Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Hey, this is a post I've written for a blog at my current internship site, thought I'd share it here too. Many of these thoughts and ideas come from Kristen Neff's book, entitled "Self-Compassion". 

Very often, many of us find ourselves criticizing and judging ourselves. We may have a loud inner voice that criticizes our bodies, our actions, our choices, or even our feelings. Instead of accepting who and how we are, we focus on what is wrong and how we need to change. We sometimes “whip” ourselves, with the hope that we’ll be motivated to change. However, we may find that that harsh self-talk instead brings on shame and feelings of failure, and we end up less motivated and more “stuck”.

Self-compassion offers an alternative. It offers the possibility for us to stop labeling things as “good” or “bad, and to simply accept ourselves with an open heart. Self-compassion is being able to observe how we’re doing, and give compassion to ourselves, in times that feel difficult and times that feel great. Regardless of how or what we’re doing, to be able to say, “I’m here, I’m doing my best, I’m ok”.

People who are more self-compassionate tend to report less anxiety and depression. Self compassion practices go right to the heart of feelings of inadequacy, shame, and fear, and soothe those. The spinning mind, often present in anxiety, slows or stops. When we can be kind to ourselves, those feelings of warmth and safety actually de-activate our body’s threat system, and calm down the brain structure called the amygdala that is telling us we must fight or flee. Anxiety often settles and quiets.

So next time you’re struggling, and that critical self-talk starts, see if you can offer yourself self-compassion, by practicing one or more of these three things:

 #1 – give yourself kindness and care.
This can be as simple as taking a moment to acknowledge you’re struggling, and saying kind words to yourself. Perhaps it’s as simple as saying “This is a really hard time right now. I’m really hurting”. Or it may be more active self-care, such as going for a massage, calling a dear friend, letting yourself have a sleep in, or pampering yourself however you need. 

#2 – remind yourself that encountering pain is part of the shared human experience
Often, when we’re in pain, we think we’re alone. There is something very soothing in saying "others struggle with this too. All humans have painful experiences. All humans make mistakes. All humans feel this at times. I’m not alone."

#3 – hold your thoughts and emotions in mindful awareness
This is that compassionate observer, the noticer – “Oh, I notice that I’m feeling this right now. Oh, I notice that I’m having this thought.” Without judgement.

Can you offer yourself a soft cozy blanket of self-compassion to put around your shoulders, rather than using that whip of self-criticism? For more information and practices, see

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

And we're back!

Hello all!

Do you know, the last time I wrote was almost a year ago?! I'm surprised to see that! But it makes sense when I consider the why. I've been on an academic journey this past year, working on my Masters in Counselling Psychology. Which means I've been doing copious amounts of reading and writing, assignments, papers, proposals, and scholarship applications, and the desire to write for fun fled for a while. Alas. I've loved all the academic and reflective writing this program has required. But I realized just today, that I've missed the writing that I do for this blog, and that I love so. So. I'm back:)

Tonight I had a class on campus, and we finished a little earlier. It's a glorious summer evening out there, here in Ottawa, and so I decided to grab a little dinner and go sit Strathcona Park, a sweet park by the river. I sat up on a wall along the river and watched the ducks and geese and other fowl putter around in the shallows. Watched the water slowly roll over the rocks and flow down river.

Almost immediately, the mantra "So Hum" started going through my mind. So Hum is roughly translated, "I am that". It's a great mantra to remind us that we're part of something bigger than our bodies, our emotions, our situations, our circumstances.  I am not just this.

As I watched the birds play and putter, I heard "So Hum" and it continued to pulse in my mind. I am part of something bigger than myself. I am that. The world outside of myself. The flow of the universe. The sweet energy that flows in and through and connects all living beings. I sensed the mantra as I watched the ducks - playful, sweet, cute little things. Then I looked to a seagull, and thought, oh, gross, I'm not like that. And then thought, hmm. I'm part of everything. What is it about a seagull that makes that seem unappealing, as opposed to a cute little duck? Seagulls are pests. Annoying. Scavengers. Needy little dirty creatures. Ah. OK. I don't want to be like that. Connected with that. But to be honest and admit to my humanness, I sometimes act like a pest, a needy little creature to get my needs met. And that is ok:) Seagulls are also playful, they soar beautifully, they're determined, persevering little fellows, their plump smooth white bodies are kind of pretty. So Hum. I am that. Then I saw a beautiful swan. It was more delightful to say "I am that" about the swan:) Elegant, graceful, but also fierce fighters, bossy, demanding, regal and likely entitled. I am that:)

It was a fun little mindful time to connect to all that:) What are you connecting with these days? What is nature teaching you?

Ah it feels good to be writing like this again. Looking forward to doing much more of this. Because it makes my soul sing and shine.

Peace to you all!