Category Archives: health

Joyful Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

06 June picI have long lost track of how many people have entered my psychotherapy office bringing with them their sorrows, but leaving behind any sense of joy. They have lost their enjoyment and feel as if their zest for life has completely disappeared. When asked, few can say what used to make them smile, let alone remember the last time they really laughed. When I ask what they do for fun, the all-too-common answer is “nothing.” Certainly, when people are anxious, depressed, grief-stricken, stressed, or in any other state of turmoil, their experiences of joy are rare. But reacquainting with what brings them joy is guaranteed to free them from the gravity of any challenging circumstance or situation.

Our soul is nothing without joy. Without joy we are void of all light that reminds us why we live. In times when the human condition has us in its darkened grip, our experience of joy is less tangible, and so is our connection with our soul. We cannot see as clearly how to make decisions that suit our wisest ally, and we often go further off track rather than closer to our inner wisdom. Consequently, it’s not unusual for people who are distressed to report that they no longer know who they are, as their despair further disconnects them from their soul.

Our sense of joy—or lack of one—, thus, serves as another measure of our soul health. Our sense of joy is much like the pilot light for our inner ally—as long as it is lit we are still experiencing at least some pleasure in life and are able to tolerate the darker sides of the human condition. However, when that light is dim or snuffed out, nothing seems to matter—not even oneself. Therefore, awareness of what brings us joy is of utmost importance to our overall health. Essayist Logan Smith notes, “If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul.” Indeed, our souls do define us; and if we don’t listen to them, we will never find our way back home to this inner ally. More tragic is the risk of losing who we really are.

Joy stems both from the fun and leisure we create06 June pic2 in our lives and from the meaning we place on the activities we choose for recreation. Individual recreational needs may differ as widely as the people on the planet do. What we all have in common, though, is that fun and leisure not only buffers the unpleasant aspects of our human condition, but also fortifies or feeds the soul.

The recreational branch of soul health relates to both the fun and the leisure we allow, invite, or create in our lives. There is a difference between the two, though. We experience fun through “acting playfully”—reacting in a light-hearted, humorous, or jesting manner —at home, work, or social situations. Leisure time, however, allows us to find respite from our responsibilities—personal and professional—which usually represent the heavier aspects of our human condition. Both fun and leisure are necessary in fortifying our soul and promoting its evolution.

Unfortunately, most people don’t make or take time for fun and leisure. In a 2010 survey, an online travel agency found that only 38 percent of Americans use all of the vacation time they were allotted. This may not be surprising, given the standards for long hours of work in this country; however, the physical and emotional cost may outweigh the praise we get for the long hours worked. In fact, there is often a direct impact on physical health when people don’t take time to relax. One researcher found that people who don’t take time to slow down from daily life may find it harder to relax in the future since the neural pathways that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it increasingly more difficult to shift to less stressful states of being. This demonstrates that our bodies are indeed restored when we are at rest or at play—and that this is necessary in sustaining our well-being.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

 

Intellectual/Occupational Health: Conscious Cognitions

(Taken from Chapter 7 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

The soul becomes dyed by the color of its thoughts. ~~ Marcus Aurelius

05 May picThe human species is known for its brain. It is the central processing unit that most defines us as human, and yet it eludes its researchers’ full understanding. Scientists remain both baffled and amazed by not only its inherent capabilities, but also by its power of adaptation. Although some species exhibit certain levels of conscious thought, we hold the bar for advanced cognitive processing.

Our ability to think is essential in the work force. According to the American Time Use Survey, U.S. citizens spend more time working (8.6 hours) than they do sleeping (7.6 hours). Work occupies nearly 60 percent of our waking hours, though many spend much longer hours at their jobs. Clearly, if one is unsatisfied, overwhelmed, or simply bored with their work, their soul health will inevitably suffer.

Life presents many other opportunities to think, solve problems, and reflect on ideas, actions, and beliefs. Students, retired people, stay-at-home parents, avid readers, volunteers, and those who explore creative or artistic talents also pursue mentally stimulating activities to enhance soul health.

Our intellectual and occupational health includes our pursuit of creating and maintaining an intellectually stimulating life— it is our human quest for knowledge and skill. Although for many this does, in fact, include a job or career, this branch of health also describes our ability to develop or maintain a strong cognitive capacity. Our intellectual health depends on mental stimulation, a curiosity and drive to learn, a willingness and ability to engage in effective and conscious thought processing, intellectual clarity and adaptability, the insight necessary to integrate our perceptions of the world, the assimilation of new concepts, exercise and maintenance of memory, and the ability to reason between right and wrong. Simply put, whether we are mentally over-stimulated or bored to tears, our level of intellectual health can affect our overall experience of soul health.

What do you do to enhance your cognitive abilities? 05 May pic2What keeps you sharp? What challenges your brain? What dulls it? When are you the most curious or interested in something? When are you the most bored? What helps you to think clearly? And what serves to distract you? How does creativity affect your life?

While knowledge is the ultimate human quest, we must also remember that knowledge also allows our souls to evolve. As we expand our minds-learn and grow as human beings- our souls expand as well. This is especially true within the context of consciousness—and even more so when we become “radical” in its pursuit. Those who become increasingly conscious about how they are living their lives open themselves to the greatest opportunities for evolution. This 3-D method of living— the ability to recognize a depth of meaning beyond what is right in front of you — allows the human condition to become our classroom.  In other words, we can learn to be more conscious about how we can best learn! Thus, our soul’s quest for growth depends greatly on how we consciously use our brains to evolve.

For more information, take a look at my recent video which shares more about the importance of “conscious cognitions”.  https://youtu.be/T2wJZpKKmOE

Has “Soul” Become a Four-Letter Word?

The word “soul” is pretty much a daily part of my vocabulary, both with myself and friends and also in my work. With all of this talk about consciousness, it seems to me that our awareness would be raising about how disconnected we have become from our innermost self– our soul.

Why don’t we use this word very often? When did we become so disconnected that we almost hide from any mention of it? How would the world be different if we re-introduced the word and re-acquainted with what I consider to be our most essential feature?

Simply put, the soul is the essence of who we are. It is the eternal light that glows within us, one which, when properly “tuned” can guide and allow us to have much simpler and richer lives.

When was the last time you thought of or used the word “soul”? Take a look at my latest video in which I share a couple stories that indicate a serious need to reconnect and integrate the word back into our vocabulary.  https://youtu.be/imUjzDoMof8

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please feel free to leave a comment on this blog, or email me at evolve@drkatherinetkelly.com.

Learning to Laugh Again

maynewsletter2Our soul is nothing without joy. It is our sense of joy—or lack of one—that serves as a key measure of our soul health. And as we all know, fun—our ability to let loose and play—is highly under-rated among adults. As our responsibilities increase, our ability to laugh and have fun often decreases, leaving us “soul-starved” or wilty. Biologically speaking, fun and laughter do more than soothe the soul, having a positive effect on serotonin, stress hormones, and even the immune system.

Despite the positive effect of pure fun and laughter, many people have forgotten how to experience this key ingredient to radiant health. Inevitably, when I ask clients and workshop participants what they do for fun, they are often speechless and cannot answer.

Our human condition often instills the idea that laughter is a luxury, but in my mind, it is a necessity. Our soul’s most natural state is that of joy and when we forget to allow fun into our lives, we deprive our souls from a vital source of renewal.

Have you forgotten how to laugh and have fun? Do you believe you’re worth enjoying a hearty chuckle? Has your busy life stripped you of the ability to experience joy? If so, here are some steps to help you re-integrate laughter into your life:

1) Look for reasons to laugh. (Set the intention that you will find daily opportunities to have fun.)

2) Give yourself permission to laugh. Literally say out loud, “I now grant myself the permission to laugh and have fun whenever possible.”

3) Be a kid again. Find ways to bring back youthful activities—run through the sprinklers, track down an ice cream truck, sit in a swing, ride the merry-go-round.

4) Reminisce about the good ol’ times. Tell stories that still make you laugh until you cry.

5) Bring out the home movies. Laugh at your old clothes, hair-cuts, and overall antics.

6) Plan a play date with your friends—play ping-pong, a board game, or arts night.

Whatever you do, LAUGH!  Spring is such a wonderful time to let your inner-child come out to play. For more information on getting fun and laughter back into your life, watch the video/vlog below.

I would love to hear your comments for how you allow fun and laughter to feed your soul!

The Hazards of Conscious Evolution (and Therapy!), Part II

As I mentioned in the last blog entry, people who consciously choose to evolve often go through a process of transforming that shifts more than they are bargaining for. I’ve noticed this pattern over and over again in others and continue to experience it myself. I share these “hazards” of evolution with clients and workshop participants to help calm their discomfort and normalize their experience.

The world is changing. No doubt. We have choices whether to change with it or resist this change. Risk exists in both options. The reality is, if we choose not to change we’ll be left behind;  if we make the conscious decision to grow, we’ll likely leave others in the dust. So, although our evolution is our human right and duty, it doesn’t come without discomfort or loss.

nautilus_seashells_1600x1200_wallpaper_Wallpaper_2560x1920_www.wall321.comAs you might remember, I mentioned the first hazard of conscious evolution in the last blog entry: The more you learn and evolve, the more you want to learn and evolve. This can create a vicious cycle in which you become so engaged in learning and evolving that it almost becomes an obsession. Consciousness takes a great deal of effort and energy. Unlike mindfulness, or the “moment-to-moment awareness of the good, the bad, and the ugly” as the well-known author, Jon Kabot-Zinn,  states, consciousness implies that not only is a person more aware, this awareness creates an urge to change something. The word is more action oriented, and, in my mind, IS the life force that initiates our human evolution.

So, why would conscious evolution be hazardous to our health? It’s not. Remaining lumps of unconscious flesh is, though. One way or another, someone will be left behind. Your choice is whether it will be you.

I share several of the other hazards of conscious evolution on the following video (the remaining to follow in future videos). Take a look:

I offer these now because we are at a critical juncture in our global evolution in which great divides are occurring in our population. These divides are clear depictions of those who are choosing to learn and grow and those who are not.

I would love to hear or read your feedback. Please leave a comment, or email me directly at evolve@drkatherinetkelly.com.

Evolution Sucks! The Hazards of Conscious Evolution, Part I

snail pic

Over the years as a psychologist, I’ve realized that it’s not unusual to find a trend or theme that seems to emerge across client concerns. I have no idea why this occurs, but in talking to colleagues, they notice it as well.

Because of the particular kind of work I do, based strongly on conscious evolution and also soul development, sometimes the themes that emerge in my office have a bit of a different slant. The latest theme that has appeared over the last several months is the sheer exhaustion that folks are feeling in their current process of growth. Hard work is being done– and I mean HARD WORK– as my clients evolve beyond old thoughts, emotions, perceptions, behaviors, patterns, and so on. In my work, I emphasize that it is not only the human condition we are healing, it is also the soul. This requires a greatly heightened sense of awareness, one that becomes both a blessing and a seeming curse.

evolution warning signThe world is changing, and this is causing us to evolve on a global level. People are being existentially challenged to consciously or unconsciously adapt to new beliefs and values, and as we simultaneously work through our personal issues, the energetic impact of the global changes can drain us even more. So, regardless of the level of individual work you are engaging in, we are all under the stress of a changing world as well.

It is no doubt that evolution is difficult, so much so that the word should be synonymous with the words “worn out”, “spent”, “exhausted”, “tired”, and even “fed up”. So, the words that I hear myself saying as clients lament their challenges through their growth are “Evolution Sucks”. Some clients laugh, some simply nod, and others launch into a verbal resonance with the statement.

Although our growth is the most beautiful and natural thing we experience, it is also the most difficult and challenging. The following video explains more, and discusses the first “Hazards of Therapy or Conscious Evolution” that I’ve come up with over my 26+ years of working in the world of holistic psychotherapy.

I would love to hear your thoughts and read your comments. Feel free to leave a message on this blog or send an email to evolve@drkatherinetkelly.com.

 

Missing Out on the Sands of Time

Are you one of those people who looks for the big wave– the major event or “aha” moment that will change your life forever? Most people are. They spend their time looking for the magical moment when everything will shift and life will somehow immediately become bigger, better, and more fulfilling.

But is the “big bang” moment really what we need?

I was talking with a client recently about the fact that change and personal evolution really does take time. The conversation reminded me of an experience I had way back in graduate school when I went with a friend to visit the Dunes National Lakeshore on the south end of Lake Michigan. This state park is a mini version of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, with the tiny granules being blown into beautiful and constantly moving pieces of nature’s artwork. While everyone was looking out into the water, I made a life-changing discovery as I turned back and looked back at the dunes.

Watch my video to see how my experience might change your life as well!

If you’ve had a “sands of time” moment as well, I’d love to hear from you! Or if this video helped shift your own perspective on your personal evolution, please leave a comment for me.

I tend to take life pretty seriously anyway, but watching the sands of time really does show us that we can’t take even one grain for granted.