March 2017 Newsletter

1 Mar 2017 10:48 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

"What we practice, we get better at"

I've been thinking more and more about the profound implications of a simple idea: the idea that what we practice we get better at.

Like so many useful truths it's a no-brainer. If we want to get better at something we do it again, and again. We learn more about it; we read a book, watch a YouTube, take a seminar. All around us people are improving all kinds of skills from how to knit a hat to how to put out a structure fire. 

What's interesting and important to me is that we usually only apply this simple maxim to external things. To the things we do and make and create. To the problems we solve in the world.

We don't apply it to our inner selves nearly as consistently. We don't practice the inner things we want to improve.

And we all have wishes for improvement in our inner selves.

We may want to be more reliable, or more patient, or kinder, or more generous. We may want to show up on time more consistently. We way want to listen to our kids more fully.

Or maybe we don't have clear goals for our inner life and instead our mind goes to the things we don't like about ourselves. What is that for you? If you start the sentence, "what I don't like about myself is...." and pause with that a moment. What comes up?

But here's the thing: if we just focus on what we don't have we are only reinforce a kind of internal impoverished mindset. But if we can focus on what we would like to be better at we can take it out of the realm of frustration or wishful thinking and instead practice that trait we'd like to strengthen.

I've been thinking a lot lately about strengthening my ability to ask for help. I've always been a bit of a go-it-alone guy and not only does that wear me out, sometimes it damages my relationships.  It's been so helpful to change that little by little.  Of course, as with all things human, I know i have to be smart about this, feeling my way into whom to ask for what. But so many people in my life (all of our lives?) are so willing to help. 

Even people who aren't yet in my life! Here's an example of that that happened last summer, one that inspires me to keep working with this.  Maybe you also have examples in your life of when you acted in a way that stretched you and inspires you to keep developing your best self?

We'd had some work down on our house. We had contractors here completing our half-finished stairs (it used to be a duplex and the stairs were taken out in the 1940's).  We had to move a window to make the stairs work right and the carpenters discovered the siding on the entire south side of the house was rotten.  So our other house work plans, and our a chunk of our budget, shifted and we had to redo the siding and exterior window trim on that side of the house.

Our contractor got that taken care of, but I wanted to do at least some of the work myself so I was working on painting the new window trim. Then I hit a problem: the upper window was too high for my 22' extension ladder. And darn it I was in the middle of painting, the day was getting on, and wanted to get the whole job done

It was Sunday at 6pm. Off I went to Home Depot to buy a longer ladder. But darn it: they were expensive, $280 for a 28' ladder. I stood there debating back and forth what to do.  That impatient do-it-yourself voice within me was screaming, "Oh just buy it, just get it done, you have a tall house so you need this ladder." So I put this enormous ladder on one of their big carts and wheeled it - tricky getting around corners! - to the check out.

There were two people in front of me and the guy at the head of the line had some problem involving tricky customer service so we were standing there for awhile. Then the person right in front of me turns out and says, "Hey how much is that big ladder?" - almost $300 I admitted - "Darn," he said, "that's a lot, I have one just like it lying around at my place."

At that point the "just buy it, just do it yourself" spell weakened a little. I could feel the tension in my forehead and the raggedness of my breathing relax a little. And then I surprised myself by asking this stranger if I could borrow his ladder.

His response was immediate and relaxed. Like he has strangers asking him to borrow ladders all the time. "Sure," he said, "just follow me home and pick it up." A total stranger! And he was as good as his word. Without asking anything from me, he generously lent me his ladder. I finished my painting.

I did find a way of thanking him: I did a repair to the rope and pulley that lifts the ladder extension. I realized even without arranging a payment or an exchange there is often a 

way to give right back. That helping engenders more helping.

Sometimes we can trust another. We can trust their generosity. We can trust the good hearts of people. I hope to keep practicing this inner skill of asking for help.

What would you like to develop about your inner life?



PS. Some interesting research suggests that in changing habitual responses it makes a big difference if we spend a moment contemplating our positive qualities. So easily the mind goes to the negative which reinforces itself. ("I'm always this way" etc.).

In studies described by Alex Korb in his excellent book The Upward Spiral  he demonstrates that taking a moment to activate your knowledge of your good qualities makes a big difference. In the studies they had participants ask themselves questions like, "Have you ever forgiven another person when he or she has hurt you?" or "Have you ever encouraged a friend to pursue a goal?" And this simple mindset intervention made it surprisingly more possible for the study participants changes. 

So contemplate your good qualities sometimes! Affirm your ability to be a better person, and then practice those skills.


Become a mindfulness teacher!

If you've been feeling the call, there are a couple of spots in the training cohort that begins in September.

Click here for more info.

Spring Retreat

A three-day retreat is a great way to extend the practice you've started after one of our classes!

Spring Weekend Retreat (Samish) - Friday-Sunday April 7-9
Flying in? Airport shuttle now available.

New Online Classes

Retreat at Home. A three-hour LIVE online retreat offered on Sundays from 2pm-5pm PST on April 23rdMay 14th, and June 11th.  Join from the comfort of your own home using the Zoom video conferencing system. We're excited about this convenient way to renew our practice together from wherever we are.

Mindfulness Fundamentals Online Course. Our popular 4-week introduction to Mindfulness in the MBSR style now available online with a mix of self-paced and live interactive online content. Live meetings Tuesdays 6pm-8pm starting April 11th, plus includes the April 23rd Retreat at Home.

Discounts and Continuing Education

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

Continuing Education Credits.  Available for an increasing number of our course offerings. So far these three events include continuing ed:
 Mindfulness for Healthcare Providers
Mindful Self-Compassion: Weekend Core Skills Workshop, and the 
Mindful Self-Compassion 5-day Training Retreat.


The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb (see the P.S. in Tim's letter). In stock at Village Books, or pick up wherever you shop for books.

Scholarship Fund

We try to make our classes and retreats accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Our sliding fee scale helps, but many with the most need for mindfulness are the least able to pay.

You can help by making a tax-deductible donation to our Scholarship FundThank you!

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

Tending Relationships with a Mindful Heart workshop. Tuesday evening March 21st. Introductory workshop.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (Seattle). Thursday evenings, April 6 - May 25.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (Kirkland). Wednesday evenings,April 12 - May 31.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (Federal Way). Thursday evenings, April 13 - June 1.

Meeting Mindfulness & Self-Compassion workshop with the Whole U (Seattle) Saturday, April 22.

Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals (hosted by the Everett Clinic). Wednesday evenings, May 17 - June 14. 
Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals. Thursday evenings March 16 - April 13
NOTE: 14 CME's (applies to therapists also).

Noon-time Mindfulness at Village Books. Thursday, March 23rd.

Compassion Cultivation Training. The next step after MSC. Monday evenings, April 10 - June 12.

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

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

Online Classes

Fundamentals of Mindfulness, Tuesdays April 11 - May 2, plus Sunday April 23rd.

Upcoming Retreats

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

 Day Retreats

 Multi-Day Retreats

A Day of Mindfulness in Seattle - Saturday March 4

Winter Retreat Day (Semiahmoo) - Sunday March 12

Meeting Mindfulness with the Whole-U (Seattle) - Saturday April 22

Retreat at Home (Online) - Sunday April 23

A Day of Mindfulness in Seattle - Saturday May 13

Retreat at Home (Online) - Sunday May 14

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

Mindful Self-Compassion: Weekend Core Skills Workshop (Port Townsend) - Saturday-Sunday March 18-19

Spring Weekend Retreat (Samish) - Friday-Sunday April 7-9
Flying in? Airport shuttle now available.

Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive (Tacoma) - Sunday - Friday May 7-12
Flying inAirport shuttle now available.

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.

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