Filtering by Tag: metta mindfulness
I write to you from NYC where I have spent the last several weeks with my family. Each time I spend extended periods of time in Manhattan I learn a little bit more about myself. The cadence of life is faster here; the sensory stimulation is constant (wildly varying between pleasant and unpleasant); and endless choices about how I may spend my free time. The options that I am particularly curious about are not the options limited to what Broadway shows to see or when I will dine with friends but more noticeable are the thoughts, attitudes, mood states, or daily self-care routines I will cultivate.
As Pema teaches us: Life is a good teacher and a good friend, Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in=between states an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and ends beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.
What astonishes me is that when I am truly present and willing to engage with the fullness of life I am reminded of the simplicity of my needs. I am reminded of the natural rhythms that sustain my well-being such as proper rest, no alcohol (it’s been over a year and a half of this life-changing experiment), moving my body in a way that is kind and gentle, daily meditation and nourishing the body with clean and healthy food. Rest, movement, sitting in silence, nourishing food. I always come home to these practices and I always find the truest version of myself in the simplicity of life. I invite you to listen in and see what simple practices you might cultivate that will sustain your health, heart and mind?
Please see below for the wonderful practice opportunities in 2018:
September: 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course
October 12th: Relational Mindfulness Book Signing at King's English 6 pm. Bring a loved one, friend or spouse!
October 13th LOVE IN ACTION, Day-Long Retreat with Deborah Eden Tull
November: 6-Week MAPS II Course
Weekly sitting group will begin in September - more details to come...stay tuned.
I am overjoyed with the incredibly beautiful Spring weather that surrounds me as I write to you. The sensory experiences of Spring are a natural invitation to step into the present moment…literally stopping to smell the roses (or peonies or lilac), feeling warm sunshine on my back, enjoying an evening sunset with a loved one, savoring the taste of seasonal fruits and vegetables…the sensory experiences are endless.
The beauty of this season is juxtaposed with political unrest, gun violence, inequality of all kinds, and grief and loss around the globe and it can feel overwhelming at times to know which set of emotions from which to live. How can I enjoy the bounty of my life while so many are suffering in catastrophic ways? I don’t want to turn away from world events yet I feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of suffering in the news. I want to help but how can I, as one person, bring about change when the issues we face appear soulfully and environmentally insurmountable? One of my Buddhist teachers reminded me that in rejecting the beauty of my own life I am perpetuating self-violence and I am missing an opportunity to be engaged with life at large. Further, if I humbly “take my seat” and from this compassionate platform be of service to others then I am aligned to being fully present in life.
In dharma study we can look at life from a place of aversion, attachment, or equanimity. Aversion would look like avoidance of worldly reality while I live in my own bubble of (perceived) safety. There is an attitude of ME-ness in this approach and a feeling of separation from others. Attachment feels like over-identification with the pain and suffering in the world (an within ourselves) at the expense of living in the fullness of our own life. Equanimity is living with it all and finding a place to be with “all of life” with an attitude of acceptance. Acceptance does not mean allowing injustices to continue but rather accepting that life is sometimes overwhelming, sometimes joyful and sometimes infuriating. With acceptance of the present moment experience we begin to practice equanimity and we can see more clearly a path to social engagement that does not perpetuate violence.
Here are a few examples of how this practice looks in my day-to-day life: Upon waking taking a few breaths and checking in before I check my phone, reading the newspaper and sending out Metta (loving-kindness phrases) when I read a story of heart-breaking violence or allowing myself to feel shared joy when reading an article of celebration. Enjoying a hot cup of coffee and spending time in appreciation for my home, family and current sense of safety; honoring my body through gentle stretching and meditation practice and looking inward for ways that I may be harming myself through negative thoughts, self-criticism or perhaps an attitude that is not serving me; going to the drive-through coffee shop and I remember to bring my own mug and I stick to the “no straw” challenge I have with my teenaged daughter as I understand the impact my daily choices (plastic habits) have on the health of the planet. This way of “being with” life allows me to move through my day with a sense of connection, ease and wakefulness.
Part of my path was and continues to be to explore imbedded feelings of unworthiness that came to me from past generations as well as a response to my own childhood trauma. As I realized that I did not have to choose to be present in my own life at the expense of worldly ignorance, I felt a sense of relief move through my body. In fact, I am even more deeply motivated to engage in service as one way to fully honor the life I live and because I believe that I am not separate from my brothers and sisters around the globe. We are part of the same living organism. In fact, I WANT to know what is happening on our planet so that I may use the energy of outrage, anger or grief to fuel non-violent activism. This type of wakefulness is imperative in this time in history. Thankfully, truly, I have begun to feel worthy of goodness over time and I realize how important it is to me to live a life of meaning. This is my guiding light…love of life and service to others has become my “happiness compass” from which I make decisions about how to spend my time and energy.
Let’s talk about the two kinds of happiness, as researched by happiness researcher Emma Seppälä. One is hedonic happiness and one is eudaimonic happiness. “Hedonic is the pleasures of life. The sex, drugs, rock and roll, money, achievement, awards. All the things that give you that high. It could be a notification on Facebook or a lot of notifications. It’s a release of chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. Yet, they don’t last for very long. That’s why if you had a burst of happiness from let’s say, a piece of chocolate cake, or a raise, or a promotion, or something, soon thereafter, it’s worn off and you want more,” Seppälä says.
On the other hand, eudaimonic happiness is more closely related to self-actualization. According to Seppälä, the eudaimonica type “comes from a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, and a sense of connection to others. A sense of something greater than yourself. It’s what you feel if you’re a parent. It’s what you feel if you’re doing service. It’s what you feel if you’re contributing to something that’s helping others in some way.”
What does the science show? A strong basis in eudaimonic happiness effects our physical well-being. In fact, if you base your life mostly on eudaimonic happiness, research suggests that you have lower inflammation at the cellular level, and your longevity’s increased. This increases your ability to bounce back from disappointments and be more resilient. According to Seppälä, it isn’t bad to have fun; the pleasures in life are here for us to enjoy. The secret to resilience, then, isn’t to give up that ice cream, but to make sure the ice cream-type pleasures aren’t becoming more important to your happiness than your relationships and personal goals.
If we base our life on seeking pleasure rather than meaning then we are often less happy, or experience a decrease in well-being. If we live a life where we seek out and cultivate meaningful connections, meaningful use of our professional time and acts of service we tend to experience a higher degree of well-being. Somewhere between pleasure and meaning is the middle path of well-being which is unique to each one of us.
As I watch the buttery-yellow colored peonies resting in a vase on my desk, I see the tight blossom has loosened and dropped petals rest at the base of the vase. I am reminded that the seasons and moments of life continue no matter what, change continues to take place, and there is no need to avoid the beauty of the process. I can rest in the flow of life and pay attention to what brings abiding contentment.
**Italicized paragraphs were extracted from an interview between Emma Seppälä and psychologist Anett Gyurak on Heleo. They are not my words.
UPCOMING CLASSEs and opportunities
Our Art + Mindfulness Course for Girls 9-12 is almost full! Learn More
Sept. 10th - Nov. 5th: 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course: This much loved and requested 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion Course will be offered beginning in September. In this program you will learn: how to stop being so hard on yourself, how to handle difficult emotions with greater ease, how to motivate yourself with encouragement... Learn More
Oct. 13th Day-Long Retreat With Zen Buddhist Teacher, Deborah Eden Tull: I hope you will join me for a day of Retreat with Deborah Eden Tull on Saturday, October 13th. The details are forming but I have a waitlist started already. If you’d like to reserve your spot then please email me with your name, preferred phone and email address. I will send out more information in the coming weeks. Learn More
Nov. 6th- Dec. 11th: MAPS II Cultivating Positive Emotions: Take a peek at my upcoming course offerings…THERE IS A NEW COURSE CALLED…MAPs II: Cultivating Positive Emotions for those of you who have already taken MAPs I...Learn More
When we remember that change in our lives is inevitable and that we have a choice about how we respond to difficulties as well as how to let in happiness then we are living in presence.
How can we heal, change and grow if we do not change our habitual ways of living, being and loving? We are in a time of transition and change in the world we live in yet we are often terrified of trying on new ways of thinking, living, being and loving. What are symptoms that change is imperative? A run down immune system, feeling over scheduled and with little time for yourself, feeling impatient and letting that brevity of care seep into the relationships that matter the most in your life. These type of symptoms are here to wake you up to make brave decisions towards health, connection, wellness and love.
Think about the last time you were asked to attend an event and you were exhausted + run-down from the week, yet you still said “yes.” Do you recall how you felt saying yes? Maybe resentful or wishing you could stay home and rest? What did you fear might happen if you spoke your deepest truth? What if instead of “yes” you said, “You know, I would love to be there but I really need to take care of my health and wellness and stay in this evening?” What if we lived from a place of honest communication and began to shift the paradigm from Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to Fear of Missing IN? Fear of disappointing another to considering our own needs as much as we consider everyone else's.
It may be helpful to unpack what I mean by the word “In.” It means the turning toward our whole and full experience of being a human and listening in, checking in and nurturing ourselves. It may begin with a simple question of self-inquiry: How am I? How am I really? And what do I need to feel well?
For some of us it’s warm, cozy and rejuvenating to spend time with ourselves and for others the idea of this sounds terrifying. One of the gifts we receive when we turn our attention to our own process is that we notice natural rhythms that are otherwise overlooked. When teaching meditation to groups of practitioners it is quite common for many to notice fatigue as soon as they direct their attention inward. Why? Because most of the time we live on auto-pilot as a defense mechanism to avoid the overwhelming demands of life. Many of us are just trying to get through the day. However, when we do step into a few moments of stillness we often learn so much about our body, mind and heart. We may notice that we feel sleep deprived, or are hungry, or maybe we need a massage. We may notice that we are feeling stressed and distracted and that a breath of fresh air may be just what is needed to reboot. These are just a few examples of how the simple act of turning toward our inner experience provides much wisdom on the natural rhythms of what our human body + mind + heart need to reach wellness. I invite you to take a moment now. Rest the soles of your feet on the floor beneath you, sit with an upright and easy posture, and take 3 slow deep cleansing breaths. Sit in stillness for 2 minutes and notice what you notice without judging your experience. How is your mind? Busy? Clear? What’s on your heart? Sadness? Joy? Worry? Move your attention to notice your body. Can you feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you? Are you relaxed, energized or tired? Take a few moments to acknowledge and honor what you noticed and with this awareness begin to align your next moments in a way that supports your truth. Self-care is like building a muscle. We practice slowing down, checking in and noticing what we notice. From that place of honest, non-judgmental and loving awareness you can begin making shifts in your choices and behavior to practice deeply aligning with your needs. Have fun with this, it’s an experiment in exploring the willingness to live life with greater consciousness and care for yourself.
Self-care is the soothing feeling that comes from sinking into a warm bath, having a cup of tea or sitting down with a good book. Take a moment and remember the ways you already take care of yourself and see if you might implement one additional act of care into your day today, and again tomorrow, and build a pattern of self-care that will tilt the scale away from living on automatic pilot toward living an embodied life. If self-critical thoughts arise as you begin know that it is normal to feel nervous or resistance when we challenge old ways of living to make room for the new. Keep moving towards love.
Please join me for a 2-Hour Mindful Self-Compassion workshop on Sunday, February 18th from 1:30-3:30pm at Avenue’s Yoga in Salt Lake City. Advanced registration is required and space is limited. You belong and I hope you will join me. Click here for more details and to register.
My book this month which is part of an inspiring collection of books for sale at the SHOPPE is: Judgement Detox by Gabby Bernstein. It is a companion to the Universe Has Your Back cards that many of you have and love. Let’s spend more time reading, listening to and surrounding ourselves with inspiration to remind us that life sustains us and that we are part of a big, juicy world.
My fave new products at the SHOPPE at Metta are:
Velvet Journals and beautiful paper goods:
All gemstone malas are HALF off through the month of February, going quickly, so if you've had your eye on one of these beauties, now is the time! Message me to make an appointment to shop.
All other jewelry is 20% off through the month of February to celebrate the month of love.
Welcome to my first official newsletter, which, by the way, has been on my wish-I-would-do list for several years now. My hope and aspiration is to reach out to you periodically with thoughtfulness and care to plant seeds of self-reflection and self-discovery, to offer words of kindness and self-love, and to provide a little slice of spaciousness in this hurried and fast- paced time that we live in. In this newsletter you might find poetry, literary recommendations, music, nourishing recipes for the body, mindfulness practices, meditation retreats, upcoming classes, as well as my personal thoughts on living.
I write to you on a cool summer morning with my beloved golden-doodle, Frenchie, by my side, and a warm fire in the distance. It is only fitting to include Frenchie in the inaugural newsletter as she is the quintessential compassionate representation of unconditional love and support. In the end, aren’t we all looking for a sense of acceptance just as we are? The kind of acceptance felt when we see our own reflection through the eyes of a compassionate loved one or beloved pet?
What is on my Heart this month?
What happens when your awareness radar senses love?
So often I feel that we, as humans, are looking for ways outside of ourselves to become better versions of who we already are or to cope with the stressors of life. Of course, it is natural to strive for greater peace, for understanding, for a new skillset but why do we do this? Understanding the “why” behind our actions is another way of showing up for ourselves either from being "in love” or “out of love” with who we are right now. Let me give you an example from my own life as an invitation to step into your own gentle self-inquiry. Ten months ago I made the commitment to eliminate alcohol from my life for a period of one year as an experiment. (This is a beautiful story which I will share in more detail with you at a later time). When I looked back at some of the most painful experiences in my life from childhood through adulthood I realized that alcohol was involved in some way, it was a main or supporting actor in the narrative of the event. For me, as an adult, having a single glass of wine covered up my innate wisdom, it numbed all of my senses, not just the stressful sensations.
The author, Brené Brown talks about when we drink alcohol it may take the edge off of a stressful day but it also dulls our positive emotions as well, after all, alcohol is a depressant. When I realized that a single glass of wine each evening was not only effective in relaxing my body after a full or stressful day but was also effective in reducing my ability to be aware of the presence of love… I stopped AWAKE in my tracks. It hit me that there may have been a mixed tape song unconsciously playing in the background of my mind 24/7 with a chorus of “you don’t have the skills to soothe yourself.” I began to curiously question, “Am I reaching outside of myself for soothing and might this be a subtle form of being “out of love” with myself?” This began my year-long journey of loving self-inquiry. I began to inquire about my “why” from a place of being in total love with the desire to know myself. What I learned was that not only did alcohol cover up clear seeing, and the opportunity to heal even more deeply, but it also robbed me of the innate selflove that I truly needed on a day-to-day basis AND THAT I ALREADY HAVE WITHIN ME. MY AWARENESS RADAR sensed the presence of love ALL OF THE TIME and it is this “aha” moment that allowed me to call LOVE to the forefront as the leading actress and to greater understand the roles of fear, loss, and ultimately forgiveness.
Bringing Awareness to Everyday Life: Is there an aspect of your life where love is not (yet) on your radar?
There are many ways we can step into love. I explored curiosity and insight as acts of love in my personal story with you. Sometimes just the simple act of acknowledging our pain is all that is needed to begin to soften and soothe ourselves. Pema Chödron shares in her teachings that we can “relax our struggle like touching a bubble with a feather.” When we neither occupy the space of denial of our pain nor over-identify with our pain, we have another choice. We may step into the role of a compassionate observer who turns toward the pain with curiosity and care. Over time we are able to move in and out of pleasant and difficult sensations with greater trust, ease and confidence. We learn that no part of ourselves is unworthy of compassion and that no part of another is either. Learning new ways of being in relationship with ourselves and others takes time and practice. Please be gentle with yourself.
What would life be like if we spent more time embracing the joy that is already present and less time attending to negative states of mind? Have you heard of Dr. Rick Hanson’s research on the brain’s negativity bias? Dr. Hanson states, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” Another act of self-love is to study and become educated about the similarities we all share in being human. You may enjoy reading Dr. Hanson’s article to learn about evolutionary development and the ancient circuitry of the brain to understand how, for our ancestors, being fearful meant self-preservation and how, as modern humans we have choices in where we place our attention in turn reframing our interpretation of reality and thus rewiring our brain. You can read this article here.
Women's Retreat Sunday, September 24th
Distractions fill up space in our lives and yet space and stillness are our helpers in healing. Please join me for a day of mindfulness, silence, yoga and spaciousness on Sunday, September 24th. I will guide you in meditation and soothing mindful self-compassion practices. I have joined hearts with Nikki Breedlove who will lovingly guide you in an extended yoga practice followed by a beautiful vegan lunch magically prepared by an in-house chef. Goody bags containing healing crystals and essential oils will be provided to each guest. Registration is open until Friday. Register here.
The next course I will offer in Salt Lake City is an 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training Course from CCARE and Stanford University’s School of Medicine. You can learn more about this course and registration on my website.
My private practice is currently full as I am choosing to carve out more time to devote to writing my first book, taking care of my body and the day-to-day attentiveness needed to respond to living with an auto-immune disorder, and celebrating the lives and needs of my own nuclear family.
Item of the Month, Available for sale at THE SHOPPE:
PRITI MAT is a natural yoga mat made from sustainably harvested tree rubber.
New Wellness App! Jiyo
Deepak Chopra is the co-creator of this awesome holistic health and well-being app. There’s a community feed where people share inspiring content — it’s great for finding spiritual running buddies. You can listen to guided meditations, read articles by experts and watch videos. Plus Jiyo has a health tracker that monitors you and delivers personalized health tips and reminders!