As I continue to watch the news and witness the destruction of the island, and the despair of the people of Puerto Rico, my heart grows heavier with each story of suffering. Tuning in to my thoughts and feelings as I am apt to do,Read More
Got one minute to spare? Try this simple and relaxing one-minute breathing meditation. It might be the easiest thing you do for you all day!
Benefits of the one-minute breathing meditation include:
- Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system dissolving stress and anxiety
- Slows down and calms the mind
- Activates and strengthens the prefrontal cortex
- Enhances mindfulness
- Boosts resilience and self-directed neuroplasticity
- A terrific tool for your self-care practice
- A great practice for all levels of meditators
- A simple and portable practice
I’d love to have you join me again, or if you’d like to practice on your own, you can download a copy of the meditation script here.
One Minute Breathing Meditation
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable position
- Soften or close your eyes and direct your awareness to your breath
- Breathing gently and naturally, simply follow the rhythm of your breath
- As you breath in, feel your stomach and lungs expanding
- As you breath out, letting go
- Breathing in, feel your body getting fuller
- Breathing out, letting go of any tension or stress
- Breathing in, feeling alive and awake
- Breathing out, feeling relaxed and calm
- On your final breath, lengthening the breath and breathing in deeply
- And slowly letting it go
A Mindfulness Ted Talk You Don’t Want to Miss!
My love affair with Mindfulness is in full bloom, and when a client recently shared this Ted Talk given by Shauna Shapiro, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
Key takeaways from this talk include:
o Personal transformation is possible, no matter what our circumstances
o Our minds travel between the past and future 47% of the time, rather being here now
o What we focus on grows stronger. What do you want to grow?
o Shame is universal and robs the brain of the energy necessary to change, but mindfulness (and kind attention) is the anecdote to shame!
o Kind attention takes practice, and is at the heart of personal transformation
What we practice grows stronger! By practicing mindfulness and kind attention, our capacity for empathy, love, and connection is growing stronger every day.
You don’t want to miss this brief Ted Talk and the kind attention exercise included at the end!
I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you feel inspired, drop me a line below.
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ~Christopher Germer
The RAIN of Self-Compassion is a simple but profound mindfulness practice can be used as a stand-alone mindful meditation, or as a tool to cope with painful thoughts, feelings, or body sensations.
RAIN is one of the essential mindfulness tools that I practice regularly and teach all of my clients to help manage stress, depression, and anxiety while increasing their own sense of self-compassion. I encourage everyone to learn the steps and practice regularly! This way, when the time comes that you need a healthy way to work through difficult emotions or challenging circumstances, you know exactly what to do to gently and gracefully work with whatever is happening.
This version of RAIN of self-compassion was developed by Tara Brach, a psychologist and founder of the Insight Meditation Community. If you haven’t checked her out, you will definitely want to!
RAIN is an acronym that stands for:
Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is,
Investigate with interest and care,
Nourish with self-compassion
Below are two RAIN of Self-Compassion resources that you can download to help you begin or strengthen your personal self-compassion practices.
The first is an excerpt from from Brach’s book, True Refuge (2013) that provides a background for the need that each of us has for cultivating a greater sense of self-compassion, as well as clearly written and easy to understand steps for practicing RAIN.
The second resource is an 11 minute guided meditation, led by Tara Brach herself.
I am a lover of self-compassion. Seriously, I could talk your ear off for hours. When I first discovered self-compassion in graduate school, I wondered, where has this been all of my life? It seems to me that we are most familiar with is self-criticism, self-judgement, and low self-esteem.
I have discovered, however, in my work and in my life, that self-compassion is foundational to a life well-lived.
Kristen Neff, pioneering self-compassion researcher, defines self-compassion as: extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. She adds that self-compassion is composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
But why is self-compassion so difficult? Why is it a challenge to be kind to ourselves?
In working with clients, I have found that self-compassion is such an abstract concept that people sometimes don’t know where to begin.
Below is one of my favorite self-compassion exercises, as well as a bit of inspiration to try to begin cultivating a more self-compassionate life.
Just remember…you are worth the effort.
Your relationship with yourself if the most important and permanent relationship you will ever have, so why not make it amazing?
Self-Compassion Exercise: Changing your critical self-talk
First, begin by becoming aware of your internal dialog or thoughts. Sometimes we are unaware of how harsh our internal critic can be. With enough observation, you may discover key statements that come up over and over again, such as, “I did it again, I am such a loser.”
Next, consider a more compassionate stance. How can you soften and be kind to yourself in this moment? What words of comfort can you offer yourself? What words of comfort would you offer a close friend, and can you extend that to yourself? Can you think of a statement that feels a little bit better, softer, kinder, such as I made a mistake, I’ll do better the next time.
Being kind to ourselves can feel really foreign, and we can struggle to find words of comfort to offer ourselves. Start small and stay with it. It may be helpful to keep a journal of your critical self-talk statements and write out a compassionate response. See how your self-compassion language can expand and grow over time.
Love after Love
The time will come
When, with elation
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give Bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
The 3-minute breathing space meditation is a quick and portable mini-meditation designed to help you connect with the present moment.Read More
If you struggle with anxiety, you know first-hand how panic, worry, and fear can significantly limit your life and take an emotional toll.
For some, anxiety can seemingly come from nowhere and take you by storm in the form of a panic attack. For others, anxiety feels more like an unwelcome friend that accompanies you everywhere you go with a continuous undercurrent of mild fear or a sense of being ill at ease. The bottom line is that anxiety is not easy to live with and can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotional and psychological well-being, relationships, and overall health.
Affirmations are an excellent tool for working through anxiety. Affirmations are positive statements that can be used to help you manage your thoughts and negative self-talk that, often times, create and perpetuate anxiety.
Below are 10 affirmations that can be used when you are feeling anxious. If you want to be proactive in keeping anxiety at bay, you can use these affirmations even when you are not anxious to evoke a sense of calm.
Simply read aloud or meditate on the following statements.
- I am safe and secure.
- This is anxiety and will soon pass.
- This feels uncomfortable, but I am not in danger.
- I breathe in calm and breathe out fear.
- I have what I need to stay calm.
- I have peace.
- I am well, healthy, and strong,
- I am supported and loved.
- My mind is calm and my body relaxed.
- I am stronger than these feelings.
Anxiety is uncomfortable, but it does not have to limit your life. Through awareness and management of your thoughts and self-talk, you can overcome anxiety. Affirmations are one tool to help you do just that.
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The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as, “Tapping” is a simple, yet powerful method to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The healing philosophy of EFT blends ancient Eastern acupuncture and modern day psychology, and is designed to restore the body’s energy system, thus reducing emotional pain and suffering.
Tapping is easy to learn, simple to do, and best of all portable—it can be done at anytime, anywhere. Tapping works by using your fingertips to “tap” 9 specific meridian points on your body, which sends calming signals to the amygdala, the stress and emotion processing center of the brain, where it accesses and dissolves both physical and emotional stress.
The basic technique of tapping begins with focusing on whatever you are experiencing at the moment. It could be a negative emotion, such as sadness, fear, or anger, a painful memory, or a problem you are struggling with. Next, using your fingers, you will tap through the 9 meridian points while concentrating on accepting and resolving the negative emotion. The blending of the cognitive (maintained awareness of your emotion or issue) and the physical (tapping), the body’s energy system is restored to balance, the emotion is released, and you feel better! As an added bonus, the set-up statement used during tapping, “Even though I am _____________, I love and accept myself” helps you to develop a gentle acceptance of yourself and your emotions.
The brief four minute video below provides instructions for how to use this powerful technique!
Mindful meditation is increasingly popular these days, but how to do it can seem elusive and downright confusing. Many believe that in order to “do it right” you must rid yourself of all thoughts. The reality is, we are thinking beings, and if you are conscious, you will have thoughts.
The key to mindful meditation is to acknowledge any thoughts, feelings, or sensations that arise during your meditation period, and gently let them go, returning your awareness to your breath.
Below are the basic steps to mindful meditation.
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted.
- Sit in an upright, but comfortable position, this will help you stay alert and to breath properly. It doesn’t matter what you sit on, it can be a cushion on the floor, the floor, a chair, the front seat of your car, etc.
- Close your eyes or gaze softly downward and turn your focus toward your breathing. Breath comfortably and naturally from your diaphragm and up through your lungs, and simply notice how the breath feels as you inhale and as you exhale. Continue to focus on your breathing.
- As thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise, as they will, simply notice them and return your awareness to your breath. Sometimes it is helpful to label what is happening as a way of acknowledging and then letting go. If you are having thoughts, simply silently state, “I’m having a thought about xyz.” Then return to your breath. If you are having a feeling, simply silently state, “I’m feeling xyz,” and return to your breath.
That's all there is too it! Depak Chopra says, “If you have the intention, make the time, and attempt to meditate, then you are doing it right!”
If you are new to meditation, begin with a few practice periods of five to ten minutes each day. As you become more experienced, you can expand your meditations to what is best for you, but a good aim is for 20 to 30 minutes per day. Regardless of how short or how long, every practice period counts!
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2017 has arrived! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I hope that you are as excited and anticipatory about the upcoming year as I am. Although I have a lot of plans, ideas, and dreams in store for the year, I am equally excited to open up, accept, and see what serendipitously “flows” my way. (Stay tuned for more about living in flow, as is a theme I will be focusing on this year.)Read More
Are you longing to feel more joy, peace, calm, and contentment in your life? Gratitude can take you there. While there are many contemplative practices that can greatly enhance the way you live, experience, and enjoy your life, an informal or formal gratitude practice is a beautiful, gentle, and easy way to begin.
Contemplative practices are spiritual practices that transcend religion and religious traditions. Prayer, mindfulness, meditation, or gratitude practice are peaceful contemplative practices that create stillness in our lives. From this place of calm centeredness, we are able to deeply explore our personal values and purpose and connect with what we find most meaningful in our lives. Contemplative practices gently encourage us to live our lives with love and compassion for ourselves and for others.
When we intentionally find things to be grateful and thankful for, we automatically open the door to abundance and invite more of what we are grateful for into our life. I often share with my clients a simple psychological principle: What you look for, you will find. If you look for the negative, you will easily find it. If, however, you adjust your mindset to see the positive in your experiences, relationships, and life, you will see it! By setting an intention to notice the things for which you are grateful, you will be amazed by the blessings that currently exist in your life.
The simple but transformative power of gratitude can shift your inner emotional landscape and change your life. By practicing gratitude, you become more empathetic to others, feel more connected and loving in your relationships, feel less stressed, and generate profound feelings of joy, peace, and emotional well-being. Why not give gratitude a try? If you would like ideas and inspiration about how to begin, to get you started, I’ve created, “A Gratitude Field Guide, a 28-day journey of cultivating gratitude and thanksgiving in our everyday lives.” You can get your free copy by completing the form below:
Request your FREE copy of "A Gratitude Field Guide" and join my email list by completing the form below:
I am grateful and thankful for you! I’d love to hear about your gratitude practices and experiences. Leave me a comment below or send me an e-mail.
Take Good Care,
3 Keys to Lasting Happiness
“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy
I want to let you in on a little secret. Well, really it is a BIG secret, and it just might change your life. Are you ready? The secret is…
You can be HAPPY right now, no matter what!
That’s right. I know how you can move from being heavy-hearted, down, and unhappy to light-hearted, elated, and HAPPY. And the best news is, it is available to you right here, right now…no matter what is going on in your life! Sound too good to be true? I was once a skeptic too, but I now know. I’ve spent years doing this work—studying, researching, exploring, and experimenting—and through many failures and a handful of the sweetest successes, I have found a way to be happy, regardless of what may or may not be happening in my life.Read More
Is your heart heavy and your spirit burdened because there is something that you are holding on and you need to let go? Perhaps it is a person, a relationship, a dream, a mistake, a habit, a vice.
Often times we choose to cling and suffer because we believe that by holding on, we will eventually get what we want - our deepest, most ardent desire. Or, by holding on, we believe that we can avoid what we don’t want - loss, heartache, loneliness, fear. We resist letting go because we have tried and not succeeded in the past, and the cloak of shame, regret, and failure deceive us into believing that we are not strong enough or capable now. Sometimes we stubbornly refuse to let go because we are convinced that the time is not right. We mistakenly believe that when our circumstances change or it feels right, the process of letting go will be easier and without pain.
Has the time come? Are you ready to let go? If so, be gentle with yourself. Recognize that letting go is a painful process, and take comfort in knowing that with patience and compassion for yourself, you will heal.
Try experimenting with the following ideas...Read More
There is an old saying, “there are only two things guaranteed in life, they are death and taxes!” I would add a third guarantee—change. Change is an inevitable, inescapable phenomenon. In fact, even as you are reading this now, something about you is changing—what you are thinking, what you are feeling in response to what you are reading or perceiving this very moment!
Sometimes the changes that come along in our lives are welcome changes—a job promotion, a new relationship, or the birth of a child, for example, however, sometimes the changes we encounter are anything but welcome! Since change is unavoidable, our greatest challenge is to adapt to whatever life throws our way! And while change, at times, can be incredibly difficult or extremely painful, the good news is that we are designed to grow in all facets of our existence—biological, psychological, and spiritual. It is often the case that during our hardest times, we experience the greatest growth.
To illustrate just how innate the human growth process is, I like to tell the story of the potato. If you place an ordinary potato in a pantry where there is no sunlight, no nutrient rich soil, no rain, in other words, nothing to stimulate or encourage its growth, regardless of its poor conditions, tender shoots emerge and, in fact, those shoots if left unattended become unruly. The same is true in our lives--in our darkest, most somber times, we have the great potential to grow in new and unthinkable ways.
I don’t know about you, but I have thought about change a lot, and I realized that really, we have only two choices, resist change, or roll with it. It seems pretty obvious that resistance only brings greater headaches and heartaches, but if we can learn to overcome our fear, to accept and even embrace change, we might discover that change brings with it many new opportunities leading to a richer, more meaningful existence.
Mark Twain expresses it most eloquently. He said, “What is joy without sorrow? What is success without failure? What is a win without a loss? What is health without illness? You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. There is always going to be suffering. It’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.”
So how do you handle change? Sometimes we just need a listening ear, a non-judgmental companion, or reassurance that what we are feeling is, “normal.” Other times, we may need to develop new skills or learn tools for coping with the challenges we face. That’s where I come in. I would welcome the opportunity to support and encourage you as you navigate the changes in your life.