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Dear Community,


It's truly autumn now: Halloween, the end of Daylight Saving Time and Election Day are right around the corner. How has autumn been so far for you? For many folks, myself included, this season has meant sometimes feeling depleted and overwhelmed. The election has been on many people's minds, in addition to the various plot twists of each person's unique life. If you've noticed that your energy is low, I invite you to take a break from news and analysis, and spend some time away from your phone, computer or TV screen. It's striking how powerful it can be to shift focus and re-connect with our immediate environment.

This month's tool ~ Pause ~ is an update of one that I've shared before, and it seems timely right now. It's a support in replenishing yourself through tuning in to the present moment. It's also an opportunity to remember that you get to choose what you pay attention to, and you can take a break from things that cause distress ~ not as a permanent escape from recognizing what it happening, but as a way to resource yourself so that you have the capacity to meet it. I hope you find it helpful.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets this Sunday, October 23, from 6-7:30pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. We'll begin with some centering practices, followed by a check-in, group discussion, and self-compassion meditation. Each month, there's a welcoming mix of newcomers and regulars in the circle. If you would like support in deepening your self-compassion practice, please
 join us!

Warmly,
Lea
~ October 2016 Newsletter ~

Pause

If you're feeling overwhelmed by concerns about the election, or by what's happing in your personal life or immediate community, taking a pause can be helpful in re-establishing equilibrium and finding a place of refuge in this moment. It's easy to feel overwhelmed right now. See if you can give yourself some respite. Here are a few pauses that I find helpful.

1. Start by taking a few slow breaths, and let your attention rest on your breath. You can also place one or both hands on your heart, reminding yourself to bring not just awareness, but loving awareness to yourself and to your experience of noticing the breath. Close your eyes, and continue to focus your attention on your breathing, letting its gentle rhythm soothe you from the inside. If you would like guidance in this, you can listen to the audio I created for the Affectionate Breathing meditation that's part of the Mindful Self-Compassion course.

2. Take a few breaths. Notice how slow, rapid, deep, or shallow each breath is. Maybe they are similar; maybe each one is really different. Just allow your breath to be the way that it is; no need to try to change it in any way. Expand your awareness to include the space that you are in at this moment: Where are you? What sounds do you hear? What is the temperature in the room? What's the weather, the time of day, day of the week, season, year? Who is nearby? What sensations do you feel in your body? What's the fullest view you can have of this moment? See how specific you can get about what this moment offers you.

3. Let your attention rest on something that you actually enjoy looking at. Maybe you are near a window and there's a tree or a patch of sky that you appreciate. Maybe there is a plant, or a postcard ~ some object or image that makes you smile and feel gratitude that it is part of your life. If you have a book of photographs or paintings that you like, you can take that down from the shelf and actually look at it. Let yourself be absorbed in the images, colors and textures. I find that just a few minutes of looking at trees, sky or beautiful images shifts my perspective. It feels like a massage for the psyche.

None of these practices is meant to minimize the very real challenges that we each face as individuals and as a collective. Instead, they are meant to help sustain and fortify you when you forget that alongside all of the challenges of life, there is also so much beauty. That beauty can nourish you, even when times are very hard.

Upcoming Events
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting:
Sunday, October 23
6-7:30pm
Speaking of Self-Compassion...
"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
~ Parker Palmer
"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned."
~ Richard Feynman
"Perhaps I myself am the enemy that needs to be loved." ~ Carl Jung
"Not-knowing is the way to understanding.”
~ Byron Katie
"The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them." 
~ Francis Weller
"Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one." ~ Voltaire
"What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyges of discovery.
~ Thomas Merton
"I can't control the world, but I can control myself. And you are not going to coerce me into hating.
~ Ruby Sales

Now Blue October
by Robert Nathan

Now blue October, smoky in the sun,
Must end the long, sweet summer of the heart.
The last brief visit of the birds is done;
They sing the autumn songs before they part.
Listen, how lovely ~ there’s the thrush we heard
When June was small with roses, and the bending
Blossom of branches covered nest and bird,
Singing the summer in, summer unending ~
Give me your hand once more before the night,
See how the meadows darken with the frost,
How fades the green that was the summer’s light.
Beauty is only altered, never lost,
And love, before the cold November rain,
Will make its summer in the heart again.

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 www.leaseigenshinraku.com.
 

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


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