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Nourishing the Soul

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If we fail to nourish our souls, they wither, and without soul, life ceases to have meaning. –Marion Woodman

When was the last time you did something to nourish your soul? Sometimes the soul needs a long walk along the shore, through the woods, by a river, or through a park. Sometimes it needs to see blue sky, clouds and trees and to hear birds sing. Sometimes it needs to create—to paint, write, make photographs, create pottery, make something with yarn or fabric, cook or arrange space. Take a few moments today to check in on the state of your soul. Ask what it needs in order to feel replenished. Commit to doing that thing, and notice what happens.

Warmly,
Jen

UPCOMING EVENTS

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week class will be offered on Thursday mornings from 9am – 11am. There will be a free orientation/information session on Thursday September 1, 2016 from 9 – 11am, and the class will be offered Thursdays September 8 – October 27, 2016 9-11am with a day of mindfulness on Saturday October 22 from 9am – 3pm. Participating in an MBSR class has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and pain and to increase a sense of peace, happiness and well-being. 

Cost is $425. Registration is limited and required. Email Jen to register. 

Developing a Regular Mindfulness Practice

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Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you’re doing. –Jon Kabat-Zinn

Perhaps the biggest struggle that brings meditation students to study with me is their struggle to commit to a regular mindfulness practice. Engaging in regular practice is at the heart of creating an intentional life, because we need to know what we’re doing in order to intentionally act in ways that bring us closer to the life we desire. Formal meditation practice is a training ground that allows us to see our habitual patterns more clearly without the distractions of everyday life. When we see ourselves clearly, we have the freedom to change. Try setting clear intentions for your practice, and try to focus more attention on the benefits of the practice rather than on the costs. Start small. Choose a frequency and duration of practice that you feel certain you can attain, and increase the frequency and duration as you move forward. Try to develop an attitude of interest and curiosity toward whatever arises in the practice, including anxiety, peace, boredom, happiness or restlessness, and notice what happens next.

Balancing Grief with Hope

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If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. –Rumi

During these times of turmoil and unrest, it is becoming progressively more difficult to remain balanced and hopeful. Violence continues to erupt around the world, and the news fills TV, print media and social media. The U.S. political situation becomes increasingly frightening as the Republican presidential candidate encourages hatred, individualism, further conflict and abuse of power over those who are already oppressed. How can we remain connected to a sense of hope? Consider limiting your exposure to news. Sure, remain informed, but once you’re informed, decide not to view the visual images over and over. And limit the time you spend getting informed to 15-30 minutes per day. Consider limiting your time on social media to 15 minutes per day. Most importantly, remember that whatever we rest our attention on grows. So if you rest your attention on what leaves you feeling hopeless, your sense of hopelessness will likely grow. Consider resting your attention on what gives you hope. Some of us are activists and will direct attention toward joining local, regional or national groups or committees who are attempting to do good things in the world. Or we’ll use our voices as speakers, writers or artist activists to create change in our local neighborhoods. Others of us may be more introverted and feel more hopeless if we don’t feel called to activism. If so, consider ways in which you can create change through your mindfulness practice, knowing that healing starts with each of us individually and grows outwardly. Take good care of yourselves. For every moment that you spend feeling anger, sadness or hopelessness, spend an equal amount connecting with those things that bring you joy—a swim in cool water, listening to birdsong, walking in the woods. Notice what is good and right with the world, however small. And cultivate within yourselves through your practice a sense of balance that allows you to hold the grief and the hope. Cultivate compassion toward yourselves and others, and then challenge yourself to try to find compassion toward everyone, even those who are perpetrating violence or spreading hatred. See if you can have compassion for their woundedness. May all beings be healed. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be happy. May all beings be at peace.

Warmly,

Jen

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Keep an eye out for upcoming dates for the fall MBSR 8-week class in Wilmington, NC. Drop me a note if you’re interested in signing up, and let me know if you prefer a daytime or evening class.

 

Making Intentional Choices

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This is the age of the opening of the heart in a more collective way, for only through the forces of the heart can humanity become aware of the travails Earth undergoes, to actually feel Earth as a living Being, and consciously join our being with hers. –Robert Sardello

When we cultivate mindfulness, our self-awareness grows. When we open our hearts and cultivate self-compassion, our compassion for other beings and for the Earth increases. We can either walk through this life on auto-pilot, making choices based on what feels good or easy in the moment and spend our energy dealing with the impact of those choices on our bodies, hearts, minds and the Earth; or we can begin to wake up, open our hearts, cultivate a daily mindfulness practice, and make intentional choices that reflect a deep commitment to our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the Earth. When we make intentional choices, we reap the benefit of those choices. What choices can you make in this moment and the next that reflect a commitment to take 100% responsibility for your own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the Earth? Live intentionally. Choose how your life unfolds.

Warmly,
Jen

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Heart of Self-Compassion half-day retreat. Saturday July 16, 2016  9am – 12pm in Wilmington, NC. **This retreat is now full with a wait list.**
Self-compassion is an attitude that anyone can learn to cultivate. Many of us struggle with negative self-talk, perfectionism, and a relentless cycle of beating up on ourselves for our struggles, which can lead to low self-esteem, increased anxiety, and even depression. Isn’t it time you let go of the old ways of relating with yourself that aren’t really working and embrace relating to yourself with kindness and compassion? Research shows that those who cultivate compassion have increased willpower and an easier time with life changes in general. In this half-day retreat, we’ll explore practices from mindfulness meditation, writing, and modern neuroscience for working with the body, breath, and mind to cultivate loving-kindness and self-compassion. Please bring a journal or notebook and a pen.
Location McKay Healing Arts.  Cost: $50  Registration is limited and required.
THIS RETREAT IS NOW FULL. TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITLISTemail Jen 

 

Valuing Your Wellbeing

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Those who value their own wellbeing equally with the world can be trusted with the world. –Lao Tzu

How many of us have truly learned to take 100% responsibility for our own wellbeing? Many of us are taught to take care of everyone else and often do so at the expense of ourselves. Learning to value and care for our own wellbeing creates a solid foundation from which we grow to recognize that we are interconnected with all beings. We can begin with a few minutes of mindfulness practice each morning. The more we practice, the more our awareness grows. Studies show that regular practice of mindfulness increases both awareness and compassion. Imagine what the world would be like if each of us began practicing mindfulness for even a few minutes each day. Close your eyes. Turn the attention to the breath. Notice the rise and fall of the chest and belly with the inhale and the exhale. As soon as you become aware that the attention has wandered, let it go, and begin again by turning the attention once again to the breath.

Warmly,
Jen

Are You Afraid to Be Happy?

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” –Marianne Williamson

So many of us are in touch with our fear of failure or fear of never being really happy. But what I see far more frequently in people is a fear of their own personal power, success and happiness. Some people stay for years in jobs that they hate, relationships that feel unfulfilling at best or abusive at worst, geographies in which they feel disconnected or habits that keep them feeling unwell. In what ways are you holding yourself back, holding yourself down, settling for less than you deserve? If you truly owned how powerful you are to create change in your own life and in the world, how would your life be? Who do you want to be in the world, and what are you willing to do to become that?

Warmly,
Jen

 

Healing from Violence

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When people go within and connect with themselves, they realize they are connected to the universe and they are connected to all living things. –Armand Dimele

My heart is hurting this week with the news of the act of terrorism toward members of the LGBTQ community in Orlando. Please take the time this week to go within and connect deeply with yourself, with your own heart. Take a moment to expand your attention to all beings on the Earth, and sense into this connection with all living beings. See if you can feel the energy that connects us together as one. We are all beings whose hearts are either open or attempting to open or beings whose hearts are closed to ourselves and others. Beyond that, we are essentially the same. We all long for love and acceptance. Whisper to yourself and to all living beings words of loving-kindness and compassion, words of mercy and healing: May all beings dwell in an open heart. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be at peace. May all beings be healed.

Warmly,
Jen

 

Awakening Your True Nature

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Look into your heart. Follow your nature. –Buddha

In each of us resides the inner light of our true nature—a capacity for boundless wisdom, infinite capability and immeasurable loving-kindness and compassion. From the heart of our true nature, we are capable of transcending suffering and leading all other sentient beings out of darkness and pain. We can awaken our true nature by resting the attention on these qualities and cultivating them through practice. Spiritual study and insight meditation practice awaken wisdom. Regular meditation practice and study awaken infinite capability. Creating a clear intention toward extending loving-kindness and compassion toward ourselves and others, being aware of our moments of being unkind and judgmental and then consciously extending loving-kindness and compassion in those moments cultivates more loving-kindness and compassion. Try resting your attention and intention on awakening your true nature, and then notice how it feels to reap the benefits of your practice.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Heart of Self-Compassion half-day retreat. Saturday July 16, 2016  9am – 12pm in Wilmington, NC.  Self-compassion is an attitude that anyone can learn to cultivate. Many of us struggle with negative self-talk, perfectionism, and a relentless cycle of beating up on ourselves for our struggles, which can lead to low self-esteem, increased anxiety, and even depression. Isn’t it time you let go of the old ways of relating with yourself that aren’t really working and embrace relating to yourself with kindness and compassion? Research shows that those who cultivate compassion have increased willpower and an easier time with life changes in general. In this half-day retreat, we’ll explore practices from mindfulness meditation, writing, and modern neuroscience for working with the body, breath, and mind to cultivate loving-kindness and self-compassion. Please bring a journal or notebook and a pen.

Location McKay Healing Arts, Wilmington, NC
Cost: $50  Registration is limited and required.
To register email Jen 

Commitment to Self-Care

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Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation… Audre Lorde

I’m often asked about how to develop and keep commitments to a regular meditation practice and other self-care practices. First, it’s important to make time. We won’t ever find the time. We must make the time and ask ourselves what we’re willing to give up in order to make time to practice. And then we must be aware of our thoughts. There will be days or moments that we don’t want to keep our commitment. The mind will tell us that we’re too busy, too tired and a million other reasons. Remember that whatever we rest our attention on grows. If we rest our attention on not wanting to do something, the not wanting to do it grows. If we notice the thoughts and the habit of attempting to escape doing what we have a genuine desire to be committed to and then focus our attention on our intentions and the reasons we created those intentions in the first place, then feelings of wanting to follow through sometimes increase and follow through is often easier. Notice how much time you’re spending dreading anything in your life. What would happen if you gently moved your attention away from dread toward what you really desire in your life?

Warmly,

Jen

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Heart of Self-Compassion half-day retreat. Saturday July 16, 2016  9am – 12pm in Wilmington, NC.
Self-compassion is an attitude that anyone can learn to cultivate. Many of us struggle with negative self-talk, perfectionism, and a relentless cycle of beating up on ourselves for our struggles, which can lead to low self-esteem, increased anxiety, and even depression. Isn’t it time you let go of the old ways of relating with yourself that aren’t really working and embrace relating to yourself with kindness and compassion? Research shows that those who cultivate compassion have increased willpower and an easier time with life changes in general. In this half-day retreat, we’ll explore practices from mindfulness meditation, writing, and modern neuroscience for working with the body, breath, and mind to cultivate loving-kindness and self-compassion. Please bring a journal or notebook and a pen.
Location: McKay Healing Arts 4916 Wrightsville Ave.  Cost: $50  Registration is limited and required. To register email Jen

 

Freedom from Fear

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Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. –Ambrose Redmoon

Many of us limit our lives and our choices because of fear. We feel fear, and we stop expanding. We become motionless, believing that being still will protect us from feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed or having our hearts broken. Most often that state of non-action in reaction to fear only leads to greater stress, anxiety and fear. But we can transform that fearful, frozen state by going inward and expanding the breath, breathing deeply into the chest and belly, activating the relaxation response and reconnecting with our true nature, which is to be happy and at peace. Once we have regained a sense of balance and perspective, it’s often helpful to inquire internally about what matters most and how we truly want our lives to be and then inquire about what action we can take toward that intention. When we learn to pair action with intention and rest the attention on our intentions rather than on what we fear, moving forward toward our intentions happens with greater ease.

Warmly,

Jen