Artistic image of a lotus flower to illustrate Physiology of Belly Breathing, a blog post by Jennifer Downs, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor with a counseling practice in Ashland, Oregon (photo by Jerry Downs)
The group Cultivating Self-Compassion has opened my eyes to treating myself with the same kindness, regard, respect, and compassion with which I try to treat others. [It] is making such a calming difference. It is also making me much more aware of the triggers for stress and anxiety that assault us in everyday life and some tools to cope with them. My life has changed for the better and will continue to change as I walk down this new, exciting, empowering path.
I blindly selected Jennifer from her ad in the telephone directory. I am grateful for that lucky choice. With compassion and honesty, she has helped me examine some very difficult personal issues. She gave me not only things to think about between sessions but also things to do when I was living real life, things that will help me achieve my goals.
There’s a mountain I keep trying to climb to find love. Why do I keep climbing the mountain when I’m already there?
I felt a strong sense of mutual respect and caring in the group. Everyone had a strong desire to understand themselves and their patterns at a deep level. Thank you, Jennifer, for creating this wonderful program.
This group opened my eyes to living mindfully.… The practice path that I am going down includes consciously slowing down, consciously paying attention, consciously breathing. One concrete example is that in the nine or so months since that group I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve misplaced my keys—or anything else that was in my hand. That may seem like a very small thing, yet it represents a great deal and has reduced some level of daily stress.
Thank you for this, Jennifer. Thank you for creating the sacred container of our group where hearts and souls have opened and allowed others to peek in, thank you for your sweet and gentle guidance, and thank you for being “you.” I appreciate you and honor your gift!
The greatest benefit was realizing that I am not alone, that everyone is going through something equally as painful or challenging. Being there for others, to listen to them, is a gift for yourself, not just for them. I am not alone in trying to learn and grow, and I am not alone in stumbling along the way. I would recommend this group to anyone going through a challenging time.
Holy Crap! I’m a positive person!
Jennifer provided us with new ways to think about each other and the relationship. As a result, we have more mutual respect and appreciation for one another and additionally we have been physically more calm and relaxed. We enjoy one another again. Jennifer provided us with very helpful insights, communication tools, a calm and welcoming atmosphere, body-healing strategies, and new internal orientations from which to operate. She was both challenging and empathetic, and we're most grateful to her for saving us from our worst selves and putting us on a new path to a hopeful and happy future.
Sometimes I feel lost in a dark forest on a cold night. Jennifer is always ready to provide a blanket and a flashlight.
I am capable of more emotional courage and vulnerability than I thought possible. I was able to break up with a man without hardening my heart against him and turn cold, contracted self-judgment into heartwarming, expansive self-compassion. I felt so much caring from you (Jennifer) and others.
I just don’t know how to thank you—in eight short weeks, I feel that I have been given valuable tools that have begun to and hopefully will continue to make the quality of my life so much better. I have not felt so connected, excited, and motivated since Bill’s death. I am so grateful to you for allowing me to participate in this group of truly wonderful people, to start looking at life issues in a different way, and beginning to amass the tools for continuing on this path.
The group contributed to my constant awareness of how I am led astray from the present moment by my incessant thought patterns and habits and how hard it is to accept myself as I am. I felt a strong sense of mutual respect and caring from others in the group. Everyone seemed to have a strong desire to understand their lives at a deeper level and shared a reverence for life. Thank you, Jennifer, for creating this wonderful experience.
Your openness and gentle guidance encouraged all of us to speak our truth and to open to the soft vulnerability of “true self.” I learned to speak to myself as a mother to her child or as a dear friend. My wish is that everyone has an opportunity to experience this. My gratitude is deep and wide!
After my divorce, I was feeling angry and discouraged. Jennifer helped me honor all my feelings and gave me the gift of knowing that I can feel confident and content.
This group helped me get a good handle on my codependent tendencies that I realized come out of my belief that I don’t have a right to ask for what I need. I now realize that I need to honor myself and that it is OK to express what I want.
Thank you so much for creating such a safe and clear environment for us to learn about cultivating self-compassion. It was one of the best groups I have ever been involved with. I learned so much and felt like I was truly part of a community working on learning to love, accept, and embrace all of the aspects of what makes each of us so unique and individual.
Thanks, Jennifer. You are an inspiration and an important person in my life. I get clearer by the day, and my mindfulness practice grows. It’s been a life-changing, transformational experience.
Dearest group, as I prepare for Thanksgiving with my family, I am struck with deep feelings of appreciation I have for all of you in my heart. In a very short time, we have forged an opening into the deepest heart of who we are and the light that has seeped through has lightened my load and helped my inner chatter of judgment. I appreciate all of you for the individual beauty you share with all of us and for your loving and kind being.
I can’t begin to express the changes I feel. Jennifer’s intuition, wisdom, and compassion are helping me find a part of me I didn’t know was there. My core. Thank you for this amazing gift.
I have experienced deep, lasting healing through my relationship with Jennifer. I am a completely renewed person; people in my life have all commented on the difference in me. I am a part of a loving family, am physically healthy, have new (and reconnected) friends, and am just beginning a new career, one that has been a lifelong dream of mine! I cannot say enough about the enormous impact Jennifer has had on my life. Her wisdom, compassion, intuition, humor, and patience helped me to become the person I was always meant to be.