Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
The benefits of quietly turning inward once in a while and why winter makes you want to.
This winter try to enjoy a moment or more of quiet alone time and honor that pull you feel to hibernate and be cozy. While it's quiet, I am taking this time to review the successes and disappointments of 2018 and set intentions for 2019. If you have the opportunity to do this, it can be a meaningful and inspiring practice. The following is written by Brigit Anna McNeil and she has said everything I have been thinking, so eloquently. Take a few minutes to read it and let in resonate with you.
I am excited to see what this year will bring.
Happy New Year to everyone and may it be your best year yet!
"We are approaching the threshold of winter.
Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself.
And we as natural human animals are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow.
But many find the descent into their own body a scary thing indeed, fearing the unmet emotions and past events that they have stored in the dark caves inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have so carefully and unkindly avoided.
This winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this period of descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light. That true freedom comes from accepting with forgiveness and love what we have been through and vanquishing the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure back from the cave of our darker depths.
This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back & chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul.
A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love.
A period of reconnecting, relearning & reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance.
This modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, bad food and consumerism.
And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and people are left feeling as if there is something wrong with them, that winter is cruel and leaves them feeling abandoned and afraid. Whereas in actual fact winter is so kind, yes she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards the darkness and potential death of what we were, but this journey if held with care is essential.
She is like a strong teacher that asks you to awaken your inner loving elder or therapist, holding yourself with awareness of forgiveness and allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, rage, laugh, & face what we need to face in order to be freed from the jagged bonds we wrapped around our hearts, in order to reach a place of healing & light without going into overwhelm.
Winter takes away the distractions, the noise and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth."
•illustration by Jessica Boehman•
•words Brigit Anna McNeill•
Sara Cole MFT is a San Diego therapist providing services in Banker's Hill and Scripps Ranch areas of San Diego. To find out more about her services and how she may be able to help you, visit www.saracolemft.com.
If you were told that there are 5 things you could do to increase your happiness, would you do them? Well research is showing that these five things, if done daily, have been proven to increase people's happiness. Would you believe that some of these things only require two minutes per day? Happiness researcher and expert Shawn Acher talks about these five things and how he sees them improve people's feelings of happiness. So without further ado, let's talk about these five activities you can start doing right now.
1. List three things you are grateful for and why. Do this everyday and also try to make it three new things each day. By making the effort to look for more and more things you are thankful for, your brain starts to get better at this task. It becomes a habit throughout the day. As for saying why you are thankful, that is a way of reinforcing the gratitude and also going more deeply into the experience. Acher suggests doing this daily for 90 days.
2. Take two minutes to text, email or tell someone why they are important or special to you. Again, make it a new person each day for as long as you can. Again you are training your brain to look at the positive. The other reason this works so well it that it is increasing and strengthening your social connections. Social connects are the number one predictor of happiness as we age.
3. Concentrate on deep slow breathing for two minutes. It slows you down, increase oxygen flow in your body, slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and brings you back to the present. People who take the time to do this during the day actually find that they are happier and more productive. This is actually a simple way of bringing mindfulness to your daily routine.
4. Look back over the last 24 hours and pick something good that happened. Now visualize that experience, including the feeling you had. When you visualize doing something, it like your brain doesn't know you aren't really doing it. So its like you get the benefits of that positive experience twice and all the benefits of having a positive experience. This is also another way in which you are training your brain to scan for positive events, people, etc. You are strengthening that optimist muscle.
5. Do 15 minutes or cardio activity. Preferably something you enjoy doing. Exercise causes your brain to produce "happy chemicals" which can boost your mood for hours. Also, when you pay attention to doing something positive like exercising, there is a chain reaction and you start paying attention to other things like the food you eat or getting enough sleep. It is a positive self care domino effect that you put into action.
If you can maintain even one of these practices for 90 days, it is likely that it has become a habit and part of your daily routine. Do as many of these as you are able to, on a daily basis and I know you will feel the benefits.
*This is not intended as therapy or a replacement for therapy or medication. These are activities that you can do in addition to any other treatment you may be currently receiving. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, or stuck it's always a good idea to talk to someone. A therapist is a great person to talk to. If you are feeling suicidal, please call an emergency number such as 911 or the access and crisis line (888) 247-2470 to get immediate help.
For more from Acher, check him out on youtube and Ted Talks.
Sara Cole MFT, San Diego therapist, has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. If you would like to find out more about her or her services and how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for over 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression, going away to college, marriage, etc. Sara also loves to help people get their anxiety under control. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.