Holistic Divorce Counseling

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

Music to soothe your soul and support your journey February 17, 2015

 

 

Namaste,

Two audio hugs for your sweet self.

Love,

Nicole

 

 

 

 

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Restlessness, boredom, and groundlessness October 9, 2011



While there are a multitude of distractions and amusements available to anyone with a library card, it is not unusual to go through periods of boredom when not even the most scintillating book, movie, or conversation will sate the crankiness demon. At those times, it is best to stop whatever you are doing and simply sit with what is. Are you feeling annoyed, frustrated, agitated, sad, or self-critical? Welcome whatever comes up. Investigate it. Do something paradoxical and try to increase the feeling. This may sound counter-productive, but it will actually help you figure out what is going on. If you let yourself go deeply into your boredom the underlying issue will surface. Once it does, ask yourself how you want to handle it. Consciously choose to explore your thoughts and feelings though journaling, talking with someone (friend, relative, clergy, or therapist), or simply breathing, meditating, and allowing them.


Boredom is uncomfortable, and it is natural to want to banish it immediately. By exploring what is going on right this minute, you allow yourself to relax with what’s coming up. It is only a feeling. You have probably felt every emotion before, whether fear, joy, anger, love, anxiety, sadness, or grief, and you’re still alive.


Boredom is often a code word for something else. It seems to appear when your internal state is so strong anything external loses its power to divert you. The irritability comes from wanting relief from those simmering uncomfortable feelings and knowing the only way out is through. When nothing feels right or good, just breathing can be a refuge.


No one likes feeling irritable, bored, or restless. Nor should you. Perhaps, the purpose of these annoying feelings is to wake you out of a funk. Sometimes, an unpleasant state of mind is necessary when routine ways of being and doing have sucked the novelty out of life. Variety does spice things up, and without it living can lose its luster. Whether it’s trying different foods, listening to new music, taking a drive to an unknown locale, or going to an art opening, mixing things up helps you thrive. In addition to creating new neural pathways, unpredictability and spontaneity create a sense of surprise and delight. Of course, it has to be the right amount. Too much novelty and you feel groundless, too little and you’re bored.


Maintaining emotional balance is not easy. Life, with all its demands, intrudes on the best laid plans. So, boredom, restlessness, and groundlessness appear. Re-grounding yourself can be as easy as feeling your body sitting, standing, or moving, eating something mindfully, looking out a window and really seeing what meets your gaze, taking a walk, calling a friend, listening to music, writing in your journal, or anything else that uses some of that irritable energy. Even meditation, not an easy feat when you are feeling crabby, is helpful, since it reminds you this is merely a passing state you can label and release. Actually, you are not really releasing the state as much as your attachment to it.


Boredom, restlessness, and groundlessness are simply different terms for feeling temporarily stuck and uncomfortable. You will not stay in this state of mind. Everything changes, and that is what makes life so interesting. You never know what’s next. By sitting with what is, or actively shaking things up a bit, you practice mindfulness or self-determination. Sometimes, one will work better than the other. It’s always good to have a few arrows in your quiver since one day sitting with your feelings will be the right choice, and another doing something proactively will work.


The following grounding techniques utilize your ability to actively focus attention on something external to distract you from whatever thoughts and feelings seem unpleasant, overwhelming, or boring. (They are from another chapter called Grounding Techniques.)


5-4-3-2-1 meditation. 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. Allow about 15 minutes to complete one full cycle. It is preferable to find new things, but not necessary.


Another 5-4-3-2-1 meditation. Wherever you are, notice 5 objects, 5 colors, 5 shapes, and 5 textures, then 4 in each category,, then 3, then 2, and 1.


Think of all the vocabulary words you can rememeber from another language you studied.


Recall your favorite foods, places you have visited, movies, books, or music.


Recite a poem you memorized as a child.


Describe in minute detail a mundane activity you do every day, like brushing your teeth: I pick up the toothbrush, I turn on the water, I wet the toothbrush, I put toothpaste on the toothbrush, etc.


Imagine a time when you felt very safe and describe it in great detail, using all five senses.


Sing a song.


Build a sanctuary in your head. Add as much detail as possible.


Focus on where your body is contacting the floor, a chair, or bed. Breathe into that place.


Widen and stretch your fingers and toes. Relax them and repeat.


Repeat a prayer, affirmation, or mantra. Use a rosary or mala beads to help anchor the repetitions.


Count backwards by threes from 100.


List how many things you can do, from the mundane to the most sophisticated.


Play old car games in your head, like Geography (where you say the name of a place and use the last letter of that place as the first letter of your next one) or I Packed My Trunk and In It I Put an A (apple), a B (beta endorphin), a C (color wheel), to Z, going through the whole alphabet, starting from A each time you add another letter.


Look out the window and notice subtle color differences in the sky, cloud configurations, trees and branches, or the various shapes and sizes of leaves.


Feel your breath. Remind yourself that you are alive, and whatever you are feeling is part of life. You are here to feel it all.




Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

 

The Most Important Relationship You’ll Ever Have May 31, 2009

 

The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with you.  Considering that you are with yourself every minute of every day, why not make this your most loving alliance?

 

While there are many reasons for not having developed a great bond with yourself, there’s no upside in cataloguing them.  In lieu of focusing on the past, here are some ways to cultivate an enjoyable, dependable, tender relationship with yourself.

 

As the Buddha said: There is no one more deserving of compassion than you.  By fostering a gentle, patient litany of self talk you will reap more benefits than you can imagine. Think of all the harshness you have heaped on yourself. Perhaps, it was setting perfectionistic, unattainable goals, or an incessant catalogue of self-criticism. Decide today that you will counter those old tendencies towards self-downing with tenderness.  If you hear yourself being judgmental of the way you are handling some aspect of your life, stop, take a breath, and talk to yourself kindly, the way you would calm a child.  Those same messages will soothe you and, more importably, build inner trust.  In time, you will be able to count on yourself for compassion and self-nurturing.  You will be that safe haven for you.

 

It may sound banal, but taking good care of yourself begins with eating well, including treats.  Unless you are someone who eats to live, and doesn’t really enjoy your food, eating something delicious every day is another way you show yourself that you matter.  Getting enough sleep is crucial, too.  Just like the people who think they can have one drink and drive, while every study shows they are impaired, many think they can do just fine with six hours a night.  Perhaps, you are one of the very few who can, but most need seven to eight hours to function well.  Last, but not least, is exercise.  Move your body.  It really doesn’t matter what you do, but do something on a regular basis and it will improve your outlook, as well as your physical health.

 

Meditation is a wonderful way to befriend and better understand your mind.  What are its tendencies?  Do you focus on all the tasks that still need doing?  Are you preoccupied with everyone else’s problems, worrying day and night?  Do you live in the future, waiting for your ship to come in, lose 10 pounds, or meet your ideal mate? Whatever your predilections, you can learn to re-focus on your breath and quiet some of the incessant noise.  Meditation is also a great way to notice any tendencies towards self-downing, or habits of assuming the worst.  Once you see a trend you can actively work towards substituting unhelpful thoughts for positive ones. (See Affirmations.)

 

Even your sex life can benefit from a better relationship with yourself.  By getting to know your body’s reactions you can please yourself, if going solo, or help your partner understand what you like, if coupled.

 

Socially, you can develop comfort within yourself, so going out alone is not a hardship; but, something you might choose on a regular basis. After all, you are always available without prior notice and you already know what you like to do.  For many people, this is a very difficult thing to imagine, let alone practice.  I encourage you to bravely go forth: see that movie or art show alone, go out for a meal by yourself (you may want to start with breakfast or lunch as they are often eaten without company), take a beautiful drive or walk (you will notice more when solo), do all those things you know you would enjoy and you’ll probably end up making new friends (all those other folks who like the same thing you do and who didn’t want to call their friends to see who wanted to share the experience).  I am sure that right after people’s fear of public speaking (the number one anxiety in this country), is venturing out by yourself.  Wouldn’t it feel like a great coup to tackle that old irrational belief?  You know, the one that says you’re a loser if you’re alone. You’re not. One third of all adults in the U.S. live by themselves. 

 

Attending to your spiritual side, developing a deep bond with the ineffable qualities of life, and finding peace within are all ways of enhancing your joy.  Trust that you will find your way to that still, small place inside where all goodness dwells.  By practicing being there for yourself, in all circumstances and on all levels, you will watch joy ripen in your heart.  You can choose to feel truly loved right this minute. Don’t take my word for it, just go for it.  It’s a radical step, but one you’ll never regret.

 

 

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

 

Grounding Techniques To Calm Anxiety & Panic April 22, 2009

 

When overwhelmed by life, it is easy to feel as if you are walking on quicksand.  One manifestation of rootlessness is depersonalization, feeling separate from your body. It is often a result of post-traumatic stress, but can also be triggered by an abundance of current stress. This disjointed feeling can create a fair amount of anxiety. By using grounding exercises, when managing strong emotions as well as when calm (for extra practice), you can really root yourself in the here and now, alleviating anxiety and feeling more in control. You don’t need to have had emotional trauma to benefit from these techniques.  Anyone feeling off kilter from challenging life circumstances, major changes, or recovering from an addiction can use them to good effect.  In addition, if you suffer from chronic anxiety, these methods will help you feel more in control of your emotions.

 

The following utilize your ability to actively focus your attention on something external or distracting from your emotional state.  Use these strategies when you are craving your addiction, ruminating, anxious, feeling dissociated, overwhelmed, numb, spacey, or recalling a traumatic event. Remember, the first thing you want to do whenever anything unpleasant arises is allow it.  By making it safe to feel all your feelings you avoid the self-recrimination and self-downing that only add another layer of disturbance to what you are already experiencing.

 

5-4-3-2-1 meditation.  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.  Allow about 15 minutes to complete one full cycle.  It is preferable to find new things, but not necessary.

 

Think of all the vocabulary words you can rememeber from another language you studied.

 

Recall your favorite foods, places you have visited, movies, books, or music.

 

Recite a poem you memorized as a child.

 

Describe in minute detail a mundane activity you do every day, like brushing your teeth: I pick up the toothbrush, I turn on the water, I wet the toothbrush, I put toothpaste on the toothbrush, etc.

 

Imagine a time when you felt very safe and describe it in great detail, using all five senses.

 

Build a sanctuary in your head, and use as much detail as possible.  See Visualization heading on this site.

 

Focus on where your body is contacting the floor, a chair, or bed.  Breathe into that place.

 

Widen and stretch your fingers and toes. Relax them and repeat.

 

Repeat a prayer, affirmation, or mantra.  See Mantras and Affirmations sections on this site for more ideas. Use a rosary or mala beads to help anchor the repetitions.

 

Count backwards by threes from 100.

 

Sing a song, or just la la la.

 

List how many things you can do, from the mundane to the most sophisticated.

 

Play old car games in your head, like Geography (where you say the name of a place and use the last letter of that place as the first letter of your next one) or I Packed My Trunk and In It I Put an A (apple), a B (beta endorphin), a C (color wheel), to Z, going through the whole alphabet, starting from A each time you add another letter.

 

Look out the window and notice subtle color differences in the sky, cloud configurations, trees and branches, or the various shapes and sizes of leaves.

 

Drink a glass of water. The sensation of drinking and swallowing can bring you into the moment and into your body making you feel more settled.

 

Feel your breath. Remind yourself that you are alive, and whatever your are feeling is part of life.  You are here to feel it all.  Some times will be easy and others will be more challenging. That’s the nature of existence.  We need contrast to find life perennially interesting.  By experiencing what we don’t want we can more easily craft what we do desire. Allow yourself the full human experience by practicing radical acceptance.

 

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

 

Loneliness: Widening Your Social Circle November 26, 2008

 

Transformation has many components, not the least of which is revamping your social network.  If you are ending a relationship, you are losing one of your major life supports. As if this weren’t hard enough, other friendships, even long-lasting ones, may dissolve.  What’s a solo to do? Connect, of course!

 

Luckily, there are seven billion people in the world, so the numbers are in your favor.  With one third of all American adults living alone, hundreds of thousands are looking to make friends, platonic or romantic. Dating sites abound, including free ones, like plentyoffish.com.  (If you go this route, please be sensible about meeting people in public, well-lit places. Don’t give out your phone number or any other personal information; and, you might want to google your new acquaintance’s name.)

 

There are two prerequisites to successfully expanding your social circle: open-heartedness and paying attention.  Every time you are out in the world, whether it’s the grocery store, the library, or a coffee house, focus on positive thoughts (see Affirmations) and smile.  There’s nothing more appealing than good karma. If you exude it people will be drawn to you. Hiding your light under a bushel is a sure-fire way to feel separate and alone.  Practicing openness (see Open Your Heart ) and smiling have the added benefit of increasing your joy, whether you meet your soul mate, or not.  Paying attention means if someone smiles back you notice and add an extra second of eye contact.  There are so many opportunities to connect, but you have to be aware of your effect on others. Then, smile a little more.

 

Notice how people react to your new habit.  You may not want to grin ear to ear, as that’s more than most people can assimilate without thinking you’re two shrimp short of a stir-fry, but you can practice a gentle, content smile.  Of course, if you’re feeling miserable don’t paste an artificial smile on your face, as that sends a very confusing and dissonant message. But, if you are in a neutral or positive state of mind, just let yourself have fun with this, and watch what happens.  It’s chaos theory: one thing changes and there’s a ripple effect across the universe.

 

No beauty potion, diet, or plastic surgery is as potent as the combination of authenticity, openness, and a genuine smile.  It’s free, easy, and even changes your brain chemistry.  Yes, when you smile, certain facial muscles get activated and they send a message to your brain to create more joy.

 

All the above notwithstanding, the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself.  Period. So, treat your sweet self with as much loving kindness, gentleness, and patience you can muster.  It will not only redound to your benefit a thousand times over, but it will make you a people magnet.

 

Click on the following symbol to see a poetic and inspirational video on how to be alone:

 

 

Text Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

 

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

AFFIRMATIONS

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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