Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Honesty. The Best Medicine

I was listening to a friend tell me her story about losing something on the subway: she’d been tired after a long day and was on the train during rush hour.  It was jam packed … she was lucky to get a seat.  When she got that seat, she put her backpack on the ground between her feet, her groceries on top of her backpack, thinking they’d both be safe, and started looking through her saved messages.

When it came time to get off, she had to grab everything and push her way through the crowd before the doors closed.  It wasn’t till she got home that she realized her groceries weren’t with her.

What happened to them? How did she manage to pick up her backpack and not her groceries? Did someone take them or were they knocked off in the race to the door?

My friend was upset and relieved it wasn’t her backpack. She felt like a fool, realizing she’d taken a chance by not paying attention to her surroundings, and not being ready when the train was approaching her stop.  She was soundly berating herself by the time we talked.

As it turns out, I was a good one for her to call, because I understood everything she said. I understood the exhaustion, the need to disappear into my messages or a book, the sense of shock and imbalance over missing something that should be with me, and then the self-punishment. I even understood her suspicion that someone took the bag, even though there was nothing that expensive in it.

I felt what she felt.

This isn’t always true. Have you ever found yourself comforting a friend over a loss you’ve never had? It’s awkward; you don’t really know what to say, so you end up saying something you know is stupid, like “It’s alright, I understand”.

Well, you don’t really understand, and you know it. But you could imagine what it would be like to have something like that happen to you. You can feel that event, even though it’s imaginary.  We all can – that’s why we love stories and novels and movies about people who have adventures we’ve never had.

I was wondering how I would have responded to my friend if I hadn’t been through her own story, and realized I didn’t have to be. I simply had to be open to imagining it, and letting her know that’s what I was doing.

Honesty. The best medicine.

Understanding is a power to shape the world – Larry Rosen

Quote of the Week
General benevolence, but not general friendship, make a man what he ought to be.
― Jane Austen, Emma

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-programsor 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 .

Beauty

beauty

What’s beautiful to you? A garden in bloom? A well lived-in home? A natural rock formation? A bear sitting mesmerized by a field of butterflies? The Milky Way? The warmth in a friend’s smile? A moment out of time when you connect with a stranger?

How about a well-running clock? Or a piece of art that leaves you standing in awe?

All of these things have one thing in common: They obey natural law, by either being natural, or following the dictates of Nature. They depend, for their beauty, on nature.

The ancient philosophies – including Hinduism, Buddhism, and the oldest of all – Shamanism – view everything that’s natural as beautiful. That includes us – we’re part of nature, and are therefore beautiful.

Joseph Conrad, in a series of interviews now being aired on Netflix, talks about beauty – and Nature – in this way. His passion for this view is evident and compelling, and I urge you to watch the series.

Through my years of maturing, I’ve spent countless hours trimming down, because I felt that being a particular weight would make me beautiful. As I got older, it got more and more difficult to keep that extra weight off, because mine is a body that is naturally on the heavy side.

Then one day, I woke up to what I was doing – making myself unattractive, not attractive! I was doing this – starving, eating not what my body needed but what I decided it needed, not for the sake of beauty, but for the sake of other people’s good opinion of me. It simply became so clear: like a solid wall of storm clouds parting and letting in the sun, that if I was doing this to please others who didn’t care that I was acting against my nature, then what the heck was I doing! Why were those people so important?

I’d like to say I stopped.  What I have done is become more thoughtful and caring about my physical and emotional well-being.  I am learning to accept the beauty of who I am, naturally. One step at a time.

 

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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 .

Living into right thinking

The title of this blog came from the quote below.  I don’t know who specifically said it, other than that it’s a piece of wisdom from North American indigenous Elders.

And it’s just so darn appropriate for this day and age to take its message to heart.

You cannot think yourself into right living.

That sentence on its own is something I plan on having pasted on my bathroom mirror at eye level. Because deep down, I really do believe that I can think myself into living the way I want which, as far as I’m concerned, is “right living”. I do it all the time: whenever, for instance, I “decide” that I need to meet a self-imposed deadline that is actually impossible, then proceed to work 20-hour days trying to meet it. Or those times when I begin from a particular belief – say that this person should be trustworthy because of their position – thereby successfully blinding myself to anything they might do that contradicts my belief.

Or even more to the point, deciding that I “should” live in a certain way to be a good person, no matter what the actual circumstances are surrounding me.

You live yourself into right thinking.

What if, instead of deluding myself with my own beliefs, desires and needs, I beginwith where I’m at, and go from there?  Instead of assuming a person is trustworthy, I connect with them, get to know them, and then decide. Or see what the day has to offer, rather than on what I want it to offer, allowing me to remain open to whatever comes.

Beginning with what the day – the situation – offers, connecting with it, being open to it.
When I think of living this way, I feel a great weight being lifted.  It’s so straight-forward and uncomplicated.
It might lead to real happiness.

Want to be happier? Stay in the moment

Quote of the Week
You cannot think yourself into right living. You live yourself into right thinking.
-Native Elders (from Gloria Steinem’s autobiography My Life on the Road)

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-programsor 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 .

Chaos

chaos

… A word that terrifies me. When I think of that word – Chaos – I immediately imagine everything out of control. Then I get overwhelmed. Then I get anxious. Then I get stuck.

It doesn’t take much. Just that small moment of imagining one word.

Even writing this generates panic; a need to go off somewhere and regroup. And yet, in this year of my life, chaos rules.

I expect I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable around chaos. Chaos can mean disorder, confusion, disarray. It can also mean that “formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe” (from Google).

The ancient Greeks thought of Chaos as a primordial void (very similar to our modern scientific version). Chaos was the first thing to exist, and out of Chaos were born the gods and goddesses that governed all life.

Chaos is all of these things. It’s what isn’t known. It’s where we must go to create anything new. With anything new, we start with the raw materials, then create a thing that is unique, that is more than simply the sum of it’s parts.

Chaos is change.

It’s also destruction, because whatever it is that is changing is also being destroyed, making room for that shiny new thing.  Like what happens when I create a new dress out of a bolt of material. That bolt is gone, and in it’s place is a dress. Or when I take last year’s decomposed vegetables and use it to grow new ones this year. Or when I take what I’d tested a month ago to generate a new untested idea.

In truth, we all live in chaos all the time. Every time we move – even if it’s from the couch to the kitchen and back again – we are generating a bit of chaos.  But, admittedly, sometimes there’s more chaos than other times.  When we move locations, when we break up, when we marry, when we have a child, when we begin a new venture.

I’m thinking of chaos because I discovered how my until-now-undiscovered-fear of it has stopped me from going with it.  From working with it. From enjoying it.

Now I’m wondering – how would my life be if I embraced it?  How would other’s lives be?

How would your life be?

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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 .

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 “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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 “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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 “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. 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 .