Over the years of working closely with people who are 'stuck' (and working to unstick myself as well) I've noticed something that pretty consistently gets in our way. This is going to surprise you how obvious it is. It is our thinking. But a particular type of thought. The thoughts that say 'I can't ... because ...' I can't ask for what I want because my friend won't like me anymore.... those kind of thoughts. And the 'because' in the thought is often so upsetting or unthinkable that we simply CANNOT reconsider. So we're stuck. But what I've found is that actually reconsidering is exactly what breaks the impasse. Mindfully questioning our assumptions .... 'Am I sure this outcome will be as bad as I think?' 'Am I resilient enough to try it out and see how it goes?' 'What is harder on me; the protecting or the taking a risk to try?' 'Who could I ask to help me?' So often we adopt our beliefs and never think to look back on them and question if we REALLY believe them or if we REALLY want to let them be what guides our actions. So often it is worth... really worth ... asking a few honest, mindful questions of ourselves.....AND ... maybe, with great kindness towards our own fear, move out of our comfort zone. How might you take better care of yourself by moving out of your comfort zone? Today. ... See MoreSee Less
Very recently I was enjoying a piece of spoken word poetry by a strong Black activist that I admire deeply. It was a more or less private moment but others were nearby. Someone walked by and said 'how could anything be more sanctimonious'? I was appalled. Caught off guard. I was so drawn into those beautiful words I was unaware of anything else. It hadn't occurred to me how she might be heard by other ears. My beloved poet... so 'misunderstood' by another. I said the first words that rose to the surface, 'Don't. Please. Just don't.' My words were calm but sad. Eye to eye. They stopped. I stopped ..... I do sense how the poem could be viewed as sanctimonious if you lacked the larger context her life and her struggles and why it was written. But this kind of hasty judgment prevents that larger context from ever surfacing. What if we had started with curiosity? Either one of us could have asked to know more. This is one of the ways the attitude of mindfulness can surface in and perhaps nourish our everyday interactions. ... See MoreSee Less
Last time I posted, it was about bringing mindfulness to pain. That was before the Parkland shooting happened. I've spent the last two days doing my best to be present to my sorrow for the lost lives and broken families and trying also not to numb or turn away from the deep rage that I carry inside about my impotence. Is it possible to mindfully hold this much pain? I breath to settle some. I smile when I see the mischief of a kindergartener tossing a snowball at his mom's back. Yes, maybe I can. I hadn't realized that just below my sadness lies a powerful energy that feels like anger. As I turn my mindfulness toward this anger, I realize it's so intertwined with sadness that tears are the first reaction as I begin to mindfully investigate it. As I sit in this soup crying, this upwelling reminds that I care. I CARE. And I want to help my world and my country and my community and my fellow beings somehow. This is a soft awareness. It is tender but full of life.... it's a care that has muscle. Authentic, uncertain, but also not afraid to speak. It has to speak. I think we all look for our own version of how to authentically live through moments like this most recent shooting --- to show up mindfully to our emotion; to let the emotion offer some kind of roadmap pointing to behavior that honors our feelings. Of course we might differ on the specifics... But in our shared humanity we do know that life is a gift, fragile, and it can be stolen in an unexpected instant. And what exactly are we to do about that? May we all be compassionate and caring toward each other as we encounter the pains and losses of our lives. May we all be gentle and mindful with the fullness of our questions. May we all remain tender and open without hardening when we so deeply care. And may we find potent, caring action. ... See MoreSee Less
I'm getting ready to do a talk about how mindfulness can be used to help with pain, discomfort, frustration, boredom... that whole set of things we prefer to avoid. I've been 'meditating' on this topic for about 5 days. Here are two things that have emerged ---- neither of them destroy or end the pain --- and THAT is actually the first thing. Thing One: we must make peace with our discomforts/ dislikes. It's really best because we can't directly control so much of what causes us discomfort. This means ... let pain have it's place. Be honest about discomfort... it's there and it can feel bad. BUT the first step is to relax, stop fighting it, and accept with some self kindness the truth of how you feel .... now, right now, take a deep breath or two..... and keep reading. This acceptance does not necessarily mean we are destined to live in physical or emotional pain. But insisting that pain must be eliminated is a fast track to frustration --- pain and emotional discomfort belong in our human lives. What we need are skillful means to allow them their place. Thing Two is one type of skillful means: We can broaden our perception. Even while in discomfort. Pull out the wide angle lens and notice WHAT ELSE that you enjoy is present EVEN WHILE you are in discomfort. Discomfort narrows our view ...pretty soon all we focus on is how to get rid of discomfort. BUT even as my shoulder aches from a recent injury, there are tiny white flowers pushing up through the soil of my garden. And when I lean in, I realize this pain is variegated. It comes and goes. EVEN as my heart feels heavy, I can remember I AM MORE than my feelings. I have broad wings and a crimson heart. I can glide sometimes. And I can turn my awareness and make contact with the parts of me that are whole and awake --- and hold my pain in this larger perspective.... it is just part of my experience. I can delight, even if it is briefly, in the purr of my kitten and the smell of fresh baked muffins. And THOSE brief moments are my salve. My wholeness, my wing span, my awakened eyes will hold me through this.... and help me figure out what it is that I want to do next. ... See MoreSee Less
Here is something simple that I have been thinking about this past week: wholesome, mindfully-chosen ACTION is a simple, reliable path to living better and feeling better. We control our own action far more easily that our feelings or our thoughts or, certainly, the reactions of other people. We can act well even when we are upset --- yup, it may be hard but it's true. Feeling upset doesn't mean we have to act mean or disengaged. We can be upset and polite. We can be strong, forthright and upset and still polite. We can be upset and productive. Upset and generous. Upset and still notice that the morning coffee smells nice or the chickadees are singing. I somehow like the simplicity and freedom in this. ... See MoreSee Less
“Compassion… asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” --- from Karen Armstrong in her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. This is so valuable. And I think an equally strong refusal to inflict pain on ourselves is also needed This is self compassion. Compassion turned inward. Most of us see the value in this perspective... yet it can be difficult to do. Especially when we are upset or tired or busy. The more I teach mindfulness, the more I discover the prevalence of loud, mean, intolerant inner critics living inside the heads of so many of us. Me included. When my inner critic gets on a roll I just sort of sink emotionally. Probably all people do. Self compassion can be brought to this voice by recognizing how painful it is... how truly exaggerated and unproductive. Even if the voice has a point --- beating that point home with a hammer does not serve us. Here is a practice that has been helpful to many --- first begin to notice inner critical thoughts for what they are. 'this is my inner judge on a rant'. This label is a great start. And then ask 'would I talk to anyone else I care about in this manner?' 'What would I say to my best friend under the same circumstances?' You might discover that you can flow compassion inward and outward more easily this way. ... See MoreSee Less
I've been thinking recently about how layered we are, we humans. And how with a meditation/ mindfulness practice some persistence is involved to enable us to dip below or behind our top most layers. As a thought experiment in awareness you might try a practice of REPEATING QUESTIONS. Be like a curious 2 year old and ask the same things over and over. Sometimes we can think repetition is a waste of time ... 'already thought about that, time to move on' but actually our hearts and psyche need this kind of repetition often. Here is an idea: do a little breath practice to settle and then check in with yourself with a question like 'What needs my attention right now?' ... let an answer arise like bubbles floating to the surface. Wait a bit and then ask it again 'What REALLY needs my attention right now?' ... take a little time and see what bubbles up from the regions of your core. And then do it again... 'What REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs my attention right now. Listen in and hear the what arises from the belly. Be gentle with this process and see if your layers fold back and offer you a glimpse at the little corners inside that so rarely speak up for themselves. Do this regularly. REPEAT YOURSELF! And pull back the layers. ... See MoreSee Less
The small things ... really aren't small things at all. When I really let that sink in it inspires me. Take just a moment and think about the small things that matter to you. And the people (or moments) who offer them. The way they arise so naturally from daily interactions or the naturally arising beauty in the world. I've come to deeply love 'small things'.... treasure them, in fact. The light I see in someone's smiling eyes, the hint of uncertainty that passes through a face when they try something new, the light as it hits the feathered wing of a finch, the flick of my mischievous cat's tail, the hug I get from my son each night before sleep, the smell of cinnamon, the taste of dark chocolate. These moments are everywhere, I find. And they are enriching. Not at all 'small'. Quite huge, I find. They linger in my heart and remind me of how much goodness exists. Perhaps today is a day to notice and offer small things. Maybe tomorrow is too . . . . ... See MoreSee Less
My University of Idaho Mindfulness Projects:
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Dr. Derrick’s clinical approach encourages eyes-open, courageous self reflection tempered with self compassion. She has an expertise in therapeutic techniques which help identify patterns of thinking interrupt happiness and create resilience. The path to personal growth is challenging yet playful and she uses dialogue, mindful awareness practices, guided imagery, dream content, humor, and her warm welcome to create safety and healing. Her unique approach grows out of years of training in academic psychology, Jungian dream work, mindfulness, and body-based awareness.
Jamie Derrick has been a licensed psychologist in Idaho for fifteen years. She graduated from Stanford University and completed clinical residencies in the Yale Medical School/ West Haven VA Medical Center, the Stanford University Student Counseling Center, University of California at Berkeley Psychology Department.
Dr. Derrick is a warm, welcoming faculty member at University of Idaho. She has taught courses on human development, emotion, mindfulness, and the creative arts.
Jamie is a UCLA certified as a mindfulness teacher (Mindful Awareness Research Center). If you have or want to develop a meditation practice, she can help support that in her classes or in one to one consultation. She can also tailor mindfulness instruction for your setting --- she has offered mindfulness classes in the workplace, school environment and has provided consultation to business executives facing the challenges of complex decisions and workplace interactions.
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