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Join us Sunday, July 5th, for a Day of Relaxation and Delight!

Dear wonderful friends,

I am delighted to announce that we will be doing another Day of Mindfulness (aka Day of Relaxation and Delight) on Sunday July 5th, 11am to 4pm!

We are going to have it in the same wonderful space in Red Hook, and again we will do a lovely Walking Meditation along the waterfront.

If you would like to come, please write to me and let me know:  marycordelia (at) gmail.com

Details below, and please feel free to forward to anyone you like. I hope to see you there!

with a deep breath for your well-being,
Mary 

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JOIN US FOR A DAY OF RELAXATION AND DELIGHT!

Are you in need of a break? Perhaps some ease and relaxation that leaves you feeling really great? Then please join us for a Day of Relaxation and Delight on the Red Hook waterfront.

For the last several years we have been lucky enough to be offered my friend Martha’s beautiful space to spend a day in quiet connection with ourselves and with nature. We call this a Day of Mindfulness, and it includes deep relaxation, mindful eating of delightful foods, silent walking along the waterfront, and guided meditation.  We even have naptime with lullabies, which, I kid you not, is really nice.

You don’t need any prior experience to attend! You will be led easily through every step, so that you can really relax into the present moment.

About our Day of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is deeply rejuvenating and healing. The Day of Mindfulness gives you the chance to stop, breathe, reconnect and take good care of yourself in an environment that helps create feelings of peacefulness and ease.

As we take a quiet walk along the waterfront, stopping to look at the seagulls and the Statue of Liberty and to feel the fresh sea air… as we enjoy quiet eating together and the delightful practice of total relaxation… as we practice breathing deeply and calmly… we can gradually settle into a deep sense of well-being and contentment, leaving us rested and at peace.

At the bottom of this page are some comments from people who have come to previous Days of Mindfulness, so you can get an idea of how it was for others. Please feel free to call me with any questions, and if you are curious, just come and try it out.

When?

Sunday, July 5th, from 11am to 4pm

Please arrive between 10.30 and 10.50, so you have time to settle in and we can start on time. I strongly recommend you try to come for the whole thing, because the people who come for part of the day usually wish that they had been there longer. &;^)

(If you are late, you are still welcome, but the buzzer is really loud, so it’s better for everyone if people arrive on time.  So please really try to be on time!  If you tend to be late, come early and have a nice coffee at a local coffee shop.)

Where?

We are profoundly lucky that Martha Bowers, Executive Director of the nonprofit Dance Theatre Etcetera, has generously offered us their space for the day. It’s a beautiful wood floored room with big windows, on the waterfront in Red Hook, and it is very peaceful and spacious.

Dance Theatre Etcetera
480 Van Brunt Street, buzzer number 3, Suite 203
in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

The office is located above Fairway Market, and the entrance is on the east end of the building, on Van Brunt Street.

If you aren’t familiar with Red Hook, you’ll want to look into travel directions nice and early. There are quite a few ways to get there.

The easiest way is to drive, and parking should be fine, although leave yourself extra time.

You can also take the F train to Carrol Gardens or Smith & 9th then catch a bus or a cab, or ride your bike. (You can take your bike on the subway, and it’s a nice ride through Redhook!)

Another route is to take the Ikea Water Taxi and then walk.

There are many others I’m sure! I encourage you to leave plenty of time for travel on both ends.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge for the day. You are invited to offer a donation — the suggested scale is $10 to $30 — which will be used to cover my travel costs and other expenses associated with offering the day, including a donation to support Dance Theatre Etcetera in gratitude for their giving us their space for the day. (FYI, Dance Theatre Etcetera does amazing work with youth from challenged backgrounds and it’s an honor to offer them whatever support we can.)

What should I bring?

Wear comfortable loose clothes, and bring a vegetarian lunch and a drink of some kind. There is a small fridge in case your lunch needs refrigeration. It’s also a nice option to bring a little something to share with others if you wish — some dried fruit or cookies or something (like dark chocolate… just sayin’) — but seriously, just a small amount, because there is usually a lot!

If you can, it’s a fine idea to bring a cushion for sitting or a yoga mat. If you can bring extra for someone else, that would be very kind. I will bring several floor seats, meditation cushions and yoga mats, and there are also chairs. So far we have always had enough!

What else should I know?

Just know that this day is for you, for your happiness, and for your well-being. In truth, if you don’t bring anything else, but just bring yourself and your willingness to be kind to yourself, that will be enough.  (Sometimes people have even forgotten to bring their lunch, and they have eaten well!  It’s a very abundant day!

If you have any other questions, please feel free to write or call me.

I really look forward to spending this day with you,

~ Mary

917-386-3286

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Responses from participants of previous Days of Mindfulness

I had SUCH a wonderful time on Sunday. It was one of those really special days that I’m sure I’ll remember for years to come. I came into the day feeling tired and wanting to be in bed, but I actually exited it feeling refreshed and very present. I’ve been able to carry that presence into the next few days too.

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After Sunday, I’m really wishing I could have a day of mindfulness once a month!

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The Day of Mindfulness we had together was extremely nourishing. Practicing with you and the group is also wonderful because we can support our practice and the entire realm of emotions in a safe and caring atmosphere.

~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~
Mary, your joy and care as our facilitator is very beneficial and I truly appreciate your knowledge and guidance. There is a lot of delight available in every moment. We celebrated that together!

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When strong feelings take over…

Worried businessmanLife can be hard, and many of us are pretty stressed out, and often something will happen that triggers a really strong emotional reaction like anger, rage, fear or overwhelm.

Recently I have been encouraging my clients to practice an exercise that combines the best elements of several healing modalities*, and I’ve been getting some great reports about how it has helped.  Just yesterday, I received this text out of the blue:  “The exercise we spoke about really works/helps!  Thank you 🙂  Last night I was frustrated, and I felt the feelings and then it went to sadness and then it went away!  Awesome!”

This exercise allows you to encounter difficult feelings in a skillful and compassionate way.  This helps them subside, leaving you feeling clearer and more prepared to make choices that will improve the situation.

How does it do that?  Well it draws on something the great Carl Rogers was referring to when he said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”   By doing this exercise you can create enough space to accept what is arising in the present moment.  And by simply making space for it, it begins to change all by itself.

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1.  When you feel a big uprising of strong and difficult feelings, right away just put your hand on your heart.

sam-hand-to-heart

2.  Send your awareness into your body and see if you can identify the strong feeling.

3.  Say hello to the feeling.  (Saying hello does a few things I’ll explain at the end of this post.)

  • If you can recognize the feeling — ie you can identify it as a specific feeling like anger or sadness or fear — say, “Hello my anger, I see you,” or “Hello my sadness, I feel you.”
  • If you can’t quite identify it, you can just say, “Hello my strong feeling,” or maybe, “Hello tension in my stomach.”
  • If using the word “my” feels too strong, you can also just say, “Hello feeling,” or “Hello fear.”
  • If it feels right, you can add, “I am here for you,” as in, “Hello my sadness, I am here for you.”

4.  Breathe in and out and just feel the feeling in your body, resting your awareness on the feeling.  As best you can, don’t think about it, but feel it in your body.

hand-on-heart

5.  If new feelings arise, continue to say “Hello” to them, one by one, staying with your awareness in your body.

6.  After a few breaths, you will probably begin to notice the feelings change.

  • It could be that under or next to your anger you will find fear or sadness, or even a feeling of happiness.
  • The feelings might start to diminish.
  • Or it could be the feelings will intensify, and this is ok.  It just means that you encountered the wave of the feeling while it was in the increasing phase, but just stay with it, because it will reach its peak and begin to diminish.

woman-hand-heart-070212-medium_new7.  You can begin to breath more consciously if that feels good.  Slowing and deepening the in-breath, and relaxing more completely on the out-breath.

feet on floor8.  Now would be a good time to try putting your two feet on the floor and resting your awareness in the soles of your feet for a few breaths.  (This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to start calming the stress response, helping your heartbeat regulate, and quieting the autonomic nervous system.)

8.  If you’re noticing any tension in your body — in your hands, your shoulders, your legs, anywhere at all — just gently soften the area around the tension, letting your muscles be a bit softer.  It might feel good to stretch.

Girl-with-hand-on-heart29.  As your nervous system begins to move into a state that is a bit more regulated, your capacity to think and make skillful choices will begin to come back online.  This is where you can begin to figure out what this particular moment needs.

  • You might be noticing the feelings subsiding a lot.  Sometimes just staying with the process of being present to what’s coming up is enough to move you all the way into feeling happy.
  • Or you might realize you need to take another step…
  • Perhaps you need to go outside and take a walk.
  • Maybe you suddenly remember you haven’t eaten, or you notice that you’re exhausted.
  • You might realize that you are not up to dealing with this particular situation right now, and you need to excuse yourself.
  • Or you might recognize that there’s no changing this situation in this particular moment, and so you have to find a way to deal with it most skillfully.  (See the bus shelter story below)

That’s it.  It’s very simple, but you do actually have to do it.

In fact let me restate it as simply as possible so you can’t forget:

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Put your hand on your heart and say hello to the feelings.

 Stay with them as you breathe in and out.

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This is so simple that it might seem like it’s not a big deal, but let me STRONGLY encourage you to try it.  Try it right now if you like…  we’ll wait for you here.  :^)

I will be posting a downloadable mp3 with a guided version of this practice that you can use, and I’ll send out an email when it’s up.  (If you’re not on our mailing list, click here to be notified when it’s posted.)

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You really don’t need to know anymore about this, and you can just do it and not read on any further!  But in case you want to know some more about what this simple practice is doing, read on…

This exercise does some very important things.

  • First it brings attention back into the body.  This is a really powerful shift in awareness that begins the process of recovery.
  • Second it deliberately uses the language part of the brain in a mindful activity (naming the feelings and saying hello.)  This interrupts the process of rumination and reactivity, and puts the prefrontal cortex back in charge.
  • Third it creates an “I” that is not the feeling, but is the observer.  When the observer says, “Hello my feeling,” it creates an important separation between the feeling and the “you” that you identify with.  This changes the situation in a really important way…  Instead of “you” being the feeling, the feeling is now in you.  This means there is a part of your awareness that is outside the feeling.
  • Fourth it slows you down and supports the quieting of the Fight or Flight response.  This allows the nervous system to begin its very natural process of moving toward regulation and well-being.

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I promised the Bus Shelter story, and here it is.  This comes from the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy class.

Imagine you are walking home, late on a cold winter night, and suddenly there is a crack of thunder, the heavens open up, and it starts pouring down rain.  You have no hat and no umbrella, so you frantically look around for some way to get out of the rain, and you spy a little way down the next block a bus shelter!  You race toward it and duck in with a big sense of relief.  Phew!  You shake yourself off, and wipe the rain from your eyes and take a breath.  You think, “Well, that rain came out of nowhere, and it’s raining so hard, it can’t last for long.  I’ll just wait until it slows.”  

So you stand in the bus shelter, waiting for a few minutes.  But the rain shows no sign of stopping.  You wait some more, but eventually you realize this rain is not stopping any time soon.  And you want to get home.  And that means you are going to get very wet and very cold.  

Now you are faced with a choice.  You can walk home through the rain, hunched over and angry, bracing against the cold and feeling miserable.  Or you can walk home through the rain, your body relaxed and your mind free.  Your choice.  Either way you’re going to get wet and cold.  But the choice is whether you will be miserable.

This is an important understanding of this exercise.  It’s not always going to make you feel better.  It could be that it doesn’t change what you’re feeling much at all.  It could be it can’t change the situation.  But like the bus shelter, it offers a temporary refuge so you can reset, recover a little, assess the situation, and make the best choice you can in the moment.

Give it a try!  I’d love to hear how this works for you.  Or if you’ve already been using it a while and finding it helpful, maybe you could write about it below to encourage others give it a try.

I hope this helps you weather the next internal thunderstorm you encounter with a minimum of misery!

Best Wishes,

MarySignature coloradjust

p.s.  Here’s a cool bonus…  Pema Chödron shows us another version of this practice!

I was delighted when I came across this short video of Pema Chödron that shows another way of doing this simple practice.  She explains in a clear and beautiful way how to connect with difficult feelings without pushing them away.  Instead of suppressing them, which makes them last, this allows them to naturally subside, leaving us on the other side of the feelings in a place of ease and peace.

Enjoy!

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* Note:   I drew on three healing modalities in developing this exercise:  

  • The teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, who taught me the “Hello my anger” practice
  • Somatic Experiencing, which taught me how essential it is to contact the feelings in the body, and
  • MBCT, which offers a similar practice, the three-minute breathing space, another version of a stopping practice to intervene when strong feelings are present.

Beautiful Practice Song!

Dear Friends,

This wonderful practice song is sung by Sister The Nghiem of the Plum Village monastics.  May it be a source of nourishment for you.  Especially for those of us with wounds from our parents that we are practicing to heal, this is a deep offering.

Click here to view the video on YouTube

Sending deep wishes for your healing,

MarySignature coloradjust

Moving into the driver’s seat

woman-drinking-coffee-morning-thinking-pensive-thoughtful-13

Flickr/Eneas de Troya

I’m not a big fan of the “7 easy ways to fix your whole life” mode of articles, but I thought I would share this one.  It feels like there’s a through-line that is really worth noting.

The writer focuses on things people who are very productive do every day, and what we see is they limit distraction and actually do less.  When we can reduce stimulation and quiet our minds, we can find a way to discern what is important to us…

And then choose to focus on it.

Let me add that he’s talking about productivity, and he is writing in a business context, but the article is describing reclaiming your life.  We all work one way or another, and it’s a challenge for most of us to find time to live and do the things we feel are important to us.  So these suggestions are not just about productivity, but also joy!  The joy of being in the driver’s seat of your life.

This example from the article sums it up kind of nicely:

“Why is checking email in the morning a cardinal sin?  You’re setting yourself up to react.  An email comes in and suddenly you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.”  (emphasis mine)

By removing distractions we can become more aware of our own priorities and begin to let go of unimportant things.

Read on!  http://www.businessinsider.com/6-things-the-most-productive-people-do-every-day-2014-6

Sending wishes for a great day!

MarySignature coloradjust

Young Hero’s Retreat

IMG_3636

As many of you know, I am a mindfulness teacher and therapist. 

There is a young person I have been working with as he/she heals from some severe abuse.  (I am keeping his/her identity private for obvious reasons!)  This young person has done incredible work in the last few years, including contributing to the healing of other people in his/her community.  He/She would like to go on a Mindfulness Retreat, but has no money, and so I thought I would start a crowdfunding site to support this experience.

Would you like to donate a little to support this?  If you do want to contribute a little, even $5 will add up! 

Just click here:  http://www.gofundme.com/dsf2gs

I would also like to contribute by offering you a free personal mindfulness session, either in my NYC office or via skype or phone, in return for any donation over $50.

Thanks and love,

MarySignature coloradjust

 

Making Mindfulness a Part of Therapy

104821202I’d like to share an article that Mindful magazine published, which gives a nice introduction to the issues that therapists need to consider when using mindfulness to work with their clients.  I think the article is right on target, and it reflects a lot of the information I’m offering in classes for therapists that I’m teaching on how to incorporate mindfulness into their work with clients.

 

 

 

If you’d like to hear more about the classes, let me know!

Breathing and smiling!

MarySignature coloradjust

Mindfulness helps veterans reduce diabetes symptoms

Meditating Vet

A recent article in Science Daily describes how mindfulness training has helped U.S. veterans with diabetes significantly lower their diabetes-related distress and blood sugar levels and improve their self-management of the disease.

Read on, and please share with anyone who might benefit!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140806093933.htm

Soundbath at this week’s Day of Relaxation and Delight!

Dear folks,

 

Great news!  This Sunday, May 18th, we have a special treat at our Day of Relaxation and Delight!  After lunch, we usually do a lovely practice called Deep Relaxation, and this time my amazing friend Katie Down has offered to give us a Sound Bath during that time!  It’s very special.  To read more about her work, you can look here:
http://www.mindfulmusicpsychotherapy.com/sound-baths.html


So here is the original email I sent which has all the info!  I hope to see you there, and feel free to bring guests and loved ones!

 

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Are you in need of a break?  Perhaps some ease and relaxation that leaves you feeling really great?  Then please join me on May 18th for a day of relaxation and delight on the Red Hook waterfront.

 

For the last several years we have been lucky enough to be offered my friend Martha’s beautiful space to spend a day in quiet connection with ourselves and with nature.  We call this a Day of Mindfulness, and it includes deep relaxation, mindful eating of delightful foods, silent walking along the waterfront and guided meditation.

 

You do not need to have any prior experience to attend!  You will be led easily through every step, so that you can really relax into the present moment.

Please feel free to invite others.  All are welcome! And especially send this to anyone you know in Red Hook and Brooklyn who could do with a day of peaceful relaxation.

Lots of details below!  I hope to see you there!!!

sending smiles,

Mary



About our Day of Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be deeply rejuvenating and healing.  The Day of Mindfulness give you the chance to stop, breathe, regroup, reconnect and take good care of yourself, in an environment that helps create feelings of peacefulness and ease.

As we take a quiet walk along the waterfront, stopping to look at the seagulls and the Statue of Liberty and to feel the fresh sea air… as we enjoy quiet eating together, and the delightful practice of total relaxation… as we practice breathing deeply and calmly… we can gradually settle into a deep sense of well-being and contentment, leaving us rested and at peace.

At the bottom of this page are some comments from people who have come to previous days of mindfulness, so you can get an idea of how it was for others.  Please feel free to call me with any questions, and if you are curious, just come and try it out.

When?

Sunday, May 18th, from 11am to 4pm

If you can, please arrive between 10.30 and 10.50, so you have time to settle in and we can start on time.  You are also welcome to come for part of the day, but I strongly recommend you try to come for the whole thing, because the people who come for part of the day usually wish that they had been there longer.    &;^)

Where?

We are profoundly lucky that Martha Bowers, Executive Director of the nonprofit Dance Theatre Etcetera, has generously offered us their space for the day.  It’s a beautiful wood floored room with big windows on the waterfront in Red Hook, and is very peaceful and spacious.

Dance Theatre Etcetera
480 Van Brunt Street, Ste 203, buzzer number 3.
in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

The office is located above Fairway Market, and the entrance is on the east end of the building, on Van Brunt Street.

If you aren’t familiar with Red Hook, you’ll want to look into travel directions nice and early.  There are quite a few ways to get there.

The easiest way is to drive, and parking should be fine, although leave yourself a little extra time.

You can also take the F train to Carrol Gardens or Smith & 9th then catch a bus or a cab, or ride your bike.  (You can take your bike on the subway, and on the weekends you probably don’t even get glared at!)

Another route is to take the Ikea Water Taxi and then walk.

There are many others I’m sure!  I encourage you to leave plenty of time for travel on both ends.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge for the day.  You are invited to offer a donation — the suggested amount is $30 — which will be used to cover my travel costs and other expenses associated with offering the day, including a donation to support Dance Theatre Etcetera in gratitude for their giving us their space for the day and a thank you gift to Katie Down.  (FYI, Dance Theatre Etcetera does amazing work with youth from challenged backgrounds and it’s an honor to offer them whatever support we can.)

What should I bring?

Wear comfortable loose clothes, and bring a vegetarian lunch and a drink of some kind.  There is a small fridge in case your lunch needs refrigeration.  It’s also a nice option to bring a little something to share with others if you wish — some dried fruit or cookies or something (like dark chocolate… just sayin’) — just a small amount, because there is usually a lot!

If you can, it’s a fine idea to bring a cushion for sitting or a yoga mat.  If you can bring extra for someone else, that would be very kind.  I will bring several floor seats, meditation cushions and yoga mats, and there are also chairs.  So far we have always had plenty!

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

Just know that this day is for you, for your happiness, and for your well being.  In truth, if you don’t bring anything else, but just bring yourself and your willingness to be kind to yourself, that will be enough.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to write or call me.  I look forward to seeing you,

Mary

917-386-3286

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Responses from participants of previous Days of Mindfulness

I had SUCH a wonderful time on Sunday. It was one of those really special days that I’m sure I’ll remember for years to come. I came into the day feeling tired and wanting to be in bed, but I actually exited it feeling refreshed and very present. I’ve been able to carry that presence into the next few days, too. I feel like the day of mindfulness helped to cement some of the concepts we’ve been learning in class. Practicing the mindful eating and walking with the group helped me to understand those activities more fully, and I’m confident that I can now do them all by myself (where as before I was still a little unsure of whether I was doing them “right”). After Sunday, I’m really wishing I could have a day of mindfulness once a month!

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The Day of Mindfulness we had together was extremely nourishing. Practicing with you and the group is also wonderful because we can support our practice and the entire realm of emotions in a safe and caring atmosphere. Mary, your joy and care as our facilitator is very beneficial and I truly appreciate your knowledge and guidance. There is a lot of delight available in every moment. We celebrated that together!

~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~

I really enjoyed the day of mindfulness. As i said that day, it was cool to realize that even though i felt like i “took a vacation from my life” when we were all together, the truth is THAT WAS MY LIFE, and i can be there anytime i want, appreciating and noticing what is in front of me. It was very nourishing for the soul to come back to the body. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

 

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Mary Myers

917-386-3286

www.MindfulnessForHealing.com

 

Teaching Kids to Calm Themselves…

Image

I’d like to share the link to a wonderful article about successful tools for helping kids to calm themselves.  The article never mentions the word mindfulness, but this coming back to ourselves truly is the essence of mindful practice. 

The links in the article are worth following too.  One of them leads to a page with a template for making a breathing star, which is a great tool for a parent or teacher to use to train kids in responding to upsets by deliberately taking steps to calm their nervous systems.  (For that matter, it’s a great tool for a therapist… I’m going to make one and try it out!)

We can all benefit from learning to calm our nervous system and come back to ourselves when we are upset.   I think this article points to some wonderful practices.  Let me know what you think!

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/first-learn-how-to-calm-down/?_php=true&_type=blogs&emc=eta1&_r=0

Indie Spiritualist – A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality

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I just came across this review of the book, Indie Spiritualist – A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality by Chris Grosso.

I haven’t read the book yet, but the review is compelling, and even more worth reading is the excerpt from the book itself, which starts with a quote by Thich Nhat Hahn and goes on the acknowledge the reality that most of us face when we try and embrace the concept of self love. That reality?  We are really bad at it.

Just last Sunday I watched a question and answer period with Thich Nhat Hahn in which a woman told him that she and her husband had been told by some “counselor” (I shudder to think…) that she was not a real woman and he was not a real man, and here was how they could fix this.  She said this had really messed up their relationship.  Sheesh.

Thich Nhat Hahn told her that she was beautiful exactly as she was.  He went on to add that gay men are beautiful, lesbians are beautiful.  We are all exactly as we are, and that is beautiful, and our task is to love ourselves as we are.  Not fix that.  Love it.

So, hard as this task is… Have at it!  Read Grosso’s excerpt for a little more insight into this challenge.

http://www.rewireme.com/inspirations/indie-spiritualist-bullshit-exploration-spirituality/#comment-14660