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6 Tips for Mindful Self-Care Over The Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching, and many of us are heading home to spend time with family. For some, this means confronting challenging political views and challenging interpersonal dynamics. As far as mindfulness is concerned, these are the moments where the rubber meets the road!

If you’re anxious about holiday family time, here are six tips to keep your mindfulness and compassion alive:

  1. Schedule time to connect with friends. Though you may be across the country from your social circle or romantic partner, a few well-placed phone calls can provide a much needed dose of connection and co-regulation. Let it be a good 20 minutes, and be present for it—find a quiet place, lie down, and soak in the connection. No need to complain about Uncle Bob’s misogynistic comments—you can talk about anything! A large part of the psychological benefit that comes from connection comes regardless of the content being exchanged.
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Election 2016

I’ve been struggling for days to come to some clarity about how to hold the grief many of us are experiencing as a result of the election. Personally, I’ve gone through waves of deep sadness, a couple restless nights, and about 36 hours of believing that at some point I’d simply wake up from this dark dream. I’ve felt despair. I’ve felt incredibly motivated to engage. And at times I’ve felt strangely numb. Then suddenly, about 20 minutes ago, my fingers started typing out a set of instructions for myself which seemed surprisingly coherent and helpful. In navigating whatever you are going through, I hope these instructions help you too:

  1. Examine the function of thinking & behavior in this moment: are you co-regulating, catharting, necessarily processing grief, anger, fear that needs to be processed (either with others or on your own)? Or is this unnecessary rumination, driving you into the ground? Another way to look at it is: is this moment serving to bring you back into balance, encourage connection (even in grief), and increase awareness/compassion, or is it fueling divisiveness, pushing you further out of balance, and diminishing your capacity to take care of yourself and others and/or get through the day? It could be the same angry words, the same tears, the same painful phone call. The underlying motivation is what matters most.
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Instructions for Lovingkindness Practice

Lovingkindness practice is a meditation technique which generates a friendly, calm, kind state of mind. Over time, it can become a powerful stress reduction tool when you are emotionally out of balance. It also helps to focus and concentrate the mind, particularly when done in the way described below.

This practice is different than an “affirmation” in that it is not story-driven, and we are not aiming to generate any particular feeling in the body (though pleasant feelings will sometimes arise). The calming, centering power of this technique primarily comes from the concentration it generates.

The practice can be done in any position, eyes closed or open. For the purposes of these instructions, let’s assume your eyes are closed and you are seated comfortably.

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Independence Day 2016

I dedicate this Independence Day to our interdependence.

Let this be a celebration of the healthy ways we need each other. Our well-met needs give us the strength to venture out in the world. Let this be a celebration of each other's independence—holding one another with open hands so that in being free to explore, our friends, lovers, and children are free to come home. Let this be a celebration of the ways we navigate relationship. A celebration of setting clear boundaries. Acknowledging needs for space and closeness.

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Spiritual Bypass & Somatic Emotion

Fragile_EmotionAs humans, we are evolutionarily wired to avoid what is uncomfortable or unknown. Mindfulness is counterintuitive in that it trains us to turn toward discomfort, allowing it to be just as it is (more on that here).

As you may know, this is not a simple training, and it’s relatively common to slide off the path into various forms of avoidance along the way. This phenomenon is called “spiritual bypass,” and no particular technique or practice is immune. In Psychology Today, Ingrid Mathieu put it brilliantly: “spiritual bypass is an equal opportunity defense mechanism. It is more related to what we as human beings do with spiritual practice than it is related to the practice itself.”
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