One of the best kept secrets about being human is that most of our suffering is not personal. Even though much of the time we compare our insides to other people’s outsides and often conclude that everyone else is ok and we are not, it’s not personal. Most of our suffering is simply a part of our human nature. That feisty inner critic in your mind? Most of us wrestle with it until we learn skillful means for making peace with it, which is entirely possible, by the way. One of the things the mind does when we don’t give it a task to do is that it makes commentary about the present moment. The commentary is often critical, and much of the time it’s directed inward toward ourselves. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to increase grey matter in the area of the brain that relates to empathy and compassion, so just meditating regularly will grow your self-compassion, as will bringing mindful awareness to the moments in which you’re being unkind to yourself, pausing, and engaging in a merciful act of kindness toward yourself. And just in case your mind is telling you that self-compassion equals self-indulgence, it’s not true. There is a skillful way to develop self-compassion and still hold ourselves accountable.
If your compassion does not include yourself, it’s incomplete. –Jack Kornfield
Mindful Writing for Healing half-day retreat. When we experience stressful or challenging times in our lives, it’s human nature to relive the story over and over in our mind. Often the story in our mind feels like chaos, and it’s difficult to let it go. Putting language to stressful events, shaping the events into a story and making meaning from what happened can help us to make order from the chaos and begin to heal. This workshop explores mindfulness practices to cultivate inner peace and keep us grounded while we write. It teaches mindful writing as a narrative practice for healing. The workshop is designed for non-writers and writers, beginning or experienced, who hare interested in writing for self-awareness and/or publication.
Date & Time: Saturday March 25, 2017 9am – 12pm
Location: 217 N. 5th Ave. Wilmington, NC
Registration is limited and required. Email Jen to register
The Heart of Self-Compassion: Making Peace with Your Inner Critic half day retreat. 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.
Date and Time: Saturday April 8, 2017 9am – 12pm.
Location: McKay Healing Arts 2916 Wrightsville Ave, Wilmington, NC
Registration is limited and required. Email Jen to register.
Brain Injury Association of North Carolina Annual Family Conference afternoon keynote speaker. April 24, 2017. Topic: Mindfulness. Open to the public. Register through BIANC. Location: The Farm, Selma, NC.
Awakening the Heart to Joy
half-day retreat. Joy is an innate capacity that is accessible to all of us if we learn how to cultivate it. We live in a culture in which it has become the norm to feel busy, stressed, disconnected from ourselves and others, and a sense of emotional flatness. Many of us have learned to numb emotions that we judge as “difficult,” because we feel afraid of feeling them or don’t know how to deal with them. But if we numb to anger and sadness, we also numb to joy, because we can’t selectively numb our emotions. True joy involves feeling a sense of aliveness, connection, and wellbeing and a capacity for meeting whatever arises in our lives with compassion and authenticity. During this half day retreat, we will explore practices for working with the body, breath, and mind to open the heart, meet our emotions skillfully, and cultivate joy. These practices originate from yoga, Insight meditation, and modern neuroscience.
Date & Time:
Saturday June 24, 2017 9am – 12pm
Location: McKay Healing Arts
2916 Wrightsville Ave, Wilmington, NC
Registration is limited and required. Email Jen to register.
I’m working on two photography projects, Ghost Trees
and Penetrating Brightness
, and have posted some of the work on my photography website. Both projects consist of mindful photographs. Check it out for a mindful break. MeditateCreate.com
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.
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 WAITLIST, email Jen
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.
Until a woman can receive herself, she will unconsciously force others to reject her, despite the fact that her most conscious desire is to be loved.” –Marion Woodman
One of our most painful habitual patterns as human beings is wanting things to be other than they are. We often turn this habit on ourselves, wanting to be other than we are. Rather than embracing our most wounded places with love, which is truly what is called for, we treat ourselves mercilessly and wish we were different. We may even unconsciously encourage others to reject us, we may reject them before they have opportunity to reject us, or we may keep them at a safe distance and feign indifference. We can learn to love ourselves by noticing our habits of self-criticism or self-hatred and choosing in these moments to meet ourselves with acceptance, love and compassion. Today, try turning toward your wounded places with love and receive yourself and all of your messiness and imperfection with acceptance.
Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition. –James Baldwin
There is an opportunity to feel most at home when we are simply being in the present moment, the attention anchored on the breath or any other expression of present moment experience. Many of us search for a lost sense of home outside of ourselves before realizing that a sense of home is accessible to us in any moment. We can create a life that supports the experience of being at home—daily yoga and meditation, doing work that we love, choosing close people who resonate, making what matters most a priority, and engaging in creative expression and connecting with nature every day. When we stay true to these practices, we living in the moment, aware of and finding refuge in the breath, and being at home.
If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. –Frances Hodgson Burnett
When we look at the world from our usual perspective, everything looks the same. If we search for answers, we may feel there are none, we may not trust our feelings or we may feel overwhelmed by the internal swirl of confusing thoughts.
When we commit to being willing to attempt to focus the attention and quiet the mind, sometimes a new perspective emerges that allows us to step out of our habitual way of seeing and opens the heart and mind to new possibilities. I had walked past the above scene countless times and had never found it interesting enough to photograph. One day last week, I approached it from a new direction and with a different lens. As I scanned through the viewfinder from this new perspective, this scene stopped me in my tracks and caught my breath. How can you look at one aspect of your life circumstances from a different perspective this week?
I’m honored to be a Teacher in Residence at Wells College in Aurora, NY March 7 – 11, 2016 working with the theatre, psychology, and creative writing departments. I will offer two presentations that week that are free and open to the public. NY folks, if you’re close by, feel free to join me. Monday March 7 from 7-9pm I’ll be teaching an introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Thursday March 10 from 7-9pm I’ll be teaching The Heart of Self-Compassion: Making Peace with Your Inner Critic. Details: www.jenjohnson.com/events
Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery. –Julia Cameron
Consciously choosing to activate the energy of feeling inspired supports a positive mood and encourages action toward personal and career goals. Many of us create intentions and/or goals throughout the year, and a lot of us ride the wave of inspiration that comes with the beginning of a new year. Remember that whatever we place our attention on grows, so resting our attention frequently on our intentions helps to propel us forward to take action that is aligned with those intentions. But to keep going, we’ll need to cultivate some inspiration. Read more
…he abides contemplating the nature of arising in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of passing away in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of both arising and passing away in the body. –Satipatthana Sutta
Continuing the exploration of the original teachings on mindfulness as outlined in the Satipatthana Sutta, the next instruction in mindfulness of the body relates to contemplation of the four elements: earth/solidity, water/liquidity, fire/temperature, and wind/motion related to body composition. Read more
My next Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class will be offered on Tuesdays October 6 – November 24, 2015 from 9:30am – 11:30am with a day of mindfulness on November 10 from 9am – 3pm. The class will be offered in Wilmington, NC.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teaches mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga to cultivate awareness and reduce stress. Participation in MBSR has been shown to Read more