first thing I do is get calm – it might be a walk, or lying down in a cool, dark place and breathing for a while.  Then in that calm place, I see what’s really bothering me, and address it directly.  And, in appreciation of my lizard for being so alert, I reward myself with something it likes – like a latte.

I’m not always so on top of things, but when I am, this works. Every time.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

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.

Seth Godin – On overcoming the Lizard Brain

 Quote of the Week
The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. ― 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

The good committee – your own

The good committee

Seth Godin , in his blog Five Contributions, listed the 5 positions that make a well-functioning team: Leader, Manager, Salesperson, Craftsperson, and Contributor. Each of these players have skills and abilities that are unique and that combine to generate success.

The Leader is the pathfinder.  The person who is first to step into the unknown: an ability that is essential for forging any new path. The Manager takes responsibility for determining and managing the work needed to achieve the goals set by the Leader.  The Salesperson “turns a maybe into a yes”, showing others the value of what is being created and generating an interest in participating or purchasing.  The Craftsperson is the creative, using their abilities to actually produce the promised product in a way that attracts. And the Contributor fills in whatever blanks are left to ensure that promises are kept.

That’s an apt description of a well-functioning team.  It’s also an apt description of the autonomous person – one who lives life on their own terms. It doesn’t mean that such a person lives like a hermit, not needing or wanting anyone else in their lives. It simply means that they, on their own, are leader, manager, salesperson, craftsperson, and contributor.  They are the ones who forge new paths, determine their own goals, work out the requirements of achieving those goals, generate whatever is needed, and ultimately makes sure the job gets done – well and on time.

This kind of person isn’t rare. It’s every self-employed person who’s either achieved success or is on their way (whether they know it yet or not). It’s anyone who’s entire focus is directed towards their dream, for as long as they are so directed.

We have the potential to be autonomous. Each of these skills are also character traits that we all have, to some degree or another, and can gain mastery over.

If you’re actively pursuing your own dream, and have hit a blimp – large or small – it might be worth remembering that you have everything you need to either do what’s necessary, or negotiate for the help you need.  Either way, your dreams are real and achievable.

 

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character.

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 .

Karma

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
-Wayne Dyer

A few nights ago, my partner and I triggered each other, followed by 20 minutes of silence.  Why? Because neither of us wanted to say something we’d regret. So we waited until we got our big person voices back before talking about it.

Yes, that deserves a pat on the back, because it hasn’t always seemed possible to hold back the floodgates when I’m triggered.

Today was a different story – I spent it with a help desk.  From 4:30 in the afternoon till 8:30, I was on the phone with customer service. Three calls: I eventually hung up on the first call after waiting on hold for over an hour.  The second call hung up on me and didn’t call me back. On the third try I got lucky and discovered what the problem was and how to fix it. I amused myself in between calls working out how much this was costing in phone bills. If I ever hear the music that company played over and over while waiting again, I may just go to the competitor.

I don’t know how considerate and calm I was during the process.  Not very near the 2-hour mark.  But by the time I’d hit number three, I had calmed down enough to speak with care and focus on getting the issue solved. I hate to admit it, but that might have contributed to the resolution.

And then I was reminded by Mr. Dyer about karma.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

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.

Alan Watts – On Karma

Quote of the Week
If you’re really a mean person you’re going to come back as a fly and eat poop.
― Kurt Cobain

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

Too fond of play, Fooled for clothing

fooled

 

I woke one morning having dreamt that title (might even be too fond of it).  It was after binge-watching Mad Men.  So appropriate, since I felt I was on a bender until it was done.

I’d resisted watching it for years – because I’d lived it – but eventually, curiosity won out.  What I felt was a gradual descent into an old hell, re-awakening the women’s libber in me, bringing back the pain of those times – and also for a brief while, my great dislike of men. I remember talking about the series to a friend, who agreed that it is an incredibly accurate portrayal of those times, and of corporate America.

After WWII, society had, en masse, chosen to give all jobs to the men returning from the war, and re-locate all women to the home and motherhood. Growing up as a female child, I saw so many women end up either drunk most of the time or in psych wards.  When I entered the corporate work force at the age of 17, I watched – spell-bound – as boys my age were speed-walked through the ranks in a few months, while women who had been there for years stayed put. I decided that I would be one of the women who would change that. And I did, only to discover the truth in that old cliché “Be careful what you wish for”.

But like everyone else reaching for that elusive prestigious position that would bestow on me respect and acceptance, I hid myself behind what I thought was acceptable. By whom? Why, by all those other people doing the same thing! And because I hid myself – even from myself  – I became a fool for clothing – for appearance over substance.

I don’t know how many of you reading this experienced something similar; even so many years after WWII, after women’s lib, and after the great leaps in civility we’ve accomplished, we live fearfully. There is so much worry and anxiety that it’s hard not to hide behind the mask of acceptability.

But there is a problem with hiding behind this mask. The problem is that it will never lead to being happy with life. I keep thinking of the 5 main regrets of the dying; one of these regrets was about not doing what they had always wanted to do. Not trying it at least. Not even tasting it.

If you feel you may be hiding, I’m not about to suggest you throw off your cloak and reveal all. If that act doesn’t give you a heart attack on the spot, it might at least put you in real peril.  After all, all your friends and associates are very used to the hidden version of you. Instead, I suggest you find some small thing that gives you a taste.  Then if that feels good to you, take another taste, then another.

Eventually, you might find yourself, one day, in a surprisingly different world; one where everything is color and sound, taste and smell; where you feel more alive than you ever remember feeling.

 

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 .

Busting the myth of scarcity

I’m close to finishing my training with Martha Beck to transition from therapist to Life Coach.  I’ve discovered that there is very little difference between what she teaches and how I do therapy: she combines body/mind techniques to help people get unstuck, and then clarify and accomplish their goals.

I love it! And during the course of this adventure, I found there are people who have no coaching or therapy experience and are really starting out from scratch, others who have a great deal of life experience but are new to coaching, and still others – like me – who have a lot of life and professional experience in related areas.

One issue or question that keeps coming up for all of us (me included), regardless of experience, is how we are going to be successful as a coach when there are so many of us.  It’s the idea that there are only so many people who want or need coaching and a lot of coaches providing this service; it’s the idea – the myth – of scarcity.

It comes up in comments – stated or implied – like this: “She’s so good and I’m just starting out! How am I ever going to compete against her? I don’t have a chance, and might as well quit!”; or “God! As soon as I open my mouth about Martha Beck, people simply want to read her books! I feel like a walking advertisement for her, instead of doing anything for myself!”; or “Dam! We’re in the same network group! How can we both talk about coaching without getting in each other’s way?”

These are a small sample of the fears that go through the mind and bodies of most of us, and they are all – every one of them – myths, based solely on our own limiting beliefs, and not on the reality of the situation at all.  In reality, we live in a world filled with people who are looking for the kind of help coaches offer, and especially in this world of online access, our customer base is world-wide. There is more than enough work for everyone, and that happy fact means we can relax and focus on finding people who we work well with.

I’ve focused on coaching because that’s what I’m focused on anyway just now.  But this attitude of scarcity is everywhere. It might be that you work in a small office where only one person ever gets promoted – forgetting that there’s a whole world of other similar opportunities out there; or that you want to make and sell fragrant soaps, but notice that every flea market has hoards of soap sellers.  It doesn’t matter what you fear, the myth of scarcity can be examined, dismissed, and replaced with a belief that truly helps.

If you’re feeling anxious in this way, I’d like to offer the following to help you determine how much of that fear is real and how much is really based on a limiting belief (based on Byron Katie’s The Work).

  • Write it out. Begin writing everything you can about your feelings, fears and beliefs.  Don’t hold anything back – no one but you will ever see it, so get as down and dirty as you can.
  • Find the belief, or set of beliefs that all of this fear is based on. For instance, let’s take the “As soon as I open my mouth” example above: I might begin with writing about how unfair it all is, how no one wants to pay anything for value, always looking for the least expensive way – writing about my pain and fears until they are all out in the open, on paper. Eventually, I’ll begin to calm down and notice a pattern through my words.  It might be “I don’t really have anything to offer!” or “Deep down, I’ll never be good enough!”. The belief that we hold, deep down, is often something we would never say out loud, even to ourselves.
  • Challenge this belief.  Katie has a system she uses and teaches to challenge our beliefs, beginning with challenging the truth of the belief, then looking for examples of when it isn’t true. Then dives deeper, examining how believing it makes us feel (generally awful in some major way), and who we would be without that belief (generally good and even great).  Then as a final nail in the belief coffin, examines variations of the reverse or opposite of the belief, often revealing something significant about why we have that belief. Continuing with the example, “I don’t really have anything to offer”: it isn’t always true – there are many ways I have something of real value to offer – all of us have this. But when I let myself believe this, I feel small, defeated, worthless.  Without believing that I don’t have anything to offer, I’d feel fine – relaxed, engaged. Reversing the belief – I do have something to offer; My self-doubting mind doesn’t have anything to offer – shows me what really has to go (my self-doubt).
  • Replace the belief with C. We all have something valuable to offer, and that value comes from who we truly are, authentically. The more we question any belief that stops us, the more we can relax into the truly powerful self we are, in whatever space we’re in.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

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.

 

Quote of the Week
If you think happiness is a rare bird you won’t see much of it. ― Marty Rubin

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

Mindfulness and Mindlessness

I meditate every morning – for at least half an hour. Sometimes, I end up gaining energy and a kind of delightful groundedness from it that can carry me through the rest of the day. Sometimes, I feel it’s little more than sleeping sitting up, where the entire time can go by in a blink.

Ellen Langer would call the first instance one of mindfulness, and the second one of mindlessness.  Ms. Langer is a social psychologist at Harvard University, who has studied Mindfulness and what she calls Mindlessness since at least the 1970’s.  In a recent podcast, she spoke about what mindfulness really means for her.

She defines Mindfulness as the simple act of actively noticing things. For her, being mindful doesn’t necessarily involve meditating or yoga, or any particular recommended way of being. All of these things can be mindful, and they can also be unmindful, depending on how we are while we do them.

From her studies, experiments and research, she concludes that most of us are mindless most of the time, and that this mindlessness is at least a major contributor to illness and unhappiness in our lives.

In one study, for instance, which she terms Counter-Clockwise, she has a group of men in their 80’s live in a retreat for a week that has been retrofitted to around 20 years earlier. These men were to act as if this retrofit were in the present (i.e., as if they were 20 years younger).  What she discovered, by measuring their physical and emotional well-being after that week, was that they not only felt 20 years younger, but that their hearing, vision, memory and strength had all significantly improved.

Her work addresses the mind/body question in an intriguing way: most of us still separate the mind from the body – looking at how the mind influences the body and vice versa.  She doesn’t make this distinction. Instead, she sees mind and body as inseparable.

With this perspective, the Placebo can be seen as a powerful and valid drug instead of a mistake; one that unlocks our brain’s inner pharmacy, and gives us mastery over our own health. How empowering that is!

I could talk endlessly about the implications and applications stated and implied by Ms. Langer that come from her approach and perspective, but will offer up one that we can all use right away: re-invigorating our personal relationships.

Most, if not all, of us can find ourselves getting too used to our life partners.  The prevailing wisdom when that happens is to change things up; to freshen that relationship by making it new again.  And some people manage to do that with success.  Or, you can try this:

Every day for a week, make a point of actively noticing 5 things about your partner. For instance, you might notice today that he or she carefully folded their pajamas before leaving for work. What you notice doesn’t have to be profound; it simply needs to be something you actively engage in in the moment.

What happens?  A revitalized connection to your partner.

 

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 .

 

Our Inner compass – our guiding light through the unknown

I used to tell people that I had no problem stepping into the unknown – I do it all the time. My problem was remaining relatively intact when I did it. Have you got that problem?

What I’ve discovered since saying that is my real problem:  jumping in without a compass.  I was reminded of this in Seth Godin’s blog about maps.. He noted that without a map when we’re lost, we remain lost.  But there is no map in the unknown, and that’s when we need a compass.

The only compass we have is the one inside us. Chris Hatfield speaks of it in the Ted Talk below: his inner compass was so fine-tuned and practiced that he had no moments of panic when he went blind in space. He was prepared, and even if what happened never happened during simulation practices, he and his teammates knew they had covered more than enough, and had developed a felt sense inside them that would carry them through almost any situation they encountered.  He was also prepared to die – which is another story.

Here is something you can learn and practice for yourself, so that you have a honed inner compass whenever you need one (Courtesy of Martha Beck – Finding Your Way in a Wild New World – I think):

  • Calibrate your compass: Get comfortable and relaxed – take 3 or 4 deep, slow breaths.
    • The minus side: Then imagine some recent event you didn’t like.  Once you have it in mind, bring it into the present by remembering how you felt at that moment.  Then scan your body – from toes to the top of your head, and notice any strong visceral feelings you encounter – it may be a tightening in your chest, a gripping in your stomach, etc.. Give the sensation you discovered a negative number between -1 and -10.
    • The plus side: Then shake that off, and imagine a recent pleasant event. Again, scan your body, noticing any strong visceral sensations – like an expansiveness in your chest, a warmth in your belly. Give it a positive measure, between 1 and 10.
  • Using your compass: You now have a scale of negative and positive sensations that express, in physical terms, your response to negative and positive events. With practice, you’ll eventually be able to tell in an instant if you’re steering yourself off course in the fog of the unknown, and will be able to alter direction on a dime.
  • Practice: It’s the only way to know your own compass. And this doesn’t come easy to many of us. You might mistake an emotion for a feeling – like feeling scared but having tingling butterflies in your stomach, with feeling scared and having the hair at the back of your neck standing up.  The first is probably positive; the second isn’t.

With a well-calibrated inner compass, you have the only thing you need to survive, and thrive, in the vast unknown.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

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.

What I learned from going blind in space

inner compass

Quote of the Week

I don’t need to see the trail to know you’re at the end of it. My grandfather’s compass may not work, but mine is still true.
― Diana Peterfreund, For Darkness Shows the Stars

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