Upcoming Online Mindful Self-Compassion Course

The other night I watched my 4 year old nephew open his birthday gifts with great gusto. “This is AMAZING!” he proclaimed regarding a new Lego set. Well, I feel the same way about Mindful Self-Compassion! I recently completed this 8 week program [click here], and it had a profound effect on me. You, too, can learn about ways to infuse your life with both formal (such as seated meditation) and informal (remedies for self-soothing out in the real world) practices that will create profound shifts. I found the facilitators, Annie and Anne, to both be welcoming and nurturing. They did a great job of creating a safe space for us students to explore the practices and share about our experiences.

From the class description: “With self-compassion, we can motivate ourselves with encouragement, forgive ourselves when needed, face and befriend our shortcomings, care for others while caring for ourselves, and live more authentically. Research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthier habits of caring for our bodies, and more satisfying personal relationships.”

Who doesn’t want all that? We can enjoy these rewards just by changing the way we think. The material is simple and accessible and quite effective. Being a part of a group helped motivate me to practice by fostering a sense of accountability that is often missing when I learn a new skill on my own. Having a community of like-minded people sharing the journey was both comforting and inspiring.

Or you could check out the workbook [click here], which I found to be incredibly helpful, without taking the class. From there, you can access wonderful guided meditations, both recorded and offered live online for free. Sadly we don’t learn about being compassionate to ourselves and others in kindergarten along with other important life skills like sharing and reading. I wish we did! But it’s never too late and this is a powerful technique that’s simple and easy to learn. Two thumbs up!

Online Yoga Series with Dana Wills

I met Dana several months ago in a Mindful Self Compassion course. I enjoyed her warm and peaceful energy so much that I’ve been joining her weekly meditations on Mind Oasis. When she told me about her upcoming yoga series in May of 2021, I was super-psyched!

If you’ve come to the conclusion that all that twisting like a pretzel and jumping back and forth is not for you, never fear. That’s just one style of yoga that happens to be popular. I don’t care for it much myself! This will be very, very different. It sounds like the perfect remedy for all the stress and anxiety that many people are experiencing.

Here’s the invitation from Dana:


We will start with gentle yoga movement to prepare our bodies for a short seated meditation, then get really comfy and lay down for Yoga Nidra. I’ve created this series, imbued with self care and self compassion, because it’s one I’ve always wanted to take!


Yoga Nidra, the “Yoga of Sleep,” is an ancient practice that taps into our true selves through deep and profound rest and relaxation.  You may well go to sleep as you are guided through, but your conscious mind will still be very much at work, incorporating the relaxing steps that light up the brain in a step-like fashion.  It can also open up a portal for creativity.  You can use Yoga Nidra to help with sleep and deep relaxation, or to recharge much like a power nap.  They say that 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is as good as 4 hours of sleep.

The classes are offered online through Mind Oasis on Wednesday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT), and in studio at jalaBlu in Buena Vista (my “yoga home!” for the past three years) on Thursday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT).  Can’t make the trip to my amazing little mountain town studio?  You can join us online for that one, too.  


Register below for one of three options, and let me know if you’re coming and we can talk details.  Thanks for your consideration — I’d love to see you there! 


Register HERE for Wednesdays ONLINE at Mind Oasis

Register HERE for Thursdays ONLINE at jalaBlu

Now Offering Virtual Reiki!

Over the past year I’ve been repeatedly asked if Long-Distance Reiki is done via Zoom. In fact, I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve decided to offer Virtual Reiki sessions, even though Reiki doesn’t need any assistance from technology. If you’d rather pluck out your own eyeballs and eat them than attend one more video meeting, never fear, old-school long-distance sessions are still available!

I’m recognizing a growing need for people to be seen and heard. Truly listened to and witnessed. While I don’t need a camera or microphone to do sessions, I have become aware of the value of the additional comfort this can provide. I suspect there is also an issue of accountability involved. People want to know that I’m actually there doing my job and not off somewhere doing Jell-O shots and playing cards. Fair enough!  

This optional adjustment to treatments allows me to add in an extra component of deep listening. For those who’d like to spend a portion of their sessions sharing about what’s up in their lives, I can provide a compassionate ear while simultaneously transmitting Reiki. For those who wish to simply state their intentions and rest quietly, that’s a choice as well.

I recently finished an Mindful Self-Compassion meditation course. During each class we would break into small groups and participants would take turns sharing about how their practices were going and the effects that were extending out into their worlds. The others would simply hold space by listening with compassion, without judgment, and without mentally preparing a reply. I got as much out of this exchange as I did from the techniques we learned! Sadly, quality listening isn’t a skill that’s taught in our culture and it’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to speak freely to a compassionate listener.

Another option is to receive coaching to tailor personalized intentions. These are simple phrases which can be used as mantras for rewriting your inner scripts, becoming aligned with your soul’s purpose, and focusing your attention on that which you wish to create. Clients often tell me how helpful it is when we collaborate and fine-tune their intentions since it’s not always clear what they want until we explore what’s happening beneath the surface. I’ve spent the past two decades crafting my own intentions and have learned a lot along the way. It’s a great joy to share this skill as the results can be so powerful.

So here I am, changing with the changing times, and offering Virtual Reiki, with or without Compassionate Listening or Intention Finessing. I’m excited to be branching out and including services that I enjoy offering and are powerful, beneficial, and complementary to Reiki. For the traditionalists out there, of course it’s possible to communicate your goals by email and receive the healing energy without any gadgets or wifi.

If you’re wondering what long-distance Reiki is and why you might wish to experience it with or without video, you can read more about it here and here. If you’re feeling psyched about scheduling, send me a message and we’ll make an appointment for you.

Springtime!

Happy equinox from Philly, where the snowbells are rioting.

Spring has definitely sprung here and today makes it official. It’s also the beginning of a new astrological year, making it a particularly good time to get clear about what you wish to create during this next spin around the sun.

What can you let go of that is no longer serving you? What beliefs need an overhaul? How can you invest your precious life force energy more wisely?

Clearing out the old helps make way for the new. If ever there was a time to brush ourselves off and make deliberate choices about the next steps forward, it’s now!

Leave the Red Zone, by Dr. Rick Hanson

My inbox is quite the mixed bag today! There’s an astrology report announcing super-intense cosmic energies and a weather forecast predicting a major winter storm in my area. All this on top of so many people already struggling with cabin fever. Massive snow seems to bring out either the very best or the very worst in Philadelphians. Some people gladly shovel their neighbors’ sidewalks and others get aggressively proprietorial about parking spots. All in all, I’m expecting a very interesting next few days!

If you find yourself stressed out, overwhelmed, frazzled or irritable, you might enjoy this blog by Dr. Rick Hanson. He outlines some simple techniques for cultivating inner calm despite outer chaos. Stress has major physiological affects which can negatively affect one’s health over time. I can personally attest to the beneficial results of these methods. The more consistently I apply them, the happier I am.

Whatever the world is throwing at you, there’s help to be had for minimal investment of time and effort. Safe, easy, and free plus the side effects of improving focus, relationships, and overall wellness? It’s a no-brainer for sure!

Upgraded Hair Care

This post has been trying to come through for a few months now and I’ve been dodging it unsuccessfully. My brain says it isn’t exactly on topic; my heart says to write it anyway. Eventually the heart always wins! And I suppose body-care fits squarely into the self-care category of holistic health and wellness, so… here we go.

For years I’ve been spending a small fortune on organic shampoos and conditioners with less-than-optimal results. Either I don’t love the ingredients or the way my hair looks, smells, or feels afterwards. I especially dislike the single-use plastic containers. Sadly, everything available in bulk locally just doesn’t suit me either. I tried shampoo bars and was greatly underwhelmed.

Last spring when my business was shut down and I was confined to home, I decided to conquer this predicament once and for all. Some online research led me to the “no-poo” technique, which (I’m happy to say!) has absolutely nothing to do with constipation.

I was surprised to read that suds simply aren’t necessary to clean one’s hair even though we have been conditioned (pun intended!) to believe they are. No-poo advocates claim that the suds strip natural oils from hair, stimulating the scalp to produce more oil and causing a never-ending cycle of greasy hair/shampoo/greasy hair… It makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Some people are able to care for their hair using only hot water. Not me. I’ve gotten hooked on the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. I love the simplicity of the ingredients; perfectly naturally substances that come in cardboard and glass, respectively. Here’s a lovely bonus- extremely low cost! Good for my hair, my budget, AND the planet. A rare trifecta in the natural products realm!

I have a crystal-clear memory of my first no-poo experience. Afterwards, I was sitting on the back patio reading and my neighbor told me that my hair looked glamorous.

Yes, that’s right!

Glamorous!

I remember it vividly as that’s not a word that has ever been used to describe me or any part of me. I had towel dried, but not combed, my hair and was wearing my 2020 uniform of pajamas. I felt pretty much the opposite of glamorous.

Just wait. It gets better! I noticed that my hair was super soft and rarely tangled. My scalp did not get oily. It looked really good on days 3, 4, and 5. Days 6 and 7 it became a little limp and by then I’d usually gotten some moisturizer or almond butter or something in it which compelled me to “wash” again. I haven’t tested the limits of this system, but I suspect if I was neater, I could go much longer in between treatments.  

You can easily find instructions for no-pooing online. I’m just here to let you know that this cheap, simple, easy, non-toxic shampoo alternative that can last up to a week and help save the polar bears is available to all of us.

Give it a few cycles before you make your final judgment. For me, there was a sticky feeling the first few times, which I think was actually the residue of former products being released. It hasn’t happened again in the many months that I’ve been doing this. Twice I’ve felt the need to do a deep conditioning, but that isn’t new for me.

If you’re interested in spending less than $15 annually to have glamorous, shiny, healthy hair without creating unnecessary plastic waste or exposing yourself to chemicals, I can wholeheartedly suggest that you give this a try. I’d love to hear how it goes if you do!

“We’ve got it so good and it’s still hard.”

I was struck by the wisdom of these words overheard at the farmers’ market the other day. It’s been a rough 10 months for most of us. Pretending that it isn’t hard just because others have it harder isn’t particularly helpful. I often hear people who have the privilege of a safe and comfortable home, plenty of food on the table, and good health downplay their struggles, knowing that others are suffering more.

It’s nearly impossible to take action to improve a situation if you deny that it exists. Acknowledging that it’s hard to be separated from loved ones or restricted to one building, no matter how lovely it may be, is the first step to creating solutions- compromises probably, but something that can at least begin to fill the gaping hole where hugs from grandchildren and travel used to reside.

Admitting that these times are hard allows us to fine-tune the adjustments we wish to make. It allows us to draw on the resilience that is present, although possibly inactive, in everyone. Most of us haven’t had to endure any sort of lasting challenge like this, but our ancestors survived World Wars and The Great Depression. Clearly we come from hearty stock or we wouldn’t be alive today!

“We can do hard things.” Another sentence crammed with wisdom, this one from Glennon Doyle’s Untamed.

I’m not suggesting to exclusively shift your focus to the difficulties you are facing. Thoughts are powerful things and it pays to choose them wisely. But just as ignoring the “check engine” light on your dashboard will not lead to a perfectly operational vehicle, neither does avoiding your feelings lead to wellbeing. Just as the light is meant to motivate a visit to the mechanic, noticing your emotional state can propel you to getting the help you need.

Somewhere there is a balance between wallowing in self-pity and disregarding an unpleasant truth. Allowing ourselves to accept what is real gives us greater power to create change. Freeing up all that energy of projecting a shiny façade enables us to see more clearly how we can make the most of what we’ve got and how we might be able to assist those who have less.

Wherever you are on the difficulty spectrum, I wish you greater ease and comfort. If you’re in a position to lend a hand to another, please do so. There’s very likely a food bank or shelter or agency in your area that’s overwhelmed by demand or a neighbor who could benefit from a small act of kindness. I know from personal experience that you’ll feel better if you do and your efforts will ripple outward into the world.

Yes, it’s hard. Fortunately we can do hard things.

Help for Empaths

I’ve been revisiting the tools and techniques in The Emphath’s Survival Guide; Life Strategies for Sensitive People over the last few months. As the fear and anger in the collective realm continue to escalate, I’ve been finding a need to step up my protective mechanisms.

Judith Orloff, MD says, “Empaths have an extremely reactive neurological system. We don’t have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb into our own bodies both the positive and stressful energies around us.”

If you’ve ever been scolded for being “too sensitive” or commanded to “toughen up”, you might be an empath.

If you’ve ever wished you had armor like Ultraman, you might be an empath.

If strangers tell you their problems and people dump their emotional garbage on you and it feels like being slimed by ectoplasm, similar to what happened in Ghostbusters, you might be an empath.

If you’ve ever wanted to move to a remote forest with no neighbors, well that’s probably a human thing, but if you’ve actually looked up properties in Alaska and learned how to make your own candles, then you might be an empath!

The good news is that once you understand that there’s nothing wrong with you, that sensitivity can be a blessing, that there are ways to protect yourself that don’t come in a bottle or loaded with sugar, you can take action to cultivate your wellness. In these pages, you’ll find great wisdom to help you navigate. I sure have!

Book Recommendations for Sanity during a Global Crisis

I’ve had a bit of extra time the last several months to indulge in one of my all-time favorite pleasures. Books! I’m dropping the titles of a few that have been significantly meaningful below. Please consider shopping at your local bookstore, perhaps Big Blue Marble if you’re in Mt. Airy. They need your support much more so than the richest man on the planet.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’d rather spend my time reading them than writing about them, but I will say that these gems have provided me with tools that have contributed greatly to my mental and emotional wellness at a time when the world seems very opposed to such things. Taking a break from the news and social media to attend to your inner landscape can be remarkably empowering.

  • Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Rick Hanson, PhD
  • Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, Tosha Silver
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer
  • The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron
  • If Women Rose Rooted: A Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, Sharon Blackie
  • The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination, Robert Moss
  • Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko- pa Turner

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Move Your Body!

I’m finding that all the meditation in the world doesn’t touch the edgy feeling of adrenaline in my system. It’s impossible to connect with the outside world without having a stress response. While I’m over here having a mostly wonderful stay-cation, many people are suffering. I don’t wish to ignore that, and at the same time I recognize that empathetic suffering won’t help them; in fact it diminishes my capacity to support anyone.

Movement, particularly movement that elevates the heart rate, helps the body to process stress hormones. If you are safely able to get your blood pumping, I believe you’ll find it very helpful. My rebounder, this mini trampoline pictured below, is my saving grace these days. There’s not much a vigorous 30 minute bounce can’t cure.

Yes, I know the gyms are closed. Your preferred form of exercise may not currently be available. You may have a tragic relationship with exercise due to 4th grade gym class. I get it. You don’t actually have to enjoy it to benefit. But once you get started, I suspect you just might! Please note that I’m not talking about enduring pain or physical discomfort! That’s not at all what I mean. I am talking about perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone for the sake of your mental, emotional, and physical health during this crisis.

There are all kinds of activities available for free right now online. Vinyasa yoga and fitness classes are more readily available than ever. If you have stairs in your home, a dozen trips up and down should do the trick. My personal favorite is dancing. All you need is your go-to foot tapping music and a little bit of space.

Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t have to be perfect and no one is judging your moves or lack thereof. Just choose a safe and sensible activity and give it a try for 10 minutes. Notice how you feel. Check in with your body. Does it want more? Need a rest? Tone it down? Ramp it up? It will guide you if you listen. You have all the information you need within yourself.

Just like any other journey, take that first step and let your inner wisdom lead.