Categories
Wellness

Ready to get that Solstice Glow?

The longest day of the year is here. Are you ready?

On June 21, Summer officially arrives and with it, we’ll get more than four extra hours of sun! Summer solstice boasts the most daylight of any day in the year. It’s the perfect time to connect with nature, reconnect with yourself and renew your energy. Let’s talk about the power of solstice in harmonizing your body, mind and spirit with the force of nature in all her glory. 

What is summer solstice?

Occurring twice each year, solstice marks the maximum (summer) and minimum (winter) number of daylight hours in a calendar year. The summer solstice has celebratory roots that date back well past Shakespeare (though he memorialized it as well in Midsummer Night’s Dream) and span the entire globe. Across the world, people celebrate solstice in a variety of ways. In some countries, it’s a holiday and in many, it’s a party. The celebrations root right back to connecting with nature and honoring the incredible power of our planet and the four elements: fire, water, earth and air. 

Why you should reconnect with yourself during this time

Summer solstice is the perfect time to cultivate a practice of care that will carry you through the rest of this year and beyond. It’s a beautiful benchmark that’s noted not by a date on the calendar but the position of the sun. Every day, you can watch the rise and set of the sun and remind yourself of the constant ebb and flow of growth and rest. These things are both present in the sun’s daily rhythm, and they’re present in you as well. Like the sun, you are constant and ever changing. Your best is possible only when you honor both of those truths. You can find comfort in the knowledge that you are honoring yourself with the rest that the day takes with the sinking sun. 

The start of something new is the perfect time to refocus on your goals and ground yourself into the here and now. If you’ve been feeling stressed out or out of sorts, Summer’s new leaf is the perfect time to reconnect with your inner goddess and solstice helps you maximize your potential by giving you extra hours of wakeful energy in the day. 

It’s an astrological strength boost

If you’re into astrology, you’ll know that solstice marks the start of Cancer season every year. 2022’s summer solstice also falls one week after the strawberry supermoon and just 6 days ahead of Neptune retrograde. If you’re not into astrology, all of those things culminate to foster a sense of connection between yourself and the world around you. This solstice may offer you a sense of heightened awareness of your own intuition. You should trust that connection to your inner self. Lean into the solstice’s powermove of taking up space, and let your strength and knowing shine like the sun. 

Tips to soak up those solstice vibes 

Ready to make this summer solstice the source of strength and shine in your life? We are too! We’ve cultivated these tips just for you, to help you connect with yourself, your sun and the ground beneath your feet this summer. 

Get outside 

Whether you prefer to sink your toes into the warm golden sand or you want to take a hike up the hillside and into the forest, spend some time in nature for solstice. Honor the sun by connecting with the earth and welcoming these extra hours of daylight in a way that feels good to your body, mind and soul. The holistic appreciation of connectedness is best harnessed when you’re spending time outside.

Have a mini-festival

Call it anything you like: a party, a barbecue or a gathering! Bring together your loved ones to help you welcome summer with the excitement you’ve been building as you awaited the arrival of the season of warmth. Create a playlist and make your favorite snacks, then share them with the people who mean the most to you. 

Connect with the elements 

Do you feel particularly empowered by an element of nature? Maybe you enjoy the deep mossy scent of the forest, a gentle breeze, or the feel of water on your skin. No matter what part of the natural world connects most with your soul, try to spend some quality time rooting into that for solstice. Plan a trip to your favorite embodiment of the element that empowers you and share this summer start with yourself in harmony with nature. 

Solstice is celebrated across the world because there is no geographical or conceptual limit to the ways the world and the power of the sun on your skin can impact your life. For many people, solstice is the start of something new- it’s like a refresh in the middle of the year. You can spend the day catching your breath, soaking up nature or finding other ways to reconnect with yourself. There is no wrong way to honor the day where the daylight hours are turned up to maximum capacity every year. 

If you or a loved one is looking for a safe space to reconnect with yourself and root into recovery from substance abuse, Villa Kali Ma is here to welcome you this solstice and beyond. 

Categories
Wellness

What is Altruism and Why Does it Matter?

From volunteering your time to donating money, calls for altruism seem to be a core part of society yet it might be unclear what that means? And if altruism is an action, is there more that we should be doing? Today we’re uncovering the roots of altruism and how we can live out that value.

What is Altruism?

Altruism, at its core, is the unselfish desire to compassionately improve things for other people (or causes). Synonyms of altruism are things like being morally good and virtuous, while the direct opposite of altruism is to act with selfish intention and disregard for those around you. 

A desire for altruism in your life may feel a bit obvious, yet it’s not always so straightforward in understanding how it may play into your life and what altruism could look like for you. 

3 Reasons You Should Focus on Altruistic Living 

Doing good feels good 

For yourself, those around you and those that are supported by your positive action, doing good just feels good! Your emotional and physical centers in your brain are activated when you express kindness without any expectations. Altruism plays on that side of your hardwired reward system.

There is micro and macro good that comes from operating this way. People who are surrounded by positive action and affirming reinforcement through community and choices are often more likely to trust themselves as well as the world around them. Doing good for others is a meaningful way to feel positive about your contribution to the world, and also let others’ victories fuel your own growth. 

Altruism builds community 

There are many ways we come together with other people to support a single idea.  Altruism is a foundational community builder. Working toward a cause that means something to you has a beautiful way of uniting people. Whether that idea is stretching our bodies and spirits in a yoga class, giving blood, or volunteering to build houses, there are infinite ways to create community through a desire to do meaningful good. 

Community groups focused on a cause that is directly rooted in your altruistic beliefs has a positive impact that’s wide-reaching. Within you, this blossoming community can help to feel your holistic self spiritually awakening a depth of purpose you may have lost touch with, and practically helping you move toward that purpose. 

Beyond you, community altruism effectively increases the reach and benefit for your fellow community members and those who are supported by your effort. Community efforts help to ensure your altruism is effective, influential, and purposeful. 

It can be anything you want it to be

Altruism is a specific theme and way of being, but there is no specific way of effectively engaging with altruism. No matter what your skill set, there is a way for it to help you flourish in incorporating altruism into your lifestyle. If you’re a creative thinker, a prolific artist, or a shrewd business person- altruism has room for you. Empower yourself to use your skills creatively. 

Your talents and unique way of being will come in handy with purposeful and direct ways to engage in making the world a softer and more supportive place. While that’s happening, you’ll also benefit from seeing new ways to engage your skills; it will broaden your perspective and maybe even your mind!

Are there risks to being altruistic?

There are risks to everything we choose to engage in throughout our lives and altruism is no exception. Two of the main risks in altruism are causing unintended harm to others, and compassion fatigue.

Causing harm is never the intention of someone who is seeking to do good and improve the world for the causes you care about, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Be mindful of the impact that follows your intent to mitigate this risk. 

Empathy burnout happens when you take no time for yourself to refuel your own tank. When you are practicing altruism, it is critical that you also cultivate a self-care practice that is both meaningful and impactful for you. There are many ways to develop your self-care practice and few ways to get it wrong – the important part is just that you do.

3 ways to practice altruism in your life 

Offer no-strings-attached help (and mean it) 

Pay for someone’s drink, offer someone advice they ask for, or consult on a project that’s trying to get off the ground and can’t afford your services. 

When you extend your hand to help pull someone else into new spaces, do so without cuffing them to the expectations that you hold. Commit your help without expecting anything in return. There are no conditions on this – not on manners, response, or responsibility. 

Speak sincerely and with compassion to others 

Offering authentic kindness to others is a balm to the soul of both speaker and listener. Offer words that mean something to someone in your life today, and let them sit with those words as encouragement and affirmation. No matter how confident someone looks, you may be surprised to learn the internal fights they’ve braved to reach that space. Sincere recognition of their energy is a beautiful way to offer altruism on a personal basis. 

Be intentional with the causes you advocate for 

While a good cause is a wonderful thing, not all good causes are organized the same way. When you are supporting an organization or a person who shares your views, take time to do a critical study of their culture and impact. Ensuring you align with the way they go about achieving their results and how their actions impact people is an important part of ensuring that your contribution is truly doing the good you’re intending. 

Go forth and engage with the world, and your altruistic side, in whatever authentic way feels empowering for you today. Explore our inspiration page for other experts we admire sharing their thoughts on altruism. 

At Villa Kali Ma, we provide residential and detox addiction treatment services to women from our location in sunny Carlsbad, CA. If you’re looking for support with substance use recovery for yourself or an important woman in your life, call us today. (866) 950-0648

Categories
Wellness

10 Steps to Overcome the Inner Critic

The Negative Narrator

Do you often get the sensation that maybe you’re inferior to other people somehow? Do you treat yourself like you’re bad-hearted, stupid, a loser, ugly, selfish…..and and and?

A stream of constant, self-generated psychological abuse is, sadly, completely normal.  

It’s like being forced to listen to someone narrating the movie of your life in a very unfavorable way. Everything we do, think, and feel is subject to unkind, unasked for negative commentary coming from our own minds.

Who’s the Wizard Behind the Curtain?

Have you ever looked into who exactly inside you is being so harsh on the rest of you? 

It’s the great and terrible Inner Critic. Also known as The Mean Voice In Your Head, and to psychologists as Superego (not nearly as fun as that sounds, unfortunately). It’s the Part who makes sure you fit in. 

Outdated Management Needs an Upgrade

Inner Critic is an artifact from the past, a member of the legacy management team that got us through our childhood. 

But now that we’re not living with our parents, dependent on their every whim for our physical survival, we don’t have to please them or anyone else anymore as a condition of staying alive. 

If you’d like to see what life is like without an inner PA system blasting horrible pronouncements about you all day long, this post is for you!

10 Steps to Overcome the Inner Critic

  1. Write down what the Inner Critic says

Start a log in which you record what your Inner Critic says about you. A transcript of everything that’s said will help you see these statements as opinions, not facts. You will also have an easier time seeing how brutal these comments are. 

  1. Defend Yourself

Looking over the Inner Critic’s allegations, identify what’s unfair, unscientific, untrue, cruel and over the line. The Inner Critic is a bully and a liar. Fight for justice like you’re Atticus Finch defending Boo Radley.

  1. Identify the Double Binds, Gaslighting, and Abuse

Inner Critics love damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenarios. Call out these double binds. Notice how the Inner Critic gaslights you, and abuses you psychologically, like a narcissist. Call it what it is.  

  1. Identify Your Parents’ Voices

Does your Inner Critic remind you of anyone? Inner Critics are tape recorders replaying the worst things our parents told us, in their worst moments. Feel free to consider that this is their baggage, not yours.

  1. Use Your Values to Disagree With the Critic

Your true values are a resource for disagreeing with the Inner Critic’s antihuman, patriarchal, misogynistic messages. Get grand, get high and mighty. Rise above.

  1. Identify the Trigger

Ask your Inner Critic what it’s scared of. What horrible thing will happen to you if you don’t do what it says? The Inner Critic is, in its own demented way, trying to protect you. By letting it tell you what it’s worried about, you can often say “Ok, thanks for your input” and let it all go. 

  1. Connect the Inner Critic’s Worries to Events of Your Past 

If you’re able to find out what triggered the Inner Critic to go chicken killer on you, ask yourself: “When and where did I learn this particular rule?”. Realizing that this rule was learned in a very specific setting can help you see that perhaps it does not apply to your current situation. 

  1. Remember Who put the Inner Critic in Charge

It might not feel like that now, but it’s actually us who long ago empowered Inner Critic with the mandate to constantly remind us of the expectations that others have of us, the requirements we need to fulfill in order to keep being loved by our parents. But the Inner Critic can only rule by consent of the governed. How about some regime change?  

  1. Send the Inner Critic into Retirement

You are absolutely, 100% allowed to retire the Inner Critic. They’ve been doing this job for as long as you have been alive, which is a long enough career. You can replace Inner Critic with an Inner Guardian who will help you survive, but in a nice way. 

  1. Dominate the Inner Critic

Take a Cesar Milan approach to your Inner Critic – be calm and assertive and just say no. You are in charge now. The Inner Critic will eventually respect your authority and happily let you take over the task of keeping you safe. You being all grown up and safe from the things that nearly killed you in childhood is actually what it was after, all along. 

Thanks for reading!

If you or an important woman in your life are struggling with substance use or a history of trauma that continues to affect daily life, reach out to us today to learn more about our treatment programs. Call (866) 950-0648 to learn more. 

Categories
Wellness

How does your holistic wellness measure up? [QUIZ]

Whether you’re feeling out of sorts or looking for a checkup to affirm your progress toward holistic healing, this wellness quiz is just what you need! Along the road to recovery, it’s easy to lose sight of ourselves and our goals but this quiz will give you a sense of where you are and what you need. 

Are you ready to explore what’s so important about holistic healing for women in recovery? Read on, and take the quiz below to plan your next steps! 

Why is holistic healing important in recovery?

During recovery, it can be particularly easy to focus on finding your feet in one area of your life and ignore the rest. It’s a logical path, after all! You don’t want to overwhelm or over-run yourself with tasks that steal every ounce of your energy. It’s tempting to focus on one thing at a time and that approach may work for some people. But for most women in recovery, embodying a holistic approach to wellness is ideal because at no point will you be asked to shut off any part of yourself. 

Your healing will take into account the way you experience the entire world, in every moment, paying attention to each part of you. Wellness is a spectrum, just like light, and ensuring that every facet of your Self shows up in your recovery is the best way to see your most vibrant self.

Take the Quiz now! 

Consider each question. While your health is made up of many facets, you should think most about the facet the question feels connected to in your life. 

Answer each question with Yes, No, or Maybe. 

  1. Are you in tune with your intuition?
  2. Do you make time to move your body intentionally each day?
  3. Is your nutrition a balanced and thoughtful choice you make?
  4. Are you making a conscious effort to avoid and stop harmful habits?
  5. Can you harness a sense of calm during stressful times?
  6. Is your mental health something you feel good about?
  7. Do you use empowering words when you speak to yourself and others?
  8. Are you getting restful, adequate sleep most of the time?
  9. Do you feel an overall sense of attunement to the world around you?
  10. Is communication valued and respected in your relationships?

If your answers are mostly “no”

Your holistic wellness is hurting, and it’s likely that you are too! 

When one or more aspects of your holistic wellbeing take a dive, it can be difficult to determine what caused it and where you need the most support. During these times, having community spaces to find support and expert help in guiding you toward identifying those difficult places and building them up is key. Every step leads you closer to affirming growth that will help your healing bloom- and you’ve just taken the first one with this wellness quiz. 

You are doing all the right things, and it’s okay not to be okay. Use this quiz as a tool to find the next step forward in holistically reclaiming your wellness. 

If you had more than 3 “I don’t know” answers 

Uncertainty is a clear sign that you could use some guidance, but it doesn’t mean there’s trouble in your holistic paradise. Whether you’re just not sure which part of you is trying to answer the question, or there are fluctuating circumstances in your life that make it difficult to give a definitive answer, clarity is the next step to take toward wellness. 

Now is the perfect time to consider adding supporting tools to your healing spaces. If you’re already engaging in some things to improve your wellbeing, think about where you might benefit from adding something new. Things like reiki or labyrinth walking may help you shake off the fog of uncertainty to see a clearer path toward wellness ahead.

If you answered mostly “yes”

You are doing a wonderful job of keeping your holistic wellness on track! This is great, and you should be proud of yourself. Holistic wellness in recovery illustrates a commitment to your healing alongside an effort to work toward growth. 

However, when things are going well, celebration can often lead to cessation. To stay on this track toward being a wellness wonder, be sure to stay engaged with the communities and tools that help you succeed. If you’re an alumni of our program, this network of resources are available for the lifetime of your healing. When you’re doing well, showing up in these spaces acts as a beacon of hope for others who are earlier on in their own journeys. 

Every day is a new opportunity to find the holistic wellness you’re craving, no matter where you are on your recovery journey. Thank you for taking our quiz. Keep coming back for more quizzes, tips and guidance to keep your journey an engaging and fulfilling one. 

If you or someone you know would benefit from the holistic healing environment at Villa Kali Ma to help them overcome substance use disorders and trauma, reach out today!

(760) 814-8214 | Follow us on Instagram

Categories
Wellness

The Connection Between Wellness and Happiness

What’s the connection between wellness and happiness? If you are well, does that mean you are automatically happy? Our understanding of the human experience leads us to say probably not, but you’re definitely on the right track. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between wellness, happiness and the power you have over both in your life. 

Yes, being “well” truly can make you feel happier 

While there’s so much more to wellness than happiness, there is no denying that your well-being directly affects how happy you feel. It is difficult to feel fulfilled when there are parts of your life that echo with emptiness and, due to this, there is a direct correlation between caring for yourself and positive emotional experiences. 

But wellness is about more than being happy 

However, you cannot simply dismiss emotions that aren’t “happiness” and expect to find meaningful wellness. True happiness is a sense of positive regard for yourself and the life you live. With that in mind, it’s important to note that true wellness will be inclusive of a variety of emotional experiences integrating into an overall sense of personal fulfillment. 

What does wellness mean, exactly?

The Global Wellness Society tells us that wellness is “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” By its very existence, this definition puts the power of your wellness into your hands—exactly where it belongs. 

Wellness is yours to attain, and doing so is a choice you get to make across every dimension of your lifestyle. Choosing to seek wellness is to engage in the things that contribute to a sense of fulfillment in some aspect of your life. Wellness is fueled by action in that it is not simply something that happens to you. You have the power to create wellness in your life, and it is something you can directly contribute to no matter what other ways the world seeks to disempower you. 

Factors that improve your wellbeing

Resilience

How well you adapt or respond to things that don’t go the way you thought they would is a key part of your wellness. Being resilient means that, come what may, you are up for the challenge. There is no requirement for you to be unafraid of change or completely confident in your resilience. It simply asks you to believe in your ability to cope until you overcome. 

Outlook

When you look ahead in your life and the world at large, do you see something worth thriving for? A positive or optimistic outlook is a beneficial part of supporting your holistic wellbeing. 

The good in the world is worth enduring the difficult days when you come to them. An outlook that helps you to remember that will support your happiness levels in becoming a baseline for positivity. 

Generosity

Giving—and giving back—are important in the impact they have on your wellness and a general sense of personal fulfillment. Be generous with your time, your energy, and your positivity. When you can, be generous with spreading your wealth through the world in every sense of the word. A well person is a therapeutically positive person, so be generous with the way you share your wellness with the world. 

Here’s how being happy can actually improve your wellness

Body 

A happy body is connected to itself in breath and movement. Intentionally moving your body will reward you with an awareness of self. When your body is hurting, you struggle to stay connected to the ways in which it grounds you and that sense of awareness is lost. 

 The movement of your body gives you a practice run of producing a positive stress signal and responding to it in a positive way. In that regard, a happy body is one that is conditioned to respond to stress without immediately hitting crisis mode.  

Mind 

A positive mindset is the secret to thriving. This isn’t to say that you must be happy all the time. Dismissing all of your difficult or negative thoughts would be a disservice to your overall well-being. 

A positive or happy mind is not a relentlessly cheery one, but instead, a mind in which all thoughts are validated and supported in appropriate ways that help you reach toward fulfilling goals instead of self-harm. 

Spirit

Whether you are a spiritual person or not, the overall sense of self that keeps us rooted in our identity throughout our lifetime plays an important role in your wellbeing. Happiness in your spiritual center can contribute to a sense of peace that leads you toward your path of desirable outcomes. This sense of enlightenment or rightness can be achieved through meditation and spiritual practices that are customized to fit your needs and beliefs. 

The world around you benefits from your fulfillment 

Happy people are better for the planet. From the way we connect with animals to the way we treat the world around us, science has found evidence that even our Mother Earth benefits from the healing energy we put into our own happiness. 

Whether you are trying to get well or hoping to harness happiness along your holistic journey, recognizing the connection between wellness and happiness is a valuable step in the process. Every effort you make toward a life wholly lived is one that will benefit your wellness and, in turn, help you to move through life as a happier, healthier person

If you want to learn more about our programs or the way that we integrate holistic wellness into our addiction treatment programs, give us a call at (866) 950-0644 or connect with us online today!

Categories
Wellness

You Can’t Miss These Mindfulness Tips This May

Mindfulness is more than a state of being. It’s an art, and while many of us love the idea of mindfulness, the implementation into our lives is not as seamless as we might hope. However, with practice, you can become the expert in your own blend of this art form. 

Like all forms of therapeutic support, mindfulness is rooted in evidence that has developed over time both in our facility and in the broader community beyond us. We want to share these mindfulness tips with you to help you to have a rich mindfulness practice this Mental Health Awareness Month. 

What does it mean to be mindful?

In general, mindfulness speaks to a state of being one with your awareness. When you are mindful, you are aware of your feelings, your body and the world around you at this moment; your awareness is not wandering on a journey through your lifespan in either direction. 

Wit that said, successfully engaging in a mindfulness practice is not just the moments you spend actually being mindful. The healing power of mindfulness is embodied in the way you engage with the world, how you express yourself and even the way you feel your emotions. 

Here are five ways to be mindful right now 

1. Try Square breathing.

Each part of your breathing should take four seconds in this exercise. Inhale- hold- Exhale- hold. 

2. Color! 

Whether you use an app or you put color to paper in the physical sense, the act of coloring is a meditative practice when you focus wholly on it.

3. Do a sun salutation. 

Yoga’s foundational 26-posture sequence is designed to help you feel grounded to the Earth as well as your body. Do one cycle of sun salutation asana today. 

4. Fixated gaze practice. 

Find one object in the room or space around you, and focus on it. Try to take in its details while observing nothing else around you until it all falls away. Set a timer if you’re prone to getting lost in this space. 

5. Scan your body. 

Close your eyes and sit in a space where you can turn your focus inward. Then, beginning at the top of your head or the tips of your toes, move through every muscle, soft space and joint and observe what’s happening in that area of your body. 

The key elements of mindfulness 

Like most aspects of our lives, mindfulness is a series of moving parts. It functions for each of us like a bespoke puzzle whose pieces are shaped by the experiences we have. No two souls will experience mindfulness the same way; but even so, there are elements that run through mindfulness as universal themes. 

Acceptance

Your mindfulness practice is rooted in an ability to accept what you find within or beyond yourself. The key here is knowing that accepting something as your current reality does not mean you have to tolerate or embrace it as your future. Even the truths you accept can be altered to suit your needs for fulfillment. 

Patience 

Change and growth are not overnight success stories we can will ourselves into. They are as much a practice as the mindfulness itself, so patience is a critical step in finding your way forward through a mindful awareness of your holistic healing. 

Non-judgment 

You cannot hate your past into changing, and you cannot shame your future into compliance. You must check judgment at the door of your mindfulness journey in order to make sustainable changes. Whatever you’ve done and whomever you’ve been, bring acceptance with you here instead of judgment. 

Trust 

Trusting yourself may feel difficult while you are learning how to be aware of your most reliable self. Hearing the voice of your truth instead of the voice of fear or past pain comes with time, so if you’re still working on trusting yourself, try trusting the journey of mindfulness to get you there. 

Support 

When you struggle to find support in your friends or loved ones, look outside yourself and see if there is community in other parts of your life than can support you along your mindfulness journey. Alumni support groups at Villa Kali Ma are a lifelong connection to others who understand where you’ve been, and you may also try support in spaces like classes or clubs. 

Here are 5 ways to grow your mindfulness practice 

1. Add mindfulness to your routine tasks 

You can’t mindfully will away your commute or housework, but you can incorporate things like a meditative podcast, playlist or breathing exercise into your routines as you do them! 

2. Bring mindfulness to your meals 

Getting mindful about your food routine can go a long way in connecting to your body and healing your health. Try meal planning and intentional ingredients to get mindful about the way you nourish your body. 

3. Buddy up 

Ask a friend to be your mindfulness buddy. You can share mindfulness tips, support one another on hard days, and work together to build accountability into a loving practice you share. 

4. Make mindfulness a musical endeavor 

Add the soundscapes and music that makes you feel calm into a playlist so that you have your mindfulness in your pocket. Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to look for new tunes to add to it as well. 

5. Start a journaling practice 

Journaling has many benefits, and as a mindfulness tip, it can help you to stay on track. You can use your journal to freehand the thoughts that crop up during the day, or to intentionally document a mood or habit you want to keep track of. 

Are you feeling inspired to begin or refresh your mindfulness practice today? We want to hear all about it! Join us on Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter using the bar below to keep up with mindfulness tips, tricks and happenings within the Villa Kali Ma world today! 

Categories
Wellness

The Life-Changing Power of Authenticity

When we make the decision to be authentic, we course correct towards very different coordinates. We head towards more adventure and more vividness, deeper friendships, and greater meaning. 

Leaving behind the conditioned habit of being externally sourced, we set off to become sourced from within.

The color of life comes from inside us. Things outside of us can stimulate us, support us through resonance and mirroring, to feel what we already are, but it is always our own nature and subjectivity that makes up our lives. 

When we embrace this, and decide to live from the richness of our own insides, emanating outwards, rather than outside in, life returns to magic. 

Authenticity Goes Against our Conditioning

The external conditioning has been a trick of some sort, like a captured dolphin doing a flip to get an external reward. We have been trained and controlled to perform a stereotyped, predictable, templated appearance of a human being, rather than to express and be what rises up in us organically. 

The world would look quite different if we chose to connect first to what is within us, and worry secondarily about whether or not other people approve of who and what we are, and whether it resonates with them.

When we are externally sourced, we are very open to manipulation and social engineering. We have no inner authority. We are vulnerable to being gaslit, bossed around, shamed and blamed. Living our lives as though we belong to someone else: to whoever and whatever we take as an authority. 

Authenticity is the Truth That Sets us Free

Authenticity is the truth that, as promised, sets us free. When we are authentic we choose kind words, but don’t dally with falsities about ourselves and what we know. 

We speak words meant to illuminate, rather than words meant to confuse, mislead, and cloud. We do not play games or manipulate. We set ourselves and everyone else free from the psychological burden of lies. 

There is an enormous psychological benefit to telling the truth. Parts of us suffer when we say something that the body knows to be untrue, as the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance illustrates. Incongruence harms us, and it opens up the door for negative things (like addiction) to sit in our being, regardless of our original intentions. 

Addictions don’t like the truth, as you may have noticed. The truth sets us free from addictions and all other kinds of possessions and bindings. Not unkind words or bluntness to others – but rather our honest admission, to ourselves, in the privacy of our hearts and among trusted friends. 

Authenticity Is the Root of True Friendship 

The first result of being authentic is that those who cannot stand who and what we actually are by nature, will realize they don’t like being around us, and will move on out of our sphere. This can be frightening, or bring on heartache, but it is actually good. 

When we can understand this not as a reflection on us, per se, but more an expression of those people’s own resonance or non-resonance, it can be easier to stomach. We don’t all have the same taste in music, we don’t all like cilantro, and we don’t all deeply connect to each other’s soul essence energies, and that’s ok. 

When we self-approve our authenticity, we can also permit people who don’t resonate with us to go ahead and take leave of us. We give them our full blessing, as all have the freedom to move towards what they like and away from something that feels bad to them. 

The Life-Changing Power of Authenticity

The exciting corollary of this shuffling of friendships is that those who do like us, who feel more comfortable around our truth resonances than around our well-meaning fakery, will gravitate towards us naturally, too. 

These people will be harmonious to us, we will fit well with them. These will be the type of friends we can truly prize: people who genuinely like us for who we actually are, rather than for who we have pretended to be.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for us, is that when we stop lying to ourselves, when we stop seeming rather than being, spirit finally has space to fill us out from within. We swing the inner doorway of the heart wide open. 

We let all the good things come flooding in, the gifts spirit has been saving for us: humor, creativity, resilience, meaning, connection, and unconditional, loving presence. That’s the life-changing power of authenticity. 

Categories
Wellness

6 Benefits of Being Outside

Spending time in nature is like spending time in our own, truest inner nature. Shepherding our physical bodies into the safe space of a pretty wilderness, park, or garden, refreshes what is green and full of breath within our own selves. 

Being Outside Helps Mind, Body, and Soul

Researchers documenting the effect of the great outdoors on human beings have gathered sizable evidence suggesting that nature time is as healthy as can be. As this study unveils, (https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/3/1380), bathing ourselves in a wild space’s aura permeates us with good.

The benefits to the physical body are multiple, including immune system enhancement, reduction of inflammation, and restoration of sleep. The soul benefits equally from time in nature, with the elevation of mood, protection against stress, and self-esteem as the top boons to our psychology. 

According to some studies (https://emilkirkegaard.dk//en/wp-content/uploads/The-Cognitive-Benefits-of-Interacting-With-Nature.pdf ), even our minds function more effectively with a little support from Mother Earth. Better concentration, memory, and attention can come our way just by going outdoors.

Being Outside Helps With Trauma and Addiction

Women recovering from addiction or chronic traumatization should be aware of the positive outcomes linked to green time. This study documents a connection between time in the great outdoors and the reduction of PTSD symptoms: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33899932/

All in all, for those of us on a path of recovery from substance use, nature is a real resource. Here are 6 recovery-specific gifts we get when we develop a relationship with Mother Nature.

6 Benefits of Being Outside (for People in Recovery!)

1. Nature helps us Process

Have you ever noticed that when you go for a walk someplace green, your mind begins to pleasantly wander as if taking a walk of its own? We may find ourselves chewing on things, reviewing events that happened to us throughout the day, and considering and reflecting. 

This is because being outside helps support the body to shift into the state of processing, a bit like REM, a neurological necessity that helps us break down and let go of what is no longer needed. 

For people with trauma who are now safer, there will be many pieces of mobilization (also known as activation, or fight-flight overstimulation) that can now be released because it is safe to do so. 

Nature is a peaceful, pleasurable context for releasing baggage, for unburdening ourselves of all we don’t need to carry anymore. 

2. Nature is Relaxing

When we go into a natural setting, the body responds at a subconscious level to the environment and begins to relax. Nature is known to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our body’s wiring which enables us to rest and digest, release and integrate.

Just bathing in nature’s vibes, we let go of excess stressors, tensions, and used up energies that are so uncomfortable to hold onto in the body. For those of us with a tendency to get rattled and riled, nature soothes our nerves and softens us back to safety.

3. Nature stimulates our Inner Pharmaceuticals

The neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for creating states of deep peace, emotional connection, love, and well-being respond to the signals of nature. The beauty, harmony and cohesion of nature and its geological, plant and animal kingdoms tease us into positive feeling states, improving our moods, our feelings of connection, and meaning. Most people on the path to recovery know, we’ll take a natural high whenever we can!

4. Nature entrains our Brainwaves to Flow

Nature is its own biofeedback machine, providing resonances that entrain our brainwaves to the oh-so-satisfying flow state, where we are able to experience the alertness and wakefulness of our own deepest creativity, while also feeling balanced and at ease. If you want to get into the flow zone, then get into a green zone!

5. Nature gives us Perspective

When triggered, we get tunnel vision, and we can’t see the bigger picture. When we go into nature and allow the lens of our attention to gently dilate, we take in a bigger and more beautiful world. This perspective helps us make better decisions. 

6. Nature leads us to Reverence

Still searching for that promised spiritual awakening, the one that powerfully replaces addiction’s hold on us? Being in nature famously leads to lasting reverence for the mysteries of creation, for what’s behind the events of our lives, and the challenges we endure. For a plunge into spirit, plunge into nature. 

Categories
Wellness

How Nature Can Help You Heal: 7 Ways

Nature is good for the mind, body, and soul. When we let ourselves have free time in nature, we enjoy more equilibrium, health, and peace of mind. 

Nature can also help us heal our biggest psychological wounds, the core areas of our identity that feel broken and hurt. The parts of us that feel too painful to touch, that maybe feel like they never seem to get any better – nature can help with these.  

When we look to nature as a mirror of what we are in our core essence, as well – nature made us, after all – we can find supportive examples, lessons, and metaphors that help us pick our way along the path back to emotional wholeness.  

The Wound We All Have

There is a wound that all humans have, regardless of the timbre of our suffering, and this wound is the mother of all lesser wounds. You can call this wound “disconnection”. 

The wound we all have is the one of feeling ourselves too separate, too cut off from the rest of life, sealed into our own experiences without the warmth of spirit. The wound of feeling, as a result of that separation, alone, lonely, and undernourished in soul. 

We may mask this experience from ourselves, but in times without distraction, without substances or entertainment – in those times when there is no one else around upon whom we can project our inner dramas – we come to know the pain of the wound we all have.

How Nature Can Help You Heal the Wound We All Have

Nature can help us heal the wound we all have. Here are 7 ways nature does that, through dispelling the lie that we are what the ego says we are. 

1. Nature shows us our Right Size

When we spend time in nature, we see that we are neither too small nor too large. We are not the biggest thing, nor are we the smallest thing around. We have to be mindful of smaller organisms, and yet we are also, ourselves, affected by the circumstances. This Right Size mirroring is helpful for us – and a reflection of the truth. We are not everything (what the puffed up ego says), nor nothing (what the deflated ego says), but actually, we are something. 

2. Nature shows us we are Universal and Unique

Nature shows us that we are original, and also that we are one of many, many other equally perfect beings. No leaf, no blade of grass, no crystal is exactly the same as another, nor is there a concept of better or worse that makes any sense at all. There is room for infinite variation on any theme. At the same time, fractal repetition in the basic design of our lives, a pattern across universes. The electron clouds inside of our bodies look just like stars. 

3. Nature shows us We Belong

I know that some people look at nature as a race to the top, predator eats prey. What I see in nature is a very inclusive family. An awe-inspiring diversity of beings serve no particular purpose, except to be what they are by nature, and they are loved so, it seems to me. There can be goshawks, and there can also be sparrow hawks, similar but not the same. Nature has room for all of us. Whatever you are, you belong. 

4. Nature shows us Timing and Cycles

Nature has soothing rhythms, promises it keeps every year, every morning no matter what. It is ok to be composted when something has bloomed and faded. Within the time signature of nature’s music, change is constant, and it is good that it is. The world is never still. 

5. Nature teaches us Balance with the All

Although there is room for all of us, no one is allowed to take over the whole ecosystem, or else suffer the consequences of being out of balance. We are allowed to flourish, to have enough, but we are not allowed to have it all.

6. Nature shows us our Mystery

We are part of something ineffable. Each of us is embedded in a jaw-dropping mystery, infinite and everywhere. If we pay attention, we will know that we ourselves are limitless and unknown, made of the same substance. Full of surprises, genius, beauty and delight. 

7. Nature teaches us about Soul Gifts

Each animal has a kind of specificity for which it is outfitted. Birds are made to sing, beavers are made to build. What are you made for? There’s a reason you are just how you are – your truest soul gift fits you perfectly into the bigger landscape, and makes sense of your presence here with us.

Categories
Wellness

The Power of Unconditional Positive Regard

Good therapists, parents, teachers, healers and friends all share a secret: they understand the power of Unconditional Positive Regard. That’s why we like to be around them, why we feel safe and good when we’re with them.

Unconditional Positive Regard is a magic potion for the soul, and it is one of the faces of love. 

The phrase itself comes from Carl Rogers, a renowned psychologist whose philosophy of therapeutic relationships has been very influential. Rogers helped articulate why it is that for clients, just to be witnessed in an unconditionally accepting, friendly way is healing in and of itself. 

Responding to an era in which many psychologists were trained to hold a very distant and analytical stance towards clients, Rogers argued that therapists need to bring an aspect of warmth and human kindness to treatment, or no one will get any better. 

Many of us who are drawn to professional roles of service arrive at the same conclusion, with or without coming into contact with Rogerian writings, just based on our experiences sitting in the room with people: platonic love is an important part of any healing relationship. 

This makes so much sense once we have understood that the cause of all psychological pain is disconnection, or missing warmth. 

When we have parts within us who are cut off through fragmentation and trauma from the inner sunshine of our own love, these parts take on semi-autonomous lives that erupt into the surface and cause problems. Healing comes from reclaiming all citizens of the psyche who have been split off and disowned, giving them love, belonging, and a seat at the table. 

If I am able to convey my attitude of Unconditional Positive Regard to you, you will feel a warm space encompassing you, in which you are free to share even those things that you yourself are unsure about or feel ashamed of. You will sense in your gut that you cannot be lowered in my eyes here, that I will always esteem you, just because. 

You know that I will see you in the kindest light, and that your shade is ok with me. This is possible because I do not mistake you for any passing quality of light or absence thereof, but understand you are the deeper, unchanging part underneath all that. 

Skeptics of the “love is all you need” approach like to point out that we should focus on reality, call a spade a spade. That’s true too. We need to acknowledge what is here, and admit that it is ugly, if it truly is. 

However, we don’t have to be unkind to ugliness itself by adding extra pain and alienation through judgment. Yes, it might be egotism, narcissism, or hatred here in the room with us. We might be causing long-lasting damage to others with our shadows. 

But that’s life. Judging things and moralizing, saying “It shouldn’t be this way” doesn’t actually make unwanted sides of a human being go away (in fact, just the opposite). Only acceptance creates the kind of environment in which problematic behavior can convert itself into a positive expression of itself.

When someone sees the best in us, they see that our worst traits have an aspect of goodness in them. They see things we are addled with for the life-preserving attempts they are. They see our needs, the limited options we had, how we made do with the lack of love, and survived anyway.

Unconditional Positive Regard loves all of psyche’s creations in abundant measure. It knows all humans, including therapists, have great and terrible shadows. And that the deathless luminosity of anyone’s inner radiant sun can incinerate us all with its powers of love. Such is soul.

Rogers helped provide rationale and language for a truth within psychotherapy, which is that when we offer Unconditional Positive Regard as a background hum to all situations, troubles have a way of melting open, giving up their burdens to be seen, and softening away from stubborn stances of opposition. In my opinion, it is not only a tool for building trust in therapy, but an attitude for life.

The world we have around us now is the world we got by judging, shaming, rejecting, moralizing, criticizing, blaming and withholding love from ourselves and others. I’d like to see what the opposite world looks like, how about you? 

It is my sincere belief that a new earth can be built, atom by atom, with Unconditional Positive Regard.