Sunday, February 10, 2019
SUNDAY REVIEW / IF LIFE FALLS APART HERE’S HOW TO STAY STRONG
Julie Potiker’s Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In Chaos
Life is full of potential stressors, from those on the home front like strained communication with family members, to those that sometimes catch us off guard out in the world like an unhappy boss or a traffic jam that makes us late. We can’t control what we can’t control but according to attorney turned mindfulness expert Julie Potiker, we can learn how to stay calm in chaos. She shares a moving series of trials and triumphs — as well as tangible tips for how anyone can add the calming effects of mindfulness to their life — in her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.”
In 2006, Julie began exhibiting symptoms of a possible brain tumor. “The wrong words kept coming out of my mouth,” she shares. “I’d say ‘captino’ instead of ‘cappuccino,’ ‘maginal’ instead of ‘magical,’ ‘bunkey burvey’ instead of ‘topsy turvy.’ I went to a neurologist fearing the worst. After a thorough exam, the doctor asked me about my life — what my days consisted of, my family constellation, my schedule and volunteer work. I was a typical baby boomer, sandwiched between three adolescent kids (including identical twin daughters) and aging parents. He asked me whether I had ever heard of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction; I hadn’t. He suggested that mindfulness training was what I needed in order to improve my health.”
On her doctor’s recommendation, Julie signed up for her first MBSR course at the University of California San Diego Center for Mindfulness. After that initial eight-week class, she became deeply interested in the way our thought patterns can train our brains to act and feel differently.
“In short,” says Julie, “what you think changes your brain. And it doesn’t stop until you’re dead.”
She dove head first into full-blown mindfulness training, taking more than a dozen courses and exploring multiple avenues of study over the next several years, including the groundbreaking new practice of Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC).
“Mindful Self-Compassion was MBSR with the extra component of compassion practice,” Julie shares. “Adding a self-compassion practice was just what I needed to take healing to the next level. MBSR was instructive in learning how to locate emotions in my body, but not as helpful to me as MSC in handling the difficult emotions once I found them. I learned skills to soothe myself when times turn rough. My depression vanished, and I managed my issues with anger much better and in a completely new way.”
In 2014, Julie was in the first small group of people trained to teach Mindfulness Self-Compassion. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book.
Mindfulness as a Lifeline
Mindfulness practices can help people through any of life’s ups and downs. In her book “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To,” Julie shares mindfulness tools for:
- Finding happiness apart from your children’s lives.
- Practicing important self-care rituals.
- Rewiring your brain for more happiness and resilience.
- Feeling safe and comforted in the midst of the chaos.
- Listening to your inner critic without letting it tear you down.
“Mindfulness is the first step in emotional healing,” says Julie. “It’s being able to turn toward and acknowledge our difficult thoughts and feelings — such as inadequacy, sadness, anger, or confusion — with a spirit of openness and curiosity. Self-compassion involves responding to these difficult thoughts and feelings with kindness, sympathy, and understanding so that we soothe and comfort ourselves when we’re hurting. Research has shown that self-compassion greatly enhances emotional well-being. It boosts happiness, reduces anxiety and depression, and can even help maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise. Being both mindful and compassionate leads to greater ease and well-being in our daily lives.”
To learn more, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.