Self Compassion. Moving From Concept to Practice.

Welcome back to part 3 of this Self Compassion Series. If you haven’t been able to read my 2 previous posts I urge you to go back and give them a go prior to diving into this piece. 

One of the main ways we can practice Self Compassion is through our meditation practice. 

Meditation practices that are typically used for cultivating Self Compassion are called Metta Meditation or Loving Kindness Meditation. The goal is to cultivate feelings of loving kindness for ourselves AND others by repeating simple phrases. 

The traditional form of Metta Meditation uses a series of phrases that are repeated to cultivate loving kindness for yourself, for someone you love, for someone that is difficult and lastly for the world as a whole (or ALL beings). 

The world renown teacher Sharon Salzburg is a wonderful resource for all things LovingKindness. After reading her book “Real Love” I embarked on this journey to practice Metta Meditation more consistently. But...

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Self Compassion. Where to Start?

Self Compassion. Where to Start? 

If you were unable to catch my recent post about redefining resilience I suggest you do so. I wholeheartedly stand by my belief that self compassion is really what we need in order to be resilient. 

Easier said than done. 

Self compassion is extremely counterintuitive to modern day society. Especially in sport I’m not sure I have faced an athlete that isn’t their own worst critic. So how do we get started with this so-called self compassion? 

In January of 2019 I committed to spending an entire year dedicating my nightly meditation practice to self compassion. Every single night. It was brutal to start. 

Let’s start by defining what Self Compassion is. Kristen Neff, the pioneer of this work defines Self Compassion as having compassion towards yourself with the three core elements of mindfulness, self kindness and commun humanity. Essentially, we use mindfulness to attune to our emotional experience in a...

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Redefining Resilient

By definition, resilient means: 

  1. A person / animal able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions (adj)
    1. Similar: strong, tough, hardy 
  2. Substance/Object able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed 
    1. Flexible, pliable, supple, elastic 

 

In sport specifically we take this to mean being tough, having grit and being persistent. All good things in order to play competitive sport. These are almost precursors for being able to make it at the elite level. However what I think has happened is that athletes often try to embody this same toughness, grit and strength off the field when navigating all that life throws at them. These qualities along with constantly finding a positive attitude or finding the good in every situation (even when tragedy strikes) is what makes us resilient. This is what gets us through tough stuff, right? 

Wrong. 

Being resilient is less about being tough and more about...

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What is Clinical Social Work?

As I finished yet another year of school this year and look towards my graduation in November of 2022, I thought it would be a good idea to write a piece about Clinical Social Work. 

Several questions and comments I get when I tell people that I am getting a Masters in Clinical Social Work are: 

“What is that?” 

“How does Social Work have anything to do with sport and athletes?” 

“So you’re going to take kids away?” 

“Why didn’t you just do Sport Psychology?” 

These are fair statements and mostly come from a place of simply not knowing. Clinical Social Work is a relatively new field compared to Psychology or even Counseling. There is a large misconception that Social Work is about taking children away from their families and helping the poor while making absolutely no money. 

This is far from the full truth. I believe that society and more specifically the news play a large role in why...

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Self Reflection Practice

What are some of my own Mindfulness practices? 

Over the last few weeks I have done several podcasts and workshops with various groups and this question keeps coming up. At times I hesitate to share because I believe that much of Mindfulness, Meditation, Breath Work and Yoga are about finding what feels authentic and genuine to YOU. What works for me is not going to work or feel good to the next person. Sometimes when we share routines or habits this can breed comparison and feelings of unworthiness. People sitting in the audience don’t have the capacity or time to carry out your specific routine and so they walk away just feeling defeated. 

I don’t want that. 

I am a FULL advocate of finding practices that work FOR YOU and WITH the phase of life that you are in. I guarantee that when I am married and have kids running around, my Mindfulness practice will look monumentally different. 

However one thing that I am a firm believer in is the practice of ...

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Meditation. Where to Begin.

Meditation. 

Where to even begin! 

There are many ways to meditate and many different kinds of meditation. Deciphering where to start with a meditation practice can be difficult. 

I am a huge fan of keeping things simple when you are just getting started with a meditation practice. 

When I start working with athletes I encourage them to use what is called a Concentration meditation. This type of meditation helps us “train” our attention and focus.  When we are practicing a Concentration meditation we use an anchor, such as the feeling of the body or the feeling of the breath. This anchor is the focal point for our attention. The goal here is to notice when we get distracted and then simply return back to our anchor. 

I also encourage my athletes (or anyone who is just getting started with meditation) to start small. Try a Concentration meditation practice for 2-3 minutes. In many ways training the brain is just like training other parts of...

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I Can't Meditate. My Mind Is Too Busy.

Your mind is busy? 

Mine too. Welcome to the club. Meditation is just for you! 

This is something I hear often when I speak about Meditation to both athletes and coaches. 

The human brain is fascinating. Its power and capacity seize to amaze me and it is constantly on the go. We won’t go 3 seconds without “thinking” and this is what makes us human. However for many, this is the reason that they stay away from Meditation. 

 

“I don’t like to be with my own thoughts in stillness.”

“I can’t sit still for very long.” 

“I can’t deal with the quiet.” 

“I get too antsy and I think about everything that I should be doing.” 

“I can’t get my mind to shut off.” 

“My brain just feels all over the place.” 

 

All of these are valid. 

In my opinion, these responses are all the more reason to try meditation. It’s a common...

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Why Mindfulness for an Athlete?

{As seen on and written for https://soccergrlprobs.com }

 

As I continue to navigate through my line of work and teaching Elite Athletes about Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga, I do my best to take the time to explain WHY these practices are so important.  

My response usually starts with a quote: 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. 

In that space is our power to choose our response. 

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

– Viktor Frankl

I found this quote about 2 months after being released from inpatient psychiatric care. At that point, I had spent almost a full year living panic attack to panic attack. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t leave my house most days. I was at a complete loss for how I was supposed to continue to live my life. When I eventually landed in inpatient care I felt like I had truly hit my rock bottom. I weathered that storm and when I made it out alive I made a...

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Perfection. Fuel for the Inner Critic.

Perfect. The dictionary defines Perfect as being without fault or defect. Flawless. 

We live in a world where perfect is the expectation.

I spend most of my time working with collegiate and professional athletes. I also spend a lot of time having conversations with coaches about their teams and athletes. I spend a lot of time watching practice, lift, training, and games. I observe, I listen and I analyze. 

 The language we use in and around our sport is crucial. So is the language we do not use. Language is not just important for how we communicate with other people but it is incredibly important for how we speak to ourselves.  It is a constant dance of both internal and external messaging.

Is the word PERFECT always used or blatantly stated in and around our sport setting?  No. To be honest I don’t hear many players or coaches express needing things to be perfect. Most of the time its the opposite. “We can’t be perfect, I know I...

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3 Things to Strive for as We Continue to Tackle Mental Health in the Elite Athlete Community

Uncategorized Oct 20, 2020

Last week my post was about Mental Health in the elite athlete community. There was a lot to digest.

I'm sure many of you are asking “So where do we go from here?” 

Although that is an incredibly complex issue and one that I don't have a full answer for. However, I have my thoughts.  When I first ask myself this question these 3 things come to mind fairly quickly. 


1) Education and Awareness 

The more we know the better. When we have the information we have the ability to take action.  This is all about EMPOWERING athletes. 

 Athletes should be learning about things like the breath and how this affects one’s nervous system. Athletes should be learning about the brain and what happens when we get emotionally hijacked.  Athletes should be learning about proper sleep hygiene and how this affects the entire mind-body system! 

Athletes should be learning tools and skills to be able to navigate their own minds. 

We...

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