Does Great Lent intensify your struggle with spiritual despondency, malaise, and inattentiveness?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the care it takes to attend to the spiritual life?
Has the pandemic era or other life events sapped you of your sense of momentum or meaning, particularly with regard to the spiritual life?
Are you a fan of the book Time and Despondency and would like to take it deeper in community with the author and others?
You’re not alone!
The spiritual sickness of despondency, understood as an absence of care (from the Greek akedia) is old as the ancients, but ever present in our times. It is marked by inner restlessness, boredom, despair, distractibility, and above all by a haunting apathy towards the people, activities, and events we should (and deeply wish we could) care about.
I’ve struggled with this affliction my whole adult life, and in 2018, wrote a book about it. In Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life, I sought to bridge the wisdom of early Christian ascetics with the pain and struggle of contemporary life. Five years, several major life upheavals, and one pandemic later, the hope I found in those ancient writings more meaningful to me than ever—maybe to you, too.
This Lent, I invite you to join me in a 6-week group coaching program based on my book, Time and Despondency. I (Nicole) will facilitate this group as both the author of Time and Despondency and as a certified coach, helping to guide participants through the book in a way that sharpens personal awareness and application.
- WHEN: February 27, 2023 (Clean Monday) – April 10, 2023 (Holy Monday), with a final debrief on Monday, April 24 (one week after Pascha) = 8 coaching sessions total
- WHERE: All content and coaching sessions will be conducted virtually, using Zoom and a specialized coaching platform (not social media)
- COST: USD $75 (NOTE: this program fee does not include a copy of the book, Time and Despondency, which you will need to purchase on your own)
(Psst! Use coupon code EarlyRegain23 at checkout until February 15, 2023 to get 10% off the total cost of the program!)
Together, we will…
- Read through Time and Despondency slowly and deliberately, by completing manageable weekly reading assignments tied to the weekly themes of Orthodox Great Lent;
- Participate in weekly group coaching sessions to reflect, encourage, and learn from one another;
- Dive deeper into the book through a designated workbook and curriculum;
- Journey towards a deeper encounter with Christ, ourselves, and the Church;
- Sharpen our awareness of and appreciation for the unique ways our personal pain, struggles, and brokenness find healing in Him;
- Acquire skills to face despondency and similar struggles with greater wisdom and fortitude;
- REGAIN, with God’s help, a measure of hope, healing, and attentiveness in places despondency has deadened.
More than a reading group
This program is more than just a reading group for Time and Despondency. Think of it as a book journey or experience. The book will be our map, and will steer us through the adventures, experiences, and sloughs of despond as we venture towards Christ and the present moment.
At the same time, this program is not a “Lent boot camp.” It’s not about simply “trying harder” or “muscling through” to get to Christ or perfectionize our lives. It’s about attending, i.e. learning to dwell more peaceably and attentively with God, ourselves, and within the present moment as it is.
I am trained and certified in coaching using the trauma-informed approach. While the REGAIN program is not focused on trauma recovery, I nonetheless use this approach in all my professional coaching work. It honours the reality that everyone is carrying something, and that true healing from anything does not happen through shame, fear, or preying on people’s sense of inadequacy or failure. Neither does it happen by simply trying, blindly, to “do better.”
Instead, we tend to heal by being granted environments of safety, freedom, and meaningful connection. These environments help us learn to sit with compassionate curiosity in the mids of our painful feelings and inner realities and encounter Christ there.
Disclaimer: This program is not a substitute for mental health or medical treatment from a licensed professional. It is also not intended to replace pastoral care or lived participation in a real-life church community.
What you get
- Weekly 90-minute group coaching sessions with the author of Time and Despondency for the duration of the program (Mondays 2PM – 3:30PM EDT; additional slots may open up depending on cohort size; videos will be available after)
- Access to video or audio recordings of each group coaching session for the duration of the program
- Printable workbook to support insight and progress during the program and beyond
- Access to the private community where you will be able to connect with other participants between sessions (this will be hosted on my coaching community platform rather than social media)
What you’ll need
- Participants will need to purchase their own copy of Time and Despondency prior to the start of the program. The book can be purchased on the publisher’s website or anywhere you order books. If you prefer the audio version, you may also wish to have a text version (either hardcopy or ebook) to be able to refer to for quotes and discussion
- Regular internet access with ability to attend Zoom calls and log into the course platform
- A printer, tablet, or other device you can use to print or download the program workbook (the workbook will not be fillable)
- An hour or so each week to complete reading and course content
What others have said…
“What I valued most was everything. It is difficult to say only one thing. Helping people to understand that being honest with ourselves is very important as we pray. You gave so many helpful examples and direction in regard to this. Thank you.”
“What I gained: learning, learning, learning!”
“Through coaching with Nicole, I have been able to look back on a painful period of my life and find the ‘glimmers’ of goodness. I’m also strengthening my dream that by God’s grace my experience can be life-giving for myself and others. Now I’m starting to look at being vulnerable and asking for help as opportunities to grow in humility. The Lord used these sessions to heal bits of my soul and mind. Thank you, Nicole, for offering this ministry.”
“This was so well done; I will continue recommending your work to others. I especially hope clergy will seek out your expertise.”
“I appreciated the integrated, structured reflection, and the strength of Nicole’s knowledge and research.”
“What I valued most was learning to settle myself, and slow down in prayer and Bible reading.”
(All testimonials were obtained from anonymous responses to exit surveys submitted by group and individual coaching clients within the past year)
Who is the REGAIN program for?
This program is for Orthodox Christians wanting to devote time and effort during Lent 2023 to addressing the spiritual sickness of despondency.
What if I’ve already read Time and Despondency?
That’s fine, maybe even beneficial! This is not a reading group per se but a way to dive deeper into the book and apply it to your life. You’ll be in good company!
When and where will the group coaching sessions be held?
Right now, they are scheduled to take place on Monday afternoons from 2-3:30 PM Eastern throughout Great Lent (we will wrap up on Holy Monday, April 10, with an optional debrief on April 24).
If there is enough interest, I will split the cohort up into multiple small groups and open up a other times for each group during the week. So there may be an option to attend at a different time during the week, but I can’t guarantee this.
What if I’m not able to attend one or more of the weekly sessions?
No worries! There will be video recordings of each weekly session available. You’ll be able to connect with other participants in the online portal.
Is a copy of Time and Despondency included in the program fee?
Nope, you’ll need to purchase your own copy through the publisher (you can find it here) or anywhere you order books. If you prefer the audio version, you may wish to have some kind of text version on hand has well (ebook or hardcopy) so you can more easily find quotes and follow along during discussions.
I feel exhausted and defeated already. Will this be yet another one of those bootcamp-style, “just try harder” programs?
That’s not how I roll! This program is not a “Lent bootcamp.” It’s not about simply “trying harder” or “muscling through” to Christ, but rather about learning to dwell more peaceably and attentively with God, ourselves, and within the present moment as it is.
Will I have to show my face or participate in the coaching sessions?
No (although you can if you want).
I want to participate in this program with a spouse, family member, or parish book group, can we just buy one membership?
Each person needs to register individually. This ensures fairness and quality of content, and allows each person individualized access to the online program content.
What online platforms will be used for the program?
I use Gumroad for the registration orders, and the program itself will be hosted on MightyNetworks. The group coaching sessions will be conducted via Zoom.
What are your qualifications and methodology as a coach?
So glad you asked!
I received my trauma-informed coaching certification in 2021 from the ICF-accredited Moving the Human Spirit program. This program allows me to work safely and responsibly with a variety of clients around trauma recovery, and broader areas of pain and struggle. In my group and individual coaching, I specialize in general trauma recovery coaching, recovery coaching for spiritual trauma, and trauma-informed creative coaching for authors and artists. (Read more about my services here.)
I also earned my PhD in European History (with a minor field in Church History) from the University of Cincinnati in 2015. I have taught in an adjunct capacity at the Orthodox School of Theology (Trinity College, Toronto) and have written several books on practical Orthodox theology.
Have a question that hasn’t been answered?
About your coach
Hi, my name is Nicole M. Roccas. In addition to being the author of Time and Despondency, I’m also a certified trauma-informed coach, and I’ll be leading this program.
For much of my life, writing has served as a conduit for translating the chaos and pain of the world around me into order and meaning. My three published books, podcast, and social media presence share a common theme of trying to give voice to the pain and blessing of what it means to be human in a broken and sometimes painful world.
Much of my own pain as of late has revolved around acknowledging and healing from experiences of trauma. The further I travel the healing journey, the more I realize how much my emotional scars affect my ability to write and think creatively, and offer the fruits of my creative work to a world full of people who have the ability to hurt me.
I created this group coaching program in response to hearing from many readers since the publication of my book who are hoping for a way to dive deeper into Time and Despondency, in order to better understand how despondency affects, how it interacts with other life stressors and experiences, and what the healing offered by Christ and His Church can look like in the context of their own lives.
I hope you’ll join us!
About Time and Despondency
Idleness. Apathy. Restlessness. Procrastination. These are symptoms of what early Christian theologians called despondency (acedia), a spiritual sickness rooted in a lack of care or effort. A condition as old as the ancients, despondency thrives in today’s culture of leisure, anxiety, and digital distraction. Time and Despondency is a penetrating synthesis of ancient theology, spiritual memoir, and self-help practicality. It envisions despondency as the extension of a broken relationship with the experience of time. Driven by the fear of death and the anxiety of living, despondency drives us to abandon the present moment, forsaking the only temporal realm in which we have true fellowship with Christ. The remedies offered by time-honored Christian thinkers for this predicament constitute not only an antidote to despondency but also stepping stones back to the present moment. In regaining the sacredness of time, we re-encounter the Resurrection of Christ in the dark and restless moments of our lives.