Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Telephone Counselling

After a full day of work it can be hard to come in for therapy or accomodate it in your schedule. To make it easier, I do offer a telephone therapy service.

You can make arrangements and pay by interac email transfer or by check in advance, This is not just for people here in Toronto, you can do this from anywhere in the world!

For more information, head over to the Telephone Therapy section of my website.

How Clean Are Your Windows?

A young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry isn't very clean," the young woman said to her husband, "She doesn’t know how to wash clothes, maybe she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.
A month later, the woman was surprised to see nice clean laundry on the line and said to her husband, "Look, she finally learned how to wash! I wonder who taught her".
The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life.

What we see when we look at others depends on the window through which we look.

This is an e-mail I got from a friend and it struck me how true that is for all of us. How clean are your windows? Most of carry carry some dirt from the past, which causes biases and judgement. How do we clean our windows? By getting rid of the past issues blurring your lenses.

Forgive all the people that you hold a grudge against, whether they were wrong or not.

Just repeat the following 4 sentences:

I am sorry
Please gorgive me
Thank you
I love you.

These 4 sentences are quoted by Ihaleakala Hew Len, Phd. You may find amazing results when you repeat these 4 sentences all day long. Try it out, I am interested in your results.

Observe Karma to Change Your Life

The moment we are born, we are constantly doing one of three things: acting, reacting or interacting. Sometimes we do all three at once. Laws govern all action and interaction, constantly operating in every relationship. They are called the laws of karma, defined in Western culture as: "As you sow, so shall you reap". Isaac Newton observed these laws in physics as the third law of Motion: ''for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". The Laws of Karma remind us that whatever quality of energy we give out, we get back. Through careful observation of ourselves, we can learn how our actions effect our lives and how to break patterns of negativity.

When we are reminded of karma, it awakens an awareness of responsibility. Normally we believe we are responsible for some of our actions, but not all of them, creating moral blind spots. For example: We consider ourselves responsible for driving our family safely to their destination, but if we have an accident because we were driving too quickly, we consider the other driver responsible.

We have learned to avoid taking responibility for our actions. We fail to see the impact of our actions upon others and we fail to see that the real meaning of responsibility is our ability to respond. The way we respond to situations will always effect the outcome.

The Laws of Karma also serve to remind us that our circumstances and our personality today are the result of what we thought and did yesterday, last month, last year, etc. The past is continually creating the present. And by recognizing how our previous actions have caused our problems in the present, we can recognize the solutions.

People don't like this insight or find it difficult to accept because most of us have been taught that our destiny lies in someone else's hands or in fate or luck, about which we can do nothing. But this is actually a freeing realization. Control over your actions is the only chance for change.

If you spend a few moments reflecting on events in your life, without judgement or emotion, you will begin to see connections between actions and outcomes, causes and effects. When you see how all effects have their causes, you then have the evidence that this universal law is at work in your life at all times.

The lesson here is not to write off the events of your life as out of control; you have free will and you can start to make better choices. Relating to the world in a positive way, while it might not change everything, will make an enormous impact on your life.

Are Your Buttons Being Pushed?

If you're like me, you avoid thinking about the past because you don't see any benefit in the present. Maybe you find it uncomfortable, or painful. Why stir up a lot of memories that you would prefer to forget? Especially when they involve parents, siblings, or old friends; the very same people you share every major holiday for the rest of your life with. But there are good reasons to look back.

As we learn how our brains process emotion and store emotional memory, it becomes clear that yesterday's feelings influence our ability to make positive lasting emotional connections today. If we want to have relationships that are more meaningful in the future, we must have some insight into our past. In fact, looking back thoughtfully may eventually help you to build better connections with those scary folks gathered around the dinner table.

Everyone has emotional baggage, some more than others. Just take a minute and think about your childhood, there must have been some incidents that upset you. Piled on top of each other, these cause that discomfort at family reunions and let certain relatives get under your skin. Through modern technology and numerous studies we now know that all of these painful memories, especially from early childhood trauma physiologically changes how our brain develops.

So as an adult these changes from childhood have a large bearing on our behaviour and we are not even aware of it. Examine your relationships today. Think about the good and the bad. It should not be a challenge to connect the dots between our pain as a child and our pain as an adult.

Generally speaking, strong emotional memories from our childhood become very attractive to us as adults. That does not mean you actively seek it, you are going to find these situations automatically and unconsciously. For example if your parents had clinical depression or were alcoholics /abusive, the chances are good that you will seek these people out or become one.

We repeat these situations over and over as an adult because on some level we want to correct and heal them. Unfortunately, the result is usually that you get re-traumatized. But this presents you with a golden opportunity to make a conscious effort and break the chain of abuse inherited from childhood.

What are the steps forward? It's time to recognize and change the negative situations we put ourselves in. That can be really difficult. Some people get involved in support programs or therapy. The point is you need to find a safe place to hash out those feelings, find their origin, heal and form new habits. Over long periods of time and extensive therapy, it is possible that the brain will physically change over time and truly heal the long term effects of trauma.

How to Overcome Negative Thinking Through Psychotherapy

Picking up a newspaper or turning on a TV is all it takes to see all the negativity in our world. It is easy to become fixated on negative thoughts.

The negativity can be divided in 3 aspects.
1. world events
2. friends and family
3. ourselves

After the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, people were celebrating in the streets with champagne. Think what you like about Bin Laden, it is certainly a strange thing to celebrate the death of anyone so joyously. Add to this the obsession with seeing photos of his body, it makes for an extremely morbid state of being.

The recent earthquake in Japan, massive flooding in New Zealand, Missouri, and Manitoba, the list goes on. How can it not affect you in a profound way to see so much human suffering played out through the media? Especially now, as massive amounts of video and photos are broadcast on 24 hour news networks, making the violence and strife in our world more visible than ever.

When other people around you are negative, you can easily be drawn into their vibrations and react negatively. So not only can direct conflict cause stress, but strife between others in your social circle or family also causes harm to you. Also, serious impact can be made by someone in your life who is either extremely negative, or is unhealthy.

Last but not least, your own inner feelings of low self-worth, of guilt, anxiety, depression or anger, while all byproducts of the outer world and of your past, stand as the ultimate barricade trapping you in a cycle of negativity.

What can you do to navigate through all this negativity and come through smelling like a rose? Take the lotus flower for example, it sits on muddy water, but is not touched by it; it has a waxy substance on its petals and nothing can touch the surface, the dirt just rolls off.

While it is good to have a relationship with the events and people around you, it can become quite unhealthy to be completely at the mercy of circumstance. A layer of protection and confidence is necessary so that your inner purity and stability remain unaffected by outside influences. Otherwise, you no longer own your own feelings.

Regarding the world news: one strategy is simply to not listen to it all day long. To know what is happening, but not get engrossed in it; to balance your life with other positive thoughts and actions.

With people around you, it is so important to check your own emotions: are you criticizing the other person in your mind, do you think you are better than they are? If you do, realize that this is an action of your ego. Listen to the other person and hear their point of view, and appreciate their value, even if you don’t agree with them. You can't change or control others but you can change your attitude and response. Through your demeanor some form of communication may even arise. Allowing a build up of negativity destroys communication, and creates bigger problems which are difficult to sort out.

Overcoming negativity within oneself is often a big challenge. It is so easy to stop loving yourself when you judge, criticize or blame yourself for events in your life or even for the way you are (personality, appearance). However, whenever you notice these negative thoughts coming up, it’s important to stop them and focus on who you really are: a worthwhile person, who was born whole and complete, with qualities of purity, peace and love.

If you can spend some minutes in silence every day, focusing on these positive qualities, just letting your mind detach from all negative thoughts, then you can value who you truly are and move outside the cycle of negativity that pulled you down. Make sure that your words and actions reflect your self-esteem.

When we lack self-esteem, we seek it from the world outside, which is often denied. Only when you generate your own self-respect, can you earn respect from others. Being with positive thoughts makes wallowing in negative thoughts much less appealing. This has a great impact on you and the people around you.

Incorporating Psychotherapy into Your Spiritual Life.

Your spirituality is important to you. Your personal relationship with God (or whatever name you want to give to the Almighty) can give you strength and confidence; comforting you. And your faith can bring you into a close community and provide a sense of belonging.

While religion can be very therapeutic, it can't fully replace therapy. Even in 12 step programs, all of which have some spiritual elements, there are also elements of therapy which must be included for success.Examples of this include examining past transgressions and making amends for them.

The fundamental difference between psychotherapy and religious healing is that where religion bestows the necessities I mentioned above, therapy provides the equal necessity of dealing with underlying trauma and personal stress. While religion provides comfort it may not actively repair unresolved emotional issues.

Therapy resources may be available in your spiritual community through priests(some of whom have psychotherapy training) and holistic counsellors in your community.

My point here is that while religion and therapy seem to be opponents, they are in facts two parts of a greater whole that can work together towards your overall well-being.

It's a great idea to find a therapist who can work within your spirituality and marry the two.

Am I Depressed? Top 13 Symptoms of Depression

I often write about treatments of depression, anxiety, etc....but how do you even know it when you or your loved ones are depressed?

What follows are the somewhat ominously numbered thirteen top symptoms of depression, If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more of the below symptoms, then you may consider getting some help.

  1. Loss of Appetite: Going the whole day without eating for a few days in a row or more than one day in a week.
  2. Overeating: Eating unhealthy food whenever you are feeling anxious, upset, angry or after something bad happens.
  3. Sleep Problems: Sleeping too much or too little. If you are sleeping more than 12 hour or less than 2 hours per day. You can alternate between these symptoms.
  4. Lack of Energy: Running out of energy very early in the day. Feeling lethargic.
  5. Low Self Esteem: Feeling that you are not worthwhile; believing that you are inferior physically or intellectually.
  6. Loss of Motivation: Uncaring. Not motivated to take a shower or make a meal or care for your family.
  7. Poor Concentration. Focusing on the present is difficult as anxious thoughts are invading your mind.
  8. Feeling Hopeless: Writing off all possibilities and opportunities as doomed from the start.
  9. Lack of Sex Drive: Disinterested in all intimate contact, especially sex.
  10. Social Isolation: Pushing others away or feeling uncomfortable around people. It may feel that you need others but that you have no one you can turn to.
  11. Irrational/Emotional Outbursts: Finding yourself getting angry or upset often. If this is happening regularly, then some of it is irrational or misdirected.
  12. Disregarding Responsibility: Abandoning anything that causes stress, including people, your job, social responsibilities, etc...
  13. Substance Abuse: Repetitive or overuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, etc. Particularly as a way to cope.
In the past there was a stigma attached to depression and therapy. Now it's very common to seek help before it becomes more serious.

Ayurveda: 23 ways to Start Feeling Better Today

Have you noticed how often our daily habits go against nature? How often do you eat food that is out of season? How many unusual chemicals do we put on our skin or hair or in our food? The problem in our society is that it's very difficult to know the right authority to trust as you try to find a balanced lifestyle.

Take for instance, the Atkins Diet. Its very popular, but really this has only been around a half dozen years or so. Ayurveda, by contrast has been practiced for over three thousand years, making it one of the oldest practices in medicine still in use today.

Ayurveda is centered on helping you live a balanced life through eliminating the toxins you take in (or allow your body to produce). This is done by changing your diet and lifestyle. For example: your diet should be changing through the year. Humans evolved eating only what grew naturally, agriculture is a relatively recent development. So our bodies are designed to eat the foods of the current season.

Among the top Ayurvedic therapy experts in the West is Dr. Vasant Lad, Chairman of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albequerque, New Mexico. Prior to his work in New Mexico, he served as Medical Director of the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune, India. He also has trained in Western Medicine as the two are not in conflict. I recently attended one of his presentations at the Metro Convention Centre here in Toronto.

His talk was simple, basic and to the point. His message was that we can eat the best organic food, but if we do not have harmony in our relationships and lifestyle, only conflict and unresolved emotions, then our health cannot be good.

Here are some tips he shared with us:

  1. Change your food according to the season.
  2. Have a daily routine.
  3. Have spiritual awareness.
  4. Wake up before the sun rises, you will be fresh and alert and have less depression.
  5. Clean your aura, in the morning, by moving your palms over your face, head and your entire body, with loving deep breaths. You will fall in love with yourself.
  6. Pray for a fulfilling and beautiful day.
  7. Kiss your reflection in the mirror and say "You are beautiful the way you are".
  8. DON'T use fluoride toothpaste and DO scrape your tongue from back to front to remove dead bacteria.
  9. Drink a glass of lukewarm water to wash away toxins. then do the So-Ham meditation. mouth the sound "So" on the inhalation, "Ham" on the exhalation, with your feet facing away from the door.
  10. Focus your attention on your third eye (space between your eyebrows) and visualize light in that spot.
  11. Massage your body with warm sesame oil (or coconut/sunflower oil ) in the opposite direction of your hair.
  12. Take a shower with a small amount of soap, dry with a clean towel and wear clean clothes.
  13. Drink your food and chew your water.
  14. Go for walks after dinner.
  15. Don't watch t.v. while eating food.
  16. Chew fennel or coriander seeds after roasting them.
  17. Always share your food and don't eat in the dark.
  18. Burn incense and candles.
  19. Wash your eyes twice per week, lubricate nostrils daily and at bedtime put warm oil in your ears.
  20. Dinner should be between 6 and 7 pm, not after sunset.
  21. Rub your feet with brahmini or brungaraj oil. This will send you to sleep easily.
  22. Go to bed between 9.30pm and 10.
  23. Don't eat yogurt on a cloudy, rainy day as it will clog your arteries and increase mucus.

These are simple yet effective tips for leading a healthier lifestyle.

What impresses me most about this way of healing is that the methods are so simple, pure and sincere. It bring us back to nature and makes us feel grounded. Love yourself and everyone around you, have positive loving relationships. If you make a commitment to take care of yourself in a loving way, you will be on the road to healing yourself.

Ismat Nathani, Founder of the Centre for Ayurveda and Indian Systems of Healing, worked with Dr. Lad to provide further information about Auyrvedic treatments.

What is Focusing?

You probably think that it means to concentrate on something, like: I need to focus on a project, my future, etc.....However, Focusing in the psychotherapeutic sense means something different; it is a guided thought exercise which is designed to help you to transform an emotional block. It is not hypnosis, your eyes are closed but you remain fully aware at all times.

When dealing with our conscious minds, there are roadblocks we put up (subconsciously) in order not to feel pain. And yet, to transform the pain during therapy we do need to briefly touch upon the pain. There is no magic wand that wipes away the pain. But Focusing offers an alternative to the sometimes uncomfortable discussions that many people associate with psychotherapy.

Unlike traditional therapy, Focusing allows you to remain in a safe state of mind while the therapist guides you to a place where you can deal with your emotions and gain peace of mind. One aspect that many people find comforting with this exercise is that much of the conversation is optional, leaving them able to respond and react to their own experience of the therapy.

Often when you come in to therapy it can be easy and natural to become defensive; this sort of an exercise will take the burden of communication away, and allow you to orient yourself on your emotions. By getting closer to the issue, you are able to see the it from a distance and ask yourself "What is it all about?" and find an answer.

During the entire session I will coach the client to pay attention to their feelings. Through gently asking specific questions I bring the client to a point where they feel ready to deal with the pain; whether it's through seeing things from a different angle, having a eureka moment about themselves or being able to express their deepest emotions to someone.

As each person is unique, I deal with each person in a different way. Prior to directing their attention within themselves, I guide the client to their peaceful place with their eyes closed so that the client can get relaxed and more in tune with the emotions held in their body. In holistic therapy, the connection between body and mind is given greater importance.

The session has been successful when you feel a shift in your emotions, and experience a feeling of release. Most of the time there is no need for much talk afterwards and the you can go home and let it all sink in and celebrate your newfound peace.

It always amazes me how powerful this method can be. Focusing helps the client to go much deeper within themselves than by regular talking. Although talking has it's place, transformation happens when we have our eyes closed and our mind focused with no fear of overcoming the obstacles. The greatest satisfaction arrives when the transformation is complete.

Do You Control Your Thoughts or Do Your Thoughts Control You?

Plato: "We can easily forgive a child who is is afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light."

Negative thoughts are controlled by your emotions. A quick fix can be to repeat positive affirmations. Sometimes all that's necessary to change your thoughts is practice and repetition of healthier thinking.

Affirmations work like commands given to a computer. They influence how we perceive ourselves, other people, events and circumstances.

Here is how this works: The repeated words build mental images in the mind and focus us on positive, productive thoughts. Frequent repetitions are like adding drops of water to a bucket, changing our habits over time. The conscious mind, starts the process and then the subconscious mind takes charge. This means that the most frequent thoughts that pass through your mind, ultimately effect your life and your future.

Here are some examples of positive affirmations:

I seek people who love and nurture me
I am centered and balanced
I can change
I value and love myself exactly the way I am

While affirmations are a highly effective tool, for some people reciting affirmations, will not allow them to deal with the root issues and negative emotions. For those people I help them to feel the underlying feelings first and then transform into peaceful feelings through a process called Focusing. Next week I will go into detail on this exercise. In the meantime, you can read more about it on my website here.

How Can I be Happy? What is Happiness?

Why is happiness so difficult to hold on to? It seems like we are insatiable, anything that pleases us will eventually become stale. This can be a force for good, it pushes us to do more than rest on our laurels, to go out and succeed in life. There is a huge rush that comes with pursuing feelings of lust, ambition, hate, anger and jealousy; but with it life can become a series of conflicts and problems. It can be easy to lose heart.

You may think: "If have a house and wife/husband, I’ll be happy", only to discover that once you’ve achieved these, you are still dissatisfied after a while, feeling an emptiness within. A void threatening to swallow up everything around you. Lots of people try to fill this void up with their bad habits. Kirstie Alley fills it with food, Charlie Sheen tries to fill it with drugs.

When this desperate discomfort or dissatisfaction spills over into negative behavior, its usually the result of anxiety over a central problem that you are ignoring or completely unaware of.

Finding peace is not just having a few hours or days of tranquility by yourself, but finding a higher state of mind where you are in complete harmony with yourself. The secret here is to find and deal with the root of your real problems. If you have negative body issues for example, then binging on comfort foods will lead you into a vicious cycle, but by actively working to resolve those issues with your body image, you can learn to move past any negative behavior and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Once you've developed better habits, those troubles that drove you to negative choices will no longer bother you. This can take time and commitment, but the end result is a longer, healthier, happier life.

True happiness is a state characterized by stability and contentedness. Learn to be comfortable with yourself and the world around you, accept that some things in life are beyond your control and find joy in things just as they are.

Do We Make Our Destiny?

Destiny is the past creating the present. You might say to yourself: “I'm just destined to be overweight/unhappy/victimized/destitute/alone forever”, but these are actually the results of life choices you've made. It's never too late to make a change.

Repeating poor actions without considering the consequences causes your body to develop unhealthy habits. However, you are not destined to be anything except what you’ve made of yourself through past and present actions. Many of these behaviors are reactions to past trauma and/or coping habits that don't address the issue.

Each morning when you wake up you make a plan that you never follow through on. Somehow you get overwhelmed, or at the end of the race, you find that you never really wanted the prize in the first place. It's time to breathe, take a look at your life, and see that you're on a course for self destruction. If you have stumbled and fallen you can always get up, dust yourself off and continue on a different path. No matter what your present state is, you can change through self control, discipline and altering the way you think.

There are many examples of great men and women who have overcome their personal demons. In his youth Mahatma Ghandi had tremendous anger management problems, prior to his renown as a pacifist, he was actually a very violent man. Terry Fox overcame amputation and mounting health concerns to run his marathon of hope. Usually those who achieve great things also suffer great failures, but they refuse to be trampled by them. You don't have to achieve your country's independence or run across the country on one leg; small steps can turn your life around.

And if you're still having trouble changing your thoughts, check back next week.

Are We The Clothes We Wear?

People judge us by our outward appearance, but in the long run the way we conduct ourselves is much more important. Once you develop your mind and cultivate appealing inner virtues, clothes become less important.

Mahatma Ghandi proved that the clothes do not always “make the man”. He wore only a loincloth as a way to identify himself with the humble masses of India.

He once arrived dressed that way at a party thrown by an English governor. The servants turned him away at the door, so he went home and sent a package by courier to the Governor. What was in the package? A suit. When the Governor called and asked the meaning of the package, Ghandi replied: “I was invited to your party, but I was not allowed entrance because of my dress, therefore I have sent you my suit instead.” Even during his visit to London, Ghandi went to visit the Queen of England wearing only a loincloth.

Of course, I don't personally recommended that you dress this way. Ghandi had a mission to fulfill and this was part of his role (and his rhetoric).

Clothing in western society, for women especially, is geared towards sexuality. The media and fashion industry makes millions of dollars by convincing us that clothing not only is an outward expression of who you are and what creed you belong to, but also that you need the right clothing to get what you want in life. While this may even be true to some extent, there is definitely too much emphasis placed on our outward appearance.

Take for example, the argument in favour of the burka. While the popular Western sentiment may see this as a symbol of sexual oppression within certain cultures, many women from those cultures will express that wearing a burka frees them from the judgement and sexuality that the rest of the world attaches to clothing and physical beauty.

The point is: while your outward appearance is important, it is far from being the centre of the universe. To give the body too little or too much focus can leave you insecure and unbalanced. What is most important is your mind and behavior. That's what people respond to.

Live in the Light - From Depression to Expression

One of the several ways to overcome depression is by spending time helping others who are in a worse shape than you are.
When you feel empty, like you're at the bottom of the barrel, with nothing to give, dark and negative thoughts feed on themselves and you spiral downwards. At that level you may even think that there is no one out there who can help you. That fear is only justified if you don't have the desire to be helped.
If you reverse your thinking through the realization that there are people out there who are worse of than you are. Find them and help them. Here you are coming from a perspective of strength. Even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway! Just like going to the dentist.
You will find that just by the act of helping others, volunteering, you are starting a spiral upwards. Without having to share your story with anyone, you are now being appreciated for who you are and what you can do for others. The sense of gratitude that others may have for you can start a bud opening up, saying: what can I contribute to the world?
Volunteering eliminates fear, focuses your mind and gives you meaning. This in turn will make you feel worthwhile. From here you can start expanding your growth and after a while you will be ready to see someone (therapist) to explore where the darkness originates from and to dissolve it, so that you are able to live in the light.
Continued volunteering will give you a basis for self-esteem and positive energy from which you can explore your inner arena to become a stronger and wiser person, taking one more step towards living a more peaceful life.

Who Looks Outside Dreams, Who Looks Inside Awakens

In the Eastern philosophy, the world we live in is considered “Maya” illusion. All the world is a stage, and we are merely actors. Wearing a costume, we interact with others who are also wearing their own costume. It’s only when we take off this costume that we come face to face with the core of our identity.

The journey in life is to be aware of who you are under all of the costumes at all times. In an ideal state, this core ought to include feelings of openness, love, acceptance, and self-fulfillment.

When we meet obstacles on our way, we usually see them as issues to “overcome” or alternatively we can say to ourselves: “What do I need to change within myself so that I can deal with this in the most harmonious way”. In this way problems become golden opportunities to evolve into a better person.

That’s why relationships are so great; they place a mirror in front of us, showing us where we stand on our path.

Can you guess what happens when you make a shift within yourself? The behavior of others people changes automatically. In a situation where the victim/controller dynamic occurs, a change of mindset from the victim will result in the controller also making a shift. The controller now needs to look for another button to push. This continues until all the buttons are released, which means that you’ve taken great steps forward on your (hopefully mutual) journey of personal growth.

At times when the issues seem too big to handle, finding a therapist who can provide a safe, non-judgmental place to look into that mirror; assisting you in a gentle way to have the courage and confidence to make the changes needed. Initially, you may only be able to take baby steps, not sure what is inside of you (like being afraid of the dark) only to discover there is no monster there.

Once you discover that it is not so scary, you can speed up the process, until you can love yourself unconditionally. Only when we love ourselves, can we love others. Then it’s not “I want some-one to love me so that I can feel good about myself”, but “I love myself and want to be with someone who also loves her/himself.” That becomes then a journey of growing and evolving together, when partners can help each other to transform; knowing the darker side of the other and still not running away, but working to get to the light.

If you’re the sort of person for whom mantras are effective, an excellent one can be: “I am love; I am perfect exactly the way I am.” The next step is also to see other people as love and perfect, which is a greater challenge.

Watching Our Thoughts

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), one of the greatest philosophers of his time, has said: “A man is what he thinks all day long." A man's life is what his thoughts are made of. It is unfortunate that we have not realized the importance of our thoughts.

Our minds are like monkeys: always restless, always wandering and never idle. To exercise control over our thoughts, we must first learn to observe them. Have you noticed that your thoughts never stay on one subject for long? The more your mind is disturbed, the more fickle it becomes. However, being aware of this is the first step in the right direction. You will soon observe that most of our thoughts are concentrated on:

Anxiety about the past or future
Blaming others for our present state, or
Justifying what we have done
How strange that our mind is never in the present! The present is all there is, so be in it!

How Do You Discover Your True Self?

Being your true self is about ending all pretension. As long as we are worried about what others think of us, we are owned by them. It is only when we require no outside approval that we really become ourselves.

We forget that our thoughts are like seeds, which create our tomorrows. We have also forgotten that our minds are interconnected to the minds of others and our thoughts influence them. When our thoughts about others are positive, they influence others to be good to us.

When our thoughts are of one kind, words and deeds of different type, there is total disharmony in the body, mind and spirit. This disharmony is the cause of all trials and tribulations, disease, for example. Therefore, if we want to change the world around us, then we ought to change our thought patterns. Easily said, but hard to do. It's a worthwhile struggle though, it can be done.

We spend most of our time and energy on the material world while ignoring what's going on inside. Once we start spending more time in the inner world, our need to control other people and possess objects naturally reduces.

The process isn't difficult to begin: take some time each day to sit and take stock of yourself. More than a few minutes. Don't multi-task.Come to a place of stillness, focus on your breath. When any thoughts or feelings come up, return your focus onto your breath.

When we learn to live in the inner world, we can see all as equal, where we can love and embrace all. From this place we can be truly unlimited and powerful.

For more information on meditation take a look at this site:

Swami Suddhananda on Meditation


Living Meditation: A Journey Beyond Body and Mind by Radha Soami Satsang Beas

Meditate by Swami Muktananda

How Do You Strike the Right Balance in Your Life?

Baghwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a highly praised humanitarian, philosopher and religious figure. His teachings focus on finding purpose and joy through love and compassion. The Sathya Sai Organization runs many schools, hospitals in India and abroad; the organization's website is available at radiosai.org. For Swami's 85th birthday on November 23rd 2010, the organization posted 30 videos of Sri Sathya Sai Baba's recent speeches and discourses. I’ve studied these teachings and here's what really resonates with me regarding our society.

The secret of life is to live a life of purpose. Take the internet, it has been the greatest blessing of modern times, but it has also been misused. There are numerous stories each year about addiction (especially with video games) and crimes related to internet use. This obsession has ruined physical and psychological health of many people, who lose bonds with the real world. Take social networking, often this amounts to wasting time by telling people about things which are not necessary. Finding purpose and real accomplishment in life is the goal.

The secular and spiritual aspects of our society are at an impasse. Public education is entirely focused on math, history, and other academic skills. However there is little focus on wellness and spiritual (not necessarily religious) well being. Also lacking is basic nutritional education, which has left much of the West hooked on TV dinners and junk food. Worldly knowledge is not enough, it needs to balanced with holistic knowledge.

Balance is: being in the world, but retaining sense of purpose. Why are we tiring ourselves out with trivial pursuits instead of searching for deeper accomplishment? Hardly anyone is truly happy. Almost everyone suffers from anxiety, depression and fear.

The solution is: to live in the world passionately. Facing the daily challenges which we need to overcome in the most harmonious way. Who said that life is a bowl of cherries?

Are You Feeling Lonely in Your Marriage?

Have you ever found yourself in a relationship where everything seems to be fine on the outside, but where you feel lost and lonely on the inside? You are together, you have children, friends and family and still the core connection with your mate is missing. You are just going through the motions. Somehow the one you’ve built your marital foundation with is not there for you on an emotional level. After years of discontent and miscommunication, you wonder if you’ll ever be able to re-capture the joy of attachment, bonding and closeness with your partner.

When couples first come in, they are often pretty distraught and fed up with the cycle of attack and withdrawal. It's a vicious cycle which they can't break out from. This cycle is natural and common. One partner becomes increasingly demanding and clingy, unintentionally pushing the person away. They wonder: Do I continue living this way or do I call it quits now?

There is a third option: To repair, refresh and renew your relationship now with your partner. When a therapist becomes involved, their role is to listen carefully and find out where the couple has gotten stuck. Resolving the emotional disconnection will help the couple much more than quick fixes for the problem of the week.

If you are in a troubled relationship, and feel it is time to involve a counsellor, it is time to discuss it with a professional therapist.

Couples Counselling: What You Want From Each Other

Have you ever wanted to ask your partner:

Do I matter to you?
Can I count on you?
Are you there for me?
This is what most couples deep down inside want to ask. When you feel your needs are not being met or communication is breaking down then it may be time to seek counselling together.

It’s not really about issues surrounding finances, the kids or sex (although these issues are important). What you really want from each other is a deep emotional attachment. You can fight, but how you re-connect after that is what makes a relationship last. Staying emotionally connected even when you don’t agree with each other is paramount. The core issues behind every major disagreement will always come back to your own emotional needs, and everyone needs a safe place to work out those issues. Couples often bring their own troubled past into relationships. People who are drawn to each other seem to have ability to push each other's buttons. While this can lead to emotional turmoil, it can also be the place to heal your emotional wounds.

According to John Bowlby, “When we have a deep connection with a group of people, it changes how we feel in life". Isolation can be very traumatizing; we don’t do well alone, we aren't wired for it. The quality of relationships has a huge impact on the immune system. Oxytocin (a bonding hormone) is released when two people are emotionally close to each other. A lack of deep emotional bonding can in fact lead to some serious health issues.

When you feel you're growing apart from each other, like you have lost understanding and empathy with your partner, it's time to seek counselling. The role of the therapist is to lead couples into a deeper emotional bond, by creating a safe place in the therapy session for couples to work out their issues. With both of your participation, within a few sessions, you can work towards being heard, understood, and turning each other's company into a refuge rather than a war zone.

Next week, I will look closer at the cycles that couples go through and the role of the therapist in helping them move forward.

Telling Your Truth: Do What Feels Right and True

I started my previous blog, quoting Dada Vaswani’s 9 principles of success. Today, we will expand on the first principle: "Nothing in life brings about failure more surely than lack of integrity.”

What is integrity? Integrity (utter sincerity, honesty and candor) is telling the truth the way you perceive it, living with a clear conscience, knowing that whatever you say and do is according to your inner truth.

Have you noticed how you feel when you have said or done things that were not true and honest? For example:
Did your heart rate go up?
Did you have butterflies in your stomach?
Did your thoughts keep turning over and over the same incidence?
Did you have shallow breathing and a dry mouth?
If so, what impact do you think this may have on your physical and emotional health? Perhaps a detrimental effect? If so, then for health reasons alone, it would be a good idea to stick to the truth. The other reason could be: what if I were “found out?”…how would that make you feel ... ashamed perhaps? The feeling of shame can bring about feelings of guilt and low self esteem which may make you feel worse about yourself and bring you into a downward spiral.

In the end it seems that only negative consequences can be the result of lack of integrity. So we may want to ask ourselves: “is it really worth it?”

The way I approach a client with this issue is by exploring what is blocking them from telling and perhaps perceiving the truth. Once we know what the blocks are, we will proceed to explore the discomfort of avoiding the truth. From there we will continue to explore what the best way would be for the client to tell the truth at their own speed and comfort level.

Another time we will approach the topic of: When you give to the world the best you have, the best will come back to you.

9 Tips for Success in Life as Dada Vaswani Advises Us

Dada’s simple answers on his nine steps for success:
Do only that which you feel is right and true. Nothing in life brings about failure more surely than lack of integrity.
Do your best each day. Let this be the motto of your life: “only the best is good enough for me”. When you give to the world the best you have, the best will come back to you.
Fully trust in the divine wisdom that designs and orders the scheme of things.
Plan for today. Budget your time. The truly successful man fits 26 hours into a day of 24, cutting down waste. Take care of every moment of your life.
Begin the day right! Wake up each morning, full of hope and expectation.
Never give up. Persistence is the law of success!
Tact is better than talent.
Stay young all your life. Age is a state of mind.
Reach out to others. You succeed in the measure in which you help others to succeed.
Because my family knows how much I admire Dada Vaswani for his spiritual thinking and being they sent me his book “Dada Answers - Questions you have always wished to ask" (Gita Publishing House, Pune, India). The impact that this humble man, with the tale of love and compassion for all living things, has on people, is impossible to measure. He is highly regarded amongst his peers and has spoken at the UNO on universal peace and has been the recipient of several honors, including the prestigious U Thant Peace Award.

When I read the book I was amazed how the author addresses answers for complex life issues in such simple manner and language. Simple concepts, but often difficult to tackle on your own, it is almost as if one would benefit from a To-Do-List, and Dada Vaswani shares with us his 9 steps for success in life. Over the next few weeks we will explore each of these points in more depth.

Next week we will discuss the first point: do only which you feel is right and true.

From Chaos to Order

Holistic psychotherapy promotes an integration of wellbeing on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. When all these three aspects reach their peak, then there is harmony and a sense of wellbeing in a person. In the process of moving towards this "perfection" we evolve in an upward spiral of order and then chaos to a higher level of order through chaos or disease to an even higher level, etc.

Chaos is a stepping stone from one level of order to the next higher level. Everyone experiences this, whether or not they are conscious of it. Each new level of order is a new level of health (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual).. It may be a combination or all of them. Chaos only becomes a disease when we get stuck in the chaos without breaking through to a higher level of order. We might say to ourselves: "this does not feel good," or "maybe something is out of synch".

When we become "stuck" within a chaotic pattern, without learning or evolving through it, that’s when we disrupt our natural energy flow, creating stress and disease. Order-chaos-order happens on a regular basis. It is a cycle that can be used to help us evolve. Chaos is one of the biggest teachers. Most people’s lives have a certain amount of chaos each day and our response can be constructive or destructive.

As a therapist, I help people to break through the chaos to a higher level of peace and serenity. The method I often use: Focusing, is a way of getting to the core of the issues and then gently transforming the obstacles.

Look out for the next post where I will elaborate on the method Focusing further.

Be in the World, Not of the World

In an attempt to find happiness, we often tend to increase the complexity of our lives to a point of no return. For example: BlackBerries, iPods, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones etc…keep us occupied almost all day (and night).

We seem to be relying on outer stimuli to have some meaning in life, to find some importance in ourselves, to fill the emptiness within. As if, without the outside stimuli, the silence would be deafening to us.

Is there a fear that if we are on our own, without the outer stimuli, that we may be forced to get our inner stimuli going? Fear to look within of what we may or may not find? Fear of knowing your inner self is quite natural; often we think that there are “monsters” hidden in there, because we may not have positive feelings about ourselves.

We can take ourselves gently by the hand and find a peaceful place within, where we can make some space to experience our true inner beauty. You can try to see yourself as a little vulnerable, innocent child. Now you can, as the grown up and wise adult embrace and comfort the child and give it all the love it needs. Getting to know your true self is what may give you inner peace.

As a therapist, I guide people to find their peaceful place and from there to discover what is standing in their way to overcome their "blocks".

Renovation of Your Soul

When you feel that your world is falling apart because of:
  1. Relationships destroyed
  2. Finances in the pit
  3. Health issues

That’s when you may need an overhaul of your life. When problems become overwhelming, then this a signal that major "repairs" of your soul need to be done, even a complete renovation.

First, sit back and ponder:
  1. Where did things go wrong?
  2. How do I overcome this?

At this time an inspection / introspection of your soul is needed.

It may be a good idea to sit quietly by yourself, close your eyes and focus your attention within, on your breath. Without judging yourself, look at the picture of your life and just observe what you see in a detached manner. Take some deep breaths. If you find yourself caught up in your emotions, re-direct your attention to your breath. Try to look at yourself with empathy and compassion and embrace the inner you, with all of your positives and negatives. Imagine the love you have for a small child (your child or grandchild) and transfer that love to the inner you. Feel a sense of unconditional love for the inner you.

When you have achieved a sense of calmness, then you are ready to start dealing with your issues one by one.

Holistic Psychotherapy: Don't Hesitate to Get Help

When you find yourself in a challenging situation, whether its personal, relationship/marriage or career/business, you may think about seeking some professional help. Especially when your friends are tired of listening to your repetitive stories and you find yourself alone and in the dark.

At this time you may ask yourself "who can I find who has a holistic approach to therapy, incorporating body, mind and spirit?" and "whom I can relate to?"

The next question will be: "how am I going to afford it?" Although therapy is an investment in your wellbeing, whereby you could probably work more efficiently and make more money. What price can you put on your optimum emotional health and happiness?

One source of coverage which is often overlooked is the extended health coverage by insurance companies such as The Great-West Life Assurance Company: Individual products: Counselling and Support Services: helping individuals, families and business owners plan for their financial security. It takes one phone call to your insurance company to verify that your plan covers you for psychotherapy by a registered social worker.

At each session a receipt is issued which can be submitted to you insurance company for re-imbursement. When you call me for a free confidential 15 minute consultation all of the above issues can be discussed. I can be reached at 416-769-6810.

Ganga Daryanani, RSW
"Inner richness is the source of outer abundance"
Psychotherapy - Holistic Counselling - Coaching