Self-Compassion

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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When Mindfulness Isn’t Enough

When I began to receive the benefits of mindfulness, I was nothing short of amazed. Here I am, not doing anything, and I’m feeling calm and at ease. The old voices in my head that said I had to do something, fix something, fix me, had started to become quieter. Relieved that there was a way to be in my life that didn’t require doing, I embraced the gift of mindful awareness. There were ups and downs in my practice, but over the long haul, things kept getting better. I was feeling less anxiety, my stress level was way down, …

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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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Being Thankful Can Change Your Life

Why I Started a Gratitude Practice Three months ago, I started a gratitude practice. I know; it seems a bit late. I’ve been hearing about the benefits of gratitude—and recommending it—for years, but somehow I couldn’t quite buy into it. So, I just kept putting it off. On August 17, I arrived at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center in the southern part of Washington State for a long-anticipated silent retreat. Cloud Mountain is in an amazingly beautiful setting in the midst of a rain forest. Everything was covered in moss, and the big, abundant ferns made me even more excited to …

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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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Generosity Begins with You

By Patti Ward, M.Ed. December can easily be seen as a month of great generosity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for “generosity” is: the quality of being kind and generous. The meaning of “generous” is to show a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. What’s your definition of generosity? There is actually a “Science of Generosity Initiative” at the University of Notre Dame. In their research, a number of studies have demonstrated a relationship between generosity, happiness, and well-being. They also discovered a seeming paradox; freely giving of oneself makes us …

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We’re All Just Doing the Best We Can

When I was 15, my boyfriend broke up with me. When I was 19, I got fired from my first office job. When I was 27, I found out my youngest son had diabetes. When I was 35, I broke a confidence with a friend. When I was 45, I was obsessed with the wrinkles in my face… And so it went, one situation after another in a life that felt like it was going off the rails. In each case, I was devastated and totally sure that it was my fault, and I was the only one that had …

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The Violence of Self-Improvement

I recently came across a brilliant quote by the rocker, David Lee Roth. He said, “The problem with self-improvement is knowing when to quit.” It connects to another favorite phrase of mine which is “the violence of self-improvement.” It is a poignant phrase because it combines two things we rarely associate with one another—violence and improvement. Most of us believe that anything we can do to improve ourselves is a good thing, and we forget that violence can live at the extremes of anything, including the quest for improving one’s self. For me, the violence of self-improvement shows up most …

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Love = Nourishment: 5 Ways to Give Yourself the Love You Need

February is a time we all think about hearts and flowers and the one we love. But for many of us, even if we have others in our lives, we find it difficult to let that love in. And, if we don’t have anyone in our lives that can offer us a hug or box of chocolates, February can seem like a really lonely month. I’ve been in and out of relationships my whole adult life, and I’ve often felt just as lonely when I’m in one as when I’m not. Right now I have a great husband who never …

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