Archive: Balance

Nature = Joy

Nature

 

On Being last week interviewed Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.

The book is about our human connection with Nature, and how essential that connection is. The title refers to two things he’s witnessed.  He remembered as a child riding in a car at night and watching the moths that were attracted to the headlights.  They were so thick they were referred to as a Moth Snowstorm.  That no longer happens, because there are too few months.

The other thing is how Nature brought back his sense of joy after his mother was taken away to a mental hospital when he was 7.  He remembered feeling nothing. Later he understood it was because he was so upset about her departure that he cut himself off from his feelings.  It wasn’t until he was sent to his grandmother’s in the country that he began to feel again: it was on a day when he decided to run across the road; beside the road was a large bush filled with butterflies. He was momentarily transfixed by their beauty. This lead to his re-introduction to feeling, connection, and joy.

It is true that Nature is thinning. There are accounts of this all over the world. It’s been noticed and documented in national parks along the West coast of North America. In Germany, 63 nature reserves were studied, starting in 1963 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Today, the numbers of flying insects in these parks has reduced by 76%.

Max Nichollson, a pioneer in Nature preservation, had an interest in house sparrows as a child. In 1925, he and his brother counted all the sparrows in Kensington Gardens: they counted 2603 sparrows. 75 years later, he counted only 8. His theory is that there may come a point where a colony would commit a kind of collective suicide. He was referring to what is known as the Allee effect, which hypothesizes that declines in socially breeding-species eventually becomes self-reinforcing.

Humans are part of Nature. We are all part of the evolution of the Earth. For 50,000 generations, we were part of the wildlife – just another species. It’s only the last 50 generations that we’ve gradually separated ourselves from Nature. But the truth is: we’re still a part of Nature, even if we chose to ignore this truth.

Nature is where we take our connections and metaphors from; it’s where science exists.

And science is beginning to learn that re-connecting with Nature positively impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally. And, I would add, spiritually. It calms us and feeds our spirits.  It brings us significant moments of joy.

You might have, as a child, had your own special place in the woods, back yard, or nearby park. Somewhere outdoors where you could go and be alone with Nature; a place where you felt safe to simply be, to regenerate. Or you might have discovered that later as an adult.

I have such a place. I visit it every week, and it does bring me joy, refuelling me for the next 7 days.

If you don’t yet have such a place to go to, make this your next goal. Then spend some time, every week, replenishing your joy.

 

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 .

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 .

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 .

Social Healing

It’s a big topic for this newsletter. I was inspired to write about it when I heard Angel Kyodo Williams talk about in on On Being.  She’s a Zen priest, and came by it as a gay African American. Gayness liberated her from her Baptist upbringing, and freed her to begin to take in points of view that are different from hers, suspending judgment.

She found that she had to become vulnerable if she wanted to be able to transform a potentially closed encounter to one of openness and connection. And she believes that our world is in great need of this openness.

She has great hope that there are enough of us to embrace this willingness and flexibility – embrace a willingness to not know and possibly be wrong – that the chasms that we’ve created between cultures and political sides can be breached.

The way to become open is to begin to see how much of what we believe comes from someone else.  We’ve inherited it from our culture, parents, and other influencers.  These opinions and beliefs we carry aren’t even ours. We assume them, and then absorb them, unknowingly.  Ms. Williams believes that we can learn to become aware of what we truly know and what we have picked up; that we can then chose how to respond in a new way.

And that this new way opens up the way to change and re-connection.

On Healing and Space

Social Healing

Quote of the Week
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. 
–  Helen Keller

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 .

Trigger -> Behavior -> Reward -> Repeat

trigger

Trigger. Behavior. Reward. An evolutionary mechanism within us that’s meant to help us survive.

Triggers are always about survival.  In the simplest sense, we see or feel something that scares us or is uncomfortable; we respond in some way that minimizes that feeling; we’re rewarded by feeling the opposite.  For instance, our stomach begins to rumble; we eat until it no longer rumbles; we’re rewarded by feeling full. It worked! So we repeat this mechanism for anything that makes our stomach rumble.

That’s in the beginning. Then we learn to apply that same mechanism to all kinds of things we encounter. Is it scary? Does it make us feel some kind of pain? Then do something until we feel good, or at least no longer scared.

So far so good. Then one day, a friend we counted on turns on us. We’re hurt and confused. Perhaps we feel a tightness in our belly. So, we turn to something that calmed our belly in the past – we eat a donut, perhaps.  We feel good. The pain goes away.

You and I know that eating to counter emtional pain won’t work for more than a moment. But most of us do it anyway, because it’s something we’ve built from the beginning. It isn’t logical. It’s automatic – a very well-entrenched habitual respnse, or reaction, to a particular feeling.

How can we change that reaction? The answer is to change the habit. Justin Brewer suggests mindfulness: go ahead and react, and when you react be mindful – get curious about it.  For instance, when I reach for that choclate chip cookie next time I’m anxious, I can take a moment to notice what it’s actually doing for me: the sugar high makes me dizzy, and instead of really being satisfied, I feel a craving for more. What if I take a handful of almonds?  Then I feel full fast. How about if I take some deep breaths and go for a walk? I return feeling refreshed and energized.

In other words, the more I becme aware, mindfully, to a reaction or response, I can begin to reprogram my body, and my reactions.

Worth a try!

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 .

What we expect isn’t always what we get!

expectI can almost see my grandmother wagging her finger at me as she said this “What we expect isn’t always what we get”. Then she might deepen the dig by adding something like “… and what we get is exactly what we need!”.

Even though I vividly remember what she said, I get caught up – a lot – in what I expect will happen.  And what I expect is hardly ever good, but almost always worst case fears coming true.

Why?  Because, deep down, I don’t believe that I can succeed. I don’t have full confidence in myself, always believing that there’s something else I need before I’m able and ready.

It’s said that women in our culture are typically the ones who never say anything until they are so overburdened with qualifications they can barely manage to stand upright from the load of credentials on their shoulders, while men learn at an early age to “stretch” the truth and have a go. If they don’t make it, well, there’s always next time.

It is bravado with the men, and false modesty for the women.  We both know it. But I do believe it has been taught to us beginning at an early age, and it’s really hard to shake.

I’ve been really ill fr the last 2 weeks. Today I shot some videos with two people who really know and love what they’re doing.  We had a blast.  I’d prepared for it well. And yet … I worried I’d become ill again half way through.  And sure enough, I did. But I’d even prepared for that! And was able to get through it, loving every minute of the experience, even with the illness.

So, getting back to my grandmother: I expected illness and got it.  I also expected success. And that trumped illness.

One step at a time!

 

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 .

Releasing the Handcuffs of Attachment

attachments

 

The father who insists his son take over the family business.  The mother who over-mothers. The boss who micro-manages.  If they don’t drive their intended victims crazy, they definitely drive all their onlookers nuts.

But, in case you think that’s somene else, recall the last time you wanted something to work out so badly – and were afraid it wouldn’t – that you found yourself “nudging” people, places and things to get to your desired effect.  If you managed to stop and take a look around you, you might’ve noticed a lot of annoyed onlookers. You know, those guys you just handcuffed to your idea of what the future should look like.

Nobody likes to be manipulated or “lead”, including us.  But worry and desire can turn us into this kind of person.

The antidote to being attached is self-awareness. Plain and simple. Becoming aware of our impact and value in any situation can bring us back to our senses and into balance and harmony with ourselves and our fellows.

I know that, for me, the times I find myself manipulating a situatin for a desired end is when I’m afraid I’ll loose something precious to me. That someone more powerful than me will somehow destroy that possibility.  When I bring this feeling in front of me and examine it, it seems pretty foolish. After all, as an adult, the only way someone else could really do that was if I had no other alternatives.  But that isn’t likely. It’s really only my fear, my insecurity and lack of awareness that lets me think so.

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 .

Falling in Love

In 2015 Mandy Catron got curious. She’d been reviewing research from the 1990’s that was about intimacy between strangers. She wanted to know if what these researchers learned could be applied to falling in love with someone you don’t know.  After seeing that it actually worked, she applied it to herself and a distant friend.  And yes, they fell in love. And are still in love.

Mandy wrote an article about her experience that was published in the New York Times called How to Fall in Love With Anyone. At the time, she had her own blog with a few hundred readers, and knew this would generate more – maybe even a few thousand. What she got were more than 8 million readers from around the world.

She talks about her experience in the Ted Talk below.

Mandy re-discovered something that has been known for a very long time. I’ll mention one out of many leaders in psychology – Martin Buber – who’s main focus was exactly this.  He called it “I-thou”.
Buber gave as one example the relationship he had with his horse as a boy. He loved his horse, and every chance he could, he’d be with him. He couldn’t explain the unique attraction he felt; he only knew it was mutual, and that it was love.

Then one day while gazing lovingly into his horse’s eyes, he was startled by something. That broke his attention momentarily, and in that moment, his horse walked away.  The intimacy – the love connection – was broken. What had been an “I-thou” moment had become an “I-it” one.

Mandy and Martin each discovered how we fall in love, and passed this wonderful knowing to the rest of us.  The thing is, I suspect that every baby knows this already, and that we lose this knowing as we encounter life’s challenges.

I don’t know about you, but I have a new mission. And that is to fall in love with someone every day.

Mandy Catron – Falling in love is the easy partlove

Quote of the Week

The basic word I-You can only be spoken with one’s whole being.
The basic word I-It can never be spoken with one’s whole being. 

― Martin BuberI and Thou

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 .

 

Feeling Needy. Yuck!

Some young children are pretty clingy.  Have you noticed?  You might have been one of them.  It could be because their Mom was sick when they were babies and couldn’t be around, so it takes them a while to trust that she will be around now.  It might be for some other reason.  The fact is that some of us are needy children. And then we work hard for the rest of our lives to change that.

Then there’s the rest of us – proud of our independence, never thinking for a moment that we’re in need of much from others. These are often the first-borns in a growing family, where Mom is just too busy to pay any attention to us. So, we learn to fend for ourselves, and take pride in this. And that’s great, as long as it isn’t another way to hide pain.

The sad truth is that all of us as adults sometimes feel needy. We may show it openly, or hide it behind a mask of solitude. It’s yucky feeling that way. I’m not talking about those times when you wanted companionship; I’m talking about those times when you felt small and abandoned.

When for instance, your best friend bails last minute on something important to you. Or when a project you’ve put your heart into fails, and everyone – all that suppoort you thought you had – dissappears.

Sometimes, you can’t help but go there in disappointment.  But you don’t have to stay there.

There is a way to deal with that yucky feeling of neediness that works every time. It’s a 3-step process that requires nothing other than you.

  1. Know when you’re feeling needy; when you’re dissappinted and sad. Igonring it will not make it go away; it will only make it go underground, resurfacing later. So, feel it and acknowlege it.
  2. Give it away. The way to do this is through empathy. If you were in your friend’s shoes, could you see why he or she might have fled?  Even if you wouldn’t do the same, it’s helpful to see how it happened.  Then, send some forgiveness his or her way, and let it go.  You might want to seal it with smudge.
  3. Turn your attention to something that feeds your spirit. A good book, a good movie, a walk in Nature, a new project or activity that has meaning to you.

This is the essence of self-respect, self-care and self-love. And it will never leave you feeling needy.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters (read you are enough just as you are to 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 Perfect Balance between Pause and Perform

These days I hear and read and participate in pausing.  I learnt it in Yoga, then in Mindfulness meditation. Pausing helps me take a breath before I leap into anything. It helps me gather my resources. To gain clarity. To do whatever I do with care.

Performance is the other side. Without performance, whatever I plan on leaping into, gathering my resources for, gaining clarity of mind over, or taking care in considering, will only ever remain in the world of possibility – unless I act. Perform.

I don’t mean perform in the sense of play-acting, but in the sense of actualizing – bringing into the moment whatever it is I want to do.

Shamanism sees these two states of being as the feminine and masculine – the receptive and active.  They are said to be the two aspects of Spirit – pure possibility and the spark of creation.  Both are essential to life and growth – and to good living.
Sometimes I use them in alignment with Nature, and sometimes I use them to avoid.  For instance, when I suddenly want to clean out the closets instead of taking the time to think through a looming problem. Or when I circle around a problem for ever, deeply analyzing every possibility, never actually taking action. In both cases, I avoid dealing with what I need to deal with, and at the same time, lull myself out of acknowledging that for some reason, it scares me.

If I were, instead, to use my sudden enthusiasm for house-cleaning, or my compelling need to over-analyze as signs of avoidance – which they are – then I could turn what was once a barrier to life and joy into a tool.

So, what’s the perfect balance between pause and perform? One that provides solid grounding and the energy to act as needed. We’re in perfect balance on those days or in those moments when everything seems to flow. When there’s no resistance. Where we are open to whatever changes are needed and are able to make them. Effortlessly.

We’ve all had those moments.

Included is a video related to this topic from another perspective, and a quote that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Staying Grounded – Justin Timberlake – Separate Who You Are from What You Do

Quote of the Week
Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings. ― 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 .