Note From Louisa
In the blink of an eye, the wheel of the year turns, and the holidays are upon us again. As we move into the long days of winter, we are faced with a choice: we can choose to embrace the gifts that accompany darkness, or resist and lament the lost light.
Embracing darkness means to accept with open arms the invitation of winter to slow down and turn inward. The icy landscape can appear desolate, or it can offer us the opportunity to adjust our pace and be more intentional of where and how we place our feet. It is a time of community as we look for opportunities to stay indoors and gather those close to us to the warmth of the fire where we share stories and share in one another's company.
Unlike the activities of spring and summer, the winter calls on us to examine how we keep our balance, both literally and figuratively. What no longer serves us and can be released as we make room for the new growth of spring?
In less than a month, the days will grow longer again. Even though the challenges of winter weather lay ahead of us, it is this time of darkness before the Solstice that sets the tone for the cold months that lie ahead.
Will this be a time of renewal and reflection? A time of thanksgiving for warmth and family? Can we resist the urge to wish the winter away and long only for the light?
With compassion,
Inclement Weather Policy

When OPS is closed, we are closed. We will also send out an email to notify of cancellations. If inclement weather falls on either a weekend or school holiday, please check with your specific instructor or facilitator regarding cancellation and rescheduling.
Massage Therapist Rae Minten
We are so excited to welcome Rae Minten to our community! Rae has massage and Reiki appointments and you can learn about her services, pricing and how to schedule an appointment here

What a lovely opportunity to express gratitude to your one, precious body!
Ongoing Contemplative Practices
Workshop: Sitting Meditation Groups
Workshop: Mindfulness Study Group (see below)

Workshops & Events
There are a few seats left in this workshop which begins this Saturday, December 1st. Please email Louisa directly at if you would like to join us...
Mindful Self-Compassion: Moving From Shame to Self-Acceptance. A Comprehensive Program to Cultivate Peace and Compassion in Ourselves & Others.
Four Day Long Retreats, Saturdays 9 am to 4 pm
December 1st, January 12th, February 9th, March 9th
Nurturing a strong, positive relationship with ourselves is at the very foundation of emotional well-being and resilience. This series of four day-long retreats will help you to develop the skills necessary to turn toward life's challenges with tenderness and curiosity, rather than avoidance, anger or shame.
Research has found that having a self-compassion practice acts as an effective buffer against anxiety and depression. Learning to soothe and comfort ourselves in times of distress increases our sense of gratitude and happiness, and enhances all of our relationships.
Each retreat includes small group exercises, opportunities for private reflection, and guided meditations. No prior experience with meditation is necessary.

Maximum 12 participants.
$125.00 per session.
Must commit to attend all four sessions as skills and course content are designed to build on one another.
Mindfulness Talk & Guided Meditation
Facilitated by Laura Crosby
Wednesday Mornings, from 11:15 am - 12:45 pm
Mindfulness teachings, followed by group discussion & meditation. Deepen understanding and practice of mindfulness as we draw on teachings about bringing mindfulness and meditation to essential life experiences ... stress, relationships, difficult emotions, habits, change, conflict, and more. 
Following a 20-30 minute teaching, we will have a facilitated group discussion and a meditation based on the teaching.  Some mindfulness practice helpful, but not required. All materials and supplies provided. This session is freely offered.   There is no charge to participate. This is a drop-in offering. No registration is required.
Mindfulness Study Group
Facilitated by Laura Crosby
1st and 3rd Sundays of each month from 4-6 p.m
Join us as we begin Reflections on Silver River by Ken McLeod. This short work is part translation of a revered Tibetan poem on 37 mindfulness and compassion practices and part short reflections on how these teachings apply to life today.  
The Group will read together, so there is no pre-reading or homework involved. Copies of the book will be available for use in the study session or to check-out. There is no charge to participate. Drop-ins welcome at any time - feel free to jump in at any point! While this selection is based on Buddhist mindfulness teachings, the Study Group as a whole is not religiously affiliated. No registration required.
Featured Article
Artist Gina Bold, Title: "Self Hug"
Predictable, Normal, and Understood: why you're not as bad as you think you are.

By Pamela Mueggenberg, M.A., LMHP, LPC
I had the great pleasure of attending an intensive review of the current research in trauma this past month. As a trauma therapist, I want to be able to bring the most up-to-date, scientifically minded understanding of trauma and its treatment to my clients.
The man who taught the class, Dr. Robert Rhoton out of Phoenix, Arizona was a brilliant, warm man who would not stand for any foolishness when it came to our best treatment of clients. "Just try to suck less every day," he tossed out to the group as we were struggling with new concepts and interventions. I was very pleased to see that my philosophy of integrating creative expression and mindfulness in my work was held up by numerous studies as being very effective, but one thing that I need to pay more attention to with everyone - including myself - is how our human bodies physiologically respond to stress.
"Our clients are not doing ANYTHING wrong!" Dr. Rhoton roared. "Their bodies are doing exactly what they have been designed to do when faced with a threat - these behaviors are NORMAL! They are PREDICTABLE! It is up to you as a therapist to UNDERSTAND them and let them know they don't need to be ashamed!"
Let's imagine that you have a paper cut. When you first injure your skin, your body immediately attempts to draw energy to that area, swelling the cut with platelets and white blood cells to begin the healing process. This actually causes more pain - the paper cut hurts worse a few minutes after than it did right when you got cut.
This is called a physiological adaptation - the body is attempting to draw energy to the injury to speed healing and create space between ourselves and whatever threat or distress may be looming. Unfortunately, sometimes those adaptations can bring added discomfort.
Now let's imagine the psychological version of a paper cut - someone is rude to you, your boss gives you an unreasonable deadline, your car won't start in the cold. Your body responds to this injury in the same way it would a physical injury, by diverting energy into the area to create space between you and the distress.
You may snap at the person, become passive aggressive, roll your eyes at your boss as she turns away, kick your tire. You are not acting as your "best self" in those moments, but you are doing what your body needs you to do. This is predictable, and normal.
Now let's up the ante.
Instead of a paper cut, you have suffered a major injury to your leg and you are losing blood quickly. A physiological adaptation will not be enough to spur healing, so your body turns to mitigation. A mitigation is when your body cannot create space between you and the threat - the threat is here - so instead it creates space between your distress, and the perception of that distress.
This is similar to taking a pain pill; the medication does not stop you from hurting, it blocks your perception of the pain so you feel more comfortable. Your body can do this during times of catastrophic injury by going into shock, losing sensations to parts of your body, or more frequently, fainting.
If we look at psychological mitigations, in the face of uncomfortable distress we may go numb, distract ourselves, use alcohol or drugs, or in many other ways detach our bodies from our experience. You may not be proud of yourself for bingeing on Netflix, but what you are doing is predictable, and normal.
We need to understand that our bodies are not computers with which we can assign our values and watch them effortlessly appear. Our bodies are built to keep us alive, to adapt to and mitigate threat, and seek out comfort. We have these wonderful super powered monkey brains that are doing the best they can.
Let's all forgive ourselves just a little bit for not being perfect, and instead try to help our minds and bodies heal. To judge ourselves with shame is to bring more distress upon us, which triggers more of these behaviors.
The next time you are stressed out, do a little experiment: don't blame yourself for your behaviors, go underneath them and see if you can regulate your body. Breathe. Stretch your muscles. Remind yourself that you are safe, you are loved, you are worthy. Wiggle your toes. Explore your senses, what you can see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Do you need some water, or a snack? Is there anyone around - human or pet - that you can snuggle?  
You might notice that once you re-regulate your body, new options open up and you are able to make choices based on who you want to be rather than what you want to avoid.
As we approach this holiday season, stress will be lurking behind every uncooked turkey and politically alienating family member. Let's all try to be kind to ourselves and take good care of our bodies and minds. You are a fully developed human being with so much more to you than just your behavior. Be diligent in your compassion to yourself, and we'll all get through this together.

The Center for Mindful Living is a space for healing that hosts independent practitioners and educators coming together to create an Urban Sanctuary in the middle of the city.