Resilience

What Is Your True North?

Every year on December 31, I spend some time reflecting on the past year.  And then, like a lot of you, I look forward to what I want to accomplish in the next 365 days. There is never any lack of possible projects to take on, but this year my focus is different. This year, I want to focus on discovering my values—the things that are really important to me that give my life meaning. It’s not that I don’t have any goals; I think goals and aspirations are really important. What is more important, however, are the underlying principles …

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5 Mindful Things to Do When You’re Feeling Blue

Becoming the Author of Our Own Happiness It seems like our happiness always lies just over the next hill; life just isn’t what we thought it would be. Mick Jagger once lamented, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”   We look for a new relationship, a better job, or something to buy or eat that will fill the void. Often, we get what we want only to realize that that wasn’t quite it, so we move on to the next thing, and then the next thing, and none of it is entirely satisfactory. Why is there always a gap between the way …

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Start with Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” —Shunryu Suzuki Roshi It’s December 31, and I haven’t made even one New Year’s resolution yet. It’s not that haven’t thought about it; actually, that’s all I’ve been thinking about today. Some of the possible candidates have included: losing 5 pounds, sending out more thank you notes, going to bed earlier, doing yoga and meditation every day, and not procrastinating—but nothing seems quite right. I’m beginning to realize that when I focus my attention on what I want to change, what I want to change begins to define me. It …

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Finding Wholeness

A couple of years ago, I went on a spiritual journey to my church’s headquarters. I took a class titled “Healing and Wholeness.” Little did I know that this was the beginning of some very significant changes in my life. My Healing and Wholeness class taught me that to heal deeper life wounds, and to achieve greater wholeness, the path includes embracing all that comes my way in life. Acceptance is the key. I’ll never forget the instructor asking us what we would do if a baby in our home were crying: leave it to cry alone, or pick it …

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Meeting Difficult Emotions With Compassion

Read an updated version of this blog post here. Life is just hard sometimes. We get sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, and afraid. If you’re like me, you will do everything and anything you can to avoid the pain. Have a glass of wine, get lost in Facebook, go shopping, or eat ten doughnuts. If only all those tactics worked—but they don’t. The feelings don’t go away; they just get buried for a while, take their vitamins, and get ready to erupt in a Mount Vesuvius kind of way. Usually, it happens at the worst time. Another way to meet those …

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3 Essential Elements of Self-Compassion

“Sweetheart. You are struggling. Relax. Take a breath, and then we will figure out what to do.” I love these words from long-time meditation teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, for two reasons: 1) They challenge me; and 2) they contain the three essential elements of self-compassion. Let’s start with the first reason. I am challenged to the core by the word sweetheart! Who in the world refers to themself as “sweetheart” when they are struggling? Not me! In fact, the thought of it makes me cringe and causes my chest to tighten up. It seems I share this response with many others. …

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My Amygdala Made Me Do It!

Imagine a world where each time you messed up or said something mean, you yelled, “My amygdala made me do it!” Although that may sound funny, it could be just the thing to help you step back from reactivity and take more responsibility for your actions. Why? The amygdala is the portion of the brain responsible for sounding the alarm when we perceive a threat or some nearby danger (see Carol’s blog post: Change Your Brain). The time between the amygdala sounding the alarm and our reaction is so fast we usually do not realize the alarm has sounded until after …

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My Life with “Sheila,” My Inner Critic

“If you don’t change direction, you’ll end up going in the same direction.” —Yogi Berra I love this quote by Yogi Berra, because it reminds me that I actually have to do things differently to get a different result. As the old adage goes, “If you do what you did, you get what you got.” That’s the story of my relationship with “Sheila,” my inner critic. Why Sheila? I don’t know, I just figured that I had to give her a name so that I could create some space between her and me. It was a way to remind myself …

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How to Feel Your Feelings

“The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings.” —Gita Bellin I love this quote because it truly blows my mind! What does that mean? How do I feel my feelings? How does that lead to freedom? Although my mind doesn’t entirely understand, my heart feels an immediate sense of relief. Oh. I just have to feel. I don’t have to fight or resist or push anything away. Just feel. I start to breathe a little easier. Naming Basic Emotions It is important to get both heart and mind on board together when learning new things. And so I …

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4 Ways Mindfulness Helps My Anxiety

By Rachel E. Watson When my husband and I took the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class at Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness in 2013, we weren’t sure what to expect. I approached the class with trepidation. What if it’s too much work? What if there’s an Eastern religious angle that conflicts with my Christian faith? What if it doesn’t help reduce my stress? Won’t it be stressful to attend a class every week and do homework every day? Turns out, my fears were groundless. Yes, the class was a bit of work—maybe an hour a day, or up to two hours …

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