Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Standing up for Yourself

If you don’t stand up for yourself, how can you stand up for anybody else.

-Mrs. Green, a marcher in the 1963 Civil Rights Movement on Washington

Gloria Steinem related this in her latest book My Life on the Road. Mrs. Green happened to be marching beside Gloria on that day, and Gloria was telling her about all the efforts she and her friends took to get a man of influence to listen to them and take up their cause. That’s when Mrs. Green shook her head and said: You white women! If you don’t stand up for yourself, how can you stand up for anybody else?

I’m a life coach and therapist. My job is to help people re-empower themselves. And yet there are times when I come up against something that scares me, and all I want to do is hide in a corner rather than deal with it, hoping it will be taken care of by someone else. But, paraphrasing Mrs. Green, if I don’t stand up for myself, then how can I facilitate that in my clients and those I care about?

Here’s how I help others, and can use as a reminder for myself frequently:

  • Choose your battles. Not every event I disagree with is one I need to fight. But the ones I engage in are important to me spiritually. I speak up for equal rights of all races, because I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t have equal rights. I actively fight against all animal cruelty, and increasingly, the equal rights of wild nature to live freely in their own habitat.

There are many things I don’t agree with that I won’t take the time to fight against right now. For instance, I disagree with using salt on winter roads, but I’m not willing to take the time to fight for a less eroding alternative.  That’s going to have to be someone else’s fight.

I’m sure you have a lot of things in your life that you don’t like or want to change. Which of those are personally important to you, that you’re willing to spend your energy on? Not that’s important to your spouse or loved one, unless they are that important to you; but that deeply moves you, so that you can sustain the effort it will take to stand up for.

  • Be clear on what you want to gain. Is it something that can happen this year with effort? Or in a few years’ time? Or something that can only get started in this lifetime? Gloria Steinem didn’t have a clear idea in 1967 of what she was ultimately fighting for; all she knew then was that she wanted to empower more women. So she decided to walk in the Civil Rights march (after having almost talked herself out of it).
  • Take action. All of us has more power than we know. We have the power to influence the course of our lives and of others’ lives. Ms. Steinem showed up in 1967 and walked. That’s all she did that day. And that led to other things that ultimately culminated in a world-wide women’s rights movement. Every step she took was scary and required a huge stretch on her part. That’s true for you and me.

What is important to you right now, and what can you do to make it a reality?  How can you stand up for yourself today?

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.

3 Lessons on success from an Arab business woman

Standing up for Yourself

Quote of the Week
How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we’re not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?
― Katie McGarry, Dare You To

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

Bullying and moving beyond

Bullying

You might have heard of Lizzie Valasquez, a motivational speaker and author. Lizzie suffers from a rare congenital disease that makes her stand out, whether she wants to or not. In her latest book Dare to be Kind, she talks, among other things, about bullying.

Even when she was a young child, people would sometimes react negatively to her physical appearance.  As young as 5 years old, she would hear adults comment in hurtful ways about her appearance, unable to understand how they as adults could hurt a child who hadn’t done anything to them. She’d want her parents to righteously protect her, but instead, one of them would approach the adult and say “This is my daughter Lizzie.  Would you like to meet her?”

It took Lizzie a long time to recognize the wisdom behind her parents’ response. Instead of seeing one person as victim and the other as perpetrator, they saw 2 people who needed help in 2 different ways: Their daughter needed to be made visible in a truly supportive way; and the bully needed to be seen for who he or she was in that moment – someone who was hurting.

Only people who are hurting hurt others. The bully lashes out because they’re hurting, and they don’t know how to better handle their pain.

Here’s how to deal effectively with bullying.

  • 2 choices. In this situation, you have only 2 choices: you can choose to ignore the bullying, or you can respond to it. Neither choice is the “right” one, and only you can determine what’s right for you. One suggestion: consider the consequences of your choice.
  • Ignoring it. Is this a battle you really want to fight? If the bullying isn’t extreme, if it’s a one-off situation, or if it’s potentially dangerous, you might consider ignoring it. Putting yourself in physical danger is rarely justified, and there is no shame in turning away if that’s what you need to do.
  • Responding to it. This takes courage, and if done effectively, can end bullying, or at least suppress it. Effectively responding to a bully requires empathy – putting yourself in the shoes of the person you feel is being a bully, because we all have the potential to bully.  If I’m hurt and feel isolated, I’ll respond or react to anything or anyone with, at the very least, caution and self-protection.  If, on the other hand, I feel safe, I’ll be a lot more open to giving others the benefit of the doubt.

A bullying person is a hurt person.  Respecting that they hurt, and at the same time respecting your own needs, may make the difference between a potentially dangerous and explosive encounter and a minor incident.

If you’ve ever been bullied, being empathetic isn’t easy. It’s a personal affront – hurtful, ignorant, abusive and disrespectful. It might help to understand that everything we see, do and say is a reflection of what’s going on inside us. To bully others, we must first bully ourselves.

To move on from being bullied means being able to leave it behind, emotionally and mentally, so that it doesn’t take up any space inside you.  Moving on means that the current encounter, and all future encounters are no longer a problem – that you’ve mastered them.

Choosing to respond to bullying in an empathetic and balanced way is empowering.

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your 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 .

What does the moment ask of me?

The title comes from the question that Charlotte Selver always asked. Charlotte Selver taught countless students about sensory awareness, and how we have everything we need within ourselves for self support and connection to the world around us. I learned about sensory awareness from her student, Lee Lesser, and I use it constantly.

What does the moment ask of me? … It’s a question that I can only answer if, first of all, I’m aware of everything going on inside of me. How am I inside? Is there any part of me I’m not feeling? Or, is there any part of me that is in need of support, like tired eyes, a stiffness in my neck, a pain in my chest? And if so, what is my body telling me it needs from me, right now? A warm hand supporting my chest or neck or eyes, a moment of rest and shade, a quiet walk … what can I offer, right now, that will support my needs?

Once I’ve taken care of my own needs, then and only then am I ready to see what’s needed in my environment, including what’s needed for others. It’s like what the air attendant tells us to do if that oxygen mask pop’s out in turbulent conditions: take care of ourselves first, and then take care of any dependent.

This year, I invite you to ask this question of yourself, every day.

What does the moment ask of me?

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.

The 3 A’s of Awesome – Neil Pasricha

moment

For more on awesome happiness, see my blog Starting this Year with Joy.

Quote of the Week
If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.
― Walt Whitman

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

Start this year with joy

joy

If there is one thing that we all have in common, it’s that we all want to be happy.  It’s something you know about me, and I know about you.  And according to Brother David Steindl-Rast, the way to happiness is through gratitude.

Brother Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk, living in a priory in Austria, in his 90’s, and known the world over for his views on gratitude.  You can listen to him talk about gratitude in his Ted Talk on happiness.

When I think of happiness, I think of people and places that make me happy – places and people I love and have wonderful memories of.  But when I think of living happy, I think of living in joy.

Joy, for Steindl-Rast, is the kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.  We can experience this joy even in the midst of great sadness. When we lose a dear friend, under normal rather than catastrophic circumstances, there is a joy as we are present with the event at the same time that there is deep sadness.

This kind of happiness – this joy – is the kind of happiness that lasts, and is with us every day.

And it comes from gratitude, or in Steindl-Rast’s terms, gratefulness.  When he speaks of gratitude, he’s really speaking of connection through being present with what is. He sees gratitude as part of belonging; that there can be no gratitude without belonging, and no belonging without gratitude.

A simple example – when we eat, we’re eating earth, the products of earth. Salt, vegetables that are nourished and come almost directly from earth, animals who ultimately ingest vegetable matter. This is all connected to earth.  Then there are all the people who cultivated the land, growing, collecting and processing those vegetables, and the animals that go into the making of the food. Even the table you eat on, the bowl and utensils you use to eat, the chair you sit on while you eat. All of this and much more go into the food you might be eating this moment.

Everything we do we have this direct connection to, and he calls this The Great Mystery.

There is a daily practice that you can do anywhere and at any time to experience this gratefulness. To fill yourself with joy.  He calls it Stop! Look! Go!

Stop! Listen, attend –  Stop and see what the present moment has for you. It is whatever this moment presents in a split second. The sound of the heater, for instance.

Look! Behold – look at the unique opportunity this moment has for you. The warmth the heater sends into the room; the sound it makes that becomes a background of a strange kind of stillness.  The materials it’s made of; where those materials came from, and the many hands that went into digging the raw materials and shaping them into the parts of the heater.  The animals and plants that were displaced by the process, and the way they adjusted. What I must do to adjust to the limitations of my own world?

Go!   – avail yourself of this opportunity. My appreciation of that heater, and my connection to it, everyone who had a hand in making it, all the animals whose lives have been impacted by it, and how I can gain strength in facing my own daily challenges of adjustment.

Doing this simple exercise will give you an immediate feedback of joy.

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character [link to https://thejoyofliving.co/events/ ]

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 .

Thoughts to begin 2018 with

Last year at around this time I sent you some of my favorite quotes.  That was so well-received I thought I’d do it again this year.

Quotes inspire me. Whenever I’m in need of a spiritual or motivational boost, I’ll read through my library of quotes, always finding at least one that inspires me and helps me re-focus on something that lifts me. I hope these help you do the same.

Everybody needs to take some time, in some way, to quiet themselves and really listen to their heart. -Jack Kornfield

Personality … is an act of high courage flung in the face of life. -Carl Jung

The simple intention to rest, consistently applied, turns the valley of the shadow into sweet surrender. -Martha Beck

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. -Anne Frank

The more you focus on the words that uplift you, the more you embody the ideas contained in those words. -Oprah

Best wishes to you and yours over the holidays!

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.

Jacqueline Novogratz – inspiring a life of immersionthoughts

Quote of the Week 

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

― Jane Goodall

 

Announcements

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character [link to https://thejoyofliving.co/events/ ]

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 .

 

Inspiration

inspiration

Last year around this time, I sent quotes from people who inspire me.  I received a lot of positive feedback from those quotes, so am sending you more this year, in both my blog and newsletter (click here to subscribe to my newsletter).

I collect quotes, and then go to them whenever I feel a need for extra inspiration. They work for me and might also work for you.

  • Hope is something we can’t do without. From Muhammid Ali, one of my all-time heroes …

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

  • Climate change is driving all non-human animals to sometimes desperate actions. Chief Seattle reminds us how we need them, absolutely …

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

  • What must our focus be this year? Perhaps as Elizabeth Lesser implies, someone other than ourselves …

Look for a way to lift someone up.  And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.

  • Risk. So scary, and yet so necessary for a happy life. Not gambling, but stepping into the great unknown … From Paulo Coelho

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal. 

 

Happy 2018, everyone!

Maryanne
 

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your 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 .

The one thing you can do to release yourself from the bind of judgment

I listen to a friend talk about her pain – she said something less than kind to her sister. Her sister reacted and my friend is now going to spend the holidays alone.  She’s naturally distressed and is kicking herself – hard – for saying what she can’t now take back.

Knowing my friend, she’ll be fine, and at the right time will make amends to her sister.  It isn’t something that will linger for her. But until she does that, she might do what most of us do – judge herself harshly and wallow for a while in misery.

When I examine my own way with judgment, I can easily go that route. What I know now is that every time I do that to myself, I also do it to others.  It binds me to a very narrow way of viewing life. For instance, let’s say I sprain my ankle because I went out for a walk at night in shoes that weren’t good in snow.  While I’m lying in pain on the sidewalk, I might self-talk like this: “What an idiot thing to do! You knew better and really! In a way, I deserve this!”

Imagine what I’ll think when I hear of someone doing something similar.

On the other hand, I could have said to myself: “Well, that could have been foreseen! Better take care getting home and nurse my ankle.”

How might my judgment of the next person doing something similar have changed?

Be kind to yourself.  Not blindly self-indulgent, but compassionate towards yourself and others over the foibles you walk into.

Best wishes to you and yours over the holidays!

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.

Byron Katie on Judgment

Quote of the Week

Can you look without the voice in your head commenting, drawing conclusions, comparing, or trying to figure something out?
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

 

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

Three steps to get your calm back during this stress-inducing, albeit joyful, season

holiday

This is a re-do of a blog I wrote a few years back, and thought it was worth sending out again.  This time of year is the hardest on many of us – we over-commit, over-indulge, and generally over-stretch ourselves, ending up stressed and not the greatest company to ourselves or anyone else.

So first, I want to wish you all a wonderful end of 2017, and beginning of 2018 – that you find some peace in the coming days, with much laughter and joy.

I also want to remind you of an old Cherokee story – if you’re finding yourself feeling the stress of the season.

It’s the story about 2 wolves. A grandfather was speaking with his grandson about the violence and cruelty in the world.  He likened it to two wolves fighting in our heart – one was angry and vengeful, the other was understanding and kind. The grandson asked which would win, and the grandfather replied – the one you feed.

I naturally overdo things, and I don’t need the excuse of the holiday season to do it.  In fact, I’ve been overdoing things for so long that my body finally gave out.  That was about 2 years ago. Over these past 2 years, I’ve had to learn to live differently – most of all, I’ve had to learn to listen to the signals of my body and to respect them.  In other words, I’ve stopped feeding one wolf and started feeding the other.

In Taking the Leap , Pema Chödrön writes about how people need more spiritual practice these days than ever before, because we really do live in a stressed-out world.  In fact, she goes on to suggest we extend our spiritual practice to include our communities in three ways. I’ve combined what she suggests we do for our communities with what I suggest we do for ourselves – because whatever we do for ourselves to strengthen our own spirits will eventually enrich and empower our communities. These all involve cultivating our own naturalness as human beings.

  • Natural Intelligence – when we know instinctively what to do, when we’re not caught up in hope and fear. When you catch yourself caught up, take a time-out: deep breaths in – down to your belly, completely filling your lungs; longer breaths out – letting the air out slowly, emptying your lungs completely. Do that 3 to 5 times.  Breathing out for longer then breathing in activates your calming system, and helps to bring you back into balance, and reconnected to your natural intelligence.
  • Natural Warmth – our ability to love, have empathy, a sense of humor, and to feel grateful – it has the power to heal relationships. Open your heart, once you’re back in balance, and make yourself available to everyone and everything around you. If you’re alone, get out. If you simply can’t get out, then find a way to connect – by phone, by internet – whatever way is available to you.
  • Natural Openness – mental spaciousness, giving our intelligence a chance to be able to tell us what it really knows. Pause. Do nothing for a few seconds or minutes, letting your mind take in your surroundings. Becoming truly sensitive to what there is to take in, right now.

Balance, openness, inner space.  All natural. All human.

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural human traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character, a workshop facilitated by myself and Jane Mactinger this coming February.

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 .

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!”

That quote, from Edna St. Vincent Millay, eloquently sums up the allure of going all out till we drop. It’s addictive. It gives us such an intoxicating high. And yet, if we don’t stop, it will burn us out long before we want it to.How often in your day have you found yourself running on fumes?  Going till you drop, and then going some more. I did this all the time till I couldn’t any longer; and then I had to find a different way of living that could restore the health I’d ruined and allow me to continue to live with energy and purpose.  I did find it, and I’m offering what I discovered to you in my online program Burning the Candle at Both Ends.

Whether you join me  or chose to connect with another of the many great helpers available, I can say from experience that it’s possible to take back control over your mind, your life and your happiness. It’s possible to live the life you want without burning up or burning out.Learn more about Burning the Candle at Both Ends here.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.

3-minute breathing space

Quote of the Week
Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees.
― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

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 be relaxed instead of a wound-up mess during holiday season

We’re getting close to the most stressful time of the year, where people’s fuses are short and everyone’s wound up.  There’s even something called the Holiday Heart Syndrome.

holiday season

This kind of time is when you might find yourself reacting to something you’re usually cool about, regretting what you say the minute it’s out of your mouth. This reaction is automatic and is part of our stress-response system.

When we feel stressed, at the end of our rope, overwhelmed … in other words, when we are stretched to our limit – like now during the holiday season – reacting is our body’s way of dealing as fast as possible to whatever it is that’s stressing us.  The thing is that this is hard-wired and completely automatic – and it doesn’t differentiate between real and perceived threats.  If you think about it, this makes sense: if it were a real physical threat, we wouldn’t have time to do anything but react as fast as possible.  There is no rom for deliberation, considering our options.  By the time we did that, we’d probably be dead or maimed.

Some call this our lizard brain, or inner lizard – because it’s probably the oldest part of our brain system. And one we share will all other creatures with brains. But in our everyday lives, it’s rare to be faced with something truly dangerous to our physical well-being. Our lizard-brain simply interprets it that way. So, the big question is: How can we stop this automated descent into raw aggression and deal with the situation with something else? How can we turn a reaction into a response?

The key to doing this is to make sure our inner lizard is content.  It doesn’t take much. The thing that will get our lizard going is continued stress, especially if we’re already at the point of no more resources. Because at this point, anything can set us off.

It’s so different when we aren’t stressed. You’ve experienced the difference yourself. Remember those times when you felt happy and relaxed; energized and present.  When things went wrong then, how well did you handle them? Were they that big a deal? Probably not!

If you want to avoid reacting this holiday season, and be ready to respond instead, the most critical thing you can do for yourself is to avoid stress.  If you find yourself with a long list of to do’s, you can try what Martha Beck calls the 3 B’s: bag it, barter it, or better it.

  • Bag it: do you really need to do it, or can it fall off your immediate list of things to get done? Sometimes, we have things we want to get done, but don’t absolutely have to get them done.  Be ruthless and delete them.  At least for now.
  • Barter it: can you give this to someone else to get done? Or is it something only you can do? If it’s the latter, are there parts that are essential, and can you bag the rest?  In reality, there isn’t much we must do ourselves, or minimize so that it can actually get done.  Really, the only person who will likely notice the difference is you. And if minimizing also means peace of mind, then it’s worth it!
  • Better it: this means connecting the task to something that makes it feel good for you instead of something that stresses you out. If it’s spending hours getting gifts for everyone coming to your party, how can you make it fun? How can you reward yourself afterwards in a way that relaxes you? Again, are there parts that aren’t really necessary? Are there parts that can be delegated to others – or traded for things you can do at a later date?

The point: there are ways of making the overwhelming doable and even enjoyable.  There are ways of getting out of stress-response and into your own relaxed on-top-of-things self, even during holiday season.

 

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 .