Tag Archive | spiritual counseling

How Meditation Supports Your Soul Evolution — Part 2: How Do I Meditate?

Now that you are excited about the benefits you will receive from an ongoing meditation practice, the next step is to begin making part of your daily routine. Here’s step-by-step support for your budding meditation practice:

1. Make a commitment to yourself. Five minutes a day? Ten? Thirty? One hour? Commit to a meditation practice, no matter what daily quantity, for three months; then decide if you like it or not.

2. Choose your meditation space. Make it nurturing, comfortable, simple, relaxing, and peaceful. Use this same space each time you meditate.

3. Choose your meditation time. Meditating at the same time every day builds an automatic response into your mind and body. Your whole self begins to cooperate when you sit down for your time!

4. Find a spiritual symbol that resonates with you. Why? A symbol that is steeped in tradition or meaning for you will magnetize your innate spirituality.

5. Find a methodology that works best for you. Try a few of these to find out your own meditation style preference:

a. Perhaps a guided meditation would help keep you focused. There are CDs, mp3 recordings, YouTube videos, and even smartphone aps with all sorts of guided meditations. Find two or three that you like so you can use them interchangeably.

b. Centering prayer is a wonderful tool for a busy mind! Take a prayer that resonates with you, and recite it slowly to help you quiet your mind. Repeat slowly and sincerely throughout your time.

c. Mindfulness is the practice of observing your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and breath, with detachment, non-judgment, and compassion. Being present with what is, without having a conversation about it in your head, is an excellent and very portable meditation practice.

d. Visualization is a method often found in guided meditations, but you can create your own. Imagine yourself spreading out of your body, filling the room you are in, then stretching through your whole house, then neighborhood, then city, then state, then country, then throughout the entire planet, then universe! Sit in that expanded state without inner comment.

e. Group meditation is a great way to keep your commitment to yourself. Although it may not be feasible to meditate with a group every day, once a week—or even once or twice a month—has great value. You receive a vibration boost from others when everyone is generating energy for the common purpose of meditation.

6. Keep a journal. Meditation is going to awaken you to new ideas, experiences, and insights. Writing them down helps assimilate those new understandings into your consciousness.

7. Practice every day, no matter what! Some days, your meditation will feel extraordinary, or maybe it won’t. Either way, trust that something is happening, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. Go back and remind yourself of the benefits of your practice. Let it be okay that you don’t feel enlightened at the end of your first month. Meditation is like brushing your teeth—you just gotta keep doing it for the best results!

Now give it a try! You will be grateful that you gave yourself this gift of a meditative life!

How Meditation Supports Your Soul Evolution — Part 1: Why Should I?

Meditation, meditation, meditation. It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it. You’ve heard them say how wonderful it is. You want to give it a try, but it seems a little mysterious and “out there” to you, and you don’t know where to begin, or why you even should.

Let’s start with what it is. Meditation could be defined as a process: At first, it is the act of focused attention on a single subject. Eventually (and I do mean eventually), it is merging with the Infinite. You only need to be concerned with the first part, which is the discipline itself.

Before you jump into the discipline, it is important to know why you are doing it. What are the benefits of meditation? Surely they are innumerable, and outcomes can be different for you than your friend who meditates. You are a unique soul that will receive unique benefits from your practice!

There are, however, a few given benefits from a consistent meditation practice:

1. Meditation builds the channel for your intuition.

2. You get to practice watching the multitude of thoughts that go through your mind. This is called being the Observer of self.

3. Meditation is an exercise in focusing and stilling the mind.

4. Meditation raises your vibration, which can put you in a better mood than when you began.

5. It helps you learn to discern the truth about yourself from the false beliefs and thoughts that move in and out of your awareness.

6. During meditation, you are “downloaded” with new information, and are able to see things in a new way.

7. It helps you see everyday situations from a spiritual perspective.

8. Meditation helps to detoxify the mind and body from stress.

9. It begins the process of awakening you to greater spiritual gifts and understanding.

10. Meditation helps you hold the light for yourself throughout the day.

11. Your higher vibration from your meditation practice blesses all those around you!

Does it sound worth it now? Excellent! In my next post, I’ll walk you through some steps and methods to support your meditation practice. In the meantime, explore some times of day that would work best for your meditation practice. Look into a space in your home that would serve as a spiritual refuge for you. Get ready to commit to your soul!

How to Use Your Intuition to Support Your Soul Evolution

Soul growth is primarily about taking responsibility for your choices, past, present and future. Intuition is necessary to guide you through each moment, helping ensure your right new course of action.

Intellect can only go so far, since it pulls information and ideas mainly from past experiences—experiences that often hold false beliefs, faulty decisions, and unresolved issues. It’s hard to make clear decisions when you are seeing a situation through a clouded filter.

What is intuition then? It is the avenue for receiving answers from your Higher Self—that part of you that sees through the drama (yours and others’) of a situation. Intuition is a spiritual muscle that takes practice, time, and attention to build, clarify, and trust.

If you haven’t already practiced using your intuition, here are some ideas to being. If you regularly check in with your intuition, these ideas may help you go deeper, and strengthen your intuitive muscles.

  1. Practice with the small stuff. Ask for guidance about insignificant matters daily. When you get your answer, go with it and see what happens!
  2. Observe yourself, your thoughts, your emotions on a regular basis, throughout the day.

Millions of thoughts move through your mind each day. Some of them are true, but most of them are not. When you go through life unaware of these thoughts, you inevitably act on the false ones, reinforcing them. Observe your thinking and begin to discern the difference!

Also, there are times you can let an emotional response go, and be done with it. Other times, you have to watch an emotional or thought pattern for a while so you can understand it enough to let it go. Observing your inner self greatly aids this process.

  1. MEDITATE! This is the best exercise for improving your intuition.

Meditation raises your vibration, allowing you to problem solve at a higher level. Meditation also gives you practice discerning the real versus unreal among the thoughts that whip around your mind all day.

  1. Work with tools to go deeper:
  • Journaling. When in doubt, write it out. Your mind will turn an issue in circles a million times and still not let you have peace about it. As you journal emotional triggers, you will begin to see patterns in the triggers, which helps lead you to the core issue. Then the healing begins.
  • Forgiveness. No matter what, forgive. If you’re holding on to blame—toward yourself or others—your ability to move forward is greatly inhibited.
  1. Detach from the result you think you want in a given situation. When you are follow an intuitive sense, just go with it. Which brings us to…
  2. Trust the process! Your intuition is connected to Universal Wisdom. Trust your inner Self!

Now, go work that intuition!

Life Rules

Life Rules

Simple, but not easy!

Spirituality Does Not Mean ‘Easy’

I am guilty of a most false assumption: “Everything in my life will go smoothly since I am on a spiritual journey.”

Isn’t that cute?

What a rude awakening to find out that I’m not always going to get my way from that God that I have always loved and tried to please!

My first clue into this was the drive from Missouri to Florida right after being married. My new husband and I were enjoying the scenery, albeit a little lost. My husband pulled into a gas station to ask for directions (yeah, I got a winner) while I waited in the car. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly filled with jealous thoughts: “What if he finds someone in there more attractive than me? What if he finds her more interesting? What if? What if? What if?!”

I was never jealous with previous boyfriends–not once. My attitude was, “Hey, if you want to date someone else, go right ahead. I don’t need to waste my time.”  These thoughts that surfaced during our honeymoon trek came as a disarming and alien surprise.

At the time, I didn’t know what to do with jealousy, and was quite embarrassed and overwhelmed by the emotions. I tried to hide what I was feeling, but didn’t do so well. Fortunately, my husband was kind enough to talk me through my feelings.

…Which would have been great if all I needed to do was talk! I felt better in the moment, but those feelings were only a taste of what was to come. I had a whole slew of faulty childhood beliefs that were surfacing to be healed. This was what my spiritual journey was to be for several years: Clearing false beliefs from my childhood–not just jealousy, but a series of dysfunctional attitudes and concepts about relationships overall.

What the heck? I wanted to be married and live happily ever after! I wanted to ride off into the sunset, live on the beach, and be eternally wise and wonderful! That emotional work was getting in my way of my FUN! How dare it!

I eventually learned that this is the spiritual process, and healing needs showed up in all areas of life: my relationships, career endeavors, and how I perceived myself. Even those who wouldn’t consider themselves on the spiritual journey have issues that arise to be healed. This clearing of false beliefs, shedding light on what is real and true (until the next round of clearing!) is what this journey is about! It is simply part of our journey as humans moving into Something Greater.

How disappointing, I have thought–at first and many times since then! Yet, how necessary to be able to move forward unimpeded by my fears and false assumptions. How much stronger my intuition became because of my willingness to do the work. What better life choices I have made because of my willingness to let go of my lesser ideas of “fun” and short-sighted ways of doing things.

The spiritual journey is about clearing away our personal ideas of what is real, valid and important; and open to our intuitive nature that knows what is better for us. Our Higher Self waits for us to loose our little wills and cooperate with the bigger picture that can only be perceived when we tap into it! And we can’t tap into it while we hold fears and wrong ideas about whatever situation is at hand.

The spiritual journey takes diligence, willingness, and spunk. What are you willing to let go of so you can grow?

Love Encourages Change

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Each new year brings new energy and desire for change! Often when we have something we want to change in ourselves, the first response we have is anger, frustration, rejection. We then try to go about our desired change with a hammer over our heads!

How many of us do well while getting bossed around, criticized and rejected? It might work for a little while—or a long while, if we are super-tolerant—but after a time, we stop trying so hard, or try to get away from the hammer, thus avoiding the task at hand.

We do better at change when we have encouragement, acceptance and a caring eye guiding us in the new behavior.

Who is the best person to do that for you? Maybe you have a supportive friend, or an encouraging therapist. But you are with you all the time! You are the one who will walk with you through all of the ups and downs of life!

Here are a few ways to encourage yourself through any change you want to make:

  • Love first: Ask yourself, “What is there to love about the situation as it is?”
  • Take one change at a time. Too many changes too fast wear us out! This is why so many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned.
  • Visualize yourself already changed. What does that look like? See yourself happy and enjoying the results of your efforts! Spend five minutes each day with this exercise. Take notes on how it feels. You will likely come up with new steps toward your goal!
  • Imagine what you would say to your best friend who was going through a change. Is your self-talk matching what you would say to someone else? If not, write down encourage statements, affirmations or mantras, and place them around your home, car and work.
  • Remember these kindnesses when you are working with others during changes. Patience with others helps us have more patience with ourselves.

A little love goes a long way to melt raw materials and create a masterpiece. Take a best friend with you throughout 2014…YOU! Happy New Year, and happy new YOU!

The Gift of the Seven Steps

Two years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a three part web radio series on Jane Elizabeth Hart’s powerful processing tool, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, with Jane Elizabeth and my awesome husband, Gregory Barrette.

Since it is a time of transitioning from one year into the next, I wanted to re-post these audios on the Seven Steps. Releasing the old year is an essential part of making room for a new year of experiences and spiritual growth!

ImageThe first interview in the series, called “How to Move into the New Year Empowered”, was with author and spiritual teacher Jane Elizabeth. Click here to listen.  For more information on her formula for moving through changes, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, and empowering yourself for the new year, click here. While you are there, check out the free spiritual resources available at Center For Enlightenment.

“Every problem in life is here to support your soul’s evolution. Unless you have a challenge, you will never know your capabilities. Your problems are not awful. They are the most wonderful tools designed to push you forward!”  ~Jane Elizabeth

My interview was next: “The Gift of the Seven Steps.” Listen to the recorded show here on Mentors of New Thought Radio. Below is a description of the program: Image

“My work with clients is to help pull out the patterns and help make the unconscious conscious,” says therapist and spiritual counselor Lynn Barrette, LCSW. “Or, as leading psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel says in his book, Mindsight, “In order for us to become aware of the feelings inside us—to consciously attend to and understand them—we need to link these subcortically created emotional states to our [higher thinking] cortex.” Or, in spiritual terms, making the unconscious conscious! In order for us to heal the buried emotions and the beliefs that are sustaining them, we need to become aware of our hidden patterns that keep us stuck. Jane Elizabeth’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is the greatest, most thorough processing tool I have found to uncover and heal unconscious patterns, for myself as well as my clients.”

Gregory BarretteThe final show in the series was with Gregory Barrette. Greg spoke about leaving the old year behind and “Making a New Start” in the new year. Here’s what he says about this powerful tool: “The Seven Steps method is the single most effective way I know to forgive and release old, past issues and experiences… to fully let go of all that has happened in the past year and open up to a new experience in 201.” Listen to to Greg’s interview here.

However you use the Seven Steps process, it will help catapult you into new spiritual understanding in many different situations in life. Try it out, and let me know how it works for you!

Too Spiritual for a Diagnosis?

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“A mental health diagnosis isn’t spiritual. I’m not going to take medication; and besides, what does a diagnosis have to do with spirituality? Shouldn’t I just pray and meditate more?”

As a licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor for over a decade, I have been asked these questions frequently, and understandably so. There is still a lot of stigma on mental health issues, not only because of ignorance or the fear of being judged as “crazy”; but also among the more spiritually-minded folks who don’t want to identify with labels. Some people feel that having a mental health diagnosis will somehow become a block to wholeness.

Ironically, every once in a while, I will hear “I am a [such-and-such number] on the Enneagram”, or “I am a [four letters] on the Myers-Briggs scale” as a reason why they are unable to change themselves or how they manage their lives. But just as these personality-type labels can serve as a self-awareness tool, a diagnosis can bring light to areas where we need to push a little harder, or accept and have self-compassion a little more, in order to support our daily functioning and our spiritual growth.

Spirituality does not mean the absence of issues—including diagnoses—but the working with and through them. Instead of seeing a diagnosis by your doctor or therapist as a lifetime sentence, try using it as a tool for understanding those limitations you are here to overcome.

Any diagnosis can show us our strengths and limitations. Our job is to use those measurements to understand ourselves, and move forward where we have been limited, using the strengths that we have accumulated!

For example, if you have anxiety, what tools can you use to support your own peace of mind? How can you use meditation (mindfulness or otherwise) or yoga to help you ground yourself and strengthen your mind-body communication? What tools are you using to help you take charge of the faulty, racing thoughts when they are keeping you up at night? Everyone needs these skills; anxiety makes us have to work a little harder to strengthen them than someone without a diagnosis that includes some form of anxiety.

If depression is a problem, how can you stretch beyond your comfort zone? What tools in your toolbox do you have to support yourself on the more difficult days? Self-compassion is always, always, always first. If that’s hard for you, then that’s what to start practicing. Keep a list or a vision board of what makes you feel good, your strengths, and what you are grateful for. If you need help coming up with what your strengths are, ask someone you trust. But even then, you have to grow your own self-acceptance of your diagnosis and how it makes you feel some days, or every day. No one will convince you but you; and you have to work a little harder at it than someone who isn’t diagnosed with depression.

Attention deficit issues? What a great opportunity to learn focus and presence! Make a two-column list of what your strengths are and what your limitations are. How can you apply your strengths more widely and build compensation strategies for your difficult areas?

And we could go on with every diagnosis. Whatever diagnosis you may have, look at your strengths as well as the areas where you need inner and outer support more than the next person. Part of self-compassion is to refrain as much as possible from comparing yourself to the next person who may not be dealing with what you are. I guarantee you that they are dealing with something that might seem very easy to you. We are all working on something!

As spiritual beings, we all have our challenges to work through. Some people are systemically discriminated against, some people grow up in abusive households, some are financially unstable, some have difficulties maintaining relationships, some have a combination of challenges. Our spiritual growth is supplemented through compassion for and moving with the challenges we have in our lives, diagnosis or otherwise.

Is it easy? Nope. But who ever told us it was easy? No spiritual tradition that I have ever heard of! Your solution will be as unique to you as the challenges that you are dealing with. Get support. You don’t have to do anything alone!

And by all means, if medication will support you best, go for it! It is sad to me when a client won’t allow themselves to benefit from medication, and continues to struggle with a brain make-up that is overwhelming them in spite of their best efforts! Years ago, I had to get off my judgments and fears regarding Western medicine. It was the Universe telling me, “Let go of your hang-ups, lady! You have to learn to trust Me in whatever way I direct you!” Self-acceptance also means being open to the support that is available to us!

Be open to your soul’s messages. This will benefit your spiritual development the most. Turn within in whatever way you pray and meditate for strength, support, and intuitive answers. Take the outer signs within you, and ask your inner guidance, “How can this benefit my soul growth?”

Don’t be too spiritual for a diagnosis. Be too spiritual to stay stuck.

Spirituality and Counseling

Spirituality is the essence of the counseling process.  It positively affects healing, supports the sense of hope and good outcome, and is a source of comfort and insight along the way.  Your spirituality is the ideal your therapist holds for you as you move through the challenges that brought you to counseling.  Your religious or spiritual worldview—or personal ethic—helps you make the changes that heal your life.

How do we know that spirituality is essential to personal growth?

As we explore the body, emotions and thoughts, we find that our true identity is in none of these.  There is a greater part of us that can make changes in each of these areas, and sees them as temporary at best.  For example, we know that we can help relieve physical pain by altering how we think about it.  Through this, we discover that we are more than just our bodies.  We also know that our emotions are reactions to a thought, belief or attitude that that we are holding.  From this, we discover that we are more than our feelings.  When we examine our thoughts, we find that some are true while others are not.  We also find that we can change a thinking pattern from “I am not strong enough to go through this,” to “I have all that I need to achieve my goal,” which opens us to new choices in our life.  As a result, we discover that we are more than our thoughts.

What, then, are we?

We are something greater than the self that we know.  We are that inner strength, wisdom, compassion, acceptance and joy that we hold as an ideal.  Our spiritual nature is that which urges us to reach out for help, to find encouragement for moving through difficult situations, and to be truthful with ourselves, even when no one is looking.

When we feel out of touch with our ideal self, we may feel a loss of hope or motivation to give our best to our daily tasks.  At times, it is difficult to see beyond our problems, and we feel out of integrity with our thoughts, feelings and behavior.  Our bodies may ache from stress.  Our emotions may not make sense to us.  Our thoughts may seem unpredictable, even a little frightening.  We may believe we are our problem.  Our awareness of this disconnect comes from our spiritual nature, urging us to try something different to resolve our difficulties.  We can then look within ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to pull us back into alignment with who we really are.  Yet, sometimes we need more—an outside observer who can look objectively at our situation and offer guidance.

Your therapist is trained to hold a picture of you as capable, healthy and whole, even when you feel you aren’t.  She or he is there to remind you of your spiritual nature, to help you regain hope and your sense of inner balance.  This vision can only be held from the vantage point of your ideal self, not your physical, emotional or mental levels, which are changing and are not you.

Through counseling, you are supported in awakening to your inherent talents and abilities.  Your ideal self is within you.  It is accessible and it belongs to you.  Listen to its promptings and let it move you forward in life.

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