Water Element Has a Message For You


The ancients had a profound understanding of emotions and characteristics. They noticed human nature reflected in the four principle forces of nature; earth, air, fire, and water. In their wisdom, they attributed personality traits and emotions to each of the elements to help students of life to understand the conscious mind.

With the element of water, it is fluid and adaptable and dictates one’s ability to manage any given situation. This is often referred to as going with the flow. In ancient China and India, the element of water was said to be the "Chi" energy that flows throughout the body. This energy is able to be directed through exercises such as Tai Chi and yoga, as well as healing modalities like acupuncture.

The element of water tests our ability to be fluid. When we are in right alignment with water, then we are able to adapt more readily to any given situation, small or large, slightly frustrating or largely challenging.

To work with water, learn to understand how water flows as it takes on many different mutations. It can flow gently down a stream, or tumble in a rage along a river. The sea rolls gently against the shore, or violently crashes against the rocks. Here we are able to see the metaphorical wisdom, the yin-yang expression of duality in the nature of water – everything that exists has a polar opposite. Sometimes we must be more forceful, other times quiet and gentle; and then everything in between. All serve us depending on the circumstance.

Water is also adaptable. Water put it in a vessel such as a jug or a bottle, changes shape and fits perfectly to the form of the vessel. Again, we can identify with water’s properties when we are moving through our life journey, seeing the symbolism of how we can adapt to any given situation – just like water.

Water has been traditionally used in ceremony for cleansing and clearing. Ancient and present- day shamans and priests pray for and utilize water to wash away sins, concerns and difficult situations. The next time you take a bath or shower, make an intention. As the water washes over you, honor the water by asking for it to cleanse and clear you, and to bring you the ability to flow more easily throughout your day. The more that we can be in harmony with Nature’s elements, the more that we will see life working with us in our favor.

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at www.innersunhealingarts.com or 970-420-9504.

Change Your Brain To Live a More Contented Life

If you are presently unhappy in many aspects of your life, it can feel like a dark place. A mindset that is clouded by daily thoughts of dread and negativity can really wear on a person’s self-esteem, self-worth and physical health.

When there is discontentment, there’s a tendency to get trapped in the never-ending cycle of waiting for the day when “it” will all change – “When I have a new job…a new relationship…a bigger home…”

Contentedness does not come out of an external place, like the striving for more possessions or making more money or living a more exciting life, for instance. If that has been your focus in life, then it will not hold up over time. Your thoughts will always be running a tape that ultimately say, “You are not enough.” This is because once you get the bigger house, the job promotion and the new relationship, you immediately start planning your next bigger, better this and that.

Being authentically content starts with the realization that you are the creator of your reality.

Our thoughts dictate how we view the world and ultimately, how we feel. If you tend to see life through these kinds of ideas and messages…

·      You’re looking for that next better thing

·      You must work hard to get everything you need

·      You look toward others and society for approval

·      You’re worried about what others think of you

·      You’re jealous and envious of other people’s successes

·      You’re focused on your image and the way you look

·      You blame others from keeping you from having the life you want

·      You feel that you never have enough money, sex, time, stuff, friends, etc.

…then you have become lost along the way and this is why you feel so empty.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Thoughts are powerful. They are the precursor to our feeling states.

Even when it looks as though your emotional state is being dictated by your circumstances, that is never true. Just get quiet and curious for a moment, and ask yourself, “If I weren’t thinking this way, how might I feel differently?”

The happiness you have been seeking outside of yourself can be yours when you learn to stop chasing the illusion, and instead, begin to have more kindness, compassion and love toward yourself.

The more we are willing to genuinely love from within, even when it feels hard, the less we go searching for contentedness in the wrong places. When we are comforted by our own self-love, we no longer need to find comfort through external fixes.

Contentedness is a state of being fulfilled with what you already have within you. And at the same time, striving to improve, to become a better human being, regardless of how happy and content you are.

So you’re wondering, “How do I break the cycle of discontent and emptiness and learn to really love myself?”

We can harness the brain’s plasticity by training our brain to make positive thought patterns more automatic.

Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve calls that transmit messages. After many years and decades of negative belief patterns traveling over the superhighway, the pathway becomes more and more solidified. And because the brain is always changing, with practice you can forge newer, healthier and more positive pathways, by creating new thought/feeling habits. That’s called neuroplasticity.

Mindfulness skills integrated into ones daily life can interrupt the negative and habitual feedback loops that can rewire the brain to think more positively. The regular practice of mindfulness meditation increases gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for learning, memory, and emotion, and reducing gray matter in the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety.

Spending 5 to 10 minutes daily sitting still while focusing on your in-breath and out-breath, trains the brain to quiet down, disengage the stress response, and move into a relaxation response that is more open to letting go of the more habitual neural pathways. Mindfully tracking your thoughts consistently throughout your day by redirecting habitual negative thoughts to new positive thoughts will carve out new and more accessible neural pathways.

Visualization is almost as powerful as the real thing given your brain cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined. Research shows that anytime you are thinking you are engaging and thus conditioning neural pathways, so why not create positive, calming images to change the brain? The most important part of using visualization to strengthen healthy habits is to engage your emotion. Positive emotion provides the fuel to enlist more neural power for creating new healthier neural networks. Find time throughout your day imagining yourself feeling and being more content in your life.

Gratitude is one of the best ways to move more readily towards positive thoughts and feelings of contentment. Whenever you are not content with something, take a moment and count all the blessings in your life. If you honestly do that, then you are creating the opportunity for more blessed moments in your life! Let your focus be on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. Think about all the pleasant moments in your life regularly. Be grateful for every little thing, for every person in your life, and thank him or her silently.

And finally, enjoy the simple things in life whether it’s conversations with strangers, taking slow gentle walks, or spending quality time with friends. Whatever you do, no matter how small, how inexpensive, and how trivial or simple, enjoy it and recognize that each moment of these positive thoughts lead more and more to authentic happy and contented living.

-Tanya Vallianos

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at www.innersunhealingarts.com or 970-420-9504.

Journaling As a Mindfulness Practice

Journaling tangibly Helps us to connect to our inner world

Journaling tangibly Helps us to connect to our inner world

Journal writing can be compared to practicing mindfulness. A journal records the movement of one’s inner experience - reflections of the mental, emotional, and image-laden events within the writer in that moment in time. When we write, we are conscious of what is being written and stay focused on the writing process without judgment or criticism. Both involve being present in the now. By being fully conscious and present of our actions and our breath, we become present in what we do. Writing and other creative endeavors are similar.

I write to gain more insight of an experience, to remember an event that occurred and to feel emotion and have deeper understanding of what’s going on inside. Journaling is about making connections to my higher knowing. It is a moment in time where I am fully present in the process – aware of my thoughts, my body, the kinesthetic quality of writing, and the environment I’m in. I’m taking it all in as a moment-to-moment process. In the end, I’m finished and can tuck it away safely, until the next time.

There is something about the ability to face the difficulties of life, when emotions are painful or when our inner critic is loudly speaking in our ear, to take pause and utilize this safe container. Here, we are give permission to release. We can more easily and mindfully breathe with compassion for ourselves, staying centered and grounded through the process. And because of this we can find healing.

Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal has seen improved immune functioning in journaling participants. Stress and feelings of overwhelm often come from emotional blockages and neurotic over-thinking. The ability to free ones thoughts and emotions through writing is shown to lower anxiety, stress and induce sound sleep.

Journaling doesn’t always involve writing about challenges. Writing about our positive experiences can be quite helpful as well. It becomes life reaffirming. And our physiology responds by releasing endorphins and dopamine, thus boosting our mood and our outlook of the world.

As is true with meditation practice, mindful journaling, through the act of presenting, allows us to cultivate appreciation for Self in each moment. It brings us to live more harmoniously with all things, because it allows us the time to know ourselves, what triggers us, and what we are curious about - all without distraction. And the more we write, the more connected we are to all that is.

A Mindful Journaling Prompt:

  • Choose a quiet space in your home or in nature where you will not be distracted.
  • Begin by letting go of the day’s events and any tension that you’re aware of in your body, and focusing on your breath for a few minutes. One inhalation and one exhalation at a time.
  • When feeling more centered, write down a question. Write a few lines on anything you would like higher-self guidance on. Focusing on one question allows for deeper clarity and insight. For example, “How can I communicate more effectively with my boss?”; “Why do I have difficulty staying committed to exercising?”; or “How can I have deeper connection to my partner/spouse?”
  • Start to write. Let go of the thinking, judging mind, and write without thinking through stream of consciousness. If you get stuck, you can write, “I feel stuck.” Whatever is happening, stay with the organic flow and just keep writing. There are no mistakes here. Write for 5, 10 or 15 minutes. You’ll know when you’re done.
  • When finished, read through what you have written out loud to yourself.
  • Notice what comes up for you somatically, emotionally and mentally, with a curious but detached awareness.
  • Continuing to practice this technique will allow you to be more and more present with yourself!

-Tanya Vallianos

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at www.innersunhealingarts.com or 970-420-9504.