Let go of resistance and open…

“When you resist, the energy has no place to go. It gets stuck in your psyche and seriously affects you. It blocks your heart’s energy flow and causes you to feel closed and less vibrant…. This is the human predicament.”
Mickey Singer, “The Untethered Soul.”
 
 
            Last week I was on spiritual retreat that because of covid 19 needed to be held online.  I was disappointed not to be in nature at a beautiful retreat center but was determined to make the most of the time to go inward. Then through a series of unexpected events, I ended up having my home space to myself. I was instantly freed up of any expectations upon me. But as I began to settle into myself I became aware how filled with bodily tension, non-stop mental rehearsing, and a deep over-extended fatigue in me.  The sense of peace I had so deeply longed for was seemingly out of reach— at times wildly out of reach. So much for spiritual upliftment!  I felt more like five miles of bad, stormy road than a peaceful person on The Path….
            I just kept staying with the teaching, which thankfully returned us over and over towards our true being and essence; that which is unchangeable. Despite how compelling our lives are, sometimes blissfully and sometimes painfully, what is occurring is in fact coming and going. We are not the series of experienced events and resulting sensations/thoughts but in fact we are that which witnessesthe events and experiences coming and going.  So how to connect deeply with this understanding and stay connected to it?   I was pondering this when a monsoon rainstorm arrived.
            Without thinking I jumped into the pool with eyes just above the waterline to remain immersed in the warm pool and suddenly my eyes landed on the impact each drop of rain was making on the waters’ surface. Because of the force of the rain the drops were impacting the surface of the pool strongly, resulting in water bursting upward with each drop. I sat stunned, realizing that this is what the teacher was taking about!  Our essence is like a pool of awareness, impacted by events, even temporarily seeming changed by them, but in fact everything is just occurring—rising and falling and returning again.  I watched the projections of water rise up, take on the colors around them, shape into tiny geysers and then as quickly as they rose, return again to be absorbed back into the pool waters; completely gone.  
            
            Rupert Spira says:
            “….awareness is our true body. See clearly that all the sensations that we normally consider to be (impacting) our body are actually free floating in the   limitless, borderless space of awareness. Awareness is the true body, the true ‘container’ of all things, and everything is made out of its own transparent, luminous substance….”
 
Suddenly the previous experiences of the past few days just fell away. A full, spacious, intimate, knowing, peaceful presence seeped into the crevices which only moments before had been filled with pain, tension, resistance and fear.  I understood with absolute clarity that our primary goal is to stay open to the fullness of our Being, then from thisplace become open to whatever life is presenting. Doing this changes the lens on all that is perceived, thereby changing the resulting thoughts, beliefs, and storylines. Eventually building a stronger and stronger connection to our imperturbable Essence.

 Become the pool of awareness, 
watch and observe
 rain, sun, wind come and go, 
It’s Love in action.
  

With love,

 Anni and the Sacred Treehouse faculty 

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Take control of your mind!

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius
 
Marcus Aurelius was instructing us that when we take control of our minds, we will reduce the tendency to wander into the past or future and furthermore, this present focused awareness would give us the inner strength (and wisdom) needed to respond to the challenges of the day. This ability to control our own minds leads to greater discernment in what we have control over and what we do not. If we spend our time and energy directed toward controlling our mind, through meditation and mindfulness, we will grow stronger. On the hand, if we spend our time consumed with the past or worrying about the future, we will grow weak and exhausted.
Before you start judging yourself, Marcus Aurelius, or this blog message it is important to consider the  2010 study by Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth. They made a startling discovery that people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing. These psychologists came to two conclusions:

  1. The human mind is a wandering mind.
  2. The wandering mind is an unhappy mind. 

 Mind wandering may have some negative consequences, yet it is important to note that without being able to learn from the past and plan for the future, our species would likely not have survived, so mind-wandering served an evolutionary purpose. You are simply human, and your mind will wander. Unfortunately mind wandering does not always serve us well in today’s world; in fact, we often overuse it to our detriment. When mind wandering serves as a coping mechanism it can gain power from getting reinforced in the moment. It later becomes an automatic habit and it is believed that many people who self-identify as ADHD, may simply be caught in an automatic pattern and be over-using this survival skill. 

Many people resist learning to meditate or practice mindfulness tools because they experience the mind wandering and give up. Rather than throwing in the towel, I encourage my students to practice nonjudgment, to notice the mind wandering and then to simply bring attention back to the present moment or object of attention. This is a moment of mindfulness that leads to strengthening our ability to control and direct our mind. Just like every repetition of lifting weights strengthen our muscles, redirecting attention back to present moment builds and strengthens the control we have of our mind. 

Mindfulness in daily life can be a simple way to weave this mental conditioning into a routine. This is simply choosing to focus attention on one thing in the moment and sustain all attention for a designated time on the task at hand. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), skills group is an excellent place to gain mindfulness skills to facilitate emotion regulation for people who struggle with mental health issues. Some of my favorite ways to practice that arose from facilitating DBT fro the past 20 years are when I am eating, brushing my teeth, showering, doing the dishes, and driving. I also have found what the researchers found, I am far happier, and derive enjoyment and peace when I am fully present, even when doing dishes!

Formal mindfulness training is essential to derive the strength that Aurelius was pointing to in the quote. Setting aside time, 20-45 minutes daily to train attention to be present focused, either directing attention to one object or practicing open choiceless awareness. Using guided practices can be extremely helpful for meditation beginners and even for well-trained students who experience a stressor (most likely all of us right now!). Return to online classes or use apps as a guide. A few of my favorites:

  1. Insight timer
  2. Calm
  3. Head Space
  4. Glo
  5. Stop Breathe Think

 
If you have been away from practice, do not fret, just start again. Need support for your practice? Contact me at askdrpatty@gmail.com I am willing to coach you toward rebuilding a daily practice.
 
Here’s to today, whatever kind of day it is!
 
Sending Metta to all beings,
 
Dr. Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Give from the Heart

Giving material goods is one form of generosity, but one can extend an attitude of generosity into all one’s behavior. Being kind, attentive and honest in dealing with others, offering praise where it is due, giving comfort and advice where they are needed, and simply sharing one’s time with someone – all these are forms of generosity, and they do not require any particular level of material wealth.
                                     
                                      – His Holiness the Dalai Lama



Generosity is one of the core attitudes cultivated through mindfulness training and can be found in many spiritual and ethical teachings. We can practice generosity, just like we train in mindfulness and it can be a conditioned part of being in community or family life. Bringing awareness to others and their needs, even establishing habits of extending your time, patience, attention, effort, and even material goods to benefit others are all ways of extending generosity. For me this was part of the fabric of my family and therefore one of the values and habits planted in early life that I continue to nurture in all aspects of my life. I feel blessed and honored to be a “Wise Triber” and participate in all the programs they have created to build a wiser, more sustainable world. The photo used with the quote above was one of the most exhilarating and joyful days of this pandemic. Lizzie and I set out to volunteer our time and muscles to sort and deliver food to families in need. In the blazing hot sun, we worked with the most amazing volunteers, a handful of fellow wise tribers, who moved about the task as if it was a well-orchestrated musical. In fact as I recall, I felt as if I was in some magical land and I left feeling a high that can only come from the energy of pure love and bliss. This is the feeling I get when I am extending pure generosity.

 In July, the Sacred Treehouse and the Therapeutic Oasis, partnered with Wise Tribe, a community of change makers, who responded to the needs of our community during COVID 19 with a FEED 40 program, to collect food and money to fund the families in need. The response was astounding from from our building neighbors in both locations,  our employees, clients, friends, and families who have all pitched in to extend with generosity what then can afford. Many offered to help deliver and even funded an entire family for a month. We decided to extend  this drive,  as the need for funding continues and we hope that others join us in this effort or simply wake up to offer what you have to people, animals, and the planet.

Just like the hungry, there are many more in our community who need emotional support, to feel loved and connected. There are endless ways to give from the heart, not because you have to, you think it looks good, or you want to please someone, but because you care. I used to thank the program coordinators at an Alzheimers day program every time I left my volunteer shift, because I left with an overflowing feeling of love and joy. True generosity works like that, when you give from the heart you get tenfold in the heart. 

I have also found generosity to be a natural consequence of deepening mindfulness practice With practice, there is a natural process of letting go; releasing selfish desires, cravings, and even fears. With these internal changes, the heart and mind naturally opens and is free to recognize and respond to the needs of others. When one is caught up in their own striving, and fixated on meeting just their own desires, they lack awareness, they do not know that a lack of generosity will become a trap. They are not conscious. They do not know. 

May all beings be safe, healthy, loved and free.
May all being be generous in thoughts, words, and deeds.
May all beings be truly happy. 

Last day to donate food items at Oasis in Boca Thursday August 6th. Last day to lend a hand or donate funds….NEVER!
Become a wise triber…#1000wisetribers

Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Be present…then you are a gift!

As I struggled to make a decision today to stay home and work on this blog and other work-related tasks or to venture out with my family for a day of boating, I was reminded of this quote by the Buddha:
 
Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.
 
Then without dwelling on the tasks, I rallied when the Captain came in to announce the departure. I gathered my towel and water and jumped aboard the already revved up boat with the intention to savor the precious people, the dogs, the breeze, and the sun. Taking it all in with deep gratitude and a dose of forgiveness and self-compassion that the blog would arrive later than usual.

Truth be told- I can be hard on myself and I take my responsibilities seriously, yet today all it took was a moment to remember my intention for this blog is to inspire mindful living and that can only come from living mindfully. The choice to go became a choice to live mindfully and be present with my family, rather than to stay home and write about it. I cherish my time reading, studying, and practicing mindfulness, and it would all be a waste if I missed out on living and embodying it in daily life..

 
Mindfulness practice wakes me back up to impermanence and in a world of infinite choices there is still a limit on my time, my energy, and my attention. Although I continue to struggle with making wise choices, today I can feel a sense of peace and connection and I hope our readers will ponder this quote throughout this week, perhaps write it down, post it in your home, or weave it into your daily meditation practice. Let it remind you to wake up and be present. 
 
With Love and gratitude,
 
Patty and The Sacred Treehouse faculty
 

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

SAVOR: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

After maintaining a consistent mindfulness practice,  you may begin to notice what feels like a slowing-down of time. Yes! Like time is actually moving slower! This, in fact, was the first and maybe even the most precious gift I received in my early days of practicing meditation regularly.  What a joy to have more time for things … imagine how much more I could accomplish!
 
What accompanied this sense of slowing-down, though, were an insatiable curiosity, a desire for stillness, and an overall sense of peace.  I found that while I felt time moving more slowly, I didn’t want to fold more laundry or organize more of my garage … rather, I wanted to see, hear, smell and feel the world around me in 3-D technicolor … I wanted to immerse myself in the beauty of others, nature and of all of life itself. I began to allow myself to drink in the freckled cheeks of my children and to linger in the scent of my lover’s freshly shaven face. Rather than devouring my meals in front of the TV, I began to deconstruct the complex flavors I’d spun together and reveled in the multi-sensory experience of my food. This desire to savor my daily experiences has led me to discovering so much extraordinary in the ordinary. And even more, I have begun to see opportunity where there seemed only roadblocks, connection where conflict might have been, and calm where there may once have been storm.
 
Savoring allows us to not just be fully present in the moment-to-moment experiences of life, but encourages us to lean into these experiences in order to encode memories for later retrieval. Additionally, research shows that humans tend to adapt to positive experiences really quickly, leading to the well-known “honeymoon” effect of intense joy about a joyful or positive event that quickly wears off.  When we attend intently and mindfully to these moments, science says we can extend these honeymoon phases of life, leading to more joy. It is the attention-grabbing nature of savoring what is pleasant that increases contentment and gratitude. And with our powerful tendency towards remembering and creating stories around negative experiences (aka the negativity bias) it is all the more valuable for us to take that extra few moments to wrap ourselves up in the beauty that is right now.
 
I encourage you to take the time to savor in your day-to-day life too, whether you practice mindfulness regularly or not.  Use this mnemonic to help you:
 

SAVOR 

Slow Down — intentionally move more slowly through your day when you can, allowing for the opportunity to notice more of what you encounter.
 
Attend — bring your awareness and attention to whatever you are doing or observing.  Use your senses to explore the experience fully.
 
Value — acknowledge the extraordinary in the experience and how your being present for it brings value to your life.
 
Open — allow for a sense of openness and willingness to see things from a new perspective or vantage point.
 
Reflect — once the experience has passed or ended, take an opportunity to call to mind what you experienced and see if you notice similar emotions arise.

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.

Eternal Longing: May you be free.

May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.
                                             John O’Donohue

 This quote comes from the poem, For Belonging, by John O’Donohue and speaks deeply to my heart and soul. I shared this poem in MBSR Full day retreat today after guiding the class in a lovingkindness practice and I am sending it out the wider community to contemplate (meditate on each line) on what resonates with you. This quote comes from the poem, For Belonging, by John O’Donohue and speaks deeply to my heart and soul. I shared this poem in MBSR Full day retreat today after guiding the class in a lovingkindness practice and I am sending it out the wider community to contemplate (meditate on each line) on what resonates with you. 
If you would like, go ahead and imagine me or another loved one sending these wishes out to you as you read the poem. Read and listen to your body to sense what arises and feel free to jot a word or two about each line, or just the ones that speak to you. Do not be alarmed if some of the lines prompt negative emotions, as all emotions and reactions are messages that arise and can be held in mindful awareness. You can lean in with curiosity and nonjudgment, asking what am I believing, what is my experience around this, what am I feeling, and can I stay curious about this? For instance, the first line “May you listen to your longing to be free” can activate anger, fear, or shutting down, if you are in a situation where you lack freedom or feel trapped. This quote comes from the poem, For Belonging, by John O’Donohue and speaks deeply to my heart and soul. I shared this poem in MBSR Full day retreat today after guiding the class in a lovingkindness practice and I am sending it out the wider community to contemplate (meditate on each line) on what resonates with you. 

We all want to be FREE and this desire lives deep within us. People who are relatively FREE also have areas of constriction or restriction, simply arising from living out of conditioning and habits. Each line of this poem offers a chance to explore your reactions, your wishes, needs, and desires and allows an opportunity gain deeper self-awareness. It also offers the opportunity to extend the wishes to a loved one or all beings during Metta.

For Belonging by John O’Donohue

May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.
My you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.
May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

I would love to hear about your practice, your reactions to the poem. Please share on Treehouse facebook or email me directly at drpatty@sacredtreehouse.com.

May you be free and know that you are loved,

Patty and all the Sacred Treehouse faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Today is what matters most.

Wake up each day and realize this truth, we are truly reborn and filled with new potential and an opportunity to see with fresh eyes what is before us today. In mindfulness training we are encouraged to cultivate the attitude and ability of beginners mind. Beginners mind is a fresh way to see something, especially something so familiar and ordinary.

In formal meditation we practice awareness of the breath by opening to each breath and sensing each one as unique, different than the last 2000 breaths before. In daily life we can open to tasting our morning cup of tea or coffee with beginners mind.This simple practice can be a gateway to step out of automatic habits, challenge our conditioned beliefs, and see what is truly present in this moment. Then by truly seeing what is present and waking up out our habitual habit trance we can act in wisdom and do what matters most.

The present moment is pregnant with possibilities and is the only place to achieve true happiness, joy and contentment. When we are dwelling on the past, or focused on the future, we cannot access these possibilities. There is a time and place to reflect on the past and future, yet being truly awake and fully present is the way to act in wisdom. One of my favorite stories is retold in Thich Nhat Hanh’s book the Miracle of Mindfulness. It is the story of a king who seeks counsel from all the wisest people in his country to  get answers to important questions on how to lead his people and what the most important things he should do first.  Dissatisfied with all the answers he climbs a mountain to meet with a hermit who is believed to be a very wise man. It is there that the answers are revealed to him through his own wise action. The hermit merely recounted to the king how his ability to respond in the present moment to each person and challenge before him led to serving himself and all beings in the highest way possible.

This week I invite you to practice beginners mind by dropping labels and identifications so you can empty the mind of preconceived concepts and labels and simply observe what you see, who you are with, and even apply it to yourself. 

With love and an open heart,

Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty 

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Mindfulness of Beliefs

Beliefs hold a great deal of power over our actions, and in many situations our inactions. Bringing mindfulness to our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world is necessary to live in freedom and truth. It is natural to develop beliefs that are limiting or not true, because we label our experiences in ways that create meaning. Recently, I was sharing my desire and interest in increasing my activity level and just as I said it out loud, I caught my limiting belief that was holding me back. I shared my belief, “I need to exercise in the morning.” There I spotted an old, and recurring limiting belief, that “I have to” exercise in the morning. I was holding a belief that it is better to move in the morning, and that it’s the only time I can do it and therefore I would have to sleep less to add an exercise routine back into my life. Yet that’s not true…
 
Mindfulness practice is a helpful tool to bring awareness to thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. In that moment I became aware that I had fallen into the same old belief that was formed earlier in my life. The truth is I enjoyed exercising in the morning and feeling the effects of being wide awake, alert, and sensing all the motivating neurochemicals flowing through me at work and school. However, I also recalled a time when I challenged this belief and accomplished setting up a routine that fit into my life as it is and how I felt the same benefits and enjoyment, just at a different time of day. This immediately popped the belief bubble that I was holding about exercise and I saw all the possibilities that existed. I could feel a shift and change in my attitude and motivation. 
 
I know this example may sound silly, but I was stuck in a pattern of behavior that was being maintained by an old limiting belief. Despite challenging the belief earlier in my life with great success and satisfaction, I fell back into the doubt again. The first time I overcame the belief was by doing opposite action (with support of others), I still held the belief but did the exercise in the middle of the day with co-workers. Over time this became a routine and yet it still was not enough to solidify or change this belief forever in me. Once the routine changed, I returned back to my strongly held belief that I need to exercise in the morning. 
 
So, what is different now? My hope is that seeing the beliefs that limit my actions around movement and other health-promoting behaviors will prompt me to challenge them and continue to practice opposite action if effective until the behavior turns into a habit and the false belief no longer controls my actions. 
 
How can you identify limiting beliefs?
 
Start by asking yourself a few questions:
 

  1. What am I doing that is not in alignment with my goals and values?
  2. What actions do I need to take to reach my goals or live with greater ease and purpose?
  3. What are my beliefs around these actions?
  4. What might be getting in the way?

 
As you form answers around these questions, get curious about what beliefs you may be holding about yourself, the actions required, other people, and the world. See if you can identify any limiting beliefs and if so can you challenge those beliefs with acting opposite, AKA, taking action in spite of the beliefs, and repeating the action enough times that you experience how actions can change our thinking and override limiting beliefs.If you need help, seek support through a mindfulness coach, supportive friend, or therapists. 
 
With loving and healthy intentions,

Patty and the The Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Mindfulness in Daily Life

“Constantly watch over the mind as a parent watches over a child. Protect it from its own foolishness, teaching it what is right. It is correct to think that at certain times you do not have the opportunity to mediate. You must constantly make an effort to know yourself; it is as necessary as your breathing, which continues in all situations. If you do not like certain activities…and give up on them like meditation, you will never learn wakefulness.”

                                                                        -Ajahn Chah


Watching over the mind like a parent needs some extra instructions as far as I am concerned; do so as a kind, compassionate, and nonjudgmental parent, more like an ideal parent. Although I certainly know my parents intended to protect me and guide me and steer me in a direction that was “best” for me, it was from their limited perception at the time, no doubt it was filled with their very own strong emotional experiences that colored their beliefs about the world. As a Father’s Day blog post I thought it fitting to reflect on and honor the wisdom my Dad taught me and challenge the myths passed on that continue to limit me. This is mindfulness inaction and in daily life. The ability to see clearly our thoughts, perceptions, and assumptions that permeate our daily life and show up in our actions and behavior is a practice that is just as important and as fruitful as sitting meditation. 

My dad taught us to “work and save” and “never use credit cards” because credit runs faster than a horse. This was wisdom that I witnessed benefited him and our family, unfortunately not all of us followed this wisdom and had to learn the hard way. He also expressed many fears and worries as I wanted to explore the world and viewed the world as a “dangerous place” and viewed places and people that were different more as a threat and something to be conquered, controlled, or avoided. This message I found to be untrue and each time I expand my radius of exploration with places, people, or activities, I always need to challenge these anxieties and fears passed down from him. Sometimes it is difficult to discern what is imparted by him and what is my wise mind. This is my path….to uncover the truth for myself and perhaps you will also find it helpful to take some time to inquire,  and use discernment as you notice the messages left over from childhood.

What messages or teachings did my father, or father figures (stepdads, grandpas, teachers, uncles, or big brothers) share that has guided me in a direction of truth?

What messages did I hear from these figures that were limited, perhaps damaging, and what have I learned that allowed me to see the truth and challenge these myths and how does that serve me?


Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy and contemplative Fathers Day.

With love and respect,

Patty and the Sacred Treehouse faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

The Contemplative is our Teacher

‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ 


When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”

                                                               -The Buddha


 
For over 25 years I have been using diaphragmatic breathing to reduce anxiety and release and relieve my own personal stress, so I love to share with my clients.  It has also been a helpful tool for many of my clients in psychotherapy and coaching and yet others have opted out for various reasons. Whether you are someone who already passed on breath work in the past, there is no harm in trying it out again with the attitude of beginners mind. Beginners mind makes no assumptions, holds no preconceived notions, it is a way of testing something in the present moment for its usefulness, Diaphragmatic breathing is a return to our natural belly breathing, where we are expanding our belly on the inbreathe-drawing the breath down deep and then releasing the breath by contracting the belly. This is usually done at a slow pace- in through the nose- and to slow down the exhale you can purse the lips and ….slowly ….release the breath through the mouth.  I love it! A few deep belly breaths can help reset my breathing pattern, release tension, and restore the much needed oxygen to my body.

Later in my life I began my journey to develop a meditation practice and discovered that starting with some deep belly breaths helped to center me and that using my breath as a home base for attention started to feel like a familiar and safe place.  The breath became a place I could return to and rebuild a sense of comfort and calm, even in turbulent times because I practiced deep breathing and established a strong relaxation response with repeated practice. It felt natural for me to use the breath in meditation when ever my mind or body was agitated, anxious, in pain or discomfort, and even sleepy.  The breath became a primary teacher. Now it is a tool I carry with me on the journey of life and here I share one I use in daily life-  A Five-Minute Breathing Space , which can be utilized either at the beginning of formal meditation, as a brief midday meditation, or in a moment of distress. But don’t just believe me, try it yourself and decide!
 
The Five-Minute Breathing Space (adapted from the Three-Minute Breathing Space found in The Mindful Way Through Depression) is a simple 3-step exercise to help you return to your center.
 
STEP 1. BECOMING AWARE
 
Begin by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture, whether you are sitting or standing.  If possible, close your eyes.  Then, brining your awareness to your inner experience, ask: What is my experience right now?

  • What thoughts are going through the mind?  As best you can, acknowledging thoughts as mental events, perhaps putting them into words.
  • What feelings are here? Turning toward any sense of emotional discomfort or unpleasant feelings, acknowledging their presence.
  • What body sensations are here right now? Perhaps quickly scanning the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing.

 
STEP 2. GATHERING
 
Then redirect your attention to focus on the physical sensations of the breath breathing itself.
 
Move in close to the sense of the breath in the belly…feeling the sensations of the belly wall expanding as the breath comes in…and falling back as the breath goes out.
 
Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out, using the breathing to anchor yourself in the present.
 
STEP 3. EXPANDING
 
Now expand the field of your awareness around your breathing so that, in addition to the sensations of the breath, it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression.
 
If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort, tension, or resistance, zero in on them by breathing into them on each in-breath and breathing out from them on each out-breath as you soften and open.  If you want to, you might say to yourself on the out-breath, “It’s okay…whatever it is, it’s already here: let me feel it.”

Try it Out: The Five Minute breathing space on our website.


If you triy this out and have any comments please email me at drpatty@sacredtreehouse.com or respond on the facebook quote post.

May your breath be long, strong, and ever flowing,

Patty and the Sacred Treehouse Faculty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.