October Sound Bath

Immersing yourself in a positive environment that includes restorative yoga, Reiki, the sounds of 14 chakra-attuned crystal singing bowls and a guided yoga Nidra meditation will promote the body’s natural relaxation response and healing ability.  Crystal singing bowls resonate akin to universal love, spirit and source. The sounds are enchanting, harmonic tones that transform dissonance into resonance in the mind, body, heart and soul.

How might compassion factor into suicide prevention?

I think most, if not all, adolescents experience some level of dissatisfaction with their bodies, especially now with the advent of social media. I remember when I went through puberty (yes, before social media), I was constantly comparing myself to my friends and the images I saw in magazines and on TV. I was born shortly before Twiggy became the “Face of 1966” in the fashion modeling world. My mother was obsessed with the latest fashion trends, so this unrealistic ideal was something that took a stong and lasting hold of our entire household. I didn’t measure up then and I don’t measure up now. It’s not hard to imagine how never being able to measure up to some impossible ideal within our families can lead us into the dark recesses of our minds, inviting that self-judgmental part to begin to lead us through life.

As our self-judgmental part grows, it tries to convince us that it motivates us to try and do/be better, that without it’s help we would become unmotivated and lazy. However, this is not true. In fact, research has shown that self-judgment puts us at risk for suicidal thoughts, especially during adolescence. Body dissatisfaction has also been shown to be a risk factor for suicidal ideation and this dissatisfaction peaks during adolescence. So you can quickly see how dissatisfaction with our bodies in adolescence, when our bodies are in such a state of growth and change, invites self-judgment, leading to body shame and, without some support to balance the negative spiral of judgment and shame, can contribute to the risk of suicide.

So where might compassion play a part? Well, research is beginning to demonstrate how self-compassion can be a protective factor against suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, teaching – or even modeling – self-compassion is not widespread in our cultures. Instead we have been taught messages such as “Suck it up, buttercup.” Such messaging has told us that to offer ourselves loving kindness or compassion is self indulgent. Again, another falsehood. Self-compassion is actually the motivating force for growth and change. So, if everyone committed to practicing more self-compassion towards themselves – thus modeling it to others – we would be contributing to the reduction in suicide risk, especially in adolescents.

If you would like to read more about this research showing how self-compassion can mitigate suicide risk associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescence , click the link below.

Sacred September Sound Bath

Immersing yourself in a positive environment that includes restorative yoga, Reiki, the sounds of 14 chakra-attuned crystal singing bowls and a guided yoga Nidra meditation will promote the body’s natural relaxation response and healing ability.  Crystal singing bowls resonate akin to universal love, spirit and source. The sounds are enchanting, harmonic tones that transform dissonance into resonance in the mind, body, heart and soul

 

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Honor Juneteenth

Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, a new federal holiday was honored by legislation that signed it into law, even though it has been celebrated for over 150 years.  Juneteenth is the holiday that commemorates and celebrates the freedom of all Black people in the South that were enslaved.  Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1,1863, it took another two and half years for this information to travel to Galveston, Texas and inform the slaves there of their freedom.  The officials in Texas announced slavery was abolished on June 19th, 1865.  The 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified six months later to outlaw slavery nationwide.

This holiday celebrates the culture, history and pride as well as the strength and resiliency of black communities.  It is important to honor such events and holidays to make the time to remember and heal.

Below are intention-setting ideas for you to consider for honoring our collective history on this Juneteenth holiday:

  1. Read a Book. Below is a list of books (for various ages) to consider reading to honor this holiday:
    • Children
      • Addy:  An American Girl (a series by Connie Rose Porter)
      • Freedom’s Gifts:  A Juneteenth Story (by Valerie Wesley, illustrated by Sharon Wilson)
    • Adolescents
      • Crossing Ebenezer Creek (by Tonya Bolden)
      • Stamped:  Racism, Antiracism, and You (by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds)
    • Adults
      • Juneteenth (by Ralph Ellison)
      • The Brightesst Day:  A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology (by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley)
  2. Watch a Video/Movie.  If you prefer watching something to reading, below is a list of movies to consider to honor this holiday:
    • Miss Juneteenth
    • Slavery by Another Name
    • Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)
    • Whose Streets?
  3. Join a Celebration.  Search for gatherings in your local area and plan to attend with friends and family.
  4. Sip a Red Drink.  Red beverages (and foods) on this holiday are symbolic of the blood shed by the slaves.  Perhaps plan to have some Hibiscus tea or Strawberry soda as part of the celebration of this holiday.
  5. Support a Black-owned Restaurant.  If you were thinking of going out for a meal (instead of mingling in the crowd of a local celebration), perhaps search for local black-owned restaurants in your area and perhaps order a red drink too!

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!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Reduce Microplastics in Your Life

In preparing for a screening colonoscopy this year, I met with my gastroenterologist recently to schedule the procedure.  I told him I was on the “every 10 year plan” since I had changed my diet.  He said “You can do everything right” like reducing the amount of red meat you are eating, avoiding processed foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, etc.; however, you cannot avoid ingesting microplastics.  He offered that recent research suggests that we consume the weight of a credit card’s worth of small plastic particles every week and microplastics “have even been found in lung tissue”, implying we are breathing it in as well as eating it!!!  Hearing this was scary and had me feeling a little helpless and hopeless.

This information came my way at the same time as Jupiter and Neptune were aligning in Pisces (on 4/12/22) for the first time in 166 years.  This planetary alignment is known to support new creations and insights.  Shortly thereafter I heard about Harvard University’s work to address sustainability at a systemic level by creating sustainable plastics, supporting the release of my fear and opening my heart once again to hope.

In honor of the recent work by students and staff at Harvard, below are intention-setting ideas for you to consider as you reflect on your relationship with our Earth and how you might reduce your carbon footprint as we await the mass production/distribution of these new bioplastics:

  1. Do Your Own Research. If you want to learn more about Harvard’s research on bioplastics, take a look here.  If you would prefer to listen to learn, click here to tune into the most recent Global Energy Transition Talk that was recorded on 4/28/22.  It is truly inspirational!
  2. Buy Local and Fresh.  I know we are all tired of hearing about the supply chain issues that have come about during the pandemic.  Yet, perhaps this is the exact motivation we need to prioritize finding ourselves at our local farmer’s market weekly and implementing that plan to eat more fresh foods that are in-season locally.  And remember to bring your own cloth bag to bring home all of the goodies you find!
  3. Don’t Microwave Food in Plastic Containers.  Transfer foods into a microwaveable glass or ceramic dish before warming it up in the microwave.  If you want to take it a step further, perhaps consider getting rid of any plastic storage containers in your home and transition to ceramic and/or glass for both storage and heating.  Heating plastic containers in the microwave – or even cleaning them in the dishwasher – degrades the plastic, leaking microplastic chemicals into your food and water supplies.
  4. Drink Only Filtered Water.  Whether you invest in a filter for your taps in your home or you buy a refrigerator that has a filtered water dispenser, consider eliminating drinking bottled water.  Research out of State University of New York at Fredonia, Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences found 93% of bottled water showed some sign of microplastic contamination.
  5. Buy Plastic-free Personal Care Products.  Microplastics are used in body washes and toothpastes, to just name a few personal care products that are made with plastics.  Consider finding alternatives that are plastic-free or contain biodegradable microbeads for that exfoliation effect.

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!

Summer Sacred Sound Baths

Benefits of Integrating Yoga Into Postgraduate Mental Health Curriculums

As we find ourselves in a bit of a lull in the Covid-19 outbreak here in southern California, I have found my way back to teaching yoga in-person in a local yoga studio. My heart is full as I have greatly missed the opportunity to bring this healing modality back in-person to a larger audience. Yoga, including all of its contemplative practices, has been the largest tool in my self-care tool kit, even becoming my way of life over the years, and it is truly what kept me grounded in gratitude through the pain and chaos of the past two years. Although I may not have found myself on my yoga mat regularly, especially for those yummy 90-minute classes that include an extra long savasana shape at the end, I know how important these practices are for supporting our mind-body-spirit health. And, as a mental health provider, I know it is mission critical to prioritize our self-care practices in order to be fully present and prevent burnout. With increasing rates of burnout in mental health providers during the pandemic, the question becomes is it possible to integrate yoga into postgraduate curriculums for mental health providers to ensure the long-term wellbeing of such providers?

A recent research study took a look at including yoga into the curriculum for first-year mental health students to test the feasibility of such a proposal. Introducing such tools to all students in this setting ensures all mental health providers would have the first-hand knowledge and experience of the impact on their well-being before actually moving into the space of providing services to clients, where the stress level of the role only increases. Although the results of this research advocates for such a change to the curriculum, it only provided a brief, 15-day offering. It is my belief that offering longer curriculum based yogic interventions would not only provide more sustained self-care tools to the mental health provider but it would also equip the mental health provider with the skills to bring such self-care tools to their clients.

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Reduce Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month!

The month of April, among other things, has been designated Stress Awareness Month.  The first step to making any change in our life is awareness.  Without awareness, we tend to  continue on our journeys doing the same old things, repeating old patterns, all while hoping the results will be different.  The pandemic has brought additional sources of stress, so it is perhaps even more critical now for our health to consider the impacts on our lives.

With awareness comes understanding, which leads to compassion and choice.  One of the best habits we can develop for our body/mind/spirit health is learning our personal triggers and noticing when and where we feel stress.  To this end, below are some ideas to consider to support this healthy habit:

  1. Understand common sources of stress.  Change – good or bad – tends to create stress.  Therefore, recognizing the amount of change we are experiencing in the moment can help the mind to understand why we might not feel ourselves.  With this awareness and understanding, we might be more willing to offer ourselves some compassion, letting that compassion support our next choice.  We all might recognize that the loss of a partner or other loved one as being stressful, yet we might not be as aware that marriage, pregnancy, retirement from work, quitting smoking, vacation, and/or moving to a new home are stress producing life events.  Consider taking a moment to complete the Life Change Index Scale (The Stress Test) to deepen your understanding of what life events are considered stressful and determine your current level of stress from those events.
  2. Know the symptoms of PTSD.  The source of our stress might not be coming from our current experience of change but may be emanating from a past experience of trauma.  Most of us are aware that war Veterans may experience Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); however, many (I dare say most) of us are not aware that PTSD can be a result of early adverse childhood experiences such as divorce, having a parent with a mental health challenge and/or addiction, and/or witnessing domestic violence, non-the-less more overt abuse and neglect. Consider taking a moment to complete the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Questionnaire to determine your ACE score and how your childhood experiences may be impacting your current body/mind/spirit health.
  3. Identify where you experience stress in the body.  Once you have gained a greater awareness of what life events (past and present) cause change and stress, consider taking a moment to sit in reflection, welcoming your stress to be present in your awareness, and sense into your body.  We all experience stress in our bodies differently.  Some of us might experience headaches/migraines.  Others might experience digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  And others may experience frequent, diffuse muscular and nerve pain.  Our bodies hold great wisdom, so taking the time to welcome the sensations and notice where the mind’s awareness is drawn into the body, contributes to the foundation of the healthy habit of acknowledging when and where we are experiencing stress.
  4. Give yourself permission to learn to relax.  Many of us were not taught to value fun and relaxation as a basic human need.  In fact, I think the message most of us sensed was that we must work hard to be successful (whatever the definition of success might be for each of us) which does not leave time and space for anything else.  So know that it is up to you to challenge that message by embracing a new message, one that allows you to prioritize you.  Prioritizing your self-care is not selfish!  It is absolutely necessary to find balance and peace and health!!  Therefore, consider finding what works for you, whether it is movement, writing, connecting with others, anything that is a way to release stress from the body and mind and give yourself permission to just do it.
  5. Set limits.  I discovered a mantra many years ago that I found very freeing:  Say no so others can grow.  And yes, it can be easier to say than do!  However, with a little practice and a change in perspective, you will find it gets easier.  The change in perspective is seeing “saying no” as a gift you are giving the other person (and also to yourself!).  For example, when teaching a little one to tie their shoes, at some point you must say to them, “No, I’m not going to do it for you today as I know you know how to do it yourself.”  And, although they might get mad and cry (and even scream), if you stick it out, the joy they experience once they have done it themselves is the gift.  When you can really embrace this new perspective, you will begin to think “Who am I to think I have to do everything myself and rob others of opportunities for growth?”  If one of your personal values is growth then saying no to others can be seen as the necessary rain for the growth of others (and, oh, by the way, for yourself).  Setting limits in this way results in growth while reducing stress by reducing the probability that we will overcommit ourselves.

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

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Celebrate a World of Flavors

March is National Nutrition Month!

As the weather begins to warm up, we begin to feel called outdoors more.  The crocuses, daffodils, pansies, and violets begin to bloom inviting our sense of sight to enjoy the colors.  As the fruit trees blossom, the sweet smells floating in the air remind us of the delicious bounty to arrive soon.  As our senses become enlivened, our mouths begin to water in anticipation of tasting our favorite fruits and vegetables right from our own gardens or our local organic farmer’s market!

With the renewed energy of Spring, we can devote some of our self-care to celebrate National Nutrition Month this month.  Below I provide intention-setting ideas to consider this month.  It is my hope you will consider trying one!

  1. Read Labels.  Consider setting an intention this month to read the labels on the food you buy.  This intention would be to simply raise your awareness of the nutritional value, not necessarily to change what you eat.  Change doesn’t happen unless we are aware.
  2. Try a new fruit/veggie. Perhaps you set an intention to try a new fruit or vegetable each week this month.  I remember when I simply thought “I don’t like brussels sprouts.”  Boy was I wrong!!  Now I can’t get enough of them.  The same goes for mangos on the fruit side.  I guess we grew up with what fruits and vegetables our parents either grew, liked, or cooked.  If we didn’t like them, we might have shut down options that we might find delicious now.  We never had brussels sprouts growing up, so they were not even on my list of possibilities. Now I miss them when spring comes around!
  3. Eat more meals as a family.  Honor how food can bring people together by scheduling more family meals.  Then perhaps consider challenging everyone at the table to identify the top nutrients that are provided by the food being served/eaten.
  4. Explore Food Recovery Options.  Consider researching the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to learn how to reduce food waste.  There are so many food delivery options available these days and we choose Imperfect Foods to support the reduction of food waste.  If this might resonate with you, check out their website here.
  5. See a Nutritionist.  Whether you see a Registered Dietician or an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, both are food and nutrition experts that can provide guidance on what foods are best for you.  We all have unique constitutions, so what works for one will not work for all.  To be successful, an eating plan must be individualized and consider the whole person, including any health conditions.  Perhaps set an intention to schedule a consultation with a nutrition expert this year to learn more about options for including healthier practices into your life.

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!