Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Confronting Mirrors

confronting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Positive in Pain

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

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

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

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

It’s absolutely necessary.

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

Why we need pain to feel happiness

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

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Guilt: 3 ways to let it go and move on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pema Chödron – All in the same boat

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

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Interaction – that’s ALL there is!

Interaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

When life starts to pay off

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

As Seth says, this is a myth.

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

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

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

What comes first – happiness or success?

pay off

Quote of the Week

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

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Inspired by Others

Inspired

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 .

Switching up to gratitude

I’m feeling low today, battling with Menier’s and the flu. Feeling pretty sorry for myself. And scared: Meniers isn’t easy to live with.

Then I started thinking what I wanted to write about this week.  Definitely not how lousy I feel.  That doesn’t inspire me, and yes! I’m one of the people in my audience I want to inspire.

That’s when I begin to switch to gratitude – the one fail-safe place I can go to get out of feeling lousy.  It turns out that feeling grateful in a way that’s meaningful to you is the first thing to do to turn gloom into joy.

So I switch: I’m walking in fresh air; going to my home that’s safe and beautiful; seeing friends later on; spending time with my honey. I’m grateful for all the opportunities living in North America brings me, and that I often take for granted. And finally, I’m grateful that – bad as it is – the ailment I have isn’t life-threatening. And it is definitely a teacher.

Want to be happy? Be grateful

 gratitude

Quote of the week
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

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 .

The trouble with wanting something so badly when you depend on others

wanting something

Have you ever wanted something so badly you’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get it?  I have. Many, many times.

I don’t mean robbing a bank or selling your body.  We all have limits, even with this. But at times I sometimes find I’m relying on others to help me out. Not in a good way!

A good way might be: doing some necessary work for what I want and getting duly compensated; or taking what I offer because they really like and want it.

A not-good way might be: doing something for me because I talked them into it and wore them down; or promised them something that wasn’t justified; or relied on some need they have to manipulate them into supporting me.

Those last examples are all co-dependent, and enmesh me and anyone who involves themselves in it. In the end, even if it works this time, I don’t feel so fantastic.

Well, I wanted something this badly a week ago, and asked somene I thought loved this sort of thing if they wanted to be a part of it.  She said she did and I got going.  But I was always uneasy: even though she said yes, my gut just didn’t believe it. What I’d done to prepare depended on her showing up, so I was stuck with it regardless.

Fortunately for me, I did something that attracted others – something new for me – because I wanted this to happen that badly. I found them.

Glory haleluyeh! I did it!

Next time, when I get that gut feeling, I’ll pay more attention to it, appreciating what I really know.

 

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters (read you are enough just as you are [link to https://thejoyofliving.co/everything-you-need/ 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 [link to www.thejoyofliving.co/7day-meditation/ ] for my insider newsletter, click here [link to www.thejoyofliving.co/7day-meditation/ ] .  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 .

Judging versus accepting

judging

 

I was having coffee with a friend a few days ago. Next to us were a group of people complaining about someone they just heard. It seems they were at a conference together and this was an informal get-together to lament their wasted time. I found myself wondering how this experience could have been more fruitful for them – and myself when I do the same thing – if they had focused more on learnings and less on losses.

I’ve been on both sides of this experience – complaining about and being complained about.  On one memorable occasion, after I’d arrived to give a presentation about stress, I was just getting up to talk when I felt overwhelmingly ill. It was too late to cancel, so I went ahead and presented in a voice that was too quiet and in a manner that was too reserved.  The result was predictible: a loss of connection with the audience.

Then there’s the time when I sat fidgeting while a new presenter talked about the technical details of investing – a topic that could put me to sleep in under 5 minutes at the best of times.  At some point I stopped listening, and regained awareness only after the speaker had offered what might have been a rather brilliant suggestion for investors like me.  I missed it, because I wasn’t focused on looking for it.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Spending our valuable time not listening, not engaging, but instead complaining and whining. Judging others and ourselves. It isn’t educational: it doesn’t add to what we know and can use. It isn’t pleasant or energizing.  It depletes energy and makes us miserable. Who among us, after a session of self-flagilation, can then sit down and happily examine what happened and how we can do better next time?

Not me!  That’s when I head for the refrigerator and set about numbing out with carbs.

On the ther hand, have you really stopped to think about those times when you did learn something valuable? When you did hang around and stay with the presenter? At those times, you might have brought with you an attitude of self- and other-acceptance. Accepting that things aren’t always perfect. Accepting that there is always going to be some gem, even among the most messed-up experience.

Accepting that we are all in this life-experience together, and that more can be had from self- and other-regard than from judging and complaining.

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 .