Taming the Wanting Mind

The wanting mind. The craving mind. The desiring mind. Call it what you will- we all have one and it can get the best of us while we are trying tirelessly to satisfy it. All wisdom texts tell us that we cannot quench or satisfy the craving for sense pleasures. Despite it being part of our human nature to orient toward pleasure and avoid pain, if left untamed, it can be highly destructive to you, your loved ones, the community, and the world. This endless pursuit has even destroyed nature and our precious Mother Earth.

My intention is neither to preach nor endorse a restricting, ascetic lifestyle. Consider this more of a confessional – a moment of catching myself in the act and then triumphantly choosing a different path (at least this time, anyways). As a psychologist working in the field of addiction and compulsive behaviors, it is necessary that I understand the nature of cravings and how to tame it. They say a teacher is unable to give what they do not already possess. Like my clients and students, I also continue on the path of taming and training the wanting mind.

My “wanting mind” appeared today while I was savoring a hearty bowl of lentil soup with brown rice and greens. As I finished the final bites, I noticed the wanting mind saying “…there is plenty more, everyone else has already eaten, I can have more if I want it.” During this moment of awareness, I made a decision to stop. I stopped as I named what was happening and turned toward the full experience of wanting more, sensing it well up in my body. I could feel the energy starting to rise in my limbs and torso. With mindfulness of the full experience, I was aware of the freedom to choose my next action.

I choose to sit and continue to notice… all the feelings…all the sensations of wanting… noting discomfort.  This feeling was most likely present many times before, but I had not noticed because I was already at the soup pot filling up my bowl. But this time was different. I just sat and sensed the whole symphony of sensations until they started to quiet down. In this quiet came an unexpected and incredible feeling, something that I have been searching for my whole life- CONTENTMENT. Yes! Although it was just a moment of contentment, it was a cosmic baby!

This is the kind of story that you need to experience for yourself – to feel it, sense it, and truly understand it. It is with pleasure that I send wishes for you to slow down, drop into mindfulness and discover this unexpected, glorious visitor, contentment.

May you be safe, healthy, and contented.

***Important caveat to those suffering from active addiction, trauma, and compulsive behaviors: please do not take this to mean that this practice is easy or even accessible right now. There is often pain and grief when we sit with craving mind and not act on it, since it often becomes a way to avoid pain.  Yet with mindfulness and other tools it is possible to discover what lies at the bottom of craving mind.


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 Power of Enough

This is a poem I have shared countless times over the years in MBSR classes, MSC classes, and beginning meditation. Just like with sacred texts, each reading of a poem can reveal another layer of wisdom to the listener. Hearing this again on silent retreat in the context of growing in greater self-compassion, I heard ENOUGH – enough is enough! But then self-doubt starts to make me wonder – is it really enough?

What would it mean if enough were enough, if these words were enough, this breath, this sitting? Am I even really enough? Perhaps… I even have enough… know enough…have worked enough…done enough…given enough….and on and on. Nothing left to do, to get, to become. Finally….opening to the life that has been refused, neglected, pushed aside, avoided, or delayed. This sitting HERE, BEING, right HERE, NOW is enough. Whew! A huge sigh of relief overcomes my entire body and I start to relax, simply allowing myself to rest in being, ENOUGH.

Pause, and try it. Simply take a deep breath and as you exhale, let go of doing, striving, and grasping for just this moment. Allow this moment of being to be just enough. Repeat as many times as needed. What did you notice? Don’t worry if you happened to notice the same old patterns – perhaps a critical mind, anxiety or other difficult emotions. Instead, offer yourself encourage and praise for trying this activity out.

As with many other insights, they disappear far faster than they appear, and yet they also leave an imprint. This sense of enough has left a deep sense of knowing I am home in the breath. This path is the way home, it is home, and it is truly ENOUGH. Even as I write this post, I have a longing to hold onto the memory as if I already know I will forget it tomorrow…tonight…. or perhaps by dinner when I want more than I need. How I long to remember this throughout 2020, as I set forth “doing things differently”. I hope that I will recall this insight and gently and nonjudgmentally remind myself, ENOUGH!

I invite you to mediate on this poem and notice, without judgment, what arises. Feel free to journal or create expressive art during this practice.

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused again and again
Until now.
Until now.

A New Year’s Wish:

May you have the courage, strength, tools, support, and anything else you need to open to the life you have refused again and again.  Of course, all in your own time, at your own pace, and with a loving, compassionate heart. 

Trauma-Informed Note:

Please know that if you or someone you love has suffered trauma or attachment wounds it is quite common to have the opposite feeling that there is never enough, due to very early, unmet needs. Please know that this is also a feeling and a belief – the “never enough feeling”- and when that wounded part is healed and your needs are met, you can experience a moment of ENOUGH.

Happy New Year!

With love and gratitude,

Patty

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.

Week 50/The Three Gatekeepers

Most spiritual, ethical, and social-emotional teachings all speak about the importance of speech in some way, shape, or form. I was inspired and guided Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By, in which he discusses the importance of three gatekeepers that help us strive toward “right speech”.  Before words pass our lips, each gatekeeper asks the following:
 

Is it true?
 
Is it kind?
 
Is it necessary?

 
Imagine if we considered all three of these before speaking!  We would discover a world of peace, quiet, and most importantly, kindness. When I found the above quote, it drove home the importance of our responsibility as parents, teachers, co-workers, and simply just living, breathing humans to imprint the truth with kindness and consideration.
 
Mindfulness of speech is a practice and for me a very important one to keep at daily.  Some might say I have a “truck driver’s mouth” (no insult intended toward a truck driver) and it is true at times that my speech is far from kind, necessary, or even true! This week is a reminder for myself and for others to pay attention to speech. Remember that it is not about having perfect speech or judging self or others, but rather paying attention to what you say with the gatekeepers in mind. Most importantly, we should reflect on how our words impact others around us.
 
Easwaran adds the caveat that there are times that we allow the third gatekeeper time off so we can engage in social connecting and casual conversation. It is these times that the other gatekeepers get lazy and revert back to automatic blabbering. So when you become aware, allow the gatekeeper to gently guide you back to presence of speech (which may require an apology or two) and start again.
 
As we venture deeper into the holiday season with greater stressors and triggers that bring out childish or automatic reactions, I ask you to consider the following:
 

At any moment, we can apologize and begin anew.

 
May this post oil the gates and allow them to operate on behalf of greater love, kindness, and peace.  May you consider the power of your speech and how you decide to use it in your daily life.
 
Tashi Deley,
 

Patty

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.

Week 49/The Yoga of Food

What if I were to say to you, “I am on a diet?”  What would come to mind?

What if a diet were a way of life, a way of being, perhaps even a philosophy? What if our eating or diet was informed by science, yet based on a model of abundance rather than deprivation, on an inner intelligence of what our body needs rather than external rules about what we should eat?

There are differences between diet as a way of living life rather than diet for therapeutic applications (for instance, using diet to reverse an already existing condition such as heart disease). But either way, whether it’s the state prior to disease or during disease, our choices (and an understanding of the root of those choices) make such profound effects at the level of the body, mind, and spirit.

How do we determine our choices?  By the latest scientific discoveries? By the newest food product that looks good on the shelf? By an advertisement? By stress that influences our unconscious choices? By the latest food pyramid? By the latest popular diet? By the latest nutritional data? By an inner and deeper sense of what’s needed? By a deeper sense of connection to self and others? By a clear, discriminative self-awareness?

I am a big believer in sustainability, and “should” is not a sustainable model. When I work with people in the therapeutic practice of yoga, my underlying premise is to create a sustainable practice that moves from a model of deprivation and “shoulds” to a model that encourages a greater sense of inner and outer connection. What will help us connect more with ourselves, and what can bring more joy into our lives?

So the yoga of food isn’t just about what you eat or how mindfully you eat, but a complete, holistic practice that looks at nourishing us at all levels of our being – our body, our subtle vital energy, our intellect, our higher intelligence, and the more abstract level of joyfulness.  When we can create a life that supports us at all these levels, then the yoga of food really becomes a subcategory for the yoga of life.

Can we gradually begin to listen to what the body wants and needs and trust ourselves? What do I mean by the words “trust” and “listen”?  How do we learn to trust ourselves when we might have experiences feeling let down by ourselves?  We feel bored, we feel restless, we feel angry, we feel afraid, we desire some pleasure….and we often go to something to distract us from those feelings. Food is often the first choice and often anything will do.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. To create this inner connection, you do not have to become a daily practitioner of yoga poses, breathing practices, or meditation to cultivate a deeper self-awareness. However, it’s important to begin somewhere, and a nice place to begin is learning to quiet yourself enough to listen to and trust ourselves. This way we can make choices that serve us. And as we begin to feel more inwardly connected, we can also begin to notice the difference between an authentic, what the body really longs for craving, rather than a desire for food that has a more complicated, psychological root. What motivates our hunger and eating? Are we hearing what our body is asking for or are we seeking some solace for our feelings of isolation, for instance? Ideally, we want to quiet ourselves enough that we can not only see what is at the root of our appetites and begin to address it at that level, but also quiet ourselves enough to hear what the body truly needs.

We have a longstanding habit, and a world that encourages it, of distracting ourselves from and distrusting our inner voices. There is an ancient intelligence present inside us; it just speaks a bit more quietly, yet much more sweetly and softly.  Start to learn to quiet yourself, listen to the whisper, and regain that trust.

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist  (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  For more information, please visit her website at www.goodspaceyoga.com

Week 48/Pleasant, Unpleasant, and Neutral: Exploring Feeling Tones

This past month, I taught the second foundation of Mindfulness in our Tuesday evening Vipassana class.  I invited the group to explore feeling tones as they arose in meditation practice. The Pali word, Vedana, is roughly translated as feeling tones.  Feeling tones are not to be confused with an emotion like anger or sadness, but rather refer to the experience of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
 
The Buddha taught that attending to feeling tones allows us to be present with experience, where we have the ability to discover that something that is pleasant can also be unpleasant, vice versa, or neutral. Nothing is inherently pleasant or unpleasant and the practice can deepen our awareness, resulting in a clearer vision. The insight that is experienced through cultivating mindfulness of feeling tones is that experiences we consider pleasant may lead to attachment, while unpleasant situations often bring on aversion and avoidance. When we practice noting our feeling tones, we can break the cycle of clinging and aversion – setting us free to experience life as it unfolds and ultimately building equanimity.
 
As I sat in meditation and brought awareness to my breath, I noted the pleasant feeling of my chest rising and falling in a rhythmic, soothing manner. I made a mental note of PLEASANT. When attention shifted to scanning the body, I noticed a cramp in my foot, noting UNPLEASANT. I stayed with the sensation as it tightened more and eventually gave way to releasing. I continued to note the sensations of unpleasant, unpleasant, and unpleasant… until attention shifted to my hands resting on my lap in relative ease. I noted NEUTRAL, with a sigh of relief! How remarkable that all of these sensations were happening at the same time, with each sensation in the body assigned a different feeling tone.  And YES, there was a preference acknowledged for the pleasant and neutral. Such is human nature and also a part of building awareness to see more clearly the habits of the mind and body.  Through this practice, I continue to experience greater ease and detachment.
 
Here are some simple guidelines to practice observing feeling tones during meditation:
 
1. This can be practiced during mindful movement, sitting meditation, walking meditation, or a body scan.
 
2. Set the intention to simply note activity in the mind or sensations in the body as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
 
3. Notice what feeling tones are predominant in awareness, without judgment.
 
4. If more pleasant, get curious and open to unpleasant or neutral.
 
5. If more unpleasant, get curious and open to pleasant or neutral.
 
Bringing curiosity and beginner’s mind to each moment-to-moment experience, notice what happens when simply noting, without going into a story (like I should have chosen a chair to sit in) or trying to change the experience (moving or stretching the leg out). The patience to stay can give rise to seeing that pleasant and unpleasant experiences are impermanent and can also be present at the same time.
 
Come FALL back in love with practice by joining the Tuesday evening sanga as we continue to practice and learn the four foundations of mindfulness.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

Week 47/Green is the New Black: Consciously Connecting x Sacred Treehouse

This is a judgment free blog shared by Consciously Connecting at lizzieshutt.com
 
Black Friday, an annual event for American shoppers, paradoxically comes right after a day of giving thanks for all that we have in life.  The widespread phenomena of getting special deals on Black Friday can pull almost any consumer in for FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT), making people feel that they are missing out on incredible savings while simultaneously sending the message that buying more for less is better. The commercialization of the season is hard to escape when growing up in the United States, as gift giving almost takes center stage for Christmas and Hanukkah.  This holiday season, I ask you to reconsider and take some time to reflect:
 
What is most meaningful to you during the holidays?

What do you want to teach your children or grandchildren?

What impact will your way of celebrating have on your finances, on others, and the planet? 

 
Growing up, I recall looking forward to all of the deals at my favorite stores. It was an event that my sister and I would make plans for during Thanksgiving (even though my mom was not a fan), carefully planning out where we wanted to go shopping! At the time, I didn’t think much about what my actions supported, like the fast fashion industry that has major negative environmental impacts.
 
For those who may be unware, fast fashion consists of cheap, poor quality textiles, made quickly by big brands to mimic the latest fashion trends. Constant marketing to consumers makes them feel like they need to continually buy the latest trend. However, practicing mindfulness while holiday shopping will not only save you money, but also help save the planet. Fast fashion brands like Forever 21 and Zara produce products that utilize non-renewable resources at unsustainable rates. 

These companies contribute to the microplastic pollution that damages aquatic ecosystems, and the most prominent fabric in clothing – cotton – requires intensive chemical agricultural inputs to grow. On top of all the environmental impacts are the social issues this industry has capitalized on by using outsourced, underpaid factory workers. These impacts don’t come to mind when you’re at the mall or shopping online, so don’t blame yourself.  Truth be told, I think my sister and I bought as much stuff for ourselves as we did for others, or even more! We drank the Kool-Aid of consumerism from TV, internet, and social media. 
 
Fortunately, many consumers are realizing this is not a sustainable mindset and are refusing to shop or promote this craze. Rather than shopping on Black Friday, let’s partake in creating Green Friday—a day to continue celebrating what we already have and what we can give to others without harming the planet! 
 
There are many ways to celebrate Green Friday, like giving back to the planet, creating homemade holiday gifts, or connecting with your community and have fun.  Here are a few ideas:
 Plant something! Potted flowers and herbs can be given as a gift. You can even decorate the pot, too.Use your interest as a source of homemade gift inspiration!Repurpose old clothes or donate them!Host a clothing swap with friends!Give a gift that gives: Donate to a family member’s favorite charity as a holiday gift.Check out what events are going on near you: planting trees, community yoga class, beach clean-up!Shop brands who support Green Friday and maintain sustainable supply chains: TentreePatagonia and others.Shop Handmade, Local items: Participate in Small Business SaturdaySimply stay home and give the gift of presence to someone who needs it, perhaps you! 
Holidays should be a time to spend with those you love and/or doing activities that bring you joy! When shopping, be mindful of what type of production pathway your purchases took to end up in your hands. I have recently started to practice “Does this bring me joy?” when shopping. If you hesitate, it’s a no! This is also true for gift giving. I believe people appreciate something you made or put thought into much greater than receiving an expensive new outfit. 
 
Don’t be afraid to change it up this year! Be a leader that stands for what they believe. Green Friday for me will probably include taking our dogs to the beach, crafting, and enjoying a yummy plant-based meal as a family. 
 
Share what your #GreenFriday plans are on social media to spread the word and initiate a consciously consuming domino effect! 

May all readers be safe, healthy, truly happy and FREE.  Happy Thanksgiving from myself and the Sacred Treehouse treehugging staff!
 
“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”
 
Lizzie Shutt
@livewliz
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She also is the creator of Consciously Connecting, a lifestyle blog that embraces environmentalism, mindfulness, and a plant-based lifestyle. She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.

Week 46/ (e)+motion = changing emotions

There was no real reason why I had to create a vegetable garden last weekend.  There were no plants withering and waiting to be planted, or a plot of garden looking bedraggled, or a special event that required sprucing up the house and garden.  No, the “reason” was that my energy was low and when I tuned in to see what, if anything, felt energizing,

I felt a little spark to create a vegetable garden. 

At first it had seemed daunting because I believed it needed to be a raised bed (this is usually created by wood siding all the way around and needs to be anchored onto something). Then there was a moment of inspiration– I realized edging could be used along the walkway.   This realization freed up even more energy. So, despite feeling tired and still a little listless, I headed to my local garden shop and got herbs, veggies, soil, edging, and fertilizer.  My energy never really lifted all the way up, but somehow I found the energy to persevere with the job at hand.  As I did, a softness and enjoyment flowed in.  I have always loved gardening. Fond memories of long days spent working outside in the yard with relaxed evenings enjoying our hard work played in my mind while some favorite music was played on the speakers.

Recently I heard someone say that to work with challenging emotions, see the word “emotion” as:

“e+motion:” OR “energy” (e) + motion= changing emotions.

When I reflect on this day, I see how it fits. My energy was low, fuzzy, tired, and not motivated for much.  Perhaps not depressed or blue, but not really great either.  I knew if I spent the day in a listless state it could create an even lower mood, which I didn’t want. So when I inquired and got a little curious about what, if anything, there was motivation for— surprisingly the garden idea came in.  What I did was follow the first inkling of interest and got moving.  I didn’t do it as a way to change the low mood but to engage something else that was NOT the low mood. In fact, by pursuing my little garden idea I was able to allow the lower energy to still exist, but at that point it was no longer defining my weekend—it was just part of the weekend. The day ended in a much better place (except for my lower back which wasn’t super happy with me).  I now have 18 new baby plants and 14 new herbs that I’m excited to water and tend to.  I love how it has created something I’m super happy with and increased the motivation for more projects.  Use the “e+motion” as a tool for timely engagement and perhaps you’ll find yourself creating something surprising too.

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

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.

Week 45/There’s Always Change

How do can we cope, with equanimity, to a stressful and unexpectedly large change in our life? I’ve had a very slowly progressing health issue for the last 30 years that has been kept under control (I believe) by a pristine lifestyle of plant based whole foods, 4-6x per week exercise, and, for the last 20 years, a daily breath and meditation practice. So when my condition started to progress to the point of affecting my life unacceptably, I sought out a functional medicine doctor who suggested I take a soil-based probiotic. Unfortunately, taking this supplement set off a severe immune response causing debilitating symptoms.

For the last year and a half I have been slowly climbing out of this health crisis – for the first 10 months I was barely able to eat, unable to lift my arms, and at times barely able to work. Taking a shower and washing my hair was a big daily event! Anyone who knew me before I got ill would describe me as a health nut who was very energetic and fit. So seeing me, for months on end, wasting away and unable to get off the couch was far away from how I, and others, identified me.

It’s been a difficult and slow road to getting well. But during this last year and a half, my stable yoga practice of daily breathing and meditation have been my life-line to equanimity and wellness. One of the teachings I received about these practices is that we want to dig deepest into our practice when things are good so that our practice accelerates through the stability of wellness. Then, if something happens, you are ready!

The philosophy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tells us that future suffering should be avoided. Well, of course, you might say! But that move away from suffering comes from doing the practices that help us understand the causes of our suffering and to learn to be free from them.

It also tells us that our identification with, and attachment to, the always changing physical world of ours, will lead to nothing but suffering. We fully identify with: I am this body, I am my experiences, I am my thoughts. The word in Sanskrit for this always changing phenomenon is parinama and it means that everything that is manifest, from the most subtle (like thoughts) to the most gross (like our bodies), is always under going change.

During this time of illness, I’ve never had a harder practice then to just let go and accept how things are. Being attached to my old view of self led to nothing by suffering. People often asked me how I was able to keep such a positive outlook. My response was, “Well, if I don’t use this illness toward positive transformation than all there is from it is suffering.”

Through yoga practice, I feel fortunate to have cultivated a deep connection with something other than the material – to an unchanging consciousness, to deep wellbeing, to embodied light. So my work has been to consistently shift my identification more fully to this unchanging aspect, to fully identify with it as my truest, deepest self, and to simply acknowledge – but not identify with – the other thoughts and longings that arise and grow from attachment or aversion.

May you be peaceful and happy
May you be strong and healthy
May you lead a life filled with joy and ease

Please see my previous article about the pain versus suffering:
https://sacredtreehouse.org/2019/05/week-18-allowing-pain-suffering-to-be-our-guides/

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher at the E-RYT-500 level. She offers one-on-one Yoga Therapy at Sacred Treehouse, as well as occasional yoga therapy workshops.  Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential. 

Week 44/The Power of Acceptance

I recently returned from a road trip to Tennessee where I had the opportunity to participate in the magnificence that is fall leaf peeping.  As you can probably imagine, a road trip through Tennessee meant plenty of time in the car.  While my husband and I had fun listening to podcasts and catching up with each other, there were also many miles spent in quiet reflection.  Outside of the hustle of daily life, I had time to reflect.

Themes that flipped through my mind like an old-school Rolodex included resistance (to myself, my abilities, interpersonal relationships, change) and falling out of my practice.

It’s that 1-2-3 dance.  I move forwards and then I take it all back.  Looking at this through the lens of self-compassion, I realize that we all participate in this behavior.  Especially if you are living with mental illness or another type of disease.  We start to feel better and we quickly forget the steps we took that brought us to this point.

With this realization, I could have easily spiraled into self-criticism.

Why can’t I be more disciplined? 

How many times do I have to start over?

Shouldn’t it just be easy?


The good news is that I didn’t go down this path.  Instead, I turned to my standbys.  This includes carving out time for meditation, daily readings, and journaling. One of my favorite daily readers is The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie.  October 29 talks about acceptance.  Here is an excerpt:

“Resistance will not move us forward, nor will it eliminate the undesirable.  But even our resistance many need to be accepted.  Even resistance yields to and is changed by acceptance.

Acceptance is the magic that makes change possible.  It is not forever; it is for the present moment.”

It then closes with:

“ Today, I will accept.  I will relinquish my need to be in resistance to myself and my environment.  I will surrender.  I will cultivate contentment and gratitude.  I will move forward in joy by accepting where I am today.”

I used this closing prompt as a journal exercise, which I would like to share with you:

Resistance: Where are the blocks in my life?  What am I resisting?  Are there themes to the resistance?

Surrender: What am I willing to let go of right now?  In the past, what has helped me to surrender and accept?

Cultivate:  Is my life currently in alignment with my values?  What do I wish to cultivate and what brings me contentment, gratitude, and acceptance?

Next time you find yourself off the path, practice acceptance.  That’s where the magic is and that is where change begins.


Sara Goldstein works for Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. She edits and designs “52 Weeks of Mindfulness” for Sacred Treehouse. Sara is a writer, reader, and lover of poodles. A true introvert, she enjoys reading, tea, cozy socks, meditation and mindfulness practice.

Week 43/Sacred Sangha

The sharing of life’s ups and downs, as we navigate them skillfully (and sometimes not so skillfully!) is life changing. This excerpt from a poem written by Lynn, an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MSC (Mindful Self-Compassion) graduate, captures the essence of what a Sangha can provide a person on this journey. 

The Sangha is one part of the threefold refuge in Buddhism, and refers to a community of friends who study, meditate, and participate in retreats to bring about and maintain awareness.  We have created a Sangha that continues to grow with both longtime students and newcomers taking to the practice. All spiritual traditions have a form of community that serve the same or similar purpose of gathering to learn and practice the teachings, supporting one another when they need a helping hand.  Communities have the ability to create safe spaces for those suffering, offering love and acceptance. 

As our eight week MBSR class comes to an end, our group had discovered that shared humanity has an incredible power to hold our own struggles in an even stronger container. Nikki and I are feeling proud and a bit sad as we say goodbye to the classes that together created an experience that we also hope will live on and continue to be nurtured at Sacred Treehouse and in other mindfulness communities.

Community is an essential part of wellbeing because pain and difficulty is all part of being human. The most effective and precious salve for pain is compassion. Compassion requires that we sense the pain of another (Empathy), with awareness that pain is universal (Shared Humanity), plus the desire to help or support (Kindness). I have witnessed compassion grow in the Sangha and seed the growth of self-compassion … and when self-compassion grows it seeds more compassion for others, and on and on. Communities will harvest what is alive within them and what is alive will seed more of the same. This is the magic of mindfulness — it truly has the power to transform the individual, the community, and the world. 

What communities do you belong to? What is being fostered or grown in your community? If you say you are not a “follower” or believe you don’t “belong” anywhere, I challenge you to hold that belief lightly and expand the category way beyond that of a spiritual community. Please visit our Facebook and share where you feel part of a community that fosters growth and connection for you.

On behalf of Nikki, Anni, and myself, I would like to extend a warm welcome to our Sacred Sangha as we continue to offer beginners and longtime students a place and time to practice, learn, and connect.With open heartedness,


Patty

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.