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Hi Community,

I hope you're well. June is here, summer is right around the corner, and 2014 is nearly half over. Wow. That really snuck up on me ~ how about you?

And, today is Father's Day. As I noted in last month's newsletter when writing about Mother's Day, you may have a range of feelings about this holiday. It may be a tough day, or a joyful one, or both. Most of us have some level of complexity in our relationships with our parents. However you feel about Father's Day, your father, the masculine, know that there's wisdom in making space for what's true for you; and know that all the ways that you feel belong. And that you belong.

In a sense, the practice I'm sharing this month is about embodying a sense of belonging; and about bringing a protective spirit to your truth. Last month, I wrote about the ways that self-compassion is an opportunity to re-parent ourselves. One way we can do that is to draw on the archetypal feminine qualities within us: a nurturing, receptive presence that has room for all parts of ourselves. I wrote about that last month. This month, the practice I offer draws on the archetypal masculine quality of boundary-setting as an expression of compassion and love. I hope you find it supportive.

I wanted to let you know that I recently started a Pinterest board. It includes some of my favorite self-compassion articles, resources and inspiration. I'm adding to it all the time, so please come over and have a look!

Also, I invite you to check out my latest blog post on self-compassion at work. It was the topic of last month's Self-Compassion Circle, and it seemed to really strike a chord with a lot of people who came.

One other heads-up: I'll be offering a free mini class at the Peace in the Park festival in Golden Gate Park on August 23. It looks like a great day ~ a free festival with lots of music and opportunities to cultivate peace. I'm not yet sure about the time slot for my class, but I will make an announcement when I know.

The next Self-Compassion Circle meets two weeks from tomorrow, 
on June 30, 7:30pm-9pm at Cultural Integration Fellowship. If you'd like to cultivate self-compassion in a community of like-minded others, please join us! And feel free to share this information with others.

Wishing you well,
~ June 2014 Newsletter ~
A Non-Punishing "No"

Setting compassionate boundaries with aspects of yourself ~ especially the inner critic ~ can be tricky. Many people have a black-and-white, all-or-nothing understanding of boundaries, especially with themselves. The truth is that there are times when the compassionate response is to say "Yes"; to stop, sit, and listen to the parts of yourself that are calling for your attention ~ including your inner critic. And, there are other times when the loving response is to acknowledge that that part of yourself is activated, and to respond with a non-reactive, non-punishing, "No."

So, how do you cultivate the capacity to set compassionate boundaries with your inner critic? It can have such a convincing voice of authority. So, how do you know when to say "yes" and when to say "no"?

Well, in some ways the question itself is a bit of a set-up; it's playing by the inner critic's rules of there being one right answer. You don't have to do that. You get to make the rules about how to respond in any situation. 

Instead of looking for a black-and-white, yes-or-no answer, experiment. If you usually say "yes" and collude with your inner critic, see what happens when you say "no" instead. Notice what comes up; what feelings you may have been avoiding by usually (or always) saying yes. Bring kindness to your experience, knowing that you acted with a spirit of experimentation and genuine curiosity.

Remember that it takes strength to refuse to collude with your inner critic; to recognize, as William Stafford says in his poem below, that "Your exact errors make a music/that nobody hears." If you experience a wave of self-judgment after experimenting with setting a boundary, notice that. Get curious about it, knowing that this type of awareness is like a muscle that needs to be used to grow stronger.

It may also help to remember something else that's often true about the inner critic: it seems to get very loud whenever you move closer to something you have worked hard for; something that will require you to fully outgrow ways of being in the world that don't really fit anymore. The loud presence of your inner critic might just be a signal that you are moving in a very generative (and therefore threatening) direction.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chödrön tells the story of a young warrior who respectfully goes to battle with Fear. Fear and the Inner Critic seem to be rather similar in their strategies. Pema writes that when the warrior asks how to defeat Fear, Fear says, "My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don't do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don't do what I say, I have no power."

Just by saying "no", you can disarm Fear (or the Inner Critic). The "no" muscle needs some reps to grow stronger, so I hope that this practice is supportive of your experiments. Remember, having a healthy boundary with your inner critic means acknowledging its presence, meeting it as fully as you can, and ~ no matter what it says ~ doing the next compassionate thing.

Upcoming Events
self-compassion circle
Monthly Meditation Group
Next Meeting: June 30
peace in the park
Free Class
August 23
Recent Articles
3 Ways to Bring Self-Compassion to Work
You and Art
by William Stafford

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face —
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

and you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.
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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