Meet Nicole Chumsky, your Mindfulness Hike Leader



Mindfulness Hike-3This week I registered to take part in Nicole’s Mindfulness Hike Retreat in July. As an associate at Explore What’s Next, Nicole has deepened her knowledge and clinical practice in mindfulness-based psychotherapy, meditation, and is working on her trauma-informed yoga teacher certification. She came up with this creative concept of taking the classroom outdoors and into the woods. Join me in a chat with Nicole to learn more about her Mindfulness Hike Retreats. ~Dr. Aletta

Dr. A.: How did you come up with this great idea?

Nicole: Honestly, I just want everyone to experience the joy and contentment you can cultivate once you learn how to be mindful! To boot, nature has such a positive impact on my mindfulness and my life. I love to go backpacking because it’s my time to unplug from the busy-ness of life. I get to just be in the moment, clear my head, notice and appreciate everything around me.

Mindfulness is a simple concept but it can be difficult to get started. It might take a while to feel its effects. Knowing this has been a barrier for some people I work with, I thought it would be beneficial to be fully immersed in the practice for longer than one 50 minute session. As I began my research on the effects of nature on mental health, I found evidence that it takes at least 3 hours in nature to start to feel the positive impact it has on anxiety and depression. So I thought, “What better place is there than nature to practice mindfulness for a few hours!” And I was off to the races, building this hike retreat. I have hosted this event for two summers now and participants’ testimonials attest to the positive impact this retreat has on their anxiety and self-awareness.

Dr. A.: I’m really looking forward to Mindfulness Retreat. Tell me more.

Nicole: Taking a half day to put the phone down, stop pouring over to-do lists and getting back in touch with your mind, body and life is what it’s about. This retreat guides us through a series of exercises that will get us more aware of and focused on the present moment. This hike helps retrain our brain to pay attention to things that would otherwise go unnoticed, opening us up to deeper feelings of appreciation, joy and contentment.

Dr. A.: What can participants expect that morning?

Nicole: This is a small group event so you can expect no more than 8-10 people on the trail. You will engage in a variety of activities ranging from learning mindfulness concepts, testing out exercises to build your awareness, mindful eating, meditation, journaling and yoga. The foundations of all of these activities are covered so no experience is required!

Dr. A.: How is this different from other retreats?

Nicole: This retreat provides an extra opportunity to build self-awareness with the journaling activities and teaches you mindfulness basics in nature rather than a classroom. It includes not just meditation all day, it includes lots of other forms of mindfulness activities. The best part is, it’s local to Buffalo area residents! Most times you have to travel to a meditation or yoga retreat and this one is practically in your backyard.

Dr. A.: Who would benefit from attending this event?

Nicole: Everyone! Mindfulness is a way of living that everyone can take advantage of. Advantages like improved memory, reduction of work burnout, reduced stress, improves sleep, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, improves concentration and increases your energy, just to name a few.

This hike is great for anyone who wants to start a practice, learn about mindfulness, get to know themselves a bit better or just looking for a day to relax! The exercises not only help you while hiking but they translate over to everyday life. They help you to slow down, make more grounded decisions, include rest in your schedule and be more content with what you have on your plate at any given moment.

Dr. A.: How do people register?

Nicole: Visit our events page or contact me directly! I would love to talk to you about how you can get involved and answer any questions you may have.

REGISTER NOW!

The Power of Checking In … With Yourself



CatMost of us say, “hey, how are you?” to at least one person each day. When was the last time you asked yourself that question? How do joy, sadness or frustration feel for you? If you don’t know, then it’s time to find out.

Learning to check in with your emotions can pay off in a number of ways:

1. Naming an emotion takes away its power. In The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves author Stephen Grosz suggests that unnamed emotions drive actions that create unnecessary chaos and pain. So much heartache could be prevented if we stopped to identify our emotions before acting rashly. Grosz compares these strong, unacknowledged emotions to the proverbial tail that wags the dog.

2. Checking in with yourself is an important first step to creating change. If you don’t know how you’re feeling it’s nearly impossible to respond thoughtfully to a difficult situation. Imagine you are lost in the woods. How are you going to find your way home if you don’t even know where you are?  Once you know your current emotional location you will be ready to start the journey back.

3. Knowing that moods change makes it easier to tolerate the bad and savor the good. If you don’t pay attention to your feelings, you are likely to miss a positive emotion, especially if it’s fleeting. Positive emotions are like a cat basking in a pool of sunshine: beautiful, temporary, but thankfully still very real. Fortunately, no bad mood lasts forever. While it may sound counterintuitive, it can also be helpful to to stay with a bad mood, especially if you are still learning to name your emotions. It’s an uncomfortable, but important practice, especially for people who tend to avoid negative feelings.

4. You’ll be practicing mindfulness. If you check in with your emotional state in the here and now you’re also staying in the present. According to mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn, “the only moment we’re ever alive in is now.” Learning to name the emotion you feel right now helps break the cycles of reliving the past or worrying about the future which prevent us from being fully aware of our lives in the present.

5. You will be kinder. Broadening your inner emotional vocabulary will allow you to be more empathic. It’s pretty hard to see things from the perspective of another if you don’t know what emotions actually feel like. Once you know how you’re feeling you may also be nicer to yourself. You will be able to respond to your own needs with greater kindness and understanding.

Learning to take your own emotional temperature can pay off in many ways. This useful skill can help you make better decisions, respond thoughtfully in tough situations, and it may even make you a better friend.

Photo credit: Tim Oller

Happy Holidays From All of Us at Explore What’s Next!



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“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”



6a3740ed036581a2919d7d447841185fWaking up a little draggy this morning I turned to RuPaul. She perked me right up, so of course I had to share!

Five more Inspirational Quotes from Momma Ru:

      • “True wealth is having the knowledge to maneuver and navigate the mental obstacles that inhibit your ability to soar.”
      • “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.”
      • “Rise up and be a Masai warrior. Stake your claim in this lifetime. Remember who you really are. Unleash the dragon and let these bitches have it!”
      • “…You are none of the superficial things that this world deems important. The real you is the energy force that created the entire universe!”
      • “Biggest obstacle I ever faced was my own limited perception of myself.”

And one of the best positive calls to find a good therapist I’ve ever heard:

“Learn to love yourself, ’cause if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Did I miss your favorite RuPaul-ism? You must share, too! Click on the Comments button above the post to pass on the wisdom. <3

You’re Invited to a Mindful Walk In The Woods



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Nature tells us, “It’s going to be OK.”

Do you feel you could use some unplugged time from your busy life? Would you like to enjoy the calming connection nature provides? I’ve got just the thing for you! You are invited to a mindfulness hike in the woods this summer!

“When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.” –Florence Williams, This Is Your Brain On Nature

The idea for the Mindfulness Hike Retreat grew out of an experience I had a few years ago. At that time I was still suffering with the pain of being forced to change my job. In my first job after earning my degree, I loved going to work everyday. I finally felt like I had arrived. This was the job I worked so hard for the last few years. To top it off I was in a clinic where my colleagues felt like family. It lasted a year, a year that I am still grateful for.

Then one day my supervisor told me I was being transferred. The news came out of the blue. My heart sank and my eyes started to smart with tears. Immediately I felt a heavy sense of loss, betrayal and lack of control. I was devastated.

During the transition I struggled going to and being at work. I was so angry! My thoughts were constantly racing – “Should I look for a different job?” “This is not fair!” “This is going to be a disaster” “You are going to hate your new job.” Not very helpful, right?!

Read More...

The Good Life Is Built With Good Relationships



Happy Holidays!



 

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Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season

and a New Year filled with

Peace, Love and Happiness!

Happy Thanksgiving!



 

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Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And if you are cooking, baking or grilling today, try not to stress!

Remember this quote that is attributed to everyone

from Escoffier to Julia Child.

And as we gather our loved ones together,

remember those who are far away 

and those who have passed on.

May we be filled with peace, love and gratitude. 

Two New Therapists Join EWN!



Looking for a good therapist? You do not need to look beyond the therapists at Explore What’s Next!

Nicole N. Brown, LCSW and Michelle N. Woogen, M.A., MHC-P are two of the latest awesome associates to join us. It makes me so proud and happy to introduce them to you.

Nicole N. Brown, LCSW

Nicole N. Brown, LCSW

Nicole is a veteran New Yorker who, lucky for us, came to our area about a year ago, moving here with her husband and kids. Nicole’s  goal is to create a safe, warm, and respectful space where you can work together to uncover what’s troubling you and relieve your distress. She works with people from young adulthood to the elderly, with depression or anxiety. She also enjoys working with people from the LGBT community and anyone going through a tough life transition.

917.674.6742 / nicole.brown@explorewhatsnext.com.

 

Michelle G. Woogen, M.A., MHC-P

Michelle G. Woogen, M.A., MHC-P

Michelle comes to us from Virginia, through Boston. She is working toward her Psy.D. in clinical psychology. Fortunately for us, while Michelle takes the final steps in becoming a licensed psychologist, she is able to practice as a mental health counselor with permit (MHC-P). Michelle is a dedicated clinician who has deep experience in helping people struggling with serious mental illness, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as anxiety and depression. Michelle works with couples and adult individuals.

716.249.4432, or e-mail me, michelle@explorewhatsnext.com,

Nicole and Michelle are both intelligent, dedicated professionals who take their work seriously without taking themselves too seriously. They are well-grounded in high quality education, experience and training in psychodynamic psychotherapy as well as CBT and DBT. Their love for their work and the empathy they feel for their clients is absolutely authentic.

Like all the therapists at Explore What’s Next, Michelle and Nicole offer an initial consultation free of charge. So if you are looking for a good therapist call today!

Explore What’s Next Officially Has Two Sites!




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Just got the keys!

This is a dream come true! The new offices at 1231 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo look gorgeous and our always beautiful offices at 1416 Sweet Home Road in Amherst, New York are also getting a little love. It is a mission of mine to provide an environment where all, client and professional, feel safe, comfortable and nurtured. It makes me proud to say we do that now in Amherst and we are well on our way in Buffalo. Still waiting for furniture to arrive, then we can say “Mission accomplished!” :)

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