Meeting Difficult Emotions with Compassion

Life is just hard sometimes. We get sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, and afraid—and the events of the last year may be providing us with a real test.  I have a long history of running away from pain.  When I was in college, there were times when my anxiety hit the roof and I would do just about anything to get away from it. As a young mother, I struggled with depression, and there were times when I would eat a whole pizza so I wouldn’t have to feel it. As a business person, I can remember being super overwhelmed and …

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To What Do You Pay Attention?

Each of us has a finite amount of attention we can use each day—and that was true even before we entered the current “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous” state of the world.  Still, even though it seems the world is demanding a lot of us each day—and the hamster wheel shows no signs of stopping itself—it’s worth asking ourselves: Am I giving my attention to the things that matter to me? For everything we (purposely or inadvertently) pay attention to: Work (particularly outside of “work hours”) Social media/email/texting News (especially of the political variety) Our attention is removed from activities, items, …

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Parenting Through a Pandemic (and Beyond): Presence, Not Perfection

“When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices The exasperation of parenting COVID-style has become the theme of many online memes, sarcastic jokes, and parodies to try to ease the intensity of this very intense experience. Perhaps just the words “COVID” or “virtual schooling” are enough to trigger thoughts of doom and gloom. It has certainly been a difficult year on many many levels. Trying a Different Perspective If we had the time to reflect on this past year, I believe that we could each …

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How Do You Care for Your Mind?

And an update on our mission In January 12’s newsletter, we shared the recent Ten Percent Happier podcast interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. My takeaway from the discussion is that the single most important thing we can each do at this moment of great personal, political, and global turmoil, is take care of our minds.  Practicing mindfulness helps us notice our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, which creates the foundation necessary to objectively examine our biases, discomforts, and the values and judgments we’ve inherited from others rather than consciously formed for ourselves.  Yes, I agree; …

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Beginning Again in 2021

2020 has been filled with one heartbreak after another, each one seeming worse than the last. Many of us have felt at times like everything we’d thought we could count on was lost, and that the weight of the failures, setbacks, and tragedies might crush us.  I get it; sometimes things just feel too hard to face. I’ve spent way too much energy trying to bury my head in the sand – and then feeling more and more overwhelmed with each of my refusals to acknowledge the problem.  Looking to the helpers And yet, we have also seen the most …

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Greeting the Holiday in a New Way

Although I am normally an optimistic person, lately I’ve found myself feeling a bit down as I realize that so many of the things I love about this time of year won’t be a possibility; that this holiday will be like no other. Things like the whoosh of cold air when I open the door to welcome family on Christmas Day, or the warmth emanating from the fire as I gather with friends whom I haven’t seen in way too long. Or, watching the kids’ excited faces while waiting for the moment when the adults finally say, “OKAY, let’s open …

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Pointing at Mindfulness for Therapists and Their Clients

A teacher once asked her students to imagine standing outside on a dark, starry night. “Imagine you are with a friend, and your friend is trying to show you the moon. ‘Look!’ they might say as they lift their index finger toward the sky; ‘There’s the moon!’ Imagine how your eyes would follow their finger as it guided you to look at the moon hanging high in the night sky. Without your friend pointing you in the proper direction, you may have missed the moon completely.” The teacher then wisely concluded, “Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for …

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What If It’s Not “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for Me?

If you polled the people in my innermost circles about whether I lean more heavily toward optimism or pessimism, I would venture to guess that they’d overwhelmingly label me as a positive person. I’m a hugger, I’m a Pisces, I call all my dear ones “My Love”… so you might be inclined to assume that I’m also the type of person to put my Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving and host cookie exchanges.  I hate to disappoint, but I’m not. Nearly imperceptibly, a feeling of dread and resistance begin to creep into my emotional body just before Halloween, and it …

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Rebuilding Trust in Our Bodies

“What is always speaking silently is the body.”  – Norman Brown There are many reasons why we grow to mistrust our bodies.  My struggle to connect with my body stems from multiple sources, including how I was raised to not trust my body’s cues around food.  I’ve been pondering this quite a bit lately, since I recently participated in the Mindful Eating for the Holidays workshop. I was just reminded of it again while scrolling Instagram. I follow an account, @family.snack.nutritionist, that shares strategies for parents to have less stress around mealtimes with their children, and helps with building healthy …

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Moving Forward: Embracing All Parts of Ourselves

I want to think of myself as level-headed and compassionate, slow to anger and reasonable, but lately, it has become evident that’s only part of the story. I am also a person who can get lost in feelings of anger, judgment, and disgust. Being forced to contemplate these two sides of my personality has been a struggle. It’s painful to look into the shadows.  Over the last few months, I’ve been depending on my mindfulness practice to bring me back again and again from the brink of despair to a level of equilibrium. As I’ve listened to the rhetoric of …

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