Archive for the mental health Category

Cultivating Gratitude

The video above is an excerpt from a talk  by Robert Emmons,   professor of psychology at the University of California, and author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier.

Emmons observes, Gratitude is not easy. It’s not something that comes naturally, but has to be worked at. It has to be cultivated. It goes far beyond saying ‘thank you.’ It’s deeper than that; it can be a really fundamental way of viewing life, an orientation toward life itself.

Emmons asserts that gratitude changes lives.  My own experience has certainly supported his assertion.  The more I practice gratitude, the more resilient and optimistic I feel.  How are you at experiencing gratitude?  Want to get better at it?

Following are some resources that you might find helpful.

Enhance Happiness and Health

Six Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

A Practical Guide to Gratitude

A Meditation for Cultivating Gratitude

Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice 

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Book Group: Deepening the Spiritual Lives of Women

On January 22 from 7:00 to 8:30 join us in a warm and cozy environment to refresh your soul and deepen your spiritual life.  Well be discussing the first three chapters of When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. While the group is free, you must pre-register by email in order to participate. Put register me for book group in subject line. Register at: tammiefowles@gmail.com

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/852567931430974/

sue monk kidd quote

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Making My Life Come True: The Theme for 2015

Were so busy these days, more often than not it seems, too buried beneath the often insignificant details of our lives to fully live them, or as Gregg Levoy observes, “to make them literally come true.”

What would it mean to make your life come true?   According to the dictionary, ‘true’ is defined as “real, genuine, authentic.”  From this perspective, how true is your life?  Is it guided by what you believe to be meaningful and ethical?  What fills your hours?  Your days?  Do they contain what truly matters most to you?  What percentage of your time does what you say and do genuinely reflect who you are and what you love?  How real, genuine, and authentic does your life feel?

In an article entitled, To Be Seen, Tim Kutzmark lamented,  “Look around—we are a people of masks and disguises. We are a people who have been taught to transform ourselves into what others need us to be We’ve come to believe that most people don’t want to see or hear what we feel, what we need, who we are. We’ve learned that most people don’t want to see the messiness and confusion that each of us carries inside. We’ve learned that only parts of ourselves are publicly presentable. Other parts must be hidden away. For acceptability, approval or promotion, we conceal the rough edges, the broken places…”

In one of my favorite childrens stories, The Velveteen Rabbit, the little toy rabbit who longs to be real asks his companion, the skin horse, how he might become real.  The wise old skin horse replies ,  It doesnt happen all at once You become. It takes a long time. Thats why it doesnt happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things dont matter at all, because once you are Real you cant be ugly, except to people who dont understand.”

While I’m reasonably certain that I was absolutely  real as a child, returning to that elusive and imperfect state is proving to be  a long and frequently demanding journey.  The outer world’s claims on my time, energy, and psyche all too often distract and sometimes overwhelm me, while the inner voice that calls me towards greater authenticity issues its own demands.  It has  repeatedly insisted that I piece together those places inside of myself that have been broken or discarded in order to be whole again.  It urges me to reveal  my weaknesses and vulnerabilities rather than to hide them away in shame.  It insists  that my behavior not contradict my values, orders that less  of my time be wasted on things that don’t matter much, mercilessly rejects all attempts on my part to deceive either myself or others,  and unrelentingly calls on me to listen to my love and not my fear.

   Along the way to becoming real, like the velveteen rabbit,  I’ve suffered significant scars, and am no longer the beauty that I once was when I was untried, unmasked, and brand new.  And yet, as I continue to work on living consistently smack dab in the middle of my truth, I find new opportunities and new doors being opened up.  I encounter teachers every where (when I am open to them) that encourage me to do my very best to make as much as I possibly can of the sweet life that is left to me come true.

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Getting through Grief During the Holidays

The very same holiday rituals that were filled with Joy during other years can become acutely painful when we’re grieving .  So much that warmed our spirits  during happier times now leave us cold, adding still more weight to hearts so heavy  that we may be exhausted from carrying them around.

I lovingly reach out to those of you who are hurting during these holidays to reassure you that as painful as they can be,  you can not only get through them, you can experience brief and beautiful moments of love,  awe, gratitude and perhaps even joy. In addition to the video above,  you may also find the following articles helpful.

How to Help Ourselves Through the Holidays

Meaningful Remembrance Ideas for Holiday Grief

During this difficult time of year when the absence of someone you love can feel so much more profound  than their presence did the year before,  and you have no choice but to grieve while the celebration goes on around you, I urge you to make every modest and healing decision that you possibly can. Decide to take in the love that still surrounds you even if only for a moment. Decide to touch someone else’s holiday in a modest but meaningful way. Decide to acknowledge the multitude of gifts that still grace your life – a beautiful sunset, a perfect snowflake,  the rich aroma of a scrumptious pie in the oven, the presence of light at the push of a button, a warm home, loving hearts,  unanticipated gifts of grace that are already on their way, and so much more….

I bless you.  I bless your magnificent, wounded, heavy, and yet still bravely beating heart……

It will get easier, I promise…….


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The Wisdom Series: The Wisdom of Gail Sheehy

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.

Gail Sheehy

    From time to time I will be using this blog to introduce some of you and to remind others of  women who offer us significant insight, courage and wisdom.  The first woman that Im featuring here is Gail Sheehy.

When my daughter, Kristen, was growing up she and I frequently visited used book stores.  One afternoon while I was completely absorbed in the stacks she tapped me on the shoulder and when I looked up, she handed me a book.  It was a copy of Gail Sheehys, Passages.  Dont you wish that youd written this mom? she asked.  Why honey?  Because I see this book in every store we go to,  she must have sold a million of them! she replied enthusiastically.

My little girl was right on both counts, the book had been a best seller (making Tom Butler Bowdens list of 50 top psychology classics) and yes, actually, now that shed mentioned it, I did wish that Id written it.

Sheehy reassures us that once we reach our mid forties, it truly isnt  all downhill from there.  In  fact, as we enter what Sheehy describes in her follow up book, New Passages,  as our second adulthood, were presented with a multitude of opportunities for self discovery, reinvention,  and new and more meaningful ways to live.  involuntary losses can become the catalyst for voluntary changes in the practice of our lives, altering the efforts that we make to connect with others, the values we choose to make congruent with our actions, the habits we change to support better health, the responsibilities we accept for mentoring the next generation and civilizing our communities, country, and planet The massive shift in the passage to second adulthood involves a transition from survival to mastery.

During our second adulthood the world cries out for our wisdom as never before.

Following is an interview with Gail Shehy speaking with Diane Rehm about the life passages that we each face.

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Benefit Your Body and Emotions with Mindful Practices

allison 3

Photographer: Allison Fowles

Benefit Your Body and Emotions with Mindful Practices

There is growing evidence for the benefits of mindfulness on our health and well-being, but what does it actually mean to be mindful and how can it help us achieve greater wellness? Put simply, mindfulness is where we focus on our thoughts, feelings and environment. We do not pass any judgment on these and concentrate on just the moment so that our thoughts do not drift to the past or future. This Buddhist concept allows us to have greater awareness of ourselves, take responsibility for our actions and bring about welcome changes.

Mechanisms for mindfulness

There are four main components of mindfulness. Firstly, attention regulation, where we concentrate on a given entity, allows us to maintain our focus on the present. Secondly, body awareness puts us more in tune with our body when we concentrate on aspects such as our breathing or other sensations. Then emotion regulation, where we avoid examining our feelings, lets us accept our reactions to situations. Finally, by changing our self-perspective we acknowledge that change is possible, facilitating us to take positive steps that enhance our well-being.

Promoting better health through mindfulness

When we are mindful we can achieve better physical health. It is certainly the case that when we are more mindful of what we eat this helps us to select healthier foods and exert portion control, aiding weight maintenance and weight loss. There is also evidence that mindful practices can help us manage pain better and create a stronger immune system. However, your mental wellness can improve as well. For instance, practicing mindfulness is a valuable therapy to manage stress, anxiety, low mood and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also possible to boost memory, concentration and learning when we are more mindful. The benefits of mindfulness don’t end there though. Mindful practices can also promote stronger relationships and greater community spirit, as it makes us better at empathizing with others.

Appropriate use of mindful practices

All therapies have potential limitations and mindfulness is no exception. For example, when you are overly mindful this can make you hypersensitive to situations, such as your perception of pain. Equally, mindfulness may stifle creativity and stand in the way of learning new habits unconnected to conscious awareness. However, when you receive suitable instruction on this practice and understand when it is appropriate to use mindfulness, the benefits of this form of meditation far outweigh its potential drawbacks.

By Juliette Foster

Read Juliettes Mindfulness guide here!

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Women and Self Compassion

Heres an important message for those of us who are hard on ourselves.

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