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Hi Community,

It's a rainy winter solstice here in San Francisco. I hope that you are staying warm and dry, and that you're able to find some ease and joy during this often busy (and sometimes stressful) time of year.

The busy-ness of the holidays can often evoke anxiety about things like packed schedules, travel delays, challenging weather and time spent with family. If you've noticed an uptick in your anxiety, you may want to have a look at two recent
PsychCentral articles I was quoted in: How to Stop Viewing Your Anxiety as an Enemy and 4 Ways to be Kind to Yourself When You're Anxious.

2016 is just 11 days away, and if you've been subscribing to my newsletter for a while, this month's tool year-end tool will be familiar to you. This year I'm calling it Letting the Year Nourish You. It's a kind of mindfulness practice to look back at the year and recognize what it has brought you, as well as what it has taken away. Receiving and letting go can both be nourishing. It helps to have a more conscious sense of what has come and gone because that will give you a clearer, more accurate view of where you are right now, as you prepare to begin 2016. I hope you find it supportive.

I'll be at Mid-City Zen in New Orleans on Saturday, January 9, teaching my afternoon self-compassion workshop ~ Love Yourself, No Matter What ~ from 2pm-5:30pm. If you're in the area, or know anyone there who might be interested, please pass this information along to them. 

I finished teaching my first Mindful Self-Compassion course two weeks ago, and it was moving and humbling for me to help students navigate the sometimes very vulnerable and challenging territory of cultivating self-compassion.

As I mentioned last month,
 I'll be offering the Mindful Self-Compassion course again in the new year, starting in February. There will be one class that's open to everyone on Monday nights, February 22-April 11, 7-9:30pm. I'll also offer a class for therapists and healing professionals, which meets on Thursday mornings, 9:30am-noon, February 4-March 24. Registration is officially open, and I've already got a few people signed up, so if you would like to reserve a place, please get in touch. I'd also appreciate it if you would pass this information on to anyone who might be interested. CEUs are available for both classes.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets on Monday, January 25, 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 group, with a mix of newcomers and regulars.
If you would like some support in deepening your self-compassion practice, please join us.

Sending very warm wishes that the holidays bring just what you need!

All my best,
~ December 2015 Newsletter ~
Letting the Year Nourish You
Each December I talk about a year-end ritual that I find helpful, and I'd like to share it again. Usually, I suggest that you get a large sheet of paper, and I still think that that's a great idea. But, I also know that most of you probably don't have a big sheet of paper, so I created this simple worksheet that you can print out and fill in.

The idea is to take some time and look back at the year, so you are better able to let it go and move toward 2016 with a clearer, more grounded sense of where you've been and what you've experienced in the past year.

You want to find a time where you won't be disturbed; time enough to really reflect on each month, and on the year as a whole, so you can get a sense of its arc. You'll need a pen/pencil so you can fill in the worksheet, and I suggest that you also have your phone or 2015 calendar nearby, to help you remember all that happened.

When you're ready, start by looking at January. Were there any major events or milestones? Perhaps you learned something important at the start of the year, or maybe you had a memorable experience. What stands out?

You may notice that there were certain things that, at the beginning of the year, you expected or were hoping to experience. You probably experienced some of those things in 2015, but not others. Take the time to acknowledge what you hoped for, as well as what you actually experienced. This can be a helpful way to recognize feelings of appreciation, and perhaps some grief, for how things are at this moment, as you prepare to say goodbye to the year.

Continue on to February, and the months that follow, and reflect in a similar way. Did you have any notable experiences? Hopes or expectations about what might happen? People you met? People you said goodbye to? Was there a celebration or event that was especially poignant? Or maybe a seemingly ordinary day that was meaningful to you in some way.

As you begin to fill in the squares month-by-month (or by hopping around if that makes more sense), see if you notice any patterns or ways that your year was shaped by certain experiences. Was there an ongoing struggle or an accomplishment that gained momentum over the year?

After you have filled in the square for each month, read it over and see if there's anything that was missed. Try sitting with your eyes closed for a few moments, and just listen and notice if anything else comes to mind about 2015 that you want to include. 

Turn the paper over and write about any patterns you noticed ~ both those that you feel grateful for, and those that you feel ready to let go of.

Experiment with reflecting on how this year nourished you, and how it has prepared you for the year ahead. Perhaps there are ways that the things you experienced in 2015 can help you navigate 2016 with a more open mind and a more compassionate heart. 
Upcoming Events
flower petal hearts
Love Yourself,
No Matter What
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Mid-City Zen
New Orleans, LA
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting: Jan. 25
monarch emerging from chrysalis
Mindful Self-Compassion
8-week Course
for Therapists

Thursdays, 9:30am-noon

Feb. 4-March 24 
monarch emerging from chrysalis
Mindful Self-Compassion 8-week Course
Mondays, 7-9:30pm
Feb. 22-April 11
Recent Writing
woman hugging pillow
Quoted in PsychCentral:
How to Stop Viewing Your Anxiety as
an Enemy
woman holding mug
Quoted in PsychCentral:
4 Ways to be Kind to Yourself When
You're Anxious
Video: The Gnomist
Above is a link to a video of The Gnomist, a short documentary that reflects the power of nature, kindness, compassion, resilience, imagination, and letting go.

I hope you enjoy it.
Speaking of Self-Compassion...
"Sometimes it's worse to win a fight than to lose." ~ Billie Holiday
"There is something wonderfully bold and liberating in saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life." ~ Tara Brach
"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." ~ Maya Angelou
"The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently." ~ Pema Chodron 

To Days of Winter
by W.S. Merlin

Not enough has been said
ever in your praise
hushed mornings
before the year turns new
and for a while afterwards
passing behind the sounds
Oh light worn thin
until the eye can
almost see through you
still words continuing
to bloom out of yourselves
in the way of the older stars
your ancestors
season from before knowledge
days when the sun is loved most

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 © 2015 Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, All rights reserved.

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