Coming Home to The Heart

This week’s guest blogger and Mountain View Community Member Traci Hodes writes about the meaning of self-compassion and ways we can cultivate self-compassion in our everyday lives.

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I remember the first time I spoke to a client about being compassionate towards self, and she looked at me with these incredulous eyes, and asked, “How do you do that?”  I admit, this process isn’t one I’ve easily learned myself -- it’s been a process of stops and starts, forwards and backwards. But what exactly is self-compassion? It’s nothing fancy or big… it’s simply (but not easily), treating ourselves with the same kindness we treat the friends for whom we care, according to Kristin Neff, a leading researcher on Self-Compassion.

It’s not surprising that often the idea of being compassionate towards self seems like an alien prospect… Our culture teaches us to be competitive, and while this is a valuable lesson, it also lays the groundwork for compassion of self to be left behind. It feels so natural to speak harshly to ourselves, most of the time we don’t even notice it.  Have you ever “heard” the tone of voice you use when you’re talking to yourself? If not, with some curiosity, pay attention to that narrator voice that arises the next time you make a mistake of some sort. When I first began noticing it, I was floored by the harshness with which I spoke to myself -- and I realized I must be doing this over and over again throughout the day, each time something doesn’t go my way.  It seems natural that if I speak to myself harshly, I’m more likely to feel down about myself and my abilities.

Some people get the idea that compassion for self is wimpy, and that if we are kind to ourselves, then we lose our drive to succeed.  Research actually shows the opposite! Compassion for self improves our resiliency, our ability to bounce back after a failure. When we fail at something and then turn against ourselves, this can lead to depressive-type thinking.  But when we make a mistake, and we cultivate self-compassion, we realize that everyone messes up, it’s not just us -- and moving through the disappointment doesn’t seem so sticky. Kristin Neff reminds people that self-compassion actually helps people achieve goals, not walk away from them.

So, if you are wondering how to walk down that road of self-compassion, join myself and Jen Zehler for Coming Home to the Heart -- A Four-Week Miniseries Cultivating Self-Compassion.  This workshop will be grounded in mindfulness and contemplative practices we can learn to use throughout the day as we encounter both our own and others’ suffering.

Both Jen and I teach mindfulness within school settings and community settings.  Jen has worked as an educator, has completed a Masters in Mindfulness, trained at iBME and the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS Medical School.  She is the Director of the Children’s Program at Trinity Institute for Neuroscience and Spirituality. I work as a psychologist in private practice, and have trained at Mindful Schools and the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS Medical School.  Both Jen and I are Qualified MBSR Instructors through UMASS.

If you would like to register for Coming Home to the Heart, please go to

When you go to the website, you’ll see a Mindfulness Class Registration tab.  Click on that, and you’ll see the directions for registering from there. In order to serve the needs of the community, the class is being offered on a sliding scale/sustaining donation, ranging from $40-$80 in total for the four sessions.  The class will meet the four Mondays in November at Mountain View Wellness from 6pm-7:45pm.

Call 203-671-4182 with any questions, and I welcome the chance to practice with you.

With Gratitude for the opportunity to practice with you, AND much gratitude to Jen for the inspiration of the description of our course as “Coming Home to the Heart”,


Traci Hodes, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

Jen Zehler
Director of the Center for Children’s Spirituality at 
TIANS (the Trinity Institute for Applied Neuroscience and Spirituality)

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