The Power of Awareness

Kerry Moller & Associates: The Power of Awareness

“Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.”
―Tara Brach

The third and last podcast we will share this month is a series on mindfulness from renowned Buddhist teacher, Tara Brach. Mindfulness is a practice of awareness and radical acceptance of all that arises in our minds and relationships. By becoming more aware and more accepting of what arises in our life, we enhance our natural capacity to cope with life’s challenges with dignity, courage, and ease. Psychologists and counsellors have begun to adapt the use of mindfulness to therapy, since decades of research has proven that mindfulness is highly effective in treating anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, and even more complicated psychological problems like schizophrenia.

Meditation teacher and psychotherapist, Tara Brach, has spent decades teaching and practicing mindfulness. She has dedicated her life to bringing the practices and principles of mindfulness to those struggling with addiction and mental illness, and to those fighting against issues like racial injustice, environmental destruction, and inequality. In that spirit of generosity, Tara shares her teachings online for free through this podcast. Listen to them in your car, on the bus, while you are making dinner, or sit down on the couch and savour her teachings instead of watching a movie or television show.

The therapists at Kerry Moller and Associates regularly incorporate mindfulness practices into sessions with clients. Whether clients are struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, stress or trauma, we have found that mindfulness practices are incredibly effective in facilitating change and other positive outcomes. If you are looking to begin or deepen your mindfulness practice outside of the therapy room, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield offer a 7-week, online mindfulness-training program called The Power of Awareness. It will be offered again in Spring 2017, so sign up now!

photo: Kristin Horsman

Having a Quest for your life

Kerry Moller & Associates: Having a Quest for your life

For the second blog post in our February podcast series, we would like to share this podcast from Gretchen Rubin, the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project. In this episode, she reflects on the importance of having a quest for your life. A quest is not simply a collection of personal goals; a quest is an adventure, a journey toward something that will always remain a little bit out of reach. While goals are oriented around achievements or milestones, quests are experiential and ongoing. In this podcast, Gretchen talks about what distinguishes a quest from a mission, and explains why having a quest is an essential ingredient for happiness and satisfaction.

One of the reasons having a quest brings zest to our lives is because all quests are inherently challenging. It is only through embracing and overcoming challenges that we gain a sense of reward.

Quests are also thoroughly mysterious; and it is this sense of elusiveness that pulls us forward toward something we may never quite approach, and gives us something to look forward to, something to build towards.

The principles behind Grechen’s reflections are similar to those used in Existential therapy. In existential therapy, the therapist aims to help the client orient their life toward meaning. It is believed that happiness, and the resolution of troubling neurotic symptoms, can only occur as a side effect of a meaningful, engaged life.

Existential psychotherapist, Viktor Frankl, wrote: “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

If you are reading this and are wondering, what is my quest? Have I found one yet? It’s never too late to begin! We hope you will find some inspiration for your personal quest in this uplifting podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin

If you are interested in learning more about existential therapy, we recommend these books to start:

  • Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Irvin Yalom, The Gift of Therapy
  • Rollo May, Freedom & Destiny

photo: Kristin Horsman

Sparkle Stories — An Alternative to Screen Time

Kerry Moller & Associates - Sparkle Stories

Over the next month, we at Kerry Moller at Associates have decided to share a series of blog posts about some of our most recent, favourite podcasts. Podcasts are like pre-recorded radio shows without the commercials or live callers—it’s just you, quietly listening to your favourite author, public figure, or spiritual teacher while in transit or resting at home. Listening to podcasts is a great alternative to spending idle time in front of a screen, especially for your children.

Screen time is defined as the amount of time you spend in front of an electronic screen: texting, updating your social media, watching TV, streaming movies from Netflix, or checking and responding to emails. Many people in our society are becoming increasingly aware of the feelings of disconnection and fatigue that arise from too much screen time. Notably, the risks that come with extended screen time are far greater when it comes to children and youth.

Statistics say that more than half of all the one year old babies in America spend an average of 2 hours a day in front of television or iPad screens. By the time these babies are preschool-aged, hours of screen time double. Some data suggests that children from 2-5 years in age spend as much as 4-4.6 hours a day in front of a screen.

Studies show that screen time is habit-forming: the more time young children spend in front of screens, the harder it is for them to turn them off and engage their brains in different ways as they become older. In pre-teens and adolescents, excessive screen time is linked to psychological challenges including hyperactivity, emotional and social challenges, and poor performance at school.

Enter Sparkle Stories. Sparkle Stories is an independent media company that offers hundreds of original audio stories for children through their website and podcast. These stories are simple, but engaging. Busy parents find relief knowing they can play these commercial-free stories for their children while preparing dinner or attending to household chores. Other parents love sitting down with their kids and savouring these tender tales together.

We hope all the parents out there reading this will enjoy this resource: Sparkle Stories

Additionally, here is some research on the benefits of reduced screen time:

  • Reducing screen time can help prevent childhood obesity
  • Children who spend less time in front of screens in early years tend to do better in school, have healthier eating habits, and be more physically active
  • Screen time at a young age is associated with later behavioural problems, but not if heavy viewing is discontinued before age six
  • Limiting exposure to television during the first 4 years of life may decrease children’s interest in it in later years

photo: Kristin Horsman