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.


30 May

Accepting Who You Are


Accepting who you are is a step towards learning to love yourself.  It is human nature to look at our own flaws and hold ourselves to standards that we would never expect others to live up to.  In counselling a common theme is being unhappy with one self and judging.  If you don’t like you then why expect others to?  It seems simple but we tend to make it complicated. Accept yourself and be your own best friend.  If you are happy and caring to yourself then others are attracted to that energy.

In article Therapists Spill: 12 Ways to Accept Yourself, they suggest you identify and set your intention.  Intending to self nourish and celebrate your strengths and honestly embrace your vulnerability is a stepping stone to your new relationship with yourself.

Self Acceptance is about letting go of who you want to be or think you should be and just being. There are steps we can take to be kinder and more loving of ourselves. We can take action and move towards change and healthy improvements to our own self care and self concept.  On the blog Tiny Buddha, author Jasmin Tanjeloff  writes about Accepting and Loving Ourselves in 10 Simple Steps.   

In 8 Techniques for Self-Acceptance, author Leo Babuta suggests that our “happiness is determined by our level of self acceptance.”  Compassion and forgiveness for yourself is an important technique to practice. Let go of old grudges and forgive yourself for being human.

So to get started, begin your day with a positive affirmation or a short meditation.  This is simple but it reminds you everyday how you can make a difference by setting your intent and making it a positive one.

Affirmations should include a positive statement about yourself.  Something like I love and accept myself without question.  Here’s a short meditation (2 min) from Depak Chopra, A Positive Affirmation and Acceptance.  A little longer one (16 min) is excellent to focus on something your don’t like about yourself and expose that thought in a guided meditation for self acceptance


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.


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.

24 Mar

Post Traumatic Growth


Sometimes in counselling we find ourselves suggesting to a client that a recent traumatic experience can be looked at as a gift.  Often the individual looks bewildered and wonders how we could even suggest that?!  Fast forward a session or two later when self reflection and a little probing has helped them find other times in their life where a difficult experience brought a lesson or an opportunity for growth.

Life challenges us so often in ways we never expect.  Perhaps we can think of a time in our life where there was a job loss that led us to a new and exciting employment experience or a relationship that we held onto long after its shelf life and its ending that gave us a chance to reconnect with ourself. Trauma comes in many forms from situations such as these to grief, abuse, bullying or medical illness.

In the article from Leveraging Adversity titled “Post Traumatic Growth” -Three Words Every depressed Person Should Hear. Author Claire Dorotik-Nana describes the 5 domains of post-traumatic growth.  These are:

  • A greater appreciation for life
  • An openness to new possibilities
  • A greater sense of personal strength
  • A deepening of relationships
  • A deepening of spirituality.

Professor Stephen Joseph author of What Doesn’t Kill Us; A guide to overcoming adversity and moving forward, looks at the ways people can handle adversity. One thing to always remember is the story isn’t over, we get to create and continue writing our story in a way that can help us find new purpose and direction.

In closing  there is a fantastic, unique and very positive Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal entitled The Game that Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life that is definitely worth a watch.


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