Being Your Own Best Friend:Booting Anxiety & Building Compassion


Being Your Own Best Friend:Booting Anxiety & Building Compassion

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The rose doesn’t strive to be beautiful. It just opens.

This is one of series of Calm Chicago Chill Out sessions, which bring very small groups of people together for self care, listening to each other and ourselves, healing, and exploring the possibilities of living fully, authenitcally and from a sense of grounded peace and interconnection. The cost is low to make it super accessible. I invirte you to join in right away while there’s still spots.

We’ve all seen thos folks who always seem calm no matter what’s going on, right? Whether it’s in the midst of some crazy crazy weather, or a major deadline at work, or the El has broken down and sitting on the tracks forever, or dealing with major medical or health stuff. They just seem to be able to surf through it. While we are quietly or not so quietly cursing and secretly hating them, and knowing that for sure, we sish that was us but that we are the sort of person who is not CALM or self possessed and never will be.

If anxiety (social or otherwise) is a thing in your life and you’re tired of that being so; if you’ve heard about the importance of self care and compassion but can’t seem to get any, this workshop is for you.

Abiding calm and self love are not things that we can just wave a wand and BOOM, you have infinite amounts of them but you can learn how to cultivate them through simple practices that you can do at home, in the bathroom, in the car, on the El, everywhere you are in your day to day life. We’ll use tools from mindfulness, yoga and positive psychology, to give you the direct experience of learning how to get better at dealing with anxiety and bulding up your self love so that you can really become your own best friend. You’ll leave knowing how to practice these outside of class so that you can keep building those skills and feeling stronger and better day by day.

You will learn:
We’ll take these 2.5 hours to focus on supporting and encouraging you with specific exercises to help you feel better right here and now and making sure you know how to take the practices home with you with confidence.

How to practice simple awareness that bring you back to the moment with love
How to practice “on the fly”
How to identify what makes you feel great and get more of that good stuff
How to give yourself love and then spread that around to help create peace inside and out in the world
Quick tips for pausing amidst the chaos of life and emotions

Who should come to this?
You. Anyone who wants to be able to be able handle lifes inevitable ups and downs with more grace and ease; wants to feel safer, shappier, stronger no matter what is going on.

Who’s teaching this?
Hillary Johnson is a photographer and mindfulness and creativity coach who’s been leading retreats and helping people feel better and companies work better since 2008. She’s into travel and helping people feel authentic interconnection between themselves and all things. Also border collies, cattle dogs and bicycling.

Register with PayPal to: calmchcago at gmail dot com
$15.00

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Kneeling Youth at AFI


What are we to make of Belgian artist George Minne’s solitary kneeling youth and how might contemplating this work illuminate something of our own condition? 
You notice the little card doesn’t help us much. 

Let’s discover together at the next Art for Introverts (AFI). Get your tickets here!

See you at the museum!

Art Balances Us


Rise and shine art lovers! 

There’s still time to register for my class on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago, in which we might figure out how this piece of art, this lovely painting of a young woman with a book, sitting quietly might help us ourselves to find a way to be rebalanced from the stresses of everyday life. 

Perhaps she reminds us that it’s good to sit down and step away from the news, to turn off our digital media. 

The directness of her gaze might indicate that she’s speaking straight to us, inviting us to enjoy even a moment of solitary contemplation perhaps with a good book. 

Because certainly with the work schedules that we all keep, the challenges of trying to strike a work/life balance, we could use a little help seeking balance. Couldn’t we? 

I hope you’ll join us. 

Here’s the link for tickets.

 #artastherapy #artforintroverts #artinstituteofchicago #ArtInChicago #ArtAsTherapeuticExperience #learningtosee #alaindebotton #chicago #LadyBoss #entrepreneur #carpediem #ilovemuseums #chicagocreatives #artbalances

4 Ways Meditation Changed Her Life 


Something that makes me super happy in working with my coaching clients individually or in groups, is when people are able to identify for themselves the many positive influences and benefits that formal meditation and (less formal) mindfulness practices, bring into their lives. 
It’s so exciting when people can see for themselves the many profound changes that they’ve experienced. 


Today one of my wonderful clients was able to identify for keyways and what her life was better: 

1. Able to deal in healthy ways with school and relationship challenges 

2. Able to remain more focused and less distracted by worry or anxiety 

3. Increased overall social engagement and wellness 

4. Emotional intelligence has increased significantly, resulting in much more emotional control and resiliency. 


One of the things that I think is so important to keep in mind, and I feel like it’s a niche that my work really occupies, is that frequently people think mindfulness is another item to check off a to do list. 

It’s not! 

It’s something that can be a seamless part of everything we do enhancing our happiness and appreciation every day of our lives. 

There’s only one thing we can control in life and that is our reaction to what’s going on. Mindfulness can help us to drop the catastrophe brain and be happier no matter what.

Wishing smooth sailing to all.


#Mindfulness #Meditation #Happiness #EmotionalIntelligence #Resiliency #Chicago #HappyChicago #onelife #CalmChicago #metta #eyeoftheheart #everydaygratitude #ChicagoCoaching #ChicagoLifeCoach #ChicagoCreativityCoach #SpringTimeReboot #SelfCare #SelfLove

6 Steps to De-Stress During High Stress Times


One of my students is going through a very high stress time right now. She’s a college student preparing for the MCAT test. A grueling seven-hour monster that a pre-requisite for getting into medical school (The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®), developed and administered by the AAMC, is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created to help medical school admissions offices assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles …) – Just reading this is enough to give a person a stress headache!
So, maybe you ‘re not taking a test like that but you have your own stressful stuff unfolding. The transition form spring into summer can do that. Kids getting out of school, work seasons change, job hunting, dealing with illnesses, etc. etc. I thought that it might be helpful for you all for me to share what I taught her today: Six Steps to De-Stressing During High Stress Times
So this week, try these out and please, let me know how it goes if you like. What questions come up? I’m happy to support you any way I can.
1. Journal about what you ingest, food, drink, friends, entertainments etc. What we put into the mind, body and spirit is what we become. Put another way, what we surround ourselves with is what we become. So it makes sense to really pay attention to what all that stuff is and examine it for ourselves, asking the question of each thing: Is this beneficial or wholesome for me or not? I encourage you to keep the log first and then examine it all for patterns and benefits or detriments.
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2. Meditate on a regular schedule. It’s can also be quite beneficial to do a brief bit of journal writing before and after you practice. This doesn’t have to go on for long, even a few minutes of writing can provide a great deal of insight when paired with meditation.  It’s not unusual to have a hard time creating a regular schedule but, boy, is it ever good for you. Your heart and mind like the rhythm of regularity and the discipline of sticking to something good for you.
3. Regulate your sleep, food and exercise as much as you can. You are in charge of making choices about what you do. Ask your friends to support you in this. So if you say no to some activity like a party that will go too late or be a little too crazy for you right now, for example, they shouldn’t beg you to come along but trust your discernment and support you. Also see number 2.
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4. Do walking meditation before sitting practice. This helps energize, stabilize and focus your mind and body for sitting meditation.
5. Try the PRO technique: Pause, Relax, Open offered by mindfulness expert Elisha Goldstein
6. If you like, comment here when you practice meditation and I’ll send you a hi-five in return and a meditation tip!
May you be well, safe, happy, may you live with ease.
With Metta,
Hillary
Metta

Two Step Walking Meditation


Metta in this Moment
Metta

Though we tend to tumble headfirst into the next moment out of sheer force of habit, we can train ourselves to pause in the midst of our busy days. We can ground ourselves in the midst of stressful situations by bringing awareness down to our feet, feeling the earth supporting us. Grounding ourselves this way, we’re more able to handle whatever difficulties arise with more grace and increased empathy and compassion for ourselves and others.

Mindfulness Practice with the Feet
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Bring your awareness to your feet. Feel them in your shoes. See if you can feel each toe on its own without wiggling them. It’s okay if you can’t. We’re not seeking any special experience. We just want to see what’s going on right here and now.

Now – Feel the shoes gently holding your feet. Next allow yourself to feel that the sole purpose of the earth, it’s only job, is to hold you up. Rest in that awareness.

2012_0506_images_10a_berry_conversation_wendell_portrait(The great Wendell Berry)

Simple Walking Meditation

Walking requires a constant shifting of our weight from foot to foot, an act we rarely pay much attention to. As we shift the weight, it’s as if we fill one leg and empty the other, of weight, of energy, however you like to think of it. This occurs as we place first one foot down in front of us to step forward and then the next. Let’s slow this process down for a few steps to attend mindfully to the many sensations of walking.

  1. As you step forward, place your foot down ever so softly, feeling that initial contact with the ground or floor. Slowly begin to shift your weight into your forward foot, feeling it supporting you as you fill the leg up.
  2. Be aware at the same time, of your rear foot and leg. Feel how the rear leg gets emptier and emptier; the foot releasing contact with the ground.

Repeat for a few steps, up to ten.

Walking is actually a wondrous act. Let’s enjoy it together. Let’s be grateful for our capacity to walk. Let’s take a moment of gratitude for our feet and legs.

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Pausing is Possible Anytime

You can practice this simple walking meditation any time. It’s a very good practice before any stressful events like meetings, difficult conversations etc. Try pausing next time you’re heading somewhere. The simple act remembering that you can pause and doing it, even for a moment or a few steps, is incredibly powerful.

Guided Meditations


People have all kinds of ideas about guided meditations and this blog will hardy be an authoritative response to all the ideas out there. That would be not only impossible but a waste of everyone’s time.

I can tell you this however. For the beginner, guided meditations can be extremely helpful. Because meditating alone in your room can feel like jumping into the deep end of a very choppy, stormy ocean without any support, a life jacket at least, a little raft.

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It can feel this way for the experienced meditator as well. Maybe life’s been handing you a particularly rough patch and though you’ve been meditating for years, you’re just not feeling it.

Maybe you’ve been sitting with your father who’s dying, maybe you’ve lost your job or are in the midst of a huge paradigm shift in your career, which you thought would last forever, and now it feels like you’ve got nothing to stand on.

Maybe you’re dealing with a terrible disease, acute or chronic and you’re just not even sure who you are anymore.

Maybe you’re just like the rest of us poor slobs wondering why and how it is that even the most joy-filled moments of heart splitting wonder seem to have this little nugget of sadness embedded in them. Maybe you’re one of those folks who feels you’re always waiting for the other shoe to fall.

On top of that you may be thinking, I should get a grip, I’ve been meditating for (insert number of months, years meditating here) I should be able to settle my mind down. I’m a terrible meditator. 

Or, maybe you’re a meditation teacher and you’re in that place where even the coach needs a little extra support and love and you think crap, who can I ask for help? This is SO embarrassing!  Nonsense darlings! Now and then all of us need some help, a little extra support, for all kinds of thing, including our own self care. In fact, research shows that actually asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH. So there’s that.

Let me tell you dear ones, you’re not a terrible meditator. You’re just feeling overwhelmed. There’s no shame in getting a little assistance.

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So, no matter who you are and how long you’ve been sitting and meditating, it is okay. If you feel like you need a permission slip – here it is.

Go ahead and use guided meditations when you want to. Sometimes it’s just nice to let someone else drive the bus, right?

When you feel ready to sit in silence, on your own, you’ll know.

Lots of people, all over the globe practice alone but they may also sit with a group from time to time, some weekly. Many folks also make regular check-ins with a meditation teacher. To that end, I strongly encourage you to find a teacher somewhere and study with them. It’s highly beneficial to have someone whose been down the road ahead of you to whom you may turn to ask questions and talk things over.

In support of all that, I’ve made a new page on the site offering some free guided meditations which I’m recording. You’ll also find links to the sites of several wonderful meditation teachers out there who offer audio, readings, books, retreats and so forth. Please check it all out. Explore. Find what works for you.

Please share the link to this page with friends, colleagues, loved ones. Anyone who might benefit from a little friendly mediation support.

Sail on friends. Sail on. Life’s just a series of tacking points. No direct line. Let’s enjoy the journey together.

Namaste,

Hillary

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