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Hello Community,

I hope you're well and that you've been enjoying the early autumn weather. Here in San Francisco, that has meant a string of warm, sunny days. It's like October gives us a chance to catch up on the summer that we miss in June, July and August. Still, autumn is officially here, and pumpkins seem to be everywhere. In just a few weeks, we'll be celebrating Halloween (or at least watching others celebrate it). Thinking about Halloween inspired a recent blog post that explores the ways that it can be scary to say no to others, and how the spirit of Halloween can help you meet that fear with greater curiosity.

If you've been to a recent workshop or Self-Compassion Circle with me, you know that I've been reflecting a lot lately on boundaries: how difficult it can be to set them, and how to meet that difficulty with a sense of possibility and experimentation. Although many of us have a deeply ingrained belief that we must please others and avoid conflict, rigidly privileging the needs of others over our own actually builds a barrier in relationships. It gets in the way of being honest with ourselves and with being genuinely compassionate with others, despite our intentions to be "good".

I hope this month's practice, Dare to be Yourself, is supportive for you. It was inspired by a meditation I shared at last month's Self-Compassion Circle. This tool offers a way to bring more curiosity to your relationship with yourself. I also hope that it encourages you to experiment with identifying and embodying more of what's deeply true for you, even if your truth is different from what others (including your inner critic) might expect or want.

I also want to let you know about a few out-of-town workshops coming up: next Saturday, October 18, I'll be in Austin, giving a talk and offering a half-day workshop at Austin Zen Center. And, on Saturday, December 13, I'll offer the workshop in New Orleans at Mid-City Zen Center. If you're in the area for either event, I hope you can attend, and if you have friends in Austin or New Orleans who might be interested, please share this newsletter with them.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets on October 27, 7:30pm-9pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. It's a great opportunity to connect with a community of like-minded others in a safe, inclusive space. If you'd like to cultivate deeper self-compassion, you are warmly welcome to join us.

I wish you a nourishing October where you take time to really listen to yourself.

~ October 2014 Newsletter ~
Daring to Be Yourself

If the possibility of disappointing others makes you queasy, you're not alone. Many people are deeply concerned with being being "good" and being liked. This makes sense: You need other people, so it's important that you feel connected to those around you. It's a survival skill that most of us develop early in life.

And while it's important to maintain relationships and keep your word with others, integrity goes both ways: it's equally important to know your own heart and mind, and to keep your word with yourself. However, it can be hard to know what your truth is if you're primarily attuned to what others want and expect. When this happens, your inner knowing becomes obscured, and you end up reacting to what others say and do, rather than responding from a place within yourself that you trust.

It's also hard to know your own heart and mind when you're trying to avoid disappointing your inner critic. You may have discovered, though, that no matter what you do, your inner critic never seems to be satisfied. 

Perhaps recognizing the inner critic's trick ~ that it will always take issue with something and that it may never be satisfied ~ can give you a little bit of room to experiment with daring to be yourself. A key step in this process is finding out more about what you actually need and want.

In that spirit, here's a practice to try. You'll need a pen and paper (or computer/tablet), and 30 minutes.

+ Find a place where you can reflect and focus; a spot where you won't be disturbed.

+ Take a few breaths with your eyes closed.

+ Open your eyes. At the top of your page, write the following question:
"If it didn't matter what other people (or my inner critic) might think or say, I would ..."

+ Write whatever comes to mind.

+ You might set a timer so that you can more fully devote this period of time to sitting with the question. 

If you get stuck, write about that. Maybe something like, "If it didn't matter what other people (or my inner critic) might think or say, I would be writing something instead of staring at this blank piece of paper." Write the question again and answer it again with whatever occurs to you. Or draw a picture. Give yourself space to sit with the question for this window of time, and see what arises. There are no wrong responses. It's an inquiry you're making with yourself; a chance to sit in stillness and get to know yourself better. A way to practice daring to be yourself.
Upcoming Events
love yourself, no matter what
Love Yourself,
No Matter What
Half-Day Workshop
Austin, TX
October 18
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting: Oct. 27
love yourself, no matter what
Love Yourself,
No Matter What
Half-Day Workshop
New Orleans, LA
December 13
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“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world... would do this, it would change the earth.”
~ William Faulkner
by Wendell Berry


The Wood is shining this morning.

Red. Gold and green. The leaves

Lie on the ground, or fall,

Or hang full of light in the air still.

Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes

The place it has been coming to forever.

It has not hastened here, or lagged.

See how surely it has sought itself,

Its roots passing lordly through the earth.

See how without confusion it is

All that it is, and how flawless

Its grace is. Running or walking, the way

Is the same. Be still. Be still.

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
Copyright © 2014 Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, All rights reserved.

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