“Beyond the Couch” Season 2 Kickoff!

I’m really excited today to kick off “Beyond the Couch” podcast‘s second Season! We had such great episodes last season where we highlighted some of the ways that you can get back on track after difficult, painful, and even scary experiences so that you could recreate joy, freedom, and happiness to build a life that you want to celebrate.

I wanted to ensure that, as we continue with Season 2, we keep highlighting tips, tricks, practical resources, and insights from topic experts so that you can put the pieces together to create that life that you want to celebrate.

One of last season’s highlights include our Mindful Monday series – which I’m really looking forward to continuing and expanding upon in our second season! This season we will also introduce gratitude as a key factor in Mindfulness.

As we focus on celebrating you in your amazing life, I wanted to highlight a few triumphs. Many of you contacted me to share the ways that you were feeling stuck and paralyzed in your life. Some of you even felt like it was out of line for you to be feeling that way because you had something positive come into your life and yet it was hard to move past the anxiety or it was still hard to feel joy, excitement, or happiness enough to keep moving forward.  And many of you were feeling like nothing was really wrong but that nothing was really right or feeling good either. What stood out to me in your correspondences was that the combination of insights and information along with practical tips and tricks as well as the Mindfulness based practices really helped you find the clarity you needed to first figure out what it was you wanted in your life then to draw upon the resources and practical tools to get those things in place. In fact, several of you shared your favorite Mindfulness activity, which I’m very excited to share:

Maryanne, USA: “Mindfulness has helped me really experience my meals and change my relationship with food. Mindful eating was the missing ingredient in my weight loss efforts over the last 12 years! It has really made a difference in my self esteem and relationship with my body and with food overall.” 

Michael, Australia: “I love the practical ways that movement meditations help me focus on what my body is doing throughout the day. Mindfulness with the body scans and walking meditations have gotten me in more touch with what I’m doing and I value the way I can use the Mindful movement practice to connect with my body after a long, busy day.” 

Diane, Canada: “I have come to understand my breath. When I am just going about my day, there are so many opportunities for me to just pause and see what’s happening with my breath. Once I do, I can notice that I am participating differently in my activities. Just the awareness of breathing without changing it is my favorite – I can do it as many times a day as I want and anywhere!”  

I mentioned a few minutes ago that “Beyond the Couch” podcast will be adding a gratitude component into our Mindful Monday series this season.I wanted to take a moment and share my own gratitude for this incredible community of listeners as well as the community where I practice. Your trust in me has meant a great deal and I have tremendously valued sharing “Beyond the Couch” with you! As I was awarded the “Best Mental Health Service” award in my community last year, I was filled with gratitude at the opportunity to support so many of you in your lives and committed to sharing even more of the best of what lies beyond the couch to fill your life with celebration. This season, I dedicate the celebration to you in your amazing life!

“Beyond the Couch” has also been selected as one of the FIRST podcasts to be featured on Spotify! If you have not yet done so, please feel free to listen and, if you think others may benefit from the same, please feel free to share.

You can listen to the episode, subscribe, share, rate, and review it here! And as always: If you missed any of the episodes, they are always available via iTunes, on my website, and YouTube. Don’t forget to check out the new Spotify podcast platform for our episodes as well!

You can also click RIGHT HERE to listen now!

If you’ve found the “Beyond the Couch” episodes helpful in some way, please be sure to leave a rating and review so that 1.) I know what helps you and 2.) so that others in the same boat can find what they need.

Thank you so much for helping to spread the word through your downloads, subscriptions, ratings, and reviews. It has been incredibly exciting for me to share this with you and I am humbled to continue bringing you valuable information, tips, resources, and experts!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!


Break Out of Your “Mental Rut” to Turbocharge Your Life!

Have you caught yourself just whirling through your day, finding yourself at the end of it and just wondering where the hours went? Or maybe you’ve looked up from what you were “busy” with to find yourself puzzled by how it just got done without you even noticing that you were doing it. Sometimes, we find ourselves relieved that we just managed to get yet another item on our to-do list done. Yet, we might often feel like we’re on a fast spinning carousel ride that we can’t get off of. We might find ourselves overwhelmed, frazzled, or even just like we “miss” being a part of our lives. This is where that autopilot mode can take us – a life filled with days that are devoid of our awareness and participation.

In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles “on automatic pilot,” without really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really “present” moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: We can often be “miles away” without know­ing it.

On automatic pilot, we are more likely to have our “buttons pressed.” Events around us and thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the mind (of which we may be only dimly aware) can trigger old habits of thinking that are often unhelpful and may lead to worsening moods. snapping at our loved ones or colleagues, and not really understanding what quite set us off.

By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go into the same old “mental ruts” that may have caused problems in the past.

This is where the gift of Mindfulness can bring tremendous benefits – not only to ourselves, but to those around us who are impacted by our experiences. The aim of Mindfulness is to increase awareness so that we can respond to situ­ations with choice rather than react automatically. In other words, we can break the grip of autopilot and its reactions. We do this by practicing to be­come more aware of where our attention is and deliberately changing the focus of attention, over and over again. We do this without berating ourselves so that we can keep moving forward rather than getting pulled back into the same tailspin.

As we prepare for the next round of the Mindfulness Matters group enrolling in just a few short weeks, I wanted to share a short exercise with you for react with more intention and deliberation in our lives so that we can escape the mental ruts and access greater freedom and choice in our day-to-day experiences.

This exercise is designed to easily bring mindfulness into your everyday life so that you don’t have to feel pulled away from the things you love and care about to take care of yourself.

Choose one task each day that you often do in automatic pilot. Things such as brushing your teeth, eating a meal, attending lectures, showering, preparing for bed, walking in the park are suitable. It is probably best to stick with one activity for a week or longer rather than changing the activity regularly.

When the time comes for that activity, do it in a fully mindful frame of mind. Pay attention to the activity itself, noticing with intentional awareness what is happening right now. For instance, with teeth brushing you might feel the touch of the brush on each tooth and the gum, note the noise it is making become aware of the taste of the toothpaste. Just like in the breath awareness, if you find yourself thinking of other things, then simply note it for a second or two and return to the sensations associated with brushing your teeth.

If the activity is likely to be longer than a few minutes – such as eating a full meal or walking in the park – then practice the first three minutes mindfully. Pay attention to what you see, the sounds you hear, the feeling of your clothes as you walk and what can you smell.

As a general aim, stick to the sensations present at the time: touch, sight, sound, taste, smell. You may also note what emotions and bodily feelings you have – like noticing your breathing becomes faster or tension in your muscles.

At the end of the exercise, continue the next activity mindfully for as long as that Mindful state lasts.

What did you discover about yourself as you went through this exercise?? What did it feel like to slow down and really participate in your life to get out of that mental rut?

Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self into the New Year!

Please feel free to comment and share what it was like to get yourself back in charge and escape the never-ending mental rut!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Don’t forget to get access to more valuable content weekly here!

P.S. Groups are an amazing way for us to lean how to express ourselves and understand that we are not alone. The Mindfulness Matters Group will run on Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm  beginning on February 26th and running through April 16th. Get in touch to talk about how this might help you get yourself back on top!

Your Pet Loves You – More Than You Know!

For many of us, there is a furry-footed loved one that we call family. Or perhaps it is a feathered friend or fish that we love. We know that our heart warms at the thought of them and that we find ourselves comforted and soothed in their presence. In fact, we might find ourselves marveling at the ways that they know just how to brighten our day, especially when we are stressed.

Research suggests that many animals have an innate knack for connecting with others, often making them impeccable pets. Not only this, but many of these animals go on to become adept healers through their innate traits. Pets who provide a unique comfort for those they live with are referred to as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s.

Because of this unique impact that many animals offer to us, research has gone on to explore the ways that pets can enhance the lives of those living with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Pets who serve as ESA’s differ from service animals in that they are not trained to assist the struggles in any way, yet their presence and interactions do offer assistance that can facilitate healing and recovery for their human companions. In my Goodtherapy.org article on this process, I explain some of the benefits that ESA’s can offer for those living with PTSD. Click HERE for details:

With this notable impact, it is no wonder that so many of us feel better at the mere thought of spending time with our interspecies loved ones… in fact, many people report that they miss their pets as much or more than other family members! One of the reasons for this is that their pet offers them support and comfort for the challenges that they are facing with anxiety, depression, or the aftermath of a trauma.

If you find yourself benefiting from the ways that your pet enhances and contributes to your emotional well-being, you might be wondering how to go about registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal. I have recently created a package to facilitate this so that more people can go on to experience the healing benefits of living with a beloved pet! For details, visit HERE to see how you can get started.

In what ways do you love to spend time with your pet?? Share with us in our social media pages to connect with other pet lovers who are finding their lives that much more meaningful with their furry-footed, feathered, and aquatic loved ones present!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

How Would You Save Your Life?

Have you thought about what your Iife depends on? Or have you thought about the things that you do on a day to day basis that keep you going and preserve your safety? How about any situations you might have been in where you have thwarted danger?

If you’re asking yourself these questions and reflecting on the answers, you might have noticed that you have a set of default and automatic things that you say to yourself. You might also have a pattern of criticizing yourself or thinking that you can’t handle what comes next or that you’re just not good enough to get through. You might find it hard to focus or feel like you’re being judged.

It can be overwhelming and we might find ourselves shutting down even further.

There is a more effective way for us to find clarity so that we can maneuver difficult situations in a way that’s helpful to us. With the confidence and clarity to navigate terrifying situations, we give ourselves permission to show up and shine in our lives!

I share openly in my Mindfulness groups that I believe Mindfulness can change the world. Now I can say very frankly that Mindfulness can save our lives. I’d like to share an example of how this played out for me recently.

Of course, Mindfulness has physiological benefits that not only extend our lives but that also improve the quality of our lives. Yet, there is a more immediate impact that refers to a way that use of a variety of Mindfulness skills can help us escape terrifying and even, in the case of my example, potentially life-threatening situations in that moment it’s happening.

Recently, I attended a training in Fort Lauderdale. As a lover of the water, I was happily practicing Mindfulness skills while enjoying my time in the beautiful, calm, and warm waters along with several other trainees on the evening of the first day.

We noticed the water begin to move very differently along with a very distinct shape appear next to me just a few feet away. The thoughts running through my mind were that there is no way it could be possible for a shark to to be so close to me in water that is less than four or five feet deep.

Yet, my Mindful observation clearly depicted the one, along with the shift in the movement of the water.

I quickly removed my awareness from the judgments in my thoughts and looked to observe again. It was unmistakable – both the shark fin and body as well as the flow of the water with such a buoyant creature so close by.

In the next second, I observed where the water was easier to move through. Now drawing upon Mindful movement skills, I quickly and deliberately led the group of us laterally away from the shark before we began to Mindfully wade our way back to the shore.

In doing so, we struggled a bit and one of the other trainees began falling. Our Mindful focus helped us to keep taking steps forward while the LovingKindness mindset of Mindfulness allowed me to reach out to help steady the falling member.

When we finally reached the shore safely, we started to feel the full scope of what a potentially terrible situation we had just escaped. Rather than panicking, we reached for our Mindfulness of feelings skills and began notifying other beachgoers calmly.

Several commented that our calm approach helped ward off their panic and help others take responsive and effective actions. We also notified the property staff so additional safeguards could be taken.

Once all the appropriate actions had been taken, I spent a bit of time reflecting on what had happened:

+I realized that I had made use of the Wise Mind, where an integration of both Reasonable and Emotional Mind informed my interpretation of the situation and the actions we took

+I knew that a reaction embedded in the Emotional Mind, while understandable could have put me in greater jeopardy

+I also knew that everyone’s safety was of paramount importance, a mindset that has been nurtured with the compassionate Mindfulness practices of nonjudgment and LovingKindness.

+I also remembered both my initial wave of shock and panic along with the exhaustion in my legs as we were working our way back to shore and knew that my practices of Mindfully noticing my experience without judgment and coming back to the present helped me, rather than getting stuck in them and struggling more, to instead choose with awareness a set of actions and responses that would best serve me in this moment.

THIS is the essential benefit of Mindfulness of our lives.

Luckily, I was not harmed – nor was anyone else – and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for the reminder of the value of Mindfulness in my life.

Each of the skills I drew upon are ones I teach and practice in my Mindfulness Matters group. I even shared this story in our final session of the most recent round of the group and am looking forward to sharing it in the upcoming cycle of the group beginning in just a few weeks. Of course, my hope is that no one is in such a jarring situation but that they have the skills to take the kinds of actions that will best serve their lives no matter what kind of shocking, scary, or upsetting situation they are in.

If you are curious about what skills you can learn to help you keep moving toward what you want to celebrate in your life, hit reply and let me know! Or click on the button below to learn more about it.

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

A Closer Look at Reiki, Part 2

Last week, we looked a bit more thoroughly at understanding Reiki on the heels of my recent interview regarding how Reiki can impact our healing from compassion fatigue. Today, I wanted to further explore some questions about the impact of Reiki on our mental health.

Let’s begin with looking a bit at navigating overwhelming, stressful, and traumatic situations. An experience of trauma really takes a toll on us, particularly when there might be a greater sense of powerlessness and horror. In addition to the ways that Reiki can help to contribute to a greater sense of relief from the sadness and pain in secondary trauma and the stress and anxiety that accompany it, Reiki can help us stay more resilient when we are met with difficult situations and to also bounce back from them more readily and quickly. Another way that Reiki can help is that it can help us remain focused and think clearly which can help to navigate a difficult situation with more ease and set into motion factors that can bring on a better outcome. That on its own helps to cultivate a sense of empowerment and control which can really aid in combatting trauma.

We can also explore the ways that Reiki impacts depression. According to a study published in Alternate Therapies in Health and Medicine, patients who received regular Reiki treatments showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of psychological distress and depression. This symptom reduction continued for one year after the treatment regimen was complete.

The way that this works is that Reiki helps restore a person’s overall sense of balance, both in the mind and the body. This may help to improve the person’s mood and help him or her to overcome feelings of guilt and/or sadness that typically accompany depression.

We mentioned a few minutes ago that Reiki helped to slow down a person’s sympathetic autonomic system. This is the system that is activated when we experience anxiety and stress. It’s the primary mechanism in the fight or flight response. While the fight or flight response is valuable for us in the instant of a major stressor, over time, it begins to weaken us emotionally and physically. This then makes us more vulnerable to the negative impact of stress and anxiety. With this mechanism slowed down, our physiological responses to stress and anxiety begin to subside as well and provide us relief. In the Reiki mindset, there is a mind-body component to any kind of ailment whether it is physical or emotional and, in this case, there is an element of both present. Reiki works to restore the balance and harmony in both the emotional and physical body which can help us get back on track. Sessions provide a relaxing, soothing healing environment that ensures comfort and peace during the healing process. It’s this relaxed, peaceful state that helps to contribute to our emotional, physical, and mental well being.

Often, insomnia and fatigue come about as a result of something else going on – for some it’s stress, others anxiety, and we also often see it with depression and PTSD for example. In most cases, fatigue and insomnia tend to have an underpinning that indicates some kind of disharmony. Because Reiki works to restore balance by clearing away energetic or electrical blockages that get in the way of this harmony, it works to address the root cause of insomnia and fatigue.

I hope the last two weeks have given you a greater understanding of how Reiki can contribute to enhancing your life. You may still have questions or just be curious what it can offer you – just hit reply and let me know what you’re wondering!

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Feeling Fatigued??

For many of us, there is often a feeling of giving and sharing so much of ourselves that there may be a chronic sense of fatigue, depression, or even anxiety. In particular, there are those of us that are giving so much of our empathy and compassion on a constant basis that we may be experiencing compassion fatigue.

While it can be so meaningful for us to share and give of ourselves in this way, it can leave us feeling too depleted, drained, and out of sorts to continue to do so – or even to continue on in our regular activities as before. This is what can make compassion fatigue so difficult.

Jennifer Blough’s The Compassion Fatigue Podcast addresses this same issue. When she reached out to me to discuss the ways that Reiki can help us through this dilemma, I was excited to share information. Reiki can be such a powerful tool in helping us to rebalance our physical, emotional, and psychological needs – which are the things that compassion fatigue depletes.

You can access more information about compassion fatigue here. If you find the show valuable, please feel free to share it with others, rate, review, and subscribe. That way, more people who need it can benefit from it. You can also read more about Reiki here and listen to my overview of it here as well.

What was your top takeaway from the show? Share your thoughts and reactions in our Facebook and Twitter communities!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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“Beyond the Couch” Explores the Benefits of Group Therapy!

The newest episode of the “Beyond the Couch” podcast is here!

Today, we look at the benefits of group therapy, different formats of group therapy, and how we can gain the most benefit from group therapy. You can listen to the episode here!

Don’t forget: If you missed the first few episodes, they are always available via iTunes, on my website, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and YouTube.

If you’ve found these episodes helpful in some way, please be sure to read a rating and review so that 1.) I know what helps you and 2.) so that others in the same boat can find what they need.

Enjoy these first few episodes before the next one on Thursday – we’ll be focusing on Mindfulness!