Inspiration

Week 32/The Most Important Thing…

In a recent mindfulness coaching session, a client shared with me her new awareness of what is most important in her life. She expressed finding fulfillment each day and a greater sense of purpose, especially when spending her money in meaningful ways.  She uses her dollars toward something that matters, and the very idea of attending to what matters most to her has started to be the idea that matters the most.

This client shared with me her latest purchase from a website called “Who Gives A Crap”, which sells environmentally-friendly toilet paper and other paper products, and even uses recyclable packaging.  This company gives 40% of their profits to help provide toilets for people around the world.  It may seem like a minor detail, but the idea of being a conscious consumer is one way in which this client remembers what is most important.  And as for providing toilets for other people?  It may sound like a “crappy” job to some, but when you do any task with the intention of improving the lives of other people, it feels like a bonus.

As a psychologist treating complex trauma, I work daily with people who are suffering.  Other people often wonder how I can do this type of difficult work.  In fact, some people see it as a terrible occupation. It doesn’t feel this way to me.  I get to wake up every day and live my purpose – which is to reduce suffering and emotional pain.  It feels like a labor of love.  My second love is to teach mindfulness.  By sharing mindfulness with others, I teach someone “to fish rather than simply feeding them a fish”.  In teaching mindfulness through MBSR and MSC, I help other learn the tools to reduce their own discomfort.  This is what matters most to me.

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 31/Body Awareness is an Anchor

What exactly is body awareness?  Tolle discusses body awareness as a way to the “inner body” or our life energy.  Yogis call this life energy “Prana”; Buddhists use the word “Chi.” Our minds are often so busy we confuse thinking about and judging our bodies and as being “body aware,” but this is the antithesis of body attunement and awareness. 

Right now take a moment to sense your fingers from the inside out. You can do this with eyes open or closed– it’s not looking at your fingers, but sensing the energy or aliveness that is within each finger and giving your focus to that. If you quiet yourself enough you can actually feel your own essential energy–starting with one small body part and eventually, if the mind doesn’t get in the way, connecting to it throughout your entire body.  
The purpose of this is to connect with a more peaceful, aware state.  If you are agitated with a current circumstance, taking a few breaths and practicing some inner bodyawareness will help you get grounded and clear. This can prevent reactions with others and/or a way to catch negative impulses going on in your own mind; because IT IS beyond the mind. It also helps you be more in tune with your body’s natural desires for food, water, exercise, sleep, play, rest, etc. 

It is amazing how much people push and punish their bodies, demanding  from them more and more, and then become surprised when they crash- physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Accessing body awareness is not just a way to become more present for the bodies’ needs, it’s a way to simply become more aware.  As a practice in itself it creates an inner atmosphere of increased tolerance, kindness, patience, and calm—a surefire way to enhance every circumstance.

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 29/Return to Breath: The Five-Minute Breathing Space

Returning attention to the breath offers us a path home when our thoughts and emotions have carried us into the depth of the past or the unknown forest of the future. Sometimes it can simply be a way to bring what Tara Brach has coined, “a sacred pause”, stepping out of autopilot and reconnecting to what is, in this very moment. 
 
As human beings walking the path of life, we wish for things to be known and predictable.  If we are honest with ourselves, our deepest desires are for things to be ALL GOOD, yet this is not the nature of life. Rather, we are in a web of interconnected forces of positive and negative energies.  These energies will invariably result in all kinds of experiences, including pain and pleasure; joy and depression; love and fear.
 
Mindfulness training can help us discover equanimity -the ability to be centered and stable despite the changing landscape of experiences. Training in equanimity is similar to preparing for an Iron Man competition rather than a 5K. It requires years of practice, teachings, and an abundance of patience and non-judgment during difficult moments that will test your composure. Developing an anchor to help steady you during the storms of life is one essential tool for building equanimity. Daily formal practice helps to strengthen this connection and paves a short cut that makes returning to it in difficult times much swifter, lending a hand to rebalancing when life side swipes us. 

Another helpful tool to carry with you on the journey of life is the 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.
 
The Five-Minute Breathing Space (adapted from the Three-Minute Breathing Space found in The Mindful Way Through Depression) is 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.”
 
As best you can, bring this expanded awareness into the next moments of your day.
 
You can learn more about mindfulness training in the upcoming orientations at the Sacred Treehouse.  I am also including some suggested reading and a recording to help you on your path:
 

The Mindful Way Through Depression
 
The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion 
 
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
 
Five-Minute Breath Recording:

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 28/Love is the Way

Our inner state affects how we view the world around us. Most of us have experienced seeing a person or circumstance from a place of negativity, then having something pop that bubble of negativity and suddenly we are more patient, tolerant or accepting—even though nothing has changed outside of ourselves.   The more open we are to see the world from the lens of Grace, i.e. that things are occurring the way they are for a higher reason, the more we can say “yes” to life’s events.   This allows us to be open and even grateful, and with that the more love emanates from us to others.  

People can sense what we are experiencing.  We’ve all had the experience of walking into a room and sensing that a fight had occurred. Conversely most of us have had days when our hearts were full of gladness and we ended up seeing the beauty around us and having wonderful exchanges with strangers and loved ones alike.  As Hawkins says, “we transcend the smaller aspects of ourselves by accepting and loving them. We see the ego as “limited,” not “bad.” 

Every day is an opportunity to practice accepting our foibles, our sticky old patterns and instead to see them as some of our limitations, not our “badness.” It is also a chance to do the same for others at home and work.  Both of these practices will strengthen the other, for we cannot give what we don’t have and so it matters deeply that we are loving, patient and kind with ourselves.  Let the energy of love build in yourself and watch it silently transform your life.

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 19/SAVOR: Discovering 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.

Week 18/Allowing Pain & Suffering to Be Our Guides

Do you want to suffer less and have more happiness and contentment in your life? The word duhkha is a common word in Yoga and Buddhist philosophy – it translates as suffering. Most of us think that pain and suffering are synonymous, but what if I told you that one was actually optional?

Pain might be the experience of grief, sadness, anger and any other emotion or perhaps a physical experience of pain, but none of these are suffering. Pain is actually separate from suffering – we experience the physical or emotional pain of an event when it happens, but it is our RESPONSE to that pain, and our ongoing RELATIONSHIP with that pain, that leads to our optional suffering.

A common experience is when a parent/spouse/child – someone with whom you have an ongoing, intimate relationship – has done something in the past that has hurt you or made you angry. When it happens again in the present, instead of your current reaction being related to this single occurrence, it gets tied to all past events and emotions as well, leading to pain plus suffering. Then, there can even be anticipatory emotions about what might be coming – suffering for something that hasn’t even occurred! A less charged example is that you stub your toe hard and it really hurts! That’s pain. Now, though, you can’t exercise until it heals and you love and need your exercise; you’re very upset about this. That’s suffering.

Being free from suffering does not mean you are working toward not feeling, toward a somehow emotionless life; this is a misunderstanding. We experience and become a witness to our emotions, but we are NOT our emotions. They are discrete experiences, right here, right now. It’s not a denial of emotional pain, but a shift in perspective – it is what it is, as people now say, and nothing more.

It’s our attachment to what is pleasant, our aversion to unpleasantness, and our linking of experiences together that causes the suffering – the wanting and the pushing away. Allow the pain/emotion to rise, experience it, be a present witness to it, try not to identify with it, and then, be mindful to not feed it or let it get tied to anything other than this present moment. It takes practice, and acceptance is key! Hopefully, over time, this will help you create a different relationship with your pain.

Yours, in service, K.O.

Practice Steps:

  1. Notice the emotion or physical sensation that is present (the pain), like a worry or tension in the body.
  2. Pause – be curious about it. Make a conscious decision to look at it.
  3. Allow the feeling or sensation to fully rise up within you, being conscious that the feeling or emotion is simply an experience – try not to identify with it as anything other than an experience. Keep the experience to the “right now” moment and be conscious not to get caught up in the past.
  4. Observe any insight that might arise around the sensation or emotion. Be mindful to stay present in the “now” as an objective observer.
  5. Have compassion for the pain you are experiencing.
  6. Connect within yourself to a feeling of wholeness and spaciousness.
Kathy Ornish, c-IAYT

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.  Coming this Fall, KO will be offering workshops and one-to-one yoga therapy appointments at Sacred Treehouse. For more information, visit sacredtreehouse.org.  You may also visit her website at goodspaceyoga.com.

Week 15/Shining the Light to Find Our Way Home

No matter with whom I am working therapeutically, it’s inevitable that we end up making our way to the subject of suffering – physical, emotional, spiritual – and a route to becoming free from it. The temptation to ignore our thoughts, feelings, physical discomfort or pain is strong, and seems logical. But, if you simply build unpleasant experiences into a narrative or sweep the unpleasantness under the rug, you’ve sent it into the dark where, I believe, not only will it not get better, but it will actually grow. Is there another option that might instead decrease our difficulty? 

How do we “shine a light” on, i.e. see, what arises within us?

How do we have mindful, present awareness and become an objective observer of our own sensations, emotions, and thoughts?

How do we objectively observe the story that might arise when we look (which we might use to justify the attachment to this suffering)?

If feelings and/or stories arise, how do we look at, yet not identify with them?

How can we have compassion, kindness, and tenderness for ourselves in the face of this?

It is my strong belief, and my experience, that being an objective, compassionate witness to what is happening within ourselves not only doesn’t make what we are seeing worse, but actually decreases our reactivity, decreases the physical and emotional distress, and ultimately decreases the power of what arises!

I have a process I have started calling “shining a light.” Nothing out of our awareness (in the dark) will change. Only in the light will we become more aware of what causes our suffering and the truth of our divine nature.

Try this process:

1. Begin to notice when you have an uncomfortable bodily sensation, thought, or emotion that arises.

2. Then, “shine a light” on it – actively observe it with curiosity; try not to push it away.

3. See it, but don’t identify with or get grabbed by it. What does this mean? Look at what you see as if it’s not yours – no judgment, no wishing it different, no diving onto the story associated with it.

4. As one of my students asked, “What do you do with the stinker once you see it?” The habit to respond and dive in to the feelings and the story is strong, so if you feel it growing as you look, relax further, step back and observe more, and very important – have compassion for yourself.

5. It is through repeated looking with compassion that it begins to decrease its potency and reveal some insight.

This process takes time and practice, and perhaps a bit of courage, too! Each time you practice this, you will make your way, step-by-step, toward greater freedom. 

Yours, in service, K.O.

Kathy Ornish, c-IAYT

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 14/I Am Grateful For ________! Life Through the Lenses of Gratitude & Mindfulness

I was on my way to pick up my daughter from school the other day, poking along in busy late afternoon traffic as I headed due west on a local major thoroughfare. I noticed the stop and go traffic, the day-to-day busyness, and the hustle to get from here to there (and back again). I popped on a tune from a playlist I made for my daughter, and while I waited for traffic to edge forward on its own time I took a moment to observe the way the sunlight broke through the low hanging clouds, as though the universe was reminding me that there’s always sunshine even when there is darkness. At that moment I felt deeply grateful for this life — the opportunity to show up present each day for my kids, the blessing of having reliable transportation, the joy of music, this moment of solitude, and the heartfelt knowing that I am connected to something bigger than myself. It still warms my heart to reflect back on the feelings felt that day.

Science has spoken loud and clear about the benefits of gratitude.  Beyond positively impacting life satisfaction and our overall sense of wellbeing, studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve our relationships, physical health, and job performance.  Gratitude leads to feeling more able and effective, an increased ability to weather stress, and heightened optimism about the future.  Practicing gratitude builds resilience and connection with others and ourselves.

Mindfulness and gratitude go hand in hand. It is often reported that with a regular and consistent mindfulness practice comes an increased feeling of appreciation and gratefulness for the little things in life.  A gratitude practice, simply, is the practice of (1) paying attention, (2) reflecting upon what we are thankful for, and (3) expressing gratitude when the opportunity arises.  In addition to incorporating mindful awareness into your daily life, here are a few more ideas about how you might increase your felt sense of gratitude.

1. Gratitude Tracking

Setting aside a time each day to reflect on the blessings in your life not only brings joy and appreciation to that moment, but also retrains your brain to see the world through the lens of gratitude automatically. Tracking your gratitude may involve traditional journaling, or might be more creative or interactive, like having a gratitude jar or posting about gratitude on social media.  Consider adding a brief moment to reflect on all you are grateful for into your daily routine for one week and see what you notice!

2. Replacing “I am sorry” with “thank you”

We often find ourselves apologizing when we are late, forgetful, or under the weather.  Welcome to the human condition! What if each time we feel the urge to apologize, we instead shift to expressing our gratitude for the patience or understanding of a friend? Shifting from judgment to appreciation can have a huge impact on how we view ourselves AND our ability to connect on a deeper, more intimate level with others.

3. Write a Gratitude Letter

Not only does gratitude impact our own emotional wellbeing in a positive way, but it can also bring joy and connection with others when expressed.  Whether it be a small sticky note left on the desk of a colleague, a card in your child’s or partner’s lunchbox, or an email to a friend or family member who lives far away, sharing our gratitude is a gift for both ourselves and others. Making it a habit of saying thank you in ways both big and small is a powerful practice of love.

I don’t always connect with gratitude automatically, as I did on the day described in the above passage. Many days I am find myself swept up in “autopilot” mode, trying to navigate the hectic (and at times difficult and challenging) life I live. It is a practice, and one I am grateful to incorporate into my life.

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.

Week 13/A Teaching on Forgiveness

All relationships are fraught with difficulties.  They require us to develop the ability to forgive, reopening our hearts again so that we can love and trust. In teaching mindfulness meditation and working with clients in psychotherapy, I have observed that this is the most difficult part of the path to travel. Our natural reaction is to avoid pain. Sometimes we cross the path too quickly and end up bypassing the process of true forgiveness.  We find ourselves taking a convenient detour – only later to realize that the destination we find ourselves in is a mountain of unresolved pain. At other times, forgiveness is offered and it may feel complete until feelings of hurt, anger, or resentment arise and catch us by surprise.
 
I believe that Anne Lamott’s quote is talking about radical forgiveness. Radical forgiveness occurs when an individual has released themselves from the pain and suffering of holding onto the wish for things to be different. This complete and total letting go is not only difficult, it can seem utterly impossible in extreme life situations of abuse, death, neglect, dishonesty, theft, or infidelity. Forgiveness has the ability to unfold naturally as a person works through the traumatic pain or injury. I have seen many clients work through trauma, but stop short before reaching acceptance and forgiveness. This is a form of protection, like a shield one keeps up to prevent future harm.  These individuals deserve compassionate understanding from others, as well as the ability to practice self-compassion.
 
Many recovery groups enlist individuals to make a list of resentments.  The purpose behind this exercise is to facilitate the first step in recognizing and bringing the hurt to the surface. The path of forgiveness is not possible without feeling the original pain of hurt, betrayal, abuse, loss or disappointment. It requires the powerful presence of love and compassion toward oneself, as well as the guidance and support of others who have been through the process. This process reveals to the seeker that very little that is done to us is personal, but rather the result of complex causes and circumstances. This combination of courage to feel, combined with care, love, and mindful awareness allows the process of forgiveness to set our hearts free.
 
If someone has hurt you or a loved one, do not mistake this passage as a prescription to go through the steps to forgive. There is a readiness that must precede this process.  It is also recommended to have a guide to help you on this path. I invite you to simply open to the possibility or intention of one day freeing your heart through letting go. Mindfulness and self-compassion are excellent stepping stones to strengthen your capacity to feel the hurt, preparing your heart to open again.
 
With an open heart,
 

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 Four/The Power of Passage Meditation in Cultivating Self-Awareness

All of us want peace of mind, but many of us search outside of ourselves.  We hope that external circumstances, conditions or even other people will bring us that desired feeling of peace. Instead, I invite you to consider the following passage:

This passage gently points us inwards. I find it reassuring that we do not need to rely on another person’s behavior or wait for ideal conditions to attain peace of mind.  By directing our attention inwards and practicing mindfulness, we develop self- awareness.  This self-awareness helps us discern important truths.  When we look inwards, we are able to see more clearly the inner workings of our mind.  Through this process of self-discovery, we may also notice how we contribute to our own pain and suffering.
 
One way to facilitate this inner journey is by participating in passage meditation.  This specific form of meditation can help quiet the mind and build self-awareness.  The practice is straightforward:
 
(1) Pick an inspirational passage and commit it to memory.  Make sure your passage is positive and uplifting.
 
(2) Find a comfortable position to practice the meditation.  You may sit on a cushion, chair or the floor.
 
(3) Recite the passage – focusing on each word.  When the mind wanders (and it will!) gently bring your focus back to the passage.
 
(4) Repeat the passage for the entirety of the meditation.  Try practicing for 10 minutes each day.


Passage meditation has helped me to pause and notice the habit of finding fault with others. Without judgment, I bring a shared awareness of humanity. There is no you and I, there is just we… and we are all the same.
 
This week, try incorporating passage meditation into your daily life. Take notice of what annoys you or times where you are finding fault with others. Pause and note what it is you are believing or saying in your mind. How do your thoughts influence your state of mind? Be honest and gentle – this human experience is fraught with challenges.

May you look at yourself through eyes of love and compassion.

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.