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.

There Is No One Right Way To Live May 2, 2013



“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
Friedrich Nietzsche



There is no one right way to live. There is only your way in this moment. Whether you are experiencing abject misery, overwhelming joy, or numbness, this is your minute. Claim it as part of your unique experience on this earth. After all, since you are only a visitor, why not approach everything as fascinating? If you really feel like raising the bar, you could even consider all aspects of your life sacred. Should you choose to adopt that world view, you might find yourself more comfortable riding the seas of unpredictability that show up daily.


Of course, it is natural to get caught up in an emotion or experience and think it will never end. Whether it is physical pain, euphoria, or something else entirely it is all too easy to lose sight of the fact that everything, yes, everything, ends. Clinging to the joys and shunning the difficulties only makes life harder.


What if you adopted a completely different view, one that embraces everything as part of your adventure on planet earth? Each moment would be a portal into understanding the varieties of experience. Not judging, comparing, or getting lost along the spectrum of discerning whether something brings joy or grief. Just being. Right now. In this moment. No story line to keep you company, no drama to create, only awareness and curiosity.


How differently would you think?

What might your new attitude feel like?

How would you approach what arises?

What effect would that openness and acceptance have on your relationship with yourself and others?


This is not about spiritual perfectionism, but gently, lovingly, coaxing yourself back into an appreciation of the moment, whatever it feels like. Not every moment, just those you want to fully experience.


While there is no emotional terra firma, you can anchor yourself in the present, allow all thoughts and feelings to flow through you, and cultivate genuine wonder. Empowered with joy, openness, and curiosity you can truly inhabit the fullness of your life.


An exercise that grounds you in the moment while tapping into your ability to appreciate the most mundane, yet potentially bliss-inducing, aspects of your environment, is the 5-4-3-2-1 meditation. It is quite simple, yet profound.


Wherever you are, notice 5 things you can see, then 5 things you can hear, and then 5 things you can physically feel. Continue with four things in each category, then 3 things in each category, then 2 and, finally, 1. Give yourself about 15 minutes to complete one full cycle. It is preferable to find new things, but not necessary.


Even simpler, just consciously allow whatever your experience is right now. Stop reading, take a breath, and assess how you are processing this moment. Are you being critical? Angry? Stoic? Resigned? Numb? Perhaps, you are grateful, joyful, accepting, open, or unconditionally self-accepting. The more you pay attention and do these mini check-ins, the more you will notice the emotional vicissitudes of life as they occur. Once you allow your ever-changing, full range of thoughts and feelings, and agree to being present and human for whatever crosses your path, life will feel more manageable and interesting.



Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


Useful & Appreciated July 9, 2012

Man cannot stand a meaningless life.
Carl Jung

Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” focuses on the importance of finding a sense of purpose in life, no matter how heinous your external circumstances. The first half explores different ways his fellow prisoners reacted to incarceration at Auschwitz, while the second part details Logotherapy, the psychological model he developed from the death camp experience.

If you are reading this you are probably not in as horrific a situation as Dr. Frankl was; however, it can still feel mighty challenging to infuse life with meaning when issues with work, health, family, finances, etc. weigh you down. Often, one’s internal list of priorities doesn’t even include a search for meaning; and, more’s the pity, since finding meaning in anything you do makes it easier to bear the more odious experiences life hands out.

There are as many ways to find meaning in life as there are people. Typically they have two things in common: feeling useful and appreciated. The first one is fairly obvious, the second, less so.

No matter how spiritually evolved you are, you still have an ego, and it will express itself until your last breath. By feeding it a healthy dose of appreciation (whether from external sources, yourself, or a combination of the two), you infuse your time on earth with more meaning.

Just as eating does not mean gorging, some external ego nourishment will not turn you into what Albert Ellis called a Love Slob, someone who thinks it’s horrible if they don’t get massive amounts of approval from others. Here, balance is key. You don’t want to be so dependent on other people’s approbation that you shrivel up emotionally without it; on the other hand, setting up your life so you get regular doses of appreciation simply feels good. While doing good is its own reward, few people are truly satisfied with absolutely no recognition. Nor, is that necessarily a wise goal, since it is through interacting with others that you can feel validated for your unique contributions to society.

A healthy ego is not an inflated one. It enables you to go out into the world with enough confidence to do what fulfills you and benefits others. Knowing what you do well ignites your vibrancy and engagement in life, while giving you the strength to acknowledge what doesn’t come easily and address those areas.

Here are a few reminders of all you do to contribute your unique talents to the world:

taking care of yourself
being considerate to others
raising children
caring for elderly relatives
rehabbing or repurposing things
giving to charity
caring for animals
growing a flower or vegetable
planting a tree
helping your friends, family, and neighbors

Forms of appreciation might include:

saying thank you
keeping a gratitude journal
noticing ways you are changing and growing
sending cards, texts, or emails to let people know you value them
supporting causes

One could argue that having a life full of meaning might preclude the desire for appreciation, but feeling valued often adds to one’s sense of meaning and joy in contributing to the world, thus insuring you keep sharing your unique gifts.

The ultimate way to guarantee you will feel appreciated is to practice appreciating yourself. It is easy to keep the focus outwards, seeking what you want from others, but one way you can be sure of getting approval is to make it an inside job. You may think it won’t feel as good as it would if you get it from someone else, but that simply tells you how little you value your own opinion. Practice dwelling and basking in the myriad joys you create every day for yourself and others. Something as simple as fully acknowledging another soul with a smile, hug, handshake, or deep listening has an enormous impact on the world.

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


Mantras For Emotional and Psychological Healing February 13, 2009


Think of mantras as ancient affirmations.  They are powerful, concentrate one’s attention on a desired goal, and calm the mind-body.  I am partial to using Sanskrit mantras as Sanskrit is a sacred language, and these mantras have been helping people for millennia.


Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book: Healing Mantras is the definitive guide for English speakers interested in pursuing this spiritually empowering path.  I cannot recommend it too highly.  He also has a CD where you can hear how the mantras sound, and a website (sanskritmantra.com).


You may chant, sing, say, or think a mantra.  Try sampling some of Deva Premal’s CDs for examples of beautifully sung mantras. (You can listen to 30 seconds of each one on Amazon.com mp3 downloads or iTunes.)  If you vocalize the mantra you will get the added benefit of the vibrational pattern that particular set of sounds induces, but silent repetition also works.  In fact, Ashley-Farrand says, “Saying mantras silently is the most powerful way to say them.”


It is best to practice your mantra at the same time every day, preferably in the morning after waking and in the evening before bed.  However, it is better to practice when you can than to abandon the discipline and miss out on the many benefits.


You may also want to repeat your mantra at various times during the day, as it can become a constant reminder to help you focus on your desire, as well as a trigger to relaxation and deeper breathing.  I like to pair my inhales and exhales with the mantra.  If it’s a very short one I will say it once completely on the inhale and once completely on the exhale. If it’s longer I will divide it where to comfortably fit my breathing pattern. Experiment and see what works best for you.


Mala beads, the strands of 108 beads used for keeping track of your practice are not necessary, though they can be quite beautiful and add a different ritual, as well as a tactile quality, to your repetitions.  If you don’t want to buy mala beads (a wide variety is available on ebay) you can use a rosary and do it twice, as rosaries have 54 beads; or, you can simply use one hand to count up to ten and the other to count the groups of ten. I find this technique helps focus the mind even more.


Traditionally, you commit to saying the mantra for 40 days, 108 (or more) times a day.  If you skip a day you start fresh.


Mantras both energize and quiet the mind, similar to yoga and meditation; but, they also work to attract what you want, remove obstacles, and re-center your body-mind-spirit.


The following are some of my favorite mantras.  I have used these with great success over the years, and they have catalyzed many changes in my life.  Ashley-Farrand says, “Develop a sense of humor about it, and be thankful. There is no better indication that your efforts are working than to have small upheavals in your life while you are in the midst of a 40 day mantra discipline. Ask anyone who has undertaken one and they will have some interesting stories for you.”  So true.



Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha

(Om gum guh-nuh-puh-tuh-yay nahm-ah-ha)

A very powerful mantra for removing obstacles from your life, and when you are starting something new.


Om Shrim Mahalakshmiyei Swaha

(Om shreem maha lahksh-mee-yay swah-ha)

This mantra is for attracting prosperity, good friends, and clearing up family misunderstandings.  Focus on the aspect you want to cultivate.


Om Dum Durgayei Namaha

(Om doom door-gah-yay nahm-ah-ha)

This mantra offers protection from negativity


Om Eim Saraswatiyei Swaha

(Om i’m sah-rah-swah-tee-yea swah-hah)

A mantra for creative, educational and artistic endeavors.


Om Namah Shivaya

(Om nah-mah shee-vah-yah)

This mantra is chanted for spiritual development and self-actualization.


Om Sharavana-bhavaya Namaha

(Om shah-rah-vah-nah bhah-vah-yah nahm-ah-ha)

A very positive mantra for enhancing all aspects of life: one’s disposition, physical fitness, and general good luck.


Aham Arogyam, Aham Aanandam.
This translates to: “I am free from illness, I am eternally blessed.”



(So hum)

A very sacred and extremely simple mantra. It literally means: I am That. “That” is the divine.  Using your breath, exhale “so” and inhale “ham”  Let go on the exhale, and receive on the inhale.


Om Mani Padme Hum

(Om mah-nee pahd-mey-hoom)

This mantra produces a state of empowered compassion.  If you want to change the world, this is for you.  Incidentally, it is the most popular mantra worldwide.


Purnat purnamudacyate

(Poor-nat poor-nam udat-cha-tay)

This one is in a prayer called Pūrnamadah from the Upanishads. It means: I am whole and complete as I am.


Ashley Farrand says, “For the first few days, all will probably go smoothly. Then as you progress, you may find that things start to get in the way of your doing the discipline: You oversleep; there is some minor emergency; you get a cold, whatever. This means that you are beginning to effect the inner ‘something’ for which you undertook the mantra. You are beginning to encounter inner resistance. That inner resistance manifests as outer obstacles to your discipline. It has almost become a joke in many spiritual circles in which the practice of mantra is common, that something of a very surprising nature happened on day 33 or 35 of a 40 day practice. It has happened to me and many others with whom I have spoken on innumerable occasions over the last 22 years.


Just a note: After the age of 28 the endings of many mantras should be changed from Swaha to Namaha; however, the following mantras do not change their endings:

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha

Om Dum Durgayei Namaha

Om Eim Hrim Klim Chamundayei Viche Namaha

Om Sri Dhanvantre Namaha 


Here’s a link to an article in Yoga Journal about mantras: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/841?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=b&utm_campaign=DI_2009-07-23


Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


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