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

Good news for lawyers and law students.

Last fall I recorded a talk on Sustainable Success, produced by Continuing Education of the Bar. It was directed at lawyers, who often wonder if being successful means having to give up their health, personal and family life. Given the high rates of substance abusedepression, and suicide within the profession, this is a real issue.

It is no accident that so many jurisdictions — including California — mandate continuing legal education on substance abuse and mental wellness. 

Unfortunately, the CA State Bar recently determined it did not meet the qualifications to be offered for CLE credit.

The good news is that CEB has decided to make it available free of charge.

So while I’m disappointed in the State Bar’s decision, I’m thrilled that CEB supports this program and is making Sustainable Success: Mindfulness for Lawyers even more accessible.

This is good news.

And there’s more.

Because ordinarily, these programs are only available to California attorneys — people with California State Bar numbers.

But my contact at CEB says that law students can also access the program for free. They just need to contact Customer Service: 800-232-3444 or 510-302-2000 or

So if you’re not a member of the California State Bar, and you want to check out this program, you can can. For free. Thanks to CEB’s commitment to supporting the legal community.

Here’s a link to the full program description on CEB’s website.

If there’s a law student or attorney in your life, share this with them. You never know what difference it could make.

better lawyer


Originally posted on LinkedIn.

5 words.

It’s one thing to read about meditation, and a completely different matter to actually experience it for yourself.  So I’ve made a fun challenge for you to try.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. Listen to this 5-minute guided meditation.
  2. Write down one word about your experience.
  3. Do this five times over the course of a week or so.

At the end, you’ll have 5 words.  What are they?  Tell me.

The 5-minute meditation is designed to help you cultivate an attitude of curiosity and kindness — two key tools you will need for the journey.

Everything you need is right here.

Here’s a note I received this morning to give you an idea of what you can expect:

I’m unprecedentedly excited to report to you that I finished my 5 meditations and here are my 5 words:

1. expanded
2. deflated
3. supported
4. grrrr
5. settled

I really enjoyed this assignment. It showed me how much I change from one moment to the next and that my meditation practice will always be in flux too.

This is such a great insight!  Meditation is not about disconnecting and floating off into a happy fantasy of bliss.  The point is to take a moment to notice the moment — to be more fully in the now. What do you find?

Meditation is one way to find space, clarity, and intimacy with your own experience.  Insights come from moments of stillness.  What you decide to do with those insights is up to you.

Here’s another perspective from someone else who took on the challenge:

My 5 words are. . .

1. Intriguing
2. blurry
3. distracted/green
4. revived
5. calm/new

I am absolutely a fan of this already.  4 out of the 5 were very soothing, relaxing, and mind healing.  One day was very distracting, and I just couldn’t grab focus.

The 1st and last of the 5 days were the best experiences.  The 2nd day I actually ran 5 miles right after meditating, and the entire time I ran I thought about my breath and focusing on it.  It was a very relaxing run.

I also love your voice and I hope you have longer guided meditations that I can use in the future.

I love this stuff so much.  Every experience was different, and then this person even applied their practice — mindful awareness of the present moment — to their run!  And noticed a difference!

Life is not just an adventure — it’s your adventure!  And meditation can really help you enjoy the highs and lows, and feel fully alive every step of the way.

Here’s a link to my meditation challenge.  I invite you to try it.  I hope you have fun, and learn something useful!  Let me know how it goes.



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Unplug and recharge.

We all need to drop by the oasis from time to time.  That’s where you gather your strength, rest and reflect, and replenish yourself.

Because no matter how strong or determined you are, if you are out of synch and out of balance, you simply can’t be your best self.  If you don’t rest appropriately, everything starts to break down.  Failure to rest takes its toll on your work, health, and personal relationships.

Rest is valuable.  

Take time to unplug, sleep, play, and reconnect.  Replenish your mind and body, heart and spirit.  

Tree and greathouseI’d like to invite you to join me for a week of deep rest.   Continue reading “Unplug and recharge.”

Don’t I need anxiety to push myself and get things done?

Since I work with so many high-achievers, this question comes up a lot.  And it’s a really good question, because it shows that you’re thinking about your relationship to anxiety and stress.

My short answer is:  Anxiety can be useful from time to time.  But kindness is a better long-term strategy.

I like to think of it in fitness terms.

Let’s say you have really strong quads, because you train them every day.  But because that’s all you do, they become over-developed in relationship to the rest of your system — your hamstrings are underdeveloped and your psoas is tight — so your overall system is out of balance. Continue reading “Don’t I need anxiety to push myself and get things done?”

Keep breathing.

I have been getting email requests for advice.  One person in particular had a very intense challenge.  And while I hadn’t experienced the specifics of what she was going through, the emotional tone was so familiar to me.  She was in that dark place.  That hard place, where you feel alone and underneath a great sadness.

I know that place, and I shared some of my thoughts with her.  And now I want to share them with you, in case you ever find yourself there.

When things feel dark, keep breathing.   Continue reading “Keep breathing.”