What is a Labyrinth? What can it do for you?

So I wanted to write about the experience of walking a labyrinth and realize I needed to give a little bit of background. I recently had an experience that I was honored to share with participants on our “#ichooseME” retreat this past August where one of the meditations I shared was walking the labyrinth.

What I heard from those that participated as well as my own experience that day was just how powerful this exercise was. We spent some time meditating and then set out to walk this path, step by step, with whatever questions or intentions we wanted to take with us to the center.

It was relaxing, enlightening, and an almost euphoric experience of being completely present in my body and in my mind. Labyrinths provide us an opportunity to experience a sense of peace, reduce stress, and invite us to explore our interconnectedness with the world. I invite you to find a labyrinth and try this for your self. There is a worldwide labyrinth locator available here.

Reaching out: My Mental Health Experience

I am interested in hearing about your mental health experience, no matter where you are on your journey. We all have lived experiences that we can share and learn from. You can share via a Google form or you can snail mail me at: #MyMHExperience, c/o ABW, PO Box 254, Middleboro, MA 02346.

Follow me on Instagram where I will share the responses that come in.

If you work with me or have worked with me in the past then you know how much I value journaling. There are many options to work with our mental health challenges and stress but I have found that one of the most beneficial ways is to have a journal and write down anything you have in mind. No matter where you are, pulling out a pen and journal or paper; or laptop/app and getting out what is on your mind is a great stress & anxiety reducer.

Here are some of the benefits to journaling:

 

1. Allow you to be creative

Writing in a journal can show your creative skills on any topic. Topics can range from writing down your goals in life, reflecting on the past mistakes you made, improving a relationship with a close family member or writing down what you love about yourself. These topics can help you improve the negative things that are going in your life and turn into something more positive.

 

2. Help you feel calmer 

Depression can have a huge impact on your mental health and one can often feel overwhelmed with many emotions such as sadness, fear, and anger.  You can help keep track of these thoughts and feelings while writing in a journal. Once you release these feelings in your journal, you will feel calmer and learn how to control your emotions to benefit your well being.

 

3. Reduce Stress

Stress can be a huge problem in our lives if we don’t make time to process it. Once you are able to write in a journal, you are able to relax while releasing what is weighing on your mind.

 

4. Boost Self-Esteem

Journaling is a good way to boost your self-esteem by writing various topics that are related to yourself. These topics can range from listing down positive traits about yourself, things you enjoy doing and goals you want to accomplish in your life. This will provide a space for self-discovery.

 

Grow as a person

Writing in a journal every day will allow you to improve yourself as a person. By journaling, you write down the problems you are facing in life, challenges that you learn from or clarifying your thoughts and feelings. These topics will allow opportunities for self-growth.

 

To get started in Journaling, all you have to do is pick up a blank notebook, grab a pencil and start writing. Just think of any creative topic, release your stress and shift your mood into one that is calmer. Once you keep the journal a part of your daily life, you will start to notice that writing becomes easier and a way to decompress.

 

 

Sidewalk Talk Boston

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What kind of things do you do to give back? Is volunteering a part of your life in any way? For some of us, volunteering is something we do on a regular basis and for others it may feel like we don't have time, don't know exactly what to do or wonder what kind of difference can we make.

I have done a variety of volunteer work throughout my life and it has always made me feel good when I do. There is definitely an intrinsic and extrinsic value in giving to others. I could go into the research that supports the benefits of volunteering for those that give and those that receive but I will save that for another blog post. Today, I want to talk about Sidewalk Talk.

Sidewalk Talk is a community listening project. Its mission is to provide a space for people to be heard. It may sound simple or maybe sound like it isn't needed but think about all the times you haven't felt heard. Think about the people you pass on the streets, or at work, or school that may also feel that way or truly have no one to talk with. 

We all have stories to share, our lived experiences can be similar or very different but they are all of value. They all teach us something. Sitting across from someone who has made a decision to share their story with you is priceless. I am excited to be a part of this project and want to extend this invitation to you.

So what does it take to be a listener? Sign up over at Sidewalk Talk and complete the online listener training. You should also join our Facebook group, Sidewalk Talk Boston

We have an event coming up on Friday, August 24th from 9:30am-2pm at the Boston Common.  You don't have to be there for the whole thing so if you are only able to attend a portion, you are welcome. Details are in our Facebook group or you can email me at sidewalktalkboston@gmail.com

 

App Recommendation: Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a free meditation app that offers thousands of guided meditations, lectures, music, and courses. It also offers a customizable timer that you can use to meditate to nature sounds, music, bells and more. 

Outside of these features is the option to connect with others on the app who also meditate. You can join groups for specific purposes or themes such as beginners, Zen, yoga and hundreds more. 

The app allows you to search for meditations based on themes or time. Only have 5 minutes? You can search for a meditation to fit that time. Looking for a loving-kindness meditation? You can search for that as well. I have found meditations for walking, running, gratitude, motivation...you get the picture.

If you haven't had the opportunity to try this out and have been meaning to try meditation, give this a go and let me know what you think!

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Where do Introverts fit into Activism?

"...I always think that activism needs introverts because we're really good at intimate activism. So we're good at slow activism, and we're really good at intimate activism, and if this year has told us anything, it's told us that we need to, when we're engaging power holders, we need to engage them by listening to people we disagree with, by building bridges not walls --walls or wars -- and by being critical friends, not aggressive enemies."

What do you think about Sarah Corbett's talk and the role introverts play in Activism? As someone who doesn't necessarily consider myself an introvert, I had to think about the activist engagements I have been in and if I afforded a space for introverts to participate. Are you an introvert engaged in Activism? How do you get "heard" and what do you do to recharge?

Building Confidence and the Imposter Experience

I was asked by my BFF and colleague, Jenn Walker Wall, Work Wonders Coaching + Consulting, to speak about a topic that comes up quite frequently with a lot of the clients that she works with. I wanted to share this here because I know that building confidence and the imposter experience can affect many people at some point on their paths. 

If you had a time when you were struggling with confidence, how did you manage? What do you wish you would have did differently? What really worked for you?

My Word of the Year...What's Yours?

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My Word of the Year? Yes, that is title of this post and something I want to share here. I don't think I ever realized that I held a word in a significance place in my life till a couple of months ago. I was thinking about the past couple of years and reflecting as I journaled and a word would pop up as a summary of the year for me.

I thought about 2017 and the word I would often say when friends or colleagues asked me how I was doing and how my work was going and I would always say, "Abundance". It was a word that I would say in my mind when reflecting on a busy day and trying to get to bed. It was a word I would say first thing in the morning when standing in front of the mirror and getting ready for the day, "Abundance". It came out of my mouth so often that it became mantra for me...Abundance. It became part of me and helped me see a manifestation of just that, Abundance; Of life, love and work. I felt such a positive feeling when saying that word.

It was no surprise to me that when my friends began talking about what their 2018 Word of the Year was that I would feel protective of my word, Abundance. I did not feel like I could change it, I was emotionally connected to this word, it spent a whole year at the forefront of my mind and I did not want to let it go but that attachment in itself made me wonder if I could get what it was attempting to teach me.

So I decided that I could not be greedy by holding on to this word but that it was important to find another one. I began asking others what their word was and like trying on one pair of shoes after another, nothing really fit me. I was writing down bunches of words and saying them to myself attempting to find the "right" one.

I started thinking about what I wanted to bring into my life this year, what felt like a word that represented me, and in this process still continued working on my goal planning for 2018. As I was using my Powersheets which a very good friend gave me, I kept seeing the front cover and the word "Cultivate". I often thought about and wondered if it kept popping into my mind so often because I was seeing it on this book.

As the days went on, I realized that it was not important to me how this word came and found its way to me, that it felt relevant to my state of mind and what my intention was for 2018. I thought about all the wins I had in 2017 and how I wanted to not just maintain them but develop them further and watch them blossom. This process was no longer about Abundance but it was about taking what I had received and ensuring that I continue to Cultivate it. My family, my friends, my health, my work, my interests...they were all there and needed my presence and action, they need me to tend them with purpose and improvement. Cultivate.

Why is this important for you? Perhaps it isn't but if you are looking to start getting some clarity (which might end up being your word) on your goals or plans of actions for the year, having a guiding word can be a great reminder, a 1 word affirmation that you start and end your day with, a mantra that you repeat when trying to find that quiet place in your mind, or picking yourself up from a stumble or perhaps pushing up against a fear that has prevented you from moving forward...that word, your word becomes like a wand that summons peace, heals wounds and instills strength. 

Find your word and then take it on your journey for 2018. 

Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy is the use of literature (both fiction and nonfiction) to facilitate therapeutic interaction between a participant(s) and a facilitator. What does that even mean? 

Well think about the last time you read a book that you really connected to. Maybe it made you laugh or cry or get upset but you made a connection with the story on the page and that response can sometimes be healing, reflective or gives us perspective on where we are at in our life or experiences. This is what I look to create in the process of Bibliotherapy. 

This is an interactive process where the participant and the facilitator interact around the story and the responses it brings up  to clarify feelings or discover new insights to their challenges that they are working through. 

I will be reviewing a book each month in subsequent newsletters and why I recommend it for this process.

Is there a book that you have really connected with? Please share what it is and why.