Thursday, May 26, 2016

The 5 Things That Prevent You from Seeing Your Life Clearly

A concept from Yoga Philosophy called "The Kleshas" means the experience of "clear seeing".  Clear seeing involves putting focus on what is truly important in life from a larger perspective.  This includes our relationships, our health and spiritual meaning.

Unfortunately, many of us fall into the trap of "unclear seeing" by seeking comfort and distraction and by trying to appease our ever shifting attention.  Unclear seeing is the ROOT of all of our suffering.

There are 5 obstacles that prevent us from "Clear Seeing":

1.  Unclear seeing by being disconnected from ourselves and others.  We take nature, our bodies, and our life on this planet for granted.  We get lost in some imaginary place in the future when we think that everything will be perfect.  We lose sight of the now thinking if we just do this or that or have this or that, this will finally make us happy.  We don't see and we don't notice what already is.

2.  Ego-  Ego springs from the ground of unclear seeing.  We feel ourselves as separate and different from others.  This leads to an overvaluation of the Self.  The world revolves around us.  Our happiness, our struggles, our goals, successes and failures.  We feel large and all important.  We discount others due to our self-absorption.  We are preoccupied with "What's in it for me?".  Pursuing and securing our comforts and pleasure consumes us.

3.  Attraction-  We are drawn to what feels good and attempt to pull things into our world that we associate with comfort.  We become obsessed with things and people that give us comfort and life becomes imbued with the need to control circumstances so that we are comfortable.  Why does this NOT lead to happiness?

4.  Aversion-  We recoil from things/people that we associate with pain or we feel threatens our identity.  This does not work as life is uncertain.  We end up becoming miserable if we try to control everything and our circumstances.

5.  Fear-  Many of us live in fear of loss, and ultimately death.  Fear of recognition of our transience on the Earth.  Our presence on Earth is very fleeting and our all-important Self is really not that important.  So, we pursue pleasure and avoid pain.  We avoid recognizing our vulnerability and lose ourselves in these illusions.

Unclear seeing is common to all human experience.  However, when an individual has had relational trauma or abandonment, it causes dysfunctional attachment.  Because of this, they will use misguided attempts to soothe emotional and relational pain.  When the world fails to be a secure and predictable place, ego and fear gain more traction in the psyche.  We attach to things to help control our feelings that we feel we can not handle.
**Ego strength refers to your capacity to contend with reality and not retreat in a world of escape or fantasy.  If we can not do this, we may soothe with food, alcohol, unhealthy relationships and a myriad of other things.  Once we can choose healthier ways to soothe ourselves, we feel better and feel in alignment with ourselves.

Reference:  The Yoga of Food by Melissa Grabau


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Keeping a Joyful Mind

In Lojong Teachings, it is taught that we often cause our own suffering by not observing the nature of our minds and our thoughts.  The true nature of our mind is always changing, always telling stories and many people think that they are their thoughts.  We can remain as an observer of our mind and our thoughts without getting caught up in the stories that our mind tells.  We all have upwards of 60,000 thoughts per day.  Many of our thoughts are repetitive and negative.  By just observing all of this that is going on, we get less caught up or "hooked" into all of the stories that the mind plays.  If we are not careful, it can really get us hooked in and cause us to act upon things that we may later regret.  If you choose to meditate or breathe regularly throughout the day, this can help to center you and lessen your attachment to your thoughts that you are noticing.  This practice of breathing or meditating causes space between our thoughts and stillness which gives us better clarity allowing us to make decisions and choices that are true to ourselves from a place of knowing, not from thinking or overthinking.  You will not get swept away by your emotions and your awareness increases.

Some general principles that help guide us in keeping a joyful spirit are:

Build others and yourself up.  Talking to your inner critic or the voice that can sometimes be negative to you and others in a way to reframe your situation.  By reassuring yourself and others, you are sending positive energy and effects in the universe.  This has a circular effect in the end.

Remain humble.  Humility helps you to have compassion for yourself and others.  This leads to making you a stronger person when you understand the nature of our lives.

Understand that your greatest obstacles stem from the ego.  Allowing pride, aggression, anger, self-denigration to take over your soul are not helpful.  These are areas to continue to work on.

Stay present.  Many people waste their entire lives worrying about the past or the future.  They feel they need to achieve certain things to be happy.  Enjoy wherever you are right now.

Refrain from talking about other's weaknesses.  Understanding that when we gossip or malign someone else , we are trying to raise ourselves up.  This comes from a place of ego or self-centeredness.  It only poisons you and your spirit.  You will not have a joyful mind doing this type of behavior.

It also poisons you to hold grudges, speak badly of others, let someone have it when they are weak and humiliate others.  This sows seeds of meanness in your heart.

When you are doing something good, have the attitude of wanting it to directly or indirectly benefit others.  Hope that it will increase the experience of kinship with others.

In keeping a joyful mind:

Remember to seek to help others.
Awaken compassion and lessen selfishness.

I wish all of you to feel much joy!!

Reference:  Pema Chodron-  Always Maintaining a Joyful Mind

Colleen Montgomery, LCPC is located at 821 W Benfield Rd, Severna Park, MD 21146.  Sacred Cove Counseling is located inside the Ben Oaks Professional Center.


Friday, January 29, 2016

34 Blessings to Heal Anxiety and Depression

Soon to be available to order on ebooks or on my website, will be my new book, "34 Blessings to Heal Anxiety and Depression" with an accompanied CD for listening.  I produced this CD for soothing listening in the evenings as my clients have requested the meditations that I do with them in session be available at home.  It is fabulous to be able to utilize the CD in the evenings to help with sleep and a general feeling of well-being.  The book is meant to be used in the mornings by reading a "blessing" or passage each day to set the mood and tone for your day.

I chose to name my book "34 Blessings" after my Step Father who passed many years ago.  Although he has been gone a very long time, he made a dramatic impact on my life as well as on many of my family members.  He could be described as a man who represented LOVE and PRESENCE.  By being in his energetic space, you always felt seen and heard and regarded with care.  This has had a powerful influence on me and stays with me many years later.  Presence and feeling cared for is sorely missing from our world in a large way today and something that is needed.  I am happy to share this with you in hopes that it will help in healing your anxiety and depression.  This is just one step in the process of our journey toward opening to love and showing up in our own lives as fully alive and vibrant.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What is real love? Love creates feelings of warmth, pleasure, safety, stability and inner peace. Loving behavior does not grind you down, keep you off balance, or create feelings of self-hatred. Love does not hurt, it feels good. Loving behavior nourishes your well-being. When someone is being loving to you, you feel accepted, cared for, valued, and respected. We all deserve genuine love.
A Meta Meditation from Buddhist Work and Yoga Poetry that you can practice for feeling peace: May I be well, May I be happy and content, May I be free from suffering, May I be filled with loving-kindness, May you be well, May you be happy and content, May you be free from suffering, May you be filled with loving-kindness, May all beings be well, May all beings be happy and content, May all beings be free from suffering, May all beings be filled with loving-kindness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Take the Mask OFF

When you become real, life becomes real.

Many people are enclosed in layers of games and masks which can only lead to suffering. As soon as the mask comes off, the glittering light shines through. Life is fresh, constantly renewed, and so are we. Even though our masks constrict us at every turn, we'll fight to our death to keep them on. They may not be easy to take off. We think they are our security and beauty; without them we feel naked and bare. Throughout our lives, we play a variation of the game, "Let's Pretend". It robs our true life from us and we become like cardboard people. If someone knocks on our door to visit, most of the time, there's no one home.

When we live our lives presenting fronts to others, we lose touch with who we are. When we retreat into roles and games, the words we say will be empty. Only when we are able to put our masks aside, will true presence and love arise.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Improve Your Relationships with the "Musts" for Good Communication

Good communication requires 3 things:

1.Express your feelings openly and directly.
2.Listen nondefensively when the other talks.
3.Listen with respect even if you feel angry or frustrated. You can share angry feelings in a respectful way without demeaning or insulting the other.

Poor communication is the opposite of this and looks like this:

1. Instead of opening up, you hide your feelings or act them out aggressively.
2. Instead of listening, you argue defensively and insist they are wrong.
3. Instead of conveying respect, you go to war and try to put the other down.

When you are the listener, you need to be quiet and have receptive body language. Your goal should be not to agree or disagree, but to paraphrase and express how they were probably feeling.

You need to examine your role in the conflict. Also, the conflict will probably not get resolved if your motivation does not lie in wanting connection and closeness.

By following these guidelines for good communication, relationships can be greatly improved if both people are mature and want closeness.

Colleen Montgomery is an individual and couples counselor in Severna Park, MD. It is important for therapists to listen empathically during counseling, reflect thoughts, practice new skills and to challenge distorted thinking. People often have distorted thoughts that reflect low self esteem and this can be greatly improved in counseling. Colleen can be reached at 410-336-4950 to set up an appointment.