Archive: Shamanism

Daredevil!

Many years ago, I dated someone who loved taking high risks; his name was Tom. Tom raced cars that used Nitro for gas; he got a thrill out of swinging in high wind 300 feet in the air; he would walk into dangerous or toxic environments with little thought for his own safety.  Tom did it because it was exciting. I admired him for his lack of fear – still do – and I would never want to do what he did.

But, I have done things that were exciting, thrilling, and dangerous: I’ve driven at speeds I shouldn’t because I’d crammed too much into the day; I’ve spent the entire night working on a project because I loved the thrill of doing something new, while completely ignoring what that was doing to my health. Doing those things some of the time are probably fine; doing them as a rule aren’t fine, and I did them as a rule.

I wasn’t so different from Tom after all!

Many of us confuse excitement with joy; happiness with fulfillment. Our jobs can be exciting – every day something new.  But that doesn’t mean we are fulfilled or feel joy from them. If we don’t feel safe in our jobs, then we won’t feel joy either.

What does it mean – to feel safe in our jobs?

For Tom, it might be confidence in the structures he was hanging from. For me, it’s feeling appreciated and valued. If I don’t feel those from my fellow workers, I won’t stay.

Tom was a Daredevil. So am I – in a different way. I will walk out of a business, a job, a calling, if I don’t feel valued and respected. I won’t do it impulsively but I do know what matters to me. And that’s all that matters.

What matters to you? What are you willing to do for what matters?

If you know and are willing, then you know what it is to be a Daredevil.

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

Start this year with 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.

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.

This kind of happiness 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.

With everything we do we have this direct connection. 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 the heater to my needs.

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.

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

Make it Real!

real

I’m a dreamer. I have a vision that is powerful enough to move me in the direction I’m on, and keep me there even when things are tough. I want to make a positive difference in my world, and live what I teach. I want to live happy and teach others to live that way. I also have smaller dreams that propel me forward – every-day dreams that are more like plans, and that go towards feeding my big dream.

When I first tried to articulate my dream, I was surprised to discover that it was vague – so vague that is was almost meaningless.  It took me a while of getting inspiration from different sources – my heroes, writers, spiritual leaders – then writing and trying it out, then rewriting and trying it out again and again, before I felt that what I was saying matched my dream.

Before I was a therapist and coach, I was a project manager, working on big projects with a lot of layers and people. I loved putting it all together, beginning with what was wanted at the end, and moving backwards. Filling in the details – first in broad strokes, then in increasingly finer details.

Even today, I have a daily To Do list. Each item on that list, no matter how mundane, moves me towards my big dream. It’s thrilling to me to watch myself make progress and to write “done” beside each task. It actually adds to my daily and overall joy.

Kelly Corrigan said “You have to speak your dream out loud.”  She’s right! By writing it down or speaking it out loud, you begin to make your dream concrete and real.

What’s your dream?

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

Enlightenment always tastes of freedom

“Enlightenment” is a term I hear used a lot these days.  It’s often in the context of gaining some kind of spiritual excellence.

I do wonder about this: it comes close to smacking of superiority and so I’m suspicious of it. So, is this something real and something worth moving towards?

I think so.  The Buddha said that you will know enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom, just as you know the ocean because it tastes of salt. This implies that I achieve enlightenment every time I can flow with the process of life, without feeling triggered or reactive in any way.

Sometimes, I do feel that way. And, no doubt, you do too.

One thing for certain, then, is that when I’m anxious, or stressed, or lost in worry, I’m not in a state of enlightenment. I’m in an opposite kind of state: frozen in time, fighting off inner daemons.

I’ve been there too?  What about you?  If you’ve been in a place of anxious stress, were you able to find your way to a better place?  If not, you may find my online course Burning the Candle at Both Ends worthwhile.

It’s starting now.  Click here if you’re interested in learning about it.

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 .

 

Breaking up with Illusion

I sat for three weeks forcing myself every day to write another line of the copy I needed to update my website. The thought of writing this copy was so stress-making that I felt frozen to my chair.  But, because it was important to me for many reasons – not the least of which was doing what I teach others to do – I was able to finish it.

I was frozen because all I could think of were the number of times I’ve tried things and failed.  I kept thinking – over and over until I made myself stop, or distracted myself with other things – this time will be no different. It’s like when you’re so stuck you can’t see the end, or so depressed you can’t see the possibility of change.

I kept playing that same old tape – over and over – freezing myself into near immobility.

That voice inside me that sapped my energy and willingness to move is called a Pretender Voice.

A Pretender Voice is a Shamanic term for a false and self-defeating thoughts we have that prevents us from moving, living and being present. It’s a “pretender” because it’s telling us lies about ourselves.

“This isn’t going to work!” or “I’m no good at this!” Those are Pretender Voices.  They aren’t real!

Every Pretender Voice is really an illusion – a dark fantasy, perhaps something I told myself or was told when I was young. It’s only power comes from my willingness to let it take charge. To be the top dog in my dysfunctional relationship with it.

There is only one way to end a dysfunctional relationship where you know one party will never change:  Break up with it!

That Pretender Voice will never change.  But I can replace it with something I know is true or truer. And that’s how I managed to finish that copy.

“This isn’t going to work!” 
Really!  I’ve examined why it didn’t work before, done my research, made significant changes.  Maybe it won’t be a total success, but at the very least, I’ll learn some important things from this effort that will get me closer next time around.
“I’m no good at this!”
Probably true when I began. Not nearly as true now. And I have the feedback to prove it.

We all have Pretender Voices. Which ones are getting in the way of your happiness that you need to break up with?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.

Dr Phil – Overcoming Negative Voices

Quote of the Week
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
-Steve Maraboli

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

If you meet Buddha on the road…

If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” This saying is attributed to Zen Master Linji, and I often wonder if it might be more accurate replacing the “if” with “when”. “When you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” Because it will happen. For some of us, more than once.

If you’re like me, way more than once.

My latest encounter in a long line of encounters happened a short while ago. I was with someone I revered and thought was wiser than me – catering to the limitations of the English language, I’ll refer to this person in the feminine. This person had been up for 3 days and – it turned out – ended up being pretty much at their worst.  She was de-deified and re-humanized before my eyes; I was able to see her – really – for the first time.  I’m not saying that the real personality was who she was at her worst; only that all of us are no more than human.  And one more thing: all of us – including me – are the only real authority we will ever have as adults.

I met Buddha on the road, and I killed her.  In other words, I unconsciously gave someone else the authority that actually resides inside me, and when I realized this, I was able to take it back. Whew!  What a relief that was.

And, knowing me, I’m already wondering who the next one will be.  You see, I’m a hero worshiper, an eternal optimist, always believing there are great and wonderful people in this world. I want to meet every one of them.  The thing I forget is that I am equally a wonderful person – just as are you.
Warts and all.

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.

Pema – You already have everything you need


Quote of the Week

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.
― 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

Beginner’s Mind, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

7 pillars of mindfulness

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.  -Shunryu Suzuki

Last week I decided to wash windows.  The windows in my place are the new kind that fold inward so that you can wash the outside from the inside.  Clever.

But I wasn’t used to these windows, and assumed that they would stay up when I simply put them back – like the windows I’m used to.  This assumption worked fine until the last set, where one of the windows didn’t stay put because, as it happened, the latch was stuck.  The window fell and hit me hard.  That window caused me a lot of pain, and may even have produced in me a mild concussion.

This may seem like a pretty mundane event – one we all encounter daily.  And that’s my point.  Had I approached these windows as something new – which they were – I would likely have saved myself grief.

When we’re relaxed and present, with no agenda going into something, then we have beginner’s mind. The next time you’re with a friend or loved one, try approaching them in this way, and see how that opens up new possibility for you.

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable. -Mary Oliver

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thejoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

 

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 .

Moments of Peace and Joy

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus

There are so many inspirational quotes like this one (there’s more below) that have the power to give us a lift just by reading them.  Each time, for instance, I read Camus’ quote, I feel my heart sigh – a spiritual pat on my back saying Good job! You can rest now.

For a few lovely moments I can feel a sense of accomplishment and be at peace.  And then in the next moment, I review my daily list (yes, I do have a daily list), and dig in. Then on days like today, I catch myself wondering what my life would be like if I felt this sense of peaceful joy most if not all of every day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life: I’m doing what I love, have pretty good health, and friends and relationships that feed my spirit.  Even so, when I’m challenged, there is a tiny voice inside me that can get loud and that is sometimes filled with terror. This tiny voice has a lot of power, because it can stop me from feeling that peace and joy, or even remembering it exists.

The voice isn’t fake – it’s real. But the reasons for feeling the terror aren’t real, at least not any more.  And yet it persists. You might also experience moments of discomfort, or even terror, and if you do … if it helps … here’s what I do to calm that voice down:

  • Be with your pain. That’s right! Sit mindfully with the voice, and the feelings in my body it generates. A know in my stomach, tense shoulders, whatever the sensation, I sit with the feelings and let them be whatever they need to be.  The important thing is to learn to accept the voice as real and genuine, and a natural part of who you are.
  • Limit your time with it. In my meditation practice, I always begin by focusing on my process of breathing; then move my focus to something else, ending with breathing. I do this so that I can begin and end on something that balances me, and breathing is our natural balancer. Each in-breath activates our sympathetic nervous system, and each out-breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system – together, this contributes to bringing us, naturally, into homeostasis. In the middle, I will take 10 minutes or even half an hour to be with my tiny voice and the sensations and feelings it generates inside me.  I will only spend this time on it, limiting it’s influence and impact on me, so that I – and not it – controls my day.  This is important! Being with anything or anyone doesn’t mean they get to take over – taking over isn’t a path to peace or joy. Ever! So limit the time you spend with your pain.  Contain it by giving it time and acceptance, then moving on.
  • Love yourself, including your pain. This may be hard to do, and yet it’s essential. If you can’t get past the judgments about this part of you that you wish didn’t exist, then at least respect it’s reality, and perhaps make an opening for love somewhere down the road.  One way to do this is to think of this part of yourself as a small child who’s been hurt – because in fact this is very likely the source of this pain.  Then ask yourself: What would I do if I were with a small child in pain?  Would I brush the child aside, or comfort him or her?  Then do the same to that small part of you that’s in pain.

None of us is perfect.  We’ve all lived and experienced pain and disappointment.  And this experience can leave scars as well as contribute to our maturity.  I believe we need to acknowledge and accept both to live a truly happy 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.

Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness

ted

Quote of the Week
We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

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

 

What Is PTSD?

The myth around Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is that only those who have been to war or beaten and abused as children can end up with it in life. In fact, there are many people who don’t even believe that PTSD is real.

Yes, it is real and NO you don’t have had to go war or have been the victim of childhood physical abuse to suffer from PTSD. Thus, I want to clarify a few things about PTSD in today’s post.

First, let me repost the clinical side of PTSD. PTSD symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions.

Second, PTSD can come from any type of trauma. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, childhood bullying, witnessing a violent crime, being a teller at a bank that has been robbed, etc. We all have different levels of tolerance, which impacts how we cope (or don’t cope) with various scenarios.

Now- on to the symptoms:

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
Avoidance
Symptoms of avoidance may include:

Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Inability to experience positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Changes in emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Always being on guard for danger
Overwhelming guilt or shame
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Trouble concentrating
Trouble sleeping
Being easily startled or frightened
If you feel that you have more than half of these symptoms, it is time to seek out help. No, pills are not the full answer. Prescriptions can help with sleep or help with anxiety, but cognitive therapy is a very important element of recovering from PTSD.

Abuse At Work!

Do you work with abusive people? It’s very possible and probable. We don’t get into relationships with abusive people willingly (it usually happens for a variety of reasons) and we can’t select the people we work with, either. This is not to say that we are not working alongside, if not for, some very emotionally abusive people.

Do you know how to spot a workplace bully? If not, I’m putting some tips below.

According to a recent study, 72% of all people bully at work. But what is the difference between bullying (not that its right) and being downright abusive? If your co-workers or your boss are constantly slamming doors, being verbally rude and insulting or erupting in angry tirades, but then appear to act reasonably on the surface – abuse is being dealt out.

In fact, isolation is a form of workplace place abuse. If your boss or a coworker instigates malicious rumors and gossip, provides excessive work with unrealistic deadlines, shuns or ignores you in meetings, giving unwarranted, invalid or public criticism, blames without factual justification, swears and provides excessive micromanagement, the abusive actions and bullying are taking place!

I found a great free website that deals with bullying and abuse at work. It has quizzes and resources, which can be accessed here: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/being-bullied/ I can also help you discuss how to be proactive within your organization or company to prevent employees from abusing and bullying one another. Want to learn more about my workplace therapy programs? Please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/