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Kathy Marshack News

Eight Ways to Meditate Your Way to Peaceful Relaxation and Renewed Purpose

Monday, January 11, 2016


eight ways to meditate your way to peaceful relaxation and renewalIn a too-busy lifestyle, you can begin to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel going round and round and round and not getting anywhere. Over time this can damage you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. So it’s good to incorporate a meditation practice in your life that causes you to pause regularly and take stock of where you’re at in life and where you want to be.

Here are eight ways to add meditation to your life that will help you slow down and live more purposefully and intentionally.

1. Scan Your Body. Progressive muscle relaxation allows you to get in touch with parts of your body you might typically neglect. Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Starting with your toes, tense and then relax each muscle. One area at a time, move your focus to your calves, upper legs, pelvis, and slowly up to the top of your head. Feel the sensation of each individual body part along the way.

2. Walk a Labyrinth. Walking meditations can be a great way for fidgety people to meditate. You keep your body moving while you clear your mind. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends or decisions to make – you simply follow the loops and circles and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

3. Draw a Line. A zen board teaches you the art of living in the moment. Each brush stroke appears black against the white board but vanishes after a few minutes.


4. Try Biofeedback. It helps you train your mind to relax on cue. A trained practitioner hooks you up to a machine and monitors your brain-wave activity to help you learn what thoughts or actions make your brain reach total relaxation.

5. Breathe for Peace. Focusing on breath is one of the best forms of meditation. Learn simple breathing techniques to help clear your mind.

6. Light a Candle. Enjoy your meditation with a candle. Find candles made with plant waxes and essential oils to create a peaceful atmosphere and don’t pollute the air with synthetic chemicals.

7. Listen. For five minutes, close your eyes and listen to the small sounds around that you usually tune out. Allow any thoughts or emotions that arise to pass away so you can focus on the listening.

8. Make More of Your Workout.
Repetitive sports like swimming or biking are great ways to stay physically healthy AND provide convenient ways to meditate. Just focus you mind on your breathing, your movements, and the way your body feels.

We, as human beings, are very complex. If one thing gets out of balance, it throws everything else out of kilter. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: How to Relax If Meditation Is Not For You.

The New Year is Here! But Are You Suffering from Post-Holiday Let-Down?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


post holiday let downDuring the holidays, we’re distracted by the flurry of activities. The stores are inviting with their decorations and music. There are parties, concerts, plays, ball games, TV holiday specials on television, or the latest holiday movie release keeps us entertained. There’s also an understanding that you have a reprieve from work until January.

We’re swept along by a river of denial about what life is really like. We come to believe that the holiday spirit is healing and rejuvenating and that all of our problems will melt away. At the very least, we put our problems on hold because we’re just too busy to attend to them.

Then suddenly it’s January. And we’re flooded with anxious feelings and frozen with fear. We’re no better off. The same painful family problems exist. Love interests didn’t magically materialize. The holiday vacation leaves you feeling frazzled and in debt. Work still gets you down.

This is what I call the Post-Holiday Let-Down. And it’s one of the most difficult times of the year for most people, whether or not you actually have something to brood about. In January, you no longer have distractions to keep you from the reality of your life, love or work situation. Just two to three months of dark, cold, dreary days, with no significant holidays to break up the tedium.

Just as with eating well and getting exercise, in order to maintain your psychological health, a regular routine needs to be established. It’s not wrong to enjoy the holiday diversions. But recognize that they aren’t solutions. Be honest with yourself and do the hard work of revamping the lifestyle or personality that lead to your life/love/career dilemmas. Do something each day to resolve these problems and to build a new plan of action for the days after the holidays.

Some likely activities include reading and attending seminars on topics specific to your situation, meditation, increased levels of whole-person exercise such as yoga and tai chi, and joining a support group. In this way you’ll perhaps avoid or at least learn to cope with the Post-Holiday Let-Down.

If your depression is deeper and lasts longer than a Post-Holiday Let-Down, then please consider getting professional help right away. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It’s time you start enjoying life again.

What Do You Need to Leave Behind in Order to Pursue Your Passion?

Thursday, December 31, 2015


pursue your passionAre you passionate about the life you live? When you think of people who follow their passion who comes to your mind? Perhaps a great humanitarian like Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter or Mahatma Ghandi? Or maybe you think of those who sacrifice for their art?

A recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times discusses Lady Gaga and how, when she remembered her childhood dreams said, “I suppose that I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wanted to be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.”

Passion causes you to search out that which makes you feel complete. In the process, people may leave their former lives, homes, jobs, spouses, and families behind in their search for their true self. But is that necessary or even advantageous in order to lead a passionate life?

The article mentions a few underlying feelings that cause people to begin a search for their passion:

Trying to heal emotional and mental wounds
Needing to create something unique
Wanting to make a mark on the world
Fantasizing about the “perfect” life
Having an unquenchable thirst for new and novel experiences
Focusing on their inner nature and not feeling fulfilled
Feeling extreme loneliness

So when it comes to pursuing your passion your motives matter. When the focus is solely on self it doesn’t lead a person to feeling fulfilled and satisfied. To be happy, in addition to being passionate, you need to learn how to communicate your needs and wants while helping and giving to others. Achieving that balance is what makes our lives complete. “No man is an island” – we need to give love and be loved to feel whole.

You may love to sing but will never be a professional singer. You may love to help people but you’ll never be recognized as a humanitarian. You can still pursue your passion. Whatever your profession or role in life – you can become passionate about your life if you focus on learning how to do it to the very best of your ability, in your unique style. This will bring you the validation, praise, respect, honor and love you desire.

So instead of changing your external circumstances you may need to leave behind beliefs, feeling and thoughts that no long serve you. If you want to add more passion to your life or career and need help examining your motives and your options please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How to Stop Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder

Monday, December 21, 2015


how to stop suffering from seasonal affective disorder SAD
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to the shorter, darker days of late fall and winter. It saps your energy and making you feel moody. Treatment for SAD may include:


  • Light therapy (phototherapy)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Regular exercise
  • Vitamin D therapy

SAD makes you feel like hibernating, but you mustn’t give in to those feelings. Exercise is vital for managing depression. Evidence shows that regular workouts may help soothe a sad psyche as effectively as antidepressants.

Researchers at Duke University tested people with major depression and found that a moderate exercise program (30 minutes 3 times per week) reduced depression as much as medication. Although, medications produced results more quickly, after 16 weeks, the exercise effect caught up, according to the study. Exercise causes the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that reduces depression. In addition to this brain chemical boost, working out often enhances your body image and gives you a sense of accomplishment, mastery, and pride.

Being exercise conscious also gets you out of the house and exposes you to more sunlight. As mentioned earlier, light therapy is essential to treating SAD. Research is showing that many in the Pacific Northwest suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, which exacerbates the onset of depression, hypertension, infection, chronic pain, osteoporosis, dementia, diabetes, weight gain, and there’s a possible link with breast cancer. More sunlight means you’re body manufactures more Vitamin D.

If can’t seem to shake SAD on your own and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Don’t waste time waiting for it to go away by itself.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression.

Feeling Blue? Five Ways to Deal with Holiday Depression

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


holiday depressionWhile the holiday season is a happy time for most people because it’s exciting to get time off work and spend with family. For others the festivities become an unbearable stressor that creates greater depression in their lives.

Perhaps the loss of a loved one, financial pressure, divorce, or a job loss causes you to feel depressed. When you see everyone else is happy and joyful, you feel worse because you’re not like them. It makes the depression seem so much darker in comparison.

How can you cope with depression during the holidays?

1. Don’t overextend yourself physically, emotionally or financially. Know your limitations and say “No” when you must. It’s an act of love to create these boundaries.

2. Rest more. That could include sleeping, deep breathing, or other relaxation methodology. Dealing with depression is exhausting, so you need time to recharge your mind and your body. This gives you strength to keep going.

3. Confide in a trusted friend. It’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re depressed, but being around those who love you reminds you that there’s more to life. Their support is what you need to remind you that you’re not alone. It can also distract you from thinking only about yourself. You’ll find that the people around you are also dealing with difficulties. Recognizing that can give you some necessary perspective.

4. Don’t expect too much of yourself and others. The “miracle of the holiday” isn’t going to fix your problems like the movies portray. However, with forethought and planning, you may be able to initiate healing conversations since people may be more open to making peace. Cut yourself some slack. You’re only human. When you’re feeling down, find something that makes you feel good about yourself and do it.

5. Cultivate a grateful attitude. What are you grateful about you? Many have found that regularly keeping a gratitude journal really helps elevate their happiness.

I urge you, if your depression doesn’t improve, speak to your doctor or a therapist immediately. They can help by providing you with the right tools to get you back on your feet. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

For more information, visit Overcoming Depression.

Feeling like a Hypochondriac? Don't Give Up Until You Get an Accurate Diagnosis

Monday, December 07, 2015


Feeling like a hypochondriac - don't give up until you get an accurate diagnosisDo you or a loved one feel like something isn't quite right with your health, but doctors haven't been able to diagnose anything wrong with you? Perhaps you feel like a hypochondriac for persisting in your search for answers. It's important that you don't quit searching, even if no one believes you yet. And when you get a diagnosis, it's good to ask for a second or third opinion. Why?

A recent NYTimes article highlights the need to have a complete health screen when seeking help for psychological problems. The wife of Actor Robin Williams reveals that unbeknownst to them, Mr. Williams didn’t just suffer from depression. He had a relatively unknown disease called Lewy body dementia where abnormal protein deposits are spread throughout the brain disrupt its normal functioning.

This disease is frequently confused with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, with its long list of symptoms like depression, anxiety, chronic sleep problems, stiffness, movement problems, fluctuations in thinking ability and persistent hallucinations that mimic schizophrenia. It estimated that about 1.4 million in the U.S., especially men, suffer from Lewy body dementia. And it often takes multiple visits and more than a year to diagnose it accurately. It progresses much more rapidly than Alzheimer's does. So it needs an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

You are a whole person, not a head separated from your body. Diet, stress, environmental toxins, head injuries, and so much more, contribute to mental health issues. It's important that all of these factors be considered in your diagnosis and treatment. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very successful at getting to the root of stress related illnesses. If you haven’t found a medical explanation yet for the way you feel, and would like to schedule an appointment with me, please contact my Portland OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

5 Ways to Recharge Even If You Can’t Take a Long Vacation

Monday, October 12, 2015


5 ways to refresh yourself without taking a long vacationHasn’t summer flown by? Have you been able to make some down time to enjoy it? I was able to get out of the office for a couple of weeks and it made me feel recharged and invigorated to get going again.

Even if you can’t take weeks off or get out of town, what are some simple ways to reinvigorate yourself?

Disconnect from technology.
Even if you have to check in now and then, don’t start your morning by checking emails. That can ruin your day. And rather than spending time surfing the net, watching TV, or texting, it’s so much healthier for us physically and mentally to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine and enjoy the company of friends and family in person.

Disconnect from work.
You may not be going to the office today, but is your mind worrying about a business matter? We all need to take a complete break from our work routine so we can refresh ourselves.

Connect with what makes you feel good.
Have you fallen into a rut of routines and habits? Are they making you feel good about yourself and your life? Maybe you work at home and it’s tempting to spend all day in your PJ’s and just grab whatever food is handy. I guarantee you’ll feel and act more confidently if you honor yourself by eating a nourishing meal and wearing your best clothes.

Connect with people you admire and love.
How long has it been since you’ve had a really in depth conversation with a loved one? When we have these real conversations they refresh us and help us to grow.

Connect with what makes you joyful.
When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of doing what bring you joy, like singing, dancing, hiking, or a hobby? We all need to pay attention to what makes us feel vibrantly alive.

If you’re not living the life that you want, and you don’t know how to break out of whatever is holding you back, talking with a mental health professional may be exactly what you need. Just as we need yearly physicals to remaining optimally healthy, regular mental checkups are helpful too. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

Trauma Sufferers – Yoga and Therapy Can Help You Heal

Monday, July 06, 2015


yoga and therapy can help heal traumatic stressWhen a person experiences a traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack, a car wreck or sexual abuse, the body from head to toe shifts into the fight or flight mode. Hormones and chemicals race through your body as everything shifts into high gear and hyper-vigilance. Your entire body becomes involved to save your life.

Interestingly, brain scans are now showing what trauma does to the body so that we can tailor treatments that help the person holistically. A key finding is that the speech center shuts down during the traumatic event, which helps explain why many people can’t describe what happened.

Also the part of the brain responsible for experiencing the present moment—the medial prefrontal cortex—shuts down during stress. People who’ve experienced trauma therefore have difficulty processing that information.

Many are finding that a combination of yoga and therapy is helping trauma sufferers to heal.

According to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a clinical psychiatrist, founder of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts and a leader in the field of posttraumatic stress:

“Fundamentally, the effect of trauma is in relationship to one’s body. One’s body gives the signal that it’s not safe, and your body keeps fighting an existing enemy… The clinical research and treatment program showed that doing yoga was a more effective treatment for traumatized people...than any medication that had ever been studied. Opening up that relationship with your body, opening up your body to breathe, and to feel your body is very important.

It’s great to be able to put your feelings into words, and feeling that somebody understands your suffering is enormously comforting. But it doesn’t make your body know that you are safe. The real method is resetting your physiology.”

However Dr Bessel van der Kolk recommends yoga in conjunction with working with a person who has special trauma therapy training. “None of my patients have been able to tolerate a yoga program if they weren’t in therapy at the same time. Too much painful stuff comes up.” If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

For more information on my website: Therapy FAQ and Depression and Stress.

Two Ways to Become More Resilient

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


how to bounce back after a setback with resiliency and a can-do attitudeWhen negative life events arise, how do you handle them? Whether they’re severe job setbacks, health issues, or relationship problems, do you get stuck in negative self-pity or rise above the situation by resiliently moving forward? Why is it that some people seem to become stronger through adversity while others tend to develop psychological disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse or depression?

Psychology Today recently discussed a study led by Heather Rusch of the National Institute of Nursing Research at Bethesda, Maryland, which discloses two factors that characterize resilient people. Knowing what they are and how to acquire them will give you skills so you can be more resilient too. What are they?

Factor #1 Mastery

Feeling like you have control and influence over your circumstances promotes better physical and mental health, which in turn helps you become more resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.

When you daily spend time on things you do well, this reinforces your sense of mastery. It trains your brain in the “can-do attitude”. Psychotherapy also promotes greater mastery by helping people move through negative thoughts and memories rather than getting stuck in saying, “I can’t”.

Factor #2 Social Support

When you build strong, supportive social ties you’ll be less likely to develop psychological disorders and more likely to resiliently recover from traumas. Daily seek out positive friends, family, or coworkers who encourage you to openly talk about your feelings.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back or recover quickly from difficulties. If you’re in optimal mental and physical health, your resiliency will be stronger than if you’re in weakened or compromised health. Many people find that consulting with a trained therapist helps them to improve their capacity for resilience. If you feel this is the right option for you and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind & Body Health and Therapy FAQ.

10 Surprising Signs You May Need To See a Therapist

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


signs you may need therapy“I don’t need a therapist. I’m not crazy!” Have you ever hear someone say that? I’ve heard it many times. Often from people who are, for the most part, mentally sound and on the surface appear happy. But after conversing with them, I find that many of them want their lives to be better in one area or another. That’s a natural desire.

Did you realize that we turn to our friends and loved ones for therapy daily? Think about the last time you were really worried…didn’t you feel so much better after talking with a trusted friend? Or when you suffered a severe loss, like the death of a loved one. Didn’t their loving embraces, shared tears, and gentle words soothe you?

The difference between that kind of care and professional therapy is that psychologists and mental health professionals:

  • Can be more objective, since they see all sides of the story.
  • Have the freedom to tell you the truth, since they’re not worried about hurting your feelings.
  • Have greater experience, since they deal with issues like yours every day.
  • Have more insight, since they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Have professional training to help you make permanent change.

If there is a difference between what you would like your life to be and how your life actually is, then why not fix it so you can enjoy happiness and contentment right now?

But, you might say, “I’m not that bad off.” On the contrary, your body may be telling you that’s not strictly true. Whenever we sense a lack in our lives, we’re likely to react with the following responses:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Constant fatigue
  • A drastic change in eating habits
  • Persistent guilt feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Recurring, irrational sense of panic
  • Persistent, overwhelming feeling of doom
  • Constant headaches, rashes, or backaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Excessive drinking or drug abuse

Do they sound familiar? Would your close family members or friends recognize any of these symptoms in you? Why not ask them? You might be surprised at their observations. Life is too precious to waste time on feeling less than your best.

When your emotional problems occupy your thoughts several hours a day, you should consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional will help you explore and assess your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Is it time to make some changes?

Learn more on my website: When to Seek Help and Therapy FAQs.



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