Committing to the Present Moment

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” ~ John Kabat-Zinn

BP; Desert Plain

I love the above quote from John Kabat-Zinn, especially because he uses the word, commit, very intentionally.  Commit has a Latin origin, meaning to join, combine; to bring together. The more modern definition of commit is to carry out, pledge, bind, or devote.  It also refers to the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, or undertaking.

Reflecting on how commitment applies to the present moment really shifted the way I thought about being present.  Think about joining and binding, bringing you together with the here & now — combining into one totality of experience — that this is all there is and this is where it’s at…where life happens.

I often think how esoteric this may seem due to the mundane and everydayness of life.  We tend to not connect with the present moment and miracles happening day-to-day.  It’s really not something we think about as days of our lives go by. I believe that many of us live the majority of our lives lost in our thoughts without even realizing it.  I go more into depth about this in a previous article, “Why You Should Think About Your Death.”

I believe that we all have different degrees of FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) when it comes to staying in the present moment. FoMO is usually associated with social media, but I think it really maps onto the present moment as well.  We all tend to get pulled into the past or future, perhaps being afraid we might forget something we’ll have to do later.  This constant thinking about what we will do later disconnects us with right now.  Sometimes the present moment is unpleasant or uncomfortable, and it becomes even more difficult to stay there.  The end result is not being fully present in the here and now.

That should be the real FoMO. Read more

We All Suffer

“It is because mankind are disposed to sympathize more entirely with our joy than with our sorrow, that we make parade of our riches, and conceal our poverty.  Nothing is so mortifying as to be obliged to expose our distress to the view of the public, and to feel, that though our situation is open to the eyes of all mankind, no mortal conceives for us the half of what we suffer.” ~ Adam Smith

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We don’t necessarily like to advertise our suffering.  We mainly see the best moments and highlight reels of people’s lives, while many of the deeper and lonelier moments are kept concealed.

The truth is, we all suffer, at the deepest levels.  Every single one of us. No one is immune to bad days.  We all have them.  

We go about our lives, pretending to have it all together — and on some days, it may even feel like we actually do.

We don’t.

We may at times fall under an illusion that we are in control.

We aren’t.

We know this deep down, as we become reminded of this hard truth at times in our lives — the times when reality comes crashing down upon you — feeling alone, and we cry…if we allow ourselves to.  We want to be strong for our loved ones, our spouses, our kids, driven by the fear of appearing weak when in fact, showing our humanity is not weakness.

I’ve spoken to many people whose pain and suffering happens to rise to the surface…unexpected, and in that moment, their loneliness revealed, despondency expressed — weeping about how alone and scared they really feel…at the deepest levels — the depths in which we rarely ever let anyone in far enough to see.  

We are like onions, having many layers that can be peeled back.  Many of us only ever get to see the top layer in most of our relationships.  There are many more layers to a person. We all have them.

We often do not have a safe space where we can reveal them. Read more

Counseling, Relationships, & Wellness Throughout the Lifespan

“Sometimes I think we feign surrender in order to avoid the hard stuff that’s really there.” ~ Dr. L. Marinn Pierce

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In this episode of the Mindful Owl podcast, Dr. L. Marinn Pierce and I discuss counseling and relationships between wellness, spirituality, and personal dispositions of practicing professional counselors.

Some topics discussed are:

  • What is Counseling?
  • Integral Breath Therapy (IBT) – Integration Concepts
  • Wellness, Spirituality, and Personal Dispositions of Professional Counselors
  • Counselor Impairment
  • Empathy vs Compassion
  • Client-Centered vs Present-Centered
  • Religion and Spiritualty
  • Yoga, Meditation, and Present Moment Awareness
  • Trauma Bonds and Relationships
  • Disembodiment
  • Bypass

and much more…

Dr. L. Marinn Pierce is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Counselor Education at California State University, Fresno.  She received her B.M. in Music Education from Brenau University, M.S. in Community counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ed.S. in Community Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Tennessee.  Dr. Pierce’s clinical experience includes work with a variety of populations across multiple settings. While her primary area of emphasis is children and youth and their families, she has worked with adolescents in residential treatment, individuals with diverse counseling needs in community outpatient settings, children and adolescents in intensive outpatient and partial-hospitalization, and child and adolescent victims of sexual trauma.  Her research interests include counselor professional identity development, wellness, and the integration of spirituality into the counseling process. – American Counseling Association (ACA)

Hope you enjoy!

Listen on iTunes

You can reach Dr. Pierce @MarinnPierce on Twitter or lpierce@csufresno.edu

Further resources shared by Dr. Pierce:

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Who Are You?

“If we are honest with ourselves, the most fascinating problem in the world is…who am I? What do you mean…what do you feel when you say the word, I.”  ~ Alan Watts


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I’m writing this article, not because I’ve attained the answer, but because I’d like to pass this information along, as I would have wanted to read something like this earlier.  If I had to choose only one thing to watch out for — to beware of in life — it is this:

You.  Yourself.  Ego.

The infamous ego.  From Freud’s Id, Ego, Superego, to “He’s gotta big ego,” we’ve all heard about it one way or another. Ego, in my opinion, is probably the biggest thing that gets into anyone’s way. All too often, we are the ones getting in our own ways.  We have the ability to deceive ourselves like no one else can.

Your worst enemy lives inside of you, and it’s called ego.

Eckhart Tolle often says, “I can’t live with myself. Well…who is ‘I’… and who is the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with?”

So what exactly is ego?  Well, I would describe it as everything you think you are, in a nutshell.  The feeling of “I,” or what we mean when we say “I,” as Sam Harris, Alan Watts, and many others put it. When you are talking to yourself, who are you talking to?  The feeling of being a self.  We tend to identify with our story, our thoughts, and our emotions. Ego is the reason we may feel the need to defend “ourselves.”  We are defending an idea of our self that we feel is threatened.  When we are not identifying with this, the need to defend ourselves also goes away.

Read more

School Counseling and Dual Relationships Among Staff

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Our Ethical Standards for School Counselors have been updated for 2016, becoming much more specific in certain areas.  One area I’d like to point out is regarding dual relationships and managing boundaries — not just with students, but with school staff.

According to the American School Counseling Association Code of Ethics (2016), school counselors are to avoid dual relationships beyond the professional level with school personnel, parents/guardians and students’ other family members when these relationships might infringe on the integrity of the school counselor/student relationship (A.5.c).

You don’t find ethical tenets like this for teachers and other educators, but for counselors, it is more specific on the importance of keeping our relationships with staff professional.  This can present some challenges as you might have guessed, especially with building positive relationships with staff and feeling connected to the school.  Boundaries have to be continuously monitored as we manage multiple relationships among staff, students, and parents.  I’ve come across some great writing on this titled, Dual Relationships in Counseling by Gerald Corey, EdD, and Barbara Herlihy, PhD, which was written in the early 90’s, and I find it to be very relevant today. Read more

We Need to Look at Ourselves First

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.”  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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I once had a teacher express their frustration to me regarding their 1st-grade student not taking responsibility for himself and his actions.  I responded with, “You know what?  I know a lot of adults who are still struggling with that.”

Hearing expressions such as these are common, as school counselors also provide consultation services for teachers and administrators.  We hear many challenges and frustrations while helping to provide meaningful insight to better understand the children in their classrooms.  Do we want our children to learn how to take responsibility?   Of course.  However, knowing that this is a struggle for everyone can help us be more patient, kind, and understanding with our students.

We as educators have to meet kids where they’re at.  We can’t put expectations on kids that we as adults are not meeting.  We have to model the desired behaviors we want our children and future generations to grow up learning.  We can’t expect anything upon them we ourselves are not doing.

We need to live the values we teach.   Read more

Gratitude

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

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As we enter into the month of November, with Thanksgiving upon us, I’d like to take a moment to reflect and express gratitude.  I find myself at times feeling thankful for having any kind of experience at all, positive or negative.  It really is a miracle to be having any conscious experience.  The miracle of life is happening all around us, and it can easily go unnoticed from day-to-day.

There is always beauty to be found right in front of  us — seeing the awe-inspiring sky, the mountains in the distance, hearing the birds chirping, hearing my kids playing together.  All of these things are going on, even in what seems to be a chaotic and tumultuous political landscape at the moment.  

Sometimes I try to be thankful for what some may call the most basic things — being able to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, touch, walk, talk, think, laugh, smile.  I love being able to walk outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my face, the smell of the fresh morning air, or the coolness of the morning wind. I sometimes walk outside my door and pause for a moment, just to appreciate being alive.

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I recently came across a video with comedian Louis C.K., in which he expresses how we are lucky to even live sad moments.  Living sad moments can help us more fully appreciate joyful moments.

We can be thankful that we can cry about something we really care about. Read more

On the Journey of Spirituality & Religion 

“Spirituality is something innate in all of us…we all have something within us that yearns for the divine and the sacred.  Religion is our human attempt to figure that out, make meaning of it, and express it.” ~ Lyle Peters

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We often find ourselves in different places during our spiritual journey.  In this episode of the Mindful Owl podcast, Lyle Peters and I discuss religion and spirituality within the context of Christianity.

Some topics discussed are:

  • Religion vs Spirituality
  • Were we socialized to believe in God or practice a religion?
  • Can science and religion coexist?
  • Ego and self-righteousness
  • The Great Schism of 1054
  • 16th century Protestant Reformation

Lyle has a wide background in religious studies and theology, from serving eight years in the priesthood to music ministry. Lyle was kind enough to share some of his perspective and personal journey thus far, and it is full of wonderful insights.Lyle received a Master of Divinity from University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. Lyle is currently the pastoral associate for liturgy and music at St. Joseph Catholic Community Church in Eldersburg, Maryland.

Hope you enjoy!

Listen on iTunes