Jeni Juarez

Can Mindfulness Make Us More Socially Engaged?

There’s a fair amount of criticism about how practicing mindfulness is a selfish endeavor. The assumption is that by taking time for classes or retreats, quietly reflecting on my inner state, and choosing to minimize distractions or “noise”, that I will become overly focused on myself at the expense of the very real local and world issues surrounding me. To that I say: Perhaps, but there’s much, much more to the story. Harmful vs. Noble Selfishness For most of my life, I have strived to be considered a success; to be “enough”. This meant being hyper-fixated on my outward appearance, …

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How Perfectionism Harms Us (and Those We Love)

Imagine coming home after a long day at work to a house cluttered with dishes, a stack of mail on the table, stray socks on the floor, and an overflowing trash can. You’re so exhausted, and with another intense day at the office awaiting you tomorrow, you’d love nothing more than to crawl under the blankets and go to sleep. Do you eat a snack, brush your teeth, and hit the sack? Or does your breath quicken as your eyes scan the room and you begin a mental list of everything you need to do before going to bed? If …

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How to Help a Loved One Who’s Struggling

Hello, my name is Jeni, and I am a recovering fixer.  I first started noticing my penchant for telling other people what to do when I was repeatedly called bossy in elementary school. Later, it became a joke when I’d tell everyone that I had declared business management as my major because, “No matter what happens to the economy, you’re always going to need someone to tell someone else what to do.”  So when the people around me were struggling with anything from poor sleep to grief, you could leave it to me to tell them why they’re feeling what …

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I’d Rather Be At Peace Than Be Right

Let’s face it: Who’s NOT talking about COVID-19 these days? Everywhere I turn, that’s the topic du jour. With all the division, I can’t help but feel like I’m supposed to “pick a side” among the many conflicting viewpoints, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to know what to believe. It doesn’t take much self-reflection to acknowledge that we each have a tendency to hold certain people and certain professions as more trustworthy and therefore a source of truth. But the challenge in this digital age is that I can conveniently find whatever evidence I need to reinforce my personal biases …

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The Wisdom of a Broken Heart

A poem by Jeni Juarez What saddens me the most about the current state of the world is how people everywhere are becoming so paralyzed by fear; that they are struggling so much to access their emotional resilience—their unarmed heart. It is this turning away from—this armored heart—that keeps us separated, alienated from one another; unable to feel the warmth, the magnificence of a heart-to-heart connection. What encourages me the most about the current state of the world is how people everywhere are becoming so paralyzed by fear. Because my deeper wisdom tells me that suffering is Grace. It forces …

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What Does Happiness Mean to You?

A year or so ago, I was having a really beautiful conversation with a friend of mine. We were each sharing about how our life trajectories had changed over the years, and how we were now aspiring to different goals. I came right out and asked her, “What is it that you want?” She told me, “I just want to be happy.”   I paused for a moment, took a breath, looked at her and asked, “What does that even mean? Suppose you get the perfect job, find the perfect partner, buy the perfect home, and find yourself in perfect health”; …

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Mindfulness: Where Do I Start?

In my experience, and I’m pretty sure that psychological research would back me up on this, human beings don’t start new, helpful routines unless they are motivated. We tend to make sincere and lasting changes to our day-to-day lives only if we are at or nearing our tolerance threshold for emotional, psychological, or physical pain. For me, it was debilitating stress that brought me to mindfulness practices. Have You Had Enough? Depression had a way of sapping all my energy and joy. I was doing the same thing day in and day out, feeling trapped within the walls of my …

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Why Pay Attention?

When my oldest daughter, Elaina, first tried tying her own shoes, she couldn’t figure it out. She immediately became frustrated and said, “I can’t do it.” When I softly suggested that she try again, she gave me an emphatic, “NO!” Oh no, I thought; this sounds a bit like someone else I know who struggles with getting things wrong—me. Who likes to be bad at things? Definitely not me. So, as you can imagine, I’ve begun to notice how this not-liking-to-suck attitude has invited me to become very risk-averse. If there’s a chance of failure, I’ll take a pass. Easy …

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