Cathy Hi, Nichole.
Nichole Hey, Cathy. It’s good to see you.
Cathy Welcome to Financial Finesse. It’s great to see you too.
Vanessa Yeah, I’m so happy to be here.
Cathy Yeah, it’s been a couple of months in the planning, but I’m glad we connected. So, Nichole and I met by serendipity. She was looking for professionals, right? Financial advisors that work with women to support her clients if they needed it. Is that right?
Nichole Yeah, exactly. I was looking to build up my own referral list of women who are working in really powerful ways to support my clients. And I work with women who are working on, you know, learning to live in powerful ways. So, I met you, I found you on the internet, and I really loved your website. And I was like, I want to talk to that lady. So here we are.
Cathy The power of a good website. And good SEO.
Cathy You Googled and found me, and so I’m very, very grateful for that. So, to get into today a little bit. I want to bring up your website tagline because that is, some of the things you do are so interesting and so important to living a more fulfilling life. And your tagline is: Present. Embodied. Empowered. Because your life is worth showing up for. And I’m sure you took a lot of time to pick those exact words.
Nichole Yeah, well, I labored over them many sleepless nights, actually.
Cathy I’m sure. I know that it’s, just to come up with the right words, to really let people know what you’re about is not an easy task.
[04:57] What it means to be present.
Cathy And one of the words that really resonates with me, and I want to talk about, is present. Being present. That present word, and which I’ve had so many people tell me live in, why don’t you live in the moment, be present. And personally, I find it really hard to do that. I find myself looking towards the past or worrying about the future. It usually involves worrying too.
Cathy That’s the problem. Because I think there can be positive spins on revisiting your past in the future. But a lot of it can be worrying, which is not good. And I want to ask you, what do you, what is it to you to be present? And do you think it’s hard to reach that state?
Nichole Yeah. That’s such a good question, Cathy. And I have a few answers. So, is it hard to be present? Yes. And no. So like, right now, for example. Can you just feel your feet touching the ground? And can you feel the feeling of your feet touching the ground, or the floor? Probably, unless you’re sitting outside.
Nichole And so right now, you can be present, feeling that present moment feeling of your feet connecting with the floor. So in that sense, it’s pretty simple. Or it could be that like, oh, I just touched my hands together. And like, oh, yeah, my fingertips, feel my fingertips. So that’s bringing me into the present moment. And that’s really useful, because as you know, and probably lots of the women who are going to be listening to this, it’s so easy to not be present.
Nichole And so that really is the next part of your question. You know, how do we get there? And is it easy to stay there? And I think, you know, we live in a world where our attention is commanded by so many things all at the same time. Whether it’s, you know, the mothers who are listening, are thinking of their various children and all the things that they have to be tracking to take care of their family. Or maybe it’s the businesswomen out there who are like, oh, well, my direct reports need to get to me about these things. And I need to go talk to my supervisor. And all of these things.
Nichole And so we’re constantly tracking so many things. And then with the advent of technology, which is great that we can be here. But let’s say, you know, we pick up our phones, for example, and we just scroll and scroll and scroll. What it’s doing is it’s overloading us with information. And, you know, that’s in addition to just the normal things that we would be attending to just because we’re living our lives. And so, when there’s so many things commanding our attention, we’re really not present. We’re not here. We’re not feeling our feet on the ground.
[07:58] The importance of being more present in our daily lives.
Cathy Okay. I know that feeling your feet on the ground is a metaphor for it. But why? Why is it better to be? What benefit do you get?
Nichole I mean, sometimes people say like, I don’t want to be present because I don’t want to have to feel my feelings. And that’s a really legitimate reason for not wanting to be present, especially if you are dealing with anxiety or stress or grief. Like, they’re uncomfortable feelings. So on the flip side of that, the question is, so what’s the value of being present? Well, think about all the beautiful moments of life that we miss because we’re so busy thinking about the future, or we’re so consumed fretting about what went wrong in the past.
Cathy Or looking at our phone. You should be looking at the beautiful forest, not thinking, oh, that would be a great picture.
Nichole Yeah. And what comes to mind is this. I don’t remember where I saw this. But it was this image that I saw on social media, and it was this picture of a big crowd. And I think it was this crowd was watching either a competition or a race, or maybe they were watching an important figure pass by. Everybody was taking pictures. And then there’s this one, and they’re all facing looking. I don’t know what it was that was going on over here. And then there’s this one woman in the foreground of the picture., and she’s just there.
Nichole And I thought, wow, that image is so telling of all these people are busy taking pictures of it. And being with it. Or, for example, when I was in Paris a couple of summers ago, I went to the Louvre. I remember getting to see the Mona Lisa, which is this just divine, like masterpiece of artwork. And everybody was taking pictures. And I looked around, and there was like me, and maybe like one other person who were actually just looking at the Mona Lisa. Because of the way it’s set up, we only had like, five minutes, and then they usher us out so the next group can come in. And so, I think of like those, those divine masterpiece moments of life.
Cathy Yes. And they’re in there everywhere. My husband, I don’t know how he, he has learned this art of being in the moment and being present. When we travel, he doesn’t, guess who takes the pictures? I do. And, if I can’t think of any other way of not being in the moment, it’s always thinking you have to take a photo of something. He doesn’t. He just takes it all in. And when we’ve traveled in groups. And I’ve noticed, that’s always the case. There’s some people that that’s all they do is take pictures, and others that just soak in every moment. And I’m always very envious of the people that just soak in every moment.
Nichole And I don’t want to dismiss taking pictures, because I’ll tell you, I took lots of pictures in Paris. But you get the point. And I just want to add one more thing to this part that feels really essential, is it’s not just about being there for the beautiful moments. It’s also about being there for the difficult moments. So, if I’m, let’s say in a moment of grief, if I’m choosing to be present with my grief, it’s more likely that I will go through a full and complete grief process, allowing that grief to actually heal.
Nichole And then to also really connect with, for example, what is it that I’m missing? So, if it’s the loss of a loved one, by being present with the grief, but also being present with the love that we had for that person. And so it allows us this, this present moment, awareness, this cultivation of being in the present. It allows us to have a richer relationship with our lives. So whether it’s feeling grief and sadness, or joy and pleasure, by being there, we’re really there.
Cathy That makes so much sense to me. And that’s really different from living in the past or focusing on the future. That’s truly experiencing, not shoving down the difficult emotions that come up at certain parts of life. Yeah, yeah. So, when you work with women, do you recognize right away if that is their issue? Or do most people that come to you not struggle with that?
Nichole Yeah, that’s an interesting question. So a lot of women have already determined for themselves, like, yeah, I really struggle with being present. I’m really distracted by the past and really anxious about the future. So they’re able to self-report like, yeah, I’m needing help with this.
Nichole And then other women, you know, when they come in, they’re not maybe as able to articulate exactly that. Often, they’ll report things like struggling to feel their feelings or feeling anxious about all the things that they need to do. And so that, to me, will often signal we might need to do some work around building a new relationship with the present moment. So how can I support them in learning to be with the experiences of their lives as those experiences are rising?
Nichole And sometimes that does include saying, yeah, I think these emotions might be a little too big right now. Let’s put them on hold and come back to them. And maybe just start with basic level mindfulness. How to begin to feel the sensations of the body or the breath or whatever it is that’s appropriate to them and where they are.
[13:39] How to manage anxiety through mindfulness and acceptance.
Cathy Okay. So, I’ll give you a good example. I’m in a mastermind group with some other advisors. In fact, we just met this morning. And one of the women was talking about this exact thing, how anxious she’s feeling. And you were describing some of the women and their struggle. She’s a mom and a business owner. You know, working with clients and juggling all these things, just came off a vacation, is feeling overwhelmed.
Cathy So, let’s just roleplay. So let’s say I’m that woman, which I have to admit, that happens to me. Because I am a business owner. And I’m not a mom. I’m not a mom. But being a business owner is like having a baby. Continually. And I told you that I’m struggling with this anxiety that I’m never doing quite enough. That’s a typical thing for me. Am I doing enough for the people that are relying on me in my life? And what are some tools to overcome that feeling and become more calm about it? And then do something about it, but in a really calm way? Reasonable way?
Nichole Yeah. Well, often what I really like to begin with is just recognizing that anxiety is there. And so oftentimes, what I noticed is that people come in, and they say, I’m anxious, and I want it to go away. And I say, yeah, I totally support in building, in growing tools and resources to support you in alleviating the anxiety. But we also want to spend some time exploring just the simple fact that it’s there.
Nichole And so this, this acceptance is a really important piece of the work that we do. And so, okay, so anxiety is here. Well, how is it showing up in your life? So, I might ask you to identify, you know, what are the ways that you notice anxiety showing up in your life? How is it affecting you? And so we’d begin to unpack it a little bit. And as I then get to know you and get to know, like, what are some of the stressors in your life or some of the things that are causing or exacerbating the anxiety. From there, we would work together to then grow or do practices or cultivate different tools that would help support you in managing the anxiety or in learning how to work with it.
[16:15] How Nichole’s training in somatic experiencing helps clients alleviate the effects of nervous system trauma.
Nichole Also a big part of what I help women with, in addition to doing a lot of work in the mindfulness realm, I’ve also been trained in a modality called somatic experiencing. It’s a modality that has been designed to alleviate the effects of trauma on the nervous system. And anxiety is a very, can be a very, can be a source of trauma, as well as result from trauma, and it can be very uncomfortable. So what I would also be helping someone like you do is, you know, explore ways of creating our nervous system regulation.
Nichole So looking at like, what are the bigger questions of your life that’s leading to the anxiety? What are the conditions of your life, where maybe there’s not enough resource, where maybe we need to build and grow more resources? And then bring in this element of nervous system regulation to support your nervous system in navigating what’s occurring in your experience? And then also, you know, this is where some of the coaching would come in. Is like, how do we ask some of these bigger questions that may be in the direction of, are the things you’re doing in your life ultimately supportive of a better quality of living? And do some decisions need to be made about how life is being lived? Or how work is being conducted? So, you know.
Cathy There’s very many disciplines, isn’t it? It’s not, this is not simple, in black and white, and it’s very individual.
Nichole It’s very individual. And what I’d say is it’s simple, but it’s also complex. It’s simple in the sense that it doesn’t need to be this big, massive undertaking of radically restructuring your life. It’s simple in the sense that it begins by asking the question, you know, what is happening in this moment right now? How am I relating to it? How is my nervous system responding to this?
Nichole But it’s complex in the sense that it might lead to a lot of deeper questions. And my hope is that as we dig into these deeper questions, that the women that I work with really become willing and interested in exploring deeper answers.
[18:28] Why Nichole believes meditation is key for building a life that feels useful and manageable.
Cathy One way that I found that I get present is through meditation. I’d imagine that’s one, a powerful tool that you use. In fact, I read on your website that you do a Monday morning meditation session, right, is that true? You can log in, yeah, I want to do that.
Nichole Yeah. And everybody’s welcome. It’s free. I do it by donation. And it’s Monday morning at 9am. And I’m happy to send you the link.
Cathy Yeah, please do. And so, I love being led in meditation. I do do it on my own. It’s one of the commitments to myself. I’ll do it for at least, even just five minutes. I don’t care how little, I always feel more grounded after I shut, you know, slow down my breath. The thoughts are flying around, but I do manage to have a few moments of peace. And it feels so good. Just that short little moment of peace is a big deal.
Nichole Yeah, yeah, I think meditation is a really key component to building out a life that feels useful and manageable. I know for a lot of people, meditation or getting started in meditation is really challenging. And I think there’s a lot of misconceptions in the meditation world that like our minds should be totally calm and clear. My take on meditation, after many years of my own practice, and many years of working with students, is that it’s not so much that the mind needs to be clear. And that if it’s not clear and calm, you’re doing something wrong.
Nichole It’s more that in the practice of meditation, even if thoughts come, can we just practice bringing the attention back to what’s real. Maybe you’re focusing on that sensation of the breath. Maybe you’re feeling your feet on the ground. And so, we’re just practicing building that strength and capacity of the mind to come back to the present moment and come back to the present moment.
Nichole And I think the net result for many people is that even though there might be thoughts, many people, myself included, have that experience of feeling more calm and restored through that ongoing cultivation. And then there’s also just the breathing, the diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing in and breathing out does actually help create a little bit more calm in the nervous system.
[20:51] Nichole explains the “right” way to meditate.
Cathy Oh, it does, just simple breathing alone. I so agree with you. Well, I’ve read enough books about meditation and articles about it and practiced it enough, where I forgive myself if I don’t reach that perfect moment of Zen. Because it is hard to get there. For me, it’s enough that I actually sit. And I feel, I’m happy about that. I’m not beating myself up over doing it.
Cathy And I really believe that’s the way that you have to go into anything like that. It’s like building muscle, you know, you don’t go to the gym and get big muscles, it takes a lot of hard work. It seems to be very simple. And the reward is so great to have more peace of mind.
Nichole Yeah. And one thing that I say to every person that I work with when we start is that there’s no right way, and there’s no wrong way. There is just simply the opportunity to be curious about what’s happening in our minds, and to be willing over and over to come back to that present moment. And then over time, most people find that it does yield a greater sense of overall well-being.
Cathy And it brings you back to the present, like looping back to our original discussion. What a great way to bring you back right into the present moment. If your mind is wandering, if you get control over your breath and your mind, you get right back there. It’s an amazing tool.
[22:24] The relationship between being present and having presence.
Cathy So, and another thing, reading through the work that you do, you also talk about presence. So being present and having presence. And I imagine they’re related. Because how can you really have presence if you’re not in the moment. That would be kind of a powerful way of being present. I’ve always thought and admire people that walk into a room, and you feel them. They are confident, or they’re standing tall, or whatever it is. And I think that’s part of your practice, too. Talk about that a little bit.
Nichole Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think of mindfulness in three ways. Initially, it’s a practice. So I practice mindfulness, I practice being present. And then it becomes a state. So the more I practice states of mindfulness, or sorry, the more I practice the practice, I experience more states of mindfulness. Or states of being present. And over time, when people practice enough, it becomes more of a trait. So they just have that general quality of presence about them.
Nichole And like you said, like, we all know that we’ve all had that experience, or we all know that person where we walk into a room and we’re like, they’re just so present. They’re just so, like, there’s a quality of real presence about them. And I think some people just have that very naturally. You know, like some people just are really talented at sports, people just have that quality. And then other people through practicing mindfulness and practicing cultivating ongoing states of being present. They cultivate that trait. And it is, it’s very much that quality of like, they’re just, they’re there with you. Like the kind of person that maybe when you’re talking to them, you really feel them with you.
Nichole Or, or I think about a lot, especially, you know, in the work that I do with women. Many of the women that I work with have either some history of abuse or trauma in their background, or maybe they’ve lived with chronic sickness or illness. And so they are not as embodied physically in their body anymore. So there’s maybe some way or, through the stress and anxiety, there’s maybe some way that they have, maybe not fully, don’t live in a fully embodied way. So in some disconnection, either emotionally, spiritually, or physically.
Nichole And so what we’re doing is working together to help them create that sense of presence. So that sense of like, really being there and showing up in their own lives or really occupying the ground that they stand on. Like, oh, here I am in my body. And obviously, this is an ongoing cultivation. And you’re right, we don’t have that experience from the very beginning. We grow it over time.
Nichole But just like you, in your own work, have developed a certain acumen, you have developed a sense of really knowing what you do. I think it can be kind of saying like, that sense of presence is that knowing I’m allowed to be here in my life. Knowing I’m allowed to take up space. And then choosing to take up that space in a way that acknowledges yes, here I am.
[26:00] How to cultivate more presence and truly connect with others.
Cathy Yeah. What a powerful thing for women in particular, who, many of us didn’t learn how to own our own space when we were going through life. It is kind of like an alien concept in some way. I’m sure the training, the combined training that you have with somatics and then the mindfulness is really important to that helping women, especially that have experienced physical trauma or illness or whatever, into having, developing that presence and feeling good in their own bodies.
Nichole Yeah, they’ve been extremely helpful. I think primarily, they’ve been helpful in the sense that, through these same modalities and practices, I have actually cultivated more presence in my own experience. Now that allows me to be really present and available to them. Have you ever had that experience or that feeling when you’re in the presence of someone who just has a lot of presence, like someone who’s really there with you? And have you had that feeling of feeling strangely at ease, or sociable, or like you matter, because they’re so fully there with you?
Cathy Exactly. That’s the quality I admire most about people like that. You feel like you’re the only person in the room. They’re paying attention to you. They’re listening. They’re not looking over their shoulder for the next person. You’re connecting. It’s really powerful when you meet someone like that. It’s not that common. And they tend to be better listeners because they’re okay with not doing all the talking. That seems to be part of that person as well.
Nichole I think being really present definitely aims, or yields, like being a good listener. Or a better listener.
[27:55] Nichole’s personal journey that led to her becoming a mindfulness coach.
Cathy Yeah. Tell us a little bit more. I’m curious myself on what your personal journey was in getting to this place of being a mindfulness coach.
Nichole Yeah, that’s a really thoughtful question. And thanks for asking. A journey it has been for sure. So I’m now in my mid 40s, and I started on this, I’d say the first real moment of inspiration, I think, really struck when I was probably in adolescence somewhere. I think there was just this, like, very early sense in me of just seeing the harm that was caused in society and family and culture when people weren’t present. And really, whether it’s, you know, seeing people who were harmed through other people’s addictions or people who were harmed by other people’s just unavailability, just not physically being there.
Cathy Yes. Workaholism.
Nichole Yeah. And I think what I saw from a very young age is a lot of harm and grief are caused by not being present. And so, and then I think that paired with I had a very strong like call to spirituality from a very young age. Like, I think I was like, 10. And I was like, Mom, will you please take me to church? And she’s like, ugh. But, okay.
Nichole And that was what I knew of spirituality. And over time, what I found later in my teens, when I was in my late teens, I was much more drawn toward Buddhism. And more like, historical European, like wisewoman spiritual traditions.
Cathy Where were you exposed to that? Because I wasn’t. I was raised in a Catholic environment, and I wasn’t exposed to other religions very early.
Nichole You know, that’s a really good question. Where was I exposed to it? I had an aunt, who, she was really into yoga. She taught yoga throughout my childhood. And then my mom, she actually was really good at, she had a very diverse friend group. And I remember going to like spiritual channeling events and like, weird, strange stuff. So that really planted that. And my grandmother was also, she was reading books about, like, past life stuff. So it was just in the air.
Cathy Yeah, all the women in your life.
Nichole All the women in my life. Yeah. There was also a lot of, you know, like, Judeo Christian influence, as well. And in my early childhood, so I had a lot of just influence in a lot of different ways. I have, my mom is one of five sisters. And they all have very diverse and different spiritual beliefs. So that was my imprint from a very young age.
Nichole And then so, by my late teens, I think what I realized, I found myself very drawn into Buddhist practice. There was also, you know, I think the reality why a lot of people go in the direction of spirituality or meditation, in my case, is there’s a lot of suffering. And there was also, you know, I experienced a degree of, you know, difficult experiences in my childhood and teen years. And I saw, you know, kids I grew up with getting into drugs and alcohol, and that just didn’t feel like a very good option for me.
Nichole And so I went pretty heavy into a meditation practice, and throughout my 20s, that really grew quite a bit. I found myself going on meditation retreats at a pretty young, early point in my 20s. And they lived, I lived in a community of people where we were all engaging in some spiritual practice. I had the privilege of traveling to India several times in my 20s and 30s.
Cathy Did you practice yoga there when you went?
Nichole You know, surprisingly, I didn’t actually do much yoga. I was doing more practice at Buddhist monasteries in Bodh Gaya, which is where, was known for the Buddha to have attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya is up in northern India. And then I spent, I’ve traveled a lot through Thailand going to Buddhist monasteries. It just, it really, like the fire was lit, and it raged powerfully in my life for a lot of years.
Cathy Did you do your travels on your own?
Nichole I did most of it on my own. I did a fair amount of it with other people. But it was all like my own inspiration, my own desire. And then, you know, there is a, I think, another stretch in my 20s, where I experienced some pretty challenging life experiences. And I knew that my meditation practice was such a refuge.
Nichole And so in my later 20s, I actually dove in even more deeply. And I lived at a Buddhist meditation center for many years—not many years—for a stretch of time.
Cathy And that’s more communal living, right?
Nichole It was more communal living. Yeah. And then even at one point, I spent a year and a half traveling. This is in my early 30s. I spent about a year and a half doing extensive ongoing retreats to just continue to deepen my practice.
Cathy I am like, surprised to hear this. I’m so glad I asked you this. I had no idea. But you know what, I’m not surprised. Because you have that presence we were talking about. You really do. Even though I haven’t met you in person, I feel it over Zoom.
Nichole Thank you. That’s a really, that’s a lovely reflection. But to wrap up the response to that question, how did I get to this point of coaching? You know, I think, you know, when I moved to the Bay Area, there was the big question of what am I going to do for work? And I actually moved to the Bay Area right on the heels of this year and a half long meditation sabbatical. And there was this question of what am I going to do for work?
Nichole And I thought, well, I know how to teach because I’ve worked in teaching capacities. I know how to facilitate because I’ve been facilitating groups all of my 20s. And I know meditation, and I know mindfulness. And so I first landed a really fantastic opportunity at UCSF to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which I’m still teaching many years later.
Cathy I saw that on your website.
Nichole Yeah. And, and then from there, I pursued the somatic experiencing trauma, trauma therapy training. The two then really solidified in how I work with women, I really integrate the two. So that has led to, you know, just a lot of opportunities to facilitate programs, where I’m teaching trauma awareness skills, as well as mindfulness skills. And a lot of my initial early clients came out of my MBSR programs.
Cathy And now, what does that stand for?
Nichole Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
Nichole Yeah, sorry, I didn’t clarify that earlier.
Cathy Oh, no, that’s okay.
Nichole And so very, not to say unintentionally, because I certainly, like, had aspiration and ambition. But very organically, I’d say this practice of coaching has, it’s just grown very organically. And it’s grown very much from my love of these disciplines and my love and deep commitment and passion for supporting women in their own growth and awakening. So now I do one-on-one coaching and counseling and mindfulness work, but I also do a lot of group programs. And that’s really like my love. I mean, I love doing one-on-one work, don’t get me wrong. But I love group programs a lot. And I have a few of them happening.
[36:00] The group coaching programs Nichole offers clients and newcomers.
Cathy Tell me. Describe a group program and what a day would be like, if they are a couple of days, or a day, or?
Nichole Yeah, most of the group programs that I teach are either six or eight-week programs. So we meet weekly for a few hours. And then one, for example. So one is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes where we meet every week. And I’m, you know, walking them through a curriculum that I didn’t create myself. Jon Kabat-Zinn created it, and I teach it through UCSF. But there’s another curriculum that I have created, which is more of a trauma awareness and mindfulness-based program for women who are wanting to go through kind of their own healing and awakening process.
Nichole And so we’re looking at mindfulness practices through a trauma informed lens. And then another one, which I’m really excited about, which I’m going to be launching in the fall. It’s called purpose and presence. And it’s geared more for entrepreneur, entrepreneurial women, or just high achieving professional women who are wanting to learn just self-regulation skills, mindfulness skills, emotion regulation. But to also use these to explore, what is my purpose? How do I be of service in this entrepreneurial or professional capacity in a way that’s in alignment with what feels right and true? But also utilizing their powerful skills and their, the things that they know and do really well in the world?
Nichole And one of the things that I hear most common from women who are working in these capacities is like, I feel overwhelmed, I feel anxiety. I feel like I need to constantly be good enough for constantly achieving. And so what I’m hoping will yield from this is women who feel in alignment and in integrity with their work and their values, and feel that sense of presence, but also feel very connected to their purpose.
Cathy Yeah. Because you know, it’s very human to have those feelings of anxiety. It’s common and there’s nothing wrong with you if you have them. If you can learn to manage them, think just how much more joyful whatever you’re doing will be. That’s extremely valuable. That sounds, your programs sound really wonderful.
Cathy So if someone wanted to reach you, let’s share your, whatever you would like to share. Your email, your website, are you on social media, do you have a Facebook group? Any of those things, and then I’m going to ask you one more question after that.
Nichole Yeah, sure. So um, you know, the usual social media suspects. So you can reach me on Facebook at Presence Mindfulness Coaching and Counseling for Women, or on Instagram, it’s @presencemindfulness, or my website is presencemindfulness.com. That said, I actually have a new website in the works, which should be released in August, and it’s going to be NicholeProffitt.com. But my current website will direct over to the new website when it’s up and running. And then as far as email, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Cathy I’ll include all of these in the show notes, which I’ll post on my website, so people will know where to go. Okay, so I have one last question. If a woman has never done any kind of like, if this is all new. It’s so common now. But what if you’ve never even tried to meditate or get mindful at all? What do you recommend would be a first step?
Nichole Yeah. That’s a great question. Well, I have new people come into my programs all the time, who have never done anything in the way of mindfulness or meditation. But they just have that sense that they need to try it. And I love, so I love working with people who’ve never done this before. You know, one way to begin is, I like to do what I call a meditation walk or a mindful walk, which is just to take a walk through your neighborhood. And what I recommend you do is just take a stop every 10 feet or so and just stop and look around. See what you see. Hear what you hear, feel what you feel. Feel your feet on the ground, take a breath, and then take another, you know, 10 to 15 steps, and repeat that.
Nichole So feel your feet on the ground, take a breath, see what you see. And what I mean by that is like really see it. Not just like, oh, yeah, I know what that fern looks like. But like, no, really see it, the colors, the shapes. Hear what you hear, oh, I know, it’s just a car, but no, what is the sound? What’s the sound of the car, and so on. And feel what you feel. What is the feeling of delight, joy, relief feeling like?
Nichole So that’s a beautiful place to start. And I also really, I say to allow them to keep it simple. So five minutes. And for some people, five minutes can feel like torture. I remember in the early days of my meditation practice, in my like late teens and early 20s, sitting down for five minutes felt like torture.
Cathy It is a long time when you’re just sitting there.
Nichole And all you have to do, all we have to do is just note that in these five minutes, you don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to be anywhere. You get to be here with your breath, feeling the inflow, feeling the outflow. And then in five minutes, you can go back to what you’re doing.
Cathy Right. Great, thank you. Those are two perfectly powerful tips.
Nichole And I promise you it, the torture diminishes over time. At one point in my practice, when I was really like just exclusively devoted to meditation, I was sitting for about two hours at a time.
Cathy Oh my gosh, I was going to ask you that. How long do you sit for now?
Nichole You know, these days, my meditation practice is really varied. It depends on the day, it depends on what’s going on, how my body feels. Some days, I’ll just go on a mindful walk. Some days, I’ll do a practice outside where I sit with my eyes open and I see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel, etc. And then other days, I’ll do a formal meditation practice where I’ll sit anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
Cathy Oh, gosh, that must be, that must feel amazing when you open your eyes.
Nichole I mean, this is, I just want to normalize it. Like even for me, I’ve been doing this for years. It’s still challenging sometimes. And that’s the point. It isn’t so much that we want the challenge to go away as, can I grow the ability to be with the challenge? So if grief or sadness come up, the idea is not to always feel happy. But can I grow the capacity to be with the grief or the sadness as equally as the joy and the happiness? Which is why we call this a practice. We are constantly practicing.
Cathy Right. You’re never done.
Nichole Yeah. We’re always growing, we’re always learning, and we’re always practicing.
Cathy Okay, well, thank you, Nichole. I totally enjoyed this conversation.
Nichole Yeah. Cathy, I just want to say thank you so much. I’m so grateful to be invited on, and I’m really excited to do some work together.
Cathy Definitely, Nichole. You have a nice weekend.
Nichole You, too. Take care. Bye.