This picture came to me this week from a new friend & colleague in Boston. I don’t miss the winters, but I miss the Fall color!

Meditation is not about “stopping the thoughts.” This goal is really a setup for failure. We think on average 50,000 thoughts a day! It is the nature of the mind to think, and in meditation our mind still continues the habit.  In fact thinking thoughts in meditation is one way we release stress, so in a funny way it even benefits us.

While we can’t stop the thoughts (and it is hopeless to try) we can shift our relationship to them. Thoughts are made up of words. Words consist of two elements: the sound or written symbol and the meaning.  When we follow the meaning of the words in our mind they carry us on little mental trips as one word inevitably leads to another and another.

Meditating on a particular word or phrase, a mantra, interrupts this normal stream of thoughts. By focusing on the sound of the mantra and its subtle vibration we give the busy mind a job and help settle the nervous system.

I have found many people start trying to meditate by focusing on their breath and get demoralized when they can’t stop the thinking. Mantras are a wonderful alternative.  As you say a word repeatedly, it begins to lose its meaning and simply becomes a sound.  For many people mantras become their favorite regular practice and doorway to presence. 

Here is a Quick Mantra Meditation for you to try and to share with a friend who needs an uplift in their day.

I’m curious… are habitual thoughts a struggle for you? How do you find relief? Share your tips and experiences by leaving a comment.

Happiness to you this Fall day.


cropped-UpLevel-Filming.jpgCourtney Pinkerton is the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching, the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge, and publisher of a weekly enewsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three young children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at cp@courtneypinkerton.com or you can schedule a complementary clarity session to talk more.

“I don’t trust a lot of people with my heart. Courtney has a very clean, and centered presence. She creates a space where you can be yourself with no judgement, and this is transformational. Courtney reminds me that change is not a linear process. And that I don’t have to be frustrated with myself for what I haven’t been able to work out, on my own. As part of this coaching relationship I have reconnected to the root of myself and to nature and the creative process. I still can get stressed out, but now I feel lighter, freer, and hopeful. My spirit is soaring again, I’m working to live my life again,  and I haven’t felt this way in a long time.” Katrina, Non-Profit Leader, Dallas Texas.

How do we work together?

Currently I offer one-on-one coaching via phone or in person for local clients. I specialize in helping clients achieve work-life alignment, move through difficult periods of transition and craft integrated, soulful lives.

Coaching is a partnership which takes time and commitment. For that reason, while I offer one-off sessions for previous/current clients, I do not recommend it for prospective clients. As a general rule of thumb, I find that clients experience substantial shifts in ten sessions and undergo palpable transformation in twenty. I customize 10-20 session intensives to meet your specific needs:

Bird in Hand Coaching Intensive

  • 10 private, personalized 60-minute sessions via phone
  • custom fieldwork exercises (as desired) in between sessions
  • regular email support
  • personalized meditations and visualizations
  • recordings of our sessions and meditations (as desired)
  • practical reading and resources
  • investment in yourself: $1975. Clients can also choose to make three monthly payments of $675 (for weekly sessions) or five monthly payments of $425 (for sessions twice a month).

Bird in Hand Coaching 2.0

  • For graduates of the ten session intensive
  • 6-10 private, personalized 60-minute sessions via phone
  • Building on tools + awareness from the intensive we hone in on specific goals you identify — often in the realm of career or relationship shifts — and help you take concrete steps to navigate the transitions with presence.
  • custom fieldwork practices (as desired) in between sessions
  • recordings of our sessions
  • practical tools and resources
  • personalized meditations and visualizations
  • regular email support
  • investment in yourself:  $1185-1975. Clients can also choose to make monthly payments of $675 (for weekly sessions) or monthly payments of $425 (for sessions twice a month).

Interested to learn more? Schedule a complementary clarity session here.

“Coaching with Courtney is like a class you take on yourself with a good instructor. It is a class about you. You find out things you like, and thing you don’t like. You are going to do the work! But it has been wonderful to talk to someone smart, caring, & thoughtful to work through things I get stuck in. It is not always so easy from the inside to see how you are stuck. As a result of our coaching sessions I feel more in control. And when stressful things happen I remember to breathe. I have also been happier. This has been really nice. And more grounded. Meditation has been an unexpected and awesome bonus.” Liena, Publisher, Brooklyn NY.

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