Bench on Cliffs

On the cliffs of Central California… looking out over San Luis Bay.

Bench from which to Ponder

Favorite perch from which to ponder truth and beauty.

Well that was fun. I mean super-fun. I’m afraid the happiness bubble from my trip last weekend to the cliffs of central California has not quite deposited me into normal life. Maybe it won’t! Maybe I’ll just stay here hovering with contentment over the piles of laundry and art supplies that seem to have bred in my absence.

{I have to insert a big dose of gratitude here for my husband who totally cared well for our children without the passive aggressive complaining which usually infuses my attitude when he travels. The house rightfully came in second after taking the kids to celebrate comic book day in Grand Prairie and other dad-inspired weekend fun.}

A few of my favorite pics from the Martha Beck Life-Coach training event in San Luis Obispo, CA:


Here is a tip. The next time you are at a conference and want to take a cute pic with your fabulous training partners don’t put your nametag on your pants thinking that will somehow make it invisible…

Sunset over Water

Steps to Beach

Anywhere bougainvillea are this happy so too am I!

Anywhere bougainvillea is this happy (they grew into enormous bushes!) so am I

So I could just share photos all day, but wanted also to offer one of the nuggets of truth I’m integrating from the weekend:

A reaffirmation of the power of the body compass.

Ever had one of those times where you talked yourself into a ‘yes’ even though your gut/body was yelling “hells no!”?

Then you know what I’m talking about.

You can play with your compass in all kinds of ways and situations– both big and small.  Listen to your body as you inquire:

Do I want kale salad or bean and cheese nachos for lunch? or both!

Yoga pants or blue jeans?

Grad school or to start my own business?

You get the idea. Sounds too simple and yes there are many additional and more subtle ways to use this tool but most of us live so disconnected from our bodies that just to open the channel can be a powerful corrective.

At its most elegant the language of the body is this:

expansion or contraction.

It is almost as if our body literally opens when we are pointed in the right direction. And closes down when we are heading away from the truth. Or from the life that wants to live in us.

Now it is important here to say something about thoughts.

Thoughts drive our emotions which create body sensations which drive action. (Another useful framework from Martha Beck).

So if you are having a muddy body compass read (meaning it is hard to discern if it is a yes or a no) it might simply be inviting you to attend to some thoughts.

Because if you are holding on to some painful thoughts about the option (like maybe an old story) it can be hard to feel your way into your body’s wisdom.

Also growing can be uncomfortable so you may feel some static in your body which comes from the stretch. This is not necessarily negative. It is more like the sensation of going for a new yoga pose: while you might feel some tension in your body there is also a deep yumminess because you know ultimately your body loves this stuff!

There is much more to say on thought dissolving and the way that negative thoughts affect our body– in fact that’s a whole other tool! But for now I’d just encourage you to settle your mind with a few deep breaths or other calming practice before tuning into the body compass.

And if your skeptical brain is perking up here to say…. I dont know about this “body wisdom” idea…. Great! no need to turn that off.

Just play around with the compass. Ignore it. Follow it. And keep your compassionate inner observer there seeing how things shake out.

Treat the whole thing like an experiment or an invitation.

What happens when rather than tuning out the body… you turn up the volume?  Could you begin to develop a new relationship to its wisdom?

For figuring out how to feel good in our bodies and in our days is the whole point of this human journey.

Why? Because it is from there — that place of expansion– that we can creatively respond to whatever we encounter in life and share our greatest gifts.

But don’t take my word for it! As always try it out for yourself and I would love to hear how it goes! If you are feeling brave leave me a little comment below of when/how you used your compass and what happened. I think I have a tribe of introverts (which makes sense, i’m one too!) but i do love to hear from you and know that others who read the blog would too.



PS The Summer of Meditation Challenge is coming…. A free online training program. This year is going to be lean + light and full of new audio meditations and other reflections for you. xo

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. 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 or you can schedule a complementary conversation to talk more.

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