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Today Is a New Day

Our country spoke loudly yesterday.

It said to us that there are people who feel angry, left out, disenfranchised, forgotten. It said that people are struggling to feel safe, at peace, secure on a regular basis. It said that people want to be heard, understood, respected.

If those people exist in our country, we have all helped create them and maintain their unhappy existence, even in the midst of our happy one.

So, for those of us who haven’t felt angry, left out, disenfranchised, forgotten, now is the time to reach out, to step out of our comfort zone and lift someone up, lend a hand, notice, listen, love.

For those of us who have felt safe, peaceful, and secure, it is time to spread that peace, to offer safety, and to help secure it for those who haven’t had it.

For those of us with a voice and arbitrary societal respect, it is time to hear the unheard.

Let go of the fear that your clean world is going to hell. We have a family to raise, brothers and sisters whom we have forgotten, ignored, neglected.

Be ready to share. Be ready to give. Be ready to equalize. Be ready to strengthen your insides and help others strengthen theirs.

This is not about now having to protect ourselves. It is about courageous service to humanity.

Love, compassion, action.

lovecompassionaction

Mindful Myth Busting #2: Observing the Mind Is Not the Hard Part


If you’re watching this video or reading this post, you probably already know about mindfulness, the practice of being aware, in the present moment, without judgment. I’m not going to go into the hows of mindfulness so we can focus on busting a myth about it.

I hear from a lot of people that having even a five minute mindfulness practice — or any kind of meditation practice — is too hard because they don’t like to sit and listen to their minds go wild, that that is hard to watch.

But, that’s the point, right? How can we support ourselves day to day if we don’t know what’s swimming around in our head all the time, guiding our behavior when we’re not looking?

If we break it down, it’s not hard to sit and listen to that chatter; most of us can do that. The hard part is having compassion for ourselves and what we carry around with us all the time–those thoughts and emotions that float through our awareness in that five minute practice! That is the non-judgment piece of mindfulness: compassion.

So how do we stop judging ourselves? We are all so good at it! Most of us are experts at finding what’s wrong with everything about ourselves. Learning how to judge ourselves less and display more self-compassion is a practice in itself.

First we have to be aware that we are judging ourselves. A mindfulness practice is great to help us be aware of that. We sit and notice what thoughts float by, then we notice how quickly we jump in with a judgment about that thought. When we can gently observe the judgment, we let it dissipate instead of adding thought power to it.

In our mindfulness practice, we know that we are to notice even the judgment and let it pass, gently bringing our attention back to our anchor: image, breath, word, mantra, sound, etc.

But if you find that you frequently gt caught up in a negative space of judging yourself throughout the day, you might need a little extra backup for yourself more often as you shift from that judging mindset to a more compassionate one.

When you catch yourself in negative self-talk — putting yourself down, criticizing yourself, and so forth — notice that it’s happening, take a belly breath, and ask yourself, “If I had compassion for myself right now, how would this look?”
Most of the time, even just the fantasy of being gentle and kind to yourself feels so much more relaxed and peaceful than a self-judgmental head space.

The simple question, “ If I had compassion for myself, how would this look?” allows us — our real, solid Selves — to take back a little bit of control from the swirling brain commotion that is happening in that moment.

As you continue or recommence your mindfulness or other meditation practice, remember that compassion is the key for gently and efficiently retraining your mind to be more present, aware and non-judgmental throughout the day.

Thanks for watching!

 

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info

https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Mindful Myth Busting #1: A Blank Mind Is Not the Purpose

If you chose to watch this video, you probably already know something about mindfulness, so I’m not going to into that in detail, except to say that it’s the practice of being present, aware, and without judgment.

In the classes, workshops, and retreats that I lead, I work with people to begin a practice of five minutes of daily mindfulness meditation. What often happens is that people soon get discouraged with their practice because they can’t still their minds for five minutes, then give up the practice altogether!

That’s so sad, because the point of mindfulness is not all about achieving a blank mind—it’s to train the mind to not react so quickly and unconsciously to the myriad of thoughts and emotions that pop into our minds and bodies in a given moment. We can have brief moments of a quiet mind, and perhaps after years of practice, our minds are much quieter than they used to be. But that takes a lot of practice, and most of us aren’t there yet. In the meantime, we practice and practice and practice!

Every moment, thoughts and feelings are coming and going in our minds. When we’re unaware of them, they inevitably drag us in one direction or another. If I’m working at my desk and suddenly start thinking about the doughnut s in the kitchenette down the hall, I can notice that thought—be aware of it—and remind myself that doughnut s are not the kind of food I want in my body; and besides, I don’t even like doughnut s!

If I’m not present with those doughnut  thoughts, they will dance in and out of my head for a few minutes before I feel compelled to go have a doughnut  that I don’t even like!

Our actions and attitudes follow our thinking!

Whatever spends time in our heads guides the rest of us!

When we do our mindfulness practice—or any type of meditation practice—we are doing just that: Practicing. We are practicing observing our thoughts as they come and go. We have our anchor or focal point that we bring our attention back to gently, noticing our minds wandering, then bring our minds back again.

It’s like lifting weights. We don’t go to the gym, lift one repletion, then think we’re done and now should be able to lift 500 pounds! We repeat those exercises a couple dozen times, several times a week, slowly building those muscles.

Mindfulness builds the muscle of the mind so that our conscious awareness is more in charge of us than our unconscious thoughts and emotions that pop in and out of our minds all the time.

Maybe you already have a meditation practice, or maybe you’ve come in and out of one. Either way, remember that while a quiet mind is wonderful, the practice of observing the busy mind and bringing it back to your anchor is how your mind’s focus and attention muscle is built!

In a five minute daily practice, if you have to gently redirect your mind 1,000 times, that is success!

Using Emotions for Awareness and Healing – A Three Step Process

When it comes to working with emotions, I hear from a lot of people, “I don’t want to feel _________” (insert tricky emotion here). While we certainly don’t want to get stuck in an emotional experience, emotions are there to help us resolve whatever might need to be resolved within us.

Neuroscience tells us, “Name it to tame it”. When we can label our emotion, it instantly becomes more manageable than when it stays at a somatic (body sensation) experience.

In psychology, Carl Jung taught us that making the unconscious conscious is our way to healing. This is certainly true in our spiritual expression as well.

In this video, I teach you a three step process that I’ve been using for over two decades, and frequently use with my clients and in classes that I facilitate.

The steps are three questions to ask yourself when you become aware of an emotion:

1. What is the emotion I’m feeling?
2. What is the story this emotion is telling me?
3. What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?

Here is a link to the handout: http://www.dynamiccounseling.info/handouts.html

If you would like more information on Explorer’s Odyssey: Up a Spiritual Creek without a Paddle, contact me here: http://www.dynamiccounseling.info/contact.html

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Increase Body Awareness, Increase Intuitive Sense

Did you know that your body awareness has a great deal to do with your intuition?

Intuition is a higher expression of our emotional sensation and perception. While emotions are mixed in with our contradictory human issues, our intuition is free and clear, always speaking to us!

To increase our awareness of both our emotional and intuitive bodies, we can practice being aware of our physical bodies.

Here are a few ways to increase body awareness:

1. Physical movement: yoga, martial arts, walking, exercise of any kind

2. Mindfulness body scan

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breath)

Work with one or two of these daily to increase your body awareness as well as intuition!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/
Links to Body Scan and Breath exercises:
http://mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html

For more on Soul Evolution and intuition:
Center for Enlightenment
http://www.cfenlightenment.org
http://www.soulevolutionist.com

Commitment-phobe or Intuition?

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to write an article for Love Evolve and Thrive, a website dedicated to helping women with their relationships, personal growth and wellness. Click the paragraph for a link to the article:

Relationships, by nature, are going to push our buttons, trigger our insecurities, and demand that we get out of our comfort zone. How do we know when our fear is telling us to leave a relationship, and when it is a sign for deeper work?

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Five Tools for Inner Housecleaning

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Spring cleaning is not just for Spring, or for your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!

1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.

2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive. Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind, and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.

4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.

5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Discernment versus Judgment

I hear from many people who worry overmuch that they are thinking or saying something judgmental, when in reality they are making a clear and healthy discernment regarding a person or situation.

In this video, I help define discernment–which is healthy and helps us make wise decisions–versus judging, which generates negative feelings and energy for everyone.

The questions to ask yourself when you are worried that you are feeling judgmental are:

  1. What is happening?
  2. What is my experience of what is happening?
  3. What can I do about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences!

Take Time Apart

804972302Lately there has been much talk about how busy our lives are, the pull of technology, and the practice of connecting online more than in person.

Yet there is another practice that is emerging in the midst of busyness–electronic or otherwise: Realizing the importance of taking time away from it all! Meditation, yoga, sitting by the beach, and other forms of quiet time are finding their way into many people’s routine.

Sometimes clients share their involved story with me, then say, “I just don’t feel I am handling it well.” In most cases, they are handling the situation beautifully, but forgetting to handle themselves as conscientiously as the other people and events. I will gently reflect that perhaps instead of needing to do more, it is time to do less, to take time apart from the situation and renew themselves. Often this helps them see a situation anew.

What are some ways you renew yourself? Having a list of three or four things can help your renewal time feel fresh. Other people like their standby of one or two activities (or inactivities!). Taking a walk, listening to music, relaxing in a hammock, reading a book are other ways to take a vacation from busyness for a while.

I love riding my bike around a lake near our house. Biking has always been a refreshing activity for me—feeling the wind cooling me as I ride, looking at natural surroundings or pretty neighborhoods, and enjoying the exercise-induced invigoration when I’m done. My favorite trail is Busse Woods, passing the elk as I ride; but even shorter rides near home can feel like I was gone for hours!

If these activities still seem too time-consuming in your busy day, try taking two minutes two or three times throughout your day to breathe. Stop what you are doing and do some diaphragmatic breathing—breathing from your belly—in and out for two minutes. Try it right now…Refreshing, right?

There is always time to take time apart–and there is always the need to do so!