5 Steps to Silence Your Critical Voice

How do you make peace with that inner critical voice?  As I begin writing, thoughts appear: “You’re not good enough; What do you have to say that hasn’t been said? How can you help, if your mind is full of junk?”  Ruminating thoughts and negative chatter like this stops us from reaching our dreams and goals and can also lead to depression.

Today, are you ready to take the challenge with me?  Make peace with that inner critic that says you’re not smart enough, or pretty enough? You’re too fat.  You’re too poor.  You don’t know what you’re doing.  Let’s decide today that we’ll shine a light on ways to silence the voice.  What if we had tools to make peace with that negative voice when it starts chiming in?

Well NOW you do.  And here are what Positive Psychology studies are suggesting.

Look for the positive.  Amplify Your Strengths:  Some research has suggested that we need five positive thoughts for every negative voice we carry around in our heads to feel balanced, happy, and productive.  We often assume focusing on our weaknesses will help, when actually, amplifying our strengths is more important and MORE productive.

Ask for the Positive:  When bosses or others are critical, make sure you ask them for positive feedback as well.   They may not realize the power of the mind.  Neuroscientists studying learning have found this to be the case—when you expect and compliment what’s going right, this expands, and your team will perform stronger.   They haven’t reached their potential and they’re more apt to dig in to fix it. They also learn better, too, than from harsh criticism.

Name the critical voice as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Bird-Man” the lead character has a very demeaning voice.   Whenever you hear the mean voice—label it.  Bring it to awareness, “Oh there’s that critical voice.”   Mentally reassure the crazy critic that you got this, you can handle this, and don’t need help. With practice, you’ll label it quickly.

Get out of your head and into the present moment.  When you live in the moment, your inner voices go silent. From that point, you are operating from your heart, your deeper mind. You are then following your infinite wisdom, rather than your Ego thinking brain.  To become present in the moment,  take a few breaths, become aware of your body or your immediate surroundings.  This breaks the grip.

Make peace and ask the voice to be more of a coach.   I learned this from Jack Canfield, best-selling author of the “Success Principles.”  At one point, he had a conversation with his inner critic, and said, “Hey, I need you to be more supportive, less critical.  This other way is clearly NOT working.”   From that point on, the voice seemed more positive, more supportive.

 And if all else fails, picture that voice and its big mouth-yakking away.  Now, take a huge piece of black tape.  Cover up the mouth with all of your might.   Now, you cannot hear or make out the words. Ha ha!  That’s one way to fix it!

Please share this blog post and comment how you silence your critical voice.

Vicki Atlas is a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner and Meditation Coach.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace to children and adults and helping you enlighten your life.  She produces the CalmingCorner.com for kids and is helping educators and parents awaken to their best life. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com


7 Tips for Meditating

We’ve all heard about the benefits of meditating for stress relief, focus, creativity and adding more joy.  At Heart Talk Now, we help stressed-out professionals, parents, and preschools.  Since May is Meditation Month and being a Certified Guided Imagery Coach, let’s get a practice going.  Here are 7 helpful tips for meditating… 

  1. Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
  2. Sit rather than lie down, if you can, to prevent sleep
  3. Pick a regular time of day morning or evening, or both
  4. Know that thoughts will come in—just let them float away like clouds
  5. Come to your practice with an attitude of gratitude
  6. Let go of doing it “perfectly;” practice will make it easier
  7. Commit to doing meditation for 21 days to make it a habit

Here are a few suggestions.  To begin your brief meditation, sit up straight in a chair, close your eyes, and do a meditative breath.  Breathe in on a count of four, hold for four, then breathe out on a count of four, and pause for four.  This breathing technique is used by the Navy Seals for calm and focus after every important mission.  They call it the “Boxed Breath.”  Do this meditative breath or what I like to call “16 Seconds to Bliss” for a few rounds.  Then let go of counting and breathe in and out normally.   If counting to four is too difficult due to breathing issues, try counting to 2 or 3 instead.

If thoughts come in, let them go and return to your breath, and you may try saying to yourself “peace” or “I am more peaceful.”  Say this mantra or focus on your breathing. Do this meditation for five minutes the first week, then each week add five more minutes until you reach 20 minutes.  Who doesn’t have five minutes?  You can do this.

There’s an important Harvard Study that showed within eight weeks of meditating, brain scans show more calm and focus in crucial areas of the brain for those who meditated compared to a control group who did not meditate.

To make meditation simple, we also have a wealth of Guided Meditations at HeartTalkNow.com—just tune in, turn on, power up your life.  “Stress Buster” is quite popular as well as “Embrace Love, Release Fear,” for releasing worry.   Working with a meditation teacher or coach also can be quite helpful.

Wishing you peace!




Help Children Thrive with Guided Imagery

There’s research that teaching young people Guided Imagery and mindfulness techniques can help their young minds develop stronger and improve academic performance.

How would you like your children to feel…

  • Much calmer and happier?
  • Get along better with their peers?
  • Improve their learning and focus?

Teaching Mindfulness and Guided Imagery to children can help bring more calm, less stress, and help their cognitive abilities and focus.   Research studies show how Guided Imagery and meditation strengthens the part of the brain in the prefrontal cortex, where focus and cognition are impacted.   It also enhances overall wellbeing as it calms the reptilian part of the brain–the fight or flight response.

It’s great that some educators are beginning to teach mindfulness and meditation in schools.  The results speak for themselves with schools who are introducing meditation instead of detention.  Schools that adopted that in Baltimore showed that attendance increases as suspension rates go down.

Meditation and mindfulness can help children build emotional intelligence and resilience, as well.   But it is so much more than that.  These kids will begin to accept themselves—even the hard feelings–with more compassion and loving kindness.

Even young Children can learn breathing techniques that help them to be more present.  We teach a technique called “Take Five-High Five.”  If you breathe and settle for five seconds, it can help bring a child to a more relaxed state, so she is more available to learn and get along with others.  Our aim is to begin early.  Check out the CalmingCorner.com where Guided Imagery and Mindfulness are calming kids at preschools.

Wishing you peace,



3 Steps to Better Sleep

Do you have problems falling to sleep or staying asleep?  If you’re stressed out, it can be difficult.  Stress can cause hyper-arousal in your body and mind, making it hard to sleep. To make matters worse, when you get little sleep, you may feel even more stressed out.   You know the feeling: tossing and turning and dreading mornings, knowing you barely had any sleep.  I’m one who suffered for years with insomnia until I took these steps to improve my sleep.    These strategies will help you relieve stress so you can sleep better, too.

  1. Take time to unwind before bedtime. One hour before bedtime, avoid doing anything stimulating or stressful. That means avoiding social media, catching up on work, texting, and turning off all electronic devices.  Instead, dim the lights and possibly read a good book, take a warm bath, do some gentle stretching or yoga, or listen to relaxing music
  1. Get Regular Exercise.  Engaging in physical activity is a great way to relieve tension–both in the mind and body. That can be walking, dancing, aerobics or yoga–any way that you like to move that’s fun. It’s best to work out at least three hours before bedtime so that your body temperature can drop to set the stage for sleep. However, if you’re doing restorative yoga at night, that can be a great way to calm down for better rest.
  1. Tame Your Worries.Spend time doing a calming routine—such as deep breathing, Guided Imagery , or progressive muscle relaxation before you go to sleep. These techniques can help you feel less stressed and add to your overall wellbeing.  At Heart Talk Now, we offer Blissful Sleep, a Guided Meditation for deep sleep.

I became a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner after I experienced a major difference with daily Guided Meditation for sleep and stress relief.  Now, I’m on a mission to help others.  Learning a few mindfulness techniques can help, too.  Also consider working with a Guided Imagery Specialist who can help you learn mindful tools and meditation techniques to prevent worries from sabotaging your sleep.  The more tools you know and use, the more you will awaken to more joy and a better night’s rest.    Please share what works for you for better sleep and share my blog post.:)

Today Is World Sleep Day

Are you sleeping soundly?  Many of us continue to drive ourselves at night with work, catching up on Social Media, googling our phones or tablets, and then wonder why we have insomnia and cannot sleep.  And what about our children?  Pediatricians report that more than one third of young children have sleep issues.  In today’s post, we’ll talk about children, and in an upcoming post, we’ll share recommendations for adults

Recent studies show how poor sleep early in childhood may be linked to later cognitive and behavioral problems.  According to Chief of Pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital, Elsie Taveras, MD, their latest study suggests that early poor sleep at age 3 to 4 had persistent effects with more hyperactivity and inattention, emotional, conduct and poor peer relationships.

As a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner, my specialty is helping children, parents, and professionals release stress and sleep more soundly with Guided Imagery and meditation techniques.  We offer an audio program called Sleepytime Dreams on our website using Guided Imagery for children.  Having been tested at four different preschools, the program works.  All children, especially those at risk from poorer neighborhoods, in foster care, children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Autism all fell deeply asleep and awakened more refreshed at naptime.   And at home, parents also report, with Sleepytime Dreams, that even problem sleepers fell asleep quicker and stayed asleep at bedtime.

Since sleep is so vital for repairing young minds and bodies, help our children sleep more soundly.  Please share this post to raise awareness of how important sleep is to our children for their early learning, social, behavioral, and growing needs.  Also, share your thoughts.

Freedom from Stress

During this time of celebrating our Independence, maybe it’s time that we allow ourselves space just to be.  Think about that for a moment.   What if we could stop doing, doing, striving to do more, and let ourselves just be, knowing that we are enough?  What freedom could that bring to our everyday stress and tension?

Sometimes we go round and round with our thoughts spinning out of control.    We become so distracted by our thinking brain that we lose focus.   We also lose connection to what’s most important.  It is during these times that we need to step away from the things that occupy our minds. Taking time out to connect with our inner self, gives our mind, body, and spirit time to heal and reenergize.

Have you ever noticed when you are stumped on a project, getting away from it, taking a walk or a shower, is when our best ideas seem to come?   Rest from all that mental chatter, allows flashes of insight to emerge.

Taking time to walk outside, doing a few yoga poses, meditating, or to simply rest and just be, allows us to open up to our true source and let go of our worries. As we begin to get in touch with the oneness of nature, we will find that our troubles become lighter.  Giving ourselves freedom from our daily concerns is a gift to ourselves and allows us to be more open to the wisdom that the universe has to offer.  Take a break and let the sunshine in.  Take time to celebrate our freedom of wellbeing.

Wishing you peace!

Open Your Heart: Awaken Awareness

Often during my guided meditations, I have participants focus on their heart and expand with light and love.  Many spiritual teachers believe that the heart holds the seat of the soul.     Scientists now seem to back this up.   They have found neurotransmitters both in the brain and the heart, meaning that the brain and heart are always communicating.  There is wisdom there, so tune in to your heart when you have an important decision to make. When you focus on your heart,  answers seem to come from a more loving place.  This contrasts with opinions from your mind or ego, that can often be critical.  When you have flashes of insight from your heart, that’s your intuition.

Approaching life with an open heart means that you open the door to this greater consciousness.  When stressed, try shifting your attention to your heart. Take a breath, get quiet and ask, ”What does my heart say?”  Eventually you will be able do this any time, any place, but at first it may help to try it in a quiet place. Sit with your eyes closed and draw your breath into your heart. Keep breathing in and out from your heart.  You may feel tenderness or sadness in your heart, and you may also feel relief. Any emotions that arise can be witnessed and healed through the meditation process. This benefits both your physical and energetic heart. The more you practice, the more you will find your heart opening to all that is.

Speaking nicely to yourself through your heart may be one of the more loving ways to be.  I have an Open Heart Meditation available on my website that is based on this principle.

Wishing you Peace!



Heart Talk: What if This Were Your Last Day?

Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” ~Leo Tolstoy

This goes beyond meditation, it’s an exercise in opening your heart to all that is.  If you knew this would be your last day, would you waste time worrying about everything you might not finish on your to-do list?  Would you spend your last precious moments dwelling on a minor setback? Would you hold a grudge about that fight or misunderstanding?  Or would you take time today to tell the people who are close that you love them?

If you knew this would be your last day, would you be hard on yourself for your mistakes, imperfections, or struggles?  Would you make a point, or make a difference? Would you do something, or say something that you’ve been waiting to do or say? Would you listen to people with a stronger focus, taking in every last word? Would you say yes to what you really want and no to what you don’t? Would you give yourself every opportunity to enjoy the people and things you love?   Would you look at life with a new sense of appreciation?

Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and then see this day brand new as if this is the first day of the rest of your life. Think about a happy baby who first experiences life.  Wipe the slate clean. Allow a healing light energy to take the pressure off. Open your heart.  Release and let go.  All is well.  Put a smile on. Today is a new opportunity to be you in love and gratitude!  (Photo from my niece Jaime with love!)

Wishing you peace!

Let Go of Worry with Meditation

Meditation and being more mindful can help lower your level of anxiety.  While fear can protect you from a REAL and PRESENT danger, worry and anxiety arises from a PERCEIVED threat.   Worrying can wreak havoc on your physical, mental, and emotional well being.

Practice these tips if you are a worrier:

Tip 1- Meditate.   When you meditate or do Guided Imagery, your brain moves into Alpha and Theta states that calms down the Amygdala part of the brain, “fear or flight.”  Meditation increases the alpha and theta brain wave activity. Extensive research has revealed that these relaxing waves reduce stress and anxiety.

Tip 2 – Be here, now – You can do this by taking a few deep breaths in a row.  The vast majority of time we worry about things that have already happened or will never happen, which robs us of the joy in the present moment. Practice mindfulness by focusing your attention on the here and now.

Tip 3 – Set aside time to worry – Instead of worrying all day, designate a 30-minute period of time If you find yourself worrying outside of that time, force your mind to another topic. Get creative, find solutions to your worries and then confront them head on.

Tip 4- Let go of control – Accept that some things are outside of your control. If you decide that there’s nothing you can do to change a situation…accept it and then let it go. The “Serenity” Prayer can help, “Change the things you cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tip 5 – Cultivate appreciation – Practice an attitude of gratitude. You then shift your energy into a more positive space and open yourself up to experience more joy and love rather than stress. It also helps to plan fun and relaxing activities throughout your week with family and friends.  Less worry, more joy!

Wishing you peace!


Loving Kindness Meditation

Teaching meditation and Guided Imagery, I enjoy sharing this Loving Kindness Meditation.  My clients also appreciate their heart expanding.  Although this Loving Kindness meditation has evolved from Buddhist traditions, anyone can practice this mindful meditation no matter what religion.  The words may also vary.   You begin first sending love to yourself, because without loving yourself first, how can you love others.  After closing your eyes and taking several deep belly breaths for calm, say these words silently to yourself:

May I be happy.

May I be healthy.

May I be free from suffering.

May I live life to the fullest.

Stay with this for a few minutes in silence and repeating the phrases to yourself, feeling your heart expand.  Then, you send this loving kindness to someone who has given you unconditional love.   Feel your heart connecting.  Then say these words silently to that person.  Again, go between silence and these words.

May you be happy.

May you be healthy.

May you be free from suffering.

May you live life to the fullest.

Continue in meditation for a few minutes, saying these phrases.  Then you visualize a friend and say the same words.   After that, you think of someone with whom you have had a conflict and say these words.  This may be difficult but do your best.

Then, spread this loving kindness phrase to those suffering in our community.  Feel your hearts surrounded in light and love.  Feel all the love you spread to others being returned.  Stay in meditation feeling this expansion.   After several minutes, open your eyes and carry this kindness throughout your day.

On this day or any day, spread loving kindness.

Wishing you Peace!



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