Category Archives: Mindfulness

Meditation: Presence

You’re invited to join us – in person – Thursday, September 7, 2017
6-7pm ET
RSVP via Meetup.com

Meditation is being fully present to one’s self and what arises out of the spontaneous flow of life.

In September we will gather and talk for a while to determine what kind of practice would best serve the people who show up to practice.  Part of the gift of presence is to be willing to act on what is happening RIGHT NOW, without a plan or a need to force an outcome.

Once we decide on a practice, Vicy will lead the group in ~20-30 minutes of meditation.

Afterwards, we’ll have a short sharing circle to honor each other’s experiences, progress, and discoveries, as each individual likes. This leads to excellent questions and interesting dialogue. We love to have new minds join us! We like to engage in what is REAL for everyone when we all show up together.

Donations of $5-15 appreciated greatly to help us continue to grow and serve, but is entirely optional.  Come as you are.  Let it be.

If you have questions about this meetup, please call (864) 660-3132 or text Vicy at (864) 918-2914.

*Namaste.

*For anyone who isn’t familiar with Namaste as a greeting or valediction, it simply means that the Divine in me bows and recognizes the Divine in you. May we all experience the Divine in each other, as often as possible. Namaste.

Meditation: Presence

Thursday, Sep 7, 2017, 6:00 PM

Location details are available to members only.

8 Awesome People Attending

Meditation is being fully present to one’s self and what arises out of the spontaneous flow of life.In September we will gather and talk for a while to determine what kind of practice would best serve the people who show up to practice.  Part of the gift of presence is to be willing to act on what is happening RIGHT NOW, without a plan or a need t…

Check out this Meetup →

Definition of worry, OED

Are You a Worrier?

by Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about worry and worrying. Many people close to me are definitely professional worriers, including family, a couple of close friends, and some clients. On bad days, I can certainly fall down a rabbit hole of worry.

All this thinking about worry made me want to dig deeper into the word itself.  Worry, to worry, it sounds so harmless.  I looked it up in my prized possession – The Oxford English Dictionary.  It’s in Volume XX, Wave – Zyxt, and its roots take up almost 3 full pages, tracing worry backwards to its very first usage circa 725 (yes, that’s 1,312 years ago) when our language’s first verb worry meant “to kill (a person or animal) by compressing the throat; the strangle.” It took until 1804 for the verb to morph into a more metaphorical verb meaning “a troubled state of mind arising from the frets and cares of life; harassing anxiety or solicitude.”  Worry’s various definitions all have to do with choking, suffocating, or otherwise constricting the throat (voice, perhaps?) of something until it is no longer living. [OED, pp570-572, Oxford University Press, ©1884-1991, Oxford, England]

I find these worrisome roots to be incredibly disturbing and also enlightening.

Worrying IS like strangling the life out of each and every moment spent worrying. How much life is lost to worry? How much of YOUR life have YOU lost to worry?

Or if it’s not lost completely, how much is strangled, choked back, made to so thoroughly struggle so as to ruin the experience of being fully alive and human?

When we worry, our attention is split on the inside. Our attention is focused on “what ifs” instead of “what is.”

I have a vivid childhood memory that illustrates this split attention and what if focus. When I was in middle school, the movie Top Gun came out and I became obsessed with the Navy fighter jets featured in those famous “dog fighting” scenes.  Since my dad loved all things engineered, he totally embraced my obsession and began adding trips to the Pensacola Naval Air Station to our family beach trips to visit family who lived in Florida. Pensacola is the home of the Navy’s elite flying squadron The Blue Angels. In Pensacola, it’s pretty easy to get to see them in action because they practice over those wide open Gulf shore waters.

Blue Angels - US NavyOne gorgeous, sunny day during a beach trip, we were just hanging out on the beach and enjoying bobbing in the emerald water when one – two – three – then all 6 F-18 Hornets clearly painted in the Blue Angel’s signature blue & gold appeared on the horizon ahead of us.  They were SO close to us!  And practicing their amazing tricks!  We could see them, and then hear the sonic BOOM as they would disappear and reappear a split second later in an entirely different spot and doing something else that you just wouldn’t believe was possible! Over and over they practiced their maneuvers and I stood in the water mesmerized, absolutely excited out of my 13 year old mind. (Even as I write this story, I get giddy and excited and feel it coursing through my body as my heart rate speeds up a bit.  Excitement that LOUD and large and rare is STRONG, even almost 30 years later.]

Then I turned back and looked at my mom, clapping wildly, delighted, and asked, “Isn’t this AH-MAZING, Mom?”

To which she flatly replied, her face crinkled in worry, “I just hope they don’t make a mistake and crash and kill us all.”

Really.

That’s what she said.

She wasn’t kidding.

Suddenly, that moment of exhilaration was gone.  Deflated.  [Again, as I write the story, the open expansiveness of excited caved to the tone and abrupt end of itself, choked off by the fear and worry.]

The full impact of this moment of grateful, excited surprise was completely strangled by my mother’s worry about a highly unlikely scenario of horror that was, for some reason, the only thing she could think about in that moment. Her worry was an abrupt shift in energies. Instead of this being a story of pure, wide-open, unhindered joy and excitement, it’s a story about worry. Instead of this moment being 100% great, it’s a 100% great moment whose life was cut short, worried to death. Now 30 years later, this moment in my memory is NOT pure enthusiasm and excitement (though, thankfully, it does begin with that and is totally worth remember every time), as it’s tainted by my mom’s worry and abrupt expression of it. Moments can never be completely un-strangled, as it turns out.

Neuroscience and psychology research agree that we are wired to be biased towards “negatives,” which is part of our survival circuitry. Our nervous system wants and needs to make sure we remember which things are dangerous so that we choose “safe” options in the future when confronted with similar stimuli. That’s great! And it clearly helps in our survival as a species and as individuals. Learning is good!

However, this negative bias can be detrimental when over-used as it can strangle our ability to take reasonable risks and to seek both new and novel experiences that expand our lives, our minds, and our consciousness to fuel conscious growth and development.  Brain and nervous system health is stimulated through growth, not stagnancy and fearful worry.

So what can we do to stop worrying and do something more productive with our concerns?

We can take action to shift our thinking because we have a big, fancy, adaptable brain.

As with any habit, the first step is becoming aware that worry is indeed a habit, just like biting your nails or smoking or stopping at the grocery store on Tuesdays.  Habits are routine, so we just don’t think about them much, if any. When you make yourself aware of worry as a habit, you can start shining an airplane landing light onto it to illuminate it thoroughly.  Get to know when and how and why you worry by observing yourself.  By observing more and reacting less, you’ll be able to make more choices about how long you let worry strangle your energies.

Step two is that you can ask yourself questions about what you’re observing, like:

  • Is what I’m worried about actually happening right now?
  • How likely is my worry to happen this week? At all?
  • What could I do for myself right now to feel more at ease – physically, mentally, or emotionally?
  • How do I feel (like, in my body) right now? Where am I tense?  Could I take deeper breaths?
  • Will this worry matter a year from now?
  • Is my worrying helping to solve a problem for anyone?

You get the idea.  Treat that habitual worry like a teenager who came home past curfew, but play nice and no guilt trips. Shift your focus onto observable aspects of your actual here and now: inside your body, with others in the room, the physical space around you.

Most worry and anxiety is like a lost time traveler – if you take stock of the actual here and now, most of the time you are just fine and nothing is *actually* wrong. Over time, your worry habit will become more flexible so that its grip will loosen and your mind can become more positive and solution-oriented.

Don’t worry. 

Take action.

Don’t worry, take action now.

Call 864-660-3132 us to schedule a free coaching consultation.  

Summertime and the Living is Easy – Sometimes

Orchids in bloomIf someone asked me what my favorite thing about summertime is, I would have a hard time narrowing my answer down to just ONE thing.  I absolutely love to swim, so swimming ranks high on the list.  I truly enjoy eating fresh vegetables from the garden and farmer’s markets, and summertime food prep on the grill is pretty sweet too.  And then there are the vacations:  my own annual scalloping vacation is in the heat of the summer, lots of friends and family come to visit to take advantage of the outdoor fun times in the Appalachian Mountains, and I get to hear excitement and joy from clients as they look forward to their own breaks from the day-to-day. Summer also just feels like it’s teeming with life and energy runs high and the long days yield a lot of productivity, but still leave time for some rest and a nap in a hammock. The only thing about summertime, especially in the American southland, that gets a thumbs down from me is the bugs that are just incessant. (But that’s what lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils are for!)

Summertime is so sweet that it’s got its own anthem sung by the one and only Nina Simone, who reminds us in the soulfulness of her voice that life is long and complicated and filled with a full spectrum of emotions all the time, even in the summertime when the grass is high and the living is easy. And it is emotion, really, that’s on my mind this morning as I’m enjoying mist on the mountain over a rich cup of coffee.  I’ve been doing a lot of self-inquiry into my own emotional world while doing a lot of reading and listening to lectures and podcasts on the latest developments in the neuroscientific world around emotions, the brain, and the nervous system. There are a multitude of things I’d like to write about over the next few months, but today I am simply thinking about just how IMPORTANT emotions are and therefore how even more important it is that we all learn to discern what emotions we are feeling, especially when we dislike or disapprove of our own behavior or reaction to another person.

I went to bed far later than I meant to last night, as I got distracted with screens.  (Shocking, I know.  Who does that?) I was tired long before I stopped doing “just one more thing,” and turned everything off and got in bed, and by the time I did actually stop and get in bed, I was totally exhausted.  How many of you do this on the regular and find yourself feeling totally drained?  And how do you feel when you wake up after a too late night of distractions?

I realized last night that my emotions had gone flat because my “executive functions,” i.e., all that decision-making and task tracking and over-riding biological urges that tell you to go to sleep were zapped out entirely and my actions were absolutely on auto-pilot. This also meant that when I got in bed and my two sweet cats came into my bedroom to do their nightly power struggle ritual as to which one sleeps at my feet and which one sleeps near my head, I was at first mildly irritated.  After about 2 minutes, I was annoyed and my heart rate was increasing. After about 3 more minutes, I was angry and exhausted and weepy and I made both cats leave the room and sort themselves out somewhere else.  I had to just be still in savasana (yoga corpse pose) and do some calming meditation to ratchet my EMOTIONS back down to just tired and ready for bed.

So, it’s not that my emotions were flat beforehand, it’s that my brain and nervous system were both over-tired and over-stimulated, and my emotions were on a hair-trigger just waiting for some stimulus.  My response to that stimulus, which was from fuzzy creatures that I love dearly, was NOT loving.  Because when our nervous system is over-tired and over-stimulated, the emotions that tend to be triggered are not the sweet ones.

I had the luxury this morning of sleeping in without worries of an alarm clock disrupting the perfect sleep cycle, and was able to sleep soundly, for the most part.  When I woke up today, I immediately felt refreshed, happy to greet a Friday morning before a holiday, grateful for the rain that made sleep so blissful, and then super guilty for being so mean to my kitty cats. Thankfully, cats are more forgiving than people thanks to their smooth brains and infinite superiority complex.  But how often do our hair-trigger emotions lash out in ways that are way more destructive than my mild example above?  And just how much control do we have over such outbursts?

The answer is that most of us have precious little control over our emotions and lightning fast behavioral responses by the time we reach the end of a full day.

Earlier in the day, we have a lot more control, as long as we’ve had enough sleep and fuel for the most expensive part of our nervous system:  the big fancy brain and its prefrontal cortex. When we are feeling well rested, well fed, and in relatively low stress and positive mood, everything about our emotional world and the behavior it triggers is way more conducive to positive outcomes in our relationships and interactions with other people (and cats).

None of this is a revelation, nor is it revolutionary.  However, what I propose we all make time to do during the course of our overflowing days might be.  The world would be a much calmer, safer, happier place if we all took time outs for some restoration DURING our busy days instead of always running ourselves down to the cell phone battery equivalent of that 2% red line and then it just dies and the screen goes dark.

How do you do that?  Here’s a few things that I use, when I’m not trying to be super-overachiever-do-all-the-things-at-once woman and forget to take good care of my brain during busy days:

  1. Schedule a short nap or at least a “resting your eyes” time during your day (21 minutes is perfect and can leave you feeling refreshed without feeling “groggy” and this method works best on a day when you really did get enough sleep the night before.)
  2. Take short walks (inside or outside, though outside is best when possible) about every 2-3 hours throughout your day.  Just getting up and moving briskly for 5-10 minutes can really help re-set your brain.
  3. Do “cross crawls” for 30-60 seconds 5-6 times a day to clear out stress or frustration and give your brain a little break.
  4. Stretch and release your eye muscles by doing what I call the “clock” exercise.  You close your eyes for 10-15 seconds, and then open them and stretch them up (without moving your head up) to the 12 o’clock position and take a full, deep breath in and then out.  Move your eyes to 3 o’clock and repeat the full, deep breath.  Then to 6, 9, and back to 12.  And then reverse the cycle and repeat it moving your eyes counter-clockwise.  It takes about 2 minutes and is helpful to physically let go of eye strain, helps reduce headaches, and reduces stress in the nervous system because the eye circuits are really key circuitry in the brain.
  5. Listen to music, especially while doing tasks that require concentration and focus. Instrumental music is the most effective.
  6. Occasionally, when you are so overwhelmed and pressured that it seems totally impossible to do so, just don’t do all the things.  Or even better, don’t do any of the things.  Just don’t DO for a day on occasion.  Your body, mind, spirit – and relationships – will thank you.

To summarize, how you FEEL is what matters.  If you FEEL flat, watch out!  The trigger is hair sensitive.  But if you’re feelin’ good, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing!

And if you’re struggling in creating the life you REALLY want, please reach out for help.  We are here to assist.  864-918-2914

Bundles of Joy

Joy Jar

Pouring out joy!

I began my now-annual tradition of keeping a “Joy Jar” in January of 2014 during a very dark period of grief and depression in my own life.  I felt lost, exhausted, and just so gravely sad almost every day, even though my coaching practice was growing and I was in the best physical shape of my adult life.  Grief is a monster, with long tentacles that invade all aspects of life.  I saw a little post on Facebook about “Joy Jars” and thought, “what the hell? It can’t hurt to look for some joy, so I’ll give it a try.”  You can read about my first year of this process here.

Joy Jar 2016-2017Cut to NOW – January 2017. Life has moved forward, and mine has seen a lot of improvement and positive growth as I’ve deepened my practice of documenting my own joy, as often as I possibly think to do so.  As I began emptying out my jar, right after two back-to-back holiday driving tours, I noticed immediately that 2016’s jar had a LOT more joy stuffed into it!  Thinking back over the roller coaster of global atrocities, polarizing politics, and the loss of so many cultural icons, I was quite pleased to see that I had kept my attention honed around seeking joy in spite of the news and the general state of affairs in the world.  I felt a little giddy as I pulled the bits of folded paper out onto the kitchen table.

Table full of happinessAs I began unfolding each piece and reading my own scrawl, I noticed that I wrote more detail and more feeling words than I had in previous years.  I wrote lots of tiny stories about whole days or weekends, or a particularly juicy conversation or experience, sometimes cross-referencing dates in my journal so that I could read even more, and I also noted how I felt.

I saw lots of good feeling words like excited, grateful, loved, ecstatic, surprised, relieved, woo hoo!, feeling acceptance, unconditional love, yay!, and hopeful.  I saw that my joy was very active, too, with all kinds of verbs like hiking, swimming, rowing, paddling, laughing, eating, noticing, cheering, savoring, traveling, loving, and more swimming. I could see myself on location when I read my narratives that included relaxation, deep conversations, sharing experiences, boating with friends in Florida, hanging with my family during their summer vacation trip to my mountain, long walk and talks in the woods with my best friend, playing outside, sharing favorite swimming holes with my favorite kids, seeing fireworks over the lake on 4th of July, driving… Basically, the Joy Jar of 2016 was EPIC.  As I read all my bits of joy, I got to soak them up and experience them all over again.  I could really transport myself to those moments scattered throughout the year and connect to the warm fuzzy inside that led me to write them down for the jar.

As it turns out, joy is an infinitely renewable resource!

Bundles of Joy

Growing Bundles of Joy

And now I see a whole new value in the practice of stuffing your smallest moments of triumph and most intense moments of pure joy and excitement into a jar to review at the end of a very long 365 days: doing so helps you be discerning in your future goals and plans.  You can see EXACTLY what makes you happy and then you can PLAN to do more of those things. When your life becomes your own in this way, you feel a deep sense of freedom, purpose, and peace. Energy flows where attention goes, so make sure energy is flowing towards filling your life with as much joy as possible.

Having already done a good bit of my strategic planning and goal setting over the next 12-18 months, I’m now using the patterns I’ve extrapolated from my joy jars to tweak those plans and goals. When you plant seeds of joy, you reap more joy.  This is such easy gardening, and you don’t even get your hands dirty. If you’ve never tried this simple practice to help you be more mindful of what makes you happy, get started right now!  Your January 2018 self will be forever grateful that you took these simple steps.

  • Step 1:  Find an empty jar. Or a box. Or a notebook even.
  • Step 2:  Fill it with little notes to yourself about moments of joy throughout the year.
  • Step 3:  Empty it out at the end of the year/beginning of next year and have the pleasure of re-experiencing your own joys as you read through all your notes and stories.
  • Step 4:  Repeat.

May your 2017 bring you JOY in many forms, and may you be paying attention so that you notice when you feel it!  Namaste.

Not feeling the joy? Feeling stuck and not sure how to get out of your rut?  Call today for a FREE phone or Skype coaching consultation !  (864) 918-2914 or email info@completelifecoaching.com

Vicy is a Board Certified Transformational Life Coach, founder of Complete Life Coaching, 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, and a Certified Indoor Rowing Instructor.  When she’s not coaching or rowing, Vicy is also a yogini, wild water swimming enthusiast, Reiki master (Levels I & II), hula hooper, writer, speaker, and organic gardener. Vicy’s life purpose is helping others discover the best in themselves while learning to pursue their dreams and goals with proven strategies that’ll help them move mountains.

Cultivate Self-Compassion

Cultivate Compassion… Starting With YourSELF

Think Before You Speak, even to yourselfBy Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, BCC

“I am so stupid.”
“I am so frustrate that I keep doing this even though I know it’s not good for me and I know it’s wrong. What is WRONG with me?”
“Why can’t I just let it GO?”
“When will I learn to stop letting people walk all over me?”

I hear a lot of comments like the ones above from my clients during our first few sessions. One aspects of my work as a transformational life coach is to help people hear their own language, especially with regards to how they talk to and treat themselves. I spend a lot of time carefully saying things like, “May I please repeat back to you what you just said to me?” I repeat what clients say with similar inflection and body language to their own. When I do so, I see the look of shock on their faces and I watch their bodies slump or tense or shudder or whatever the general modus operandi is for that particular person. People are initially scared of their own language, verbal and non-verbal.

Why is our inner dialogue and our outer talk about ourselves important?  Because we must first hear what and how we’re talking to ourselves in order to begin developing compassion.

Once a client has heard his or her language clearly, I ask a question like, “Would you say what you just said to [or about] yourself to a five-year old you were taking care of? Would you say it to your best friend?” The answer is always a resounding NO and a rather disturbed look. Usually that “no” is followed by some commentary on how much easier it is to be kind, objective, and compassionate towards others than it is to be kind, objective, and compassionate towards one’s self. I agree. It IS easier, but this is exactly why it is so important that we all learn to develop a deep compassion towards ourselves.

How do develop kindness & compassion towards ourselves?

It all starts with noticing. Noticing how we’re feeling during moments of frustration or anger or guilt or shame. Just like I ask my clients to pause and allow themselves the opportunity to “instant replay” what they just said by my repeating it to them, we must learn to do this for ourselves. When we are able to notice the shift in our language and behavior, whether we say it out loud or just say it in our own minds, it’s equally degrading and problematic. Once we are able to consistently notice our tendencies, we can begin to consciously change them through choice. If we never notice, we can never choose to change.

Following are three suggestions on how to start noticing:

1 – Allow yourself an extra two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening to sit still and quiet and just create some “breathing room” within yourself. You can sit and just breathe. You can sit and say kind things to yourself or affirmations of some kind. You can sit and just be quiet and allow your thoughts to float through you like fluffy clouds on a summer afternoon. You can sit and listen to calming music. What you do doesn’t matter as much as intentionally taking just a couple of minutes for “time in” with yourself to just BE for a moment. The purpose in doing it morning and evening is to start your day centered and end your day centered because doing so helps you develop your own inner observer. Your inner observer is the part of you that recognizes you are more than the sum of your parts. You aren’t just your thoughts or your job or your kids or your mom’s fears or whatever it is that you tend to over-identify with about yourself. When you stop over-identifying with one aspect of yourself, you instantly become more open and compassionate towards yourself and others.

2 – Take a moment to “check in” with yourself throughout your day, especially on busy days when you’ve scheduled yourself back to back to back and have that feeling that I call “the white rabbit” syndrome. (Do you remember the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland? “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late for an important date!”) It’s amazing what three long, slow, deep breaths can do, and you can do them in the car, or at your desk, or even in the middle of a meeting. It’s just breathing. I assure you everyone does it. Taking a moment to do it consciously can help clear your head, your heart, and give you a centering energy boost to help you feel more peaceful within. When you feel more peaceful within, your ability to be compassionate expands exponentially.

Kids being silly3 – Laugh. Need I really say more? LAUGH AT YOURSELF. Are you really taking it so bloody seriously that you ate two cookies instead of just one? Is it really a crisis that you’re running 3 minutes behind schedule? Will someone die if you don’t say yes to every volunteer opportunity presented to you? Laugh at your human-ness. I assure you, we are ALL in the same boat. And oftentimes, when we really look at it, that boat is very funny. Laughter helps you gain perspective and it also gives you a solid boost of feel-good hormones that will help you recognize life is hard enough without your needing to make it harder on yourself by saying unkind things. You don’t deserve that. You deserve kindness, peace, and compassion. Give yourself some.

Give and Get

What’s really interesting about the journey towards constant self-compassion is that as we begin to give ourselves daily doses of our own compassion and kindness, we begin to notice that others are giving us more of both as well. When we treat ourselves with loving-kindness and compassion, our bodies, minds, and spirits respond to our treatment and we (seriously) begin to resonate at higher frequencies. Our energy levels are higher and more sustained. We begin to sense that we can TRUST OURSELVES. We begin to sense that nothing is inherently wrong with us, and instead we are simply perfectly imperfect creatures, every single one of us. We begin to realize that others are struggling with the same sorts of things that we are struggling with, and we begin to realize that by recognizing these similarities we build bridges that help us connect to others. We can see ourselves in others, and our empathy grows. We can see ourselves in the mirror and realize we deserve goodness, from ourselves and from others. The bottom line is that when we start giving to ourselves, we can give more to others and we can actively receive more from others. We can hear compliments and just say, “Thank you,” and smile. We can hear praise and accept that we deserve it. We can feel appreciation and we can reciprocate that feeling. We can RELAX and allow others to help us see our own greatness while we help others do the same.

It’s not EASY because it takes conscious effort and conscious practice. But it is very simple. Cultivating compassion for yourself helps you and everyone around you. The only change you can ever really produce is self-change. So, stop waiting. Take a deep breath. And just do it!

There’s Never Enough Time

There’s Just Not Enough Time – Really? 

By Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

We live in a world ruled by what philosophers call the hegemony of the clock, which is a fancypants way of saying that we are dominated by clock-time, schedules, appointments, and other agreements that fall in line with our collective sense of time. On one hand, this sort of domination is almost inescapable, whether you’re a philosopher or a business owner or a customer service rep or a stay-at-home mom. On the other, this domination is escapable in the sense that you can become aware of exactly what it means to have 24 hours each and every day.

Sunrise Over Kiawah IslandThe bottom line, to my way of thinking, is this: no matter how you think about it or slice it up or analyze what’s happening, the ONE way in which every single individual on this planet is the same is that during the course of any given day, we have the exact same amount of time. Since this is the case, why is there not enough time for most of us?
I’ve been asking myself this question for years, and I’ve discussed it with many people. Recently, I was texting with a new friend in my world and I found myself writing the following: “If I had more time to grow more veggies in the dirt and get more critters, my mountain would be like a farm…” After I sent the text, I asked myself, “what do I mean about having more time? I know I will not get days longer than my standard 24-hour days, even as days “get longer” with the spring and then summer approaching now. Then I realized: I often say “time” when what I really mean is “energy,” or “help,” or some other specific resource that may actually be available but about which I’ve not thought.

This seemed like an important realization to me because it was very freeing. I started thinking past my own “time trap,” and saw something about my situation with a lot keener sense of the truth. I DO want to grow more veggies in the dirt and get more critters because I have the space for such things. What is stopping me from having this is not the time it takes to invest in gardening, because when it comes right down to it, I could juggle some things and make that time. What is really missing is that I need (a) energy to put in that direction on a consistent basis (b) some help getting started and (c) a plan for maintaining what I start that’s viable in accordance with my traveling-often lifestyle.

As I began thinking about what I wanted in terms outside of the time trap, a few things became “do-able” that before that realization were purely theoretically. This is what thinking beyond “not enough time” can open up for you: possibilities that you had not considered before because you quickly (saving time) dismissed them due to the time trap.

I’m going to continue experimenting with pushing back on the standard “not enough time” dismissal of ideas, dreams, and desires and I encourage you to do the same. I’ll let you know over the next few months what happens as I beg in questioning this in my own life, and asking my clients to do the same.

What’s in your bag of dreams or on your bucket list or part of your life vision that seems unattainable due to the time it will take to attain it? What can you look at without the hegemony of the clock for long enough to see through the time trap and on to possibilities that use resources more in your direct control?

May your 24-hours-a-day yield the manifestation of your boldest dreams! Namaste, y’all.

 

 

3 Steps from Anxiety to Freedom & Peace

This blog series by Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, CTLC, BCC is called “Little Changes, Big Results” and introduces common problems and simple starting points for people, including those of you who are new to transformational life coaching. Welcome to Complete Life Coaching, where we connect, collaborate, and create. 

Part 1:  Mental Chatter & Anxiety

 

Web of Anxious ThoughtsI wake up in the morning and it starts immediately… My own voice, yelling at me. “What the hell am I doing with my life? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just get up, feel good, and GO? What possessed me to say THAT to him? Of course no one can love me for long, I make it too hard. Just stop trying.  Or, good gawd, just stop EATING.  Look at yourself – UGH. Get off your fat ass and go to the gym.  How did I get SO FAR BEHIND?”

Maybe some of that sounds familiar to you.  I know with certainty I have said all of it and, honestly, way worse to myself, inside my own head over the years, especially the “bad ones,” before I knew I could change that self-talk.  I also know I would NEVER say such unkind, unhelpful, and let’s face it, just plain MEAN stuff to another human being.

So why do we say stuff inside our own heads to ourselves, about ourselves, that we wouldn’t dream of saying to a friend or family member? The short answer is that our minds, left to run wild, are full of fear, anxiety, loathing, and shame. And we are the constant recipient of our own projections of perceived faults and failures.

In my professional coaching practice, I am often the first person to hear someone’s “monkey mind” unleashed for an outside observer to see, and I view my position with humility and respect.  I am honored to be able to just listen to my clients, many of whom feel they’ve never been heard or understood. When a person decides to pour out what’s really going on inside her mind, it’s an act of BRAVERY and takes vast COURAGE. (Aside on courage:  from the Latin, then Old French, and finally handed down to us through Middle English, the word courage means heart. The heart as the seat of feeling, thought, etc.; spirit, mind, disposition, nature. As far back in English speaking history as 1300s, courage, when applied to a person, means “a quality of mind which shows itself in facing danger without fear or shrinking; braveness, boldness, valor” and it’s also “spirit, vital force or energy.” Speaking our minds, giving voice to the feelings and thoughts from our hearts, clearly takes a lot of this courage, this quality of mind.[1]) I appreciate that magnitude of pure heart it takes to pour out the sludge and really take a clear look at it. It is terrifying to trust enough to be so completely vulnerable, so it certainly takes courage to tell our dark sides and share our stories of shame and pain. [Trust in the ability of the other person both to listen without judgment AND keep our confidence is key… Here’ s a great video about discerning when it’s okay to be vulnerable.]

Speaking the negative self-talk, the monkey chatter of a fearful, shameful, antagonistic voice of our own dark self to another and trusting them to be open to receive – to listen intently – to remain solidly in non-judgment and compassion bolstered with empathy – takes heart.  To speak out the chatter requires a connection deep down, literally, in the nervous system to the heart and the gut, making the speaker vulnerable.  As one chooses to speak the darkness, the self opens from the core & exposes the chatter, shining light into the darkness.  And when we turn on this “heart light,” of courage to be open and vulnerable with a trusted other, we taste freedom.  It is then that we start to observe ourselves more keenly and make choices about how much freedom we will allow ourselves.

When we choose to make this one little change: to trust SOMEONE and to say out loud all the darkest chatter of the monkey mind, giving true voice vis a vis acknowledgment to the shame and rumination and spinning out of control narrative and allow another person to hear us, to understand us, we get BIG RESULTS for ourselves.

So, how can one begin to make this one change?

Step one:  Begin by becoming more conscious and aware of that inner dialogue. Just notice.  Just observe your mental chatter. If it feel and sounds more negative and painful than positive and motivational, begin to simply watch your own thoughts whenever you notice.  Back off yourself, and just watch.  This might be in a minute of silence after an argument with a parent, partner, child, co-worker.  It might be in bed at night, trying to fall asleep after a long day. It might be as the alarm goes off in the morning.  Just start with a minute.  Just watch, like your head is a spectator sport.  For a just a minute, don’t play, don’t engage, just observe.  As you practice, this minute could turn into 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes… It becomes a silent, observing meditation practice.  You realize there’s more to “you” than all that self-talk.

Step two:  Decide you will make one change on your own behalf to begin the process of shifting your mind and asserting control over it. “In short, the mind is an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” – Dr. Dan Siegel (from this article on his website) After you’ve made this decision, you can continuously reinforce your choice to change each time your mind wanders down its usual path of negative talk.  The great news, is that your mind is expert in that wandering!  So it gives a LOT of opportunities to notice, to pause, to consciously shift.  First watch, then you decide.  Repeat.  Constantly.  It’s a process, it’s ongoing, and the timeline is your lifetime.  Start slowly, but start consistently.  Notice each time that you notice.  Your ability to stop and observe without judgment will expand over time.

Share Your Darkness to Spread the LightStep three: Choose someone to talk to and be willing to trust and share openly, with the spoken expectation (and AGREEMENT FROM THE OTHER PERSON) of receiving empathy and non-judgment, just listening.  This person might be a professional like a trained life coach, or counselor, but she could be your best friend or brother or someone else that you truly trust and can feel safe with as you reveal some parts of yourself that you may have actively hidden.

Let’s think about empathy for a minute. Empathy is not sympathy, and the difference between them is very important.  Empathy creates direct connection because empathy is “the power of projecting one’s personality [personal experience] into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation.[2]” Early uses of the word in the English language talk of such things as “my mind’s muscles” and “feelings of… motor empathy.”[3]  Now we know that empathy is built into our brains and nervous systems with specialized neurons called “mirror neurons” and that we truly can feel connected to other human beings vis a vis our own experiences of feelings and emotions. Researchers and practitioners such as Brene Brown & Marshall Rosenberg cite empathy as critical to healing self and others, though their research and practices are ostensibly very different.   “We’re wired to tell our stories, not keep our secrets,” says Dr. Brene Brown.  It’s true.  And it’s what creates connection in that “embodied and relational” mind of ours.

These three simple steps result over time in huge changes in your mind, your body, and your relationships. More empathic connection means more time feeling truly connected to other human beings, and therefore encouraged and “plugged in” to community.  We are hard wired to connect deeply to others, and openness and trust feed those connections.  With time and practice, the chatterbox that opened this article becomes adept and skillful at refuting, dismissing, or reframing the negative blah blah blah into something much kinder, warmer, and more realistic such as….

“I’m alive. That’s good. I’ll feel better once I’m up and moving and showered and fed some good food.  Last night’s conversation was a doozie, huh?  It’s okay.  Today, I will try hard to stay focused and remember I love me. That’ll help solve the problem that started the argument to begin with.  I’m learning not to engage when I’m exhausted. I’m okay.  Everyone has bad days and makes mistakes.  Just take a breather and keep going.   Just do your best.  Going to the gym could help, even if it’s just 20 minutes it’s good for me.  I’m doing just fine where I am, just remember to breathe.”

This kind of radical shift takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.  However, this 3-step practice, done consistently and repeatedly, over the course of 6-months to a year, yields massive results that can help calm anxiety; decrease mental, emotional, and physical stress; strengthen relationships, both with self and others; and mend the mind so that thinking and performance improve in all areas of life experiences. You’re worth it.  May you experience this empathic magic beginning immediately. Namaste.

[1] Etymology & information on “courage” abstracted from The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), second edition, Volume V. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK. ©1933, 1989.

[2] OED, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.

[3] OED, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.

 

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.

Movement, Mindfulness, & Creating Positive Experiences

Rowing for joy health

Taking up a new sport is excellent mindfulness & movement practice!

In this podcast, CLC discusses the importance of mindfulness, movement, and creating positive new experiences.  These practices can be used to relieve the effects of anxiety, depression, anger issues, and trauma & PTSD.  Learning to incorporate easy practices into your daily routine is one way to get started in a more grounded and solid-feeling life.

We discuss easy mindfulness practices that get your 5 senses involved and make it easier for your nervous system to calm down and focus on the present moment. We share stories about how movement helps with shifting moods and attitudes.

For more information on getting help, contact us for one on one help, resources, or join us for a retreat or workshop.   You are also invited to join our online communities and get involved!  Let us help you THRIVE.

Listen here now. (Available to stream or download.)