5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support Powerful Emotions

When the United States was born in 1776 during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Pluto, the planet of rebirth and transformation, was located at 27 degrees Capricorn.  More recently, Pluto entered Capricorn, a sign that signifies money, dominance, power, authority and ambition in late 2008 and leaves Capricorn on January 21, 2024.  Pluto reached 27 degrees Capricorn on 02/22/2022 and will do so again on July 11th and December 28th this year.  As such, many astrologers consider this the U.S.’s personal Pluto return.  A planetary return is when a planet revisits the same exact place in the sky, which for Pluto occurs around every 248 years!

Pluto represents destruction and construction and works to tear down things that are no longer working.  Anything that is occurring during this time will be asking us to pay attention to what needs to be transformed within the US and beyond, creating upheavals in the current dynamics, such as the sexist, racism, classist, homophobic, ableism, anti-Semitism, transphobic systems put in place all those years ago.  Pluto in Capricorn has removed the blinders and allowed these ugly and painful truths to be seen and felt more acutely.  It has brought down people and corporations that have refused to grow and transform.  It destroys what is no longer working and constructs new evolutionary ways, shifting ideology into a space of growth.

So what does this all have to do with our powerful emotions?  Well, with Pluto in Capricorn, the energy is working to support the growth of the world and specifically the United States.  And when there is resistance to this growth and evolution, societal upheavals are expected.  And when we as humans experience such societal upheavals, powerful emotions tend to arise.  And if we don’t tend to these powerful emotions, conflict may escalate not only externally but perhaps more importantly, internally.

Below are intention-setting ideas for you to consider to ride the collective and personal emotional waves as Pluto continues to push us on our journey of transformation and evolution:

  1. Befriend Powerful Emotions. Don’t view your emotions as the enemy as so many of us have been taught.  Powerful emotions have information to share if we can simply welcome them, instead of reject them.  For example, consider anger.  Anger’s message is often that our needs are not being met, either because they are being ignored, invalidated, dismissed, or trampled on.  Anger might be saying “I need to be seen, heard, valued, supported and/or accepted!”  Perhaps think about the last time you felt anger (dare I say rage?) and get curious about what it is trying to say to you.  What need or core value was not being honored in that moment?  Gaining clarity around your needs, and how anger attempts to protect those needs, begins to soothe this powerful emotion as if feels heard and valued (by you!).
  2. Release Control!.  We have also been taught that we can control our emotions.  Unfortunately, this lesson has created a belief that leads many of us to disassociate, to cut off all connection between between our logical and emotional intelligence.  However, under such conditions, powerful emotions tend to show up when least expected or wanted, because they will only be ignored for awhile.  Perhaps think about how you might regulate or balance your emotions, not control them.  For example, when we experience loss, sadness is a normal, natural human response and requires expression.  If we repress it, thinking we can control it, it will shift into the space of depression.
  3. Accept ALL Emotions.  Powerful emotions are not bad, they are human. Another step in regulating or balancing emotions is to accept all of them and honor that they are what make us human.  Take guilt as an example.  Most of us don’t like feeling guilt as it is uncomfortable.  However, what if we accepted guilt as a guide, the primary emotion that keeps us connected to our authentic self.  Perhaps consider thinking of guilt as a guide, not viewing it as a punishment making us suffer for a mistake we made.  As humans, we make mistakes.  That is a necessary part of learning.  So, when we begin to veer too far away from our authentic self and behave in a way that elicits guilt, thank guilt for being the guard rails to our journey, instead of beating yourself up as you learn along the way.
  4. FACE Fear.  If we don’t embrace our deepest fear, it will always be in the driver seat of our lives.  This is not a conscious decision, but a reality.  Embracing our deepest fear doesn’t mean we are turning the steering wheel over to it.  Instead, it invites in compassion and encourages fear to loosen its grip on the wheel.  To FACE your biggest fear allows space for us to engage in a dialog with it and honor how it too protects us.  Consider trying the following:
    • Foster an internal and external environment where awareness, understanding and choice can grow.
    • Act even when experiencing fear, even in the smallest of ways, as action reduces fear and builds strength and resiliency.
    • Create a current vision that comforts and sooths fear, whether in your mind to visit or perhaps a drawing or picture to look at frequently.
    • Express a mantra that challenges the fear, perhaps “This fear might be real, but it is not true right now!”
  5. Give Shame Back.  Somewhere along our journey, usually when we were very young, we internalized a message that we were bad or inadequate in some way.  Shame believes it is being protective, keeping you from connecting to others in order to avoid further hurt and humiliation.  In actuality, it is keeping you from accepting yourself and connecting with your authentic being.  Shame needs to be given back to the person that gave it to you, is not yours to keep!  Shame is like a hot potato that if we don’t give it back, we continue to pass it around to others, to try and make ourselves feel better.  The shortest route to feeling better is to shine the light on shame, give it air to breath so it can die on the vine.  Shame is like toxic mold.  Once mold sees the light and feels the dry air, it withers and dies.  Shame is probably one of the most powerful emotions keeping us small, so perhaps consider seeking the support of a trusted friend or professional counselor to support you in shining the light on the roots of any shame you are carrying under Pluto’s return, so it can be destroyed once and for all.

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 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!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Honor Friendship

February is International Friendship Month!

Friends are our family of choice and this month we get to celebrate that family!  Over the past two years, we have needed our friends more than ever, whether they speak, bark or purr.  Such connections can warm our hearts and calm our minds.  And the power of these connections goes beyond the individual level to our communities and to our nations, bringing security and comfort to all.

Below are intention-setting ideas to honor the friendships in our lives this month.  It is my hope you will try one and lean into the feelings that arise from such connections!

  1. Write a Letter.  Consider writing a heart-felt letter to a childhood friend, expressing what that friendship has meant to you.
  2. Plan a Gathering. Whether it is a morning gathering for tea or a weekend getaway, make a plan to come together to celebrate your friendship.  Perhaps dedicate some time to share with each other what brought you together and what has kept you connected.
  3. Friendship Movies.  Perhaps plan a movie night with friends, which can even be done remotely, if that might feel safer at this time.  Some ideas for movies that reflect various flavors of friendship include:  First Wives Club, White Fang, The Hangover, The Lion King, Bridesmaids, Star Wars, and one of my favorites, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.  You might even consider having a box of tissues handy!
  4. Adopt a Best Friend.  If you have been considering adopting a pet, perhaps this is the month you actually visit a shelter or contact a rescue organization to start the process!
  5. Be Your Own Best Friend.  What would it be like if you treated yourself like you treat your best friend?  What would you do for yourself?  What would you say to yourself?  Perhaps pick a day this month to do just that, offering yourself compassion in those challenging moments, treating yourself to your favorite dessert without judgment, and setting aside time to do something you have been wanting to do, but have not allowed yourself to do it.  Afterwards, journal about how it felt to embrace yourself as your own best friend!

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 Manifest Radical Self Acceptance as Your New Year Intention

Perhaps, with the advent of the pandemic, this is THE year that we stop setting New Year resolutions that set us up for failure and challenge our mental health and, instead, consider the only intention that will support lasting health, mind, body and spirit – self-acceptance.

When we can truly accept ourselves, both our light and our shadow as a human being, we are in a balanced space to fertilize the soil for continued growth.  Self-acceptance will not bring on a superiority complex or make us vain, as those spaces are ones of imbalance, leaning into only our gifts and ignoring or defending our imperfections or limitations.  Self-acceptance will lead us away from self-doubt, low self-esteem, low self-worth, and any other spaces that suggest we are less than other.  Learning self-acceptance will land you in a place of humility, where you are able to recognize yourself as perfectly imperfect, allowing you to move into spaces of vulnerability to deeply connect with yourself and others.  It is in this fertile soil where we can identify parts of ourselves that currently live in the shadows and invite them to sit with us in the light, creating opportunities for growth.

Below I offer ideas you might want to try to support your new year intention of radically accepting yourself exactly as you are now:

  1. Let Go of Goals.  I know, I know, your thinking but how will I know if I am being productive?  Setting goals and failing to attain them messes with our mental health.  And, even when we meet them, we believe we have to set an even higher goal to achieve, inviting our perfectionist to step forward and carry the load.  We have been taught that without goals, we are aimless.  That is a myth.  Every day we accomplish a lot, like getting out of bed, bathing and feeding ourselves, taking care of our loved ones, laundry, chores, errands, connecting with friends, to name a few.  Perhaps consider redefining what we might consider productive.  Instead of it meaning completing tasks at work and/or learning a new skill, maybe productive can mean improving relationships by being kind to yourself and others, listening deeply to someone who is struggling, keeping an open mind when someone’s opinion is different than yours or setting a healthy boundary, where you say no, so others can grow.  Can you imagine what the world might look like if productive meant this?
  2. Practice Self-compassion. Self-compassion has been shown to reduce the challenging uncomfortable feelings that we experience when we make a mistake or stumble on our journeys.  It is offering ourselves kindness and forgiveness, as we would offer a friend that tells you about a mistake they just made.  Unfortunately, we are not taught or shown how to offer ourselves such compassion.  The good news is that it can be learned, if we practice.  Consider trying some of the free meditations and exercises that can be found at the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion website.
  3. Lose Control.  We spend so much energy trying to control ourselves and everything around us.  When we begin to realize there is really not that much we can actually control, life begins to offer us the space to flow with it, instead of against it.  One thing I learned that I can control is my breath.  Our bodies breathe themselves without much awareness from our minds, leading to a deeper mind-body disconnection.   But the diaphragm is actually a skeletal muscle, which means we have control over it.  Consider bringing your awareness to your breath the next time you find yourself trying to control a situation, where the mind and body are tight, and allow your mind to lengthen your inhale (through the nose) and lengthen your exhale (through the nose) for the next several breaths.  Take notice if the control of your breath (internal experience) satisfies the in-the-moment need to control the external situation.  This practice will support a shift away from the need to control so much and ease you into the space of ‘going with the flow’ more.
  4. Write It Out.  Journaling has been shown to assist us in getting clearer about who we really are, by allowing us the space to feel our feelings, and then describing or labeling the emotions and why we might be experiencing them.  When we can feel our feelings and label our emotions, we learn that the uplifting ones reflect our needs being satisfied and the heavy ones reflect our needs not being satisfied.  Identifying our needs supports the process of getting to know ourselves better.  If this effort sounds a bit challenging for you, consider reviewing Marshall Rosenberg’s Feelings Inventory to jump start the process.  Then perhaps take a moment to reflect on the last time you might have been experiencing one of the feelings listed under your needs not being met and explore what need was being dismissed or ignored.  Again, Marshall Rosenberg provides a Needs Inventory to support this part of the journey.  When we can identify our needs (and we all have them!), we are then able to begin the process of radically accepting them for the data they provide about what makes tick.
  5. Develop Supportive Mantras.  Another layer of writing it out includes listing supportive mantras to challenge the critical voice in our minds that believes it is what motivates us to do or be better.  Supportive mantras, such as “My needs matter”, “I’m good enough” and “I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone” can stop the critical voice in its tracks.  Consider developing a list of such mantras in your journal that challenge your critical voice and keeping it accessible so you can turn to it when the powerful emotions arise and the critical voice gets loud.  Powerful emotions are part of being human, yet the critical voice is a different story.  When we can befriend our emotions and tune out the critical voice, the road to self-acceptance becomes smoother.

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!