Mindfulness & Meditation So Easy, A Kid Could Do It PART 2: Five Finger Breathing by Ashley Graber, Psychotherapist & Certified Meditation & Mindfulness Expert

Finger Finger Breathing

Finger Finger Breathing

I get asked all the time for mindfulness practices any one can use from the boardroom to the therapy room and at home, so I thought I’d start a blog – A place where a CEO, a parent, a teachers or a psychotherapist can come to get simple tools.

For our second Mindful Tool, I’d like to introduce the Five Finger Breathing.

This is a great tool because works for all ages and can be used at any time of the day. Try it before a business meeting (or during if need be) or right before bed with a young child. Couples also love it as a way to connect.

 What I like about this practice is that it’s not only a meditation, but it’s a great grounding tool as well. Grounding important because it can reduce the intensity of big emotions quickly and effectively. Experiencing an almost total reduction in physical or emotional activation just through grounding can be surprising, since grounding is very simple.

When we ground we connect more deeply and completely to the body, strengthening the feeling of being inside the body and connected to the ground. We are once again able to respond to a stressful situation versus reacting out of frustration or anger.

For this practice take the pointer finger of one hand and trace the other hand and then switch. Start at the wrist and trace up the thumb breathing in then trace back to the starting point (the wrist) breathing out, next go up the pointer finger breathing in and back to the wrist breathing out, now to the middle finger doing the same, now the ring finger and pinky finger continuing breathing in as you move up the finger and breathing out as you move back down to the wrist and then change hands and repeat the pattern.

This, like all mindfulness & meditation practices will work best when done consistently. I suggest doing Five Finger Breathing one time per day, every day.  This is also a great tool for when emotions are running high.

As a parent we often want our children to “get it” or do it “right.” By modeling the practice children will eventually do it. In the meantime, try to remember that they are doing it to the best of their ability. Consider it a time to pause for yourself and know that no matter what your child is doing during the practice, it’s a moment of presence and calm and you are teaching them a valuable tool. They are learning a lot more than we think, even when it looks like they are just messing around. As with all of these practices, they are never to be used as punishment.

Enjoy and reach out if you have questions or comments.

If you would like me to help your child or family or come to your school or business, please contact me. I can also teach these practices remotely if you are not local to Los Angeles.


How to raise boys to be emotionally intelligent by Shira Myrow, LMFT


Re-printed from Goop

It’s a myth that boys are born less emotionally complex than girls. What is true, says LA-based psychotherapist Shira Myrow, is this is learned over time. We raise boys in a culture that continues to perpetuate that myth—and the result is that boys often learn to shut down their feelings earlier. “A gap in the capacity to express and articulate feelings—but also listen—profoundly affects intimate relationships,” Myrow says. “I see it every day with couples: Men come in with a huge deficit. They don’t have language for their emotions, and so they can’t decipher what their partners are trying to communicate underneath their emotional reactivity.”

Myrow works to help the men in her practice slow everything down and start at the beginning, which requires learning how to become emotionally attuned, engaged, and responsive to their partners. She believes, too, that this is a meaningful step we can take as parents to sensitize our sons to be become more compassionate, more emotionally intelligent. In other words, these are the steps it takes to be mindful.

To read more, click on the link below


Mindfulness & Meditation So Easy, A Kid Could Do It PART 1: The Glitter Calm Down Jar by Ashley Graber, Psychotherapist & Certified Meditation & Mindfulness Expert

Mindfulness Jars

Mindfulness Jars

I get asked all the time for mindfulness & meditation practices that can use from the boardroom to the therapy room and at home, so I thought I’d start a blog – A place where a CEO, a parent, a teachers or a psychotherapist can come to get simple tools.

For our first Mindful Tool, I’d like to introduce the “Mind Jar” or “Calm Down Jar.”

The jar represents the mind; the glitter represents thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. When we shake it up this represents when we are overwhelmed, stressed, upset, and/or overly excited to the point that we cannot see clearly. Our perception becomes cloudy. We can be more "reactive" to life from this place, as opposed to "responsive". It can feel like there is a storm inside which makes us feel unsteady. To help balance and steady ourselves we can practice coming to our senses...literally...by focusing on one of our senses.

For parents or psychotherapist, you can make this a fun and interactive learning activity by having the kid(s) or patient (great for adults too) put their emotions in the jar. This way they get to see that their own emotions can get mixed up and that by using their senses (their sense of sight specifically in this practice) they can come back into balance and feel calm again.


The picture above shows an example of how I lay this out.

Laying it out like this initially allows the person to change the colors of the emotions to ones that resonate more with them. I simply move the glitter around and re-label it with whatever emotion they choose. Additionally, this will give you a bird’s eye view into the emotions and thoughts that most often cause them suffering.

For an in depth feelings wheel: https://www.simplemost.com/feeling-wheel-will-help-better-describe-emotions/

Here’s my recipe and directions for making the jar:

Tools Needed

Jar with a good lid                                                                   Glitter of different sizes (larger & fine)

Hot and cold water                                                                Glitter glue



Step 1: Put a generous amount of glitter glue in the jar

Step 2: Add just enough hot water to cover the glue and shake up to break up the glitter glue

Step 3: Add cold water almost about ¾ of the way to the top

Step 4: Add glitter (Note: red glitter will stain the water)

Step 5: Fill with cold water to the top

Step 6: Shake and time it to see how slowly or fast it settles and adjust accordingly. Use a timer to time how long it takes to settle. It should take 1 minute to settle and become clear again. If it’s too fast add glitter glue + hot water. If it’s too slow, pour out some of the water and add fresh cold water.

Step 7: Shake again to see if it settles at about 1 minute.

The jar can be used on a daily basis as a meditation practice and it can be used in moments of activation to pause and help calm the storm inside.

For parents, I suggest finding a time of day to do it with your child/children and to do it with consistency. It can also be put on the dinner table and your child can shake it and you all can watch it settle before you eat . Viola! You’ve practiced mindfulness as a family. It’s important to note that the jar should never be used as punishment or suggested with an angry tone.

I was recently interviewed by Sofie & Adi Jaffe for their IGNTD podcast talking about mindfulness tools for families and kids. It was great fun and includes lots of tools: http://www.igntd.com/podcast/

Enjoy and reach out if you have questions or comments.

If you would like me to help your child or family or come to your school or business, please contact me. I can also teach these practices remotely if you are not local to Los Angeles.


Why calling in a soul mate through spiritual means may hinder real-time love. Our YST couples and relationship expert Shira Myrow explains.


Cultivating a spiritual life can radically change how you view the world and can shift your values away from a more material, egocentric focus to a more altruistic one.  But in terms of navigating intimate relationships, it has little to do with overcoming the day to day relational difficulties that arise in interpersonal relationships. While the search for human passionate love and the practice of leading a spiritual life are not mutually exclusive, we can get into trouble when we conflate the two.

There are many love experts and spiritual gurus that promise hope for the chronically single. Yet as well meaning and intelligent as they are, there is a component of magical thinking in the promise of spiritual bypass.  The premise goes like this: if you can align yourself with the universe, you will release all the emotional baggage and barriers to love you’ve been carrying around for years and still haven’t let go of --- despite all the personal therapy you’ve done-- and a soulmate will materialize. The Law of Attraction says so. Dee Pak Chopra says so. Oprah says so. It must be so, right?

As a psychotherapist who focuses primarily on healing attachment wounds around love, helping couples through conflict and rehabilitating intimacy, I can tell you that while this sounds like a compelling strategy on one level— it can also be a set up for deep disappointment.  

What happens when the soul mate never shows up or you enter into a relationship with such high expectations that there is nowhere to go but downhill?

So many women come into my office in despair after desperately trying to follow what I call spiritual bypass protocols with no success.  In fact, if they have perfectionistic tendencies to begin with, they can dive into a tailspin of obsessive self examination, insecurity and bitterness-- based on the premise that  because the spiritual protocol hasn’t worked, there must be something fundamentally wrong with them.

Whether it’s the pain of  infatuation or unrequited love, or the loneliness of dating and not finding love, all of it puts us at odds with our intrinsic wholeness and worthiness as human beings, who are designed to connect and relate.

No doubt, there is something elusive and mysterious about attracting romantic love. True love is considered to be a peak experience in our culture, and it is constantly reinforced by the media we consume.  Romantic love has been elevated to the point where we’re living out the natural frustrations of placing impossible expectations on it. And while we all know that on some level, the fantasy of a singular soulmate persists. The problem is that it can not only obscure the potential love and companionship available to us in the present moment, it can also obscure the real work of navigating intimacy and all the vulnerabilities and  insecurities that come with it.

I”m not suggesting that you settle for a Homer Simpson.  But there’s an implicit expectation that if we don’t have this immediate numinous “love” connection that results in long term partnership,  somehow it’s a personal failure on our part and we can feel that our lives are missing something because of it. Love is so complex and the attachment wounding that may invite or repel certain kinds of relationships can’t be reduced to a one-size fits all prescription for overcoming single-dom. What creates that spark, that energy, the connection that develops into love is still a mystery.

You do not have to reach some sort of personal perfection, spiritual alignment or higher level of individuation in order to attract a partner.  How could it be this is the only path for the enlightened while the unconscious masses often partner without doing any inner work at all?  Is there some sort of exceptionalism that conscious, college educated, professional women secretly harbor---that we are entitled to a higher, deeper love? Perhaps there is.

We all have the capacity and potential for every kind of expression of love, yet romantic love can be an exception. While we all deserve fulfilling companionship, there is no guarantee that we are going to receive it or experience it in the particular way we are looking for.  

 Finding romantic love is not necessarily within your control.  And that feels like a hard pill to swallow because so many other aspects about our destiny seem like they are within our control.  Whatever barrier to love you struggle with, the best starting place is to accept yourself and the present moment with the utmost gentleness, compassion and loving kindness, and let go of the notion that you need anyone or any particular experience to make you whole or complete. This is the first, most difficult step. How do we hold on hold onto the intention of finding a beloved companion, with mindful awareness and self compassion?

And how do we still wade through a superficial dating world and enter into relationships with no guarantees that it will work out?  Sometimes the first relationship that comes along from a spiritual bypass is anything but ideal and can end in real disappointment. Whether it’s discovering that your partner is addicted to porn, or has money issues he can’t take responsibility for— doesn’t necessarily mean the partnership is bad or destined for failure. It’s precisely these moments, where we need to learn to calibrate our expectations. Love becomes a mirror and a crucible for growth, not the panacea of security cloaked in a romantic fantasy a lot of us secretly yearn for.

So as you travel the road of spiritual growth, compassionately remind yourself that finding love is not necessarily an attainment or culmination of that process. Doing your inner work often results in powerful external transformations, that include intimate relationships. And while dynamic romantic relationships are part of our human experience, no spiritual perfection is required. Period.

Healthy at Every Size, Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating: What’s the difference? Our Yale St. Therapy expert Cori Rosenthal explains 3 useful non diet approaches.


Ashley, Shira and I, (the Yale Street Trio) were talking about the differences between Healthy at Every Size or HAESⓇ Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. For Ashley and Shira these concepts are relatively new.   Having spent decades hating my body and wishing it were different, this is a topic that I am extremely passionate about.

I began dieting in the 7th grade, but no matter how hard I tried I ALWAYS regained the weight and usually gained a bit extra.  I finally decided I couldn’t do the diet thing anymore. It was destroying my health and my self-esteem. My non diet journey began with Mindful Eating and skeptically moved toward the principles of Intuitive Eating.   When I discovered Healthy at Every Size it was the final piece to the puzzle I had struggled with since childhood. Our culture is consumed by the number on the scale but consistent healthy behavior is likely a better measure of health than the morning weigh in.  

I know all of these concepts can become confused with one another and are not quiet in the mainstream culture, so I’m providing a simple explanation of each here.

What is Healthy at Every Size?

Healthy at Every Size or HAESⓇ began as a book by Linda Bacon.  Since that book it has grown to a movement that encompasses dieticians, therapists, physicians, and activists.  The Association for Size Diversity and Health or ASDAH is a nonprofit committed to the principles of HAESⓇ.   The ASDAH website lists the following principles:

  1. Weight inclusivity.  Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.

  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.

  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is an awareness practice that relates to food, hunger, the emotions, thoughts, and body sensations associated with eating.  Mindful eaters use all of their senses to eat foods that are nourishing and satisfying, noticing, their likes, and dislikes without judgement.  Mindful eating is a practice that can encompass meal planning, meal preparation, eating and clean up. These practices can help you tune into your bodies natural hunger and satiety cues and help you be present when you eat.  Mindful eating is a practice that can support a healthy relationship between food and your body.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is a book, workbook and program created by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole.  Mindful eating is a component of intuitive eating. The foundation of the program are the following ten principles:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality.  95% of people who diet regain their weight within 5 years and 66% of those people end up weighing then they did when they started the diet.  The cost of losing and gaining weight repeatedly is a greater risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease and a loss of self-esteem with increases in anxiety and depression.

  2. Honor your Hunger.  Eating when you are hungry is essential to avoid triggering your bodies  natural reaction to overeat.

  3. Make Peace with Food.  Stop depriving yourself of foods you label as “bad” because food labeling and feeling deprived is usually a set up for overeating those foods and then feeling guilty.  There is another way.

  4. Challenge the Food Police.  The food police are all the food rules you learned from family or the culture than now run as a tape in your head.

  5. Respect your Fullness

  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor.  When you eat what you want in a pleasing environment, the pleasure you derive can support you to feel satisfied and contented.

  7. Honor your feelings without using food.

  8. Respect Your Body.  Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and unfortunately we are not all predisposed to be a size 2, 4 or even 6.  Respecting and accepting that fact can help you to feel better about yourself.

  9. Exercise to feel good.  When we exercise only to lose weight we are likely to become motivated or unmotivated by a number o the scale.   Exercising to feel good is ultimately more sustainable.

  10. Honor your health or what is called gentle nutrition. You can honor both your taste buds and your health, knowing that for most of us one meal will not determine our overall health.  The goal is progress, not perfection.

Mindful eating, intuitive eating and Healthy at Every Size all provide an opportunity to leave behind dieting and the diet culture to create a healthier relationship between food, your body and the world around you.  All three of these practices / philosophies are complementary and work together toward a healthier relationship, not only with your own body but all bodies. For more information check out the books I mentioned above and come back to our Yale Street Therapy blog.

Overcoming Body Shaming: Q & A with Cori Rosenthal, LMFT


This month Evenflow Mindfulness & Meditation is releasing a special series on Overcoming Body Shaming. We interviewed Cori on several aspects of this complex subject.

In one of your meditations in the Body Shaming series you talk about “feeling fat” as a catch all for all kinds of uncomfortable feelings.  Can you say more about this? How do we parse out and attend to the complex feelings that get bundled up in to “feeling fat.’?

Feeling fat is shorthand we often use for uncomfortable emotions and body sensations.  It makes sense when we talk about feeling bloated after a big meal, but when we use this shorthand for describing emotions we are not addressing our actual  emotions. It’s important to slow down, turn within and ask what else you are feeling in those moments. Initially it may be difficult to know, but in time and with practice you can better ascertain how you are feeling and what you need to appropriately soothe yourself in that moment.
Can you tell us what the difference is between intuitive eating and mindful eating?It seems like there is some overlap.

Mindful eating is paying attention and engaging the senses in the process of eating.  Mindful eaters listen to hunger and satiety cues to know when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat.  Mindful eating does not place judgement on what you eat. You can mindfully eat a piece of cake as easily as a bowl of fruit. Intuitive eating incorporates mindful eating within it’s principles but actually goes much farther.  The goal of intuitive eating is to help people stop dieting and make peace with food and their bodies. This goal is achieved through 10 principles:

  • rejecting the diet culture

  • honoring your hunger

  • making peace with food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat to overcome the deprivation cycle

  • challenge the food police declaring foods are good and bad and you are good or bad when you eat them;

  • respecting your body signals that you are no longer hungry

  • eat what you really want in an inviting environment

  • honor your feelings without using food

  • respect your body and accept that everyone is not built to be a particular body size anymore than we are all intended to wear the same shoe size

  • exercise because of how it feels to move your body and not because you will burn calories; honor your health and taste buds.    

One of the tenets of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality altogether.  How can you do that when you’ve spent most of your adolescence and adult life “watching your weight?”

First you have to want to reject the diet mentality.  Despite the fact that 95% of people who go on diets regain their weight and at least ½ gain additional weight, the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the US.  Rejecting diet culture also includes rejecting the temptation to have conversations with friends about the latest weight loss solution. It also includes letting go of all the hopes and dreams you pinned to your weight loss goals.  

Letting go requires mindfulness, patience and compassion for yourself and others.  Mindfulness will allow you to notice diet language such as labeling food as good or bad or fantasizing about the perfect relationship or job will appear if only you are thinner.  Patience because you are attempting to change your relationship with food and your body and that takes time. You will have many pitfalls on that journey. Self-compassion because you are letting go of something familiar and even comfortable. Compassion for others because we are all negatively impacted by the diet culture.

Let’s say you have to watch your weight and your diet because you have a health condition--perhaps you’re diabetic or have high cholesterol.  How can you modify the intuitive eating approach to address that kind of situation?

The great news is that you do not have to modify the intuitive eating approach to honor your health requirements.  Intuitive eating asks that you reject dieting for the purpose of weight loss because focusing on that goal is ineffective 95% of the time.  This is not the same as monitoring glucose levels. I do not eat dairy because it upsets my stomach and eating it does not honor my body. It does not feel like deprivation, it feels like you are nurturing yourself and honoring your body. Not eating ice cream because it is fattening is deprivation.  If someone wants to incorporate the principles of intuitive eating while tending to their specific health needs, a dietitian trained in intuitive eating can be very helpful.

 If you’re in a larger size body and want to date, do you have any tips for dealing with insecurity around body size?  
Our culture is not very forgiving for people in larger bodies and the dating world is no different. There is definitely a stigma around weight and I don’t want to minimize the experience of dating in this kind of climate.  And yet there are millions of people with “ larger bodies” who find people to love them for who they are. Perhaps the biggest challenge in dating is beginning with accepting ourselves as we are-- and trusting that there is so much more to who we are than our body  size. And that is true no matter what clothing size you wear.


When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough: How to Make Amends

by Ashley Graber, LMFT, Meditation & Mindfulness Educator, Curriculum Director @ Evenflow



We all make mistakes and often they involve hurting another person. This is part of life – from the time we are born until they day we die, making mistakes will be a part of our life, so what do we do if we hurt someone’s feelings? There’s no shame in making genuine mistakes or admitting our wrong doings, but what if the person you are trying to “make it right” with won’t let you? What if they flat out refuse to forgive you?

There’s a big difference in saying you are sorry and making amends. Saying you are sorry means that you are apologizing for what you did, but an apology alone can leave the person offended without trust that it won’t happen again. You will both feel a little bit better, but it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a deep cut and waiting for it to heal. Making amends, on the other hand, means you are amending your behavior. It means that you are not only saying you are sorry, but you are saying you are going to act differently moving forward. You are taking the steps to correct a situation.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we learn that we aren’t always going to get the opportunity to make direct amends to the people we hurt. This could be because the person is no longer alive or because the person will not accept your amends or see you at all. This will often leave the offender feeling lost and unsure of what to do to “clean up their side of the street.” So what can you do if the person you hurt won’t take your apology or allow you to make amends?

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear of your responsibility in a situation and what’s not your responsibility. You can get clear on this by writing and talking it through with a friend, therapist or if you are in 12 step, a sponsor.

Second, think of a way to make “indirect” amends. This could be giving money to a charity if you took money from a person or volunteering for a charity you know the person holds near and dear. You could also make a “living amends” by treating the people in your life in the way you wish you could have treated that person. Make the promise to yourself that you have made a genuine lifestyle change by putting a steak in the ground to end a destructive pattern you held up to that point.

Lastly, you can bring in mindfulness practice by forgiving yourself for the wrongs you’ve done and working toward acceptance of the situation. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to see our humanity. Shin Zinn said it best when he said, “Pain X Resistance = Suffering.” Pain is inevitable, whether we cause it or not, but when we resist it, we increase our suffering. When we accept it, our suffering is relieved. Acceptance doesn’t have to mean you have closure around the situation, it simply means that you are trying to allow the situation to be as it is.

Using these practices can can help us learn from the very situations that are put in our path to teach us.



Is your relationship exhausting you? How to know when you're doing too much of the work.

by Shira Myrow, LMFT, Couples Therapist and Curriculum Director @ Evenflow Meditation


Reprinted from Thrive Global

Are you working too hard in your relationship? Women in particular are socially conditioned to focus on tending and nurturing relationships, but often one partner of either gender may be bearing a disproportionate amount of the work to keep a relationship stable.

How do you know if you are working too hard? You can start with some questions. Are you the one that instigates communication, connection, intimacy or sex the majority of the time? Are you the one that consistently tries to repair after a fight or work through issues? Are you the one thinking about the state of your relationship while your partner seems disinterested and emotionally disengaged? This is a sign that the relationship may be out of balance.

Many of us believe that taking as much personal responsibility for our relationships as we can will result in “improvement” and that can be true to some degree. But if we rationalize putting more energy into propping them up and doing all the  “self help” for our relationship, we can override our intuition and our felt experience that we are not being met. A neglectful partnership can enervate you both emotionally and physically. 

While a bad or abusive relationship can deeply corrode your sense of self esteem and self worth, a neglectful partnership can do the same thing over time, only it avoids obvious detection. Emotional neglect can also distort your concept of what a healthy, loving vital relationship looks like and result in depression, anxiety and a diminished sense of well being. 

Becoming mindful of how you may be overextending yourself can help create the space to pull back and actually give your partner the room to step up, if that’s possible. Here are some indications that you may be working too hard.

1) You feel like you’re doing ALL the work. 

2) You feel like you are constantly placating your partner.

3) You feel anxious and depressed or angry and frustrated about your relationship most of the time. 

4) You have a perpetual list of grievances with your partner that are never resolved .

5) You see yourself as the martyr in the relationship. 

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, doing a mindful check in with yourself can help  clarify exactly what you’re feeling, but also clarify what roles you have taken on to compensate for an imbalance in the relationship. 

Ask your partner to sit down with you and talk about your expectations but make sure you both set an intention to listen with curiosity and compassion. Perhaps you were on the same page when you met, but haven’t explored the current state of the union. There may be some discrepancies at play between your expectations of reciprocity, the way you language and express love for each other, and what default positions from your past relationship dynamics you both have unconsciously settled into. 

When we’re working too hard, we are always compensating for something. While we all have flaws and imperfections, taking stock with a more mindful and compassionate perspective may help us discern whether the situation is actually an opportunity to gain more insight into ourselves and how we may be perpetuating our own suffering, or whether it’s time to seek help if our partner isn’t truly able to attune to us or meet us.

Parenting Generation Stress: Are you passing down your anxiety around food to your kids?

by Shira Myrow LMFT, Meditation Teacher, Curriculum Director @ Evenlfow.io

How much are our food choices driven by the need to control what we and our families eat as opposed to what is our responsibility to provide?

How much are our food choices driven by the need to control what we and our families eat as opposed to what is our responsibility to provide?

I remember babysitting a very smart 9 year old girl many years ago. She joked with me how her mom was a health nut. The kind of embarrassing mom that brought a box of raisins to birthday parties to substitute for birthday cake. She’d be the only kid who couldn’t eat a slice of birthday cake and the kids teased her mercilessly about it at school. This little girl  went on to have a severe eating disorder in college.  And her mom was completely mystified. She was so careful and so conscious about raising her children on healthy food. Her mother’s commitment to healthy food was about  anxiety, fear and control. She was sure sugar was going to ruin her daughter’s health,  it ended up undermining her psychological well being.  She robbed her daughter of the opportunity to come into a healthy  relationship to food on her own terms. she passed down her anxiety around food to her daughter.

Much of the messaging we get from doctors and experts and less well meaning sources--like advertisers and the media--- is designed to instill fear that we’re harming our children if they eat too much of one type of  nutrient or don’t get enough of another.

And it’s the relentless fear-based messaging that can easily foster a sense of stress and anxiety for us as parents. It’s not difficult to see how the natural desire and good intention to make responsible healthy choices can turn into obsessive hypervigilance not only around our diets but those of our children.

The directive to eat healthy food, which includes making dinners from scratch, is deeply tied our very definition of motherhood. Recent studies have shown that regardless of socioeconomic class, it largely falls on the shoulders of women and single parents, whether they work or not. So much of our self image as nurturers is embedded in our relationship to providing food as parents. Our choices speak volumes about our individual values, our morals and our lifestyle.

Nearly two-thirds of American mothers (64.4 percent) work, which means in most families, either both parents work or the household is headed by a single parent.  Providing reasonably nutritious, good tasting meals begin to feel burdensome and joyless  with the hurried pace of modern life, lack of time and resources, and the constant stress of not always being able to provide our ideal of good food.

If we’re perpetually driven by fear, anxiety and  guilt, we’re also ensuring our kids internalize the unresolved issues we may have with food.  

We also unconsciously pass down our lack of trust with ourselves and our neurotic energy around food to them. How much are our food choices driven by the need to control what we and our families eat as opposed to what is our responsibility to provide?  That’s the ultimate question. As conscious parents, we have to provide responsibly--but also within reason.  And accept the limitation and let go.

Cultivating a mindful eating practice can become your ally.  It can help you slow down, be present with your food and pay more attention to hunger and satiety cues. You can lead by example. Mindful eating is the practice of of becoming fully present with your food.  When you set an intention to pay attention to what you are eating but also check in with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, you can learn to naturally self regulate.  Over time this awareness can shift your relationship to food, as you learn to discern whether you are eating out of psychological hunger  (emotional overeating for example) or true physical hunger. This awareness invites you to listen to your body and stop when you notice your body is full. You can easily share this practice with your children.  

You can also learn to modify your expectations: You are always going to be in  some kind of relationship to food, your body,  your health  and to that of your children even after they’re grown. The complexity isn’t going to go away. But modifying your expectations and releasing some measure of control  around your children’s ability to create their own relationship to food can free you from the impulse to over-parent. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.

Whether you make small changes or let go of impossible standards, bringing compassion and mindful awareness to the dinner table can help ease the sense of burden and frustration.  Take the time to acknowledge that your intention is to love, nurture and provide for your children in a culture that doesn’t always support the ideal it espouses.




















Are open relationships the shape of things to come?

YST Couples Therapist Shira Myrow weighs in for Mind Body Green

YST Couples Therapist Shira Myrow weighs in for Mind Body Green

An open relationship certainly seems alluring on the surface: sexual gratification and novelty without the harm or shame of betrayal, especially for long-term monogamous couples who are no longer sexually satisfied. It is entirely possible that open relationships can work for some people and may be the shape of things to come. But that path needs to be taken mindfully, with careful consideration, and no illusions about the pitfalls. The ideal of the open marriage may be as much of a fantasy as an idealized monogamous marriage is.

Our culture has developed unrealistic expectations about sex, often fueled by unfettered access to online pornography and dating apps that promise constant and immediate opportunities for sexual gratification. The idea of being able to have it all—a primary partner and a diverse sexual life—is tantalizing. However, when the New York Times publishes articles on the joys of open marriage, it often gives short shrift to the very real pitfalls.

As a couples therapist, my clients are often struggling to manage the unresolved, unconscious issues open relationships bring up. The inconvenient truth is we bring our unprocessed issues to every relationship we’re in—particularly when we feel threatened by insecurity, anxiety, possessiveness, attachment issues, and jealousy. No matter how consciously an open arrangement may be negotiated,there are no guarantees that partners can maintain control of the situation or that love and sex will stay neatly compartmentalized. It gets messy.

All of these variables can complicate any marriage—opening it will only increase their volatility.

The problems only multiply in an open dynamic unless you’re dealing with people who are very communicative, psychologically secure and willing to live with disappointment, resentment, and frustration. Individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar and borderline disorders, addiction, trauma, abuse, and narcissism are inherently unsuited for this kind of situation.

Sometimes only one partner fares well in an open scenario while the other partner struggles and becomes resentful. Or worse, one partner falls in love with a secondary relationship and abandons the primary relationship altogether.


That’s the irony here: Transparency and full disclosure don’t ensure that no one gets hurt or betrayed. Children are often the first and most vulnerable casualties. And children are primarily the reason many couples get married in the first place: to create a stable structure for a family.

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage, a longtime proponent of "monogamish" marriage, says most gay couples inherently understand males need multiple sexual partners and have much less of a problem with incorporating the need for sexual variety into their partnerships than heterosexual couples do. But making the switch to a radically different paradigm is far more challenging if sexual fidelity is part of the foundation of your partnership.

And here’s the rub: Not only is it normal to be attracted to other people; it's normal to be curious about ways to explore those feelings. But there are no easy answers. If you’re contemplating opening your relationship, it might be wise to engage a therapist who can create a safe space for this discussion with your partner.

Here are a few important questions to ask as you begin to test the boundaries in your relationship:

1. Where is the line between privileging your personal sense of entitlement to happiness and prioritizing your relationship’s security and your partner’s feelings? How would you propose to avoid crossing that line were you to open your relationship?

2. Is frustration, boredom, or lack of interest within your relationship a shared responsibility, or are the feelings of discontentment something that is your responsibility to address?

3. Are passion, creativity, connection, adventure, and intimacy shared values in the relationship?

4. Are you asking your partner to shoulder those qualities?

5. What are the implications of an open scenario for you, your partner, and your children?

Sex therapist Esther Perel is absolutely correct in her assessment that long-term monogamy is buckling under the weight of the unrealistic expectations we have foisted upon it. While there are no easy solutions, there is room for thoughtful discussion. Before pulling a trigger, we can certainly become more compassionate, more curious, and more mindful about imposing our expectations onto our relationships or partners. And we can consciously nurture a sense of connection, joy, passion, and creativity between our partners and ourselves.

To see the full article on Mind Body Green click on the link below.