Coping Through COVID – Interview Series 06 (Awareness in the Moment)

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Coping Through COVID – Interview Series 06 (Awareness in the Moment)

OK… Things are without a doubt crazy right now and it might be more than difficult to try to mindfully ride this wave of change with a clear head. With so many opinions and even all of the uncertainty after the smoke clears and dust settles those anxious emotions still find a way to creep in.

In this weeks segment of “Coping Through COVID” Jenny & Jai chat with Danielle Shields, a mental health therapist discussing the many layers of truths, uncovering that there’s no one

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How to get in touch with Danielle Shields:
IG: @livingtheexhale

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Ready to take back control of your healthy living?

Jenny  So welcome to another episode of The Holistic Life Podcast. This is the coping through COVID series. I’m Jenny.


Jai  I’m Jai.


Jenny  And we are so excited. You’re here, we do have a special guest today. As you know, we’ve been covering different aspects of life. And today we have Danielle Shields. She’s a licensed mental health counselor and specializes in trans personal individual therapy, couples counseling and life coaching. As a conscious therapist, she helps clients heal their relationships with themselves with others in one’s life. And she’s my personal mental health coach. So welcome, Danielle.


Danielle  Hi. So good to be here, I’m really excited to share some of the themes and some of the practices that I’ve been doing to cope through these changes, and just have a conscious discussion to see how we can, you know, all come together at this time without feeling isolated.


Jenny  Yeah, I love that. So one thing that I really liked when I was introduced to you is that you focus on that conscious conversation and you focus on the mindfulness aspect of mental health, do you mind to explain that a little bit more, and maybe even what some of the differences are between life coaching and therapy, and so people can really understand if they’re not really familiar with this?


Danielle  Absolutely. So typically, in mental health counseling, there is always an element of coaching. And coaching is driven towards accomplishing goals towards meeting your needs in the present moment, and also working towards them in the future. And then typically, therapy is focused on healing past wounds, and then using empirical research or a standardized way of approaching it, whether it’s DBT, or CBT, or acceptance and Commitment Therapy, basically using these research based theories, and then applying them to a client. And what I try to do, as a conscious therapist, is walk my walk first. So when I say I’m a conscious therapist, I don’t expect the client to live something that I haven’t practiced, and hopefully, continually master. And that means being so centered, and so self aware that if there is a need for mental health counseling, then I will meet them where they’re at. And if they just need my full presence, then maybe that’s all they need. Maybe they don’t need an approach or a theory or a diagnosis. And that’s really been my philosophy for a long time because I think that each person is so each soul is so unique, that there’s really no one size fits all. And that’s why the human connection is really what is healing.


Jai  I love that you said like, you walk your walk, because I feel in the past, I think people as a whole are starting to make a shift where you want it to look for that professional, their professional who, quote unquote, had all their stuff together. And it’s like, nobody’s perfect. My background is fitness. And you tell people that they’re like, oh, let me hide this pizza pizza, or let me hide the cake. And it’s like, dude, I struggled with the same thing. Same way you do, like, my thing is, I just have more knowledge on what triggers me and I can stop or whatever. But I faced those same challenges. It’s not that I’m better or I’m on a pedestal. It’s like, I’ve practiced and worked on those tools, you know, when these things come up, is to say, okay, what’s really going on here, or make that switch back. So I love that, because that’s how I approach what I do to it. I’m not above you, like we learn from each other. It’s not just losing weight or eating better. It’s diving in and seeing what those triggers are. And sometimes, the best workout sessions I had were with people where we just sat and talked, and it’s just the healing the transformation that comes through, meeting that person where they’re at, and finding out what 100% is for that day. Because it varies.


Danielle  Totally, I love that. And just when you say like meeting someone where they’re at, sometimes your presence is what’s needed, and nothing more. And as a practitioner, I pride myself on being as vulnerable as possible. So I lead with the fact that I had a breakdown when I was 21. And I lead with the fact that last week I was triggered with anger and like erupted in me and I observed this and I befriended it. And it was like 11 o’clock on a random Tuesday night that another layer of my healing was challenged to be faced. And I tried to expose that because I think it’s so important that clients, individuals collectively know that there’s nothing wrong with having healing to do. In fact, I think that that’s a great indicator, you’re on an awakening journey, because those things are getting exposed and you’re being forced to really examine and heal them. Sometimes we initiate it and sometimes I think the universe does it for us.


Jenny  Do you feel that with everybody being at home a lot more right now and being in this stay at home quarantine type of environment that more of that healing is coming up


Danielle  Totally, I think, as a collective we are experiencing, and I’m going to just use these as my terminology, the Great Awakening, in that never in my knowledge of history has all of humanity been forced to slow down and go inward and stay at home. I mean, obviously, health care workers and essential workers are still performing their duties. But the vast majority of 7 billion people on this earth have been forced into words. And when we’re forced inwards, when we’re forced to slow down, that’s I feel the universe saying, kind of hold up, like, let’s re-examine, and let’s recalibrate. And instead of living out of our minds, we are being forced to check or examine some things that many of us have been not wanting or unconsciously running from.


Jai  That’s an interesting point, because I was thinking, Jen just left her job a couple of months ago. And I said, I’m glad you left when you did. Because if you were kind of forced to stay home, now, there might have been a little bit more friction in the household. And that’s one of the things couples have to deal with now, because you’ve had that peace while your spouse goes to work, or you had that you time, or you’ve found a way to get your needs away from the other person. But now you’re forced to sit and look at and deal with the person you air quotes here, quote, unquote, love, you’re forced to see them as they are. And I feel a lot of people haven’t really done that. So it’s like, yeah, it’s a great awakening. And it’s like, Okay, I have to deal with this situation. Luckily, for us, we’re big on communication. And sometimes it doesn’t go the best way, but it’s like, Okay, what is really going on here, like, Where’s the frustration, if you’re frustrated, that’s fine, go to another room. And we can come back and revisit this. But like the people who don’t know how to deal with that, it’s a lot for this current situation.


Danielle  Totally. When I say the Great Awakening, I think it’s important to put some context in many people’s individual awakenings including what many referred to as the dark night of the soul, right. And so a great awakening does not mean like we’re skipping around and everything is butterflies and rainbows like a great awakening can be very destabilizing. And it can be, you know, a cause of friction. And it can be a cause of discomfort, because much of growth, or the birthing process of something new involves some level of pain. And so whether that’s introspectively, looking inward at wounds that you haven’t attended to from childhood, or whether that’s really having a spotlight on your relationship issues that you’ve tried to distract yourself with and focus all on work to avoid, or whether that’s reexamining I’ve had many clients just do a complete overhaul of their parenting styles, because now that their kids are home with them. And they’re not at school all day, they’re really being challenged with Have I been a conscious parent? Or have I just been unconsciously replaying everything I downloaded from my parents? And is this even effective?


Jenny  What are some of the things so for these situations where people are finding themselves with their family a lot more, as Jai was talking about? Or like you said, making that shift into a more conscious being? What are some tips or things that people can do to begin to make that shift and be aware of it?


Danielle  Yeah, so I think that the key more than anything is, yeah, we’re all forced to go inward. But I think slowing down is the really big catalyst to awareness and awareness can be developed. With just pausing, taking a few deep breaths, that also is a really good practice, because patience is so needed when we’re around friction or around our family members that maybe we haven’t had the healthiest relationships with. Or maybe our healthy relationship isn’t with others, it’s with ourselves that we can work on. So I would say breathwork, slowing down, pausing, just giving yourself as much chance as possible to in the moment have the freedom to choose how you want to respond, rather than just impulsively reacting out of the autopilot. Because each time you slow down, you pause your center yourself. I mean, even right now I’m slowing down and how I’m speaking, I can change my tone, I can change my pace, I can be more deliberate with my words. And there’s so much freedom in having awareness in the moment. We can’t buy it though we can’t get it from the store. You can’t download it from someone else. It really has to be cultivated within just like you’re lifting a weight, building a muscle with practices, we can build those internal muscles and that spaciousness of awareness to change and choose how we want to respond moment to moment.


Jenny  You know, I want to touch on the slowing down thing just for one second, because I have lived my whole life at a very fast pace. And I’ve been working on slowing down over the past handful of years. And so it’s interesting because a lot of our listeners are those type driven, fast paced type of people. So when you very first heard someone say slow down, I mean, at least for me, it was like, What the heck does that even mean? So can you maybe break that down a little bit more. So I don’t know, maybe with some examples, or whatever would work for someone who’s literally coming from a super fast paced life to know something totally different. And they’re like, slow down, get out of here.


Danielle  Totally. The first thing I’m just going to say is that it’s completely normal for it to be uncomfortable. Even myself as a meditator. For the last 10 years, I found myself yesterday. And this is a real example. I found myself yesterday meeting with clients back to back to back. And then when I had no more clients for a two hour period, I thought, Okay, what can I do to fill this time? And I caught it. And I was aware, and I was like, do I need to do another project doing need to do the laundry? Or go to emails? Or Could I just sit on this couch and just be and my God, even those I’ve practiced meditation for so long, there was some discomfort that arose, like a level of like, disease of just like, how do I just be, right? So I sat and I challenged myself to sit through that discomfort. And I watched my mind literally reach for the remote to turn on Netflix. And I was like, No, put it back down and was like, you can just sit and just be you don’t need to be entertained or be doing things all day long. And so that is what in therapy we call, or frequently, like the holistic psychologist is an amazing practitioner who I use a lot of resources from, because she used this terminology that old age therapy doesn’t typically refer to such as re parenting oneself. So if you can slow down in that moment, you’ve just re-parented your autopilot, you’ve just created a little bit of neuropsychology, perspective pruning, which means you cut the synapse or you cut the neural pathway. And you created a new one where you said, pause, this is okay. It’s okay to just sit and just be.


Jenny  Yeah, the thing that’s been interesting about this is, there’s a part of me that has really been enjoying this quarantine. I mean, yes, I still want to go out and talk to people and play sports and go to restaurants and stuff. But I was just in a conversation with my brother this morning. And he’s like, how’s it going? You know, I’m pretty bored. And I was like, I’m actually liking it. There’s a part of me that’s really, really liking this. And even my dad was like, Hey, you might turn into an introvert by the end of all this. Well, maybe not. But still to appreciate some of those qualities. It’s different, but I’m enjoying it. I think all that slowing down has paid off, for sure.


Danielle  Well, I think the key is that we can enjoy whatever the present moment is serving up. So there’s nothing to discredit and say a fast paced lifestyle is not good, or you’re not Zen or you’re not conscious. If you’re going at a fast pace, right. There is no judgment towards that at all. I think it’s just that we have this spiritual or awareness muscle that if we wanted to slow down if we wanted to just pause our mind even for like a traveling nurse, I have some friends that are considering going up to New York to help with the aid. Can a nurse come home from like a 12 or 16 hour shift and in her hotel room, quiet her mind? go inward and slow down her thoughts and slow down her whole body’s processes? And is that comfortable? Or does that invoke a lot of tension? And if you can find that balance, and everyone has their own version of that balance, then I feel like we’re so much more prepared to ride whatever waves of change or next for us.


Jenny  Yeah, so right now, there’s so much news, social media talk, I mean Coronavirus is in the forefront of our minds, even if you try to not look at it, it’s there. So what would you recommend from, you know, an emotional health standpoint with, you know, like people like me and Jai, we don’t really watch the news, right? And so now it’s like, we are so curious about what’s going on. But at the same time, we can feel the negativity and feel the shifts in that. So what would you recommend right now? Because it is so in our face, this is our life.


Danielle  So I will just preface this that there’s no right answer for any one person. I have personally advised all of my clients to limit their news intake to 20 minutes a day max. I came up with the 20 minute number 2, because the evening news is about 30 minutes, and I want it to be less than that. So if you’re going to check in with it one time a day, or you’re doing like a five minute dose in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon, but what I’m seeing is there are some people that are easily consumed, you are ingesting that frequency, you are ingesting that fear and clients may not necessarily realize it at the moment, but then when I talk to them a few hours later, they cite something that they saw on the news. Four hours later, they’re still playing and they’re surprised by mine. And so if it’s informative, and you’re feeling free emotionally when watching it, by all means you can continue and you don’t have to have restrictions. I will say from a personal standpoint, though, I have not watched the news, except for one time. And that one time, I was at my parents house visiting them and they had Fox News on. So I truly don’t need to check in. I trust that if there’s a big message that it will be brought to me. Somebody asked me for it. Right?


Jenny  Right, which is the norm, right. Like, that’s how you normally live your life that if there’s something big, you’ll hear about it.


Danielle  Yeah. And I think it’s important to take control of some things that we do have control over, we do have control over how much we ingest that we do have control over how much we live out of the fear, or how much we live fearlessly, and yet take precautions.


Jai  And I was just thinking, just like you say, can you watch something and not be? You didn’t say this, but I’m gonna go with emotionally attached, you know, when those emotions arise. And Jen was reading some comments yesterday. With this other project she’s working on, a majority of the comments were negative, and she just kept on reading. And I wanted to stop. I don’t want to hear anymore. I don’t care to hear them. Because the negative frequency, or the vibration that I felt, I was like, I don’t want that. So it’s like, you can read them and be perfectly fine. I don’t need to hear.


Danielle  Yeah, no, I think that that’s amazing that you have that decision, and the freedom to choose to like just cut yourself off from that. Because when you go on Facebook, you go on Tik Tok or Instagram, there’s algorithms that start populating and showing up different content based on what you pay attention to. And that’s a really good analogy for how the law of attraction works and how the universe works. When I go on Tik Tok now, I do not see anything in my feed negative I swear to you, all I see is things that make me cry like a Garfield parking lot outside of Atlanta hospital with cars, like blinking their hazard lights and praying like with our hands up in the air, and all the nurses and the staff come out. And I’m just moved to tears because of how much the community comes together to show appreciation or like a grandmother in Iowa sewing a mask. And so I think that really we have control over whether we let the world dictate our inner frequency? Or do we set that channel? Do we set that frequency and then what we experienced is only that mirrored back to us?


Jenny  It’s like, we have so many conversations, because even earlier I was having a text chat with somebody who you know, is looking for answers. Because right now it’s like, when is this gonna end? What’s going on? What will my life be like? So when you start going down those rabbit holes, I know you’ve brought me out of a couple of them. So can you speak a little bit when you start really getting caught up in the future? And getting concerned about that?


Danielle Absolutely. One thing that I think is really radical, and I’ve shared with many of my clients this week is that you might think now is a time of uncertainty. But there’s no more uncertainty now than there was two months ago, or maybe even six months ago, we just as a collective all bought into an idea of normalcy. And that normalcy has changed. And so now everyone is saying, oh, everything is uncertain. But really, we have never had as an individual or collective more control over what’s going to happen three hours from now, or what happened, you know, a year ago, and when we thought we had control. So I would say lean into that uncertainty. And that is the start of living without control. And that really means you don’t need to get to the future. You don’t need to plan out what’s going to happen in a month from now. You’ll figure it out when you get there. But right now you can decide what I want to put my attention to. And if you keep getting really good at a living out of the present moment, when you get to the future moment, if a decision or an action needs to be made, you’ll be able to really from a centered, grounded place, make that choice make that decision, you don’t need to prepare in advance.


Jai  There’s a saying I don’t know where I heard it already, or whatever. But something that just sticks with me. And it’s like, the moment you gain full control is when you realize you have no control over anything at all. Like that’s when you really start to control everything that goes on because you know, whatever you do, you have no control. The only thing you can control is how you react and how you choose to deal with the situation.


Danielle  And I think that is something that is maybe reassuring for people who are struggling with uncertainty. Like you said, the universe is handing it up to us. But it’s not just one person at singling out like the universe is saying we want you to all go through this thing together. And so we’re more I feel like united than we ever have been even though we’re in isolation air quotes. We’re actually coming online to a connection and a unity that we’re all in this thing together against this one enemy that might be actually serving us in some pretty profound ways. If we trust and swim with the current rather than against it.


Jai  I truly believe we’re on the cusp of some super positive innovative things that are going to happen within the next 3,6,9,12, 18 months, because people are forced to think out of the box. Things that used to be normal things that used to work, things that used to service no longer service companies even saying, we still need to run our business, but people can’t be here in the office to run the business. So having more people work remotely in this situation has no matter how you want to look at it, there’s going to be so many positives that come from it, so many more opportunities, so many ways to find solutions for things that happen like this in the future.


Danielle  And totally, and I think that the solutions that we’re really looking for, are not in revisiting what’s worked in the past, but like you said, really expanding and going outside of the box. And allowing in some of that inspiration, which I feel like is I mean, from the Latin word inspiration is in spirits. So the more we are quiet, we can hear that in our guidance, those inspirational ideas, those creative ways of solving the problems that we’re all going to be challenged with. But with that, like you said, there’s so much opportunity, I think I read an article that in 2008, like seven companies that we all now use on a daily basis, like Uber and things like that were all founded in 2008, during the last recession, right. So I’m really excited to see the people who maybe felt like they didn’t have a chance, because there was a barrier to entry of buying a property or starting a business. Or maybe they were staying in a job that they weren’t really happy with, because it’s comfortable, and are now being like, propelled into that new direction.


Jenny  I’m going to switch it a little bit. And I want to talk a little bit about expectations. Because I think that right now, expectations are in our face, because you expect your world to look a certain way or be a certain way. And like you said, a lot of that’s been completely shifted and changed. And so just talk a little bit about expectations and how it comes up and how it relates to emotional health, especially right now.


Danielle  Yeah, I think that’s so important. I’m glad you asked that. So I mean, really, for me expectations are rooted in past conditioning, a person totally in the present moment and totally in the flow with life doesn’t need to hold on to an expectation, because still an expectation is a form of control that we’re trying to project in the future based on what we think we need from the past. So there’s such a freedom if we’re willing to live without expectation. So how does somebody give up an expectation? Boy, that’s sometimes really challenging, because we like our sense of control. We like our sense of having a plan. We like our sense of normalcy, which is all I think we could wrap up with our comfort zone. So when we surrender and when I say surrender, it’s really like stepping into I am willing to let go, I’m willing to let go of my idea of what I thought my day should be like, or I’m willing to let go of what I thought my career needs to be or how much money I needed to have. And I think you’re right, those expectations are really being jolted to be examined. Some people are going through the loss of jobs or a change in finances. And I’m already noticing with my life, I don’t need as much as I thought I did. You know, I really don’t like buying a big package of kiwis from Costco. And if I was like, if I eat kiwis every day for the next seven days, that’s okay. I don’t need a whole array of like, every kind of fruit you know, there is and I think that that awareness never would have come had I not let go the expectations because I was used to my strawberries and blueberries. And I’m like, oh, maybe I don’t need to run out to Publix every day just to get what I think I need.


Jenny: That’s a good point for sure. We were listening to a radio show and they were joking with him. He was making deviled eggs. And they were like, dude, you went to the Publix like five times today, essentially the only and he’s like, Yeah, but he needed that paprika for my husband can’t have deviled eggs without paprika. And they’re like, dude, we are in a pandemic, like, get the heck out of this?


Danielle  Well, I think that’s such a small little message, but it has a huge impact. Because if we’re living a simpler life, meaning we don’t need as much we’re slowing down, we’re going more inward, we’re flowing more with nature, we’re living less out of the mind. We’re living more out of the heart. We’re letting go of some of the control. We’re letting go of the expectations that our life should look a certain way. Then like what are we really stepping into what space is being created? And do we even need to know where it’s leading us? Or can we just trust that it’s making space for something new to emerge, and we don’t need to control how it unfolds.


Jenny  Okay, so I got another one. I’m getting all these, like great ideas popped into my head. So boredom, let’s talk about boredom. Because I feel like there’s a lot of people experiencing boredom. I have my own thoughts on boredom. But I’m really curious from your perspective as it relates to mental health. How do you feel about boredom? And then how can people cope or shift? I don’t know the right word, but how can people get out of that boredom and get more into, like you said, the present moment and themselves?


Danielle  Well, I think that boredom is something that we all are challenged with overcoming because we’ve really been raised in a society and a culture. And that means not just our parents fault, but like, the whole world around us, has conditioned us not to value stillness.


Jai  Right! Go, go, go, go, go,


Danielle  go, go, go, go go from the time we wake up to the time you go to bed, when we come home from school, we go do a new activity, we do our homework, and we do this, you know. And when we have years of conditioning that has never really reinforced or valued stillness, then we’ve also had a whole culture that has valued entertaining us, which means we don’t know how to typically entertain ourselves or be with ourselves and be with our emotional body without turning on a movie without going outside without doing a hobby without


Jenny  Scrolling on social media


Danielle  Totally. So that boredom really is a judgement that the present moment in and of itself is not enough. It’s missing something. And I would say that’s just because we’ve been so cluttered and disillusioned with all the business that we forgot that really like all of the answers that we’re looking for, all of that sense of security, are found in the present moment and are found in the stillness. We’ve just been trained not to look there.


Jenny  So definitely, we’ve talked about a lot of things. We’ve covered a lot of topics today, I think there’s a lot of great gems that people can take away. Is there anything else that you feel like you want to leave our listeners with our tribe with before we wrap up?


Danielle  Yeah, so I would just encourage everyone to like, close their eyes just for a minute. And just, you know, take a deep breath in and just feel your breath, take care of you on the breath in and on the exhale out. And just feel and notice that you can trust this intelligence in the body, that is also the intelligence in the life around us that it’s going to do its part in taking care of us. And that even though we feel with each breath in, that is just me breathing, that same breath that you’re taking in, and that same breath that you’re sending out is connected to every other soul on this earth. So I’m just going to remind you to slow down, go inward, use your breath and feel that connection, even if you are not physically with the people that you are used to.


Jenny  That felt really good. Awesome. Yeah, that was really good. Man. Danielle, I am so grateful you spent the time with us today. I already know that I feel more at peace and more calm and ready to take on the day and the days to come. Man, what a powerhouse. So how can people connect with you? Are you taking clients? Are you working with people virtually?


Danielle  Currently, I’m almost maxed out on clients. So I’m taking them as a case by case basis depending on how much work I currently have. But I’m creating a lot more content for clients on my website, or on my Instagram @livingtheexhale and just trying to share as many practices or tools or just my own human experience so that we can normalize that we really are all in this together. And that means we’ll all rise through it together.


Jenny  We’ll have all that in the show notes. And you guys can follow Danielle and connect with her and get inspired by everything she’s sharing. Thanks for coming on the show, Danielle.


Jai  Sometimes I forget we’re recording the show. I just kind of get lost in the conversation. Sometimes


Jenny  he’s like, wait, we’re on a show.


Danielle  That means it’s a really good conversation, right?


Jai I totally agree.


Danielle It’s like flowing with you know, our presence and allowing it to dynamically just unfold so thank you guys so much for hosting me and then also having this platform for people to have conscious connections and learn from each other because that is more needed now than ever.


Jenny  Yeah, getting chills in a good way. Alright guys, so next episode, mahalo.

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