Mindfulness Northwest News

The latest news on Mindfulness Northwest developments. You can keep in touch with us further by signing up for our email newsletters on the Contact page.

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  • 15 Dec 2017 8:44 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    At Mindfulness Northwest, we offer sliding-scale fees for all of our classes, workshops and retreats to keep them as financially accessible as possible.

    But the reality is that we receive requests for every event from people where the very source of their suffering is also the cause of their inability to cover even the low end of our sliding scale: traumatic stress, abusive relationships, debilitating medical conditions.

    People paying a the high end of our sliding scale cover the people who need to register at the low end. But for the people in real need, we dip into our Scholarship Fund. Thanks to your generosity in the past we very rarely have had to say no to someone in need. 

    Please help us continue to help those who are still suffering by making a donation to our Scholarship Fund. Thank you!

  • 15 Dec 2017 8:42 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    From the Mid-Month Update


    I've been focused on a meditation tool called Noting (aka Labeling) for the last couple of weeks, and have come to like it a lot.

    Here's a definition of Noting from Stephen Levine: "Noting is a silent acknowledgment in the heart of what is occurring in the mind…without the least intention to interfere." So noting is a tool that supports the very basic mindfulness goal of learning how our minds work. And it is often used in conjunction with concentration practices like Awareness of Breath.

    It works like this: when your mind wanders from the object of meditation, note, not just the fact of wandering, but where the wandering has taken you.  Then give that place a label.

    This label can be simple: "thinking" or "strong sensation" or "strong emotion." As you develop this practice, your labeling can become more refined: "reliving the past" or "planning the future" or "escaping" or "obsessing about X".

    After a while of doing this on the cushion, I found it showing up in real life as well. One day I noticed that I had wandered off in my thoughts several times creating future scenarios where I was interacting with a friend, co-worker, etc. and psychoanalyzing them, with the charitable purpose of being able to "help" them live better lives.

    Hmm, I thought, how much of my mental energy is tied up in these fantasies anyway? So I resolved that every time I caught myself in one, I'd give it the label "Opinion-ing" and  return to the present. I would be too embarrassed to tell you the number of times that label got used. In the next hour.

    After watching the cumulative notings-per-minute count climb through the roof, I experienced a clear perception that almost all of those dialogues never left my head, and when they did come out of my mouth, it rarely ended well. I realized that having all those opinions of people did no one any good, certainly not me. It was a seismic mind-shift,  like a great cloud had left my brain leaving me feel much freer and less weighted down with my own thinking. Not that I'm free of gratuitous judgments. But less after that. And even lesser now :-)


    PS: See the Practice Lab below for a link to the great (and short!) article by Stephen Levine, and a couple of Noting/Labeling meditations you can try.


  • 25 Nov 2017 11:49 AM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Our talks from the Roots of Mindfulness Retreat in October 2017 are now online. Recordings and teachers' notes are available.

    Teaching on Beginner's Mind and the Foundational Attitudes of Mindfulness


  • 02 Nov 2017 9:01 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    November 2017 Practice Letter

    See "Practice Resources" section at end

    Dear Friends,

    One of the most powerful ideas I've learned from mindfulness and compassion training over these last years has been really helpful to me lately: it's the idea of "holding opposites."

    The idea here is that our minds are strongly conditioned to divide things into two opposite possibilities and decide that one of the two is the correct option. It's good or it's bad. I like it or I don't. It's black or it's white. Conservative or Liberal.

    It's hard for us to accept that both options often have validity. That both can be "right."

    Hard but not impossible: our minds can actually deeply accept and allow apparent opposites to exist. We can develop a mind that's more inclusive and flexible and this can really help us to be present for the joys and sorrows of life. We can learn to hold opposites. Things can be both good and bad. Black and white. Happy and sad.

    This holding opposites is a key support for what I'm now thinking of as the three key qualities for practicing mindfulness and compassion: willingness, honesty and kindness. If we're willing to be truly honest and look within we may be surprised to find that we are full of opposites. And allowing them to all be true is a great act of kindness and acceptance.

    Take ourselves for example.

    On the one hand: we have it together. We're competent, skilled and whole. We're a good person. Of course we also have an inner critic who's primed to argue with us about our good qualities, but we're basically doing fine. We're smart and strong and kind. People are glad to see us. Many depend on us and we are worthy of their trust.

    And on the other hand, we're not. We're confused. We're self-centered. We have trouble getting up in the morning sometimes. Life is baffling and complex. We are full of self-doubt. Maybe we're deeply a fraud after all. We are, all of us, suffering in deep ways. We have our fears and doubts. Life is tough and we're not sure, really, if anything's going to work out.

    Could it really be that both are true? We are doing fine AND we're a mess? That both can be the case?

    And then there's the world. 

    I don't know for sure if the world is better or worse than it once was, but lately I and so very many people I meet are worried about the world. It seems to be broiling in chaos (and by the way, there are also studies suggesting that on the whole the world has less poverty and less violence than it ever has... holding opposites).

    I'm thinking here of our world in the wake of yet another terrorist-style attack on innocent people just going about their lives. How is it even possible that someone could rent the truck from Home Depot that's for driving your lumber for your home repair project home and instead of doing that, go ram into people riding their bikes on a nice Fall day? Kill people. Maim people. Ruin lives. How is this possible? 

    Our minds want to avoid thinking about this. This is natural. It's such a horrible thing. I avoided this latest news for a while but then read up on it. I was deeply saddened to learn that five of those killed were a half of a group of guys visiting New York City from Argentina for their 30th High School Reunion. There was a picture of them in the airport back home smiling and vital. They look like such nice people. Kind and warm. Happy to be together. Maybe proud of themselves for pulling off the feat of getting together after all these years to go on a big trip. What fun! Then I was aware of their friendship and commitment to each other and a vast wave of sadness washed over me. A group deeply wracked by tragedy. Half of the group dead. Five families grieving and circle upon circle of friends and colleagues and acquaintances and children and parents and cousins plunged into mourning and loss.

    And yet

    How is this possible in a world that also has the purity of babies in it? Beautiful sunsets? How can that co-exist with meeting the kind stranger I ran into on the trail on Chuckanut Mountain during a lovely hike on Tuesday?  

    The mind searches hard for an explanation. Perhaps we can wall off the horrible things in a mental box we call "evil" or "mental illness" or "terrorism." But what do any of these designations really mean? And can they really hold the horrific and protect us from it?

    Our minds so want things to be only one way. We want to be happy and not suffer. And when there's great suffering we think it impossible that there could be happiness. 

    This too

    But somehow we can learn to mourn deeply and feel the pain of great loss and be moved by the deep suffering and confusion and be curious about it's causes and roots. And still be able to nurture our goodness as people and as a species. To be mindful is to accept what is. Here it is. To be compassionate is to meet it with kindness even when we can't make sense of it all. To still be hopeful. 

    May those lost in this and the many other attacks and acts of violence - so many lately it seems - somehow find peace and may those who love and care for them have the strength and fortitude they need to not fall into despair. May we all practice opening our minds to the complexity of holding the opposites in a world that is both wonderful and terrible. 

    And little by little, may we nurture the good.


    Tim Burnett,  Executive Director

    Someone you know looking to get started with mindfulness?

    Our new Getting Started with Mindfulness and Compassion class makes it easy: three classes plus an online retreat. 

    Class 1: Core practices
    Class 2: Mindfulness
    Class 3: Compassion

    Online Retreat - putting them all together

    Bellingham starts 1/15Kirkland starts 2/5

    Seattle starts 3/6

    Or a one-hour intro: 

    In Bellingham at Village Books. FREE

    Mindful Holidays: 12/6 Noon. Tim Burnett

    Mindful Resolutions: 1/6 3-4pm. Joe Arellano

    Mindfulness in the New Year1/16 Noon. Tim Burnett

    Short retreats coming soon

    Retreat practice is so important and so powerful. Immersing ourselves in the practice and taking a true break from our busy routines is transformational.

    Day of Mindfulness  (Seattle) - November 4

    Day of Gratitude
    "What if each morning we could put on a set of glasses to help us view the details of our day through a lens of wonder?"
    Bellevue - January 13

    Free drop-in classes:

    Free drop-in classes led by our Mindfulness Teacher Training Program students will be starting February 1st in Bellingham.

    Classes will include guided practices and will be suitable for beginners and experienced meditators alike.

    It's free, but please do register so we have an idea of how many are coming, and what your background is.

    Drop-In Class. Bellingham. Thursday evenings, 6:30-8pm

    Come Together, Mindfully

    Sing to the tune of the Beatles' "Come together"

    wear no shoe shine

    She got
    Earth-dyed garment

    She got
    mudra finger

    She send
    loving kindness

    She say, I'm in you, you're in me

    One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

    Come together, right now,

    Modified lyrics from Deer Park Monastery. 

    Mindfulness in the Rain Forest

    A 7-Day silent retreat on a nature preserve in Costa Rica

    Saturday May 26th to Saturday June 2nd, 2018
    $200 early bird discount until December 1st

    For more information and to register: Costa Rica? I'm in!

    Winter Schedule

    New on our website: one page access to all classes, workshops and retreats for the coming quarter!

    Winter Schedule

     Seattle Area (and Everett)

     Bellingham Area

    Day of Mindfulness Retreat. Seattle, Saturday, November 4th, 9am-4pm

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals. For UW-affiliated clinicians, family and staff. Seattle, Sunday evenings, 1/7 - 2/11

    A Day of Gratitude. St. Mary-on-the-Lake (Bellevue). Saturday 1/13, 9am - 4pm

    Meeting Mindfulness Workshop. Seattle, Thursday 1/18, 6-8:30pm

    Mindful Self-Compassion. Seattle, Monday evenings, 1/22 - 3/12

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes:
        Everett, Tuesday evenings, 1/23 - 3/13
        Seattle, Wednesdays mid-day, 1/24 - 3/14
        Kirkland, Wednesday evenings, 1/24 - 3/14
        Seattle, Thursday evenings, 1/25 - 3/15

    Getting Started with Mindfulness and Compassion classes:

        Kirkland, Wednesday evenings, 2/5 - 2/19        Seattle, Tuesday Evenings, 3/6 - 3/20 

    Day of Mindfulness Retreat. Seattle, Saturday March 3, 9am - 4pm

    Day of Mindfulness Retreat. Woodinville, Saturday March 10, 9am - 4pm

    Getting Started. Monday evenings, 1/15 - 1/29

    NEW! Free Drop-in classThursday evenings (led by MNW teachers-in-training), 2/1 - 3/29

    Mindful Self-Compassion. Thursday mornings, 2/1 - 3/29

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Sunday evenings, 2/4 - 3/25

    Day of Mindfulness Retreat. Semiahmoo. Saturday 3/24, 10am - 4pm

    Longer Residential Retreats

    Spring Weekend Mindfulness Retreat
    A weekend retreat. April 6-8, 2018.

    Roots of Mindfulness 5-day Retreat in Pennsylvania
    A 5-day retreat May 4-9, 2018

    Exploring Indra's Net

    Rainforest Retreat
    7 days of practice in the Costa Rican rainforest.
    May 26 - June 2, 2018.

    Mindful Self Compassion Summer Intensive

    Mindful Self-Compassion 5-day Training Intensive (Seattle area) August 5-10, 2018
    Transportation from SeaTac available.

    Practice Resources - Informal Practices

    So called "informal practices" are often overlooked by practitioners, but research has shown that they can have a powerful effect on both the practitioner and the people around them. Here's a link to a page on our website that describes four of them: Two Feet and a Breath, R.A.I.N., STOP, and a 3-minute mindfulness of breathing practice:

    Informal Practices

    Try one now:

    Take a quick scan of how you're doing: body, mind, mood.

    Then place your feet flat on the floor, feeling into the solid connection between them and the ground. Take a slow breath in. And a slow exhale out.

    Now how are you doing?

    That's it - the Two Feet and a Breath practice :-)

  • 09 Oct 2017 1:40 PM | Ed Wayt (Administrator)

    Dear Friends,

    I was deeply moved the other evening to watch the new documentary film The Last Dalai Lama? about the Dalai Lama's life and practice in light of the tragic story of the occupation of Tibet by China and the diaspora of Tibetans living in exile in India and around the world.

    This is something I've often thought about having met several Tibetan Lamas and read their stories. Although far from a perfect culture or religion, Tibetan Buddhism has a strong emphasis on the cultivation of compassion.

    When asked towards the end of the film if HH the Dalai Lama is angry with the Chinese for the invasion and repression of the Tibetan people, he chuckled a little and said, "sometimes a little bit!" holding his fingers in the universal pincer motion. And then he explained that every morning during his 4-5 hours of daily practice he practices taking in the suffering and anger of the Chinese leaders and the suffering of the Chinese soldiers ordered to carry out repressive policies. He practices breathing in that suffering and pain and breathing out compassion and kindness.

    Whether that had changed Chinese hearts and minds or not he said, "I don't know, but it has helped me. Helped me very much."

    This is an impressive practice of compassion and forgiveness. And a powerful example of how we can stabilize the mind and orient it towards compassion even in the fact of great stress and difficulty. I felt this all the more keenly after I went home and read (in the amazing graphic novel of the Dalai Lama's life Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet) some of the context from the invasion of Tibet. It was powerful to learn more about the violent and difficult context in which he's been doing this practice for 60 years. In 1959, the year he fled Tibet and China assumed full control, at least 80,000 Tibetans were massacred by the  Chinese military. Atrocities such as shelling buildings full of civilians are well documented, and things continue to be extremely difficult for Tibetans living under occupation conditions.

    We may not have such a difficult background in our minds. But every person has known trauma and difficulty. The mind can be completely overwhelmed by the traumas and difficulties of life. Our stress and fear systems can "hijack" our minds. Or, with practice it seems, the mind can remain open, flexible, and kind - even in the face of great adversity.

    It made me think about how mindfulness and compassion practices support each other and made me all the more grateful to be involved in this work. And watching this film motivated me to focus my attention more carefully and think about how we can increase compassion and mindfulness in ourselves and our society. Surely if HH the Dalai Lama can practice in this way, even if we don't have  a monastic education and the support to practice for hours per day, we can all become more mindful and compassionate. 

    Our practice of mindfulness stabilizes our attention in several ways. It especially gives us more access to the "meta-awareness" that we often celebrate with a quotation from Jewish psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl:

    In between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

    With the practice of mindfulness - that repeated training in present-centered, open, non-judgmental attention - we can feel this space and have more of a mindful choice, from moment to moment, in how we respond to the difficulties and the joys of this life.

    How we respond once we feel that space is where practices of loving-kindness and compassion come in. Recent studies have shown that even a relatively small amount of compassion meditation can warm up our natural human ability to be kind, open, and compassionate. Studies reported in the wonderful new book Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson suggest that, "compassion meditation enhances empathetic concern, activates brain circuits for good feelings and love, as well as circuits that register the suffering of others, and prepares a person to act when suffering is encountered." They go on to say that, "loving-kindness acts quickly: in as little as eight hours of practice [there is a significant effect]; reductions in usually intractable unconscious bias emerge after just sixteen hours [of meditation training]." Not only does our conscious awareness become kinder and more compassionate, even our unconscious biased responses to others become more loving and less biased.

    I'm pleased that Mindfulness Northwest can contribute to the conversation around mindfulness and compassion by offering both the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and the Mindful Self-Compassion classes in Bellingham and Seattle as well as retreats and other workshops. And there are also other excellent local groups, teachers, and practice places. Just reading and thinking about mindfulness and compassion isn't enough in a world with so much suffering. As we send this newsletter out we're reeling in the face of yet another mass shooting. May we all find time and space to train our minds and hearts and make this world at least a little wiser and kinder in whatever ways we can. May you and all beings be happy and free from suffering,
    Tim Burnett,  Executive Director
    More information on MBSR: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

    More information on MSC: Mindful Self-Compassion

    Roots of Mindfulness Retreat

    Roots of Mindfulness. October 15 - October 22. In Skagit County.

    2017 Theme: Beginner's Mind.

    This retreat will be a deep exploration of the roots of mindfulness practice both experientially and through a series of talks on Buddhist teachings and connected ideas from philosophy, poetry, and the sciences.

    This year we will focus on the teachings of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, author of the classic book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, who coined the term "beginner's mind."

    All that in a tranquil setting, with great accommodations and excellent food!


    These day-long retreats will be led by Mindfulness Northwest senior teachers who will guide us in a sequence of meditation and mindfulness practices including: sitting meditation, the body scan, walking meditation (indoors and out!), gentle mindful yoga, and contemplative practices like the loving-kindness meditation.

    These retreats are designed especially for those who have taken Mindfulness Northwest classes. A day to gather, see old friends, and reinvigorate our practice together. Others with teacher-led meditation experience or a background in contemplative practice are invited to join as well. If you are totally new to meditation this day may be a challenge but you're welcome to inquire; and, for some, "jumping in" is a great way to start.

    Day of Mindfulness (Woodinville)
    October 28

    A silent day of continuous practice in Woodinville at the beautiful 
    Brightwater Environmental Education and Community Center. This new facility, situated on the edge of a hill with spacious views across the valley, is located roughly 20-25 minutes from Bellevue.


    Day of Mindfulness (Seattle)
    November 4

    A silent day of continuous practice inside the historic Good Shepherd Center with options for walking meditation and lunch break time outside on the beautiful grounds.

    Good Sheppard

    Day of Mindfulness (Bellingham)
    November 5

    A silent day of continuous practice in the beautiful Red Cedar Dharma Hall near the heart of Bellingham.

    Red Cedar Dharma Hall

    For Healthcare Providers

    EverettMindfulness for Healthcare Providers. Wednesday evenings 10/11 - 11/15. Open to all healthcare providers.

    Mindfulness in Costa Rica!

    Join us for a full week-long silent retreat of ecological immersion with mindfulness and compassion practices, nature exploration, and the Buddhist roots of these practices in the Costa Rican rainforest. 

    More information and to register: CLICK HERE

    Copyright © 2017 Mindfulness Northwest. All rights reserved.

  • 14 Sep 2017 10:59 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    At our 5-day silent retreat, The Roots of Compassion, in August, Tim spoke about the Tibetan mind training system known as "lojong" which features a powerful orientation towards life and compassion. A set of 7 key points and 59 training slogans help practitioners to take radical responsibility for themselves and open to compassion in a deep and sustainable way.

    The listen to Tim's talks on these teachings, or read his lecture notes, please follow this link: Lojong Mind Training

  • 10 Aug 2017 1:00 PM | Ed Wayt (Administrator)

    Whenever two or more of us...

    Dear Friends,

    No matter what our religious and spiritual beliefs and inclinations (including the inclination against anything called religion or spirituality) there is something deep for us humans around being together with others with a shared intention.

    Last night in the final class of a 5-week series for medical providers one of the participants noted something important. She said, "Even though we've only talked to each other a little, I feel so supported by everyone here. It's like we've done something together that's bigger than I could have done on my own."

    There's a kind of "special power" to being in a group of people with a shared intention, isn't there? This is something that I am regularly amazed by and just as regularly forget all about.

    As I packed up the car to go teach that class, for example, I was feeling uneasy. I felt unprepared and uncertain. I knew this wasn't particularly rational - I've taught this class many times and it always seems to go fine - and yet there was that feeling. So I tried to be mindful that there was an uneasy feeling here but I didn't have to get too worried about it. Uncomfortable to be sure, but it need not be debilitating.

    When the participant offered that reflection on the power of our shared experience together I realized that the root of my dis-ease was that old persistent idea that it's all on me. That I alone have to make the class happen. I was forgetting that it was a group enterprise supported by everyone who came.

    In a very different context just the day before I'd had a similar experience. Twenty-four members of my family were gathered on a boat off the coast of San Diego. We were there to scatter the ashes of my beloved grandmother, Fran, a central figure in that branch of the family for decades.

    Because of my background as a Zen Buddhist priest (an unlikely thing to me, even now) the family had invited me to officiate and organize a set of celebrations, remembrances and, finally, the moment of letting go and saying goodbye.

    I've performed many rituals with many different groups in the overtly religious mode of Zen Buddhism with my robes on, inhabiting that role, and also simple rituals in the guise of a mindfulness teacher - standing in a circle to appreciate each other or a moment at the end of a class or a retreat for example.

    And this seemed, on the face of it, different. I was there both as a member of the family, and a mourner, and a leader. And I'd never officiated at a burial at sea before. The captain of the boat - they do this regularly for families - asked me some helpful questions about how long I would speak, who would scatter the ashes and so on which gave me some clue and her obvious respect and caring helped me relax. I didn't have a clear plan beyond a poem in mind to share with the family.

    As we were bobbing in the slight swell off Point Loma, I realized that simple was the way forward. We gathered on the wide bow of the boat and I shared a poem on the mystery of death and life (see below) and then we went quietly to the stern. There, Fran's children and grandchildren in turn went down to the water's edge to release the ashes.

    The crew had guided me in preparing the ashes for release. We covered each basket with rose petals. This made for an amazing visual: the ashes sinking into the depths and the rose petals floating on the surface. By the end the wind and waves had somehow arranged the floating petals all around the boat. We stood in silence together - no need for me to be the "officiant" and suggest this - and watched the petals floating as the captain rang the ship's bell. It was a moment together. A moment with shared intention - although it might be each of us would have used different words to describe that moment - and yet it was not a separate moment for each of us, but a shared moment.

    Motoring back to the harbor with the wind in our faces somehow Fran's spirit or memory or maybe just the feeling emerging from that rich moment in time was deeply with us.

    May we all remember the importance of sharing moments with others. Whether they are dear (and at times complicated) family members, or colleagues, or just other human beings we've never met before, there is always something so important about these gatherings. And every meeting can be such a gathering whether it seems extraordinary, like releasing cremated remains at sea, or ordinary, like a staff meeting. Every moment we are meeting. And the meeting can open us to a bigger vision of what this is.

    Wishing us all happiness and peace,


    Tim Burnett,  Executive Director 

    Someone you know looking to get started with mindfulness?

    Our new Getting Started with Mindfulness and Compassion class makes it easy: three classes plus an online retreat. 
    Class 1: Core practices
    Class 2: Mindfulness
    Class 3: Compassion

    Bellingham starts 9/11

    Seattle starts 9/13

    Or try a workshop: 

    Meeting Mindfulness is a 2 1/2 - 3 hour hands-onoverview:

    Bellingham on 9/9

    Seattle on 9/7

    Or try deeper dive:

    Taking the Path of Mindfulness is a six-class intensive that will help you build a deep and meaningful practice:

    Bellingham starts 10/12

    Have time for our 8-week gold-standard classes?

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction - available in Seattle, Bellingham, Kirkland, and Everett

    Mindful Self-Compassion - available in Seattle and Bellingham

    Retreats ahead

    Retreat practice is so important and so powerful. Immersing ourselves in the practice and taking a true break for our busy routines is transformational.

    Roots of Compassion 5-day Retreat 2017 - August 27 - September 1

    Join us for a deep look at the Buddhist roots of our compas-sion practice. On tranquil Samish Island, a mostly silent retreat with meditations, talks, walks and personal time to let it all sink in.

    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Teacher Training Discernment Retreat (Samish Island) - September 1-4
    Thinking of taking the Mindfulness Teacher Training Program next year? Join this year's cohort in their first weekend together to see what the program is like! 

    Plan Ahead!

    Roots of Mindfulness 7-day Retreat 2017 October 15-22
    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Day of Mindfulness(Bellevue) - October 28

    Day of Mindfulness  (Seattle) - November 4

    Day of Mindfulness  (Bellingham) - November 5

    Mary Oliver - When Death Comes

    When death comes
    like the hungry bear in autumn,
    when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
    to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

    when death comes
    like the measle-pox;
    when death comes
    like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

    I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
    what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
    And therefore I look upon everything
    as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

    and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
    and I consider eternity as another possibility,
    and I think of each life as a flower, as common
    as a field daisy, and as singular,

    and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
    tending, as all music does, toward silence,
    and each body a lion of courage, and something
    precious to the earth.

    When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
    I was a bride married to amazement.
    I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
    When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

    if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
    I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
    or full of argument.
    I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

    Roots of Compassion Retreat

    Samish Island retreat: Roots of Compassion. August 27 - September 1.

    Deepen your heart's capacity for compassion during a 5-night mostly silent retreat at a beautiful site on Samish Island. We'll explore deeply the Buddhist roots of our modern compassion practices through gently guided meditations and a series of talks, seasoned with insights from philosophy, poetry, and the sciences.

    All that in  a tranquil setting, with great accommodations and excellent food! 

    SeaTac Airport Shuttle available!

    Fall Class Schedule

    Information on these classes and retreats can be found on our site:
    Mindfulness Northwest Events

     Seattle Area Classes

     Bellingham Area Classes

    NEW! Workshop: Meeting Mindfulness. Seattle. September 7, 6:30-8:30pm

    Mindful Self-Compassion for Healthcare Professionals (UW staff/family). Sunday evenings September 10 - November 12.

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals  (SCCA). Tuesday evenings, September 12 - October 3.

    New intro class!
     Getting Started with Mindfulness and Compassion. Seattle. Wednesday evenings, September 13 - September 27.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Seattle. Mondays mid-day, September 18 - November 13.

    NEW IN EVERETT! Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Everett. Tuesday evenings. September 19 - November 14

    Mindfulness-Based Stress ReductionKirkland. Wednesday mid-day, September 20 - November 15.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Kirkland. Wednesday evenings, September 20 - November 15.

    NEW IN SEATTLE! Mindful Self-Compassion. Seattle. Thursday evenings, September 21 - November 16.

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals. The Everett Clinic (open to all). Wednesday evenings, October 11 - November 15
    Noontime Mindfulness. At Village Books. September 6th at noon. FREE.

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Providers. Thursday evenings, September 7 - October 12.

    NEW! Workshop: Meeting Mindfulness. Saturday, September 9th, 2-5pm

    New intro class! Getting Started with Mindfulness and Compassion. Monday evenings, September 11 - September 25.

    Re-scheduled: Workshop: Tending Relationships with a Mindful Heart.September 16th, 1-4pm

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Thursday mornings, September 21 - November 16.

    NEW! Mindful Self-Compassion for Healing Professionals. Friday mornings, September 22 - November 17. Provides CEUs.

    Taking the Path of Mindfulness. Thursday Evenings, October 12 - November 16
    Copyright © 2017 Mindfulness Northwest (poem, When Death Comes, copyright Mary Oliver). All rights reserved.

  • 03 Jul 2017 1:07 PM | Ed Wayt (Administrator)

    Practice in Real Life

    Dear Friends,

    Research on how mindfulness helps us cope keeps appearing. There are now entire scientific journals on mindfulness!

    A recent study I found particularly clear and interesting is a study out of Australia (summary article here).

    In that study they looked at how people cope with stressful situations. People who've developed a more present-centered attitude of "present-centered awareness" - that just being present with what is now and not dwelling so much in the future or the past - did better under pressure in three ways, which they termed: (1) coping self-efficacy, (2) values-based coping, and (3) less avoidance coping.

    Coping self-efficacy: First, the more mindful folks in the study had more confidence in themselves under stress.  They were likely to feel like they have the resources and ability to deal with the difficult situation.  

    How does mindfulness help with coping self-efficacy? With mindfulness, and this does imply being willing to really feel our feelings of discomfort and anxiety during stressful times, we are better able to weather the storm, to rise to the challenge, and to release from regrets and the extra fears and catastrophizing the mind can so easily add. And the humility and self-awareness mindfulness facilitates also means we're more likely to seek support and ask for help under stress. Both of these factors (seeing stress as a challenge not a disaster, and seeking help) also protect us against the unhelpful aspects of the classic fight, flight, or freeze stress response.

    Values-based coping: Second, in this study they saw that people with a more mindful, present-centered orientation stay closer to their core values when under stress. They don't take short cuts like playing fast and loose with the truth to avoid consequences. They are less likely to tell themselves stories that justify bad behavior for instance. We've all experienced how much worse we end up feeling when we "cheat" in some way or convince ourselves of something we know not to be really true to try to avoid trouble.

    Less avoidance coping. Third, they found that more mindful people did far less of what they called "avoidance coping". They were less likely to distract themselves with the various indulgences we use to try to avoid our feelings. While it can be quite healthy to get back under the covers sometimes and take a real break, we all know the effects of the many compulsive behaviors we use to try to avoid feeling uncomfortable.  It works out far better, this work suggests, to stay with it and feel what we feel. Even when that's the more difficult option in the short term.

    I was thinking about all of this this morning after I made a mistake. I sent a sloppy reply-all email which one of the accidental recipients might have found condescending. Nothing too bad - my poor conduct pales in comparison to recent examples on the national stage - but a mistake. And a mistake that might make it harder to move forward on a project that matters to me.

    Once my colleague pointed out the mistake I certainly had that familiar "oh s**t!" feeling. And I noticed my sense of self-esteem taking an immediate nose-dive. "What an idiot I am," the inner critic was ready to tell me. And I noticed the mind spinning to regret about past: what I should and shouldn't have done. And my mind went to fears about the future: what if this results in the whole project being cancelled? And I noticed the tension in me from having acted out of accord with my values of being respectful and caring to everyone. I wouldn't have written something that reads as condescending if I were fully in touch with my values.

    After the initial shock I felt some gratitude. And realized that my process of recovering from a set back like this is similar to what this study describes.  

    Coping self-efficacy. Even though it's painful feeling shame and embarrassment when I make a mistake I've come, over time, to have confidence that I'll weather even the worst disasters. And that part of that weathering means I can't avoid the feelings. It's painful to make a mistake and I know I can bear that pain. And I've learned to seek support. I had a helpful exchange with my colleague and then reached out to another colleague who was affected with a brief apology. (I found out later that she jumped in to reduce any potential damage from my email!).

    Values-based coping. I appreciated that it was harder for my mind to try to justify or avoid the mistake because I touched in to my values. It wasn't just a bit of sloppy emailing. I shouldn't have been writing anything that is less than fully respectful. That's a core value I have and when I am sloppy with my values, trouble results sooner or later. Rather than just being more careful when playing with fire, better to not light that fire int he first place.

    Less avoidance coping. And I'm grateful that I have the training and support to simply feel the "ouch" of this, feel the healthy regret. Not to wallow in shame, of course (go back to values-based coping! Self-respect is a another great value to nurture!). Reflecting on our common humanity helps here too: it's human to make mistakes! It's normal to lose track of our values from time to time.  

    At the moment this is still quite painful and it can stay painful as long as it needs to.  Feelings what we're feeling is a key part of coping self-efficacy. Otherwise it's avoidance. Sometimes we misunderstand mindfulness as a way to instantly "move on" or "let go" of something difficult - but actually that's a kind of subtle avoidance coping mechanism that is sometimes called "Spiritual Bypass".  

    Wishing you strength and resilience when your mistakes happen. For they surely will!


    Tim Burnett,  Executive Director 

    Need a practice tune up?

    Starting soon in Seattle and Kirkland

    Our Fundamentals of Mindfulness class is an excellent way to discover mindfulness practices AND tune up your existing practice by re-grounding in the basics.

    Seattle: starts July 6th

    Kirkland: starts July 12th

    In Bellingham? Try our new drop-in class Thursday evenings.

    Starts July 6th

    A great 90 minutes of guided practice, poetry, and check-ins. Drop in. Practice together. Refresh.

    Thursday evenings this summer

    Retreat options

    We're delighted to be offering so many more retreats: one day retreats in Seattle, Woodinville, Bellingham, and online. Plus Mindful Self-Compassion at Tassajara, and Roots of Compassion at Samish.

    Retreat practice is so important and so powerful. Immersing ourselves in the practice and taking a true break for our busy routines is transformational.

    Retreats coming up

    A Day of Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals (Bellingham) - July 16th

    A Day of Mindfulness at Brightwater Center (Woodinville) - July 29

    Mindful Self Compassion at Tassajara - July 20-24

    Roots of Compassion 5-day Retreat 2017 - August 27 - September 1
    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Plan Ahead

    Teacher Training Discernment Retreat (Samish Island) - September 1-4
    Thinking of taking the Mindfulness Teacher Training Program next year? Join this year's cohort in their first weekend together to see what the program is like! 

    Roots of Mindfulness 7-day Retreat 2017 October 15-22
    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Day of Mindfulness(Bellevue) - October 28

    Day of Mindfulness  (Seattle) - November 4

    Day of Mindfulness  (Bellingham) - November 5

    "Compassion for others begins with kindness for ourselves."

    - Pema Chodron

    Coming Soon with Spaces Left

    Upcoming Classes

    Information on these and the classes and retreat can be found on our site:
    Mindfulness Northwest Events

     Seattle Area Classes

     Bellingham Area Classes

    Fundamentals of Mindfulness. Seattle. Thursday evenings, July 6 - August 3.

    Fundamentals of Mindfulness. Kirkland Wednesday evenings July 12 - August 2.

    A Day of Mindfulness at Brightwater Center Woodinville - July 29

    NEW! Workshop: Meeting Mindfulness. Seattle. September 7, 6:30-9pm

    Mindful Self-Compassion for Healthcare Professionals (UW staff/family). Sunday evenings September 10 - November 12.

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals(Open to all, sponsored by SCCA). Tuesday evenings, September 12 - October 3.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Seattle. Mondays mid-day, September 18 - November 13.

    NEW IN EVERETT! Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Everett. Tuesday evenings. September 19 - November 14

    NEW IN SEATTLE! Mindful Self-Compassion. Seattle. Thursday evenings, September 21 - November 16.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction(Kirkland). Wednesday mid-day, September 20 - November 15.

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals. The Everett Clinic (open to all). Wednesday evenings, October 11 - November 15
    NEW! Drop-In Classes. Come when you can! Thursday evenings, July 6 - August 24, 7-8:30pm

    NEW! Workshop: Meeting Mindfulness. Saturday, September 9th, 6:30-9pm

    Re-scheduled: Workshop: Tending Relationships with a Mindful Heart.September 16th, 1-4pm

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Thursday mornings, September 21 - November 16.

    NEW! Mindful Self-Compassion for Healing Professionals. Friday mornings, September 22 - November 17.

    Taking the PATH of Mindfulness. Thursday Eveings, October 12 - November 16
    Copyright © 2017 Mindfulness Northwest. All rights reserved.

  • 05 May 2017 6:20 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Three keys to mindfulness and compassion

    Dear Friends,

    Something that keeps coming up for me in our mindfulness and compassion classes is that there are three qualities that enable the process to be transformational. And since the practice of mindfulness and compassion isn't just a skill we learn but a fundamental re-engagement with our lives, I'm realizing more and more that these three qualities enable us to more fully live with joy, engagement and resilience in this world.

    The three qualities I'm thinking of are: willingness, honesty, and curiosity. I'd like to offer a few thoughts from my perspective but more importantly, I invite you to turn these over in your mind and heart and see how they are for you.


    Nothing changes if we aren't willing. Willing to try something new. Willing to be wrong. Willing to make a mistake and be a little embarrassed. Willing to deviate from our usual course, or sometimes willing to stay the course. There needs to be plenty of discernment in willingness.

    The opposite of willingness is being small, is withdrawing into our usual patterns, is running on autopilot. 

    This is subtle though. It's not just about pushing, pushing, pushing ourselves to be more willing. Think of the wonderful invitation in our Mindful Self-Compassion classes around opening and closing. Maybe you, like me, absorbed a message that we are always supposed to be opening up. Expanding. Trying new things. 

    But to be always willing in that way is unsustainable and involves some aggression towards our self (what one author calls the "subtle aggression of self-improvement"). The willingness I'm talking about includes the willingness to close when that's what we need. To take a break. To decide to pass. But this is not so much an unwillingness to learn and grow as a willingness to pace ourselves with kindness. Asking ourselves, "What do I need right now?" is a key ingredient in the practice of willingness.

    But nothing happens if we aren't willing.


    All systems of ethics include honesty. We know there are negative consequences when we lie to each other, even when lies seem somehow justified or reasonable.

    But I'm also thinking about learning to be more honest about how we talk to ourselves and each other about our inner lives. This honesty is shedding the one-sided, habitual myths about who we are and how we're doing.

    Perhaps you usually tell yourself, or tell others, that you're fine. "How are you?" we ask each other. "Fine, thanks." we answer. A useful ritual of connection but often we miss the opportunity to go further into real connection and real honesty.  Or perhaps you always tell yourself, and even others, that you're stressed and upset. Is that really always true?

    Because of course we aren't any one way - fine or upset, or rather we are and we aren't. True honesty about our inner lives also requires us to practice holding opposites.  Our lives are wonderful - we have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, many friends and relations who support us - and our lives are disasters - we're afraid and anxious, we don't know if we can do it, we don't know if the world is going to fall into enormous cataclysmic disasters. It's hard to even know how to speak or what to say if we ponder our lives deeply but we have to try.

    The practice of this kind of honesty is one of the most wondrous aspects of our experience with each other in Mindfulness Northwest classes. We find that when we practice real honesty with each other there is an incredible feeling of connection, intimacy, and safety that emerges. Honesty allows us to access to essential feeling of common humanity.  Oddly enough the fear that most often keeps us dishonest, the fear that we will be revealed as unworthy and a fraud, that very fear is what is healed when we are more honest. We find out through honesty in a deep and direct way that we are not alone.

    Curiosity.  We are all deeply trained in a certain kind of knowing: the knowing of skills and facts, procedures and abilities. It's a useful kind of knowing, and we need it to navigate the world, to get our jobs done. And yet this kind of knowing can also shrink around us as a kind of straight-jacket of certainty. This kind of knowing can lead to states of extreme mindlessness in the fashion that Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer describes in her work as a state in which the past over-predicts the present and one is "often in error, but rarely in doubt."

    Curiosity is the antidote to this narrowing of perspective. Curiosity engenders openness. It broadens perspective. It reveals to us new and unexpected aspects of any situation. Curiosity helps us to read the subtle signs and signals that this isn't exactly the same as last time. Curiosity supports engagement, and with engagement we can find joy and delight even in the middle of activities we think of as mundane and routine. There is always more to whatever is going on than we notice at first. Curiosity is the second look and the fresh perspective.

    "I wonder if there's more going on here?" we might ask ourselves. This kind of questioning, very essentially, creates the purposeful pause that helps make space for curiosity.

    It's a practice

    It's wonderful to contemplate these three qualities of willingness, honesty, and curiosity. How does it feel to you to read these words and think about how you already employ these qualities in your life - and perhaps the feeling of those times when you don't?

    But the practice of them is in the living of them. A wonderful practice is each day to get up in the morning and set your intention to be willing, to be honest. Each day is a new day, unlike any that has come before. Our life invites us to show up for it and more and more it feels like the whole world needs us at our best. Luckily, being at our best in this way is a joy and a privilege. It feels better, even when we encounter the great challenges of life, to be willing, to be honest, and to be curious.

    I was discussing these qualities with one of the meditation groups I visit and one of them pointed out the overarching quality that makes these three function: kindness. A good point! And I would suggest also a natural result of practicing these three. If we're willing, honest and curious how else can we be towards ourselves and others but kind? We only have so long, we're all in this together, and life is tough. Let's be kindly willing, kindly honest, and kindly curious. Together.


    Rev. Tim Burnett,  Executive Director 


    Still a couple of places left!

    Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive (Tacoma) - May 7-12
    Flying in? Airport shuttle now available.

    Online Classes

    Retreat at Home. A three-hour LIVE online retreat offered on Sundays from 2pm-5pm PST May 14th and June 11th.  Join from the comfort of your own home. 

    From a participant in our first Retreat at Home:

    "Convenient! Guided meditation practices with an awesome teacher!"

    Discounts and Credits

    Alumni discount option.   To encourage alumni to continue to refine and grow their practice, alumni will be able to re-take their classes and/or attend retreats at a reduced rate. 

    Continuing Education Credits.
    These are becoming available for an increasing number of our course offerings. So far these three events include continuing ed: Mindfulness for Healthcare Providers and the Mindful Self-Compassion 5-day Training Retreat.

    Plan Ahead!

    Roots of Compassion 5-day Retreat 2017 - August 27 - September 1st
    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Roots of Mindfulness 7-day Retreat 2017 October 15-22
    Flying in? Airporter shuttle available.

    Kirkland: 8-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction will be offered Wednesday mid-day and Wednesday evenings.

    Seattle: the 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion class offered on Thursday Evenings

    Bellingham: (tentative) the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class will be offered.

    Meditation upon awakening

    [Adapted from
    Thich Nhat Nanh]

    As I awake, I smile.

    A brand new day
    in front of me.

    I vow to be willing, honest and curious.

    And to look with eyes of compassion
    upon all beings.

    Upcoming Retreats

    We're delighted to be offering so many more retreats: one day retreats in Seattle and Woodinville, and online. Weekend, 5-day, and 7-day retreats at our favorite retreat center in the Skagit Valley. And more. Retreat practice is so important and so powerful. Immersing ourselves in the practice and taking a true break for our busy routines is transformational.

    Information on these and the classes and retreat can be found on our site:    Mindfulness Northwest Events

    Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive (Tacoma) - May 7-12
    Flying in? Airport shuttle now available.

    A Day of Mindfulness in Seattle - May 13

    Retreat at Home (Online) - May 14

    A Day of Mindfulness at Brightwater Center  (Woodinville) 
    May 27

    Retreat at Home (Online) - June 11

    A Summer Day of Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals
    (Semiahmoo County Park) July 16

    Upcoming Classes

    Information on these and the classes and retreat can be found on our site:
    Mindfulness Northwest Events

     Seattle Area Classes

     Bellingham Area Classes

    Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals. Wednesday evenings, May 17 - June 14. Hosted by The Everett Clinic.

    Fundamentals of Mindfulness Thursday evenings, July 6 - August 3. Seattle.

    Fundamentals of Mindfulness Wednesday evenings July 12 - August 2. Kirkland.

    Taking the Path of Mindfulness Thursday evenings, May 4 - June 8.  STARTS TOMORROW - Still spaces available

    Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals. Monday evenings June 26 - July 31. 

    NEW! Drop-In Classes. Come when you can! Thursday evenings, July 6 - August 24, 7-8:30pm


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  • 14 Apr 2017 6:06 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Dawn and mid-morning overlooking the tidal lagoon at Samish Island Campground
    where the Annual Spring Retreat was held last weekend.

    Mid-month News from Mindfulness Northwest

    On our minds

    The Buddha’s Two Darts Teaching

    I’ve been thinking about the Buddha’s Two Dart teaching over the last several days while I was pretty sick. He taught that we all experience physical, emotional, and mental pain. It’s just the human condition. That’s the first dart. We grow ill, we experience loss, old age, the death of friends and family, and fears about our own death. But the second dart is often more painful, the one we inflict on ourselves, our own strong reactions to the many first darts life throws at us. First darts are unavoidable; through mindfulness practice, we can actually reduce how many second darts we throw at ourselves. 

    As I lay for hours in bed with at times a high fever, exhaustion and muscle aches, I found I could rest into my moment-by-moment condition by practicing breath awareness: “I feel awful,” I’d hear myself thinking, and then: “Breathe.” Over and over, coming back to a presence of the breath.

    The “I feel awful” was a second dart thought, a concept about the illness, not the various physical sensations I was experiencing: heat, coldness, shivering, sweating, muscles constricting and releasing. A whole cascade of what we call “bare experience,” without the concepts we add onto the sensations. 

    The second dart thoughts ramp up the pain of the first dart. These thoughts, like “I feel awful,” seem to be objective descriptions of experience. But they can actually make us feel worse. Being aware of the experiences as they come up helps us let go of the second dart and come back to what is really going on with our bodies.

    Especially in the nights when I had trouble falling back asleep, I relied on the body scan to return to the first dart. Moving from toe to head or head to toe, I would bring my mind and heart into a nurturing awareness of the body, part by part. And then sometimes of the body as a whole. As I lay there, I began to experience more vividly sensations in the body, as in the breath awareness, without adding on concepts - second darts - and my sensations just didn’t bother me. They just were. 

    To be sure, in the midst of these mindfulness practices, my mind would wander, I would go back to critical thoughts, to the second darts: Why am I not well yet, what’s the matter with me, etc.? But practice reduced how often they came up and how intensely they intruded upon my body scan. 

    Overall, I was flowing with the ups and downs of the actual sensations of the illness. Until I got closer to the evening I was scheduled to teach my first new MBSR class of the Spring. Here’s where I began to throw a barrage of second dart thoughts at myself: “I haven’t ever missed teaching a class before, a responsible teacher teaches his classes. I will not let this illness get in the way of doing the right thing. I HAVE to be able to teach, I’m letting my co-teachers at Mindfulness Northwest down if I don't even show up for class.”

    The facts were, there were other teachers available to cover the class. But inside me I was fighting the facts. Back to practice. Breath awareness and the body scan. After a while, I was able to rest into how my life really was. I was getting better, slower than I wanted, but the discomfort was lessening. I let go of the self-critical second darts. I stayed at home and rested. I wrote a letter to an old friend. I read a book on compassion and read up on one of the new herbal remedies I was taking. I truly enjoyed being home and accepting my need to recover. 

    The biggest challenge was a pre-conceived notion that my self-worth depended on teaching that one class. The blessing for me was resting into practice and the awareness that my co-teachers were there for me. We are not alone. 

    - Richard Johnson

    Late cancellation

    BellinghamTending Relationships with a Mindful Heart workshop. Saturday April 15th

    Class has been cancelled due to instructor illness.

    New in Bellingham - Drop-in Meditation Class

    BellinghamDrop-in Meditation Class Thursday evenings, 7 - 8:30 pm. Led by mindfulness instructor Deb Wibe. No need to register, $10 cash or check at the door.

    Coming up soon with spaces still left!

    Spring and Summer Classes and Workshops

    Experience the Benefits of Retreat 

    Retreat in the comfort of your home

    New! An online 3-hour retreat with Mindfulness Northwest director Tim Burnett. Tim will lead us in a sequence of meditation and mindfulness practices including: sitting meditation, the body scan, walking meditation, gentle mindful yoga, and contemplative practices like the loving-kindness meditation. The retreat is designed especially for those who have taken Mindfulness Northwest classes and are seeking a convenient way to continue and renew their practice... from home!

    First retreat is Sunday, April 23rd, 2-5pm. Wait list.

    Next retreats are May 14th and June 11th, 2-5pm, sliding fee scale

    "Cruise Your Inner Passage"
    mindful kayaking in Alaska for health care professionals

    Friend of Mindfulness Northwest Kurt Koelting is co-hosting (with Dr. Herdley Paolini) a mindfulness-based, resilience-building trip in Alaska's Inner Passage for Physicians, Physician Leaders, Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice RNs. 

    July 23-30, 2017. Flyer here.

    Hey Alumni!

    Ever wanted to renew your practice by re-taking one of our courses, but finances get in the way? We can help - there's now an Alumni Discount registration option for most of our classes which can help with the financial challenge of returning as often as you want to these valuable trainings.

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