Holistic Divorce Counseling

Holistic Divorce Counseling Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM, LMHC. Free support, resources, and comfort for all life's issues and transitions.

Nature and Exercise September 27, 2008

Filed under: NATURE & EXERCISE — chocophile @ 11:18 pm


I  cannot overstate how beneficial it is to get out of the house every day and spend some time in nature. Ditto for exercise.  It doesn’t need to be a marathon, a simple walk or some yoga will change your brain chemistry and improve your mood.


Here’s one of my favorite meditations to do while walking.  It’s called 5-4-3-2-1.  Find five things you can see, then five things you can hear, then five things you can feel physically or notice in your body.  Then four of each category, three, etc.  You may not be able to find different things for the whole meditation, but just focusing on these three areas: sight, hearing, and bodily awareness is quite calming.  You’re concentrating on something other than your divorce and getting a mini-mental vacation.


Focusing on nature is helpful in other ways, too.  It shifts our perspective away from the details of our own situation and connects us to something far greater: the universe, God, spirit, etc.   For a few minutes, we can enlarge our vision, maybe even feeling joy at simply being alive.  Take a deep breath and just be.  The challenges will still be there, but right this moment you can get in touch with all the goodness life has to offer.


Herbs & Homeopathy for Anxiety, Insomnia, Stress, etc.


The following is a list of various herbal and homeopathic remedies for the major side-effects of separation and divorce: depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, and repetitive thoughts. Naturally, it is also useful for the same emotions, whatever their source.



I recommend buying herbs as tinctures, rather than capsules.  Exceptions are: if you’re traveling and want something less fragile, or you are avoiding alcohol.  Some tinctures are alcohol-free, but, once opened, they must be refrigerated.

[My notes are quite abbreviated, so if you want more information on any particular herb or remedy please search the web, and always err on the side of caution.  Start with the smallest amount and see how you react to that.]


Calms Forte

This homeopathic combination formula has been around for a century and is a great relaxant and sleep inducer.  Start with one pill fifteen minutes before you retire.  You may take two if one isn’t enough, but do not take more than two.  If you do, you may find yourself feeling sleepy the next day.


This ancient herb is a central nervous system depressant, just like Valium, Librium, Xanax, alcohol and ether.  If using the tincture, read the directions and start with a lower dose.  Sometimes, the label will say something like, “Take 5-50 drops.”  Usually, one dropper full, about 25 drops, is a good place to start; but, if you weigh very little, or are sensitive start with less.  Mix the herb with about an ounce of water.

Valerian is often added to stress reducing herbal combination remedies.  Just be careful when taking it not to operate heavy machinery, as it may slow down your coordination and reaction times.

Melissa  (Lemon Balm)

This herb is a calmative and can really stop repetitive thoughts.  Take it fifteen minutes before bedtime, or if you wake in the middle of the night and find yourself unable to shut off your mind.  It can also be used during the day, but not if you’re going to drive.


As simple as this may sound it’s quite effective: put a few drops of essential oil of lavender on a tissue and place it about six inches from your pillow. Lavender will put you to sleep in no time. Men should not use lavender as it is a hormone disrupter and can activate estrogen receptors. (Ditto for Tea Tree oil.)


The easiest thing is to make chamomile tea.  If one tea bag isn’t doing the trick, try making a stronger brew with two.

Rescue Remedy

This is a Bach combination remedy made from the essences of five different flowers.
Rock Rose – for terror and panic
Impatiens – for irritation and impatience
Clematis – for inattentiveness and to counteract faintness
Star of Bethlehem – for shock
Cherry Plum – for irrational thoughts and lack of self control

Rescue Remedy is remarkable.  It’s safe, gentle, but strong enough to take the edge off what you’re feeling, whether it’s anger, anxiety, panic, or shock.

They sell something called Rescue Sleep but Rescue Remedy is just as good at half the price.

If you are avoiding alcohol try the pastilles.  They come in two flavors in a handy little tin.

Rescue remedy is also great for children and pets.

The Bach Original Flower Remedies are a complete system of 38 flower remedies that can help us rediscover the positive side of ourselves. To find out more, please visitwww.bachremedies.co.uk .

Hot Milk With Saffron and Nutmeg

Heat up any milk you like, cow’s, almond, rice, chocolate, etc… and add:

a few grinds of nutmeg, if available, or a pinch of ground nutmeg


a mixture of ground saffron with a tiny bit of sugar (You can grind about 1 TBSP of saffron threads with 1 tsp. sugar in a coffee grinder. Keep this in a small jar and use a pinch for each cup of milk.)

This really works to soothe your nervous system, relax you, and promote a great night’s sleep.


Rock Rose

This Bach Flower Essence is a miracle worker for panic and panic attacks.  It only comes in tincture form, so you can’t use it if you’re avoiding alcohol.  Just put two drop in your mouth and situate them under your tongue.  This way, the medicine goes directly into your bloodstream. You can also add two drops to a glass of water and sip it.  Either way, you should feel more centered within about 15 seconds.


Probiotics, substances that increase the good bacteria in your gut, make you feel more emotionally balanced. I suggest Kefir, rather than yogurt. Both are excellent and probiotic, but Kefir (a yogurt-like drink), has 10-12 different strains of probiotics, while yogurt has only a few. This data is from Current Opinion in Pharmacology, December 2012 and refers to both anxiety and depression.

Probiotics Supplements:

I would suggest Nature’s Bounty Probiotic 10. Start with a capsule once a day every few days. If you don’t experience any digestive issues, work up to one capsule every other day. It’s also good to eat fermented foods like yogurt, Kefir, real sauerkraut, etc. There is mounting evidence of probiotics being helpful in lessening anxiety and depression.


Warm fluids and foods

Ayurvedic doctors suggest eating warm foods and drinking warm liquids as a way to calm the nervous system. Even plain hot water works to calm your parasympathetic nervous system. Add a little lemon and honey, or your favorite tea to make it that much more delicious.


Bach remedies: Mimulus, Aspen, Rock Rose

These are liquids you take directly under the tongue or added to a water bottle. Just 2-3 drops is enough.

Mimulus helps with known fears like spiders, crowds, etc.

Aspen for unexplainable fears, night terrors, and night sweats with anxiety of unknown origin.

Rock Rose is best for sudden bad news, trauma, and panic.



More gentle than Kava, passionflower quells anxiety.  You can use it two to three times a day when in the throes of anxiety, or just take it once in the morning to keep anxiety at bay. Try 25 drops of the tincture in a little water.  This is very safe and won’t stress your liver.



A great relaxer, but stronger than Passionflower.  Anecdotally, I have found that men seem to like it more than women do.  Try a smaller amount, at first, to see what effect that has.  You can always take more.  Do not use this daily for more than six months, as it can be challenging to the liver if you use it long-term.


Holy Basil
See below under STRESS.


Use the essential oil by putting a few drops on a tissue and breathing in the scent.  Also, wonderful anytime you are in pain or expect to be (like before some procedure at the dentist). Men should not use lavender as it is a hormone disrupter and can activate estrogen receptors. (Ditto for Tea Tree oil.)

Rescue Remedy

See above listing under insomnia.

Researchers recently found that increasing one’s magnesium level reduced anxiety. In addition to supplements, you might also eat more dark chocolate as it is a magnesium powerhouse.


Fresh or dried without added sugar. Either one has a compound called linolool that instantly lowers stress.



Rhodiola Rosea

This herb has been shown to energize people, help with depression, memory,  and (sometimes) lessen anxiety.


Sublingual Vitamin B12

Get a really good brand and start with half a dose. This is a critical supplement for vegans.

Royal Jelly, bee pollen, bee propolis, and honey.

All three will make you more alert and peppier.  Royal jelly is the most expensive of the bunch, but people find it helps immensely.  This is what the worker bees feed the Queen bee, and she’s quite a dynamo.   You might want to experiment with honey and see if a teaspoon in the morning and evening isn’t enough of a boost.  The added benefit of using honey,  but only if it’s from bees within 50 miles of your home, is that it acts as an ersatz vaccination to help with seasonal allergies.  I know it sounds ridiculously simple and easy, but it really works.


Another easily available herb.  You can use a Tic Tac mint, or peppermint tea, or even as aromatherapy by putting some essential peppermint oil on a tissue and breathing it in.  Peppermint has been shown to increase concentration and alertness.



St. John’s Wort

The first “drug” of choice by psychiatrists in Germany when someone is moderately depressed.  As always, I suggest the tincture, but the capsules work well, too.  You may need to take this a week or two before you see results.


This nutritional supplement has been shown to help depression and it’s safer than St. John’s Wort.

Fish Oil

There is mounting evidence that a diet high in fish oils is a great mood elevator.  You can eat more fatty fish, like wild salmon, tuna, herring, or sardines; or, take a supplement.

Vitamin D

Fifteen minutes of sun a day would be just perfect, but you may not be able to attain that.  You can safely take 800-1200 IUs of Vitamin D3 (please be sure the bottle actually says D3 on the front or back) daily.

Gotu Kola

Used to combat mental fatigue and depression.  Gotu Kola also improves alertness and aids concentration by making one less sensitive to distractions.


Often used for heart health, this herb an be helpful for broken hearts, mild depression, and anxiety.


Converts the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin.  Used for depression, insomnia, panic attacks, and anxiety. Some people find taking 35-50 mg. three times a day more effective than taking 100 mg once a day.  Do not mix this with any other medications or alcohol. There is a long list of contraindications, so check with your pharmacist or doctor before trying this supplement.



Chew ice chips.

Buy Ginger Extreme candies, which are very strong. and use as needed. The least expensive place online to find these is Vitacost. Here’s a link:




Herbalist David Winston, recommends a combination of two herbal tinctures: lemon balm and St. John’s wort.




A homeopathic flu remedy that works amazingly well.  (If you go to oscillo.com you can get a coupon.)

Oscillococcinum has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu symptoms.  It works best when taken early.

Oscillococcinum works rapidly, with 63 percent of patients showing “complete resolution” or “clear improvement” at 48 hours. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the recovery rate within 48 hours of treatment was significantly greater in the group that received the active drug than in the placebo group.

Unlike other flu medicines, Oscillococcinum does not cause side effects, such as drowsiness, and has no known or reported drug interactions. Oscillococcinum is regulated as a drug by the FDA and can be purchased at pharmacies, natural food stores and supermarkets.



Try a stomach enzyme formula with papain and bromelain.  Different brands add other ingredients, like peppermint or lactobacillus, or ginger.  A simple, less expensive, way to go is to get chewable papaya from any Walgreens.  Even this formula has the papain and bromelain.

Duke University has been doing research on how a lower carbohydrate diet can also help with GERD. You may want to check it out and experiment.



Adding turmeric to your food may decrease inflammation.  Yogis find this very helpful in keeping themselves flexible and pain-free.



Jamaican Style Ginger Ale, not too sweet, and pickled ginger (the one served with sushi, preferably not the dyed pink variety) can be very helpful in relieving migraines.  There’s also GelStat Migraine that combines feverfew and ginger.



Hyland’s Nerve Tonic
A blend of five  different phosphate salts, this homeopathic remedy was developed in the 19th century by Dr. Schuessler. The tablets dissolve almost instantly, and usually take effect in 10-15 minutes with no negative side effects. Calms the nervous system.  A good alternative to Rescue Remedy (see above).

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi
A calming, balancing, and uplifting herb from India. As with all herbs, if you want to calibrate your dose more carefully, use the tincture; otherwise, the capsules are a portable, good choice. There is also Tulsi tea for a milder effect.


Some of the best things you can do for your digestive system, assuming you already exercise and eat a balanced diet heavy on the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are:

Eat Kefir. Kefir is a yogurt-like product with the consistency of a smoothie. It has ten probiotics, as opposed to the typical three or four in yogurt. Probiotics are good for your gut as well as your immune system.

Add two tablespoons ground flax seeds to your kefir, oatmeal, or cereal.

Eat a few fennel seeds after each meal. This is one of the ingredients in the mix you find in most Indian restaurants, and it can be purchased online.

If you are middle-aged, or older, you might want to try a stomach enzyme formula; or, just chew some Papaya enzyme tablets, which usually also contain bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple.

Peppermint tea can also be an effective stomach soother.


Stress can easily lead to aches and pains.

The simplest way of finding immediate relief is to send your breath to that painful area. Focusing on bringing the breath to an area of tension will help it release.

If your back is sore, lie down on the floor, on your back, with a rolled up towel (about 4″ in diameter) under your knees. Be still for 20 minutes and focus on breathing from your diaphragm. This will relax all the muscles around your spine. (To assist you in breathing diaphragmatically, put one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. The one on your chest should stay relatively still, while the one on your abdomen will move up and down a little. In time, this will become your default way of breathing and help you stay calm.)

Traumeel or Arnica cream or gel are very useful topical products for pain relief, though they should not be used on any area where you have a cut or scrape.

Arnica Montana 12c or 30C is a homeopathic remedy that can greatly ameliorate any muscle pain. It’s also an excellent remedy to take before and after surgery to speed healing and aid in pain relief.



Add Turmeric to your diet. It’s easy, inexpensive, and helps reduce inflammation, helps digestion, and arthritis. All you need is a quarter teaspoonful. Just add it to: salad dressings, red sauces, any grains (even oatmeal), smoothies, juices, etc. Here’s a link to a short article on turmeric’s benefits: http://body-mind-planet.com/2014/02/05/why-i-a-use-turmeric-and-you-should-too/

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


How To Choose A Therapist September 26, 2008

Filed under: How To Choose A Therapist — chocophile @ 5:59 pm


At some point during this cosmic hazing you may want to seek some professional help.  It’s crucial that you are discerning and informed, even though you may feel emotionally depleted and raw.  


Let’s first see what kinds of help are available:

Psychiatrists are MDs who typically suggest and prescribe medication, that’s psychotropic, or mind-altering meds.  They may do some psychotherapy, but that’s not typical

Psychologists are PhDs who counsel and provide psychological testing.  They do not prescribe medication, but they often refer to Psychiatrists. 

Psychotherapists, Counselors, and Clinical Social Workers essentially do the same thing, they counsel you. They do not prescribe medication.  Some may refer you to a Psychiatrist, while others may not.

Holistic Psychotherapists are usually trained in another discipline in addition to their psychology or counseling degree.  It may be nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, or something else. They aim to help you without the use of allopathic (traditional) pharmaceuticals because they know the side effects often outweigh whatever benefits there might be.   They typically suggest herbs, homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, breath work, and other modalities to help you help yourself.  They believe the body-mind-spirit is self-healing, though a gentle nudge in the right direction can be effective.


It is imperative that you remember your therapist works for you.  You are paying him or her for a service.  If you don’t feel comfortable, even if you can’t articulate the reason, don’t go back.  The minimum requirement is that you feel heard, respected, and supported.  Naturally, you want someone experienced and well trained.  Good chemistry and an easy, comfortable rapport are also vital.


Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


Quotes To Live By & Learn From September 24, 2008




NOTE: While the date of this post is 2008, it is regularly updated. Newer quotes are added to the bottom of the page.



I’m a quote-a-holic.  I believe in the power of words to reshape thoughts, thereby changing our feelings and perceptions.  Here are some of my favorites.



What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls the butterfly.

Richard Bach


Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.

Shakespeare, Henry V


To be in harmony with the oneness of life is to be without anxiety about imperfection.

Zen Master Dzogen


I made a list of things I have to remember and a list of things I want to forget, but I see they are the same list.

From Linda Pastan’s poem Lists


The attitude of surrender is the best antidote to one’s own anger, anxiety, and fear.

Sally Kempton Yoga Journal


All of our emotions are our babies.  Treat them tenderly, care for them.  Be with them.  Understanding and compassion will ultimately transform them.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Walking Meditation


There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

Louis L’Amour


Suffering is not the nature of our experience.  It comes from misunderstanding our experience.

Ethan Nichtern in One City


The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.



The Buddha’s Five Remembrances:

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation


All stress comes from resisting the present moment.

Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth


The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself.

Nicole S. Urdang


When Krista Tippett asked eighty year old Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Communities, what he was doing these days he replied:

I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the past 40 years: learning to love reality.


Comparison is misery.

The Buddha


If I only had three words of advice I could give you they would be : Tell the Truth.

If I were allowed three more, they would be: All the time.

From Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture


Everyone, and everything, is our teacher.

Yogic aphorism


One is one’s own refuge.  Who else could be the refuge?

The Buddha


Nemo dat quod non habet. (Latin for: You cannot give what you do not have.)


We give what we desperately want.  We say what we need to hear.

Robyn Posin


You don’t have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.

C.S. Lewis


Forgiving before you are ready is an act of violence against yourself.  And, you may never be ready.

Nicole S. Urdang


Never give the devil a ride, because if he likes the ride pretty soon he’ll want to drive.

Anne Lamott


The sun is always behind the clouds.



I love you, I will never leave you, I will always take care of you. (Said to oneself.)

Elizabeth Gilbert


What would it be like if I could accept life, accept this moment, exactly as it is?

Tara Brach


The best way way out is always through.

Robert Frost


One of the secrets to a happy life is continuous small treats.

Iris Murdoch


Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and all is well.

Dale Carnegie (with add-on by NSU)


I go out for a walk every day because the demons don’t like fresh air.

Ingmar Bergman


The choice is pain or paralysis.

Florence Nightingale


That which you seek is already within you.

Yogic aphorism


Expectations are resentments under construction.

Anne Lamott


There is no other person in the whole world more deserving of compassion than you.

The Budddha


It’s your life.  If you’re not going to be enthusiastic about it who will be?

Nicole S. Urdang


One heals suffering only by experiencing it to the full.

Marcel Proust


Sometimes, you just have to let everything fall apart.

Pema Chodron


When you find yourself reacting to someone’s behavior, imagine that person as a seven year old.  If you see their hurt and pain it’s easier to have compassion and move on.



Be here now.

Ram Dass


Believing in life before death is hard enough.

“Shoe” in the comic strip Crow


Revenge is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die.

Anne Lamott


When the horse is dead it’s time to dismount.

Attributed to Dakota Indians


We have all experienced abandonment.  What we need to learn is to never abandon our own self.

John Selby


Forgiveness means that it’s finally unimportant that you hit back–you’re done.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you want to have lunch with the person.

Anne Lamott


Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what is going on.

Pema Chodron


What we practice we become.

Yogic Aphorism


When we let go our hand opens and we are able to receive.

Rolf Gates


Never ruin an apology with an excuse.

Kimberly Johnson


Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Dr. Seuss


Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts.

Pema Chodron


One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.

C.G. Jung


Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Paul Dickson


My beloved child, break your heart no longer.  Each time your judge yourself you break your heart.



Rest is a sacred act.

Robyn Posin


A life truly lived constantly burns away veils of illusion, burns away what is no longer relevant, reveals our essence, until, at last, we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth.

Marion Woodman


Now that my ladders gone

I must lie down where all the ladders start

In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart

W.B. Yeats


We can’t heal what we can’t feel.

Debbie Ford


barn’s burnt down;

now I can see

the moon

Haiku by Masahide


Tenderly, I now touch all


knowing one day we will


St. John of the Cross


He who has injured thee was either stronger or weaker than thee.  If weaker, spare him; if stronger, spare thyself.

William Shakespeare


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way….

Charles Dickens


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Neibuhr


Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.

Ian Matthews


If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.

Meister Eckhart


A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,

no matter how long,

but only by a spiritual journey,

a journey of one inch,

very arduous and humbling and joyful,

by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,

and learn to be at home.

Wendell Berry


If you don’t risk anything you risk even more.

Erica Jong


Referring to meditation, an old Chinese Zen Master once said, “Some of you are taking me literally when I say, ‘Don’t think,’ and you are making your minds like a rock. This is a cause of insentiency and an obstruction to the Way. When I say not to think, I mean that if you have a thought, think nothing of it.”


The heart, like the grape, is prone to delivering its harvest in the same moment it is crushed.

Roger Housden


Transcending boundaries is one of the joys of life.

Cedar Barstow


The Heart Sutra: Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

“Gone, gone, gone to the other shore beyond.”



You can’t escape from a prison unless you know you are in it.



When life descends into the pit

I must become my own candle

Willingly burning my self

To light up the darkness around me.

Alice Walker


Sadness is information from the soul.

C.G. Jung


Courage is the ability to create a relationship with the unknown.

David Whyte


Be happy for no reason.

Alan Finger


The thread is spun under the tears, the cloth bleached with tears, the shirt sewn with tears; but then too it is a better protection than iron and steel….The secret in life is that everyone must sew it for himself….Then, there is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow.

Kierkegaard comparing the final stage of human consciousness to the shirt in an old fable.


Confidence comes from doing difficult things.



Man is what he makes of himself.  And the courage to be as oneself is the courage to make of oneself what one wants to be.

Paul Tillich


In some ways the trauma of separation is a welcome contrast to the boredom that underlies many marriages.

Abigail Trafford


The hardest experiences of our lives crack us open to that which connects us all.

Maria Coffey


To attain clarity, allow confusion.

The Tao of Healing, Haven Trevino


If you can’t get out of it get into it.

Saying from Outward Bound


Man is unhappy because he doesn’t know he’s happy.  It’s only that. That’s all, that’s all!  If anyone finds out he’ll become happy at once, that minute…. It’s all good.  I discovered it all of a sudden.

Dostoyevsky, The Possessed


A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with all the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

Eleanor Roosevelt


We are all one, contributing our part to the wholeness of the universe. Each like a petal: unique,  though an integral part of creating the flower’s beauty. Complete as we are, right this minute.

Nicole S. Urdang


When two people decide to get a divorce it isn’t a sign they don’t understand one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to.

Helen Rowland


If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.



This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Dalai Lama


Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.



Buddhist Prayer For Peace:

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses.

May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free.

May the powerless find power and may people think of befriending one another.

May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness—the children, the aged, the unprotected—be guarded by beneficial celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.


If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Winston Churchill


When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Helen Keller


If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right.

Henry Ford


Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.

Richard Bach
An emotional wound requires the same priority attention as a physical wound. Set time aside for mourning.
Melba Colgrove, Harold H. Bloomfield, & Peter Williams

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
Naomi Shabib Nye


I don’t know anything. Whatever I thought I knew was shattered. Whatever I anticipated never happened, and what I never anticipated did.
Terry Tempest Williams


Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.

Terry Tempest Williams

When you close your doors, and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within and your genius is within. And what need have they of light to see what you are doing?
Epictetus (1st Century AD)

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content.
Helen Keller

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.
W. R. Inge


Far too frequently we see ourselves as doers. This means that in order to feel worthy in our own or [Spirit’s] eyes, we feel we must endlessly work and achieve. We have not always learned just to be receptive, to be in the presence of [Spirit] – quiet, available….

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The great error of this age is that activity has increased so much that there is little margin left in one’s everyday life for repose.
Repose is the secret of all contemplation and meditation, the secret of getting in tune with that aspect of life which is the essence of all things.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Listen in deep silence. Be very still and open your mind…. Sink deep into the peace that waits for you beyond the frantic, riotous thoughts and sights and sounds of this insane world.

A Course in Miracles


You do not need to leave your room…Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Franz Kafka

Ultimately, healing is a coming to terms with things
as they are, rather than struggling to force them to
be as they once were, or as we would like them to be
to feel secure

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

Source unknown to me
Life is so short
We must move more slowly

Thich Nhat Hanh

You are a volume in the divine book
A mirror to the power that created the universe
Whatever you want, ask it of yourself
Whatever you’re looking for can only be found
Inside of you.



The deep attending to hard knots of holding is a powerfully compassionate act, a turning toward rejected parts of our being. As this newly compassionate observing occurs, the object of observation, the body/self is transformed and we move from denial to acceptance, from rejection to inclusion. This is the beginning of…loving kindness for the self.

Katherine Thanas in Being Bodies


All of our emotions are our babies. Treat them tenderly, care for them. Be with them. Understanding and compassion will ultimately transform them.

Thich Naht Hanh

Growth and forward motion continue whether we are vigilant or not. Pushing ourselves often slows the process: it stirs resistance in the healthy parts of us that are protecting the natural flow from being overthrown or interfered with. When things feel really hard, slowing way down allows the internal, organic balancing process to work its magic. When you get scared that you’ll never come out of this (or any other place in which you find yourself) remember that everything in us always moves toward growth and change–no matter how it looks to our outside eye.

Robyn Posin

Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart.
Try to allow the questions themselves,
like locked rooms,
and like books that are written in a very foreign language.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually,
without noticing,
live along some distant day into the answer.



Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears as bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit
meets the bone.

Miller Williams

For those of you still facing challenges, here’s something key I’d like to share that I’ve learned. Please know that a wholeness exists in you even in the midst of adversity. There is a light in you even now. You may not be able to see it at the end of the tunnel, but it is in you. Right this moment. A wholeness that’s untouched by what you’re facing. Maybe it seems very small. Maybe you don’t even believe it’s there. But it is. If you take a moment to close your eyes, feel it there. That’s the part of you that already knows how to face the challenge, that’s already transformed it and learned from it. It’s the part that will lead you to whatever other guidance you might need along the way. This in no way minimizes the challenge. It’s just that this other piece exists simultaneously and is with you always. And no matter how alone you feel, know that you are not alone. Others feel as you do. If you believe in spirit or the power of love, these are with you always, along with the wholeness inside you.

Alissa Lukara

Grief is a form of loneliness.

Source unknown to me.
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the over-fraught heart, and bids it break.

William Shakespeare


It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

You are the thinker not the thought.


Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.


Temporary defeat is not failure.

Napoleon Hill

Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.

Pema Chodron


We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

Pema Chodron

Every breakdown is a breakthrough.

Buckminster Fuller


We can’t feel gratitude and stress at the same time.

Max Strom


Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.

Chinese proverb


Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
Carl Jung


Even if we are determined to block the magic it will get through.
Pema Chodron


Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
James Baraz


Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.
Frederick Buechner


If God had a refrigerator your picture would be on it.
Max Lucado


My vision can be so limiting. I often think the only possible outcomes are those I can imagine.
The Courage To Change, Al-Anon


It’s better to want something you don’t have than to have something you don’t want.
Denny Crane, Boston Legal


Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.

Eckhart Tolle


The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.
Isak Dinesen


If you can sit quietly after difficult news;
If in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm;
If you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy;
If you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate;
If you can fall asleep without a drink or a pill;
If you can always find contentedness just where you are – you are probably a dog.
The one who knows realizes that difficulties are a part of every human life.

Jack Kornfield


It’s not your job to like me–it’s mine.

Byron Katie


Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Anais Nin


Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.

Georgia O’Keeffe


Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.
Titus Maccius Plautus


The spiritual path is all about self-acceptance.
Jack Kornfied


Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.

Erich Fromm


You have to know how to accept rejection, and reject acceptance.
Ray Bradbury

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We have to face the pain we have been running from. In fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us.

Charlotte Joko Beck


The wind of divine grace is always blowing. You just need to spread your sail. Whenever you do anything, do it with your whole heart concentrated on it. Think day and night, I am of the essence of that Supreme Being-Consciousness-Bliss. What fear and anxiety have I?

Swami Vivekananda


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.



Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

Oscar Wilde


He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have.



May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

Thérèse de Lisieux



I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.

Anaïs Nin


What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.

Hecato, Greek philosopher


Repetition is the mother of transformation.
David Magone


Every happiness is the child of a separation it did not think it could survive.
Rainer Maria Rilke

On Meditation:

I’m simply saying that there is a way to be sane.
I’m saying that you can get rid of all this insanity
created by the past in you. Just by being a simple
witness of your thought processes.

It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts,
passing before you.
Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging,
because the moment you judge, you have lost the
pure witness. The moment you say “this is good, this
is bad,” you have already jumped onto the thought process.

It takes a little time to create a gap between the
witness and the mind. Once the gap is there,
you are in for a great surprise,
that you are not the mind, that
you are the witness, A watcher.

And this process of watching is the very alchemy
of real religion. Because as you become more and
more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start
disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty.

That’s the moment of enlightenment.
That is the moment that you become for
the first time an unconditioned, sane,
really free human being.


I have learned … tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to these teachers.

Kahlil Gibran


We might also ask: Given my present situation, how long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings?
This is a good question, yet there is no right answer.
We simply get accustomed to coming back to the present just as it is for a second,
for a minute, for an hour—whatever is currently natural—without its becoming an endurance trial.
Just pausing for two to three breaths is a perfect way to stay present.
This is a good use of our life.
Indeed, it is an excellent, joyful use of our life.

Pema Chodron
“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you, you just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

Bob Marley


Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it.

Pema Chodron


What is at the end of any plunge but solid ground?

Nicole S. Urdang


“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
Louise Erdrich


“Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege!! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures, followed by wreckage, were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”

Joseph Campbell Quotes from A Joseph Campbell Companion


Wisdom’s not cheap, we pay for it.

Kevin Kling


I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

Samuel Beckett


If it’s out of proportion to the moment it’s probably about the past.

Deidre Fay

…But loving-kindness toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. It means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
Pema Chodron



Relaxation is who you really are. Tension is who you think you should be.

Lee Holden



Before you heal someone ask him if he is willing to give up the things that make him sick.




May you discover it is you you are yearning to love most and you who will show you how. It is you you are most longing to know.

Sarah Blondin















Create a Vision Board September 20, 2008

Filed under: VISION BOARD — chocophile @ 12:13 pm


When mired in unhappiness and disappointment it’s hard to imagine a future replete with joy; but, one does exist.  You can jump-start its arrival by creating a vision board.


Get a big piece of sturdy cardboard or poster board.  Something that can be leaned against a wall and remain stable.  Gather all the magazines, catalogues, and photos you have lying around the house. Leisurely, go through them, culling those images, words, and text that speak to you. Choose things that are emblematic of how you want your life to be now.  Think of your relationships, work, family, nature, food, travel, home, body, health, hobbies, habits, and spirituality.  You can use anything that triggers a positive thought and feeling.  Create a big collage by cutting these images out and taping or pasting them on your board.  You might want to put the most important things in the center and work your way out to more peripheral desires at the edges.  There is no right way to do this.  Be creative, let yourself go.  Allow the time it takes to think about each item and assess it for inclusion.  This will take hours, but once you get into the flow you’ll find it exhilarating.


When your vision board is complete place it somewhere where you will see it, at least, twice a day.  Take the time to look at all your desires. Allow yourself to feel as if they were already true.  Now, with openness to all the opportunities before you, let everything manifest itself.  You will be amazed.


Losing Friends After A Divorce September 18, 2008

Filed under: Losing Friends After A Divorce — chocophile @ 3:19 pm


We can speculate as to why people drop you when you’re going through a divorce–they’re threatened, they liked your spouse better, they don’t have the energy to support you on your emotional roller coaster–but the reasons are really immaterial.  The bottom line is some people will abandon you in your greatest time of need.  This happens to absolutely everyone going through the dissolution of a marriage.


How to cope is the real question.  See it as an opportunity to flex one of your emotional muscles: the loss muscle. Ideally, we get better at accepting loss as we mature, but most of us go kicking and screaming into this realm because it’s so painful.  We don’t want more practice letting go.  We want to hold on with all our might.  Unfortunately, that only prolongs our pain; and, loss does equal pain.


As the Buddhists say, “The only way out is through.”  Face the fact that you are not unique in this regard: everyone loses friends in a divorce.  But, most people make new ones.  Of course, if you sit home 24/7 you won’t meet people.  Get out, join a group through meetup.com (it’s free and they have groups for every interest from yoga to board games); get active in your church, mosque, or synagogue; go to the gym or walk in your neighborhood; join a divorce support group; amp up your activity in a professional organization; or, just stay home and rant and rave until you’re ready to do some of these things.  You may think that day will never come, but it will.


Perhaps, there’s an old college friend you haven’t spoken with in years.  Call him or her and see if you still click.  With so many people having been divorced you may find a kindred spirit.


Learn to ask for help.  Most of us are excellent at lending a hand to someone else, but balk at appearing needy.  Get over it.  Use this time as a fantastic opportunity to allow others to help you.  In the beginning, you will feel awkward and have cognitive dissonance about reaching out. Stay the course.  It takes guts to ask for help, and to keep asking, but the more support you can get the easier your transition will be.


Be honest.  People don’t have ESP and they can’t know how you’re feeling unless you tell them.  As Randy Pausch said in his Last Lecture: “If I only had three words of advice I could ever give you they would be: Tell the truth.  If I could add three more they would be: All the time.”  The only way you have a chance of getting the loving help you crave is to be brutally honest with yourself and your closest friends.  Putting up a brave front actually prevents people from knowing how much you’re suffering, and keeps them at arms length.


People who have never navigated these waters have no clue what you’re going through.  Accept their ignorance.  It’s not from lack of caring.  They just have no concept of the extent of your grief.  If you want their help you have to educate them.  Let them see how devastating this is for you.


Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


Books, CDs, DVDs, & Podcasts For Divorce, Break-Ups, and Self-Soothing September 17, 2008

The following is a widely varied list of books and CDs I recommend during divorce or any other period of transformation.


HOW TO STUBBORNLY REFUSE TO MAKE YOURSELF MISERABLE ABOUT ANYTHING, YES, ANYTHING! by Albert Ellis, PhD.   The father of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (the precursor to Cognitive-Behavior Therapy) explains how your thoughts create how you feel.  This is an invaluable tool for living a happier, calmer life as it promotes unconditional self-acceptance and develops inner strength.


ASK AND IT IS GIVEN by Eleanor and Jerry Hicks.  A new age book about the laws of attraction.  This is not like the THE SECRET.  It’s well thought out and there are a wide variety of helpful techniques in the second half of the book.  I highly recommend doing the Vision Board as you work through your divorce. It is an extremely creative, positive and optimistic activity.  (The more I listen to the Hicks’, they also offer a wide range of fabulous CDs, the more I am convinced their philosophy and approach is a New Age version of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy or Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy. The more recent writings and CDs, those from 2007 and later, seem to be the best.)


HEALING BACK PAIN and THE MIND-BODY PRESCRIPTION by Dr. John Sarno.  It is fairly common for our bodies to express emotions physically because we sometimes haven’t yet learned to express them consciously.  One of the stages of grief is denial, and divorce can be replete with emotional avoidance tactics. The body’s aches, pains, and symptoms are its way of expressing these unconscious issues.  Dr. Sarno points out how these repressed emotions get expressed physically and how we can get in touch with and acknowledge them thereby releasing the tension that creates all sorts of symptoms from migraines to IBS.


MOLECULES OF EMOTION by Candace Pert, PhD.  The world renowned psychoneuroimmunologist explains how her research into receptor sites for peptides, neuropeptides, etc. demonstrates that there is a feedback loop between our emotions and every cell in our body.  Be warned, this is a fairly scientific book, but fascinating.


THE WONDERS OF SOLITUDE by Dale Salwak.  A great little inspirational book on enjoying one’s time alone. Out of all the books in this genre I found this the most useful.


MEDITATIONS FROM THE MAT by Rolf Gates.  A rich amalgamation of writing on yoga, from pragmatic to esoteric topics, all delivered in a very welcoming style.


AT BLACKWATER POND by Mary Oliver.  A CD of Mary Oliver, one of our greatest living American poets, reading dozens of her pieces.


FEELING GOOD by David Burns.  A cognitive-behavioral psychologist helps you through depression.  I think the depression that many people feel as they go through divorce isn’t true depression, but grief masquerading as depression.  However, this book is full of useful, straight-forward techniques.


THE ART OF SELFISHNESS by David Seabury.  A real classic in the field of positive psychology in that it was written in the 1930s but is as relevant as anything written last week. Seabury shows how what appear to be selfish acts really benefit everyone.  This is especially good for all those middle-aged women who are divorcing after long marriages where they put their family’s well-being above their own.


THE TAO by Lao Tsu, translated by Ursula LeGuin or Stephen Mitchell.  These two different translations of the Tao (pronounced “Dow”) are great places to start your familiarity with one of the great books of all time. Mitchell’s work is more accessible, but LeGuin studied the Tao for 50 years before attempting her translation.  If you are in the throes of emotion save these for later.  They’re quite philosophical, and something more immediately pragmatic might be a better choice.


LEAVING HOME  by David Celani.  One of the best books on how we get through a toxic childhood.  I’m suggesting it here because divorce often stirs the pot of unresolved childhood issues and it may be useful to understand what could have predisposed you to be in the relationship that’s ending.  It’s bit of a slow read, but full of great insights.


TOXIC PARENTS by Susan Forward.  A classic in the field.  Much easier to read than Celani’s book, but recommended for the same reason: to use this transformative time to heal.


REMEMBERINGS AND CELEBRATIONS CARDS from Robyn Posin’s site forthelittleonesinside.com  These are one of the most useful tools you can ever have.  64 cards with ways of looking at yourself and the world that will change your life.  I know the site is very female friendly, but my male clients love these cards too. (While perusing Robyn’s site you might want to read some of her longer autobiographical pieces as they are a fascinating–and helpful–glimpse into one woman’s way of being in this sometimes crazy-making world.)


SPIRITUAL DIVORCE by Debbie Ford.  A valuable book for radically shifting your perspective on your divorce and embracing its lessons.


THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR by Martha Stout.  An eye-opening look at sociopathy.


THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON by Elaine Aron. A truly brilliant assessment of what it means to be sensitive in our society and how to appreciate that in yourself, if you are highly sensitive.


WHEN THINGS FALL APART by Pema Chodron.  Buddhist path through life’s hazings.  A slow read, but worth the time and effort.


RISKING EVERYTHING, TEN POEMS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, and other compilations by Roger Housden.  These books are not just compendiums of poetry, they are replete with Roger’s unique take on the challenges of being human.  He is refreshingly forthright and honest.


THE EIGHT HUMAN TALENTS by Gurmukh.  A real gem.  Gurmukh is a Sikh and a Kundalini yoga teacher. She delves into all realms of emotional territory with great compassion and sensitivity.  There are various postures and practices, including breath work and mantras, to help you re-center and re-energize.


YOGA NIDRA by Richard Miller.  Yoga Nidra translates to: yogic sleep.  This isn’t sleep as you know it, but an ancient technique to catalyze deep relaxation and inner focus.  The book comes with a CD.  You don’t need to know any yoga to do this as there are no postures.  It’s all done lying on your back.


YOGA NIDRA CD by Swami Janakananda.  I like this yoga nidra CD best of all.  There is a short form and a longer version, each with its own merits.  The Swami has an Indian accent, but he’s easy to understand. Highly recommended.


YOGA NIDRA by Maalika available from Amazon or iTunes.


YOGA NIDRA podcast by Elsie.  I can’t believe this is free, but it is.  Go to iTunes. Click on Podcasts. Find Elsie’s Yoga Class. Find the episode called “yogic sleep, yoga nidra.” (It’s Episode #62, from 1/25/08.) This is an incredible yoga nidra practice, though you may want to skip the first 14-15 minutes, as she talks about a slew of other topics before launching into the yoga nidra practice.  A hour of pure bliss.


GUIDED MEDITATIONS FOR CALMNESS, AWARENESS AND LOVE by Bodhipaksa.  Bodhipaksa is a Welsh Buddhist.  There are three segments to this CD: a breath section, a loving kindness mediation, and a walking meditation.  I have been using this CD for years and still find it incredibly calming.


MEDITATION by Swami Muktananda.  A short, beautiful book on meditation.


POSITIVE SOLITUDE by Rae Andre.  An excellent, thorough look at solitude and how to enjoy your time alone.


CALLING IT QUITS: LATE LIFE DIVORCE by Dierdre Bair.  Fascinating accounts of middle-aged and older women choosing to leave long marriages.


ON MY OWN by Florence Falk.  Excellent resource book with a great bibliography.


HOW TO NOT BE AFRAID OF YOUR OWN LIFE by Susan Piver.  The title’s a bit unwieldy, but the book is great.  Honest, and full of psychological and philosophical gems with a meditative and Buddhist slant.


RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach.  On of the best books I ever read on coping with life’s challenges. The author is a psychologist and Buddhist. Unflinchingly honest, brilliant, and helpful.


THEY CAN’T FIND ANYTHING WRONG by David Clark, MD.  On the relationship between stress and disease.


WALKING MEDITATION by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I believe this book comes with a DVD and a CD.   The book is a delight and the CD quite calming.


A NEW EARTH by Ekhart Tolle.  Tolle’s books are great, but I prefer to listen to him talk.  You can do this for free on iTunes by accessing their podcast selections and searching for Tolle.  He and Oprah had 15 hours of conversations on this book with questions from people Skyped from all over the world.  He’s a funny man with a prodigious knowledge of human nature, philosophy, and psychology.


THE ESSENTIAL RUMI translated by Coleman Barks.  I adore this book.  It has the poem, The Guest House, that is so wonderful I’ll post it here so you can see if Rumi, a Persian poet from the 13th century, appeals to you.



This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honorably.

They may be clearing you out

For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

For each has been sent

As a guide from beyond.

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominquez and Vicki Robin. This is a great book for radically rethinking your relationship to money.  It points out how to have more time and freedom by making different choices about work and spending habits.

HOPE AND HELP FOR YOUR NERVES by Claire Weekes.  A classic for panic and anxiety.  Claire is a real healer, and an extremely supportive, loving guide.

THE HEART OF ADDICTION by Lance Dodes. I’ve been working with alcoholics and their families for almost 35 years.  This book presents a completely different view of addiction.  Not a panacea, but a new perspective.

THE SMALL BOOK & RATIONAL RECOVERY by Jack Trimpey.  For those not inclined to go to AA, these books use rational-emotive behavior therapy to conquer addiction.

THE NEW MENOPAUSAL YEARS, THE WISE WOMAN WAY: ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES FOR WOMEN 30-90 by Susun Weed.  This is a great reference book for women going through peri-menopause and menopause. Ms. Weed, a master herbalist, is full of suggestions ranging in their intrusiveness from least invasive to most.  She lovingly suggests a wide variety of interventions for every aspect of a woman’s changing body-mind.

HEALING THROUGH THE DARK EMOTIONS by Miriam Greenspan. Ms. Greenspan is a very brave woman.  She plumbs the depths of her own grief, rage and despair to help you see their transformative power.  Not a quick read but worthwhile.  One of her quotes, from the Talmud (the Jewish bible) is: “Your heart will give you greater counsel than all the world’s scholars.”  She encourages you to fearlessly dance the dance of dark emotions, rather than succumbing to society’s injunction to be “emotion-phobic.”

CHOCOLATE UNWRAPPED: THE SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE PASSION by Rowan Jacobsen.  A great guide to chocolate’s health benefits; plus, history, recipes, myths, and nutritional information.  Concise and convincing.

WALKING MEDITATION with CD by Anh Huong Nguyen and Thich Nhat Hanh.  This is a great little book, currently on sale at Amazon for $7.49. The CD alone is worth the price.  Anh talks you through the meditations.  She is so profound, yet amazingly sweet, simple, and loving.  The book is a wonderful catalyst for inner peace.

NOLO’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DIVORCE, 2nd Edition, by Emily Doskow.  This is a very comprehensive and easy-to-assimilate reference book with excellent sections on everything from the different types of divorce and their relative costs, to a wonderful parenting agreement.  I strongly recommend reading this before hiring a mediator or lawyer.

WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR by Alice Walker. An excellent compilation of various talks, poems, and essays that will resonate with you if you walk the earth.  Deep, thought-provoking, and loving.  Who could ask for more?

CRAZY TIME, SURVIVING DIVORCE AND BUILDING A NEW LIFE by Abigail Trafford.  A comprehensive view of divorce.  She can be a bit negative sometimes, but, overall, I would recommend it.  There is an excellent section on anger; and, I was interested in her ideas of emotional and psychological divorce.  Ditto, some of her comments on deceivers/deniers and dominance/submissiveness.  If you like lots of examples and case studies, this is for you.

THE CRAGGY HOLE IN MY HEART AND THE CAT WHO FIXED IT: OVER THE EDGE AND BACK WITH MY DAD, MY CAT, AND ME by Geneen Roth.  Ms. Roth is an excellent writer on the topic of weight, body image, and gaining self-acceptance.  This memoir is a departure from those themes; at least, overtly.  It’s an excellent examination of parental betrayal on a few levels.

DIVORCED DAD’S SURVIVAL BOOK by David Knox, Ph.D.  This is quite comprehensive, with sections on introducing your kids to your new partner, coming out to your wife and children, divorce mediation, what to do and  not to when you kids are with you or your former partner, and staying connected to your kids.  It’s direct, clear, and easy to read.

FOR YOURSELF: THE FULFILLMENT OF FEMALE SEXUALITY by Lonnie Barbach. The definitive guide for women who want to increase their sexual enjoyment.

The University of Illinois has some wonderful FREE BROCHURES online for everything from alcoholism to stress and trauma. Check out their list at: http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=7“%3E”

JOURNEY TO THE HEART: Daily meditations on the path to freeing your soul by Melody Beattie. I often find these types of books tedious and unfulfilling, but this one is deep and helpful.  I can see how many of its entries would steer you to a new perspective as you go through your own transformative process.

MEDITATIONS TO CHANGE YOUR BRAIN by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendlius. This audiobook from Sounds True is both didactic and experiential. It helps you create new, positive pathways in your brain, which, in time, override old, painful memories.


YOGA FOR EMOTIONAL BALANCE by Bo Forbes, Psy.D. This is a very soothing practice to calm your nerves. It focuses on all aspects and combinations of anxiety and depression. The suggestions include breath work, restorative poses that seem disarmingly simple, yet are quite powerful, and various cognitive approaches to re-framing one’s thinking.

I loved her tone, the clear instructions, and the simplicity of this approach. As the Chinese say: simple, not easy. The challenge is incorporating new behaviors into one’s daily life with regularity, so deep patterns can change.


HOW TO SURVIVE THE LOSS OF A LOVE by Melba Colgrove, Harold H. Bloomfield, & Peter McWilliams. This pithy, helpful book was written in 1976 by a psychiatrist, psychologist and a poet. It’s a great little resource, full of helpful reminders you want to hear when your world is inside out from loss.

THE GRIEF RECOVERY HANDBOOK by John W. James and Russell Friedman. This is an excellent workbook that purports give you all the tools you need to complete your grief. While I may not agree with that lofty promise, the book has numerous things to offer, not the least of which are loss and relationship timelines that can be most elucidating.

AROMAYOGA by Tracy Griffiths and Ashley Turner is an excellent handbook that succinctly covers a multitude of complex topics. There are photographs of all the poses, breath work practices, meditations, mantras, suggestions for using various scents with your yoga, affirmations, as well as excellent descriptions of balanced characteristics of each chakra along with excessive qualities, deficiencies, and a very interesting section on traumas and abuses. The spiral binding allows you to easily keep the book open while practicing.

If you are not already familiar with GaiamTV.com, you may want to check it out now. Ms. Turner has a highly illuminating and pragmatic series of videos, a different one for each chakra, that would be a great companion to this book.

YOGA FOR EMOTIONAL FLOW By Stephen Cope. Two CDs, the second of which CD is filled with incredibly healing, calming meditations.

KUNDALINI YOGA TO DETOX AND DESTRESS by Maya Fiennes. A wonderful introduction to the healing powers of Kundalini yoga with poses, mantras, and Maya’s infectious life-affirming philosophy.


KUNDALINI YOGA WITH MAYA FIENNES is a three DVD set that explores the Chakras. The topics are Creativity, Willpower, and Courage. I have been practicing yoga daily for over ten years and I found some of these sequences challenging; however, in time, you can build your stamina and strengthen the first, second, and third chakras. As usual, Maya is appealing, supportive, and knowledgeable.

DEVA PREMAL’S CDs. Deva is a deep soul with a beautiful voice that transports you to realms of bliss with her unique renditions of classical Sanskrit mantras. The theory is the sacred sounds heal through their ability to attune with your body. You can sample her music on Amazon or iTunes.

AA NOT THE ONLY WAY by Melanie Solomon. This is really two excellent books in one: a thorough description of alternatives to AA, and an amazingly well-researched resource guide to therapists and treatment programs. You can also access her website: http://www.aanottheonlyway.com.

DAVID ISON’S CD: FREE YOURSELF FROM CHRONIC PAIN. David presents a compelling and enjoyable CD focused on deep meditation through sound healing. I found both his voice and the music very calming. In fact, it put me to sleep. To get the greatest benefit from this, and all meditative practices, you need to dedicate yourself to using it daily for, at least, a month.

GOLDEN BOWLS OF COMPASSION CD with Karma Moffett. This is truly excellent. There are many different types of singing, or crystal, bowl CDs out there. This is the only one that seems to really resonate in my cells. At 99 cents for the Amazon download, it’s an incredible bargain for over an hour’s worth of music. Also a great cure for insomnia.

COURAGE TO CHANGE: One Day at a time in Al-Anon II. An excellent resource to inspire, guide, and support you through any life transition. It may have been written for an Al-Anon audience, but it’s just as applicable to anyone felling adrift, overwhelmed, or confused. This book can be read a page a day or more quickly. Either way, you can return to it anytime life seems too challenging.
PROBABLY THE BEST MUSIC FOR RELAXATION AND MEDITATION. This is actually the title of a 30 minute downloadable 99 cent MP3 from Amazon that uses Binaural technology to help you deeply relax. Excellent for meditation, insomnia, and whenever you need a break from life.
COMING APART, Why relationships end and how to live through the ending of yours. By Daphne Rose Klingma. An excellent book that really walks you through the healing process. The beginning explains what made a particular prospective partner seem so alluring. My only quibble is Ms. Klingma seems to assume everyone wants another relationship almost immediately, while I believe a bit of time on one’s own is part of getting to the other side.

VINIYOGA THERAPY FOR ANXIETY by Gary Kraftsow. This inspirational DVD is an excellent, comprehensive resource for anyone suffering from anxiety. I was immediately impressed by Gary’s gentle, non-pathologizing approach. His conceptualization of anxiety and suggestions for applying yogic postures, meditation, breath work, and mantras to clearing its debilitating effects were clear and easy to follow. I also agreed with his focus on how intention, determination, and commitment are crucial to ameliorating anxiety. His suggestions for establishing rituals of self care, reframing thoughts, and taking a holistic approach all resonated with me.

VINIYOGA THERAPY FOR DEPRESSION by Gary Kraftsow. Another interesting, informative, and useful DVD including lectures, questions and answers from the audience, and actual yoga practices. Gary focuses on helping you strengthen self-restraint, impulse control, selective renunciation, rituals of self-care, and selfless service as ways of overcoming depression and re-engaging in life. I know how difficult some of this may sound, but, as counterintuitive as it may seem, caring for others when we are feeling deeply wounded and depressed is exactly what helps break us out of that downward cycle. As always, I like Gary’s use of adapting breath work to yogic postures, using breath with meditation, chanting, and his inspiring light imagery. You do not need any background in yoga to enjoy and profit from this DVD, or his other one on overcoming anxiety. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.


YOGA NIDRA by Maalika MP3 download from Amazon. An amazing yoga nidra practice that takes you to an incredibly relaxed state.




Gaiam TV. This amazing site has a plethora of yoga videos of all styles, lengths, and levels. In addition, there are articles, movies, meditations, and music all designed to help you chill out, find your true self, and simply feel good. They offer a free trial and various membership deals.


Yoga International. Another great website with loads of articles and videos of yoga and yoga philosophy.


The following are some of my favorite podcasts, all of which are available through iTunes for free:

A Quite Mind

Meditation Oasis

The Meditation Podcast

Sounds True, interviews with a wide variety of teachers

Episode #62, Yoga Nidra meditation practice, from Elsie’s Yoga

The Secular Buddhist

Jonathan Foust, Buddhist talks and meditations

Tara Brach, Buddhism and psychotherapy

On Being, Krista Tippet interviews interesting people on spiritual and humanitarian issues

New World Kirtan, Kitzi Stern’s wonderful selection of Sanskrit and English mantra music


Breath Work To Deepen Your Meditation and Create Calm


For thousands of years yogis have known the amazing benefits of breath work.  Science has corroborated these techniques with data about the nervous system; specifically, the ability of certain breath practices to actually switch the body from the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).  As few as five to ten cycles of 4-4-4 breathing can calm one’s body-mind as much as a mild tranquilizer or herbal remedy.

(As with all suggestions on this site, if you have pre-existing health problems or current health concerns, please consult with your physician about the safety and appropriateness of any particular technique.)




First, make sure that you are bringing your breath all the way into your diaphragm (the area just below your navel).  The easiest way to develop this ability is to lie on the floor with a rolled up hand towel under your knees (this relaxes the back).  Put one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen.  As you inhale, draw the breath deeply into your abdomen.  The hand there should rise a little, while the hand on your chest should remain stationary. One of the simplest relaxation techniques is to practice this diaphragmatic breathing for 20 minutes with your eyes closed.


The 4-4-4 BREATH is simple but powerful:


Inhale to a very slow count of four.

Hold your breath, calmly, for a very slow count of four.

Exhale to a very slow count of four.

Five to ten cycles should leave you feeling calmer and refreshed.




Lengthening your exhale enhances calm.

Lengthening your inhale is energizing.

Equalizing the length of inhales and exhales is meditative and sleep inducing.





Start by breathing naturally and observing how many counts or beats it takes to inhale and how many to exhale. If your inhales and exhales are not equal, which is the case for many people, consciously and gently equalize them. Once that feels comfortable, increase your exhalations by one count. When that feels easy, increase your exhales by another count. Do this until you reach a ratio of 1:2, with your exhales twice as long as your inhales.

If you feel relaxed with the 1:2 ratio, experiment with a 1:3 ratio, where your exhales are three times as long as your inhales.

Both these techniques engage your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you calmly rest and digest.





Though quite easy to learn, this is a very relaxing and balancing technique.

Inhale slowly and deeply to your diaphragm through your nose with your mouth closed.

Keeping your mouth closed, exhale 2/3 of your breath through your nose and the last third through your mouth.

Repeat for a minimum of five minutes.





Sit comfortably or lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

Make your mouth a soft “O” shape and roll the sides of your tongue to create a tube shape.

Breathe in slowly and feel the cool air.

Close your mouth, let your tongue relax, and exhale through your nose.

Repeat 5-10 times.





This is very relaxing as it wonderfully focuses the mind relieving it of most distractions, and engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

Take a deep, slow breath through both nostrils and exhale.

Now, without touching your nose, focus on inhaling through the left nostril and counting ONE

Exhale though the right and count ONE

Inhale through the right, TWO

Exhale through the left, TWO

Inhale through the left, THREE

Exhale through the right, THREE

Inhale through the right, FOUR

Exhale through the left, FOUR

Inhale through both nostrils, FIVE

Exhale through both nostrils, FIVE.

Inhale through the left, SIX

Exhale through the right, SIX…

Continue in this manner with every multiple of FIVE inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils.

If you lose count you have to go back to the beginning and start with ONE.

This technique is beautifully explained on Swami Janakananda’s Yoga Nidra CD, if you would like someone to talk you through it.




Gently rest the index and middle finger of your right hand on your third eye, the space between your eyebrows.

Take a slow breath through both nostrils and exhale through both.

Block off the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left.

Block off the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right.

Repeat each cycle two more times.

Now, with the left nostril still blocked with your ring finger inhale through the right.

Block off the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left.

Repeat each cycle two more times.

Rest your hand in your lap and take two full deep breaths to resettle.

This is a very centering and relaxing technique as it creates balance between both hemispheres of the brain.




This technique is from the ancient healing art of Jin Shin Jyutsu. The idea is you don’t take a breath, your receive it.

(You can find more information on this easy-to-use modality here: http://jsj-holds.blogspot.com/)

Begin by counting your exhalations,

One, exhale, inhale.

Two, exhale, inhale.

Continue in this manner.

If you lose count start again.





Inhale, count one

Exhale, count two

Inhale, count three

Exhale, count four

Inhale, count five

Now reverse:

Exhale, count four

Inhale, count three

Exhale, count two

Inhale, count one

Keep repeating until you feel calm, grounded, centered, and focused.





Inhale and say, “Breathing in, I’m breathing in.”

Exhale and say, “Breathing out, I’m breathing out.”

Repeat until you feel relaxed.



(This is taken from qigong master Lee Holden’s blog.)

You can start seated or standing, but we recommend seated to start out.

Close your eyes and take a nice, full breath into your lower abdomen (Dan Tien).

Relax and let your jaw unclench as you exhale.

Repeat this kind of deep breath into your lower abdomen for about 30 seconds until you feel relatively relaxed (you can tell you’re relaxed when your shoulders drop down).

On your next inhale, lightly squeeze your perineum (the spot in between your genitals and anus) and imagine a river of golden honey flowing up your spine to the top of your head.

As you exhale, relax your perineum and lightly touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Imagine the same river of golden honey flowing down the front of your body…back to your perineum.

Repeat this for as long as you wish.

When you’re done, take a moment to check in with your body.

How do you feel?


Good. That’s the point 🙂





Just yawn.


(You can find other breathing techniques especially for anxiety under the Anxiety post.)



Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


Manifesto for Emotional Self-Care September 16, 2008

Filed under: MANIFESTO FOR EMOTIONAL SELF-CARE — chocophile @ 12:24 am






























    I SEEK SELF-KNOWLEDGE           

















©Nicole S. Urdang 2004


Affirmations For Self-Empowerment and Emotional Freedom September 15, 2008


It’s best to pick the ones that really speak to you now and read them aloud two to three times a day.

It is natural for things to turn out well for me

I don’t have to figure it all out now

I have a fulfilling life and enrich other people’s lives

I assume the best

I listen to my intuition

I cultivate well-being

I am confident I can handle any challenge

People are kind to me

I focus on the positive

Unexpected good is coming my way

I acknowledge my pain and then move on

I fear no one

My finances are increasing

Those I love love me

I live in the present

I find something good in every situation

I feel safe within myself

I see what I want to do and do it

I am courageous

I take exquisitely good care of myself

I eat when I’m hungry and rest when I’m tired

I ask for what I want

I embrace change

I love myself

I am talented

I am a good listener

I believe in myself

I am creative

I grow stronger every day

Life is friendly to me

People feel relaxed around me

I am a calm person

I dare to be myself

My body feels healthy and at ease

I am able to relax at any time

I am loved

I am trustworthy

I face every day with a kind spirit

I am caring

I create what I want

I have infinite possibilities

I am confident and self-assured

I inspire others with my actions

I make the most out of my opportunities

I acknowledge I have good people around me

I cultivate peace

I control my temper

I think clearly

I have the ability to handle difficulties

I am my best friend

I take the time to enjoy my family

I am intelligent

I learn from my mistakes

I care for myself

I am flexible

I enjoy the gifts that life brings me daily

I love how I grow from change

I am kind

I am open to new experiences

I am important and I contribute positively to mankind

I always come across the information I need at the right time

I lead a happy and purposeful existence

I find easy ways to accomplish my tasks

I grow wiser every day

I am an asset to everybody that surrounds me

Abundance flows to me in surprising ways every day

I will achieve all my goals

I am always filled with energy to accomplish anything I want

All my past successes support me in thinking I am a successful person

I surround myself all the time with positive people and positive information

I am grateful for everything in my life

I attract abundance and blessings that benefit me and other people as well

I deserve to lead a wonderful and prosperous life

My self-knowledge grows daily and makes me be a better person

I value myself highly for the person I am

I respect myself and I act with integrity

I welcome good into my life with open arms

Every day in every way I am getting better and better

I forgive, heal and release anything that’s holding me back from my highest potential for love.


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