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Give Yourself the Gift of Connection

awaken joy Oct 25, 2018

By Sandra Kacher, LICSW Emeritus

As we enter the season of great festivities, I realize once more that this is the time of year when my therapy clients begin to talk about loneliness, isolation, and grief. My first Christmas disappointment was getting a generic “Lovely Linda” doll instead of a Tiny Tears. The heartache (for a child)! I can clearly remember the sinking in my stomach when I realized I wasn’t getting the real thing. For too many people, that sinking feeling lasts from October through New Year’s Eve.

The image of your perfect holiday may have to do with childhood memories of special foods, tree decorating rituals, and beautifully wrapped presents under that tree (and Tiny Tears in one of those packages!). Glossy holiday images also tempt us in sentimental movies, TV commercials, and a barrage of magazine recipes for this year’s version of the new best food for the holidays.  

Despite the focus on food and presents, the perfect holiday...

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How To Meditate Properly [For You]

awaken calm focus joy meditation Sep 21, 2018

By Tim Culbert, MD

You've likely been told that you HAVE to meditate. Perhaps even in a particular seated position, in a particular outfit, in a particularly-decorated room.

Have you tried that strict meditation technique only to discover that you're more stressed out when you finish than before you began it? 

Don’t worry! That meditation technique is just one mind-body practice and there are many others to explore that can offer the same benefits. Finding a better fit is worth your time as many mind-body practices will work to enhance your ability to deal with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, or focus. This ability is often called “emotional regulation” or “self-regulation.” At Natural Mental Health, we also refer to this ability as resilience.

Additionally, as you find practices that fit you better, you'll be more likely to practice consistently and for longer durations at a time. This is key because the time you practice and the positive...

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Stay & Wait for the Sun

awaken Sep 13, 2018

It's National Suicide Prevention Week (and month). Let's make space for ourselves and those around us who may be suffering. May we help each other stay. 

From Jennifer Michael Hecht's book Stay:

"None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find...

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Stillness. It’s What Your Soul Longs For

awaken calm Aug 14, 2018

By Henry Emmons, MD

When my boys were young, we would pack up the van and head south every year for spring break. Desperate for sun and warmth, we made a beeline as far south as needed to find them and then set up camp for a few days.

All of these trips were fun, but one stands out in my mind as being exceptional. After many hours on the road, we discovered a state campground in the Florida panhandle and were pleasantly surprised to find so few people staying there. It was inland and we figured most people headed to Florida had already chosen the beach. Our plan was to use the campground as a launching point and head out in different directions each day to explore the area—including the beach.

The morning after we arrived, we found ourselves lingering over breakfast, enjoying the peace of the nearly deserted campground. None of us, not even our active and typically restless boys, made any move to get ready to leave. The leisurely morning soon turned into afternoon,...

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Go Deeper With Your 19 Senses

By Dr. Tim Culbert

Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy.

The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don't know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.

-C. Joy Bell

In order to wake up your senses, it’s important to understand them a bit better. You probably learned about the five senses in health class: touch, smell, hearing, seeing, and taste. One appealing and straight-forward quality of the five-sense model is that each of the senses is paired with a specific, highly visible part of the body. You can point to your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin. However, depending on how you define the human sense organs, functions, and abilities; there may be many more senses beyond just five. And you can access them!

...

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High Quality Connections: Noticing the Good in Everyday Encounters

awaken joy Jun 12, 2018

By Henry Emmons, MD

What is it that sets very happy people apart from the not-so-happy? Is it a healthy diet? Exercise? An active spiritual life? Or simply being fortunate enough to have mostly good things happen throughout life?

A study of 222 undergraduates screened for high happiness levels found none of the above reasons. So, what was the happiness booster? The upper 10% of consistently happy people in the study had stronger social connections. While it may not be enough to create happiness by itself, a richly satisfying social life appears to be a necessary foundation to happiness.

Does that mean you need to be a social butterfly with a huge contact list? Nope, that quantity over quality adage applies here as well.

Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan, says that her personal practice of being alert to high-quality connections (HQCs) are like vitamins that strengthen her from within. I like this notion, in part,...

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Be Well in June: Wake Up Your Senses

awaken calm focus joy Jun 01, 2018

Last month's theme encouraged you to add more activity to your day with attention to more rhythmic and diverse movements. This month, you'll activate your system in ways that may seem more subtle, but are just as enlivening and nourishing. 

The focus this month is to awaken your senses in ways that can help you feel more energized and connected. 

Wake Up Your Senses

Three strategies to focus on:

Smell & Aromatherapy

Why: Inhaling aromatherapy scents can stimulate or soothe your system and provide a way to come alive in new and different ways. 

Specific action: Take just one minute daily to focus on smelling something that you enjoy. Give your full attention to the smell and notice how your system responds. 

Not sure what to smell? Try sniffing an aromatherapy product (find some here), a flower, fruit, or another natural element.

Touch & Sensory Experience

Why: It's easy to get consumed by all the things happening around you. Those...

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A Mindful View of Motivation

awaken focus foundations joy May 22, 2018

By Henry Emmons, MD

In an earlier post, Dr. Culbert discussed more about motivation and apathy and some very practical ways to deal with these concerns. In this article, I want to offer you some ways you can apply a mindfulness perspective to help you when you just can’t get yourself going. 

First, a confession: I’m not always very motivated. But, neither are you…or anyone else! The reality is that motivation is a transient state. Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t. That’s an invitation to stop seeing yourself as bad, broken, or lacking when you feel unmotivated or apathetic. You are human, and like everything else that you desire, motivation is impermanent.

It’s also helpful to know that motivation exists on a spectrum. You have varying degrees of motivation that are constantly in flux from one moment to the next, from one day to the next. On the days that motivation is low, try to remember that yesterday, a month ago,...

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Live Fully: Living From The Heart

awaken joy meditation Apr 24, 2018
 

Guest post from Catherine Duncan

Note: After reading, click the play button above for the Journey to Your Heart Meditation. 

I grew up in a family that saw feelings as a foreign language. We didn’t talk about them. We didn’t express them. We usually pretended we didn’t feel them. We loved each other, of course, but we weren’t that comfortable saying so. In our tribe, the path to recognition was paved with achievement. Talking about the heart? Not really a thing.

But if we don’t talk about the heart – the very core of who we are – we’re not living fully. This is how it was for me, at least. I spent my young adulthood in the corporate world – the world where doing and thinking count for a lot – and always knew something was missing. I longed for deeper connections with people. I realize now that I wanted a life of meaning, purpose, and feeling.  I sometimes feel grateful for my near-drowning experience while...

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Be Well in April: Live Simply

awaken Apr 03, 2018

Most folks are overscheduled, overcommitted, and undernourished. Time for self-care can feel exhaustively absent. This over-taxed state of being can make goals for better health seem like impossible dreams. 

The focus this month is to live more simply to create space for better health and resilience. This focus can help you prioritize effort, stay more motivated, and more confidently invite your health goals in and take action toward them. With this in mind, the intention this month is: 

Live Simply

Here are three strategies to focus on:

Pick And Purge: Declutter

  • Space impacts the mind and body in big ways. Eliminate unnecessary items from your home in order to create spaces that are calm, warm, and that truly reflect you.
  • Specific action: Choose two rooms (or closets) that you can sort through. For each room, aim to fill at least two brown bags full of items that you'll either sell, donate, recycle, or throw away. And don't let...
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