Becca Peters

BECCA PETERS is a therapist in private practice and an educator and consultant in Mindfulness and Compassion Training for public and private organizations. 

A Micro-Moment: 6 Words That Changed My Day

Earlier this week I wrapped up teaching the transformational 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training Course from Stanford's CCARE program at Metta Mindfulnes Center in Salt Lake City. In a very short period of time group members learn how to turn toward suffering and make room for shared joy and connection. As a group, We wake up and Rejoice in life just as it is. The benefits are strengthened through continued practice and dedication of living a life of Compassion for ourself and another. Just as we build and strengthen a muscle through exercise, so can we grow and cultivate Compassion through daily practice. When we spend focused time priming the heart and mind to seek out ways to offer and receive Compassion we are transformed. I would like to share a sweet story that illuminates how a simple verbal exchange, a micro-moment, left an imprint on my heart. 

I have had a series of surgeries and medical procedures over the last 5 months that have given me insight into the world of Western Medicine, of which I have deep gratitude for modern science and skillful physicians. Holistically, my preventative approach to wellness resides in Eastern Medicine, Meditation, kind body movement and eating a plant-based diet. Yesterday, after 2 visits to medical doctors for treatment of an on-going issue related to my last surgery, I stopped into Real Foods Grocer to pick up a few items to make my daughter's favorite meal. Although part of me wanted to go home and rest a larger part of me knew that cooking this meal for her would bring us both so much joy and nourishment. I chose to listen closely to the part of me who wished to create connection with my daughter. When we pay attention, our hearts guide us to ease and connection. If I were to use a metaphor to describe the opening and closing  of the heart, I would offer the image of a peony flower. When closed you notice the petals tightly huddled together protecting what is contained inside. When fully open the petals appear buoyant and supportive of the center and also wildly joyous opening to the sun. 

I arrived to Real Foods with a heart partially opened and feeling sad to have spent much of my day in doctor's offices which caused me to miss time with a best friend. I was aware that part of me was physically suffering and part of me was committed to remain open to the present moment experience of the unknown. (Side note: The awesome researcher Barbara Fredrickson calls the ability to hold both sensations "co-experiencing" and she shares through research this is a factor is resilience and life satisfaction). When I walked to the aisle of produce I was struck by the vibrancy of colors and the freshness of the nourishing vegetables in front of me. I could feel my desire to touch and smell each one grow as I paused to notice the details of shape, form and texture. After mindfully selecting and filling my basket with an abundance of parsley, beets, green apples, arugula and ginger I made my way to the check-out line. As I was mid-way through the check-out process a short and elderly "gentle" man wearing a huge smile and a cowboy hat  stood in line behind me. He waited  patiently to pay for 2 gallons of milk. We made eye contact and smiled at one another and as I began to notice his patience I said to him "You got behind the wrong lady, I am sorry this is taking so long." He smiled both with his mouth and his eyes and said "It looks like you selected a lot of healthy vegetables. I am happy to wait, I WANT YOU TO BE HEALTHY."  I could feel his words undoing another layer of petals around my heart. In that instant, I knew I was not alone. The stranger next to me was no stranger at all. He offered Loving-Kindness to me by wishing me well with all of his heart. He may have no idea how deeply his words penetrated my tender heart nor how this softening would carry me through the night in my interactions with my beloved daughter. She and I were both recipients of his Kindness and Compassion. 

I shared this story with my daughter while we made dinner that evening. She said to me, "Mama, the way you describe the man at the store is the same way you describe your great uncles who helped take care of you when you were a little girl." Again, another connection, another layer of softening. I smiled and nodded in agreement while she looked at me with a sparkle of knowing in her eyes. 

Each moment of the day we come in contact with many people for whom we do not know the details of their life. Each of these micro-moments presents an opportunity to act with Kindness and Compassion. How many times have we shown up frantically to the store, running through our to-do list in our mind, barely making eye contact with the cashier or others around us, or forgetting to connect even with ourself. When we SEEK out ways to act with and to receive Compassion and Loving-Kindness we not only moisten our own heart but our words or gestures may be the heart-felt medicine a stranger needs to moisten and heal her own. As Barbara Fredrickson writes in her book   Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, she claims that “love blossoms virtually anytime two or more people . . . connect over a shared positive emotion.”

**Becca Peters will offer another 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training course in January of 2016. Please reach out to her if you'd like to reserve a spot for yourself or as a gift for a loved one by emailing her at: mettaslc@gmail.com

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The Vastness of True Happiness

A Mind Entangled in Knots, if undone, will no doubt be free.

(excerpt from Thupten Jinpa's "Essential Mind Training")

 

In speaking of the second of five Mindfulness Trainings, specifically speaking of True Happiness, Caitriona Reed offers a spacious perspective of the magnificence of the unknown. An excerpt below is taken from her thoughts housed within "For a Future to be Possible" by Thich Naht Hanh:

"…We cannot fix the world, we cannot even fix our own life. By accepting failure we express our willingness to begin again, time after time. By recognizing failure we change, renew, adapt, listen, and grow. It is only by practicing without expectation of success that we can ever truly open to the world, to suffering and to joy. What extraordinary courage there is in risking losing what you know for the sake of the unknown; risking what you think you are capable of for the sake of your true capability! What profound freedom - not having to get it right all the time, not having to live for the sake of appearance! By opening to our own failure, we open to the magnificence of the unknown, participating unconditionally, renewing our life."

 

Summer Mindfulness Course Registration is now Open On-Line!

As you know, the Compassion Cultivation Class to be held in March at Metta Mindfulness Center is currently full. Many of you have inquired about the next  Mindfulness Class offering. I am happy to announce that I will offer a 6-week summer course beginning in June; UCLA's Mindful Awareness Practice course. Take a peek at the attached flyer...and please don't wait to sign up if you are interested...classes fill up quickly.



Breathing in, Breathing Out: Individual yet Interconnected

"In Western culture we are conditioned from an early age to think of ourselves as a separate, individual person, unique and different from the rest. There is, of course, some truth in this, but along with our uniqueness and individuality, comes our total interconnectedness with all beings and everything on this planet. Each time we take a breath, we are sharing that breath with every other life form that breathes! While we are  breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide during the day, trees and other plants are breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. It is a beautiful symbiosis…" - Ayya Anandabhoi

 

How Meditation Helps with Difficult Emotions

 

How Meditation Helps With Difficult Emotions


Enjoy a preview of the second installment of Mindful's Getting Started series.

Illustration by Jason Lee

How are you feeling? Meditation gives us a chance to entertain that question at a deeper level. In Getting Started: Emotions, Mindful shares authoritative practices to learn how to tame raw, difficult emotions, and foster feelings that are positive, powerful, and beneficial. For a sneak peek, here are some meditative practices for working more creatively with fear. To learn more meditative practices for working with anger, love, sadness, and jealousy, you’ll want to catch the June issue ofMindful, on newsstands mid-April.

• • •

It’s hard to imagine life without fear. Its raw power can save lives. It can also paralyze us and invade every part of our life. Taming it and directing is one of life’s greatest challenges.

Fear is primal. And essential for survival. It’s highly energetic, and even exhilarating. Lots of people love horror movies, and kids (young and old) get a huge kick out of scaring each other. But fear is no joke. It can be a highly aroused state that overtakes us in response to a perceived threat, causing us to either fight, flee, freeze, or faint. It can be a deeply unpleasant feeling.

As with all emotion, the practice of meditation can stabilize us enough in the midst of fear to help us see more clearly—to distinguish a false threat from a real threat that needs to be acted upon. The type of fear meditation can have the most effect on is the fear (and fears) that we continually generate in our own minds, the product of our rich imagination and our desire to control everything, rather than be tossed around in the risky and stormy world.

As our fear rises, we can start yammering in our heads to reinforce the size and shape of the threat: “They’re not going to like me… they’ll think I’m stupid…I’ll never get another job…I’ll lose my mind…and all my friends… and my apartment…” By now, our palms are sweaty and we’re in a total panic.

The good news: This is all natural. The very intense energy of fear, when we’re able to let it dissipate, can become a powerful driving force. It’s nothing other than the energy of life.

Practice
NAME THE FEAR

Being able to recognize that fear is present can be hugely important in not allowing it to control you.

As you NOTICE your heart pumping more, your chest tightening, your back stiffening, let an imaginary alarm bell go off in your head.

Take 3 or 10 or 20 deep breaths, however many you need to SLOW your body down. Place your hand on your heart if that will help.

Acknowledge to yourself, “I’m scared. I’m afraid.” NAME THE FEAR so you automatically create a bit of distance between yourself and the intensity of the emotional reaction.

Say a few phrases of WELL-WISHING toward yourself and for others:

May (I/others) see the source of our fear.

May (I/others) be safe and free from fear.

May (I/others) be happy and at ease.

Practice
LEAN IN TO FEAR

Whenever you feel the energy of fear, DON’T AVOID the feeling. Sit with it.

As fearful thoughts of dread and worry continue to arise, approach them withFRIENDLINESS. Don’t treat them as a threat.

Be kind toward yourself for being afraid. See what happens when you hold your ground and let the fear rise in your mind. You may FIND CONFIDENCE within.

• • •

Getting Started: Emotions was compiled by Barry Boyce, editor-inchief of Mindful, in consultation with:

Jeffrey Brantley, MD, director of the MBSR program at Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Author of Calming Your Angry Mind.

Vinny Ferraro, meditation teacher and senior trainer, Mindful Schools.

Stefanie Goldstein, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and co-author of the audio program:Mindful Solutions for Addiction and Relapse Prevention.

Christa Turksma, child-clinical psychologist and specialist in developing mindfulness for teachers and families.

 

NEW! 6 Week Mindful Awareness Practice Course Now Offered in Utah!

Rebecca Peters, LCSW, Certified Mindfulness Facilitator through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, and owner of METTA Mindfulness Center is offering a:

6-week Mindful Awareness Practice Course (MAPs I), created by Diana Winston & Dr. Sue Smalley of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, University of California Los Angeles

The 6-week course will be held on Tuesdays beginning October 28th through December 9th

**No class on November 25th

$185 per person **Space is limited

6:30 – 8:30 pm

Location: METTA – The Mindfulness Center

360 West Broadway #206

SLC, UT 84101

Online registration : 

Read more about MAPs Classes:

Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs) Classes Overview

Mindful Awareness Practices are the signature educational programs of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, University of California Los Angeles. These six-week class series are open to the public for registration. The classes lay the foundation for students to understand basic principles of mindfulness, develop a personal meditation practice, and to apply the principles in their daily life on an ongoing basis.

Each class is a combination of lecture, practice, and group feedback and discussion. MAPs is taught in a context of a supportive community environment with classes no larger than 20-30 students. Students report that the group support was one of the most helpful and inspiring aspects of the class. MAPs instructors have years of personal experience practicing mindfulness and teaching it nationally and internationally. MAPs is helpful for people of all backgrounds and religions. These classes are suitable for ages 16 and over.

Class Structure

MAPs classes meets weekly for two hours per week for six weeks. Students will complete daily home practice meditation assignments starting at five minutes a day and working up to 20 minutes daily by the end of the course. Students will receive a complimentary Home Practice CD and a copy of the book Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan Smalley, PhD. and Diana Winston.

Students will learn Mindful concepts that include:

  • Overview of Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness of the Body
  • Obstacles to Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness to help with Physical Pain
  • Working with Difficult Emotions
  • Cultivating Positive Emotions
  • Working with Difficult Thoughts
  • Mindful Interactions

Students will also learn a variety of mindfulness practices so that the student can discover which practice is useful to them. Practices taught include:

  • Sitting meditation
  • Eating meditation
  • Daily life meditations
  • Relational mindfulness
  • Walking meditation
  • Standing meditation
  • Movement meditation
  • Practices to develop positive emotions

Daring Greatly

A favorite new book entitled DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown is a must read. She is a researcher who provides results from studies around vulnerability and shame. It is profoundly insightful and I highly recommend it for anyone who is curious to understand the tenderness around being a human being and the ways in which we hold back from living greatly. Happy reading!

Becca Peters, LSCW is an educator in Mindfulness, Meditation, Compassion + Self-Compassion

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