A reservoir of compassion is ALWAYS with you

I have been practicing a compassion meditation in the last month that has been very powerful for me so I wanted to share. I heard someone offer it. (It's driving me crazy, but I cannot remember where!) I share that mostly so you know this is not a meditation I designed but one I gratefully adapted..Compassion is a critical part of my daily ritual. As a physician, I strive to be a compassionate clinician but it is an intention and not always one I can feel perfect with. Before clinic every day, I hold a jade Kuan Yin (Buddhist goddess of compassion) figurine on my stethoscope and say a meditation/prayer to have compassion for those I will care for and when I do not have enough, to have compassion for myself. But what DO you do when you don't have enough compassion? Where do you turn?

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Our gratitude practice may help others as much as ourselves

We know there are plentiful benefits for the person who practices gratitude...Better sleep, better mood, stronger immune systems, less pain, it goes on and on. So if you are reading the latest neuroscience (or this blog), you know that being grateful is a sound strategy to better health. But do you think the more grateful you are, the more likely you are to be generous to others? A recent study last month looked at this very question.

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Tune in to this week's dose of gratitude

This week, our dose of gratitude comes in a short seven minute video interview I did on Social Impact TV, a You Tube channel highlighting diverse social impact leaders making a difference in their community. The mission of the channel is to source positive media that leaves you inspired and in action to make a difference. And we could all use more positive media in our lives! If you are inspired, you can also choose to subscribe to the channel

Watch as I speak with Anna Sun Choi, creator of this channel, to speak about why I think Gratitude is such powerful medicine. I hope that this dose can inspire you to further deepen your gratitude practice and bring some burst of positivity to your computer screen this week!

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Take one grateful at a time...

"Take a deep breath," we tell loved ones when they need to ground or calm, when overwhelm has set in. "Take one day, or even one moment, at a time," we tell them when they are experiencing great challenge or need to find a way to get up and face the day. Even with food, the truth is that digestion is optimized when we take smaller bites and chew more. The theme here is that slowing down helps us manage moments when too much seems to be coming at us. It's the same way with gratitude. People often ask me how anyone can possibly be grateful in a time of challenge, a time when the onslaught of life's difficulties can seem to be far greater than what we are able or willing to face. Somehow we don't hold the same principle of one at a time with this, we think gratitude for life has to come to us right away. The truth is that in the same way, you "take it one morsel of gratitude at a time." Go slow and steady.

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5 gifts of gratitude for 5 weeks of immobility

It was the morning of December 3rd and Mercury had just gone retrograde. I feel like that phrase is more mainstream than I had realized. Even if. you don't follow the astrological and planetary forces (which I can't say I truly understand), you may have still heard that all havoc is wreaked in the world when Mercury changes direction. Don't ask me how, but chaos definitely ensued that morning. We were on our way to a cross country getaway, just my husband and myself. Nobody else. Just us, in nature, trying a new sport, connecting, getting much needed time. And then the silliness occurred. I slipped, missed the last 1-2 stairs and the next thing I know I was on the floor. And it was clear to me that this was no ordinary fall. I could not bear weight and my foot was a huge, purple mess. Fast forward to an X-ray of three avulsion fractures, a mid foot sprain, a boot, and knee scooter and the cross country skiing was now on hold for at least most of this season (I haven't given up hope!). This is not the first time I have been immobile, I have had past injuries that kept me off my feet for several weeks. But this time was very different because our life situation is always different and so it came with some different lessons. 

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Try on a year of gratitude

We make so many New Year’s resolutions and it really is a beautiful thing. It’s a time we put out intentions into the world for ourselves, possibly for the world as a whole. The caveat is to have compassion for the resolutions coming to fruition fully or maybe being tried on and lasting as long as they need to (That’s a more compassionate way to view “failed” resolutions for me.) So here’s another one to try on and trust me, it’s one that takes no extra time, no extra finances. Just your commitment to see the world differently and in the process, you may just find you see a whole new world than the one you were used to.

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Don't go into the new year before doing this gratitude ritual

It's that time of the year. When you hear all the "Best of..." and "Worst of..." lists. When the year gets reviewed ad nauseam and we start talking about our wishes for 2018. Notice how quick we are to move to what we hope for in 2018 and try to "leave behind" whatever we did not like about 2017. It's a natural tendency and I definitely find myself doing that. But I want to share a powerful way to flow into the new year, using gratitude. I literally felt my biochemistry shift within the first few minutes of trying this and want to give full credit to my mentor, Debbie Kaplan, who called me out on not using all my gratitude skills.

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4 ways to shake off those holiday "crazies"

Let's face it. The song may say "the most wonderful time of the year," but the paradox is that many of us are crazed, stressed, sad or anxious. In fact, I think this time of the year is such a paradox, a contrast of the holiday "cheer" outside and the tears, jitteriness and sometimes sheer panic my patients tell me about when alone and vulnerable in the exam room. And it makes sense to me. There's a lot of pressure at this time of the year. To be a certain way. To enjoy yourself at parties, to even throw parties. To shop even if you don't have the money. To pretend you aren't sad about an anniversary of loss around this time or just life itself. So what do you do? 

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Physically step out of your thoughts

Yes, I am serious, physically step out. Let's break this down. Studies show that humans have somewhere between 12-60000 thoughts/day. That's up to 1.44 thoughts/second. I am exhausted thinking about that! (which I just realized, conjured up new thoughts!) 95% of those thoughts are repetitive, from the day before and 80% of those thoughts are negative. That means we are thinking the same negative thoughts over and over! Ok, can you see why you are so tired and possibly feeling down? This is hard work so we need to physically move our bodies in a different direction.

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You will want to be a morning person after this

I am one of those people who would always say, "I am NOT a morning person." No way, no how. Give me a chance to sleep in anytime. I still find my second, third and every wind in the dark hours of the night, it's my time to get going. So when I started to shift my being to a "morning person," I fought it kicking and screaming. But I had no choice. I was a medical resident working all hours. I became a mom with young children. Three children under the age of 5 will pretty much ravage your every dream of sleeping in! And when I do get the chance to sleep, I relish it. But now I even find myself on the mornings I have the choice to sleep a bit, waking very early to meditate, be outside or do yoga...And now I can safely say this whole concept of being or not being a "morning person" is one we need to shed. There are good reasons we all need to embrace the morning. 

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When life feels unfair or cruel, is there really space for gratitude?

I have been thinking about this question so much lately...How the hell can you find gratitude when life feels so heavy? There's heaviness of loss, whether it be a loved one or the onslaught of natural disasters in the world devastating lives in one fell swoop. There's the heaviness of inequity and oppression: racism, genocide, missiles flying indiscriminately, our present political climate... It seems to all be playing out in big ways right now. I and many of my loved ones have had much personal loss this year, the world seems the most divisive it has ever been and there are too many to count instances of injustice throughout the world. Every day, it seems, I find out some new threat to the well being of the most vulnerable. So what do you do? How do you find anything to be grateful for when it feels like life is falling apart?

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