Body Shaming Q & A with Cori Rosenthal


1) In one of your meditations in the Body Shaming series you talk about “feeling fat” as a catch all for all kinds of uncomfortable feelings.  Can you say more about this? How do we parse out and attend to the complex feelings that get bundled up in to “feeling fat”?

Feeling fat is shorthand we often use for uncomfortable emotions and body sensations.  It makes sense when we talk about feeling bloated after a big meal, but when we use this shorthand for describing emotions we are not addressing our actual  emotions. It’s important to slow down, turn within and ask what else you are feeling in those moments. Initially it may be difficult to know, but in time and with practice you can better ascertain how you are feeling and what you need to appropriately soothe yourself in that moment.

2) Can you tell us what the difference is between intuitive eating and mindful eating? It seems like there is some overlap.

Mindful eating is paying attention and engaging the senses in the process of eating.  Mindful eaters listen to hunger and satiety cues to know when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat.  Mindful eating does not place judgement on what you eat. You can mindfully eat a piece of cake as easily as a bowl of fruit.

Intuitive eating incorporates mindful eating within its principles but actually goes much farther.  The goal of intuitive eating is to help people stop dieting and make peace with food and their bodies. This goal is achieved through 10 principles:

  • rejecting the diet culture

  • honoring your hunger

  • making peace with food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat to overcome the deprivation cycle

  • challenge the food police declaring foods are good and bad and you are good or bad when you eat them

  • respecting your body signals that you are no longer hungry

  • eat what you really want in an inviting environment

  • honor your feelings without using food

  • respect your body and accept that everyone is not built to be a particular body size anymore than we are all intended to wear the same shoe size

  • exercise because of how it feels to move your body and not because you will burn calories; honor your health and taste buds

3) One of the tenets of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality altogether.  How can you do that when you’ve spent most of your adolescence and adult life “watching your weight?”

First you have to want to reject the diet mentality.  Despite the fact that 95% of people who go on diets regain their weight and at least ½ gain additional weight, the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the US.  Rejecting diet culture also includes rejecting the temptation to have conversations with friends about the latest weight loss solution. It also includes letting go of all the hopes and dreams you pinned to your weight loss goals.  

Letting go requires mindfulness, patience and compassion for yourself and others.  Mindfulness will allow you to notice diet language such as labeling food as good or bad or fantasizing about the perfect relationship or job will appear if only you are thinner.  Patience because you are attempting to change your relationship with food and your body and that takes time. You will have many pitfalls on that journey. Self-compassion because you are letting go of something familiar and even comfortable. Compassion for others because we are all negatively impacted by the diet culture.

4) Let’s say you have to watch your weight and your diet because you have a health condition--perhaps you’re diabetic or have high cholesterol.  How can you modify the intuitive eating approach to address that kind of situation?

The great news is that you do not have to modify the intuitive eating approach to honor your health requirements.  Intuitive eating asks that you reject dieting for the purpose of weight loss because focusing on that goal is ineffective 95% of the time.  This is not the same as monitoring glucose levels. I do not eat dairy because it upsets my stomach and eating it does not honor my body. It does not feel like deprivation, it feels like you are nurturing yourself and honoring your body. Not eating ice cream because it is fattening is deprivation.  If someone wants to incorporate the principles of intuitive eating while tending to their specific health needs, a dietitian trained in intuitive eating can be very helpful.

5)  If you’re in a larger size body and want to date, do you have any tips for dealing with insecurity around body size?  

Our culture is not very forgiving of people in larger bodies and the dating world is no different. There is definitely a stigma around weight and I don’t want to minimize the experience of dating in this kind of climate.  And yet there are millions of people with “larger bodies” who find people who love them for who they are.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in dating is beginning with accepting ourselves as we are--and trusting that there is so much more to who we are than our body  size. And that is true no matter what clothing size you wear.



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Q & A: How Redefining Failure Creates the Foundation for Resilience

with Shira Myrow, LMFT

“We’re all going to fail at something in life. It’s a given. So we have to figure out not how to avoid them entirely, but how to relate to them when they happen.”


Failure feels like such a loaded word.  It still carries a social stigma to it. How can we reframe it in a way that is less off-putting?

I agree. On the surface, failure sounds like a final judgment, an endpoint in which there is no recovering from. And there are definitely cases where people can do serious harm or have severe lapses in moral judgement. But failures are also subjective. There’s a spectrum.  We’re all going to fail at something in life. It’s a given. So we have to figure out not how to avoid them entirely, but how to relate to them when they happen.

Often times the judgment we have about our actions are overly harsh and critical. I think failures can be an invitation into a different kind conversation with yourself if you can get passed the shame and tendency to shut down.  I think of it as an invitation to develop resilience by embracing the resistance and the uncomfortable feelings to get to the deeper meaning or lesson behind it.

How do meditation and mindfulness help us with failure experiences?

When we can combine contemplative practices like meditation and mindfulness with a compassionate, courageous form of inquiry---we can become more skillful at working with our ourselves. And when we can soften our self-judgment, we can figure out what next steps to take. Do we accept that something isn’t going to happen?  Or do we try again?

Meditation and mindfulness are amazing tools for self-regulation...and for calming down the anxious mind.  You can’t metabolize the lessons of failure when you’re in an emotionally reactive state. You can’t get the value or the meaning out of the experience until you can distance yourself from the web of negative thoughts and emotions that can obscure the clarity and wisdom that might just be lurking beneath them.  

How do you “redefine” failure?

Perhaps a more approachable way of defining failure is a feeling of deep disappointment and loss frequently coupled with shame or frustration.  And when you define it that way--so many experiences in life can fit that description: losing a job, making a bad financial decision, going through a divorce.  Maybe we’re failing at love or failing at parenting. It’s rather specific to the individual. One person’s success could be another person’s failure. Often times, we don’t realize that our feelings of failure have a lot to do with comparing ourselves to others, and that can influence our perception of how well or not well we’re doing. That’s something to be mindful of, so we don’t lose our connection with our internal compass.

Why are we so afraid of failure?

Failure triggers a stress response in our brains and our brains perceive the thought of failure as a threat. It’s not making distinctions though --whether the failure is an actual threat to our survival or, let’s say a perceived threat. It’s responding the same way. Social humiliation activates the same system of fight or flight in the emotional center of our brain.  None of us want to suffer from the painful emotions or hypercritical thoughts that we associate with failing. Of course, we want to avoid it or even deny it. But when we don’t do the inner work, we set ourselves up to repeat the same patterning that led us to this point in the first place.

From your perspective, why is failure so critical in terms of our psychological development? And how does it foster resilience?

Failures drive our psychological growth. That’s why they’re such rich experiences to mine.  But we get so caught up in the embarrassment or humiliation, that we miss how failures serve our development. Myself included.  A little self-disclosure here. Resilience is born precisely out of adversity, out of challenge. We’re not born resilient. We don’t magically become resilient reading self-help books or watching TED talks. You become resilient by integrating those difficult experiences and consciously adapting.

You only start to trust that you can resource yourself as you go through difficulty and crisis. And as parents, there is finally a recognition in the culture that we’re not helping our kids anymore by taking away every disappointment from them. In fact, we’re doing them a great disservice if we never allow them to fail.

How does changing the story or narrative around failure help us become more resilient?

Language is so powerful because it shapes our experience.  If we get stuck in a shame story, we can’t move into a more generative conversation --what did we learn? What would we do differently next time?  What meaning can we get from this? In order to build resilience, we need a thoughtful process, an opportunity to mindfully assess and reflect so we can integrate the experience.

One way to ease the vice grip of over-identification with failure is giving yourself permission to learn and make mistakes or allowing yourself to be a beginner and have a beginner’s mindset when you try new things. Those are both compassionate reframes. When we change how we language our story, we can start to shift how we perceive it. I use it with the couples I work with who come in and feel like they’re failing at marriage because they’re fighting all the time. I show them that their reactive bids for connection or problem solving are what’s failing. Instead, curiosity, compassion, persistence, and self-awareness, can create a a new set of patterns, to become skillful in a relationship.

How does meditation help us with our resistance to working with failures?

Over time, a meditation practice not only teaches us how to sit with those difficult emotions, it starts to soften our resistance.  What do I mean by resistance? It’s our discomfort confronting and unpacking our feelings around failure. I like to think of the resistance as a monolithic wall that makes it seem impossible to walk through.  But the more we sit, the more the energy changes...and the wall turns into a fog that we can walk through and get curious and compassionate about. We still need courage --as we can’t always know what’s on the other side, but the resistance becomes permeable.  And it’s this experience that allows us to feel a renewed sense of possibility. That change is possible. Failure isn’t so much a barrier or inconvenience, or obstruction in our lives as much as it is a doorway into self-reflection and profound self-growth.

My series on Redefining Failure on the Evenflow App is a deeper dive into that exploration of compassionate inquiry.  Making mistakes and confronting emotional challenges are extraordinary doorways to uncovering the essential questions in failure experiences but also discovering ourselves in the process.



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New Baby Q & A with Jennifer Waldburger


1) Nothing will affect a couple as profoundly as having a newborn. It’s a time of tremendous excitement and joyfulness, but it can also be a very destabilizing time, especially if a couple doesn’t have much external support.  What can parents do if they don’t have family or friends ready to help out?

“That’s a great question. Lots of couples unfortunately don’t live near family, and it can feel overwhelming as a new parent once the relatives who visit to lend an extra hand go back home again. That old adage that it takes a village to raise a child really is true, so it’s important for new parents to seek other supports close to home - new-parent support and education groups, classes for your baby where you can meet other parents, asking that mom at the park to meet up for coffee or a play date.”

2) Having a new baby can really challenge the couple relationship, too.

“That’s for sure! If you’re feeling like it’s hard to reconnect as a couple after having a baby, you are definitely in good company. As overjoyed as you might be as new parents, having a child also exposes every crack and flaw in your couple relationship. That can feel terrifying to face, especially at a time when you are so exhausted and overwhelmed by all of the caretaking. Also, moms’ bodies can take months to adjust after having a baby, making intimacy much less appealing. If you can be patient during this adjustment as you slowly find your way toward connecting as not only a couple but as co-parents - and keep a sense of humor along the way - you’ll likely find that your bond becomes even deeper as you see your love for each other reflected in this little person you welcomed into the world together. A meditation practice can be very supportive to new parents in that it gives them the opportunity to metabolize lots of what’s coming up both as a new parent and a new co-parent - and can make it less likely that your own emotional triggers will create tension and conflict in the couple relationship.”

3) Do you think the influence of social media, such as Instagram and Facebook have changed our expectations around pregnancy and birth?

“Yes, both for better and for worse. On the one hand, it’s great that parents can find so much information online and connect virtually with other parents. On the other hand, sometimes there is such a thing as too much information - conflicting opinions and guidance can make your head spin - and some using social media present images that depict their family life as nothing but joy and happiness and cute “mishaps” with kids. That tends to breed an environment of comparison, and can cause you to feel bad about your own, much messier family life. But it’s important to remember what you’re comparing yourself to isn’t even real! Parents owe it to each other not to gloss over the gritty side of daily life with kids, while of course celebrating all that’s great about it too.

4) If you’re struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, what kinds of connection or support can help normalize and address these symptoms?

“It’s important to distinguish between the experience of sadness, anxiety, and irritability that can be present for any new parent who’s exhausted and overwhelmed, and what is truly postpartum depression. If symptoms are affecting your day-to-day functioning and / or your ability to care for your baby - and have been present for more than two weeks - it’s time to seek help. (Talk to your OB-GYN or your baby’s pediatrician, who can give you a referral.) But even if you don’t have diagnosable postpartum depression, the intensity of emotion, sometimes exacerbated by hormonal shifts, can be very challenging for a new parent - especially when you have to be “on”  and available for your baby pretty much around the clock. This is where a practice of mindfulness and meditation can really help. Learning how to make room for the sensations that accompany these emotions, slowly and gradually, can go a long way toward helping you feel your best as a mom or dad - and helping you be the best parent you can be. New parents don’t have lots of time to meditate, so we created several meditations in this series that can be done with your baby.”

5) We don’t hear much about dads’ postpartum experience. What’s it like for them? Do they experience anxiety and sadness too?

“Some absolutely do. Research indicates that about 10 percent of men experience symptoms of depression after the birth of a child, which is almost twice the rate of depression in males that is usually reported. There’s some evidence to suggest that fluctuations in testosterone play a role in a man’s experience of postpartum depression. And just like with women, the way postpartum depression manifests for men is unique to the individual - some get bluesy, but others may be irritable, anxious, or foggy. Men aren’t socialized the way women are to pay attention to their emotions, so it can feel quite shocking to a man to discover so much activity in his emotional landscape. Many men who meditate describe feeling better able to handle emotional ups and downs.”

6) You have a beautiful new baby series on the Evenflow app, which focuses on cultivating attunement and attachment. What is attunement and why do we hear so much about the importance of healthy attachment with babies?

“Attunement is the ability to sense into your baby’s experience and respond to her needs. Healthy attachment refers to a balanced, loving relationship where there is room for both closeness and separation; it’s an essential cornerstone for a child’s healthy development. But there is a common misconception among moms that being a good mother means attending to all of your child’s needs perfectly all of the time. Not only is that completely impossible, but it wouldn’t be good for your child even if you could achieve it -  what a shock she would receive once she went off to school and realized that isn’t how the world works! Thanks to D. W. Winnicott, a pediatrician and researcher, we know that being a “good enough” mother - one who responds accurately to her child’s needs enough but not all of the time - is actually healthiest of all.”

7) For parents with toddlers and a new baby or another one on the way, how do you bond with your newborn when you’re also chasing after your first child or managing their jealousy?

“Before you welcome your second child, you always wonder how you will love another child just as much. And then when that new baby arrives, your heart expands and somehow there is enough love for everyone. But your older child will have an adjustment period as she  gets used to having to share you and be patient. As a parent of more than one, there will inevitably be times when both kids need you and one has to wait. For your older child especially, if you can recognize this as an opportunity to develop some core self-regulation skills - handling disappointment, tolerating frustration, slowing down impulsivity - you’ll have an easier time allowing your own emotions about not being able to be all things to all people. Kids learn a ton of valuable experience in the sibling relationship that will serve them well out in the world. See if you can find small windows of alone time to bond with your baby (while your older child is at school, napping or with the other parent or a caregiver), and small windows of alone time to reinforce the bond you already have with your older child, too (while the baby is napping or with the other parent or a caregiver).”


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Mindful Eating - Bringing Mindfulness to the Basics

By Amanda Gilbert, Mindful Eating Expert

Eating and breathing are two basic acts and fundamentals necessary to survive and stay alive. Both are often overlooked during daily living, in the midst of busy schedules, full email inboxes, a bubbling social calendar, and quality time spent alone or with loved ones. Our attention is regularly anywhere but on these two essentials to our very existence.

Being a meditation teacher, practitioner, and person who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle, of course I am biased when it comes to the opinion that mindfulness is the exact intervention capable of bringing our consciousness and attention to these two basic acts normally so automated and mechanical. However, within this bias is a strong and obvious truth based not only on personal experience and all of my years of practice, but on scientific research, and the self-report of so many meditators, that mindfulness meditation really does train you to be present for the most basic parts of your life.  Especially eating and breathing!

While being mindful of the breath is a very popular practice in meditation, being mindful of eating and food is quickly becoming a new companion in the mindfulness spotlight. Our relationship with food is often oversimplified with the belief that eating should be easy, straightforward, and not something taking up our precious bandwidth in life. But the reality is the opposite. Many of us have long-standing, dynamic, complex, and jumbled relationships with food and consuming food. Bringing mindfulness to this relationship exactly as it is can provide a lot of support around a seemingly out of control experience and become the doorway to change.

In mindful eating, we bring our non-judgmental attention to the entire process of eating and to our relationship to food. From picking up the fork and taking a first bite of a favorite food, to being aware of how full we become as we eat is just the beginning when it comes to mindful eating. We also observe our reasons for eating like true physical hunger in the body or a reaction to stress at work. And we practice making wiser choices around the types of food we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat.

Mindful eating can help us discern our motivations for eating and based on this knowledge free ourselves to make healthier and more supportive choices around food and how we eat.

Here are some simple and accessible mindful eating practices that you can do to immediately bring your attention to the present moment and to the food you are about to eat:

Pause and Take a Breath: This may seem very simple and basic and it is! This fundamental mindfulness practice of pausing and taking a breath with your full attention can help bring awareness to what you are about to eat and why you are eating.

3 Part Mindful Eating: Practicing mindfulness as we eat is a wonderful way to bring awareness into our lives and to the food we are eating. The 3 Part Mindful Eating practice is 1-bring your mindful attention to the utensil you are using as you lift the fork let’s say to your mouth, 2- bring your mindful attention to the bite of food you just took. Notice all of the textures, aromas, and flavors of the food. 3- bring your mindful attention to the fork as you lower it to your plate and let it rest on the plate for a moment, while you take a breath in and out.

Ask yourself, “what would my wise mind do?”: In mindful eating, we cultivate our inner wisdom to help support us making healthier choices when eating. This practice is great to do before you are about to eat and just by asking it you bring mindfulness to why are you eating. Then you can make a wise choice for yourself based on your inner wisdom. A common example is if you are stressed but not actually physical hungry you may be reaching for your favorite snack to comfort you. By asking yourself “what would my wise mind do?” you can then see if it is the right decision to eat or not!

As you embark on your own journey of bringing mindfulness to your eating know that just by practicing bringing your attention to the present moment as you eat via the practices above you are on the first step towards a change.  You can also listen to the new mindful eating series available on the Evenflow app where I walk you through a specific mindful eating practice made to guide you towards insight, health, and freedom around food.

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Body Image: Don't believe everything you think.

By Lauren McMeikan, MA, AMFT #92052

Since we were wide-eyed infants, old enough to hear and see, we’ve been told, again and again, that our bodies are supposed to look a certain way.  We’ve been indoctrinated by television shows, billboards, magazine covers, and even by the voices of well-intentioned parents and friends.  While the details may shift ever so slightly from one decade to the next, the general idea is the same: your appearance is important.  In the 90s it was heroin-chic, today it’s fit, trim and toned, but no matter the guise, that underlying message remains.

And the message is potent.  So much so that while many of us believe consciously that appearance shouldn’t dictate self-worth, we still automatically judge our merit against society’s standards.  As a practicing associate psychotherapist, I meet many people who struggle with these dueling value systems.  When I ask them what they actually believe is important about a body they tend to say things like it’s health, wellness, and the capacity to sustain life.  

But our culture’s convictions are in direct conflict with our own beliefs.  And we are scared – scared of falling short of society’s standards. In this fear, we continue to live lives based on a set of values we ultimately don’t agree with.

Faced with these two belief systems, we are posed with quite a dilemma.  How can we mediate the impact of the beliefs that we’ve been handed – the ones that we don’t even feel are truly important – and, at the same time, reinforce what we actually feel is valuable?

Mindfulness is the first step.

The messages that we hear the loudest, clearest and most frequently are those from the media.  So we often default to this value system even when we blatantly disagree with it.  We can use mindfulness to take a pause, to gain perspective of what messages we’re buying into at any given moment and to determine whether we agree that these messages should dictate our worth.

For example, if you had the thought “I am getting so fat,” you can take a step back and gently consider that thought.  What would you have to believe to make that thought harmful?  You’d have to believe that appearance is an important part of self-worth and that fat is bad.  Do you actually agree with these beliefs?

When asked to explore what you truly value, most of us would agree that appearance is not among the most important aspects of life and that it doesn’t determine a person’s worth.  Sometimes the “fat is bad” belief tries to legitimize itself by clinging to the importance of wellness.  But as the health at every size movement gains momentum, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “fat is bad”  belief doesn’t have teeth.

Fat is a noun that describes something that every human being must have in order to live.  It’s not a state of being.  Some people have more of it, others have less of it.  But the amount of it doesn’t define us and our worth.

So then the question becomes what do you value?  Perhaps you feel that mental health is important or that radical acceptance is worthwhile.  If you can identify what you believe in then you can focus on fulfilling that instead of automatically capitulating to what society has told you to value.  

You might have thoughts like “Oh, they’re in such better shape than me. I hate my body.”  You can take a mindful step back and consider what beliefs make this thought upsetting.  This thought is only harmful if you believe that appearance is important and that all people are supposed to have the same body.  Again, this belief is one perpetuated by the media, but it doesn’t hold up to reality.

We are all born with a body type and our bodies aren’t like wet clay.  

Your body actually isn’t supposed to look like other people’s bodies do.  We are all unique beings with a different genetic make-up.  The idea of comparing your body to someone else’s is similar to comparing your thumbprint to someone else’s.

If we can become mindful of our thoughts and what beliefs they reflect, we can make a choice to realign ourselves with what we actually think matters most.

Sure, we live in the real world.  And there are people who will judge you by your appearance.  I wish that that wasn’t true, and I, for one, am hopeful that our culture won’t always put such emphasis on our looks.  Still, you probably do things with the intent of making yourself look “better.”  I wear make-up and style my hair.  I shop for clothing. But even if we do decide to pay attention to our appearance and to groom ourselves that doesn’t mean that our self-worth should be dictated by how we look and our proximity to some arbitrary cultural standard that will likely change again in a few years or a decade.  Perhaps more importantly, the judgments others make about appearance really don’t matter if we base our worth on our values.

It may take a considerable amount of time to counteract the effects of a lifetime of brainwashing.  In fact, we may always be bombarded by beliefs that we don’t agree with at our core.  That said, we can be aware of what value system is operating at any given moment and make a choice to be informed by other’s ideologies or our own beliefs.  We can decide what thoughts we buy into and which we deem unimportant.

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Finding Yourself

By Laurie Cousins

A deep pattern of pain and suffering for me has been second guessing myself — my feelings, perceptions, and body.  In my early years of growing up, my family was in the throws of untreated alcoholism, codependency, trauma and all the stress that comes along with this kind of dysfunction. Of course, like any child, I did not have the capacity to hold what I was experiencing in a healthy and stable way. In an attempt to make myself feel better and protect myself from pain, I began to seek behaviors that I thought could help me cope. We now know through Science and Psychology, that we are hard-wired to survive and part of that design used can be to build coping strategies and defense mechanisms.

My first love as a kid was sugar and wow, it was a “sweet” relationship for a long time. But the older I got, the more I felt like there was a hole inside of me that I couldn’t quite fill and this lead to experimenting with other things, like smoking, dieting, shopping, using substances and alcohol, and technology. At first they really worked for a while. I felt like I had some type of control over my mental, emotional, and physical experiences. But eventually, each one was like a romantic relationship that became “real” and real destructive. I was constantly chasing something to be the answer to my problems, but in the long run ended up making more problems for myself and others.

These behaviors started out as good intentions, trying to soothe my discomfort and unease, but my mind became more obsessive and unkind, my emotions were like a scary roller coaster that I wasn’t sure I would survive, and I felt like I couldn’t be or feel comfortable in my own skin. I began to feel embarrassed and guilty for not being able to control myself, which led to feelings of shame because I thought I was the only one who suffered in this way. Even when I did have times of reprieve from a compulsive habit, there was always another one to take its place and I would think, “I can’t believe I am here again.” This is the delusional, suffering loop of addiction and addictive behaviors. If you identify with any of this, know you are not alone and there is hope!  

Recovering from destructive behaviors is a process that involves replacing old harmful patterns with new healthy ones. But first we have to become aware of our patterns, when we get triggered, and discover what need is actually underneath the old craving, and meet it in a way that can be truly satisfied. This is where Mindfulness is key!

We begin to learn how to check in (versus checking out), and investigate our experiences from a place of curiosity, kindness, and acceptance. This helps us to become less identified and unhook from the habit loop, allowing more space to hold what is present, and increasing our capacity to tolerate what is unpleasant; especially because we know it will pass. Through the practice of compassion, we stop turning on ourselves and begin to turn toward ourselves with kindness and support, like a caring friend would when we are having a difficult time. Whatever we practice regularly is strengthened, and with time, we no longer have to second guess ourselves and can live from a place of joyful authenticity, inner wisdom, and resiliency.

Addiction can be a very isolating experience and many of us need extra help. My many years of recovery would not be possible without a lot of support, professional help, and sense of connection from several communities. In addition to this series, I recommend creating some type of support system. We do not have do any of this alone, nor are we meant to.

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Parenting in the Age of Stress: How to put the brakes on and reclaim more balance


by Jason Thomas, Educational Psychologist, Evenflow Meditation Teacher


As the parent of my own young children and having worked with many parents over the years, I can say there may be nothing in life that brings greater fulfillment than being a parent. However, it also brings tremendous stress.

In fact, the very idea of or striving to be a good parent can be a source of significant stress. Most of us are acutely aware when we are falling short of this ideal and we can become plagued by a sense of guilt and shame. It’s not your fault. The cultural expectations for parents continues to increase, while shared caretaking of children has reduced. This shift has caused an enormous burden on parents to fulfill all their children’s basic needs, and live up to societal expectations of working hard in a successful career while simultaneously ensuring your child is a socially sensitive and well-rounded Ivy League graduate. The deck is stacked against us.

This nearly impossible standard of being a “good parent,” that many of us tacitly agreed to, intensifies the pressure and constant stress that not only creates a slew of health issues for us, but gets passed down to our children, who are also becoming stressed out in huge numbers. Yes, stress is contagious, particularly when it’s passed from parent to child. In her article, “The Epidemic of Stressed Parents Raising Stressed Kids: From Generation X to Generation Stress” Kristin Race, Ph.D. argues that all the stress that parents are experiencing, is causing a whole new generation of stressed out children. She cites statistics showing that anxiety and depression are on the rise for elementary school students and that 20% of all school-aged children have a diagnosable mental disorder. In one telling bit of research, she reports Xanex is often now the “drug of choice” for teens.

So, how do we put the brakes on all of this and reclaim our balance? To begin, stop and put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Just as stress is contagious, so are other emotions. When we are able to reduce our own stress and increase our joy, this too is passed along to our family. Our children will benefit immensely when we are less stressed and feeling more at ease. So instead of trying to manage our children’s emotions and behavior so much, perhaps our children would be better served by us managing our own stress.  Thankfully, there are many things we can do to manage our stress.

  1. Drop out of the Rat Race - There’s a wise saying that even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat. You don’t have to buy into the expectations that our culture puts on parents. Nor do you have to place your own self-worth on meeting impossibly high expectations. Prioritize what is important to you about being a parent and then let that be your guide. Comparing yourself to other parents and trying to keep up with them is often a recipe for more stress for you and your kids.  

  2. Practice Mindfulness Meditation - Participants in courses like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) have shown significant reductions in stress. Regular mindfulness meditation practice is an effective tool for managing stress. I developed a Stress Reduction mindfulness meditation series on the Evenflow App which I highly encourage you to try out. This can be a wonderful way to support yourself as you encounter the trials and tribulations of parenting in the modern world. Even practicing as little as 10 minutes per day, can have positive effects.    

  3. Self-Compassion - Parenting is hard enough without beating ourselves up. We all make mistakes and act in ways towards our children that are not ideal. Realize you are doing the best you can, given your circumstances and history. This is not to condone continuing harmful behavior, but rather a compassionate acknowledgment of the way things are. When you approach yourself with compassion, the natural extension of that is to behave in caring and non-harming ways towards yourself and others.

  4. Be Present and Notice the Good - Set aside time each day to put away all distractions and just be present with your child. This can be tough, but even for a few minutes a day try to put aside any agenda other than just being with your child and fully present. Stress rises when multiple things are demanding our attention. By taking time to devote our attention to just our child we setting the stage for a lower stress, better quality interaction. See if you might also notice their good qualities during the interaction. Get a sense of what it feels like to really enjoy being with your child.  

  5. Accept Some Stress - It’s not possible or even ideal to get rid of all stress. Some stress is helpful and gives us the focus and energy we need to tackle everyday problems. So instead of striving to get rid of stress totally, aim for moderating your stress so that it doesn’t become toxic.

  6. The Bigger Picture - It can sometimes be hard to recognize the difference between big deals and little deals in parenting. We often worry that one behavior is going to expand into a full blown character flaw later in life. It’s very difficult to “trust the process” of growing up. And yet, somehow we all developed into adults. Asking yourself, “is this going to matter (next week, month, or five years from now)” will help give you some much needed perspective when your child is refusing to eat their vegetables.

  7. Recognize Your Limits - It’s okay to say no. Your child will survive if she doesn’t do everything. I love the acronym HALT. If I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, I need to take steps to care for myself or risk  causing harm to myself or others. Seething resentment makes you and everyone around you miserable. It is far better to pause and care for yourself rather than plunge forward with a bad attitude.

There is no getting around it - parenting in the modern age is stressful. We feel it, our partner if we have one feels it, and most of all our kids feel it.  However, you can be the one who injects more calm and ease in your family. By letting go of what everyone else thinks is important, connecting with what is most important to you as a parent, and reducing your own stress you can reclaim the balance your family and you desire. For more help on managing stress check out my series on Stress Reduction in the Evenflow app.




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A Meditation Ritual To Relieve Stress & Anxiety


By Ian Hoge, Evenflow Teacher & Masters in Clinical Psychology

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TEDx talk by Evenflow curriculum director Shira Myrow.


You may have heard that failure is necessary in order to learn, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to fail. In her talk “The Failure Paradox”, Shira Myrow’s shows us how practicing mindfulness can help us reframe our perspective to be able to tackle the fear of failure.


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How To Be More Positive Every Day

Jason Ryterband -  Certified Meditation and MIndfulness teacher


You may have noticed—for modern people, positivity is not a given. Being positive might feel good, but our survival as a species has depended far less on how good we feel, and far more on how vigilant we are.  Over millennia, we’ve learned to anticipate threats, stay close to the herd, compete and strive.  Even as basic needs like food, water and shelter have become more readily available to more of the world, our habits of vigilance, anxiety, and worry have remained.  

So in short, if you’re a worrier, you’re not alone.  Furthermore, as sure as your mind is good at worrying, it can also be good at thinking positively.  It just takes practice.  

Positive states of mind may feel difficult or insincere at first, but in the long term, they become a deep support in challenging times.  These states of mind promote clear and rational thinking (even under stress), they use less energy, and they are “pro-social”—they support us in maintaining healthy relationships.  They also have substantial physical health benefits.  

* * *

Here are four positivity remedies you can explore on your own:

1. Focus On What You’re Doing

Harvard University researchers found that human beings spend just about half our time thinking about something other than what we’re doing.  More importantly, time spent wandering off was consistently shown to be less satisfying than time spent attending to what was happening in the moment.  In other words, our happiness is intimately connected to our ability to be present.  So, in any given moment, how much focus can you pour into what you’re doing?  Even simple tasks like folding laundry, washing dishes, or walking from place to place can be opportunities to soak into the sensations, sights and sounds of the experience, rather than just letting the mind wander.

2. Kindness

Think of a person in your life that naturally causes a kind, friendly state of mind to arise.  Maybe a child, a niece or nephew, a mentor or friend.  As you visualize this person, notice what this kind perspective is like.  What feelings are present in your body?  What sorts of thoughts show up?  Pleasant thoughts and feelings don’t always arise and that’s ok, but if they do, this person is a resource.  Thinking of them can help you jump-start a kind state of mind any time.  

3. Gratitude

In addition to thinking of people, we can also use situations to remind us of the good in our lives.  For a few moments, let your mind wander over situations in your life that evoke a sense of gratitude or appreciation.  See the images of those situations in your mind.  Feel any pleasant feelings that arise.  Just as our minds are good at mulling over difficulties, they can become good at reflecting on good fortune, and this will color how we see ourselves and our lives.

4. Allow The Negative

Sure, positive emotions feel great.  But they are just one side of the coin.  It’s not possible to eliminate the negative, but we can change our relationship to it—letting difficult feelings be and remembering that all things fade.  So the next time you’re feeling a difficult emotion, take a deep breath, let your shoulders drop, and say to yourself, “right now it’s like this, and I know this will pass.”  

The ability to simply let the storm blow over can be your greatest ally.  Each time we meet discomfort with an allowing attitude, staying with it until it passes, we see once more that it can be done.  In this way, we come to trust the process, and emotional resilience grows.

* * *

You may have noticed, all of these remedies rely on the ability to direct your attention.  One of the best ways to learn to direct your attention is through the practice of mindfulness meditation.  In mindfulness meditation, we cultivate concentration, clarity about what is happening in the moment, and the ability to allow things to come and go with ease.  Specific mindfulness techniques can also help us to cultivate positive states like kindness and gratitude (as we began to do above).  

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The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness for Men

by Mark Meyhaus, Evenflow Founder

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How Meditation Will Help Ease Your Lonely Heart


By Jason Ryterband, Evenflow Teacher & LEP


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Are Open Marriages The Future Of Relationships? A Couples Therapist Explains

By: Shira Myrow, Evenflow Teacher, M.A., and LMFT


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How To Use Meditation In Any Situation

By Amanda Gilbert, Evenflow teacher and certified meditation & mindfulness instructor 


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A Solution for Loneliness

By Jason Ryterband, Evenflow Teacher & LEP


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Evenflow featured on Mind Body Green's article "The Complete Guide To Online Meditation Resources."

By Ashley Graber - Evenflow teacher & licensed psychotherapist and certified mindfulness meditation teacher


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Get the Best Sleep of Your Life


By Jennifer Waldburger - Evenflow Teacher & MSW


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Redbook - Evenflow featured in "10 Meditation Apps that will Help you Totally Zen Out"


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Depression: Learning from a Powerful Teacher


By Ian Hoge, Evenflow Teacher & Masters in Clinical Psychology


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Getting Curious About Judgement


By Mick Kubiak -Evenflow Teacher & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist


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