Staying Present in Stressful Times: A Structured Approach to Begin Every Meditation ~ Arriving Practice

When we practice in times of stress, ungroundedness or dis-connection from ourselves, a structured practice such as the “Arriving” practice, can help us re-connect with ourselves in a kind and friendly way. We can also develop resources and support that can help us ground ourselves and stay present during stressful moments during our days, without leaving our present moment experiences. You are invited to practice many of these resources and supports as part of the “Arriving” meditation, and they are also referenced, below.

Traumatic stress is characterized by an overactive fight, flight or freeze stress reactivity following a traumatic, and often life-threatening event. The reactivity in the brain makes it difficult to sit in silence as during those times we often encounter our inner “Fight”–especially towards ourselves in the form of a self-judging or self-critical mind habit. During such times it can be useful to begin our meditation practice with a structured and guided practice such as the Arriving meditation, where we are invited to 1) approach each aspect of our present moment in a structure and guided way; 2) apply resources and supports to help us move in and out of the present moment at a rate we are controlling and that helps us stay grounded and present; and 3) preferencing those aspects of our present moment experience that are in relative ease.  

Practicing like this can help us to stay present, as well as aid us in developing a kind and friendly inner relationship to ourselves.  It can be wise to end our practice period with a structured and guided practice such as the Lovingkindness meditation, which can aid us  to bring ease to a stressed mind.

We can begin our meditation by a three part practice that is grounding, down-regulating to our nervous system and orients us to the here and now:

1) Noticing where we are and when it is and stating this to ourselves. This helps the brain know that we are here, now, instead of some other time or place the mind may be gravitating towards. It helps us to “note” our location and the date as well as looking around before we close our eyes or lower our gaze in meditation.  This orients us to this moment.

2) Taking time to notice the touch points and physical support of the body.  Noticing the support of the chair, cushion or floor can be helpful to us. Hold your attention steady as you stay with sensations of temperature and texture.  Notice the physical support that is being offered by the structures under your body.

3) Taking some deep belly breaths and letting them out with an extended sigh can help to down-regulate our nervous system.  If you have more time, walking, yoga, dance or “shaking out” can also be very helpful.

Practicing in times of traumatic stress or overwhelm requires us to use the “steering wheel” and “brakes” of our awareness as well as the “gas pedal”.  In general, our practice is to be with whatever is happening while it is happening, in a non-judgemental way–moving towards experience, ie. the gas pedal.  However, sometimes judgements come and we aren’t able to skillfully work with them, or our mind is racing towards distressing material.  Whatever meditation we are doing, if we are becoming so distressed that we are losing our ability to be mindful–to be present–it can be helpful to steer our attention to another part of the present moment.  There’s no need to push anything away or deny anything, we are simply drawing our attention to something else that is also happening–using the steering wheel.

It can also be helpful to use the brakes and stop and pause–by opening eyes, stretching, taking deep breaths, or sitting or standing if we are laying down.

As we do the arriving practice and move through the different domains of the present moment, after we have noted, named and experienced our experience including the unpleasant, we can bring our attention to rest on  what is most pleasant, comforting, alive or easeful in each domain.  

Often when we are stressed we attempt to fix ourselves by challenging ourselves with what is the most difficult–believing this might be the most helpful.  What is actually most helpful is to allow ourselves to notice where the ease is–in our breath, in our body, in the emotions, in the mind, in this moment in its entirety–and let our attention rest there. In this way we can find shelter in the present moment itself.

With Compassion,


Trish Magyari, MS, CGC, MS, LCPC is a Certified MBSR teacher, MBSR Mentor, Certified MSC teacher, retreat leader and licensed mental health counselor in private practice.  She has taught the MBSR course over 100 times since 1999, and completed the highest level of MBSR training in 2000. In addition to courses for the general public, Trish has also taught MBSR courses for health and mental health practitioners, for school teachers, for those with chronic pain conditions, for those with cancer, those who are grieving, and for those with a variety of mental health conditions, especially anxiety, depression and PTSD. She is a pioneer of the field of trauma-informed mindfulness. It is her calling to help others reclaim their wholeness and their joy through the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion.

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.

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 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:

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 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 42/Walk Among the Trees

While doing a walking meditation in the woods of Gainesville this past winter, I connected to the trees around me. Pausing to take in the beauty, strength, and resilience of these living creatures inspired me to do my part in helping to preserve them. I have been called a “tree hugger” on many occasions, yet I do not believe I deserve that level of admiration. What I can own is the desire to preserve and protect our environment. I think “tree lover” is a far better way to describe my interest and fascination with trees. When fully present in the presence of a tree, I feel like I am being summoned, or better yet, serenaded by the beauty of trees.
The lightbulb went off during that walk …What if every time you bought a new piece of furniture, you paid for a new tree to be planted? Cool, right?
I love HomeGoods.  My relationship status with HomeGoods could be listed as “complicated”. I am certain it is not considered “true love”, but more of an obsessive, addictive relationship. As I walked among the trees, I became acutely aware of the needless consumption of trees- by ME! I was shocked and grief stricken that the trips to HomeGoods would never be the same for me. The good old days are no longer so “good” to me as I reflect on unnecessary consumption. This realization has given birth to a new interest and commitment to reduce waste and preserve through recycling /refurbishing. I know there are many people in my life that have been doing this for years and I applaude them. I did not appreciate the value of engaging in refurbishing and recycling furnishings. It just seemed like a lot of work and far easier to buy new. Mindful awareness of our interconnection with all of nature can bring a shift that changes the way we see things.
Mindfulness practice, like all contemplative practices, facilitates a slowing down of the mind and body, a moving into stillness that makes way for important insights wisdom. Through teaching MBSR and DBT, I have shared the value of connecting with nature with many people as a form of stress reduction. There is enormous research being done to look at the benefits of the proverbial “walk in nature”. Since I am a “tree lover”, I wanted to share the practice of forest bathing or “shinrin-yoku” which is far more intense than a moment of mindfulness and connection with trees. This is an ancient Japanese practice of taking walks in the forest to breathe in the atmosphere. I found a place right here in Florida at Goethe State Forest in Dunnellon where you can practice forest bathing on horseback! No worries and no need to travel to get some benefit. Simply start where you are with this practice:

  • Go to a nearby park, garden, or body of water. Leave all your electronics behind. Allow your self 20-30 minutes to sit or walk in nature. This is more than just a walk in the park; it is a mindfulness practice and requires being open and receptive to the presence of nature. You can do this sitting or walking.
  • Notice how you feel in your body as set out for this practice.
  • Set an intention to be fully present.
  • When the mind wanders, simply notice where it is, and gently return to what is present.
  • Notice the sights, the sounds, the sensations.
  • If walking, stop from time to time to pause and deepen focus on certain plants, trees, birds and animals.
  • Then reopen to the full experience of nature before you, allowing all the senses to bathe in it, and pause to savor any positive feelings. (No suit required)
  • Notice at the end of the practice how you feel in your body.

With love,
P.S. – If you are interested in more information on the healing energy of forest bathing read: The Secret Therapy of Trees by Marco Mencagli and Marco Nieri

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 41/What is Stealing Your Joy?

You would never invite a thief into your house, so why would you invite joy thief into your mind?
Unfortunately, we find that uninvited guests may arrive on a daily basis, requiring us to use discernment as we learn to respond wisely. Discernment starts with mindful awareness that thoughts are simply activities of the mind that come and go regularly.
But what if they don’t seem to go?
Some move in, set up shop, and work away in the depths of our minds night and day, burrowing so deep that we begin to believe that they are true, that they belong, or even that these thoughts are us. As a child, the thought of being a Princess might seem harmless, but what if a child suddenly has negative thoughts of “I am evil” or “I am bad”?
As a psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher, I often hear about these beliefs forming in childhood around sexual behavior or emotional expressions.  What if you received messages from your religious training on the taboo of sexual desire or behaviors, and yet your human body developed naturally to include sexual energy, desire, and automatic sexual response. Child and adolescent sex education often brings discomfort and feelings of embarrassment in kids. Even well intentioned attempts to protect children from harm can engender a belief that sex is bad or evil. The interpretation or belief that “I am evil or bad”, combined with discomfort, can have long lasting effects – just like other negative core beliefs or self-talk that happens in the subconscious mind.
Mindfulness practice can create the space that is necessary to illuminate these beliefs. Only when you gain LOVING awareness, can you begin to question the validity of these beliefs. Then you can come to understand the origin of these negative thoughts, running constantly in the subconscious mind, and the impact they have on your life. It is important for me to emphasize that I do not think we consciously invite these negative beliefs into our minds; however, we can learn to rescind their invitation, ushering them out with careful discernment.
There are many negative core beliefs that haunt people’s minds, requiring attention to clear them out and allow a person to live in the truth. Tara Brach talks about catching thoughts on the fly in her book True Refuge, as she challenges readers to examine core beliefs as a gateway to finding refuge in TRUTH.
Tips on bringing awareness to negative core beliefs:

  • Identify some that may be operating even at 50% – those can be just as powerful.
  • Review a list and after identify any that may be operating, begin to identify situations that may trigger or prompt the belief.
  • Make a commitment to notice when they arise. Perhaps you will notice strong emotions and make time and space to do some mental inquiry, asking questions such as:

What do I believe?
Is this really true?
What is it like to live with this belief?
What gets in the way of letting this belief go?
What would life be like without it?
Who or what would I be without this belief?

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 39/Self-Compassion to Combat Work Stress

Most of us are no strangers to work-related stress.  No matter your industry, position within your organization, or your job requirements, stress in the workplace leaves almost no one immune to it’s effects.  So whether your work stressors are large or small, stem from office politics or dynamics, or are as a result of high-risk or even traumatic events that occur within your work duties, we can easily conclude that job stress is an occupational hazard for us all.

Frequently reported work stressors include fear of losing one’s job; unsafe working conditions or tasks; not enough time to complete responsibilities effectively; and interpersonal conflict with colleagues or a superior.  In all of these cases, a person’s self-talk and their feelings of control and value, both at work and beyond, are impacted.  A harsh inner monologue and associated feelings of hopelessness, frustration, or anxiety can affect our physical functioning (including headaches and gastrointestinal issues), our decision-making (often leading to poor coping strategies like substance use or impulsive behaviors), and our relationships with others.  This is where cultivating a simple self-compassion practice can mitigate difficult experiences, offering some relief from difficult thoughts and feelings about oneself, and ultimately allow for a little bit of peace and ease in an otherwise stressful environment, like the calm in the center of the storm. 

Based upon Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion practices, try this simple exercise when you notice yourself becoming self-critical at work:

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.