Boudhanath Stupa, near Kathmandu, Nepal (©dimaberkut/depositphotos)

For several years, I taught a 4-week Introduction to Mindfulness course at a local studio. One cohort would end, and a new one would start the following week. Over these years, I heard from people about what it was like to start a meditation practice from scratch.

One of the first practices we teach beginners is Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati). This is referred to as a placement meditation. We place our attention on the breath to concentrate the mind on a single point of focus. …

Photo by Jordan Ling on Unsplash

Imposter Syndrome is a much-maligned phenomenon in Western culture. A quick scroll through social media memes tells you all you need to know. Pithy graphics advise us to “disrupt it,” “beat it,” or “avoid” it with three easy steps.

I often wonder about the militaristic language we use when encountering these feelings. When you step back and think about what’s beneath the surface of imposter feelings (worthlessness and shame), it seems almost criminal to design a relief strategy through the lens of conquest. Dare I call it violent?

I should probably back up and let you know that I come…

Photo by Jennifer O’Sullivan

The body speaks through the language of sensation.

The most obvious example is pain. We know that if we touch something and it hurts, we should pull the hand away.

When people talk about embodiment, they’re referring to our capacity to experience and relate to the body’s language in real-time. Developing a greater sense of embodiment is one of the many benefits of mindfulness practice. Through mindfulness, we can better monitor sensation and receive the body’s messages.

These messages tell us a lot about how various circumstances are affecting us. But sometimes this “data” is co-mingled with our past conditioning…

Here we are at the end of the year. Instead of feeling like things are winding down, I’m feeling the pressure of having a lot of things suddenly on my plate. End of year meetings, gift shopping, travel planning, 2020 business planning, personal things (there are always personal things)… it makes me feel very closed in. Tight.

A few years ago I picked up a beautiful practice from Dr. Rick Hanson in a course I was taking. Use the following steps to help manage feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Let Be. Let Go. Let In.

Step 1: Let Be

When you find yourself starting to feel…

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience, the ability to get up and keep going no matter what happens. Like the Energizer Bunny. Only not really because, unlike the Bunny, we are actually affected by the world around us. We see it, smell it, taste it. And right now, it feels like this swiftly tilting planet has gone off the rails.

A while back, I listened to an enthralling interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook who’s husband unexpectedly died while they were on vacation. …

In Chinese Medicine, the immune system is comprised of a protective barrier of Qi called Wei Qi ( pronounced “way chee”), that circulates through the soft tissues while also emanating about an inch around the outside of the body. Like a force field, Wei Qi prevents external pathogens, like viruses and bacteria, from making us sick.

When Wei Qi is robust, we are less likely to catch the seasonal flu that’s going around. Unfortunately, extreme environmental conditions, like the frigid temperatures of winter, can effectively “poke holes” in the structure of the Wei Qi and compromise our immunity.

There are…

Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva that embodies the compassion of all Buddhas having vowed never to rest until s/he had freed all sentient beings from samsara. S/he is also known as Guanyin and Kannon. Image: Shakti via Wikimedia Commons

In 1950, Albert Einstein wrote the following in a letter to Rabbi Robert Marcus who was grieving the loss of his son to polio.

“A human being is part of the whole world, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. …

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By the time I got pregnant with my daughter, I had been practicing yoga regularly for about six years. I favored “rolling around on the floor” and very fluid vinyasa, meaning that I didn’t always stick to the same sequences and I would often bring in a bit of flare from my dance background. That said, it was still a practice based on the classic sun salutation.

I developed a lot of pain in my hips during and after pregnancy. …

Photo by Mark Kamalov on Unsplash

For yogis, one of the most intriguing features of fascia is that it‘s the largest and most wired sensory organ in the body. The extracellular matrix contains more nerve endings than our tongue or our eyes! If one of the primary features of yoga practice is that it supports the mind-body connection, then fascia is the physical gateway for that connection.

As the principle facilitator of our sense of touch, fascia is the organ that cultivates proprioception and interoception, or presence manifest in the body. My teacher, Sarah Powers, refers to it as “body-based consciousness.” When we practice movement with…

Burmese monks on U Bein Bridge. Source: Carillet

Two Monks and a Woman
A senior and novice monk were traveling through the countryside when they came upon a river. The river was swollen making it very difficult to pass. Standing at the edge of the river was a lovely, young woman in elegant clothes unsure of how to get across. She asked the monks for help.

The monks had taken a vow of celibacy that prevented them from making eye contact with women, much less touching them. But after barely a pause, the senior monk picked up the woman and carried her across.

The novice monk was shocked…

Jennifer O'Sullivan

yoga, meditation, life…

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