Several months ago, I had the privilege to visit one of my dearest friends in another city. Since we so rarely get to see one another, we tried to take a photo together, and I planned to put it on Facebook and Instagram. It took no fewer than 15 tries to get a good shot. Every time my eyes were open, hers were closed. When both of our eyes were open, I wasn't smiling. In the next shot, she was distracted by someone to her left. Finally, we were both smiling, with our eyes open, and looking into the camera, but there was a huge group of tourists in the background, blocking the entire landmark we were standing in front of. Finally, we got a halfway decent picture with both of us and the landmark all in the picture.
One of the aspects of my job that I love – probably more than anything else – is when I know I have helped someone to be their very best. When someone comes to see me because they want to resolve a personal conflict or to find a path forward for a more authentic life, I will often encourage them to envision what life will look like on the other side…when they have done the work and can see a different way of being. This is often challenging. Many people can’t see what the other side looks like…they can only see the mire they are in presently.
I talk a big game when it comes to the transformative nature of mindfulness practices. I discuss the benefits of mindfulness with clients, offer demonstrations on techniques, and brainstorm ways to incorporate practices into daily routines. I recognize full well, however, that doing these practices regularly is often easier said than done.
Beginnings get a lot of attention. Baby’s first word, the first day of school, your first kiss. Making new friends, starting new jobs. New cars, new homes, new pairs of shoes. We love beginnings because they are pregnant with the promise of opportunity and the hope of growth. We tend to approach beginnings with planfulness. We daydream, we prepare, we feel the butterflies of nervous anticipation.
A week ago my front door broke and it was the best thing ever! It reminded me of an important lesson that had slipped through the cracks of the daily hustle of modern life - more about that in a second...
We say “no” all the time. Sometimes we do so subtly, as a way to deny an emotion, swallow our words, or feel the disgust of “Ugh! Not that again!”
I don’t think I’m alone in this. No one likes to feel things which are uncomfortable… especially negative emotions.
Recently I was in Boca de Tomatlan, Mexico for a workshop with other clinicians and practitioners of the 4 dimensional approach to sex and intimacy. Every morning, before we would begin our work, we would clear our space. Clearing space involved using sound (a drum, a rattle, etc.), scent (copal, sage, incense, etc), or other approach to sanctify the area we would be learning and growing in to allow us to be present, to remove negative energy and to set a space that invited intention.
The crush of September is upon us. Kids are going back to school. The perceived freedoms of summer are gone. We start to become more focused on work and responsibility. I hear about this every day. As I sit with people, I hear more stories of being overwhelmed and under rested.
There are times when I forget. I forget that I can do something. I forget that I have the power to influence and create change. I forget that I have coping skills. And, when I forget any of these things, I also forget how to find meaning and perspective. I lose myself in the chaos and noise and see my skills begin to erode away. When this happens the most important thing I can do is recenter myself, find my core and listen to the inner voice that guides me. This challenge is often resolved when I find a labyrinth and walk with intention.
As we are in the throes of holiday preparation, the majority of us are short fused and forgetful. This is definitely due to the amount of holiday shopping, stressed out shoppers & sales reps. Of course, not forgetting the upcoming family drama that you will be involved in or thrown into. As much as we feel cheered by the holiday carols, it definitely is not easy to enjoy it with a peaceful heart. We always wonder if is there a way around this. Maybe there is and maybe there is not. Let's read on to see if there is a way we can make it feel slightly easier.
The hurricane, storm, cyclone (as our cell phone alert informs us) changed our plans for the 4th of July celebration. The city even moved the fireworks to the night before. Now, we are left with what do we do now? For some of us who has friends or family in the house, we at least have company, for those who were planning to head down to the Boston Esplanade, we now need to change our plans. The feelings of disappointment, annoyance and frustration set in. However, a feeling that we rarely think about is BOREDOM. How many TV shows can you catch up on On Demand, or the feeling that we really should be doing something else? We move from one task to another, without finishing the last thing because we feel bored doing something.
Yesterday I put my own advice into action. I invited a colleague to join me to walk the labyrinth. Really, this is something I should be doing more of as it is an amazing path to mindfulness. When I work folks, we often include some form of meditation, mindfulness or centering to help manage anxiety, fear, stress, discord and just general feeling blah. There are many people who love meditation and find it to be an important part of their mental health. There are just as many who, try as they might, can seem to quiet their minds and bodies to be still. I am one of the latter. Quiet still meditation is hard for me – I can do it from time to time but it seems to take a great effort to get there. I do it whenever I can. However, when time is precious or being still just seems in possible, I try a moving meditation – like walking a labyrinth.
Sometimes we make mistakes and we ruminate: why did I do this, why didn't I do this, what can I do next time, what I wish I did, and the criticism continues. Guess what, it didn't get better and chances are you, at least I did, continued to make that same mistake.
Our economy has somewhat picked up. Financially, most of us might not feel the pinch as bad as it was about 2 years or so ago. Have you ever thought about what is it about money that we have such an attachment to?
Cultural differences play a crucial role in defining what is considered normal versus abnormal. I am writing this blog to target the Hispanic community. As a Latin woman, I have dealt with consolidating varying, often conflicting, perceptions of mental illness as defined in the Hispanic community. Whether we refer to anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness, the Hispanic patient population is one that lags behind others in both seeking and obtaining mental health treatment. Underlying this lack of treatment are multiple factors, including cultural expectations.
I decided to dedicate a blog to answer this question. As I began considering my own understanding of the concept of mindfulness, I was forced to first consider what mindfulness is not. I found myself doing multiple things simultaneously. I focused part of my attention on the television show that was playing in the background. I ate a bag of chips while typing notes. I ensured that my cell phone was at arm’s reach, checking it for the time every couple of minutes. The general population calls this “multi-tasking”, a “skill” that many of us feel fortunate to have mastered. Still, I wonder, is attending to multiple tasks depriving us of the ability to fully experience each one?
Even in the best of times, life can be challenging. Being able to make difficult decisions, manage stressful situations and developing deep and meaningful relationships requires a certain inner core and foundation that often takes a lifetime to build. Weathering the storm and enjoying the celebrations as you experience all that your life brings to you is a result of living with integrity.
There are many times that I sit with clients who are stuck, living with anxiety, depression or just feel like they don’t know how to move forward. The ongoing narrative in their head tells them a story that keeps them in that place. They tell me that they don’t know what to do and are anxious about change. It is hard in that moment to feel confident and quiet the negativity they feel. We have all been in those moments when we are unsure of ourselves and feel a strong lack of confidence – which makes forward growth seem impossible.