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Dear Community,

December is here and the year is nearly over. As you navigate the holidays and the end of 2014, I hope you also have some time that allows you to shift gears, reflect and digest. I know how hard it can feel to slow down when there seems to be so much going on in our home lives, at work, and in the world. In particular, the last few weeks have been charged for many people, with unrest and protests against injustice across the country (and around the globe).

While I share the understandable outrage in the air, my experience of these times led me to choose "Shoulders" by Naomi Shihab Nye as the poem for this month's newsletter. It offers a tender and timely perspective on how we are called to relate to others in the midst of challenging circumstances. And I believe it also speaks to how we are called to relate to ourselves at those times. Regardless of who we are, we each carry a sleeping child on our shoulders who needs to be handled with care. 
I hope that this newsletter is a support in more deeply tapping into a source of care and compassion within, as you relate to others and tend to yourself.

This month's self-compassion practice is a reprise of a tool I shared last December: Letting the Year Register. I find that part of what makes the holiday season stressful is that many of us are feeling the weight of the past 11+ months. It's a time when you may be in a process of taking stock and reconciling the hopes, aspirations and intentions you had in January, with the reality of what the year has been. Letting the Year Register gives you the opportunity to catch up with yourself. Who are you now? Where have you been? What was challenging about this year? What was fun? How does your experience of 2014 inform your intentions for 2015? I encourage you to find out by Letting the Year Register.

I was recently interviewed for several articles at PsychCentral about gratitude, as well as how to navigate the holidays with self-compassion. If you're looking for some holiday support, you can click the following links to read about what I'm grateful for, genuine ways to practice gratitude, and tips for approaching the holidays

I'll be in New Orleans this coming Saturday, December 13, at Mid City Zen, to offer my last workshop of the year. If you're in the area, I hope you can attend. And if you have friends in New Orleans who might be interested, please share this newsletter with them.


The next Self-Compassion Circle meets on January 26, 7:30pm-9pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. It will be the first group of 2015! If you'd like to cultivate deeper self-compassion, you are warmly welcome to join us. It's a great opportunity to connect with a community of like-minded others in a safe, inclusive space. 


Wishing you a nourishing December,
Lea
~ December 2014 Newsletter ~
Letting the Year Register

You can think of Letting the Year Register as a gratitude practice because it's an opportunity to recognize what has fed you and challenged you in the past year. Even if you wouldn't choose to repeat the challenges again, I bet that you can identify at least one way that they strengthened you and made you better able to know and trust yourself. Whatever you experienced, it has brought you to this moment ~ on the cusp of the new year.

As you do this practice, you might like to have your 2014 calendar or phone nearby to help jog your memory. You could also scroll through your social media accounts to see if your tweets, status updates or photos remind you of experiences that you may have forgotten.


Although you may involve technology in your process, I find that it's most helpful to let the year register on an actual piece of paper. I like to use an 18" x 24" sheet of newsprint so I can see the whole year at once, and this size also gives me plenty of room for writing down all of my noteworthy experiences. If you don't have a large sheet of paper, you can use a smaller one, or you might make a mosaic of twelve sheets of paper; one for each month. See what feels comfortable for you.
 
If you use a large sheet of paper, I recommend folding it into 12 squares (one for each month of 2014). You can do this by holding your paper horizontally and folding it in half, and then in half again. Next fold the paper into thirds. If you unfold it, you should have twelve equally sized squares.

You can now label each square with the name of each month, and begin to fill in the squares with notes about what happened, month-by-month. Here are some suggestions for what you might include:

~ accomplishments/goals met
~ surprising experiences
~ challenges you navigated
~ fears that you faced
~ what you let go of
~ major milestones in your life
~ memorable events or trips
~ new friends/relationships
~ goodbyes


Once you have filled in your paper, take some time to look over the year and acknowledge all that you experienced ~ both the joyful times and the challenging ones. You might let it rest for a day or more and then come back to it and add notes about experiences that you may have not remembered in your first pass.
 
Writing in a journal can be an effective way to integrate and digest what you feel when you look over your year in this way. This helps you allow your experiences to more fully nourish you. When you feel finished reflecting, you may want to save your sheet of paper as a way to track what you did in 2014. You may also want to find a way to release it before the new year begins. I often participate in a New Year's Eve bonfire, and let go of my year that way. See what feels appropriate for you; there's no right way to do it.
Upcoming Events
love yourself, no matter what
Love Yourself,
No Matter What
Afternoon Workshop
New Orleans, LA
December 13
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting: Jan. 26
Recent Articles
therapists spill
Quoted in PsychCentral ~
Therapists Spill: What I'm Grateful for
gratitude
Quoted in PsychCentral ~
7 Genuine Ways to Pratice Gratitude
6 tips
Interview in PsychCentral ~
6 Tips for Approaching the Holidays
Speaking of
Self-Compassion...
"Love is the bridge between you and everything."  
~ Rumi
"Simplicity, patience and compassion. These three are your greatest treasures."  
~ Lao-Tsu
Shoulders
by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.

We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.
Lea Seigen Shinraku

I’m Lea Seigen Shinraku, a San Francisco-based therapist, writer and group facilitator, and I believe in the power of self-compassion to change the world, one person at a time. Through my writing, private practice, groups and workshops, I help people live with greater clarity, joy and meaning by guiding them to meet self-limiting beliefs with loving presence, and wake up from the trance of self-judgment. I draw on my professional training, client work, more than a decade of daily meditation practice, and my own experience of awakening and cultivating self-compassion. 

 
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: MFC51836
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Copyright © 2014 Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, All rights reserved.


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