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Hi Community,

Here we are in September, and the month has brought a fiery ending to a hot, dry summer. Many wildfires are burning in California right now, and my thoughts are with all who are impacted: residents, firefighters, animals, trees, the land. May they all be safe and free from suffering.

Learning about the Valley fire several hundred miles north of San Francisco inspired this month's blog post: "What the Fires in Your Life Can Teach You". The day I published the post, I heard that another fire had started near Tassajara, in Carmel Valley, California. This felt a bit eerie, as the blog post references a 2008 fire that nearly consumed Tassajara. The post also explores how meeting difficult situations, and challenging parts of ourselves, offers us an opportunity to focus on what's most important in any given moment. As painful as these "fires" may be, they typically ask us to consider the central question of self-compassion: What is needed right now? Or, what do I need right now? You can read it by clicking here.

Even with triple-digit temperatures in the Bay Area yesterday, autumn begins this week, with the equinox on Wednesday. While it may not seem like it, we are transitioning into the harvest season, and with that in mind, this month's self-compassion tool is called Harvesting What's Yours. It's a different type of gratitude practice; an opportunity to reflect on an experience that may have given you a gift you have not yet recognized. I hope you find it supportive in cultivating self-compassion.

As I mentioned in last week's email, registration for the 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion course is open. We start October 19, and I'm very excited to be offering this opportunity to more deeply explore self-compassion. If you would like more information about the course, please click here, or contact me.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets a week from today, on Monday, September 28, from 7:30-9pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. We'll share a check-in, discussion, and guided meditation, all focused on self-compassion. I'll also answer any questions about the Mindful Self-Compassion course. If you would like to practice self-compassion in an inclusive group of like-minded others, you are very welcome to join us.

PLEASE NOTE: Because the Mindful Self-Compassion course will meet on Monday evenings, the October and November Self-Compassion Circle meetings will be on Sunday, Oct. 22, 6-7:30pm; and Sunday, Nov. 22, 6-7:30pm. 

Wishing you well,
~ September 2015 Newsletter ~

Harvesting What's Yours

The harvest moon occurs this year on the night of Sept. 27, just after the autumnal equinox on Sept. 23. At this time of year, night and day are about the same length, so it can be seen as a time of finding balance.

This practice of Harvesting What's Yours gives you an opportunity to stop, look and listen, so that you can better recognize and integrate what your life has offered you.

You may be familiar with gratitude practice, but this month's tool is a bit different; it's more aimed at reflecting on your experience and discovering something that may have been less obvious.

You'll want a pen and a piece of paper, or a tablet, phone or computer ~ some way to record your observations. You will also want to find a time and place where you won't be disturbed for about 20-30 minutes.

Start by sitting down, closing your eyes, and taking three mindful breaths. If you are familiar with the breathing practice I often share at workshops, you can do that. Otherwise, simply take three slow, deep breaths.

Think of a challenge that you faced in the past. It can feel tempting to get stuck in a pattern of looking at all the things that went wrong, or perhaps the ways that you were treated unfairly. Just for now, see if you can take a moment to reflect on what truths those challenges may have revealed to you. 

This is not meant to be an exercise in minimizing your pain or sugar-coating a difficult situation. Instead, its a chance to look at this experience from a different angle; to come into a different kind of relationship with it.

Perhaps you faced a challenge that helped you to understand something new about yourself. Or, maybe you learned that you can trust yourself. Or perhaps you are simply grateful that you weathered a particularly intense storm, and you're on the other side of it now.

Let yourself reflect on this inquiry and see what comes up. What have you learned from a challenging situation in your life? Write down whatever seems helpful.

This feels like a fitting practice for the equinox because it is a way of finding balance; of seeing the "gift" in the challenge that you faced.

In a way, you haven't fully integrated or reaped the harvest of an experience until you can identify what it meant to you, what you received from it, and how it changed you.

Nearly every time I have experienced a major loss in my life, it has been accompanied by a gift; something that I would not have been able to see or understand or do if I hadn't faced the challenge. This gift was inseparable from the loss.

I hope that this practice of Harvesting What's Yours supports you in relating to yourself and your experience with curiosity, honesty, and self-compassion.
Upcoming Events
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting: Sept. 28
monarch emerging from chrysalis
Mindful Self-Compassion
8-week course
starts October 19
Recent Articles
What the "Fires" in Your Life Can
Teach You
Speaking of
"In nature, nothing is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful."
~ Alice Walker
"Mistakes are the portals to discovery. " 
~ James Joyce
"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think." 
~ Christopher Robin (A.A. Milne)
"It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings." 
~ Wendell Berry
"We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit." 
~ audre lorde
Under the Harvest Moon

by Carl Sandburg

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

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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