Spirituality

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 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.

Sacred Treehouse Introduces “52 Weeks of Mindfulness”

A successful and meaningful life starts with self-awareness, a commitment to living according to your values, and a consistent practice of setting intentions in multiple areas of your life.

Beginning in 2019, Sacred Treehouse will deliver 52 weeks of weekly inspiration –straight to your inbox -every Sunday evening.  Each week will include mindful living inspiration in these seven areas of daily life:

We encourage you to reflect on each week’s message, setting an intention that is in alignment with your goals and ultimately deepening self-awareness.

Some general guidelines to follow when using the weekly tips:

  • Read each quote or passage and pause, allowing the words and images to give rise to any personal meaning.
  • Consider keeping a companion mindfulness journal.  Journal with simple bullet points or a complete journal entry after you take time to pause and reflect. 
  • If a particular quote or prompt is unwise or conflicts with your personal goals, simply note it and return to a previous week for further practice and reflection. 

It is also helpful to note that the definition for mindful living means moment to moment awareness without judgment, noting what is wise and supportive of living according to your core values.  You may find it helpful to explore some core values to use as guidepost for weekly practice.

We hope you enjoy this mindfulness journey. If you have any comments, suggestions, or feedback, feel free to email us.

We wish you a happy, healthy, and mindful New Year!