Winter Blues… A CBT Approach for Treatment

THREE STEPS TO BANISHING WINTER BLUES…  f o r e v e r

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, seasonal depression and… (did you know?) summertime sadness, is a mood disorder subset of seasonal patterns in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter (or summer).[1]

For those living in North America as well as other Northern Hemisphere countries, seasonal affective disorder is most prevalent during the winter months.  In efforts to avoid the cold and dampness, we tend to remain indoors for most of the day, venturing outside more out of necessity than pleasure.  Typically a season of reduced activity, we are affected by the shorter days (with less total sunlight) and an increased innate desire for rest and sleep.  We also forget how vital it is to breathe fresh air by being outside and in nature on a regular basis as part of what allows us to feel better.

Despite the inevitable climate and weather conditions affecting us during the winter months, I believe that there is an even greater contributing factor to our state of lethargy, low affect, and to feeling unmotivated and depressed.  Our environment and climate are important contributing factors, but there is a human element that plays an important role in whether we get excited about what the winter can offer, OR despondent and depressed.

“How you think about the weather (or anything else in life) affects your overall mood state.”  – dorothy ratusny

To help you best strategize in those moments when you are feeling the winter blues “effects”, begin with some simple questions.

Ask yourself, “What was I just thinking?”  “What am I saying to myself right now?” or “What are my thoughts?”

Your thoughts determine how you feel.  Your actions (what you do or don’t do) are fuelled by how you feel. This Cognitive Therapy principle is the same for all of us.

Thoughts -> Feelings -> Behaviours

As the busyness and fun of the year end holidays come to a close, you’re left with the reality of what your life truly is at this moment.  If there are some major issues that you’ve been avoiding, or if you’ve been increasingly unhappy with your life, it’s natural to feel a dip in your overall mood state once you return to your daily routine and are faced with the same challenges that you’ve had some reprieve from.

Typical life events – including responsibilities, bills, and a hectic schedule that perhaps leaves little time for fun and pure enjoyment, can cause negative” feelings (e.g. anxiety, worry, sadness – even hopelessness) that seem to come out of nowhere. Many people cope by finding new distractions to avoid feeling unhappy.  We can busy ourselves with other activities, a demanding work life, or the temporary escape of a winter getaway; but in doing so, we never really address the deeper issues – the origin – of our current unhappy state.

For most of us, its difficult to sit still and contemplate our unhappiness.  As we feel waves of anxiety, dread, or sadness, our instinct is to immediately “stop” these feelings.  We don’t always understand from where our feelings originate, making it difficult to address the cause or origin.  Our initial reaction if we don’t know how to make ourselves ‘feel better’, is to ignore or avoid what we feel in hopes that this will somehow make our sad or anxious feelings go away.  The moment we stop doing whatever has made us “busy” in order to distract us from how we feel, the sadness, anxiety (or any other uncomfortable feeling) returns.  Each time we suppress or avoid how we truly feel, we become further disconnected from understanding the real problem – and the cause of our unhappiness.

I remind clients that feeling sad only persists when we avoid looking at what thoughts caused us to feel sad.  Our sadness may be related to a temporary situation which will resolve itself either with our efforts and initiative or as a result of other events that unfold naturally. If the sadness we feel is related to our feelings about who we are, and the state of our life, then its important that we address whatever is causing us to feel unhappy.  If we can use the same Cognitive Therapy Principles whether for seasonal affective disorder, or any other type of low grade sadness (and other uncomfortable emotions), then we have a means of feeling better. Identifying your thoughts is like uncovering the source of your unhappiness.  What you tell yourself (whether true or untrue) is what you believe.

If you’re feeling discouraged, unhappy, or hopeless with the state of your life, it’s because your life doesn’t accurately reflect what you truly want. (Interestingly enough, your life currently DOES reflect what you believe and what you’ve been thinking about most – including what you fear).  When clients describe feeling unhappy with aspects of their life and with who they are, I remind them of the power of their conscious thought. What you consistently tell yourself is the truth behind the reality that you are living.

We all need to choose our thoughts carefully.

Who you are and how you live life is based on your thoughts and beliefs.  When you feel the ‘Winter Blues’ or sadness in general, pay attention to your state of mind.  Are you focusing on what you don’t yet have or what you want most?  Are you focusing on what you don’t yet see or have in front of you? Most importantly, are you ruminating about your current life situation and the aspects of yourself you are unhappy about, which in the very next moment effectively becomes the past and beyond your control?

The following STRATEGIES are MOST effective for banishing the Winter Blues.  These strategies are based on applying the Cognitive Therapy (CBT) principles that have been proven to be MOST effective in alleviating sadness and any other uncomfortable emotion.  Please remember, this is an approach that you need to use in order for it to work. Be prepared that you will need to pay attention to your thoughts (the internal dialogue of what you say to yourself) far more than you are used to.  Like any other skill that you acquire with practice, attention to your thoughts allows you to reap the benefits of changing how you feel. You can only change your thoughts once you become aware of what it is that you are telling yourself.

In a recent study, Cognitive therapy (CBT) was found to be more effective at treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) than light therapy (a standard and well proven method of treatment).  In fact, CBT was significantly better at preventing relapse in future winters, the study found. Led by University of Vermont psychology professor Kelly Rohan, the research initiative, funded by a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, is the first large scale study to examine light therapy’s effectiveness over time.

“Light therapy is a palliative treatment, like blood pressure medication, that requires you to keep using the treatment for it to be effective,” said Rohan. “Adhering to the light therapy prescription upon waking for 30 minutes to an hour every day for up to five months in dark states can be burdensome,” she said.

The study showed that, by the second winter, only 30 percent of light therapy subjects were still using the equipment.

Cognitive-behavior therapy, by contrast, is a preventive treatment, Rohan said. Once SAD sufferers learn its basic skills it has enduring impact, giving the person a sense of control over their symptoms.

STEP ONE: Decide how YOU want to be, and also what you want for your ideal life.  Begin with what you know right now.  You can always add to your ‘desire’ list as you decide more of what you want.

In STEP ONE I encourage you to carve out ‘alone time’ to be quiet and introspective.  Make a list of what you want for your life and how you want to be (based on what you know now). I encourage clients to call this list: ‘WHO AM I BECOMING?’  This list reflects the person (and the life) that you have  always wanted but perhaps did not truly believe it was possible.  As you identify a list that yields the definition of your ideal self (and your ideal life), you now have a destination that you can begin moving towards.  Being committed to your WHO AM I BECOMING? list helps you to be accountable and to make healthy ‘right’ decisions that will support what you desire most.

We feel a chronic yet low grade level of sadness and a growing disconnection from our SELF if we have been avoiding looking at what needs changing, and then doing the necessary work to make our life (and our self) what we truly want.

Contemplating what it would require to fix your life – making it what you really want when you’ve been living unhappily for so long – can seem largely overwhelming.  When I work with clients, a first step is to help them become  c l e a r  about their goals and desires.  It means examining who they currently are, and what they need to do (hence the “WHO AM I BECOMING?” list) in order to feel better.  If you begin by practising self-honesty as you define what you really want (even when you don’t know all of the steps involved in getting where you want to be), the results are largely positive. Part of the sadness that we feel at different times in our life (and not only as Winter Blues) is due to the lack of clarity about what we truly want.  STEP ONE is about getting clear and stating what you desire most.

STEP TWO: With clarity about what you want, begin to move towards this using well defined ACTION STEPS.

Create action steps for each of your highest level (the biggest, all-encompassing) goals.  This will help to make the goals manageable as ‘steps’ and it outlines the practical need for daily work in the ‘here and now’ as you stay focused on the bigger picture.  Action steps also remind you that every decision you make beginning with NOW will either bring you closer to or further away from your highest ideals.

Notice how much better you begin to feel when you have a clear plan in place of how you will be different including what you are prepared to do towards this.wwwlauradbeancom

STEP THREE can be a ‘mind bender’.  It requires that you keep up both STEPS ONE and TWO while b e l i e v i n g that you already are living the life that you desire most; and that you already are the person that you most want to be.  I love this part!

STEP THREE is about believing in what you can’t fully see yet.  It truly is an act of manifesting.

STEP THREE is the practise of seeing and believing in what you truly want even though it is not (yet) visible to you in the physical world.  It’s about never giving up on what you want; rather – consistently taking the steps towards your highest ideals and goals (and trusting that they are coming to you as long as you still desire them).  Being consistently clear about what it is you desire AND living your life as if it were already what you want is the STEP that most of us have trouble with.  And yet, its one of the most powerful things that we can do to bring what we truly want into our lives – and quickly!

Each strategy comprised as “steps” is based in CBT principles (together with the Universal Laws that govern manifesting).  And what I am sharing – really works!  It’s important that you begin with a closer look at your existing ‘self-talk’ (to see what is in part causing your unhappiness), and then focus on what you really want for your life rather than what you don’t yet see or have.  The THREE STEPS as I have defined them here are a way of  l i v i n g  life.  It isn’t a one-time formula but a practical way of being.  These strategies help you understand the power of your mind and how you need to be consciously aware of what you tell yourself.

Finding one or more of these steps a challenge? Unsure of what you want? Feeling stuck in how to move forward even though you know what you ideal self looks like?  Let me be of help. To be in touch or to work with me, please contact me at: mail@dorothyratusny.com  Thankyou!!

  1. For a full read of the published study on the superior effects of CBT in the treatment of SAD, click the link above or visit: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151105084516.htm
  2. Understanding why Nature makes us Feel Better  http://blog.nature.org/science/2015/05/22/science-nature-emotion-affect-feel-better/
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World Kindness Day: November 13th

World kindness day is November 13th each year.

It has been delegated in order to help nations and individuals create a kinder world. It’s also a wonderful representation of how individuals making decisions are investing are investing in our global unity.

For kindness to exist among countries – it must first be an individual experience. It must be practised as a human condition – as an instinctive reaction among each one of us – and as what we teach and model for our children and future generations.

Kindness can be a deliberate and yet natural outpouring of who and ‘what’ we are.

Kindness is a life value. It is our inherent nature and yet it is also an intentional practice that we choose to uphold. Kindness can (with consciousness and deliberate will) become our ‘go to’ response based on choosing to think of others (and ourselves) with positiveness rather than mistrust, fear, and judgement. Kindness begets kindness. Being kind helps us to cultivate understanding; to see others as equals, and to remember the end goal of our discussions, deliberations, and even disagreements – which is always to remain – kind.

Kindness ultimately resolves potential conflict, allowing people to be as they are, realizing the fact that we all have our own unique preferences and beliefs– while challenging ourselves to look for how we are all alike.

If the other person remains unwilling to be kind, then your kindness will always serve you best in dealing with others in a fair and civil manner. When we are deliberately kind, it is far easier to hold compassion, care, and trust. (If someone has proved to be untrustworthy, we can still trust that our kindness will show them that we are capable of empathy and compassion – even if we choose to uphold our relationship boundaries with them).

Kindness is what builds and sustains positive, healthy relationships. When we think of being kind first even in the face of unkindness, we are able to dismantle much of the negativity and fear based behaviours of others. With kindness, we are able to realign ourselves with a common goal; and if we continue to hold differences, then we may do so respectfully, with the acceptance that others may have a different belief system or set of ideas. When people (and ultimately nations) come together in kindness, they are ultimately able to agree on the fundamental life values of peacefulness, respect of all living beings, and the ability to live in harmony rather than war.

Photo credit: gsdakotahorizons.org
Photo credit: gsdakotahorizons.org

An international movement to practice kindness (aka Kindness Day) reminds us of the need to choose how we will be in any given moment (and especially when it may seem easier to react in frustration, anger, displeasure, or even aggression).

Practising kindness outwardly teaches us much about responsibility. First, to ourselves as we make the conscious choice to be kind even in the face of what may seem like our ‘right’ to respond in defence of others not being kind. Practising kindness teaches us how to see beyond the action of another and to remember that any unkindness directed towards us is rarely about who we are, but rather the other person and their personal struggles to be heard, accepted, valued, important, and secure.

Whether as a personal challenge in light of world kindness day or as an opportunity to become kinder more consistently…consider what deliberate and thoughtful acts of kindness you can do today. Pay attention to how your conscious attention towards being kind, changes how you feel in that instant; softening how you think and feel about yourself, others, and the situation. You might also want to notice how act of kindness (much like a boomerang) come back to you quite effortlessly.

 

Some important questions to ponder to examine your own commitment to being kind:

Are you teaching your children about the importance of kindness first as a way of being in the world, and as a part of their personality and behaviour ? – For example in sport (where you can still be highly competitive – yet kind)?

Do you model kindness for your children, peers, and co-workers? Do you choose to think kindly of someone rather than assume they have ulterior motives or are dubious and untrustworthy? (You can still be kind to someone that you have chosen to uphold boundaries within if they are not trustworthy or kind).

Do you practice kindness (here’s a tougher one perhaps) in the face of unkindness? Can you personally be kind to someone who is showing you envy, rage, anger, discontent?

If you choose to embrace the power of living kindly as who you are, what do you need to change of your existing behaviours?

Namaste everyone!

ABOUT THE WORLD KINDNESS MOVEMENT

WKM is an international movement with no political or religious affiliations. The idea for the formation of the organization came out of a conference in Tokyo in 1997 when Japan brought together like-minded kindness organizations from around the world. It is now recognised as the peak global body for Kindness, . The mission of the WKM is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. Members of the movement include over 25 nations with representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Scotland, South Korea,Switzerland,Thailand, United Arab Emerites, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the USA.
For more please visit: http://www.theworldkindnessmovement.org/about-us/

Title Photo credit: www.pitchero.com

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The debilitating truth about blame…

Blame is a powerful deflection from self-examination and self-responsibility.

 

Blame is a wonderful excuse for not needing to change – and for continuing to convince yourself that you are “right” and others are “wrong”.

 

Blame keeps you from experiencing the truth, an opportunity for growth, and the realization that no one can “make you feel” a certain way (since we often blame others for ‘how’ we feel). How you feel is always determined by what you tell yourself (aka: your thoughts).

 

Blame keeps you a prisoner of your self-induced anger, fear, and anxiety. It keeps you far removed from the closeness and connection that you could have with loved ones and others.

 

Whenever you feel the urge to blame someone or something for what has happened “to you”, look instead at yourself – with honesty and truth. What have you ‘done’ or ‘not done’ that has contributed to where you are right now? What would have been some better choices? What will you do now to make a change for the better?

 

Sometimes clients rage in my presence. They are frustrated, fed up, angry, aggressive and at times they have explosive outbursts that are difficult to contain. At the core of their outbursts is often some form of blame. They blame others or some external event for their misfortune in life; convinced that they have little or no control in whatever has “happened to them”, what situation they currently find themselves in, or what will become of their future.

You will remain in a state of angst (inner turmoil, hopelessness, and sadness) for as long as you continue to look outside of yourself for the reasons that you feel the way you do. For as long as you continue to blame, you will perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings (e.g. helplessness, anxiety, anger, resentment etc.,) rather than see a situation as an opportunity for learning and growth, and becoming more (in whatever way more translates into something better). You will continue to feel immobilized by your current situation as long as you convince yourself that others are the cause of this, and that there is little or nothing that you can do but endure, rather than take control of your life by being in charge of what you need to do to make things better.

 

One path is destructive and limiting: causing suffering, grief and despair. The other path is one of learned resilience, confidence building, and self-actualization through reliance and faith in one’s ‘self’.

When we blame others, we are not looking at our own actions; nor taking responsibility for how we feel. Blaming external events or others deflects any attempt to examine why we feel the way we do and in turn, to examine our biased perceptions of a situation. The two most important questions that you could ask yourself when you are caught in a position of helplessness because of whatever has happened is: “How do I want to feel?” Next you need to ask, “What do I need to do in order to feel this way?”

The quickest way to eradicate blame is to be proactive – to be in control of what you will do to fix, change, or improve the situation – and to begin a path towards this. Still, how do we get caught in a cycle of helplessness about our life – and who we are? What is it that causes us to give away all of our power by making ‘someone’ or ‘something’ the total cause of our experience? ….and hence our ability to thrive?

Ask yourself: “What earlier life experiences taught me that I have little or no control over my life path, how I feel, or who I become?”

Decide to change your earlier belief system. Know that for whatever you feel and what happens is either a direct cause of your thought process or your actions (your actions perpetuate a chain of events that brings you to where you are now, as does your repetitive thoughts). Yes, events occur all of the time that are unexpected and at times, incredibly traumatic. Yet, everything in life has meaning. How you react to what happens (to you) is within your control.

The fact is that every experience is (pre)determined by how we think – and how we perceive / witness / examine / and interpret what has happened.

 

Learn to question all of what you were taught to believe. Instead, examine each situation as unique and different.  Examine your part in whatever “happens to you” including your thoughts and actions towards creating the outcome that you are living right now.

With blame, nobody wins. You end up making someone else “wrong” or “not good enough” – and judging them unfairly which affects your treatment of them. When you blame yourself, you can easily become caught up in a cycle of self-loathing rather than constructively look within to see your part in what has caused this situation – feeling – or behavior – and at what you need to do instead. There is learning in self-awareness. Blame – even towards one’s self – keeps you from focusing on proactive change.

 

If your well ingrained habit is to blame external factors or people for how you feel and what happens to you, that’s your cue to turn the finger directed outward – onto yourself. (Not in self blame but in awareness and understanding). See what it is that you have done to create your existing reality. Even when something happens that you have absolutely no control over and you did not want – you still have the power to choose how you feel, think, and live …in spite of what ‘has happened’.

I use the phrase, “This too is for good” to help bring to light the idea that everything that happens has a greater purpose and if you can believe it is always for good…then perhaps it is only a matter of time before you see with your eyes that whatever has ‘happened’ has led to something inevitably – better. For nothing is truly bad unless we make it so.

So please consider what damage you create through blame. Start seeing everything that happens in your life as a ‘teaching’, a ‘life lesson’ meant to aid and help you along your path, or an opportunity for personal growth and greater awareness.

In therapy (as in life itself), clients can become emotionally charged in a matter of milliseconds – reacting to what has just been said or asked of them long before they realize ‘why’ they reacted as they did. Clients may look to the therapist as the point of blame; as the one who said something to offend them or hurt their feelings; or perhaps is “judging them” – especially if a client is being asked to look at a particular problematic situation or behavior which evokes feelings of uneasiness, vulnerability, or shame.

In therapy, I will ask you to examine yourself in ways that you have not done before. The socratic questions asked of you are meant for you to explore your current situation and yourself specifically in a different way. Sometimes you will be asked or challenged to look at what causes you to feel uneasy, vulnerable, or shameful. The point is not to “make you” feel badly, but to examine what needs attention and change in order for you to feel better, to correct a situation or ongoing pattern of behavior, to strengthen self-esteem, and/or to heal a reoccurring conflict that is affecting your relationships with others.

Take control back. If you are blaming others or external events for your current state of unhappiness, you are giving up your control to fix a situation or improve yourself.

If you feel hopeless or defeated, or if you believe that you are resigned to the current circumstances of your life, then you need to take a closer look at where you are directing your ‘locus of control’. Do you believe that your happiness is dependant on what happens to you, or are you aware of your ability to choose your reaction to what happens (thereby being in control of how you feel at all times)?

Similarly, if you continue to rage, venting your displeasure at what you are unhappy with yet unwilling to look at your part in why you continue to feel this way, you will continue to suffer.

This inhibits emotional growth. It actually keeps you stuck in ‘reactive’ mode; quick to get fired up when people ‘anger you’ or if life throws you a curve ball (a flat tire, a bill you weren’t expecting, or when someone says or does something that hurts you).  If you are quick to react, lash out, become enraged, or go quiet in the silence of suffering, the never ending cycle of unhappiness continues. “A prisoner of our own self-induced pain” is what I call it.

Many would say that a person needs to be ready in order to make changes to their life and to who they are. Indeed this is true. Yet readiness must also exist in the desire to move out of one’s own “suffering”; to see that change and happiness is really driven by our desire and through action. We cannot blame others for the way we feel nor how we act and react in different situations. We cannot blame others for what happens ‘to us’ but rather we can examine our thoughts and assumptions – and our prevailing attitude – and be willing to seek out different ways of looking at everything.

Which brings us full circle to the practical method of therapy and its socratic questioning as a way of helping clients examine their lives and who they are – in different and more honest ways then how they have previously.

Blame keeps you in a state of suffering. Willingness to look within for what you can do to change your personal situation or aspects of yourself will always be met with answers, growth, and the freedom that comes with discovering just how much control you do have over your life and in who you decide to become.

 

 

A final note: While I cannot and do not speak for other therapists and how they approach the delivery of therapy as a modality of healing, I can say that my approach and the careful purpose of my questions is intuitively driven. When you are wholly present to the person(s) in front of you in order to seek to understand, acknowledge, and empathize their experience as best as you can by remaining engaged, and intentional in your delivery of help, you allow for a highly instinctive and organic process to unfold. While I am trained in several models of psychotherapy, my job is to ask clients questions that will help them think differently about their particular problem or issue. The idea here is that you as a client are the best source of knowledge for how to fix your situation or problematic behavior. What I simply do is help you become clear and self-honest, so that your inner wisdom may easily be accessed; and what you hear yourself say (which at times will surprise you) will be exactly what you intuitively know you need to do.

Blame me or someone else for how you are feeling and where you are in life….or look deeper within yourself. See how you got here, why you feel the way you do – and take back your personal power. Reclaim your ‘self’ by taking the steps to make your life (and yourself) far better.

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Random Acts of Loving-Kindness: Reclaiming Valentine’s Day as a way to remind us to be spontaneously LOVING in our actions.

 

Consider Valentine’s Day …a day that is already ‘hyped’ with a focus on LOVE …to be a day in which you make no distinctions between who you are being loving with.

 

It’s about sharing the LOVE… the kindness…and the appreciation of others in your life (and possibly a random stranger or two that will likely always remember your gesture of kindness and love).

Can we all share a little love just because it feels good to do so?

 

My seventeen year old client had the most incredible experience with what she thought would be a surprise gifting of roses (pre-Valentine’s Day) to someone she loves.

But he wasn’t in class the day she showed up with roses and a hand written love poem …as well as permission from the class teacher to reveal a grand gesture of her love.

Instead of worrying about how she would get the flowers to him, Sarah (a pseudonym and not her real name) kept the flowers in her locker until the end of the day and then flagged down random strangers – some in cars near her school, and two on a city bus – giving out a single rose to each ‘random’ person with a smile and a wish “to have a happy day”. The impromptu social experiment became a gesture in giving back in a way she never expected.

At one car, she noticed a father with his kids in tow. Sarah asked the father if she could give a rose to his young daughter in the back seat – the only girl in a family of three boys. He graciously obliged. The look of instant glee on the little girl’s face as her eyes lit up magically was almost enough to send my client into bliss….

Actually, it did.

…And Sarah shared the other roses in the same way – magically, deliberately, and with loving-kindness.

 


In a way that marks a new routine in your life, perhaps you too will reclaim Valentine’s day (week, etc) and make it what would be truly an incredible practice – a day of random acts of loving-kindness.

Begin with smiling at a stranger instead of avoiding eye contact. Step it up with paying for the person’s coffee in line in front of you, hand out a gift card to the person that collects and disposes of your recycling and compost each week, shovel your neighbour’s steps, bake cookies to give to those people that you see each week at the grocery store or bank who always serve you with kindness because that is who they are… or anything else that inspires you and says, “You are special” to someone.

This is what love looks like … the giving of kindness from the heart – whether by actual gift or as a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement.

 

For Sarah, her innocent and spontaneous gestures stirred in her a promise to always pass out roses on Valentine’s Day. It would be a way that she could make someone’s else day a little more special, a little more meaningful, a lot more magical.

Take back the commercialism and ‘big business’ of a day that is often filled with unmet (and also unspoken) expectations and consider what it means to….just be the love – period.

Without realizing it, you will have made your day a lot more special as well.

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Self-Acceptance

 Self-Acceptance: The transformational step between ‘Who you Are’ and ‘Who you are …Becoming’.

by Dorothy Ratusny, M.A., (C).OACCPP., PhD. (Candidate)

Self-acceptance is the acknowledgement of who you are. From here you use conscious intention and deliberate action to move you towards who you are willing to become.” – Dorothy Ratusny

 

After you read the blog, please check out the link at the bottom for a Guided Meditation that will allow you to experience what it means to truly accept yourself!

Self-acceptance is the ability to love and appreciate who we are even as you continue to seek change, personal growth and transformation. It is your ability to see yourself with a level of self-honesty that conveys heightened awareness and absolute truth. Self-acceptance is the antecedent to change and growth. It implies that you are aware of and able to acknowledge all of who you are even when there are aspects of yourself that you wish to change or let go of.

 

Who we are is fusing of multiple elements – all in a constant state of flux – that become (largely through our deliberate will) all of the greatness we believe is possible. Through self-acceptance we see the aspects of our self that we wish to uphold as well as those aspects we wish to become. Becoming all of who we are capable of is not possible until we are ready to admit honestly to our self, who and what we are.

Begin by acknowledging the qualities and characteristics that you admire and appreciate about yourself most. Your willingness to write these on paper brings a deeper level of awareness – a sense of ‘reality’ to what is otherwise – a grouping of ideas you hold in your mind. Self-acceptance builds esteem and self-worth whenever you are willing to acknowledge all of the good that you are.  Out of self-acceptance you acknowledge the less favourable parts of you: your intolerance for others’ differences, for judging others unfairly or for being unkind or purposely hurtful as a reaction to someone else hurting you. 

 

Self-acceptance is about willingness to see yourself as you are. Out of self-acceptance comes positive change – personal growth – knowledge – and feelings of empowerment and self-worth as you choose to embrace new thoughts, behaviours and core beliefs to replace what once was.

I teach the notion of self-acceptance with clients as a rite of passage (‘a stepping stone’) that takes them from unawareness or at times self-denial, to intentional transformation. One of the benefits of having someone you can trust mirror back to you what they are observe and witness of you, helps you to connect the dots as to ‘why’ you do what you do, and ‘how’ you can change. This allows for a greater ease to which transformation happens.  When we are able to acknowledge and understand with clarity, the significance of our thoughts, the core beliefs we hold, and how our behaviours affect us and others, we can confidently step forward into who we want to become. This of course, is helped greatly when we are given the right tools, guidance, and support for making positive change happen. 

In this way, self-acceptance is an important catalyst towards self-transformation and wholeness.

 

Use the following sentence stem exercise to help illicit the unconscious (and largely hidden) aspects of yourself that you do accept. Repeat each sentence stems at least 6-10 times, allowing yourself an opportunity to delve deeper into your psyche, and pay attention to what it feels like to acknowledge – and accept these aspects of who you are.

I accept that I am…

Next ask, “What do I not accept about myself?”

(If you don’t accept certain aspects of yourself, does this mean you are in denial of them?)

Choose to be self-accepting of the parts of you that are less likely to change and recognize that everything else is within your power to become better – if you choose.

Remember that self-acceptance is also the kindness you choose to acknowledge and speak inwardly and aloud.  When we actively practice self-acceptance as intentional kindness directed within, we further anchor our positive feelings about our self and this encourages us to continue to be this.

A final thought…

Through self-acceptance we elevate our awareness to live out of our free will choice. We can choose to act from a place of authenticity – to be loving kindness – or we can allow our ego to be in charge. Acting out of our ego-mind, our thoughts (and our reactions to our thoughts) are fear-based and do not represent who our ‘self’ truly is. ‘Self’ as defined by eastern philosophies is the core essence of who we truly are. Our core self (our soul consciousness) is pure, loving, and always truthful. Self-acceptance is one mechanism that guides us to choose how we will be.

Sat Nam everyone!

Please check out my Guided Meditation on Self-Acceptance that will transform how you feel about yourself.  It’s so very beautiful and powerful! Please give yourself some time in quiet to take it all in and feel free to do it often.

https://soundcloud.com/dorothyhelps/self-acceptance-a-guided

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A Mother’s Day Inspirational Message

Helping a Mother Understand what it means to be Gay: Healing a Relationship of secrets, pain, and anger.

 

My client and her mother are not so different from other Mother and Daughters. As I sit before both of them I feel hopeful. A Daughter willing to enter into therapy to work on gaining closeness and understanding with her Mother and to overcome the hurt of offensive comments and past wounds that she has carried largely in silence. A Mother, not knowing what it means to live in shame and self-loathing, nor to be misunderstood by those who are supposed to love you the most, is open and willing to be part of a process that she has little knowledge of, and certainly no idea of where it will lead.

 

What makes my client’s story so interesting for me has nothing to do with her sexual orientation (she initially dated men and women before deciding she would prefer a gay relationship). Rather it is the level of commitment that each woman brings into the therapy session that highlights the value they place on one another – on being a family, on improving the way in which they communicate so that words are not spoken without consideration of the other, and perhaps the ultimate hope of healing the past so that there can be a new way to experience one another – a way that they both can trust in.

 

What I see (and I tell them so) is two women reestablishing their relationship as ‘equals’. The “role” of Mother as I explain, is very different than how it existed before. There are no diapers to be changed, nor lessons on how to cross the street at a crosswalk, or what to expect with a first period. The vast amount of ‘Mothering’ has been completed almost two decades earlier; the role of Mother today needs to be one of: supporter, validating her Daughter’s painful hurts from the past (like the times when she was physically hurt by her older brother and then threatened if she ever spoke of it). The “role” of Mother today is simply to listen, to validate her Daughter’s journey in discovering who she is; and to ask the necessary questions that will provide her with understanding and knowledge so that she never again prejudges or mistakenly condemns her Daughter’s choices.

 

Mother’s day means different things to each of us. Perhaps you too have experienced a “shifting of roles” in your relationship with your Mother, relying on her for different things (perhaps just to lend an ear as you talk about a current issue on the phone, or having your favorite dish waiting at Sunday brunch). Perhaps you now see her as your equal. Or, as in some cases when roles actually become reversed, you can accept that your Mother has technically completed her ‘duties’ as your ‘go to’ for everything. You may have become someone that she now comes to for guidance and help.

 

Most important is to appreciate your Mother for all that she has done, accepting that her new role in your relationship may be something quite different. Finding what that ‘different’ is will (if both of you are willing) help heal the wounds of the past and build new parameters for what your relationship is…and is becoming.

 

I always appreciate my sessions with my client and her Mother.  I can see their closeness deepening (like the time recently when Mother reached out and took her Daughter’s hand, holding it gently as she listened to the story of how her brother used to pick on her, and become physical when the Mother was not around).  I can hear the patience in my client’s voice when she listens to her Mother tell her some of the backdrop to the past; how being a single parent with two young children was only one of several challenges that she rose above.  I know that these women have already begun healing…their laughter and sharing of one another’s lives in our session highlights how they are learning much about one another – as who they are now.

 

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Active Laziness

In his book, ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, Author Sogyal Rinpoche uses the phrase “active laziness” to describe how we are constantly cramming our lives so full with compulsive activity that we don’t ever have time to examine the ‘real’ issues.

 

Our life seems to dictate to us what we do; possessing its own bizarre momentum – and carrying us away with it.  Sadly, we often feel that we have ‘no choice’ or ‘control’ over what we “have to” do.

 

If we pause to look a little more closely, we begin to see how many unimportant tasks (so called “responsibilities”) accumulate, taking up valuable time – and keeping us from experiencing what is really important.

 

We tell ourselves we have “no time”, that we will “make time later or tomorrow” for things that are important to us  …. and yet by the next morning, we wake up and do it all over again.

I’ve been gently reminding people that we eventually “run out of time”; that there is purpose in “living IN this moment”, and not waiting to do something you’ve been meaning (or desiring) to do.

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Because months (and let’s be honest), decades of our lives can “get away from us”…all we have is the present moment.  Practically speaking, it only takes minutes to write down what you would really like to experience, do, enjoy, and be …for today, along with some ways you will go about making these happen.

After all, life is a series of many moments….and the culmination of all of our experiences of these moments. Hopefully we can remember that we are in charge of our moments…by choosing so.

Namaste everyone!

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A Note about Sadness

In a world were so much focus is placed on our outer appearance, the state of what physical objects we own, how we look and appear to others, what others see; and what we wish to see of our self, there is less of a need to acknowledge and honour what is within. Working to find our unique path in life; one that allows us to feel a sense of promise, hope, and fulfillment happens only as we are aware of our heartfelt desires; those gentle and yet sometimes fierce inner urgings that tell us to take a certain path; to try this new thing, or to go in search of a particular new experience.

 

 

Feeling attuned with your inner self means being aware of this place deep within you. Your sadness, and any other inner anxst or turmoil are often visible reminders that there are things beneath the surface; inside your being that need attention.

 

Sadness can often be the result of some past life situation – perhaps unresolved.  A general low level of sadness that seems to be there whenever you find yourself in moments all by yourself, can have very different meaning for you.   The main point is to no longer attempt to cover or deflect the sadness (or any other emotion you may be feeling) and instead step in ever so further. The point of looking at any emotion to explore and uncover its root origin allows us to have information- to have knowledge about why we feel the way we do and to address the underlying root cause.

 

Sometimes you will find yourself feeling sad for no real reason. The sadness comes from your train of thoughts and whatever you were thinking in those recent past moments.  Uncover your thoughts to see how your thoughts influence your overall mood state.

 

Sadness like any other feeling has an underlying purpose. It is there to reveal what may be missing, unhealthy, unsatisfactory, or disturbingly wrong with a present life situation. Sadness also comes out of our choice to focus on a particular life situation without truly empowering ourselves to discover what we need to do with it. We remain lodged in the feelings of sadness and replay the conversation or event rather than contemplate “What can I learn from this?” or “What would I need to feel at peace (happy, content, healed, etc) from this situation instead?”

Let your heart (your intuitive source) point out some real possibilities and begin to imagine yourself following the path toward them. Contrary to any previous thought, you do not have to remain sad; sadness is a feeling that is the result of “something” and not a resting place for our state of being.

 

The next time you glimpse even a fleeting sense of the feeling of sadness, consider what you are guided to do instead. Feel the sadness but decide whether you will choose to remain here; whether you will make sadness a regular experience or whether you will acknowledge it as simply an emotion that calls on you to attend to its for purpose – it is always a feeling that requires further exploration and examination.  Likely your decision to explore sadness will allow for some positive action that moves you toward feeling an entirely different set of emotions after all.

Namaste everyone!

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The WISDOM of LOVE to Cure all things….a Metaphysical Perspective.

One of these days, I’m going to write a more extensive blog on the topic of channeling.  Channeling Divine energy is simply the act of being in touch with your Highest Self.  On some days (like this morning :)) I channel bold global statements that I feel are worthy of sharing – trusting in that those of you on your spiritual path will find the words I write comforting, and inspirational.  To channel or ‘communicate’ with your Highest Self is simply bringing the Divine out of you – whether that be in words, actions of kindness and love, or beautiful thoughts that become wonderful things.  Enjoy!

Love is infinitely strong in its grace; in its capacity for freedom,and acknowledgement of all that is good, comforting, and just in the world.

Love deliberately and joyously given… strengths and heals past wounds for in being forgiving, LOVE overrides despair and initiates understanding and healing.

 

Love does not imitate false hope nor does it pretend that which is untrue or unfaithful.  Love cures all things.  Because of your capacity to elicit love, you feel its healing effects – its soothing properties of lightness and bold expansion coursing through you.  This is how you experience yourself as ‘larger than life’ (not in a boastful, ego-driven way, but as true immensity for greatness).

 

Holding love for others means you can hold more for yourself.  

‘Holding’ (feeling) love for others fills you with the feeling of love.  It is though this that you experience the depth of love you are capable of – directed inward.  Learning how to love the self is one of the greatest life lessons we could ever know.

Namaste everyone!

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This is WHY they say… ‘Ignorance is Bliss’

Some would say that the process of therapy is about getting help with a critical life situation or problem that you’ve been struggling with on your own for some time.  

And yet, I always explain when asked ……. the fundamental purpose of therapy is to help clients see themselves (and their life situation) clearly – accurately – truthfully.

 

It’s actually quite common for a client to attend only a session or two (yes that quickly!) and have a pivotal, life changing … “Ah ha” moment.

Self-awareness doesn’t only happen ‘in’ therapy, but whenever someone is willing to look at a situation (or their self) with different eyes – or in many cases with severe honesty – and the intention of seeing things from a different (and more accurate) perspective.  And yet to admit the truth (particularly when it means revealing a flaw or problematic behavior) to yourself is a difficult thing for many of us.

 

There are many times in our life where we know exactly what to do, but yet don’t do it.

 

Being open to seeing a situation, a behaviour, or a way of thinking with honestly, requires that you see it as “it is”.  No doubt it’s easier to sugar coat the truth, to make excuses for your own (or another’s) actions, or to tell yourself that “it’s okay” in an effort to deny a gnawing feeling that you have when you know deep down inside that what you’ve just told yourself is “okay”, is truly not.

 

Recently a client had finished a series of counselling sessions with me.  Her actions in the workplace (reprimanding her staff “with aggression”, ‘mothering’ rather than ‘mentoring’, using sarcasm and passive-aggressive behaviours rather than dealing with matters directly and calmly) made her a candidate for receiving therapy as part of the necessary requirements of her conditions of future employment.

At the outset of therapy, it felt as though nothing I was saying was reaching her.  Sylvia (not her real name) appeared to be actively defending her behaviours, as well as denying some of the accusations made toward her.

 

Fast forward a few sessions and I gratefully began to see the results  (the payoff) of Sylvia’s struggles to see what I was attempting to show her.

 

It is when we first take responsibility for SELF and for our ‘own’ actions, that we become “awake”.

To be awake is to be able to see yourself and all of your thoughts, feelings, and actions with clarity and truth.

 

In a moment of ‘awakening’ we forever change.  There is a shift that occurs deep within our psyche that acknowledges what we have done, who we have been, and how we have viewed the world up to this moment.  When we awaken we “evolve” – we transform.  As our eyes open to seeing ourselves both as we are, and how we have been – it is like turning a page in a book.  We see and recall details of the chapter we have just read, but we are now looking forward to the next chapter in front of us.  (At any time, we can go back and reread parts of previous chapters – much like how we benefit from reviewing, reflecting on past behaviours, and reminding ourselves of where we have come from).  The idea here is that our awakening begins first with awareness – recognition – and acknowledgement.  

Enlightenment comes out of your willingness to live in that new found awareness.  It is the gift of living “awakened”.

When you look at a situation in order to examine, dissect, and understand it, there is usually an underlying and often overwhelming need to have things be “okay”.  Observe your self first.  Truly it is only your own actions that you can change so this should be your focus and not the actions of others.  Be willing to see your ‘mistakes’, to note where you could have behaved differently, and to imagine what other outcomes (within your own control) would have been more helpful.  Be willing to see your imperfections not from a place of harsh judgment but as a way of learning – and of observation as a means towards positive change.  

As an adult, we don’t have the same level of input from caregivers, teachers, and positive role models (e.g. older siblings who have done ‘good’ in the world) that can guide us.  As adults, we forget that we are not infallible nor have we mastered all of the “right” behaviours.

 

When you begin to see yourself honestly, you will likely also experience a barrage of distinct emotions.  For example, sadness, remorse, disbelief, shame, regret etc for what has transpired, and for what you are willing to take responsibility for (even if just quietly to yourself).  

 

This stage is important since it is in ‘awakening’ to yourself completely that change happens.

As you move into another ‘way of being’ – or as I refer to in my upcoming book: ‘WISDOM’, “a return to your true self” – you cannot help but see the world differently.  For example, the exact same behaviours in others in light of your new found clarity (your awakened state) can no longer be overlooked or denied.  The world around you may initially not appear so bright or pretty with your ‘new’ eyes.  It can (and often does) leave one feeling despondent, depressed, even hopeless… and wondering how much better it really is to see the ‘truth’ (hence the phrase: “ignorance is bliss”).  

Seeing clearly at times means big changes for how someone lives their life.  It isn’t unusual for a person to change careers, release a relationship, change their lifestyle (e.g. become vegetarian) as a result of their awakening.  None of these changes likely occur without careful thought; you realize that you no longer can continue living the same ‘lie’ – the same incongruency that you once did.  

 

And remember, the changes you make from an awakened state even while difficult at times, while always improve the quality of your life (and reveal your natural state of happiness).

 

So how do you exist in your new non-blissful state of truth?

You actually need to feel uncomfortable, let down, and at times even betrayed (yes indeed…. betrayal is a keen motivator compelling you forward to take care of yourself).  For Sylvia, it was returning to the same workplace she had left two months earlier, except that now she saw everything as it was.

In those first two weeks, she experienced other staff resistant to helping her integrate back into the team.  She noted colleagues were hesitant to share updated procedures, and a Manager who appeared to be ‘playing’ multiple sides at once, telling her what he thought she would want to hear rather than the ‘whole’ truth.

 

Seeing everything ‘as it is’ means that you need to observe with a strong resolve of  “detachment”.  You can become easily distraught in the ‘half-truths’ or unethical behaviours.  Choose instead to focus on being your best, rather than attempting to change everyone around you.  Realizing that what she saw all around her was no longer acceptable meant that Sylvia no longer wished to stay on in her job. 

 

Envision the great things that YOU will do with your life.  It would be sad to allow all that you now see “cloud” your life by being negatively affected.  See the truth but remember – its not your job to ensure that everyone is behaving well.  Allow others to be who they are without needing to change them.

Be aware and awake – focusing on what good you will bring to your own life.  To be distracted by all the ‘wrongs’ that you now see would take away from what your new clarity has in store for you.  Pay attention to your heart’s yearnings….and the signs and messages that you see pointing you in a new direction or challenging you with a welcoming opportunity that you can feel excited about.

The message below is a little strong…but there’s ultimately truth in it… and …it does make you think 🙂

Namaste everyone!!

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Your AUTHENTIC Self

Perhaps one of the most undervalued privileges of the human experience is self-knowledge.  Beyond describing what it is that we do for a living, our preference of music genre, or our favourite ice-cream flavour, how well do we really know our self?  Much of our adolescence is spent contemplating who we would like to be (or self-loathing who we think we are) in comparison to peer groups and current media influences.   As we enter adulthood and strive to be autonomous, self-knowledge is somehow less important than the perception others have of us.  We decide on a vocation, a life partner and all of the other tangible items (e.g. job status, accumulation of material goods, even our decision to have children) that fulfill society’s requirement for living a meaningful existence – all without placing value on knowing our self.

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Knowing your self comes from journeying within.  At the core of self-knowledge is honesty and authenticity.  You need to be willing to see yourself accurately, and yet with acceptance rather than judgment.  Sometimes this is best achieved when a loved one can act as a mirror, reflecting back to you what they observe.  More often, it is your commitment and perseverance to self-awareness that elicits insight, knowledge, and understanding.  Out of the honest observation of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, it becomes intolerable to ignore the truth.  Self-knowledge promotes positive action.

 

Out of self-knowledge you are forced to examine your vulnerabilities and imperfections.  Through self-awareness and self-responsibility, you see the various events of your life as challenges to grow – and to become more.  Through this process of growth, you evolve.  Self-actualization (the motive to realize one’s full potential) in experienced as the result of the relentless pursuit of conscious awareness and personal growth.*

 

authentic-self

While clients may initially seek therapy for help and guidance with a specific problem or situation, the inescapable benefit of the therapeutic process is the opportunity for self-honesty and clarity.  The net result is an understanding and authenticity that comes from being truthful.  You may not always like what you see, but your commitment to self-honesty is what facilities positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

Some suggestions for attaining greater self-knowledge and truth:

 

Create a ‘Who Am I’ List

Use a journal to record an exhaustive list of qualities that best describe who you are.  Without screening or judging your thoughts, note all of your traits, core competencies, positive attributes as well as what aspects of yourself you would like to change.  The process of creating such a comprehensive list requires you to identify yourself-concept (how you see yourself).  The qualities that you wish to change provide you with a place for personal growth.

 

Practice Conscious Awareness

Self-knowledge and understanding cannot exist without conscious awareness.  Practice present moment awareness for bringing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours – particularly at times when you are not your ‘best’ self.  With conscious awareness, you continue to learn about yourself.  Out of self-knowledge you choose how you want to be, rather than simply doing what you have always done.  Being self-aware reflects empowerment and provides you with the insightful information that you alone can be responsible for.

 

‘Live in your Truth’

With self-honesty, it is possible to develop a healthy (empowered) sense of self.  Out of honesty comes the ability to grow self-esteem.  Healthy self-esteem requires that you value yourself and your happiness.  You feel confident in your ability to express yourself with honesty and authenticity.  To live in your truth means that you honour what is best and right for you and you live according to that.

 

If we consider that self-discovery and self-knowledge exists on a continuum, then we accept that the possibility for learning about who we are is endless.  Self-awareness transcends age, educational level, and intelligence.  In fact, the more self-aware and reflective we are, the more incredible we become as a human being.

 

Namaste everyone!

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*Expressing one’s creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to society are some other examples of self-actualization.

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90 DAYS….

The idea of 90 days comes from a recent conversation with a client.  His partner’s father went for medical tests after he exhibited some problems with his cognitive functioning.  The tests revealed a diagnosis of cancer and a life expectancy of  90 days.

 

How would you live each day – each hour – each minute ….if you knew you had 90 days left to live?

 

I quietly cringe when I hear people use the phrase: “I had time to kill…..”

Likely they don’t deliberate on what meaning their words have.  I never want to “kill away” any time of precious life; one can never get that time back in moments when we wish we had more; and we can certainly never go back to re-live something.

I wonder how different we might approach our life if we lived with the hopeful anticipation of living forever, yet with the inner awareness and deliberate action of knowing that it can also be as little as 90 days….or less.

Would all of the needless thoughts still take up so much space in our mind?  Would we say: “I’m sorry” sooner?  Would we begin that project now?  Would we drop everything and find a beach to walk on?

The point isn’t to try and fit in all that you can if you only had 90 days to live.  It’s to consider how you would best spend the time you have, living life.  Practice living the greatest life you can for the next 90 days.  See where your dreams and deepest desires take you.  Consider that quiet introspection and reflection is just as important (perhaps more so), as taking action.

 

If you had 90 days to live, could you do so with inner peace, calm, and purpose?

Why not make your personal 90 day list.  What are the most important things to you? How could you experience them NOW?  Challenge yourself with making the next 90 days incredible beginning TODAY… What will you do?

Namaste everyone!

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February 2013: Surrender and Release…

The message of February’s ‘SURRENDER AND RELEASE’ reminds us of the power in “letting go”, of shedding the parts of our self (and our life) that are no longer working, nor contributing to the good of our Highest Self.   When you surrender it means you can stop forcing something that may not be divine timing or ‘right’ for you; instead looking at what is available, what is in front of you, what is more aligned with your ‘truth’.

 

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When you ‘let go’, ASK for help and Divine Guidance from your Highest Self.

Then trust that everything you surrender and release to will either be replaced by something BETTER or become HEALED.

These become powerful lessons in “faith” and “trust”; important for all of us on a spiritual path.

This month’s message comes at a perfect time when we need to consider everything that is not working in our life and make a conscious decision about what to do with it.  Holding onto (whether physically or metaphorically) the things that aren’t contributing to our quality of life, that feel like a burden or ‘difficult’, or that cause us stress and unhappiness – are the precise ‘things’ what we need to surrender to.

 

This doesn’t mean we have permission to give up on a relationship, or stop working on our goals; rather surrendering is about pausing, observing, and ASKING to be ‘shown’ the gift or blessing in what we are struggling with in order to learn something important.  What we learn always helps us! 

 

Be willing to surrender your fears; visualizing them being carried away –  and replaced with what you need instead.  (Consider what you need in any situation.  e.g. courage, confidence, patience, etc).

When you think of issues you want resolved you can ask your Highest Self to give you a “higher” or “healed” version of the issue.  

You can also ‘release’ the issue to your Highest Self and ask that it be taken care of for you.  Sit quietly, relax, and close your eyes.  Surround the issue or situation in light and release it.  For the next 5-10 minutes, see yourself receiving answers and ‘right’ guidance.  

 

Feel yourself being supported by the divine Wisdom of your Highest Self. 

Namaste everyone!

 

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The Path….

The soul’s journey is one of a peaceful existence.   We listen to and allow the many ways in which the soul speaks quietly, purposefully to us and we are gently moved in the ways of spirit.

What does your heart say that honours your spirit best?

This is how you best guide your next actions – your next focus – the guidance that holds your truth is at once the perfect nature – your soul’s path AND the path you are already on.

 

In all of the daily requirements of life, make space in the abundance for inner work; for acknowledging the needs of the soul drive your ‘highest’ actions.  Consider that the way in which you realize the most perfect things in life are also the needs of the soul.

Honour the needs of your soul by asking, “What honours me best right now?”  Then listen and hear the words spoken from within your heart (not your mind).  This is the path you must follow.

Namaste everyone!

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Miracles…reflections for October 2012

In this brand new month of Autumn it is easy to see what is changing in our environment.  Noticing the new season with appreciation of what is perfect and beautiful is how you allow yourself to accept what IS with miraclous appreciation.  This same philosophy is how you might view all of the miracles of life that are constantly occurring all around you.

 

Appropriate especially to this ‘ever changing’ time of year, the idea of miracles reminds us to be clear about the miracles we most desire …and to look for them to show up in our life with belief and faith.  It also reminds us to go in search of what miracles of life we want to manifest with positive action.

When we are open to even the smallest miracle – we always receive so much more.

I remember as a child that sometimes my grandmother would lay next to me as I was falling asleep.  She would always lie close to me; so close that I could feel her breath on my face.  She would hold my hand firmly in her strong yet delicate hand.  I used to think that maybe it comforted her to do so.  I felt her expression of love vehemently and this gesture connected us to one another as we both fell asleep.

Visiting her in the 24-hr care facility where she has just celebrated her 89th birthday, and living in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, she took my hand – the first words she quickly spoke were, “I love you”.  As my sister and I sung traditional ethnic songs along with her and spoke in short conversation, she held my hand firmly – lovingly.  It was as if nothing at all had changed from all of those times as a child; except for the miracle of experiencing the power of her gesture.  The miracle in those moments was that she – in all of her frail, sometimes confused, and likely scared state of being – was comforting me.

I was reminded of all of the beautfiul ways that she had comforted me throughout life…and in that moment it was the greatest gift to feel comforted by her.  It reminded me of the miracle of love that transcends all obstacles, illness, and time – for all of us.

 

As you begin this new month and look ahead to all of the perfect ways you might experience the simple miracles of life…first be open.  Expect that miracles are present everywhere…and all that you need to do is allow them to touch your heart.

See EVERYTHING as a potential miracle…without judging it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’; and experience the perfect magic of miracles that exist everywhere.

Namaste everyone!

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