How to melt claustrophobia and panic.

airport flight meditation

What happens when you have a simple mindfulness practice that you can rely on?  Something you can pull out on demand, when you feel yourself starting to lose it and you absolutely need to be grounded and calm?

Here’s a story from one of my students, and how a simple practice has made a massive difference:

When I am overly tired or under high stress I get a little claustrophobic in elevators.  The feeling passes quickly enough so I haven’t worried about it, but in the last year I seem to feel that way a little more often than before.   

I was travelling back from a long, fun-filled weekend in Charlotte, NC last month and was scheduled to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta, then Atlanta to San Francisco.  I hadn’t had much sleep but the flight from Charlotte to Atlanta was fine.  I boarded the plane for the second leg of the trip okay and had a middle seat.  

All was well until the planes doors were closed and one of the passengers had to leave the plane because there wasn’t a seat for him. Continue reading “How to melt claustrophobia and panic.”

The secrets to success that most attorneys miss.

sunset girl - unsplash

Chronic stress, substance abuse, and depression are common career pitfalls for attorneys.  These can lead to burnout and malpractice, damaging an attorney’s health and career.

I’ve been a lawyer since 2005, and I’m still surprised by how many attorneys shrug their shoulders in defeat and accept this a matter of course.

“That’s just how it is. What can you do?”

Really, counselor?

If you were your client, would you accept that answer?

Here are two secrets to success that most attorneys miss:  value your own wellbeing, and select a team to help you perform at a high level over time. Continue reading “The secrets to success that most attorneys miss.”


For most of my life I completely dismissed meditation as boring rubbish.  Sure, it was ok for the hippies, flakes, and losers — but I was a real person, with a real job and a real life!  Who has time to meditate?  And why on earth would you want to sit around and do. . . nothing?

It made no sense to me.

And I grew up in Santa Cruz, a beautiful sea-side town affectionally known to many for its hippie vibe.

So it’s funny that I teach people how to meditate and practice mindfulness in daily life.

What changed?

Well, I found a teacher.  Not that I was looking for one.  But a series of random events brought me to a small group class, and that was the beginning of taking the “meh” out of “meditation.”

My first big insights:

I didn’t have to be sitting on the floor, wearing weird clothes, with incense smoldering in the corner.  It was something I could do in a chair, in my work clothes.  No incense required.

It wasn’t about sitting and closing my eyes, and then waiting for something to happen.  It was about becoming more observant and aware of what was happening right in front of me.  I felt like a scientist, or an anthropologist.

I’d feel more relaxed and energized. . . at the same time!

My home practice could be just 5 minutes. . . and it still worked!  I’d go to class once a week for a longer practice and group discussion, then practice on my own in these bite-size meditations that fit my life.  Awesome.

It was a revelation.

Meditation gave me a fresh perspective on my inner thoughts and emotions, and also a new way to think about the challenges of work and relationships.  It let me see things in a new light.  Gave me a fresh perspective.

Which changes everything.

Once you see something, you can’t un-see it.  And once I saw for myself how useful, practical, and awesome meditation was, I couldn’t not practice.  And I couldn’t not share it with others.

And that leads me to the whole point of this post, which is to tell you to read this post by my friend Heath.  He heard my interview on The App Guy podcast, and reached out to me with some questions.  I pointed him in the right direction, and then, well, you can read what happened after that.

Here’s a quote to get you started:

Being a type A personality growing up, I always cold-shouldered the thought of meditation because it just seemed ridiculous. I didn’t have time for it – I didn’t need it – I definitely didn’t want it. . .


I was living every second in the quicksand, barely keeping my head above the oxygen level. Something needed to change. . .

The story of what changed is so beautiful.  I know I’ve been there.  Maybe you have, too.  I think you’ll love Heath’s story.  I’m happy to have been a part of it!

Listen to my interview with Heath on The Artrepreneur Now podcast.

Listen to my interview with Paul Kemp on The App Guy podcast.

Kim Nicol - meditation and mindfulness coach

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The wrong shoes.

Imagine you put on a pair of shoes.  They don’t fit quite right.  But you keep wearing them anyway, for whatever reason.  And after a while, your feet begin to hurt.

What do you do?

Maybe you say to yourself, “Huh, these are the wrong shoes.  I thought they were good for me, but I was wrong.  Or maybe I’ve just outgrown them.”

And then you take off the shoes and go barefoot for a while, and then try on other pairs until you find what feels right.

Or maybe. . . you say to yourself, “What’s wrong with me?  My feet are too big.  My arches are too flat.  Maybe if I just tried harder, I could make this work.”

And you wear those shoes for years, suffering.  There is the pain in your body, and the pain in your mind from beating up on yourself.  You feel trapped in those shoes.

Two ways to look at the same situation.

How you see the situation — your perception — informs your choice.

Your choice shapes your life. Continue reading “The wrong shoes.”

What meditation looks like.

I used to have this image in my mind of what meditation looked like:  sitting quietly on the floor, doing nothing.  And this seemed so terribly. . . boring.  So it’s no surprise that meditation never interested me.  Until I learned that it could look quite different.

You could sit in a chair, for instance.

And I discovered that the sitting still was actually fascinating, because once I closed my eyes I became aware of all kinds of other things:  sounds, sensations, thoughts.  It was like going on a private little trip — only instead of taking me away somewhere, it brought me closer to the present moment and my own self.  I began to notice just how much was going on underneath the surface of my mind.  Sometimes it was a monkey mind, jumping from one place to another, playing with thoughts as if they were shiny toys.  Sometimes it was storm of ideas and emotions, and I’d feel swept up in the stories.

There was always something to discover.  And a quiet space between the part of me that was observing, and the part of me that was experiencing.

I’ve learned that there are lots of ways to meditate.  It doesn’t have to look a certain way.

You don’t have to be a monk or a nun.  You don’t have to have perfect posture.  You don’t have to be chanting or sitting on the floor or wearing organic hemp robes or essential oils. You don’t have to be solemn.  You don’t have to have bells or incense or any particular belief system.

You just show up.  You observe what’s there.

That’s the foundation.  The beginning.

And there’s more, of course.

Once you start to practice, it’s like discovering a super-power.  And as with any super-power, how you choose to use it is up to you.  You might use it for your marriage, or for work, or for sex, or for peace of mind, or for health.  You might use it to handle stress, or anger, or grief.  Or to enhance confidence, or pleasure, or joy.

But now I’ve drifted from my intention in this post, which is simply to show you one example of what meditation looks like.  (When you drift, notice it, then come back.)

So here’s a video I shot when I was teaching in the West Indies.  It’s a guided meditation I filmed for you, so you that you can see what I look like when I teach.  Just one example of what meditation can look like.


I’m putting together a set of recordings and self-study worksheets based on my teachings at Montpelier.  Stay tuned for more details.  Or join my list if you haven’t yet, and you’ll be the first to hear about it when it’s released.

Kim Nicol - meditations - montpelier

Turning UGHs into HUGs.

My friend Christine is a yoga teacher and international poker player.  She takes her seat at a poker table in Macau, surrounded by Hong Kong businessmen who don’t know what to make of her as she sips her chamomile tea and stretches.  Christine says, “Life, like poker, is a game of skill and chance. You get the cards you get. What matters is how you choose to handle it.”

We’ve all had a moment when it feels like Life has dealt you a sh*tty hand, and sucker-punched you in the gut for no reason. 

Well, a few weeks ago my friend Jenny, who is the photographer behind beards of san francisco, found that all of her gear had been stolen out of the trunk of her car. Thousands of dollars of equipment — gone. UGH. Jenny handled it with extraordinary grace.
Continue reading “Turning UGHs into HUGs.”

Listen to Desire.

Complaining can be a lot of fun.  I used to work with a woman who loved to complain:  her boyfriend, her parents, her commute, her workload. . . And I made the mistake of trying to help her solve one of the problems she complained about.  “What if you. . .” I started, until she shot me daggers and interrupted, “No, no, no!  You don’t understand.”

And I realized that complaining was one of her favorite things.  It gave her comfort.  It was easier than doing something about it.

And I understand this.  For years I complained about my job.  About what wasn’t right.  About how “they don’t understand,” and then I’d complain about the job market, or the economy, or whatever made me feel better about not taking action.

And one day I just got sick of hearing myself complain. Continue reading “Listen to Desire.”

Meditation loves metrics.

I love introducing people to meditation, and helping them get their own personal practice off the ground.  Yesterday I received this message and it was so great — it’s a question that comes up a lot when you start meditating — I asked and got the ok to share it here:

I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the advice and link to some of your material, I have been working to incorporate this every morning before I start my day (either pre-shower or in car before I step into work).

This has helped make some improvements to set my day off right (I am classic ADHD and very busy schedule). Some days it helps more than others, I am just trying to set the habit.

Can you suggest what the next beginner steps would be to do more here? I am assuming just spending more time doing the same exercise. What metrics do you use for a beginner to measure progress?

Before I share my reply, I want to point out that meditation loves metrics. Continue reading “Meditation loves metrics.”

Let success go deep.

From time to time, it’s a good idea to ask yourself:  What does success look like?  What does it feel like?

Because the answers may change as you live and experience different flavors of success.  If you don’t check in with yourself, you could spend years of your life chasing an idea of success that you’ve outgrown.  Trying to make it fit.

And there are outside layers of success:  things people can see from your Facebook status or LinkedIn profile.  Your job title, where you live, your stuff, your vacations, all the conferences or parties you attend, or how perfect your relationship appears.

And that’s all cool.  Have that.

But also take time to become still and ask yourself how it feels underneath.  Does success live only on the surface of your life?  Or does it go deep? Continue reading “Let success go deep.”

Courage, love.

Because meditation slows you down, it lets whatever is inside become very vivid, very present.  It amplifies your existing joy, love, happiness. But it also brings the uncomfortable parts — fear, self-doubt, exhaustion — right up in your face.

This can be terrifying.  Especially if you’re in the habit of numbing, distancing, or distracting yourself by being super busy, over eating,  drinking too much, creating drama in your life and relationships, or losing yourself in TV or online (“there’s so much internet to read!”).

I know something about this. Continue reading “Courage, love.”