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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.

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.

How to Relax If Meditation Is Not For You

Monday, November 02, 2015


ways to relax when meditation is not an optionMany people have found that meditation is a helpful technique for relieving stress and getting clarity of mind. But is it the only way to achieve that? Do you have to practice meditation in order to relax and de-stress?

Some people have the idea that they must meditate to achieve maximum relief from stress. However, Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, contributed a recent New York Times article that reminds us that we can gain relief with or without meditation. Here are a few highlights: 

Stress is not always bad. In fact, the way you view stress will affect your health. In an eight-year study, “adults who reported a lot of stress in their lives were more likely to die, but only if they thought stress was harmful.” Over a hundred thousand Americans may have died prematurely, “not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you,” says health psychologist Kelly McGonigal.

Stress is a signal that something matters to you. An experiment led by the Stanford psychologist Alia Crum, found that people who had only 10 minutes to prepare a speech, simply reframed the stress response as healthy and it was enough to relax them.

Increase mindfulness by removing absolute thinking. By changing “is” to “could be,” you open up yourself to the possibilities that there are more options available. Mindfulness helps us see that there are many different ways of doing things. We see opportunities not difficulties.

Are you ready to discover the best relaxation or mindfulness technique that will help you deal with the overwhelming demands of life? Read my self-help article where I share with you eight different ways to manage stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can discuss your unique situation and figure out the best option for you.

5 Ways to Make Back-to-School Anxieties Disappear

Monday, August 17, 2015


It’s only natural for your child to feel anxious about the new school year. And if your children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), AS (Asperger's Syndrome), or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) they need extra help to transition into the new routine. Yes, it might be tempting to put off back-to-school preparations, however the more you prepare your child the easier it will be on you, your child and the teachers. Here are a few reminders to make this process easier…

Be Positive
You can help ease their worries by always speaking positively about returning to school. Get them excited about that they’re going to learn. Help them remember what they enjoyed from previous years.

Make Appointments Early
Does your child need to see his doctor, dentist, or optometrist? How about teachers and administrators you need to talk with before school starts? It relieves a lot of stress to get these appointments taken care of well before the school year starts.

Get into the School Routine
Routine is so important for children with ASD and ADD. A month before school starts, review class materials that your child likes for a scheduled time each day, gradually increasing the time and adding more difficult materials so your child transitions from the carefree summer to the classroom structure. Also gradually shift wake up time and bedtime to match what your child needs to function well at school.

Involve Your Child in Back-to-School Preparation
Let them go school shopping with you so they can pick out things they like. Work together as you assemble their backpacks. Talk about what they’d like to eat for lunch and snacks. And the night before school starts, help them lay out the clothes they want to wear.

Visit the School
Introduce your child to as many people as possible – the teacher, principal, office staff, school nurse, teacher assistants, custodians. Alert them to your child’s special needs and how they can assist you.

I really recommend that you put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

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.

Your Child Struggling with Uncontrolled Temper or Aggressive Behavior?

Monday, May 18, 2015


child struggling with uncontrolled temper or aggressive behaviorRecently I watched a video by Dr. Daniel Amen M.D. where he discusses how, after researching 100,000 brain scans, he’s discovered that actual brain damage is contributing to emotional problems such as anger issues and even brutal killings. Judges and defense attorneys often consult with Dr. Amen in order to understanding criminal behavior. While he does not in any way condone what these criminals have done, he’s made some fascinating discoveries by studying their brains.

For example, after looking at Kip Kinkle’s brain in 1998, (you may remember he shot 25 at his school, killing two plus his parents in Springfield, OR) he found that sometime in the past this person had suffered either deprivation of oxygen or some type of infection that made his the worst 15-year-old brain scan that Dr. Amen had ever seen.

What can we learn about rehabilitating people who have aggressive behavior and are violent? By taking their entire history and imaging the brain, we can discover the biological, psychological, and social reasons why they’re acting the way they do.

When we see homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, ADHD and suicide, we should seriously look at the health of the brain for answers. The good news is we can prevent these brain injuries from escalating into hurtful behavior, either towards themselves or towards others. They can be rehabilitated if it’s caught early enough!

Is your son or daughter troubled with anxiety, depression, anger, or destructive behavior? Please do not ignore these symptoms or dismiss them as typical teen moods. Seek help immediately to determine if there’s a physical or psychological cause. That way the problem can be resolved now, so he or she can live a happy and productive life. Brain health can be restored. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to find out how.

Watch Dr. Amen's video for the very emotional success story of how he helped a young man go from a troubled youth to an American hero.



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