Category Archives: Depression

Mimosa Magic on the Summer Solstice

Mimosa in full bloom

Mimosa Magic on the Summer Solstice

The energy on the solstice has been building over the past week, and I’ve certainly felt its expansive nature, feeling compelled to just keep going, even when tired, along with the daylight and its abundant offerings of enjoyment! Summertime means swimming, hiking, hammocking in the wilds, rowing, gardening, eating salads, and being with friends and family for me, and I feel all those sorts of urges towards fun and living easy even when I’m working, or cleaning, or doing the things that life requires of us to continue getting to enjoy ourselves.  You know, adulting.

Ah, but this awesome summer solstice energy invites us to luxuriate in summer’s cauldron, enjoying the abundance of life all around us. (All work and no play makes us all dull boys and girls.) So it invites things like a spontaneous pre-sunset mountain lake swim after a long day of working with clients, helping relieve suffering around grief and learning to live life more fully even with a life-changing long-term mental health diagnosis.  And when you receive such an invitation from your impulse of spirit, please do yourself a favor and answer that call!  Go ENJOY a spontaneous urge to do something FUN for yourself when you can, as often as you can!

When I followed last night’s spontaneous swim urge, it led to me seeing lots of rabbits and blooming mimosa trees everywhere I looked as I drove to and from the lake.  I was just delighted, like a small child, really, because bunnies are cute, of course, and mimosa trees, especially when blooming, make the whole world start to look like Dr. Seuss drew it, which just makes my heart smile.  Mimosa is also called the “silk tree,” and the “trash tree,” which I feel like actually increases its Dr. Seussian street creds.  I mean, mimosa is the real tree most like his famous Truffula Trees from The Lorax, and it’s often used in such environmental *clean-up efforts as landfill soil remediation, having been discovered to do an excellent job cleaning up damaged soil due to its nitrogen affixing properties. Therefore, I was really attuned to the mimosas and how gorgeous they were so that when I turned into my driveway, I immediately saw a bunny and noticed the mimosas along the creek and near the cottage were absolutely in full bloom.  I was overwhelmed by the volume of their sweet smelling pink tufty blossoms, bursting out on tree after tree everywhere along the creek side and base of the mountain.  I knew that it was time to make time to harvest some mimosa and capture its magical medicinal properties of helping to relieve depression, specifically depression related to grief.

Mimosa in honey to relieve sadness from griefKnown in Traditional Chinese Medicine as He Huan Pi or collective happiness flower, mimosa is said to “calm disturbed shen” to relieve symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and bad dreams.  Mimosa is also a very effective mood elevator, and is used to treat irritability, depression, mood swings, poor memory, and anger in TCM. In addition to these traditional uses, a simple mimosa flower and honey mix helps relieve the deep pain of grief.

My personal journey through the stormy seas of grief, again and again through the loss of so many loved ones, and my professional journey of helping others keep moving through the never-ending waves of grief that accompany losing those we love deeply, has left me acutely aware of grief’s signature sadness. Grief’s sadness shows up sometimes years after we think we’re okay, and some days it just sits, heavy on our chests, like a weight pressing down over which you have no control. On some of those days, I am comforted with thoughts of days like yesterday, when I can think of the mimosa trees and their magical, silky flowers, and their honeysuckle-like sweetness, and how they heal our hearts.

Mimosa blossoms floating in water - living summer potpourri Summertime begins on this longest day of the year, offering easy living as the old song says.  May we all find some peace and joy on the solstice breeze, and if you see some mimosas, go ahead and pick those fuzzy looking flowers and make yourself a nice flower powered drink with some honey. Your heart may lift and your mood may follow it up, into a sense of ease and relief from the deep sadness that accompanies grief, often long after a loss. It is my wish that this solstice and this summer bring you magical, healing experiences with nature and your own abundance.

Namaste.

Practical bits:  Mimosa is easy to harvest and easy to use. But it is also an invasive species and shouldn’t be introduced to new areas without special consideration. For more about mimosa and its  uses, I suggest these sites as starting places. Also, be smart with any plants you may use, and do your research before ingesting anything you read about on the internet. J

http://www.davidwinston.org/formulas/griefrelief_trad.html

https://southernherbalist.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/mimosa/

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/mimosa-the-happiness-tree/

*NOTE:  Please do not ever consider harvesting mimosa from any used for land remediation due to high levels of toxins.

Practice Forgiveness: Free Yourself from the Past


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By Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I grew up in a family that’s both gigantic and was always pretty close, often even to extended cousins and relatives to whom I’ve never really understood how we’re related. Close though we were, it was clear my family also holds grudges. Apparently, forever.

There were entire branches of the family that “we don’t talk to” because of some argument that occurred at a country church some time in the 1960s, some 15-20 years before I was even born. I was shuttled to church every week and taught a weird lesson about forgiveness: we hold grudges, the lord forgives.

I now understand the error of this thinking and this way of moving through the world. Holding on to past slights, anger, pain, arguments, blame, etc. doesn’t do anything helpful for anyone. Instead, it causes wounds to fester and ooze out into all other aspects of life and of self. It became clear to me that even if one believes forgiveness is the lord’s work, forgiveness does not occur without some active participation on our parts. Forgiveness has become incredibly human work, in my life and in my coaching practice.

In fact, practicing forgiveness is an integral part of becoming whole and healing intergenerational trauma, along with simply being able to let go of pain and disappointment that arises from sharing a world full of highly fallible humans. There are billions of us, so it makes sense to have some go-to help with the process.

That’s why I wrote a pragmatic little book that walks readers through 13 different ways to practice forgiveness in every day life and it’s now available for Kindle on Amazon. In it you will find ways to tackle forgiving others, and also ways of forgiving your SELF, which I believe is critical to long term health and happiness.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the practices that you can start today, and it’s a practice that takes a lot of courage. Forgiveness takes courage, which means it begins in the heart like the root of the word courage itself.

Confront Your Fears Head On:
 Move Past Them by Taking Action.

We all feel fear. Some schools of thought believe we really only feel two basic emotions: fear and whatever we think fear’s opposite is, most often described as love. All other emotions fall on a sort of spectrum of emotions that exist as tension between these poles. Fear serves a purpose, and is deeply rooted in our survival as a species. Fear protects and helps keep us safe. However, when fear begins to “protect” us in ways that withhold love, consideration, openness, communicative understanding, and kindness towards those we choose to depend on as trustworthy companions in our lives, its methods of protection are outdated and need to be updated based on knowledge and a deeper understanding of both ourselves and our companions in this lifetime. [By companions here, I’m using a broad stroke term to mean every person in your life who you choose to trust and care for. I mean your family of origin, your family you may have created through marriage and children or through friendship, friends, etc. Whoever it is that you choose to share this life with consciously.]

Fear becomes problematic when you let it stop your progress or isolate you from the people you love and trust, and who love and trust you. In terms of interpersonal relationships, fear commonly shows up as avoidance or flight or both. When we are making big decisions or feeling big feelings or wanting to ask for something to meet our needs or needing to share something we’re ashamed of or guilty over, it’s so easy to cave to the fear monster that tells us to run away or put up some smoke and mirrors or stick our fingers in our ears and hum lalalalalala really fast until maybe, just maybe, our inaction will work out in everyone’s favor. Pro tip: it doesn’t.

When we do not confront our fears, and instead either run away or do nothing but avoid the confrontation, we suffer. We suffer continuously, and that suffering overwhelms the banks of our river of self and will eventually flood us and those around us. Sometimes it drowns us all, and some or all of us cannot recover completely.

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” 
~ Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart

So, what sorts of actions do you take to boldly confront your own fears? Your own shame? Your own flaws, mistakes, and misdeeds? The stuff that really makes you feel like a piece of shit, you know?

I am not sure I’ve come up with a step by step procedure exactly, but here are a few specific steps you can practice that will at least get you moving towards conquering your fears and learning to lean into the right people for support to get you through it all, and expect them to lean right back.

Get to know what they are, especially what the overarching one(s) is or are. What do you fear most? What makes you feel most small and helpless? Some examples are abandonment, not being loveable, dying suddenly and prematurely, that if the person you love knew the truth about you they would disappear in a heartbeat, not being ______ enough, being alone, being ashamed of _____, not being loved, not having your basic needs met… the list of fears we humans experience is infinite.

Use practices like tonglen meditation to give those fears space to be felt, heard, and acknowledged, and then transformed and released. Practice. Repeat.

Discern who in your life is truly worth trusting (and therefore loving) enough to share the true feelings around what’s real and alive in you, so that you may also fully share in the other end of the spectrum with that person/those people you choose. We must disclose our pain to fully experience our joy and love without the burden of fear. This means that not everyone in your life will know you at this level, clearly. You must take your time and be careful about who you become truly emotionally and mentally intimate with so that you can rest in the sharing. Sharing your fears makes you incredibly vulnerable. So you must be able to lean into your own faith that those you share fully with will hold your trust tenderly and with loving care. Choose wisely and choose from a place of love.

Find your voice. Know that it may shake and stutter in ways you’re not used to at all and it will feel excruciatingly uncomfortable at first. Practice. Repeat. Silence and hiding the fears from those closest to you creates a toxic mess inside yourself and inside your relationships.

Be gentle with yourself and with your loved ones. Be kind. Stay calm. If emotions get too intense, just back off and rest and find peace again. Remember that it’s all practice and treat your own fear confrontation with the kind of compassion you would show a child learning a new skill. For most of us, it is a new skill. And you’ll find as you practice that it’s usually a new skill for your loved ones, too.

May each of our hearts and minds become open to actively practicing forgiveness, for the sake of our individual selves and the collective good.

13 Ways to Practice Forgiveness & Free Yourself from the Past

This book is meant to be a pragmatic guide for anyone who is interested in personal growth and healing through practicing forgiveness. It addresses the deeply human experiences of shame, blame, guilt, anger, and grief, and how our internalization of our own dark sides can keep us from fully experiencing light, joy, and love in our lives. It was written to help people feel more prepared to confront themselves with kindness and appreciation for the human-ness of the need for forgiveness in our lives. The practices can be used both for self-forgiveness and for learning to forgive others so that we can stop holding back love and joy.

About the author:
Vicy is a board certified transformational life coach, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy from Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, GA) and Durham University (England), respectively, with specialization in neuroscience, chemistry, and Eastern-Western philosophy of mind comparative studies. Vicy is also a Concept2/UCanRow2 Certified Indoor Rowing Instructor. In addition to rowing (indoor and sculling, mainly doubles), she’s also a yogini, wild water swimming enthusiast, hiker, Reiki master, hula hooper (making, hooping, teaching), writer, speaker, teacher, and organic gardener (medicinals and edibles). Her clients, students, and colleagues call her “the wizard.

 

Shamanic Sound Healing + Tonglen Meditation

shamanskyShamanic Sound Healing Journey with Guided Meditation + Potluck & Fireside Dancing

Please join us for a afternoon and evening of healing, sharing, and learning at our Magical Mountain Retreat Center with special guest Sonic Yogi, professional musician and sound healer.

We’ll be experiencing the deep healing offered through time in nature while Sonic Yogi shares the sounds of Tibetan singing bowls, Native American flutes, and other sacred instruments. We’ll have time for discussion and sharing, as well as guided meditation practice for increasing loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves and our world through the ancient Tibetan practice of tonglen (giving and receiving).

After the sun goes down, we will celebrate our journeys fireside with dancing and hula hooping…or just sitting and enjoying, if that is your preference.

This event is free, but donations will be accepted to cover costs and to thank Sonic Yogi for traveling from Lawrenceville, GA, to share and be with us! $10-20 per person is suggested.

Details:
We will provide garden fresh greens for salads and plenty of iced tea and deep well water. Please bring a favorite dish to share for the pot luck dinner. We will be outside most of the time, so please be prepared with yoga mats, cushions, insect spray, and sunscreen. Restroom facilities are available.

Villain vs. Hero: What’s YOUR Role in YOUR Story?

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

Rewrite Your Story

Join Integrative Transformational Life Coaches from CLC in this episode about stories, fairytales, heroes, and villains… and how we can all cast ourselves as heroes in our own lives.

Learning to take responsibility for our own behaviors, thoughts, emotions, needs, and well-being…
Standing up for what we know to be right even if it sets up a conflict because we choose not to “go along to get along”…

This episode is about being your own hero.

That’s a huge part of what we do:  We help people find their hidden (or lost or forgotten or rusty and dusty) superpowers so that they can be assertive AND kind, which goes a long way in creating healthy relationships, livelihoods, lifestyles, and communities.

You are always invited to join our online communities and get involved!  Let us help you THRIVE. Call (864) 918-2914 to set up a consultation.  We work with clients in-person (Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC areas) and over the phone or via Skype.

Upcoming Events ~ Private Retreats and Workshops to Help You (re)Discover Your SELF

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This is a group for people who desire living life beyond just surviving.  We are professional coaches who work with people who are interested in THRIVING: in their lives, rela…

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Reduce Stress & Anxiety with Sound Therapy

Sound TherapyTibetan singing bowls and Native American flutes in the hands of a professional musician make for the most relaxing way imaginable to spend an afternoon.  As my body relaxed, my mind and spirit followed easily.  I found that even hours after my sound therapy session with Sonic Yogi Jonathan Adams, I felt calm, at ease, and completely and totally relaxed – almost “floppy” in my body.  Sound therapy is so freeing, and it’s so easy to experience because all one needs to do, is lie back, get still, and stay open to receive.

I had to opportunity to interview Jonathan about his own experience with severe stress, anxiety, and depression, and how he discovered sound therapy as a tool… and is now using it in his own practice to help serve others.  Following is a transcript from that interview, including links to online resources that can help YOU reduce stress in your life – right now.

Vicy:  I’m here this evening with Jonathan Adams, who is a professional musician and travels all over the country playing music.  We are talking to him tonight for this health and wellness series because Jonathan’s Alter Ego, I guess we could call it, is Sonic Yogi.  I met him through his sister, who is rowing instructor at Greenville indoor Rowing, and I think that Jonathan’s story and his talent are amazing.  I got to experience some things just this past weekend that helped me understand a little more about what he does and I wanted to share that with all of you. So Jonathan can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your background is and your personal story that led you to sound therapy?

Reduce stress & anxietySonic Yogi:  Sure well as you mentioned I’m not a musician and I do that for my living and I play guitar in the group that I play with and I’ve been doing that for fifteen years or so I guess now. And so I’ve been involved in music for a long time. But in 2011, I had an experience with really intense anxiety and I had had experiences before like this with panic attacks and mild anxieties here and there. But this experience was sort of an overwhelming sort of all-encompassing experience. And it’s sort of difficult to describe, but to get through it was actually a wonderful thing and so I feel that I learned a lot about my mind and my body and how they work together and how that even sort of influences my spirit. And how I learned to kind of basically help myself. I learned to stay balanced and I learned to relax. And through that process I also discovered sound therapy, which was cool for me as a musician, and I discovered that sound itself can actually help us relax and help us better physiologically relax and also mentally relax.  So I’ve been exploring that path for the last several years since then and using it for myself and as I’ve talked about this experience and in our concerts as I’m traveling around, I’ve also realized that, you know, this experience of anxiety and stress and depression, these kind of things are not isolated at all but it seems as I travel that I’m finding that there are a lot of people that are affected by this.  And so also I have been enjoying the opportunity to hear the music that I make and then also you know work with people one on one.

Vicy:  Absolutely!  So I would definitely concur that the experience of stress and anxiety is widespread. I’m not sure that it’s more pervasive than it’s ever been but maybe we’re just more willing to admit it. I know that among my clients, both one on one coaching clients as well as business clients, that learning how to manage stress in ways that are doable and practices that can bring you to a place of calm on a regular basis is something needed regularly.  That’s a huge aspect of transformational life coaching in general… That it’s [controlling stress & anxiety] really crucial to do more than just survive. So what do you think has helped you Jonathan?

Sonic Yogi: Well that’s a good question. I think I have learned a lot from a lot of different areas. I was already doing yoga before this experience and then I started meditating more after the experience and then doing sound therapy and I’ve really searched for the common links between all of those things.  Because I know this, like for instance, after a yoga practice or session I would kind of have this feeling of deep relaxation and almost euphoria and you know in talking to other people, I learned that they had similar experiences…  so it kind of came to down that they, you know, they’re high [feeling] after yoga or meditation… I’ve gotten to know links from meditation and sound therapy and these things and so I feel the common link between all of those things was just helping me to relax and let go of the stresses.  I’ve realized that the stresses weren’t only in my mind but they were also in my body and my body was reacting to the perceptions of my mind and so I kind of had to work on it from both angles. Both my mind and my body and so I had to learn to relax my body at the same time I had to learn to change my perception and change my behavior patterns and change my physical responses to those patterns so you know… That’s easy to say you know right here and right now!  It actually took me quite a while to learn all of these things and it was, you know, little lessons here, little lessons there that kind of helped me to come to a place of more balance and over time I have learned more about my own personal inner world and how that works with my body. If I find myself sort of burning the candle at both ends or getting stressed out mentally at something then I can feel that stress building up and at least now I have the awareness to break that cycle before it turns into full blown stress or anxiety.

Helps with depressionVicy: So I think you said a key word there that I know is the word that I use with myself a lot and I also use it with clients and that is creating an inner awareness: recognizing what your responses are to stress right now, then getting good at identifying them early so that you can kind of put up a road block to that so it doesn’t go any farther. And instead you start moving back in the other direction toward feeling relaxed and feeling at peace and feeling calm in your body and in your state of being.

Can you sort of explain to people what sound therapy is or at least what it is in how you interpret it and how you use it?

Sonic Yogi: Sure.

Well I see sound therapy has really kind of intense meditation. It’s out there for you with Tibetan bowls, which look like bowls and may sound like bells and they have a lot of overtones to them and so what I ended up doing when I’m doing this type of therapy is putting the bulls around the person and they’re all sort of tuned in a similar scale and so when I play these bowls it really just creates a wash of sound that’s very soothing.  I’ve discovered it actually interacts with our own brain waves and so our brain waves create frequency waves and these frequency waves are measured in Hertz. And so sound waves, which I use all the time as a musician, are also measured in Hertz.  So when I first learned about this, I wondered if there were some kind of interaction between the two. I later learned that sound waves can in fact have some effect on our brain waves and so on.

Yeah and so you know I play a certain sound waves or oscillations that can affect the brain waves and help a person come down into a lower state of brain waves and sort of relax our brain waves.  Also our heart and breathing are all connected and so relaxing the brain wave patterns helps us to release stress in our entire nervous system and so that’s one aspect of it. The other aspect is that you know a lot of time the thinking mind is engaged throughout the day and so that’s just what I call it is to think in the mind and that’s the part of us always going in that mental image. It’s kind of go along to get along, and I kind of think of that as being more of a left brain right and our left brain sort of focuses on these patterns and you know we’re always looking out for our own survival so it’s in our best interest to notice these patterns… You know, notice that we need to live and notice that we need to avoid hot water or whatever it is. So we noticed these patterns. There’s another side of our brain – right brain – which kind of takes in more of the whole picture and kind of disengages from that constant pattern calculation.  Calculating those patterns all the time I think can actually lead to stress especially if it’s unnecessary and it’s just out there. [Sound therapy works] Because the sounds are kind of random and flowing. There’s not really a pattern to them and so it’s relaxing to let go of the patterns in my opinion, to move a person into that right brain space much more quickly. Whereas with music in general we’re hearing the patterns and we hear the chord progressions in the scales and they can all be very beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with that but with sound therapy itself it’s kind of bypassing that whole part of the brain. So I kind of think that those two things are keys to how it works. So number one it’s just altering the brain waves and then number two it’s kind of getting outside of that thinking mind and getting it outside of those patterns to just experience the present moment.

Vicy:  Yes. So that last line [you said] might be the key. You’ve mentioned the brain wave patterns, which is something that I am very familiar with, and we use a lot of different  techniques to help people actively move from some high beta state, which is essentially a panic attack when you’re in a very high frequency beta and then start bringing that down and learning to induce alpha state and even theta state with a lot of experience and I notice that last weekend when you were doing the sound therapy that it was very obvious to me that I was very deep in alpha state because I was very aware of what was happening but at the same time had no real interaction with it. And it’s interesting for me hearing your theory on sort of bypassing most of the left brain because one of the things that that really resonated with me was my awareness of my internal state of being which neuroscience calls “interoception.”  And it was really, REALLY acute, not only during the experience but also afterwards for several hours. I was very super aware of the internal workings of my body like even once I was sort of back. Functioning in the world and driving my car and going to the grocery store and that kind of thing. And so now that you’re you’ve told me this other part of your theory, I think that that makes a lot of sense because the right brain one of its jobs is to give us sort of the gestalt view of ourselves and give us really deep access to the energy and information flow from our bodies into our minds. So you know into our brains so… Thank you for sharing that.

Sonic Yogi: That was sort of new to me in talking to you. I have to do some thinking on that.

I’ve noticed that myself. You know I think that I’m being more aware of that…I think just the way the world works and the way we were educated and you know the job we might do better and it’s, well, outside of us.  So I always look out for information outside, and that’s where our work happens, but as a result of this experience [dealing with stress and discovering sound therapy] I just echo what you said which is that I can go inwards and kind of internal sort of monitoring of my systems and kind of think about how I feel and learn to really react or not, and learn to just be aware of those things in real time.

Life Coaching for the spiritVicy:  So it helps you stay aware of what’s actually going on INSIDE of you, but it also helps you stay in the moment which is really important. Jonathan I would love to talk to you more so maybe we can do this again and have time to share some of the sounds of sound therapy at the end?   What you do is awesome and really it’s fascinating and it’s something that’s really accessible, really easy, to help people get still… and I think that’s one of the things I know I get a lot of resistance from with my clients when we kind of get to a point in coaching where they recognize they need to do something to get still and have some being time not just doing time. All of the time and the sound seemed to make it a little more approachable I think for a lot of people. So if someone was interested in what you do, how might they find you?

Sonic Yogi:  Sure. Well I started a website called sonicyogi.com and samples are there.  I created downloads for users and they are actually free. People can just go there and listen, stream the music there or download it and then I also have a list out to a blog where I’ve sort of been exploring some of these ideas that we’ve talked about for myself, and anybody interested in reading can check that out.  I live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and I’m also doing individual sound therapy here in my home and in Decatur, Georgia at a wellness and Healing Arts Center.

Vicy: Fantastic. So again, you can learn more about Jonathan Adams and sound therapy at his website sonicyogi.com.  You can also see him in person in Lawrenceville or Decatur, Georgia.  Thank you so much for taking your time to talk with us Jonathan. I really appreciate it.

Note:  photos in this post were taken during a Sound Healing session at Greenville Indoor Rowing by Laura Caylor.  Thank you Laura!

STOP Your Runaway Thoughts & Take Control of Your Mind

Tame Your Mind, Improve Your Lifeby Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC, Certified Transformational Coach

It’s nighttime, you’re trying to relax and go to sleep, and your brain suddenly bombards you with thoughts about what you woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ said during that argument yesterday or great ideas that will turn your whole life around AND save the world or the twenty- seven tasks you didn’t complete because you were trying to help the kids with a school project… or a million other things that our minds can come up with when we’re lying in bed and trying to relax and fall asleep.

In the world of transformational coaching, we call all this thinking, which has a tendency to turn dark, negative, and brooding, rumination or having ruminating thoughts.  Another term for this thinking-excessively with little control is “monkey mind” or “monkey chatter.”  In the Shambhala Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this sort of mental chatter is compared to having an untamed horse for a mind.  No matter how you look at it, rumination can get out of control and cause a lot of difficulty in life such as insomnia, anxiety, short temper, forgetfulness.  If left to fester and expand, rumination can lead down a slippery slope of temporary negativity into low mood, poor resilience, chronic stress, and even depression.

Of course, rumination doesn’t just happen when you’re trying to relax and go to sleep; many of us are plagued with ruminating thoughts during our wide awake time as well.  For example, how long have you obsessed in your mind over a stressful conversation that happened hours ago?  Or what kinds of thoughts take up space in your mind when you’re getting dressed in the morning and a certain pair of pants don’t fit right?

No matter when rumination gets in your way, though, there are proven techniques to help you regain control over your mind and discover your calm, peaceful center so that you can quiet that monkey chatter and choose a better direction for your powerful thoughts!

One easy way to put the brakes on rumination is very simple:  stop “just thinking” by taking specific action.  That action can be as simple as sitting down for 5 minutes and writing down what your mind is saying.  Just dump it all right out on paper.  It’s amazing how this simple act diminishes the hold negative thoughts have over us.  If it’s at night and you’ve already gone to bed, do yourself a favor by sitting back up, turning that lamp on again, and taking up pen and paper. When we write down all the stuff our brain is screaming to us, it helps externalize our experience and in this simple act, many people find immediate peace.

Sometimes our brain is just trying to help us remember important things; when we write those things down, we can refer to them later when we CHOOSE to do so, and our brain can stop reminding us and let us focus on relaxing.  This is especially helpful when your brain gets stuck in a loop about the minutiae of daily life:  schedules, tasks, 17 things you must remember before walking out the door Monday morning…whatever it is, write it down – just “brain dump” it out there onto the paper.

Another great thing about writing it down is that for many of us, our mind likes to pour out creative ideas or solutions to problems we had a month ago at random times.  If we take a few minutes to capture some notes about those ideas and solutions on paper, our brain can relax and move on.  Writing things down gives us a logical sense of closure.   It’s essentially clearing the cache in your mind like you do in your web browser.

If you find that writing is extremely difficult for you for whatever reason, I recommend keeping a voice recorder or using an app on your phone to just talk it out: literally speak your list or rambling thoughts into the recorder.  (Sometimes this works especially well for extroverts who don’t enjoy writing, but do enjoy talking!)  The outcome is similar as with writing it down because you have externalized the thoughts.

After you’ve taken the time to empty out some of the chatter, your mind can begin to relax and you can further help slow down any future rumination by taking advantage of that moment of spaciousness in your mind.  After writing or voice recording, take 2-5 minutes to focus on your breathing and calm both your mind and your body all at once.  If you take a really deep breath in and count to four – 1, 2, 3, 4 – slowly in your mind, then hold your breath for an equal 4-count, and then slowly exhale to a count of eight – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – you will notice instant feedback from your body.  Repeat this breath at least 5 times and you will help relax your entire nervous system, which naturally shuts down all that spinning monkey chatter.

If you find you still have some chatter after doing this breath work, you may want to take a step further in your writing or voice recording process by making notes about some potential solutions or ideas if your mind is still focused on some sort of dilemma.  Some of us need to not just write the thoughts down, but also to do some creative problem solving in order to gain that sense of closure that helps us rest.  You can alternate between breathing carefully as described above and writing to maximize your level of control.  With practice, it all gets a lot easier and you can begin to slow the rumination periods over time.   Bonus tip for problem solving in your sleep:  Ask yourself a specific question about the problem and then go to sleep.  Write for five to ten minutes first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, and see what kinds of answers your awesome self has come up with overnight, like magic.

Experiment with these tools and make them your own.  Once you find out what works best for you on those nights your brain tries to hijack your calm and your sleep, keep whatever you need beside the bed and keep those ruminating thoughts from robbing you of well-deserved, and much needed rest, relaxation, and precious sleep.

Take care of you.  If you need more help, give us a call.  We’re glad you’re here.  Namaste.

Let Go of Stress: Redirect Your Energy

12-14undereiffeltowerby Vicy Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC

Once we hear the message stress is trying to give us and we address it, it will often go away on its own. However, that is not always the case, especially when the stress we’re feeling is being prompted by extreme emotions like anger, frustration, jealousy, or fear.  Many times, it’s necessary to give ourselves a longer break and permission to ask for help from others.  This can be the harder part of alleviating stress in our lives: recognizing that we need help to do so.

There is a deeply ingrained sense of autonomy in most of us, especially once we’re professionals in our fields or we have kids that depend on us or we feel like we “should be” able to handle whatever life brings us.  This sense of autonomy is wonderful, but it can also be our worst enemy when it keeps us from asking for help when we need it and instead keeps us struggling along with our game faces on.  I am reminded of John Donne’s famous poem that declares no man is an island.  We are hard wired in our brains and nervous systems to learn from others, empathize with others, and receive empathy from others.  Interestingly, though, when we are stressed, the circuitry that helps us connect with other people is less accessible to us and when we are extremely stressed, we are all but completely cut off from this circuitry known as “resonance circuitry.”  That is why strong negative emotions can leave us feeling “all alone” on a planet that contains over 6 billion people.

What I mean is that stress makes us feel entirely separate from others, and it is actually the stress response itself that hinders our ability to ask for help!  So, much like tense muscles may be outside indications that you need to stop and breathe and address the stress, having a sense of “I can do this all by myself,” is a good indicator that you may actually be better served by asking for help from a friend or family member or professional of some kind.

Taking good care of yourself

Other than stopping to address stress and reaching out to others during stressful times, we can all better handle stress when we’re consistently taking good care of our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Therefore, the best stress reduction plan is having a daily self-care plan that includes eating well, exercise for your body, playtime for your mind and your spirit, connecting time with other people (family, co-workers, friends, pets), and creating some time and space to “just be” in your life and to connect to your own sense of the Divine, whatever that may be.  That “just being” time might be time for yoga or mediation, or it might be for gardening or playing music or taking a stroll somewhere you enjoy.  A lot of the things I’ve listed above are things that many of us feel are “nice to have” things, but what I want to emphasize is that they are truly “need to have” things if you really want to learn to live without a heavy burden of stress in your life.  As I often say to both my clients and students, the best time to learn to swim is not while you’re drowning. Therefore, the best time to get stress under control and to set an intention to let it go when it arises is when things are going great and you’re enjoying your life!

After all, we are human beings, not human doings.  So take time today to let something stressful go and reclaim some of your human-ness.  You’ll feel re-energized and revitalized!

Listening to Stress: How Can We Hear the Message?

12-14_VicySmilesby Vicy Wilkinson, MA Philosophy, BCC
The Wizard

When we’re feeling very stressed, we tend to run in autopilot mode, moving rapidly from task to task with mindless drive towards some mysterious finish line when we can finally achieve the ability to relax.  This very behavior is a great place to begin with listening to stress.  When you find yourself in this “driven” state, it’s a really good time to just STOP for a minute.  Take some deep breaths.  You can even breathe in a special way to immediately create an internal relaxation response in your body:  inhale as you count to four and then exhale as you count to eight.  Do this 3-5 times (minimum), which will take you about a minute.  You may not suddenly feel like you’re on vacation, but you will have created a little “speed bump” in your stress pattern which will create a space for a deeper awareness about your state of being.

Rowing for joy healthAfter a few breaths, spark up some internal dialogue with the stress you’re feeling.  Literally ask yourself, “Why am I feeling so stressed right now?  What do I need that I’m not getting?”  Keep breathing until you get a response that actually addresses your needs, and is not just a repetition of the voice you’ve been hearing in your head all day while you’ve been running from task to task, which usually sounds like a cross between a talking to-do list and a drill sergeant who found a tape of every bit of conflict in conversation you’ve had over the past year.

It is when we take the time to create a bit of space – empty space – that a new pattern or idea or possibility can emerge from the gloom of stress.  In doing this stress-disruption procedure one day last week, as soon as I stopped for a few breaths and asked why I felt so stressed right then, I got immediate feedback:  I needed to eat.  I was feeling stressed because I’d gotten up just a bit late that morning, which made me just a bit late for rowing class, which made me late for…,  you get the idea.  And in all that rushing and lateness, I’d not sat down and eaten a proper meal.  My body was physically stressed.  As soon as I addressed this need, I still felt motivated to keep working, but I no longer felt the urgency and “drive” that was tensing up my body and making me feel pushed and uncomfortable.  As a bonus, I got a lot more done during the next few hours, too, without feeling stressed at all.

Learn more about conquering stress in this article Let Go of Stress:  Redirect Your Energy.

Gratitude: The Thanks in Thanksgiving

butterfliesbest2_550w-5463925a_site_icon-256x256Gratitude:  The Thanks in Thanksgiving

CLC talks with listeners about Holiday Ups and Downs in this 6-episode series.  In this episode, we talk about gratitude and the feeling essence of Thanksgiving.  We’ll tell you some of the major benefits of cultivating gratitude, around the holidays and every day, including emotional help, social dividends, support for better marriages and relationships, boosts to your health, and help with your career or business.  We’ll also share some tips about how you can start practicing gratitude as a skill and highlighting it as character strength.

You can find more about Complete Life Coaching’s programs and services, including group courses for help with thriving in all areas of your life.  Plan to join us for some adventure coaching soon!  Join our community on Facebook. Thank you for being here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

DISCLAIMER:  Complete Life Coaching, Vicy Wilkinson, and associates offer coaching services and help with long-term recovery, change, and goal setting.  No person affiliated with this organization is a physician or mental health provider, and should not be used, substituted, or consulted as such.

 

Sound Therapy: Can It Help YOU with Anxiety?

sonicyogiSound Therapy: Can It Help YOU with Anxiety?
with Jonathan Adams aka Sonic Yogi

Join us for the second episode of our new 4-week Health & Wellness podcast series! This episode features an interview with Jonathan Adams aka Sonic Yogi, professional musician and really nice guy, who discovered Sound Therapy and deep transformation and healing through his personal struggle with anxiety and depression.  On top of traveling the country playing guitar with his band, Jonathan practices Sound Therapy for individuals near Atlanta, in his (now) hometown of Lawrenceville, GA, and also in Decatur, GA.

Learn more about Jonathan and download some samples of his healing tracks here:  http://sonicyogi.com/.

Our Health & Wellness series is designed to give you a kickstart in motivation to explore some things that can help you build a better life and a better business… because when you feel great, everything is easier!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/completelifecoaching/2014/03/24/sound-therapy-can-it-help-you-with-anxiety-with-jonathan-adams-aka-sonic-yogi