Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity...

Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.

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It’s Time to Fire Your Inner Critic

owncritic It’s Time to Fire Your Inner Critic

We’ve all got that incessant voice in our heads that speaks up when we do things like try on new clothes, make a mistake, experience a perceived failure, or consider branching out of our comfort zone to try something different. And this internal diatribe occurring inside us tends not to be in the nicest of tones, am I right? This voice is our inner critic.

Often, the voice mimics our internalized version of criticism from a primary caregiver in early childhood. It tries to keep us safe – urging us to avoid pain and disappointment – but not in the best of ways.

If you’re ready to send your inner critic into early retirement, grab a writing utensil and a journal and follow these six steps. (You can certainly do this activity on a mobile device or computer if you prefer, but I find that there’s so much more power and connection in writing important things out by hand!)

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Can Mindfulness Help You Be Healthier?

happy-smiling-woman-rides-a-bicycle-on-the-country-road-under-blossom-picture-id1131658795 Can Mindfulness Help You Be Healthier?

Raise your hand if you’ve met all your health goals and are in perfect shape. Anybody? Okay, how about those of you who are never self-critical and love the way you look every time you look in the mirror. Any takers?

Let’s get serious for a moment: most people have long since abandoned their New Year’s health goals, and a whopping 79 percent of Americans feel at least occasionally unhappy with how their body looks. Rather than being stifled by unmet goals or struggling with our reflection though, what if there were a gentle and effective way to encourage healthier behaviors? Let’s take a closer look at how mindfulness practice can help us improve our physical, mental, and emotional health.

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Murder in a House of Worship

sad How mindfulness and self-compassion can help you manage fear, sorrow, and rage

Lori Kaye, gunned down on Saturday morning, April 27, 2019, at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California was an acquaintance of mine. She was an observant Jew, so when I heard about the shooting I feared she might have been in her house of worship on the last day of Passover.  

I texted her “sending love” and didn’t receive a reply. I thought she might not be responding because it was still Shabbat until sundown, and I didn’t know whether she followed the custom of not using her electronics on Shabbat. I called and texted Stacy (one of her best friends from childhood) and her husband Jon – our close friends – so they would know that a shooting occurred in case they wanted to reach out to Lori. 

I’ll never forget Jon’s voice on the line, “I think Lori is dead, Stacy and Michelle are on their way up to the hospital.” 

What unfolded is surreal, unthinkable, and unfortunately not unusual on this planet. Our town is still reeling; her funeral was an international event that was live streamed over the internet. Over four thousand people gathered on the sports field at the public high school in Poway for a unity rally against hate the night she was buried. 

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Antidote to Anger? Mindfulness.

woman-writing-dreams-in-diary-picture-id1135542281 Antidote to Anger? Mindfulness.

Everyone struggles with anger at some point in their lives. From lingering frustrations to outright rage, it’s easy to feel helpless when anger strikes and, too often, people end up speaking or behaving in ways they later find regrettable. However, there are tools we can use to lessen our experience of anger and live more peacefully.

In my classes, I teach that below anger there is usually a softer emotion – one that’s more vulnerable – and the anger rises up to protect it. I discovered my own anger while discussing an issue in my life during a recent therapy session, and underneath that anger was fear.

Identifying my anger and looking deeper allowed me to recognize this fear – a primal fear – and it brought me to tears, which was great! I’m not a big crier, and crying is such a wonderful stress reliever – so it felt good to let it out. From there, I was able to consider what I could do next to help myself heal.

There is a Buddhist saying that goes: “We make our own hell by wishing things were different than they are.” There are many things in life that we can’t control, and my anger was over one of these things in my own life. My solution? I decided it was time to renew my gratitude practice.

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Take the Sting Out of Stress with Mindfulness

close-up-of-meditation-in-park-at-sunrise-picture-id1039533792 Take the Sting Out of Stress with Mindfulness

April is National Stress Awareness Month – a "holiday" of sorts that invites us all to take the opportunity to acknowledge and address the stress in our lives. We all face stress from time to time, and some of us truly struggle with it. In fact, a recent study reveals that approximately 57 percent of people experience paralyzing stress, and 47 percent say their response to stress is to "take it out on themselves." Ouch.

One of the most effective ways we can reduce our experience of stress is through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness can be applied in many areas of life, and it offers us the chance to tap into our inner peacefulness in spite of whatever outside stressors we may encounter. Here are some mindful ways to take the sting out of stress this month, and anytime. Try them for yourself and see how much better you feel.

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From Postpartum Depression to Mindful Self-Compassion

newborn From Postpartum Depression to Mindful Self-Compassion

I have this memory from 1990 of feeling like my little baby and I were all alone in the universe. The love that I felt for him was heartbreaking. I could sit and watch him sleep for hours, waiting for his little cherub lip to quiver in his slumber. Everything else in my life felt too bright, too loud, too something… too raw. My body was a disaster, and my mind wasn’t too far behind. The only bright spot was the baby.

I had flashbacks of giving birth for months. It was terrifying and excruciating. They call it a precipitous delivery, when your cervix dilates from 4 to 10 centimeters in less than 10 minutes. His head was stuck behind my tailbone and they were pushing so hard on my back that it felt like it broke. The anesthesiologist wouldn’t give me an epidural because they didn’t have an IV running. She responded to my screams for drugs: “You’re not getting any drugs, honey; your baby is coming out now.” It felt like someone was cutting my body open with an axe and pulling out my organs — and that was a vaginal delivery!

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