‘n Retreat in ‘n Neutedop vir Vroue – Saterdag, 14 Mei 2022

‘n Retreat in ‘n Neutedop vir Vroue – Saterdag, 14 Mei 2022
Ons het nodig om weer in te leun na wie ons gegroei het gedurende die pandemie.
Deur middel van ‘n Emotion-Focused Mindfulness benadering gaan ons as siele-susters ons gevoelens en behoeftes herontdek, en saamvier! 
Ons gaan 4 half-uur aspekte van ons lewensreis in ‘n veilige spasie beleef, met quiche en wyn as padkos tussen-in.
Ons 4 temas behels:
Verlies (neem die volgende tree op jou pad na aanvaarding);
Vrese (praktiese hantering van stres en angs in uitdagende tye);
Verwonding (hantering van onreg wat ek moet verwerk); en
Verwondering en Vreugde (vier jou passie en waardes vir ‘n sinvolle dag-tot-dag toekoms…).
Ons verdien hierdie verantwoordelike self-sorg en self-deernis momente!
Hier is meer detail oor hierdie Neutedop Retreat

When we Need to Silence our Self-Judgment

When we start living in our “minds” instead of our lives because of buzzy-ness, we judge our inner world as good or bad, right or wrong… We then start to avoid spending quiet leisure time on our own because the sense of emptiness may be so intense that it is just too painful to be in our own company. But, as spending quiet time is one of the most important ways (aside from physical exercise and connection with others) to deal with stress – according to the Centre for Studies on Human Stress – we might as well learn how to do that. It is good to keep in mind that we are bigger than our emotions and thoughts. They don’t fill us, they travel through us.

One way to silence self-judgement according to Tara Brach, an American psychologist is moving from head, to heart, to heart-space.

1. When you spend quiet time with yourself driving, trying to get to sleep or standing in a queue, the first step will be to become aware of any critical and judgmental thoughts. Then, make it your intention to unhook from these judging thoughts. Without believing or identifying with these thoughts, shift your attention to your senses (what do you see, hear or smell) or your breathing. Remind yourself that they’re just thoughts…

2. Open up to your heart. What feelings are you experiencing…? Can you give them names? Shame… guilt… anxiety… anger or sadness? Maybe there are feelings of being overwhelmed, fragile or fatigue (OFF). How do you experience this feeling in your body? What are you unwilling to feel? Try to connect with this feeling, and to allow this while softening your heart a little.

3. Open to your heart.-space. Put your hand on your heart, while saying kind words to yourself in this moment. “It ‘s okay, I am there for you.” Decide in what way you can take good self-care in this moment. Decide to enter these next few steps of walking through this difficulty with self-compassion and loving kindness

Our heartspace is the ocean – it includes the waves – the vulnerability, the thoughts and all the different experiences that move through us. If we remember that we’re the ocean. We will not be afraid of the waves. It’s okay that they are here… This belongs…”

– Tara Brach

Mariki Smith

(PhD Psychology)

Smart Methods for Staying Safe in Emergency Situations- Healthcare Professionals and Covid-19

Smart Methods for Staying Safe in Emergency Situations- Healthcare Professionals and Covid-19

Dear Healer

Kindly Remember: You are responsible for your own actions in all respects.
Always follow the protocols and rules of your government health departments, hospital, clinic or practice.

Advice by an experienced psychologist and trauma counsellor. Read more Here. (this will open in a new tab.)

Download contents here:

Throughout uncertain waiting and vital focus during emergencies, you may at times vaguely become aware that you feel vulnerable, unsettled, scared and groundless. However the groundedness you need is not in the space around you, but in the space within you. Start just there. That is where love, wisdom, grace, and compassion reside.What will keep you going throughout is to lean in often with open honesty about your difficult experience, but lightly…and to acknowledge your experience with grace and kindness for yourself.

Breathe in… lean in… and go…

1. Short & Easy Deep Breathing

  • This deep breathing exercise is a more oxygen per breath exercise.
  • Do this exercise as it comes to you (maybe every now and then when you wash your hands).
  • If you can, sit or stand up straight, but body posture does not matter.
  • Take a slow and deep in-breath until you feel the air in your neck.
  • Hold for a moment, and exhale deeply and slowly through your nostrils.
  • Do this for a few times. Notice the flow of breath and how your upper-body feels when you breathe very deeply.
  • After the last exhalation, swallow the saliva in your mouth.

2. A Healer’s Mindful Walk

  • You are walking to wash your hands, or to attend to the next patient.
  • For one or two seconds, pause and try to shift your focus from your mind’s overthinking, to your body posture.
  • Take a deep breath in, and when breathing out, relax your jaw, your neck and shoulders and your stomach.
  • Just for the first few steps, become aware how you lift your foot and put in down in front of you – first your heel and then your toes.
  • If you want to, do this short mindful walk for your previous patient. Every time you breathe out, let go of everything that is not yours to carry.

3. Putting On or Taking Off Healers’ Protective Gear

  • Just before you put on or take off your protective gear, pretend that you have a pause button on the palm of your hand.
  • As you “press” this button, remind yourself: “I am here for me now”. Try to be just in this moment.
  • Breathe slowly in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • While putting your gear on or off, try to do this a little slower than usual. Become fully aware of each bodily movement, each action.
  • Do this knowingly with loving kindness towards yourself.

4. A Short Grounding Exercise during Chaos or Trauma

  • When it is safe and possible, withdraw from the situation for one or two minutes, physically or in your mind.
  • When you breathe in, think of the number “one”. When breathing out, relax your forehead. When you breathe in, think of the number “two”. When breathing out, relax your neck and shoulders. When you breathe in, think of the number “three”. When you breathe out, relax your stomach. Repeat if possible.
  • Become aware of your surroundings, as if for the first time.
  • Remind yourself: “I can be anxious/tired/upset and still deal with this situation.”
  • Repeat your chosen mantra such as: Every day in every way I am becoming better and better .

5. Taking a Break while Handwashing

  • Just before you start washing or disinfecting your hands, take a few seconds to give yourself acknowledgement for the reason why it is necessary: You tried to help, or heal. Make sure to give yourself a smile.
  • While you focus on washing your hands, become aware of each part of your hands. Try to become aware of thankfulness – that these hands can make a difference.
  • Before you go again to help with these hands, hold your left hand for a moment with your right hand while reminding yourself: “With these hands I am doing the best I can, and that is more than good enough.”

6. Being Able to Take a Mindful Rest during COVID-19

  • Do a quick Breathing Howzit Exercise: Lean in lightly, and become aware of your thoughts, pleasant and unpleasant feelings, as well as your bodily sensations. Do this without trying to change them or judging them. These difficult feelings may just remind you that what you are trying to do is important to you.
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the most difficult moment ever and 10 being the best moment ever), where are you now? Try to accept wherever you are with no judgment or expectations. You are doing the best you can.
  • Then, return to mindful breathing. Breathe in through your nose for 3 counts, pause, and breathe out through your mouth for 4 counts. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes if possible.
  • Become aware of your surroundings: what sounds can you become aware of… without having an opinion about them or judging them.
  • Do the free Breathing Mindfully session which you can access HERE at 360Smartly.com if possible.(This will open in a new tab.)

7. Dealing with Difficult People during COVID-19

  • Colleagues, clients or family of clients may act unfairly in these difficult times. Try not to make it about yourself. They are just desperate, worried or tired.
  • Do the Mindfulness BOLD-exercise:
  • B- Breathe consciously (three times in and out)
  • O- Observe your difficult thoughts and feelings (“This is unfair. I did my best.” “I am so disappointed that they can’t see that I did everything I could.”)
  • L – Listen to your values and needs. (I am usually professional and caring. I need some support or breathing space.”)
  • D – Do what you need (not want) most! (Forgive. Focus on the task at hand. Give reassurance. Take a break. Seek support.)

8. Dealing with sleep deprivation during COVID-19

  • Take a power-nap wherever you are- a few minutes of sleep will heal. Do one of these exercises before you you take the nap. Be the Mentalist.
  • If this is not possible, when you can’t go forward, remind yourself: “I just need to give one more step.”
  • Be aware that sleep deprivation can interfere with your mood and thoughts. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remind yourself: “I am just tired because I am helping and making a difference. This is temporarily.”
  • Any form of conscious resting will help: Three conscious breaths in- and out; relaxation exercise; prayer; being creative by means of drawing, journaling, etc.

9. When Isolated from Loved Ones and their Support during COVID-19

  • It helps to remember during your struggling in the midst of necessary isolation, that your brain will keep on reminding you that connection with others helps you dealing with stress. Longing for loved ones is a good thing. Thank your brain every now and then for this reminder, even if it is uncomfortable.
  • Every time you feel alone, breathe in reminding yourself: “I am not alone”. While breathing out, remind yourself: “We all are doing this…”
  • When you feel isolated and alone, make sure to make some notes on what you would like to share if you connect with loved ones again. Make voice notes, write down high lights and challenges. Keep photos of loved ones on your phone or in your purse. Keep a journal if possible.
  • During your every day, show yourself gestures of kindness: hold your own hand, or give yourself a hug.
  • At the end of every day, write down three things you appreciate about yourself in doing this for yourself and our common humanity.

Take good, mindful self-care. As many times as you may need it, make the choice to stop, breathe, be, walk slowly, and keep on deciding to show up. You are in the thoughts and prayers of millions of people.

Trust your journey.

April 2020

Mariki Smith (MA PhD Psychology)

Drk Joubert (Attorney and Mediator)

A Decade of Hope and Resilience

A Decade of Hope and Resilience

1 January 2020 – 31 December 2029

Exploring the outer-reaches and far corners of this decade**

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.”– Emily Dickinson

As we enter a new decade full of mystery, unexpected change, uncertainty and unknown challenges, we tend to become stuck in our maladaptive coping habits. We easily become busy and distracted. We ‘fake it till we make it’, instead of ‘face it till we make it’. We tend to live in avoiding-autopilot rather than becoming aware of the hope and resilience we daily receive.

The poem “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers”, written by Emily Dickinson in 1862, transforms hope into a bird that is ever present in the human soul. It sings, especially when times get tough. If we allow ourselves to become quiet enough amid our loud and busy days, we may experience and share this song so much easier during pleasant and unpleasant times. Then, although we still find ourselves sometimes lost and overwhelmed, we can get back on our feet so much sooner.

Resilience refers to the ability to remain determined and maintain positive affect and well-being despite failures and setbacks. The Japanese proverb “Nanakorobi yaoki” describes this well: “fall seven times, stand up eight”. When we become resilient, we adapt and make allowance for moments of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
Daniel Siegel (2007) taught that mindfulness practice is scientifically proven to develop a long-term state of resilience by enhancing physical, mental and social well-being (2007).

Being resilient does not mean that we don’t experience difficulty. It rather refers to becoming aware of our emotional pain, fear and sadness non-judgmentally, with a kind curiosity. Research suggests that feelings can’t be changed by (positive) thinking, but only by awareness and regulation of feelings.

Emotions are possibly your greatest source of instincts, intelligence, and energy. All emotions contain genius, and our emotions are crucial for thinking, learning and understanding others. Therefore, it becomes crucial to practice daily leaning into feelings, by means of mindfulness.

Mindfulness takes us out of automatic doing-mode, so we can practice better hope and resilience by means of self- and other-compassion, connection with loved ones, awareness and regulation of our feelings, focus on in-the-moment planning and problem-solving, healthy self-care and acceptance of life as it is.
The practice of being fully present is a way to reclaim hope and resilience. It is a personal journey for all of us. By leaning into how you are feeling both physically and mentally, you can connect and accept life as it is, moment by moment.

Here at the Free State Institute for Mindfulness, and at our online learning platform, 360smartly.com, we don’t aim to generate mindfulness teachers. Our intention is to remind ourselves and our fellow human-beings in moments of uncertainty and change, that mindfulness belongs to everyone.
We were all born being capable of being aware in-the-moment, with a kind curiosity… whether we are drinking coffee, talking to loved ones, or facing a challenging moment. As we learn to embrace our pleasant and unpleasant feelings, the thoughts and bodily sensations they generate, we progress inch by inch on our journey with joy, hope and resilience.

In this decade we aim to remind ourselves and our fellow human beings to develop these affective intentions so clearly and purposefully that they overshadow any other intention or goal (especially materialistic ones) that we may have, and that all we do arise in the first place from and touch on our mindful being. It is in this manner that we will truly stay in control in moments of extensive change (when animal and plant species march, the climate becomes unpredictable, and water becomes either too scarce or too much) and overcome, and not fail in the face of challenges we will face.

Human beings are remarkable resilient creatures. We are copers and problem solvers. We cope through sheer determination, through our creativity and imagination, through prayer and religious beliefs, through involvements and diversions that feed our need for purpose,meaning, joy, and belonging, and for stepping outside ourselves and caring for others. We cope and are buoyed up by our own tenacious love for life, and by receiving love, encouragement, and support from our family, our friends and our larger community”. – Jon Kabat-Zinn

**When we think (now in January 2020) of our immediate future in the light of the destruction wrought by Australian fires, the uncertainty of climate change and the inability of world leaders to grapple with this, it helps to think in terms of a decade.
It also helps to assign a definitive commitment, vision and strategy of Hope and Resilience to this decade.
Then we feel more comfortable exploring the journey to 2029 and the outer-reaches and far corners of the decade.
Hope and resilience will bring us there.
Take up this guiding light, take our hands, and walk with us all the way to December 2029 and beyond.

Stay Blessed

Dirk Joubert (040835720) & Mariki Smith (0832884393)
The Free State Institute of Mindfulness team.

Finding Joy in Times of Groundlessness…

Finding Joy in Times of Groundlessness…
On the brink of 2020, the one thing we can be sure of, is that aside from the countless blessings and the magic moments that lies ahead, there will also be changes, uncertainties and challenges… Sigh…

Obviously, it is normal, even common, for most people to be a bit uncomfortable with uncertainty. Although, according to research, people vary in their ability to tolerate uncertainty. That is, some people are okay with having a lot of uncertainty in their lives, and other people cannot stand even a small amount of uncertainty. If you ever did the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and you are a “J”, you may understand this a bit better.

I learned a lot about dealing with uncertainty in one of FSIM’s CPD Workshops, presented by Prof Stephen Walker from the University of the Free State: Intolerance of Uncertainty (IOU). As uncertainty is frightening for most of us, we spend all our energy trying to remove or avoid all uncertainty in daily life situations. One thing we often do is to worry. We may even think that worrying is a way of preparing ourselves for the worst – getting us ready for anything that might happen. Worrying is seen as a way of attempting to predict life so that there are no nasty surprises. We believe it is our only strategy for making things in life more certain and more predictable – it helps us believe that we have more control. But, has our worrying ever made anything more certain or more predictable? By worrying, does it change the outcome of what will happen? Isn’t life still as uncertain and unpredictable as it ever was?

Some other behaviors we repeatedly try without success, are seeking excessive reassurance from others when having to make decisions; making long and detailed “to do” lists; double checking e.g. if our loved ones are okay; we procrastinate or try distractions. This can get to be exhausting, time consuming and unsatisfying. And unfortunately, none of these works. Unless we can see the future, we need to learn to accept that we will always be uncertain about some things.

Saki Santorelli, director and professor in Preventative and Behavioral Medicine at the Mindfulness Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, calls these times of uncertainty, “groundlessness”. We are all seeking solid ground. But, needing to be certain about everything can often take the fun out of life. We might miss out on a lot of good opportunities in life simply because of a dislike of uncertainty.

In times of groundlessness, we need to become the inner inventor of our own joy. The groundedness you need is not in the space around you, but in the space within you. Start just here. Tune into your heart. That is where love, wisdom, grace, and compassion reside. With loving attention, feel into what matters most to you. “The true seeker needs to become a pharmacist of bliss”… in the words of Rumi. We need to step out of the worries, overthinking, automatic habits and unhealthy distraction and find enough peace within to learn the wisdom of our inner pharmacist. To do this, we need to acknowledge that we are in such a place, with grace and kindness. As Santorelli puts it, we need “ … a willingness to step into open, unbounded space one moment after the next, dancing at the edge of chaos while catching to the tendency to stray, to revert to old habits, to fill in the open spaces…”

To step into this unbounded space within you, you can do the following mindfulness exercise:

1. Just where you are, become aware of the present moment. Feel your feet touching your shoes, or your body making contact with the chair you sit on, or the bed you are lying on.

2. Then, become aware of your breathing. Notice your bodily sensations as you breathe normally.

3. Next, become aware of all your unsettling, unpleasant feelings. Notice the feelings of frustration, hopelessness, overwhelment or confusion. Just acknowledge them, without judging them or trying to change them. Become aware of your need of certainty. Sit for a while with all the worrying thoughts… all the plans of getting rid of the uncertainty, without reacting on them.

4. As you breathe in, tell yourself: “I am learning to accept that uncertainty is just part of life” As you breathe out, tell yourself: “I am learning to let go of everything that is not mine to carry”…. “uncertainty is part of life”… “letting go”… “it’s part of life”… “let go”…

5. While you are breathing in loving awareness, visualize your need for certainty floating past you like clouds in the sky.

6. Whenever your mind wanders back to needing certainty, because that is what minds do, just notice that with no judgment, and return to your breathing.

7. See if you can become aware of a willingness to trust the journey.

The Team of the Free State Institute for Mindfulness wish you a joyful, mindful 2020!

Mariki Smith (PhD Psychology) marikismith.co.za

Free State Institute for Mindfulness (FSIM) fsmindfulness.co.za

Taking Care of the Caretaker

Taking Care of the Caretaker

When we take care of ourselves we give the world the best of us,
instead of what’s left of us…
“Compassion Fatigue is a disorder that affects those who do their work well.”
– Charles Figley.

Healing Space for Healers

The Free State Institute for Mindfulness had the privilege this month to present a Healing Space for Healers work session for the hero’s, healers and helpers of 2 Psychiatric Hospitals in Bloemfontein – both highly recommended mental health clinics. Being human, all of us can remember a moment in our job or home we could give the best of us to others. But, we can also can remember a moment we could only give what was left of us.

Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue can sneak up on us. This happens especially when we neglect our own self-compassion, self-care and awareness of our own well-being. The one day we give our all, finding it easy to care, show compassion and to make a difference in others. The next day we suddenly find ourselves dreading to go to work, experiencing resentment, irritability, impatience and reduced empathy.

According to Christina Maslach, we know that we are in trouble when we start to experience extreme emotional and physical exhaustion, depersonalization (loss of compassion, cynicism, lack of empathy and care), as well as lack of personal accomplishment.

If we are not mindful or aware of our inner experience, we could easily miss out on the signs, and it may lead to burnout, depression or anxiety.

Aside from the importance of our own well-being, burnout and compassion fatigue may lead to ethical and legal implications if left untreated.
We are especially vulnerable to burnout when we have difficulty with healthy boundaries, when there are high expectations of performance from ourselves or others, when we work with those at the low point of their lives, and when we take on what is not “ours”. Another reason why we burnout is that we tend to avoid leisure time because the sense of emptiness is so intense that it is just too painful to be in our own company. Thus, we work just harder, or turn to unhealthy quick fixes or distraction to experience short-term relief.
Being in the Compassion Business, (whether we are healers or helpers for children, adults or the elderly), we have a huge responsibility to manage good self-care, so to prevent burnout or compassion fatigue. In this way we can keep on being there for others.
We can only do this by knowing ourselves with non-judgmental awareness. We need to stay aware of our own level of stress (1 to 10), our own triggers and stressors, as well as our own unique signs and symptoms thereof.

Research at the Center for Studies on Human Stress in Canada

“The first step is to recognize when you are under stress. There may be some clues that we are under stress, that we must become aware of.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Research at the Center for Studies on Human Stress in Canada implies that the three most effective ways to deal with a huge amount of stress are:

1. Relaxation and mindful meditation (mindfulness meditation, prayer, being creative)

You can find your own way to retreat e.g. mindfulness exercises, journaling, prayer, music or art.
The Being BOLD exercise is a simple quick way to practice mindfulness during your workday:
B – Breathe. Become aware of 3 deep abdominal in- and out-breaths.
O – Observe your inner experience: your feelings (name it, validate it, feel it), your thoughts and bodily sensations – not trying to change it in this moment, and trying not to judge it – lots of self-compassion.
L – Listen to your values and needs. What life values are important to me at this stage in my life? (respect, compassion, kindness, achievement). What do I need in this moment that is good for me, to be okay.
D – Decide how to take the next few steps and Do it…

Being Bold

2. Physical Activity

Write down your plan of action for your physical exercise and eating plan for the next three months.

3. Social Support and Connection

Write down who are the give-and-take loved ones in your life, and how you are going to strengthen the connection with them in the next three months. Stay aware of creative healthy boundaries.
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” – Brené Brown

Mariki Smith (PhD Psychology) can be reached at mariki@fsmindfulness.co.za