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Hi Community,

After some unseasonably warm weather, it's a windy, rainy-ish day here in San Francisco. Wherever you are today, I hope you are warm and dry and able to find some ease.

2016 has been a full year for me so far, and it doesn't seem likely to slow down! This has required me to continue to cultivate and practice self-compassion. It seems important to share this with you because I know it can be tempting to think that at some point you will "arrive" and just practice self-compassion continuously, no matter what the circumstances. It's a lot more likely that life will offer you more and more opportunities to develop your self-compassion skills. I've found that whenever I go through a period of growth or stress, there's a return of old patterns of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations, and I'm invited to find new levels of compassion for myself. So, if you are thinking that you should have figured all of this out by now, know that you're not alone: No one's got it all figured out! 

This month's tool, RAIN of Self-Compassion, comes from Tara Brach, whose work you may know. RAIN is a tool that I've shared before, but this time I'm including an updated version that is more focused on self-compassion. You can try this version of RAIN as a meditation, or as an inquiry practice with yourself when challenging feelings arise and you would like to come into a more compassionate relationship with them and with yourself. I hope you find it supportive.

Next Monday marks the start of the next Mindful Self-Compassion course! We'll be meeting for 8 weeks: February 22-April 11, 7-9:30pm. I still have a spot or two left, so if you've been thinking about joining the course or if you know someone who might be interested, there's room! 19 CEUs are available.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets Sunday, February 28, from 6-7:30pm 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.

~ February 2016 Newsletter ~

RAIN of Self-Compassion

RAIN is a four-step process that can help you re-connect with your present-moment experience. It's also a tool you can use when challenging feelings arise; it's a way to meet them and come into a different relationship with them. This version is based on Tara Brach's way of teaching it, which she recently updated to be more explicitly inclusive of self-compassion. You can practice this process during a formal meditation when a challenging emotional state arises, or on-the-spot, in your everyday life.

RAIN stands for:
Recognize what's going on,
Allow the experience to be there just as it is,
Investigate with interest and care, and
Nourish with self-compassion.

To begin the practice, take three mindful breaths to help bring your attention more fully to this moment.

"Recognize" means that you bring awareness to your experience and notice whatever is happening ~ maybe it's a feeling of tightness in your chest, or an increased heart rate that you identify as "anxiety." It might also include familiar, fearful thoughts about what might happen next. Or it might be a more subtle feeling ~ a quality of energy you notice in your body. Whatever is happening, see if you can recognize it and get as specific as possible.

When you "Allow", you begin to relinquish your argument with things as they are. It doesn't mean that 100% of you agrees with things as they are, though. It might mean that part of what wants to be allowed is the full spectrum of your experience: Can you accept that you are arguing with the way things are, and yet things are the way that they are? You might try saying to yourself, "Ok, this is how it is."

"Investigating with interest and care" can be a way to practice re-training your inner critic. In this step you can acknowledge the strengths of the critic ~ specifically its attention to detail. You need that attention to notice the nuances of your experience. At the same time, when you investigate with care, you have a warm, focused attention that does not judge. Brach refers to it as a "kind, receptive, gentle attention." See if you can un-blend your attention to detail from the criticism that often goes along with it.

Finally, "Nourishing with self-compassion" means that you respond to your suffering with kindness. This is an active response. You might not know how to do this at first. So, you can start by inquiring: "What do I most need right now?" This is the fundamental question of self-compassion. It might mean putting your hand on your heart, or holding one hand in the other. It could mean that you remind yourself: "I'm not alone; other people go through this, too." It might mean going for a walk. Listen for what you need and respond as best you can.

I find that having an acronym makes a tool easier to remember, and I hope that is true for you and RAIN. You might also like to listen to Tara's guided version of this meditation.

Upcoming Events
monarch emerging from chrysalis
Mindful Self-Compassion 8-week Course
Mondays, 7-9:30pm
Feb. 22-April 11
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting:
Sunday, February 28
Speaking of Self-Compassion...
"To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt."  ~ David Whyte
"Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution." 
~ Kahlil Gibran
"The magic is in the mess." ~ Brene Brown
"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." ~ Chinese proverb 
"I cant go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
~ Lewis Carroll
"There is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck. I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice. But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created." 
~ Parker Palmer
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." ~ Carl Jung
"I am not afraid of storms, for i am learning how to sail my ship." 
~ Louisa May Alcott
"As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others ~ what and whom we can work with, and how ~ becomes wider." ~ Pema Chodron

if abandonment is the core wound

the disconnection from mother

the loss of wholeness

then the most potent medicine

is this ancient commitment

to never abandon yourself

to discover wholeness in the whole-mess

to be a loving mother to your insides

to hold the broken bits

in open awareness

to illuminate the sore places

with the light

of love

- Jeff Foster

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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