Being Your Own Best Friend:Booting Anxiety & Building Compassion

Being Your Own Best Friend:Booting Anxiety & Building Compassion

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


Meditation: If Anderson Cooper Can Do It, So Can We

First of all, here’s the amazing 60 Minutes episode which Anderson Cooper says, changed his life!


What can mindfulness do for you?

Here is a short list:

  • Mindfulness meditation is a bit like going to the gym for your heart and mind
  • Lets us drop into our lives more peacefully
  • Live longer by being fully present more of them time (instead of living always in the past or future)
  • Opens and clears your heart
  • Generates compassion
  • Steadies the mind
  • Increases focus and reduce distractibility
  • Increases creative thinking/problem solving capacity
  • Helps us deal with conflict more easily
  • Face difficulties and “negative” emotions with more grace
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase health with improved immunity, lowering blood pressure
  • Alleviate anxiety, depression, and addiction problems

Interested in how mindfulness might help you or your organization?

Please reach out to us. Calm Chicago offers talks, workshops and ongoing teaching in mindfulness.

Carpe diem. Carpe pacem.



Compassionate Listening

The assistant and his sidekick say today is lazy Friday. They suggest we all take a moment here, and perhaps realize that it’s okay.  
We don’t need to grasp after our happiness only on the weekend (if your job is m-f). Happiness is here right now. But if things begin to feel difficult at work…Maybe things get a little crazy, we can pause and practice compassionate listening. 

We can ask deep in our hearts, “What does this person/this situation need most right now? 

Listening and inquiring this way makes our own hearts open and soften. We can accept what is more easily without struggling quite so hard against it. We handle the difficulties of life (and there’s plenty) with more grace and ease. 

When we practice this way, we make the world a tad easier for everyone around us. 

Merely by listening compassionately, pausing, listening to our hearts, and then Responding rather than reacting, we make the world a little bit better that day.

Two Hours to Greater Happiness and Presence


After two hours of mindfulness and some great life hacks from the world of positive psychology, here’s what this student wrote about how she was feeling and what she accomplished in the two hours:

I love doing this work. Seeing someone blossom and awaken to the possibility of real authentic happiness, connection to the rest of the wide and amazing world, and infinite joy is so, so amazing.

Thank you universe! 

May all find peace.  


Applied Practical Mindfulness and Successful Business

Stress Kills Creativity and Happiness at Work

We all want to succeed in our business. And, we want to be happy at work and feel a sense of balance between work and our personal lives. (After all, we do spend more time at work, then just about anywhere! It can kind of take over, if we’re not careful.) Sometimes we may do a lot of running around, feeling very busy but maybe not being so productive. Feeling fragmented mentally, emotionally can lead to feeling quite stressed. When we feel stressed, we can’t think straight, or be creative, happy or balanced.

desk office stress

Good News: Our Stress Has an Off Switch

Anderson Cooper of 60 Minutes discovered that he was incredibly stressed but that through learning various forms of mindfulness practice he could learn to focus his mind and relax the grip all that tension and pressure had on him. He actually went without his cell phone or internet connection for an entire weekend and didn’t die. What he discovered changed his life! What I love best of all about this, is that he went in totally skeptical. He thought it sounded crazy to have all this silence! Eating, sitting and walking silently? Oh yes.

Feeling skeptical yourself? No problem.

Listen to what he had to say about the experience.

We just learn to pay attention, on purpose, to the present moment without any judgement. And that, as Robert Frost would have it, “has made all the difference.” And this kind of training can make all the difference for you at work and at home.

Talk to Your HR Department or Learning and Development People

We can help your team, your whole company, create more presence, balance and happiness with proven methods of applied practical mindfulness that will leave every feeling better and your company performing better.

Contact us for an informational interview today.

And thanks for stopping by.

Taiji Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

I just had to share this article from the NY Times today!

Interesting research published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing the many benefits of taiji for severe pain and chronic conditions. Especially nice that this study refers to the many levels of benefit taiji provides for body, mind and spirit. I read recently somewhere, that TCM practitioners joke that the only place the mind and body separate is in medical textbooks!

Here are few excerpts that took my attention:

The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi may be effective as a therapy for fibromyalgia, according to a study published on Thursday in TheNew England Journal of Medicine.

Before the study, “I didn’t know tai chi from a sneeze,” said Ms. Petersen, who has diabetes and other conditions. “I was like, ‘Well, O.K., I’ll get to meet some people, it will get me out of the house.’ I didn’t believe any of it. I thought this is so minimal, it’s stupid.”

After a few weeks, she said she began to feel better, and after 12 weeks “the pain had diminished 90 percent.” She has continued tai chi, lost 50 pounds and can walk three to seven miles a day.

Dr. Shmerling said that though tai chi is inexpensive compared with other treatments, some patients would reject such an alternative therapy. And Dr. Gloria Yeh, a Beth Israel Deaconess internist and co-author of the editorial, said others “will say, ‘It’s too slow, I can’t do that.’ ”

But she said it offered a “gentler option” for patients deterred by other physical activities. “The mind-body connections set it apart from other exercises,” she said, adding that doctors are seeking “anything we can offer that will make patients say ‘I can really do this.’ ”

Calm Chicago offers Yang taiji, the same taiji practiced by the Tufts study participants. Who can do taiji and enjoy the many benefits? Anybody. Whatever your situation, we can adapt the taiji to fit your abilities. And, you’ll have fun . WHat other medicine can say that?