Free Informational Sessions on the Upcoming In-depth Yoga Study and 200-hour Basic Yoga Teacher Certification Training

Can direct neurofeedback provide hope to those experiencing post-stroke fatigue?

As a direct neurofeedback provider, I am continually amazed at the positive effects it has on people’s lives.  I am in awe of the human body’s natural ability to heal itself, especially when it is supported naturally.  I feel privileged to work directly in supporting the brain’s neuroplasticity and its innate ability to organize itself towards health.  I feel excited every day to learn how this treatment modality is being utilized to address so many different body-mind symptoms of disease, to improve quality of life and well-being.  A recent exploratory study took a look at a very common symptom post-stroke, fatigue.

According to the CDC, stroke:

  • Is a leading cause of serious long-term disability;
  • Reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over;
  • Impacts someone in the US every 40 seconds.

With such statistics, anything that we can do to support the brain-body recovery would be a significant development.  As someone who has a family history of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, I feel excited about the possibilities.

With fatigue being one of the most commonly reported symptoms after a stroke, the study looked at using transcranial direct current stimulation (aka direct neurofeedback) to support the activity of the brain on its road to recovery.  The study only included a single session of direct neurofeedback and the results indicated that such treatment may be a useful tool for managing post-stroke fatigue.  I can only imagine the results if more sessions were offered, but I guess we will have to wait for that study!

In the meantime, if you or someone you love is suffering from post-stroke symptoms, especially fatigue, consider reading this study (click below) and looking for a direct neurofeedback provider in their area.

Hybrid (On-site/In-person and Online/Virtual) Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

On-site/In-person Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that, during this transitional time, some of us are more ready than others to slowly re-enter into the experience of small social gatherings.  For this reason, we have created a hybrid service model, where a small number of (no more than 4) participants will be able to join us in-person.   If you are interested in this option, let us know and we will provide further guidance, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment (to ensure your spot is saved)
  • Masks will be required before and after the class
  • Bring your own props (e.g., mats, blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, intention cards, etc.)
  • Come at least 15 minutes early to settle in and allow physical distancing while doing so (doors will open at 6:30 pm)

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

For those that would prefer to stay in the comfort of home – whether due to physical distance, family participation and/or even the enhanced sense of privacy – we will continue to provide the option to connect with us through Zoom.

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support LGBTQ+ Communities

June is Pride Month!

This month we all have an opportunity to reflect on and perhaps learn more about the challenges endured by our LGBTQ+ communities and show our support.  To kick off this journey, perhaps start by reading the POTUS’ Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month, 2021.

According to the American Psychiatric Association‘s Mental Health Disparities data:

  • LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
  • LGBTQ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals.
  • The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of heterosexual youth.
  • Transgender individuals who identify as African American/black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Multiracial/Mixed Race are at increased risk of suicide attempts than white transgender individuals.
How might we support these communities and more actively align with our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.?  Below are some intention-setting ideas for your consideration:
  1. Act as a Scholar.  Educating ourselves is always a good first step when venturing into spaces of diversity.  And when interested in engaging in conversations, it is vital to understand any unique terminology that might impact our ability to effectively communicate.  If you don’t know where to start, The Trevor Project created an online glossary to help us out with the rapidly expanding terminology.  Consider taking a look at this glossary and perhaps sharing the link with others.
  2. Take and even deeper dive.  Perhaps consider watching a documentary or series that presents queer history and current struggles to connect to the LGBTQ+ community.  Below are a few suggestions:
    • Before Stonewall
    • Stonewall Uprising
    • Pride Docuseries
    • Disclosure
    • Tongues Untied
  3. Display a Pride Flag It not just the rainbow anymore.  There are a multitude of flags that can be flown in support of the LGBTQ+ community.  Not familiar with them?  No worries, this USA Today article will bring you up to speed.  After reading the article, perhaps intentionally buying one of choice and putting it out to increase visibility and build the momentum of this movement.
  4. Join a Pride March.  Consider participating in a Pride March this month as an opportunity to show support, to observe, listen and be educated.  You can do a simple Internet search to find one in your local area.  Perhaps invite a friend or two to go along with you!
  5. Be a Confidant.  As an Ally, when someone from the LBGTQ+ trusts you enough to have the courage to share a part of their story with you, listen with the sole/soul intention to understand.  Be curious and ask questions when someone describes an experience you have not had.  Don’t follow up with your own story that you think might be similar to try to demonstrate your understanding.  Instead, simply believe their story and thank them for sharing it with you!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

Hybrid (On-site/In-person and Online/Virtual) Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

On-site/In-person Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that, during this transitional time, some of us are more ready than others to slowly re-enter into the experience of small social gatherings.  For this reason, we have created a hybrid service model, where a small number of (no more than 4) participants will be able to join us in-person.   If you are interested in this option, let us know and we will provide further guidance, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment (to ensure your spot is saved)
  • Masks will be required before and after the class
  • Bring your own props (e.g., mats, blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, intention cards, etc.)
  • Come at least 15 minutes early to settle in and allow physical distancing while doing so (doors will open at 6:30 pm)

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

For those that would prefer to stay in the comfort of home – whether due to physical distance, family participation and/or even the enhanced sense of privacy – we will continue to provide the option to connect with us through Zoom.

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

Can practicing self-compassion reduce shame?

I describe shame as that toxic, black mold that grows in dark, damp places that can make you sick when you don’t even know it is there.  In order to get healthy, first we must become aware of the mold’s existence and then we need to invite air and light into the space, because mold can’t survive in the light.  It is the same with shame.  Shame on the surface functions as an internal regulator to discourage us from violating moral and social norms.  However, when small seeds of shame are planted, especially when we are children, it grows just like toxic mold, creating a very unhealthy internal state of being.  From these toxic seeds of shame grow weeds, such as feelings of ‘less than’ and thoughts of ‘not being good enough’.   What if there was a simple internal cleaning solution that could eliminate that toxic shame?  Well, research on self-compassion is becoming the light that is needed to kill off those weeds at their very roots!

When I was little I had a lot of things happening to me that brought shame, including my parents getting divorced and being poor due to being raised by a single mother.  With no money to spare, we found ourselves pulling things out of the Good Will bins, instead of putting things into them, so often our clothes did not fit right (I remember high-water pants before they were a fashion item).  In such a vulnerable place, my mom was taken advantage of by men and I witnessed domestic violence.  These types of circumstances were out of my control, but that didn’t stop the seeds of mold from taking hold and sprouting nasty weeks.  And those weeds, always present, drove my behaviors for many years.

Finally, when my body began to show signs of disease, I realized I needed to change something.  With the help of a good therapist, I was able to gain insight into how traumatizing those events were to a child and how the shame guided my behavioral responses, such as trying to be perfect all of the time and taking responsibility for ‘out-of-scope’ tasks and events.  Add my people-pleasing part and I had the trifecta for anxiety, exhaustion, depression and many other symptoms of trauma.

When I was able to offer myself the same compassion I would offer others that were experiencing some sort of suffering, I began to feel a sense of relief.  My thoughts changed from ‘What is wrong with you’ to ‘What happened to you’.  And I was finally able to move into a space of understanding, opening the door to choice when it came to how I wanted to act in this world.  Offering myself compassion by shining light on the toxic mold of shame opened the door to true peace of mind.  Cultivating compassion has been shown to reduce the negative chemicals (e.g., cortisol, etc.) and increase the positive ones (e.g., oxytocin, etc.) in the brain.  And with this data, new models of therapy are emerging within the field of trauma-informed care.  One of the most recent and promising ones, Somatic Self-Compassion® training is a trauma-informed self-compassion training that was designed to combine interoception (how we feel on the inside) and sensory modulation (adaptive responses to external changes) in order to teach individuals more effective coping with current and past stress.

One of the most recent feasibility research studies utilizing Somatic Self-Compassion® included shame as a variable to better understand how stress, shame and self-compassion might be related.  What this study showed was that combining trauma-informed care with the increased focus on somatic/body intelligence (i.e., interoception and sensory modulation) reduces shame, including body shame and that such training would be a good fit for trauma survivors.

To read the full study, click on the link below:

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support Your Transition Back Out Into the World

As Mother Earth is re-emerging from her cold winter slumber, I too am beginning to explore how to reenter the world during this season.  I have found this process more challenging this year, due to so many unknowns.  Yes, we have learned a lot about Covid-19 over the past year, and yet there is still so much to learn.  And, although vaccinations are rolling out, we are learning that a booster shot will be needed before the end of the year and yearly vaccinations might be in our futures, like the annual flu shot.  The safety guidelines continue to evolve as do the variants of this virus!  So it is no wonder that many of us may be feeling some relief while also continuing to feel confused and anxious.

There is no ‘right’ way to navigate these unchartered waters as the storm is still brewing all around us.  Each of us must discern for ourselves and our families what is the best course to take based upon your tolerance for risk.  I sometimes think it might be compared with how you use money to build wealth.  Some of us with a low tolerance for risk (Me!), consider options such as stuffing our savings under our mattress, putting it into a savings account or perhaps investing it into low-risk bonds through a investment firm.  Others with a high tolerance for risk might consider investing in high-return stocks or even trying their luck at the casino!  There is certainly no one-size fits all when it comes to mapping out a course forward.

Therefore, below are intention-setting ideas for you to consider as you begin to explore the next part of your journey that might have you venturing out a bit further from your home this season:

  1. You’re not alone.  Sometimes we feel – or even believe – we are the only ones thinking and/or feeling this way.  Know that it is normal and natural to experience some level of fear when facing the unknown, as fear is protective.   What we don’t want is for fear to immobilize us, disconnecting us from our authentic self and the ones we love.  So, perhaps the first step on this journey of re-emerging is to simply remind ourselves that we are not alone in our hesitancy to take steps when it is uncertain where those steps might take us.
  2. Be gentle with yourself.  There is no need to force yourself into spaces that feel uncomfortable or beat yourself up if others appear to be moving forward with ease, yet you are finding yourself still holding back.  For those who know me, you have heard me say often, all in divine time.  Perhaps set an intention around an activity that you would like to participate in, yet are not sure if you are quite ready to venture into that place.  Spend some time visualizing yourself being engaged in the activity, seeing who will be there, and where it will occur.  Also consider exit strategies, ensuring you have options for extracting yourself should you decide to leave early if it does not unfold as anticipated.  Then, if you still decide to not join this time, remind yourself that if it is important to you, there will be a next time.
  3. Wade into the shallow end.  There is no requirement to jump into the deep end of the pool, returning to life as you knew it before the pandemic.  Start small and then check in with yourself.  Perhaps you haven’t eaten out at a restaurant since last March.  Instead of being seated inside, insist on a table outside and in the sunshine.  Instead of planning to meet several friends, invite one friend that may also be willing to explore the shallow end of the pool with you.  Discuss ways that you will behave to ensure your safety, such as how you will greet each other, bringing alcohol wipes to clean the silverware, glassware and your hands, and mask wearing.  Be sure to check in with yourself – mind and body – afterwards, to sense into what it was like for you to take this step.
  4. Identify new ways of being.  I know there are some ways of being that I am grateful will not be returning (at least for me), such as the handshake.  I also know there are some ways of being that I am grateful the pandemic has reinforced, such as hand washing and 6-foot personal space. Now is the time to discern new ways of being that feel integrated and supportive as we take those steps forward in our return to greater social connection with others.  So consider which behavioral changes might have been forced upon you in the past year, like wearing face masks, and decide which ones you might want to continue into the future, perhaps forever.  My plan is to wear face masks whenever I travel again, as it reduces the likelihood of me getting sick (no matter if it is from a head cold, flu or worse) period.
  5. Seek greater meaning.  Perhaps spends some time before venturing out to consider what you may have learned about yourself during this past year, “due to the pandemic”.  These four words have become the (perhaps dreaded) go-to excuse for why things have changed, so why not consider how this past year created change within you.  Perhaps it allowed you to accept your introverted part more or your ability to tolerate uncertainty grew stronger.  All of us have been changed in some way, now is the time to honor those changes.  As many of us lost loved ones, perhaps you embraced your resilient part that tapped into the collective belief that all is as it should be, it is not all bad or all good, that good things do come out of tragedy.  Perhaps spend some time out in Mother nature, being inspired by all of the changes around you this spring season, and write down at least one (but if more arise, don’t stop) area of your life where you experienced personal growth “due to the pandemic” that fills your heart with gratitude!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

Virtual Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that this is not the ideal way to come together to practice and how sometimes just the thought of more technology might bring shivers down our spines.  Accepting that it’s OK to feel intimidated is the first step. We are doing our best to make the connection simple and easy.  Harnessing the warrior energy within will help you to face any tech fears you might have and join us!

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

Can yoga influence the gene expression of your DNA?

I believe so as I personally dove into all of the mind-body interventions yoga had to offer to prevent one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of mortality. Both of my parents were diagnosed with hypertension, with my mother getting the diagnosis in her 30s, and both went on to develop cardiovascular disease that is managed by multiple prescription medications.  When I turned 40, my physician informed me that I was pre-hypertensive, which sent me on a journey that not only reversed this diagnosis, but changed my life in so many other ways!  Different life experiences can influence your genes and cause subconscious behavioral patterns that are passed on over generations, including trauma.  And now we might be discovering how yoga and all of its contemplative practices can change and perhaps undo the damage of such life experiences.

There is a newer focus of research that is digging deeper into how the contemplative, mind-body practices of yoga impact our genes, especially in relation to the stress response and inflammation.  This body of research is looking at the autonomic nervous system’s response to stressful events, specifically the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern.  The human body’s autonomic nervous system is made up of two main branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.  When presented with signals and sensations, the autonomic nervous system responds and takes one of three pathways through these two main branches to keep us safe.  The oldest route from an evolutionary development perspective leads to immobilization (think freeze/faint) through the parasympathetic dorsal vagal nerve branch.  The next pathway to develop led to the mobilization response (think fight/flight) through the sympathetic nervous system branch.  The final one to evolve led to social engagement (think safe and social) through the parasympathetic ventral vagal nerve branch, which is unique to mammals.

When danger is sensed, the human body’s autonomic nervous system travels backwards through the sympathetic nervous system’s fight/flight response and then perhaps, if we feel trapped, to the parasympathetic dorsal vagal nervous system’s freeze/faint response.  When the body arrives in the space of immobilization for survival, it can be a long and painful journey back to the space of feeling safe and social.  So anything that might make this journey shorter and less painful is welcome!  That is where understanding how yoga can support such intentions is vital.

Without going too deep into the science (click on the button below to read more if interested in a deeper dive), when the human body encounters stress and triggers the sympathetic nervous system, it increases production of chemicals that regulate how genes are expressed, activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation.  When these higher levels of cytokines persist over time, the human body is put at a higher risk of a whole range of diseases, including cancer and psychiatric disorders.  This newer research is finding that people who practice mind-body interventions such as mindfulness meditations, yoga or Tai Chi, actually reflect the opposite effect, namely a decrease in the production of cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern.  One of the more recent studies considered one of these mind-body interventions, specifically meditation, an emotional and attentional regulatory activity that supports a state of inner quiet.  From this inner quiet grows increased self-awareness which has the power to reduce stress-related symptoms.

To read more about the growing evidence that stress can cause changes in gene expression and how intentionally engaging in mind-body practices can transform the genetic effects of stress, click below:

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Cultivate Compassion

More and more research is suggesting that compassion is the antidote to what ails us as humans, both individually and on a larger societal level.  So, if the answer is simple (yet perhaps not so easy), how might we contribute to the healing of the world that has such a compassion-deficit at this time?

We must first acknowledge that as humans, we experience fear and pain, which open the door to suffering.  Whether the fear and pain are experienced physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and/or spiritually, they cannot be avoided.  It is part of the human condition.  Suffering, on the other hand, is something that can be avoided.  Suffering is a response – or choice – to the fear and pain.  The practice of compassion has been shown to trigger the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the happy hormone.  Any increase in happiness reduces the experience of suffering.

Next, we must consciously tap into our heart space and exercise our compassion muscles to keep them active and strong.  Therefore, below I provide intention-setting ideas to help support the cultivation of compassion in your own life, so that you can spread the happiness around.  I hope you will consider trying one!

  1. Practice a loving kindness meditation.  With the expanding research base around the health benefits of compassion, many sites offer loving kindness or compassion meditations.  Simply set an intention to establish a regular practice of finding yourself in a space of comfort and quiet and listen to one.  When listening at first, it might seem awkward or unnatural, especially when offering yourself compassion.  However, remember that it is a practice and, with time, the effects begin to show up in your everyday interactions.  Don’t give up!
  2. Soften judgment.  The natural human survival instinct creates judgment.  Therefore, it takes work to transform judgment into discernment.  Judgment grows from a perceived power differential.  It is unconscious and reactive.  Judgment is a reaction from fear, insecurity, jealousy or ignorance.  On the other hand, discernment grows from a conscious and more thoughtful garden, where the seeds of clear perception and insight grow.  The flowers that bloom guide us to distinguish what is appropriate and inappropriate, healthy and unhealthy and the choices we make are not only good for us, but often for the good of others.  Through the clear perception of discernment, we can make good choices without having to label ourselves as better (or worse) than anyone else.  So consider the next time you catch yourself making a judgment (He’s such a jerk!), reflecting on a time when you too may have acted in a similar manner.  Sit with the experience and see if you are able to identify why you acted that way.  Was it out of fear or insecurity?  Or something else?  The more conscious you can make the unconscious motivations behind our judgments, the softer they become, opening the doors wide to compassion for others that are suffering, as well as for ourselves.
  3. Listen deeply.  Listening to others deeply is a tool that opens the gate to compassion.  When you allow someone to be fully heard, without interrupting or planning a response, you create a sacred space for them to truly witness themselves, perhaps for the first time.  Most of us, when engaging with others, allow our unconscious, reactive judgment (see above) lead us in the conversation, jumping to a solution to fix what ails the other; however, that simply implies that something is broken (or even that they are broken), often putting them on the defensive and perhaps even shutting down the conversation.  When we listen deeply, we begin to see ourselves in the other, recognizing the common pain we all experience as humans.  When we are able to hear our common humanity, with all of its limitations, we are more easily able to lean into the softness of compassion.  Consider trying this the next time a friend calls and is suffering.  Challenge yourself to simply sit with the suffering and perhaps acknowledge the pain by saying something like “Wow, that sounds really painful.” without offering any fixes and watch what unfolds.
  4. Heal your trauma.  As the majority of the world has experienced trauma of some sort or another, most of us have some work to do in this area.  Be open to the idea of allowing your warrior part to guide you on the journey to discover the parts of yourself that have been shut down or out, allowing them to have some conscious air time to express their need to feel connected.  Until we heal our own internal conflicts from our past traumas, we are likely to hurt others, even if unconsciously or unintentionally.  This work can be hard, yet amazingly beautiful.  So if you might want some support, perhaps consider reaching out to a spiritual or life coach or therapist.  Through this work, we invite compassion for those parts of ourselves that carry the burden of our past traumas, like we would offer compassion to another.
  5. Practice radical self-care.  So many of us were taught that if we take care of ourselves first or prioritize our needs over others, we are selfish.  I’m here to debunk that myth!  It is my experience that most of us don’t even know what are needs are because we are in a mind set of taking care of the needs of others.  What happens if we don’t identify our needs and focus instead only on the needs of others?  We become exhausted, irritable, anxious or shut-down.  We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves first if we truly want to take care of others.  When we experience powerful negative emotions, it is typically a sign that our needs are not being honored.  Therefore, I recommend exploring and identifying your needs as the first radical self-care step.  Or perhaps consider looking up the definitions of selfish and self-care to gain a better awareness of the differences.  When you are able to understand that you can be thoughtful of others AND prioritize your needs first, you are paving the road for compassion to replace fear in your heart!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!