Self-Compassion

I’m Not a Mess! Life is Messy

“Life is hard!” It was such a relief when I first heard that. Until then, I had believed that life was hard because of some internal flaw and I was to blame. When I hit a bump in the road my internal message was, “I am such a mess.” I had entirely missed the message that “Life is just messy.” From my vantage point, all those other people were perfectly happy, enjoying wonderful vacations, and doing meaningful work because they had it together; not that they had found ways to triumph over the messiness of life. Struggling is Not an Error—It’s …

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Spiritual Bypassing in the Time of COVID-19

by Susan Duesbery, as originally posted in Elephant Journal The other day I was speaking with a woman who told me that she was “excited” about the positive changes the coronavirus was already ushering in. She went on to express the hope that a new world order based on love would replace current systems based on corruption and greed. After she spoke these words, I realized that I’d seen a lot of similar comments on social media lately. In many ways, I couldn’t agree more with such remarks. But there are two sides to this coin, and to ignore one …

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The Practices That Sustain Us, Part II

We’re now in the third week since a State of Emergency was declared in Michigan due to the Coronavirus. Our lives have changed drastically within a short amount of time. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is really hard.   As a follow-up to last week’s blog post, we’d like to share more on how GRCFM team members have been meeting their difficult experiences snce the impact of the pandemic began sinking in, and what practices have been important to us in these challenging times.   We hope our stories give you comfort in knowing you’re not alone in what …

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The Practices That Sustain Us

As a Center focused on teaching mindfulness, resilience, and self-compassion, we are in the business of supporting our community during the challenging times of life. Each of us has had a personal experience of the transformative power of mindfulness practice, and so we offer it outwardly as a gift with reverence and longing to help. Just like all human beings, we experience fear, anger, grief, and sadness, and it is our continued practice that sustains us. These are unsettling times, and we are all looking for some ground to stand on. We’d like to take a moment to share with …

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What a Feel-Good T-Shirt Slogan Can Teach Us About Mindfulness

I’ve noticed a phrase floating around on the internet lately, on mugs and t-shirts for sale and colorful social media feeds, meant to promote a positive attitude: “No Bad Days.”   The first few times I saw this phrase, I thought it was rather dismissive. I feel confident saying that I’ve had plenty of bad days in my life. And this trendy new feel-good phrase wants to erase that? It’s not that easy! “No Bad Days” presented itself to me as just another form of toxic positivity, meant to keep us from acknowledging the difficult times in our lives (and in others’). …

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We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” —Hopi Elder Anyone who has spent as much time as I have in the self-help section of a book store can tell you that there are innumerable opportunities to improve upon this thing called “me/you.” The possibilities of self-fixing are mind-boggling and endless. Self-improvement is our national pastime, and there are all kinds of ideas about how to be different and better or how to make up for some flaw. Some books share their insights with humor, others in seriousness, but what they all have in common is the absolute conviction that …

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Letting Go of the Tail of the Elephant

There is a story about a group of blind men who came upon a strange and wondrous creature called an elephant. None of them had ever heard of such a strange beast before and decided to check it out. With some trepidation, they approached the animal from different angles. One approached from the front and touched the elephant’s trunk, proclaiming that this creature resembled a very thick snake. One came from the side and as he grasped the elephant’s ear, shouted, “No, this animal is like a fan blowing in the breeze.” Another bumped into the animal’s leg and was …

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Caught: How We Can Get Addicted to Almost Anything (and How Mindfulness Can Help)

The brain is an amazing, simplifying mechanism. It loves to automate as much as possible; otherwise, how would we make it through our lives (or even one day)? The more automatic our brain can make our life, the more energy it can conserve for the hard work of meeting new experiences and figuring out how to make them more automatic. So, how does the brain do this in real-time? It’s a process called Reward-Based Learning. In other words, something happens, the brain decides on a strategy to deal with it, and there is a result. It might be good or …

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5 Ways to Train Your Mind for Happiness

It’s not just a pipe dream anymore, and there is science to prove it. You’ve probably heard that by training in mindfulness, you can reduce the negative effects of stress on your mind and body. You may have even heard that mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression and helps people cope with chronic illness. But did you know that mindfulness practice can train your mind to be happier? It used to be thought that we had a happiness set-point; that no matter what we do or what happens to us, we will return to the level of happiness that we were …

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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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