17 Sep

Muse the brain sensing headband: A modern approach to Meditation

The Muse headband is a modern gateway to learning to meditate and calm your mind with a bit of guidance. This headset tracks your brainwaves and provides EEG- neurofeedback.

Okay, I will admit that I was a bit skeptical when I heard about a headband that could read your brain waves and help you meditate better.  I am sort of a tech geek so my curiosity got the better of me.  My online search found it on sale at a big box supplier.  I ordered it quickly and easily while on the go.  It arrived a few days later and I was feeling pretty excited. The box touts Muse as “your personal meditation assistant”.

The set up was easy, there is an app to download onto your smart phone or tablet.  It led me through the start up and explained how to wear my headband and calibrate it.  The first session I was clearly distracted with my thoughts, “am I doing this right?” “should it be louder or softer?”

You receive feedback during your meditation with the rainfall getting louder or the winds picking up as your brain wanders.  The rainforest quiets and the birds chirp when your brain is calm.  There are points to be earned and goals to reach.

My five minute session found me only collecting a few birds and experiencing a whopping 22 recoveries!  With the first trial run behind me, my second session was more of a success.  I racked up the calm points and instead of having recoveries I had 22 birds this time.

The feedback is helpful and honestly speaks to the competitor in me.  We all love rewards and it is gratifying to be able to see your progress over one short week. Multiple users can utilize the head band as all they need is a Muse account.

Although it is early in my meditation practice with Muse to definitively say how this will impact, my observations so far have been promising.  I find myself more focused and able to find more clarity among all the white noise in my head.  The “to do” list in my brain has quieted and when it does gear up too much I actually want to reach for my Muse and take 5 minutes to meditate and bring myself back.

Next week’s goal is to use it in short periods of 5  minutes over my day.  I will try doing it in the morning, at lunch and prior to bed time.  After that I will try only one 15 minute meditation and see what the difference is for me.


19 Jun

Finding the right meditation for you


We are seeing an increase in clients wanting to try meditation as a strategy to implement into their daily life.  Meditation is a great tool because it is portable and can be used anywhere and there are many types available for different purposes.

Sometimes a person might want a meditation to set the intention for their day and start off on a positive note.  Other times they might feel anxious during their day and need something short to help ground themselves.  At night a busy mind might be getting the better of them and perhaps they are looking for something to help with sleep.

Below are a variety of meditations that can be used on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. Most are downloadable or available on You Tube.

Morning Meditation

Guided Morning Meditation ( 10 Minutes to kick start your day)

5 Minute Morning Meditation with Susanne Kempken ( A quick morning meditation designed to give you that extra boost of positive energy to start your day)

10 Minute Guided Morning Sunrise Meditation ( Let go of negative energies and begin your day with a completely clear slate to shape your day the way you intend)

Guided Meditation: Setting a Morning Intention, 6 minutes ( Set the direction of your day)

Louise Hay’s Morning Meditation, (Use this to greet each new day)

Positive Thinking Meditation: Endorphin Meditation with Positive Affirmations 10 minutes

Self Acceptance Meditation

Guided Meditation for Self Acceptance, 16:26 minutes ( During this meditation there is a bit of exposure style therapy asking to bring up a part of yourself you don’t particularly like)

Self-Love Healing Meditation: Self Acceptance, 15:27 minutes ( Shift from a place of rejection to loving acceptance as you meditate with this audio)

Meditation for Self-Love and Acceptance by Deepak Chopra,  2:20 minutes ( A short positive affirmation)


Meditations for Anxiety

The Five Minute Miracle from Beyond Purpose, 5:33 minutes

Blissful Deep Relaxation from The Honest Guys, 18:35 minutes ( gently ease yourself into a state of blissful deep relaxation)

Guided Meditation: Deep Relaxation and Bliss from Live the Life You Love, 14:08 minutes (breath out anxiety and tension)

Meditations for Sleep

Can’t Sleep, Meditation for Insomnia from Jason Stephenson, 61 minutes (Guided voice, gentle music for sleepless nights)

Yoga Nidra for Sleep, 22:21 minutes (Guided sleep meditation)

A Bedtime Meditation to Prepare for Sleep, from Live Sonima, 8:49 minutes (Unwind and shutdown to prepare for sleep)

Guided Meditation Sleep: Go to sleep in 10 minutes, 10:17 minutes (headphones are recommended but not required)

Other Meditations

Chakra Cleansing and Activated from Manifesto Meditations, 22:07 minutes ( cleanse and activate your 7 chakras in 20 minutes leaving you feeling energized and recharged!)

Guided Healing Meditation on Forgiveness, 13:08 minutes (release guilt, let go and free your mind and life)

Meditation: Living Presence- with body scan by Tara Brach, 17:08 minutes ( guiding you through a body scan and focusing on breath)

Reflection: The Power of Inquiry-Untangling Emotional Tangles by Tara Brach, 10:30 minutes (A short meditation to help us get emotionally unstuck)

Guided Meditation- “The Seat” from The Honest Guys, 16:46 minutes ( headphones recommended but not required)


17 May

How to Use Mindfulness Everyday


This month I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Mindfulness workshop.  The workshop didn’t teach me any earth shattering new ideas but it did make me a better therapist.  I am at a time in my life where my mind is very busy with a number of things that are quite frankly out of my control and not of my creation.  Taking a day to be with other like minded professionals in a positive environment and practice mindfulness was quite frankly a fantastic gift!

I left feeling relaxed, void of negative thoughts and thinking about how I could use it more in my own practice with clients.  Fast forward a bit and I now have an arsenal of handouts, apps and links to provide clients with the tools they need to be mindful.

It only seemed to make sense to share a little of my research with everyone.  The number one question is where to start?  Start small and build from there.  There is no right or wrong, no judgement.  Freeing your mind from judgement if only for a minute is a much kinder way to treat ourselves. Take a look at Three Simple Mindfulness Practices You Can Use Everyday.  

Try a 3 minute body scan which will help ground you and be more present.  My new favourite is a 5 minute Chocolate Meditation, it is wonderful and calorie free!  It does make me want to go find chocolate though.

If you find yourself wanting to know more about Mindfulness and Meditation we have a very good collection of resources on the Lidkea Stob Pinterest page.  On our Meditation board you will find links to additional meditations, articles on the benefits of meditation  and a few tips on how to get started. Our Mindfulness board has explanations of mindfulness and activities your can try such as a mindfulness walk or mindful coloring pages.


10 May

Let’s Talk About Sleep

Wordle21Sleep is a powerful thing.  If it is restful and restorative we wake up feeling like we can conquer the world, or at least the busy day ahead of us. At times when we don’t get enough or we have poor quality sleep, we can feel exhausted and less confident about our own abilities.  The day seems to drag on and all we can think about is crawling under the covers at the end of our day.

There are a number of things that can impact the quality of our sleep. A busy mind, menopause and stress are the top three that people often talk to their counsellors about.

Perimenopause or menopause is something that is whispered about in the lunch room.  The change in hormone levels can bring hot flashes, irritability, anxiety and insomnia.  Interrupted sleep at this time in a woman’s life is very common.  Author Sheryl Kraft, Is Menopause Playing Havoc With Your Sleep? addresses the fact that there is no one size fits all solution. We are all uniquely different and trying different solutions will help you have a more restful night.  Suggestions she makes are to avoid caffeine after 2:00 p.m, keep your bedroom dark, incoporate some exercise in your day and eat a high carbohydrate snack such as a whole grain cracker with a small amount of healthy protein before bed.

If after trying a few of these changes you do no find success you may wish to speak to a naturopathic doctor and they will listen to your specific concerns and will tailor a plan just for you.  Many benefit plans now cover naturopathic appointments.

A busy mind is common in menopause and also when under stress.  In an article from Pick the Brain they provide 5 Strategies to Empty Your Mind Before Bed.  Keeping a notebook beside your bed can become a nighttime ritual that will help you prepare for your new day tomorrow but also to free yourself from the perpetual “to do” list.  Write down what is on your mind whether it is your grocery list or the things that might be bothering you. Think about them and then release them for the day and you can pick them up again the next day if you need to.

In 12 Ways to Shut Off Your Brain Before Bedtime they suggest practicing relaxation exercises.  Visualization exercises, meditation or a short evening yoga practice can help set the stage for sleep.  If stress if still a barrier to catching the rest you need, then seeing a counsellor to help explore what the issues further and create a plan together.

Try making the last thought before bed one thing you are grateful for from your day.  Set your intention to be a positive one for the next day.

Tools to Help Sleep

Yoga Nidra for Sleep, A 22 Minute guided meditation for sleep.

Bedtime Yoga for Deep Sleep,  6:36 minutes of bedtime yoga flow that can done on your bed.

Yoga for Better Sleep, 10 minute yoga routine for better sleep.

Into Sleep, A 10 minute guided meditation from Quiet Mind Cafe to promote a deep restorative sleep

Free Guided Meditations from UCLA Health, Try the mindful body scan

Naturopaths in Niagara

Dr. Stephen Tripodi, ND  Optimal Wellness Niagara

Dr. Jane Lauermeier, 905-935-6460

Dr. Laura Imola, WIN Health Solutions

Dr. Charlene Kush, Niagara’s Elite Wellness Spa

20 Feb

Anxiety, there’s an app for that!


I remember going to a mindfulness workshop and hearing the presenter say that we can never get rid of a client’s anxiety.   The truth is that we all live with a healthy level of anxiety that keeps us on our toes.  The presenter explained that if a bear were chasing us we should feel somewhat anxious.  That makes sense, of course I would be anxious and fearful and that can help us in situations where the response is warranted.  However, at some point we may have a time where anxiety is a big part of our daily life.

In truth anxiety is likely the number one reason people come to see a counsellor. People come in feeling tired, overwhelmed and want immediate relief.  Of course as counsellors we are happy to help but unfortunately we don’t have super powers. To  reduce anxiety means a commitment to yourself.  That includes practicing strategies and doing a bit of homework between sessions.

There’s An App for That

We may not all be techno savvy but if you carry a smart phone and have access to the internet using these tools can be fun, easy and very beneficial.   There are apps for your iPhone or Android device that help you take your strategies to go. These apps are particularly helpful if you are working with a counsellor and want to practice strategies between sessions. Podcasts are another fantastic way to increase your learning, implement strategies and maybe even relax for a 10 or 15  minutes while you listen.


Suggested Apps:

MindShift– A collaborative project from Anxiety BC, BC Children’s Hospital, RBC Children’s Mental Health, Provincial Health Services Authority.  This app is geared to teens and young adults and includes strategies and tools to tackle things such as perfectionism, test anxiety, worry, conflict and social anxiety.  (Free)

Headspace- Treat Your Head Right.  They consider themselves a gym membership for the mind.  There is a free app and foundation course but to access additional courses and their series on things such as health and relationships there is monthly subscription fee.  ($7.95-$12.95 per month)   If you like this site then take a look at Andy Puddicome’s Ted Talk, All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.

Worry Box- Anxiety Self Help- For Android (Free) Write down your worries and put them in a worry box.  Apple in iTunes (Free)

If you are looking to be a bit more mindful then an article by Mindful give us a list of Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention

If meditation is what you are looking for then take a look at Healthline for The Best Meditation iPhone and Android Apps of the Year.


Anxiety Slayer– they provide a weekly podcast to your inbox. The podcast topics include When we fear our repetitive thoughts, Tips for working for a mental health care professional and 5 Quick and easy ways to calm down when you feel anxious.

Anxiety Guru– There are a number of free podcasts available like You Are Not Alone  and there is also a paid membership available if you want access to additional materials

A Quiet Mind by Robert Jackson, podcasts and apps to promote happiness, peace and well being.

Motivation to Move by Scott Smith, A very energetic, motivational speaker who has one of the most popular daily motivation program.   His podcasts are about staying positive, reducing stress and focusing on how to get what makes you happy. Examples of his podcast topics are Are You Too Busy To Live Your Life and Good Stress. Bad Stress.

20 Sep



Image from Sideways Thoughts, Mindfulness Defined

We hear the phrase mindfulness used a lot these days.  In counselling we find our clients often struggle living in the past and worrying about the future.  We occupy our minds with thoughts and many of them can be negative.  What might happen if we were mindful and present living each day with awareness, purpose and without judgement?

In an article by Chad Renando, Mindfulness Defined he talks about a phenomenon he calls the $20 Snickers bar.  After reading this I realized how much I related to what he had to say.  The idea of buying a chocolate bar with a $20 bill and getting change for the bill.  Once that bill is broken down it seems like we have more money and for some reason we spend it more easily.  Ask us what we spent that twenty on and we’ll likely wonder where it all went. The author points out that our attention works similarly. We start off being attentive, ready to face the world but there are demands throughout the day for our attention.  It becomes fractured and we pay it out like the twenty until we have nothing left.  We end our day feeling tired, irritable and likely somewhat exhausted. What if we  instead start our day with purpose and intent , making choices about where to focus our attentions? Harnessing our attention and energy, getting to decide how we spend it.

The key is slowing down.  This seems counterintuitive to what we think we should be doing. In our fast paced society we need to take time for ourselves and recharge from our busy lives.  Time magazine’s, The Mindful Revolution suggests that “finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.” We are busy, hyperconnected and overscheduled. Stopping to just be and stepping back from all those whirling thoughts can transform your life.

Recently a local big box store had a shipment of adult coloring books that were based on mindful stress reduction.  They sold out immediately and now local book stores are finding it hard to keep them in stock.  The trend is for adults to pick up those crayons or colored pencils and relax and be creative.  Coloring books for adults…who would have thought that would be therapeutic?  I must say I have tried them myself and it stills the mind, slows things down and it really is fun.  Still not convinced, read  Adult Coloring Books are the New Mindfulness. 

All It Takes Is 10 minutes, is aTed Talk with Andy Puddicome that suggests that 10 minutes is all you need to get calm and clarity in your life. There are many resources available these days to help get you started.  If you use technology there are some free mindfulness apps that you might want to take a look at.  Website Mindful.Org has videos and articles that cover areas such as mindfulness at work and mindful eating.  Life Hack has a Mindfulness Meditation Mini Guide for those new to meditation.  On our Lidkea Stob Pinterest board you will also find a Mindfulness and a meditation board with articles and videos. So take a deep breath, grab a tea and think about how you might use these tools to be more mindful in your life.  I suspect you will be glad you did.

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