Meditation Workshop on June 16: Detox Your Nervous System

meditation bowl courtney

This is a guest blog post from Courtney Pinkerton, who will lead our meditation workshop on Thursday, June 16 from 7-9 p.m. The theme is “How to Create Your Life-Giving Meditation Practice.”

Register now ($25 in advance, $35 at the door).

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The big aha moment came for me several summers back after hearing a meditation author describe the practice as a “detox for the nervous system.”

ChaChing! Yes, please.

For whatever reason, after years of being a “sensitive” person, I could really hear that description of meditation as an invitation. And something within my reach that I could do to take care of myself.

As we get closer to the workshop, here’s a tip: tune into your desire. The clearer you are on why you want to start or deepen your meditation practice, the stronger your commitment will be as you create this new habit.

My secondary reason for starting a daily practice (which is pretty much one of my core motivations for everything) is that I want to feel good. Happy even. I know that it is not realistic to feel shiny + light in every moment, but I had the sense that I could be way happier way more of the time. This turned out to be true.

In fact, happy has become a sort of base line for me – a shift I credit almost entirely to finding a meditation practice that nourishes me daily. I still fall off the happiness wagon, but meditation helps me reconnect to Source. And voila! The happiness reemerges from its hiding place. (I think it might have been close by all the time, watching me with compassion as I push and struggle.)

One of my favorite meditation teachers, Sharon Salzberg, says that our desire to be happy is rightful and noble. (At least that is what I remember her saying at the workshop. I was blissed out at the time, so this may not be verbatim.)

I love that language.

She also says “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” (Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.)

Which is exactly what meditation trains our brain to do. To place and hold attention.

And of course being happy is never all about you. Your happiness is contagious. It is one of the most direct ways you serve your community.

So whatever you desire — to be happy, to have peace inside your body + mind, to be more present to your family — the more conscious you are of what motivates you, the more you will enjoy playing with these meditation practices. And you will know by the fruit in your life when you discover a meditation routine that is a great fit for you.

Join us for the workshop at Sync Yoga & Wellbeing to Create Your Own Life-Giving Meditation Practice on Thursday June 16th from 7-9 p.m. At the event you’ll also learn about a way to continue honing your meditation throughout the summer.

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Learn more about Sync’s Spring Retreat

Relationship retreat

Are you curious about Sync’s Spring Retreat, scheduled for April 22-23? Here’s some information from Charles about what to expect.

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One of the unavoidable aspects of being is our experience of being in a web of relationships.  And though every person’s web is slightly different, we are all shaped by the dynamics of these relationships.

Sometimes we hold each other up, and sometimes we hold each other back. Wellbeing is not a solitary endeavor. But to be good in relationships, to be a good partner, requires that we do our personal work of developing consciousness.

That doesn’t mean we have to become perfect. All of us have our own quirks and flaws that make us who we are.

 As Shel Silverstein put it,

 “there are no perfect people

were old enough to know

so stay around and love me

and watch the flowers grow.”

The beautiful thing about being in relationship to others is that it provides the most significant and re-current opportunities to discover what is and isn’t working in our nature. This is especially true for long-term intimate relationships.

You don’t have to spend years listening to people to recognize that there are a few issues common to most dysfunctional relationships. Even a casual observer will begin to notice:

  •  Intimacy brings conflict, if for no other reason than the way closeness brings us more in touch with our differences.
  • Defensiveness in the midst of conflict destroys intimacy as we lose our empathy striving to win or defend.
  • Most conflict and most of the ways that we deal with our conflicts are expressions of emotional scripting unique to each person.
  • The more a person understands their own scripts the more they can walk through the moments of conflict mindfully.

There is a path for relationships that is new and evolving. It involves emotional transparency coupled with mindfulness. It is an avenue of great passion, in which conflict serves to create deeper intimacy rather than diminish it.

The key to all of this is a special kind of self-awareness combined with some insights into how we can better communicate. Reading a book on emotional intelligence won’t give you this. Only a thorough exploration of your own emotional dynamics can open the door.

That’s what we’ll be doing in the spring retreat. Will be doing the personal work required to create mindfulness in our relationships.

Sign Up for Sync’s Spring Retreat

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Do you lead with your head, heart or gut?

Here’s a guest blog post from meditation teacher, Courtney Pinkerton, who leads Monday night meditation. Starting Monday, Feb. 8 at 6:45 p.m., we will embark on our February Focus on Mindfulness & Meditation. Will you join us?

Culturally, we tend to value the mind as “the” center of intelligence. Yet there is also an intelligence of the heart (emotional intelligence) and an intelligence of the body (instinct and intuition.)

pink balloon

We each lead with one of these centers of intelligence and underutilize another (this habit or filter for life relates to our personality.)

With conscious attention we can touch and quicken each center and learn to draw in the resources they offer us. Here is a brief case study from my life of how this plays out.

As someone who leads with the heart (and backs that up with a lot of busy thinking!) I need to prioritize practices which ground me in my body, like acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, and physical exercise. They root me and connect me to body wisdom– without which I feel overly vulnerable and untethered — like a heart balloon on a string blown about by the strong gusts of other people’s emotions or preferences.

Often my body’s language is a corrective for my regular habits (which typically orient around getting sh*t done and making sure everyone is feeling good along the way. And most importantly, that they like me!!)

Today, right at this very moment my body is saying: “Stop typing. You are hungry from headstands this morning. Go eat lunch.”

So I will tend to that directive soon.

Body wisdom is also teaching me to set firmer boundaries in leadership roles—especially around people who normally would drain my energy. In these moments my body says, and I quote: “You can work with challenging people… but you don’t have to be a gooey gummy bear while you do it! Feel the ground beneath your feet and draw strength from a deeper source.” I can also draw from my head center and be strategic about when and how I communicate rather than rushing in relationally and hoping we can all just work it out as friends.

Now each of us is on an individual journey. And those with personalities that typically lead with the head or body will find different practices will help bring about more interior balance among the three centers, such as getting in touch with the tenderness and vulnerability of their hearts, or consulting their mental center to get clarity on next steps.

We often have so many more inner resources than we realize because it requires us to lean out of habitual patterns (and neural pathways) to even realize they are there!

Do you lead with your head, heart or gut?

Can you close your eyes and tune in to the other two centers?

It is a wonderful practice to simply get curious about what might they have to teach you. And if you would like to learn more about your three centers of intelligence and how to draw from them to boost your resiliency in the face of challenges, join me Monday nights in February for a special meditation series at Sync:

Feb 8 Week one: body/intuition.

Feb 15 Week two: heart/relational knowing.

Feb 22 Week three: head/clarity.

Feb 29 Week 4: bringing it all together/resilience.

Warmly, Courtney Pinkerton

PS Not sure your dominant center of intelligence or Enneagram personality? Join us for a special Enneagram workshop on Thursday March 3, 7-9PM . If you attend 4 or more meditation classes in February you get to bring a friend for free!

courtney pic

About Courtney
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney regularly teaches on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached through her website:www.courtneypinkerton.com.

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Feel the Love at Sync this Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air this month, and Sync invites you to choose love by joining us at the studio for one of these special offerings.

 

chakra 4 workshop (256x320) (2)

Saturday Feb. 13, 1-3 p.m. Chakra Workshop with Julie
The location of the fourth chakra is the heart. The heart center is the point of integration between the upper and lower chakras, where we balance compassion for self and in relationships. In this workshop we will explore love, devotion and equilibrium. Cost is $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Register now.

heart meditation

Sunday Feb. 14, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Open-Heart Guided Meditation with Kirsten
As part of our February Focus on mindfulness and meditation, Kirsten will lead us through a love/heart-inspired meditation on Valentine’s Day. Come alone or with your Valentine, and feel the love! Cost is $15 for a drop-in or can be purchased with a class pack or unlimited yoga membership

couples massage3

Sunday Feb. 14 (various times) Couples Massage with Joel, Celeste and/or Elizabeth
For the first time ever, Sync is offering couples massage at the studio (simultaneous massages in the same room). There are various (but limited!) appointment times available. Contact Jen at jen@syncdallas.com to reserve your spot! Cost is $150/couple (tips not included).

couples massage

Saturday Feb. 20, 1-3 p.m. Couples Massage Group Workshop with Celeste & Nic
Learn and practice massage for scalp, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and feet.  You will also learn how essential oils and other touches can create a relaxed space for you and your partner. Invest in your relationship by opening your heart and hands to the power of touch. Cost is $100 per couple. Sign up now.

 

 

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Join us for Sync’s February Focus

In February, our special focus is on mindfulness and meditation. There are six guided meditation options to help support you throughout the month.

now tomorrow yesterday_Feb Focus

 

  • Mondays, 6:45-7:45 p.m. (starting Feb. 8) 
    If you’ve hit the wall with your New Year’s resolutions, or if you want to change in a certain area of life but are tripping over familiar obstacles again and again: the Enneagram (a tool for self-knowledge) can help free you from these patterns. Integrating our head, heart and body centers we are more resilient in the face of challenges and more able to lean into the changes we desire.
  • Sunday Feb. 14 – 12:30-1:30 p.m.
    Open-heart guided meditation with Kirsten. Cost is $15 for a drop-in, or pay with your class pass or unlimited membership.
  • Thursday Feb. 18 – 6:30-7:30 p.m.
    Guided meditation with Charles. Cost is $15 to drop-in, and it can be purchased with a class pack or unlimited membership.

For those who want to participate in the February Focus, we will provide a way for you to track your progress in-studio (keep an eye out for more on that!). Attend at least four of out the six February Focus offerings and you can bring a friend for free to the March 3rd Enneagram Workshop with Courtney.

  • Thursday, March 3 – 7-9 p.m. Enneagram Workshop with Courtney
    Dive deeper into the Enneagram with this two-hour workshop led by Courtney. The Enneagram is an ancient map of the human experience which identifies nine personality types (three types lead with “heart,” three types lead with “head” and three types lead with “gut” or intuitive knowledge). Learn how to become aware of your personality habits to reconnect to the freedom + choice which is ours in each moment. The Enneagram is a uniquely powerful tool to fast track inner growth and awareness! Cost is $35 in advance, $45 at the door.

Learn more about Sync Yoga & Wellbeing.

 

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How to Cope with Blue Monday

Did you know that the third Monday of January (Jan. 18 this year) is typically referred to as “Blue Monday?” It’s dubbed the “saddest day of the year” because of weather, holiday bills and waning willpower for New Year’s resolutions.

Here are some thoughts from Sync’s Charles Gaby, MA, LPC, about why this happens and what we can do to work through it.

January Blues

There may be many reasons why so many people hit the middle of January with the blues. In my counseling practice I focus on change to the aspects of life we call “second nature.” These are the multitude of somewhat automated patterns that make up the majority of our decisions and interactions.

Iʼm not just talking about the mindless way you brush your teeth or start your car. The second nature habits that really count have to do with the unconscious and habituated ways we learn to manage emotion.

I am a counselor, not a neurobiologist. But I have studied much of the literature on the neurobiology of emotion, and I even served as president of the Tomkins Institute for a few years. That nonprofit promotes awareness, understanding, and personal and professional applications of Silvan Tomkins’ Human Being Theory of affect and emotional intelligence.

positive negative

What I learned from the field is that most of our issues emerge from conflicted scripts (or patterns) that we hold for managing/regulating both positive and negative feelings. Example: Letʼs say that for years I use alcohol, food or buying things to sedate my feelings of fear, distress or embarrassment. Then New Year’s comes around, and I feel shame about one of these. So I try to stop. The lifespan of a New Year’s resolution based on willpower is usually about a week – maybe two.

The problem is that I have given up the very tool I used to use to escape the negative feelings. Pretty soon those feelings are back, but I havenʼt developed a new pattern or script to manage them. What is worse – we seldom recognize the patterns of our emotional regulation because the operate as “second nature” to us… going on beneath the surface of our thoughts, unquestioned.

thinking-positive

Patterns that we use to hide or escape negative feelings can also become our main focus. This can set us up to not be following or enhancing good feelings. So even if we do manage to stop the behaviors and find new ways to manage the negative feelings, do we have the scripts within us to feel better anyway?

The good news is this:  We can change our scripts with consciousness, creativity and commitment to a new practice. But real change only happens when we impact our automated and habituated second nature.

You can begin by just listening to the longing that happens when you are tempted. Tune into the feeling and see if instead of escaping it, you might be able to embrace it.

emotions quote

Feelings come and go; let it be. Then see if you can turn your focus to what you want to create in your life. See it and celebrate it in your thoughts. Practice these patterns every day until they become second nature!

Charles

Charles Gaby, MA, LPC is a counselor in private practice. He is also the Training Director for The Institute for Restorative Communities and co-owner of Sync Yoga & Wellbeing. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, send email to Charles@syncdallas.com.

 

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Greg Hardy & Jason Garrett Provide Teachable Moment

From Sync’s Director of Wellbeing, Charles Gaby…

Greg Hardy’s angry outburst at the end of the Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday, and Coach Jason Garrett’s post game comments about it have been the subject of talk radio ever since.

Greg Hardy

Courtesy of ESPN

There are plenty of people criticizing Hardy for a lack of emotional maturity, while others label Garrett as an “enabler” for going easy on him. I won’t replay the exchanges here. There are plenty of people telling the story. But there is something being overlooked and it is extremely important.

Garrett is smart. He knows he needs players who are emotional and passionate. He says he just wants them to channel that emotion.

But I surmise that this is exactly what Hardy is doing. He is channeling his emotions, and here is the kicker. The emotion he is channeling isn’t anger. Hardy, like many men, has learned to channel his embarrassment with the use of anger.

What you see in the video is the same kind of behavior many men exhibit when they feel humiliated and can’t deal with it. This is an emotional dynamic not limited to football.

Athletes often have emotional scripts that channel shame or fear of shame into anger. And when anger is summoned up to serve as an avoidance of humiliation it is like anger on steroids. It is shameless anger.

This same emotional script is at the heart of domestic abuse and almost all domestic violence. The triggering dynamic may be loss of control, rejection or failure. But these don’t trigger anger directly. They actually trigger humiliation which is innate to all of us (you don’t have to teach a baby to blush).

But from early in a child’s life he or she may learn that humiliation is overwhelming to their self image and begin to defend against the feeling of shame by turning the tables and attacking those who they see as having triggered their embarrassment.

As my mentor Dr. Donald Nathanson would say, “we cannot avoid moments of shame/humiliation, we have to embrace them and learn.” Nathanson, a psychiatrist who spent much of his career studying the humiliation response, calls this the “Attack Other” script in his book Shame and Pride.

It is from his lifelong study that we can recognize and transform the destructive ways that we have learned manage emotions. And once exposed to this landmark work, most clinicians begin to see that violent people don’t just have anger issues – they have anger issues because anger is the way they are desperately trying to escape shame.

This is not a lesson just for pro football. It is consequential in every arena of human interaction.

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