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Hi Community,

It's graduation season, and the peaches, plums, and nectarines are starting to appear at grocery stores and farmer's markets, so it's clear that we're on the cusp of summer. I hope that you are enjoying the longer days, and that you have time to rest in the midst of your busy life. 

If you find that it is difficult to hit the "reset" button and find perspective on your priorities, perhaps this month's tool can help. It's called Remember Yourself and it is inspired by this month's poem, Joy Harjo's Remember. As we're going about our days, it's so easy to get caught up in challenges and routines at home and at work. Even lots of time spent socializing and having fun can sometimes cause us to forget our priorities and our sense of connection to our deeper selves. I hope you find this month's practice helpful in re-establishing that connection and reminding yourself of how connected you are to the world we live in.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets tomorrow night Monday, May 23, from 7:30-9pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. We'll share a check-in, group discussion, meditation, and self-compassion practices. It is a very welcoming circle of folks, with a mix of newcomers and regulars.
If you would like some support in deepening your self-compassion practice, please join us.

~ May 2016 Newsletter ~

Remember Yourself

This month's poem ~ Remember by Joy Harjo ~ inspired this month's self-compassion practice. When you are struggling or busy, it can be easy to think that you are separate and disconnected from other people and from the world at large. At these times, you may believe that don't know how to be kind to yourself, that you need to learn more skills and techniques in order to relate to yourself with compassion. In a way, thoughts like this come from the inner critic; and they reflect a belief that you lacking.

This way of thinking, and self-criticism generally, is a form of forgetting: you forget your place in the world, who and what you are connected to in this moment and through space and time, what you have experienced, what you deeply know, who your teachers are, what it means to be a beginner, and that it's natural to need help sometimes. You identify with an idea or story of who you're supposed to be and you forget who you actually are.

If you would like to tap into a more compassionate relationship with yourself and to remind yourself of who you are, try this exercise. It's ideal if you can do it outdoors, but you can also do it indoors near a window.

1. Close your eyes and take three slow breaths.

2. Look at the sky. Notice how it is: maybe there are clouds, or perhaps it's a clear, bright blue, or a pale soft blue. Maybe it's gray. Maybe it's stormy. Just let the sky, as it is right now in this moment, register with you. Take a moment to really pay attention to what's up there.

3. See if you can find the moon in the sky. It may not be visible, but look for a few moments. If you aren't able to see it, close your eyes and imagine the moon in your mind. Remember whatever you know of the moon ~ maybe just the way that it is out there right now, in the sky, even though you can't see it. Or the way that it influences the oceans' tides.

4. Notice the sun and where it is in the sky. Perhaps it's a bright day and you can easily find it. And even if you can't see the sun directly, maybe you can feel its warmth on your face or on your arm. Perhaps the light that filters through the clouds casts soft shadows. Or maybe it is casting more pronounced shadows. Recognize the sun's presence as it is now. Take a moment to acknowledge that the sky, the moon and the sun have been with you since the day you were born, and for millions of years before you.

5. Now, close your eyes and imagine your parents or the people who raised you. This may bring up complicated feelings, and that's ok. Make room for whatever arises. Recognize there is a way that your life is evidence of your ancestors' lives, their joys and their struggles, and that you are connected to them, even those who you have never met or known. Let that register.

6. Wherever you are, see if you can make contact with the earth. If you can put a hand or a foot on the earth, do that. If you are looking out a window, see if you can find a patch of grass or bare soil. Recognize your connection to the earth; the ways that you, together with all the other beings who live on the earth, are its "skin."

7. Notice any plants or animals nearby. Perhaps you see a tree, or a rose bush, poppies, some weeds or grass, and the wind that may be blowing through. Maybe there are birds chirping, or a squirrel scurrying up a tree trunk, or your own pet sleeping beside you. Take in these beings and their wisdom as best you can. What might they be communicating to you in this moment, through the way they live their lives?

8. Take a moment to recognize the ways that you are connected to the people around you: perhaps there are others who happen to be present at this place and time. Also, see if you can sense the ways that people all over the world may be feeling whatever you are feeling right now, how you are a human among humans.

9. Taking it a step further, see if you can tap into your sense of being the universe. You are connected to it. And, as Carl Sagan has said, all of us on earth were essentially born in collapsing stars and are made of "starstuff."

10. Finally, remember that everything is changing all the time ~ including yourself and everyone you know. Life is constantly growing and moving, and we are invited to dance with it; even when we feel like wallflowers. Take a moment to let this all register; to remember, more fully, your place and who you are.
Upcoming Events
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting:
Monday, May 23
Speaking of Self-Compassion...
"Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings. In other words, even though the friendly, supportive stance of self-compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering, we can’t always control the way things are."
~ Kristin Neff
"You know, when real trouble comes, your humanity is awakened. The fundamental human experience is that of compassion."
~ Joseph Campbell
"This quietness is the highest form of intelligence which is never personal, never yours or mine. Being anonymous, it is whole and immaculate. It defies description for it has no quality. This is awareness, this is attention, this is love..." ~ Krishnamurti
"The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings you need to open your heart."
~ Pema Chodron
"There is more to fearlessness than merely having overcome fear. ... This state of being is not dependent on any external circumstances. It is individual dignity ... that comes from being what we are, right now." 
~ Chogyam Trungpa
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff." 
~ Carl Sagan
"Zen pretty much comes down to three things ~ everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention." 
~ Jane Hirshfield
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." 
~ Alan Watts
"The world is its own magic." 
~ Shunryu Suzuki

by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Lea Seigen Shinraku

I’m Lea Seigen Shinraku, a San Francisco-based Marriage and Family therapist, and I see self-compassion as one of the most powerful skills a person can cultivate. In addition to one-on-one client work, I also offer workshops, groups, trainings, consultation and supervision, all focused on self-compassion. In pursuing my interest in self-compassion, I have trained directly with Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer, pioneers in the field. My work is also informed by ongoing consultation and education, as well as 15 years of regular meditation practice. To learn more about me, I invite you to visit

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: MFC51836
Copyright © 2016 Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, All rights reserved.

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