“The feeling tone of our attention matters.” —Shauna Shapiro, PhD
Dr. Shauna Shapiro is a research scientist and professor of psychology who discovered what she calls “the secret sauce of mindfulness” while going through a painful divorce.
As Shauna describes in this podcast, she comes from a family in which marriage is considered sacrosanct. Her grandparents were married for 70 years, and her parents are still married after 50 years. And yet Shauna found herself a new mother in a marriage that wasn’t working, and found the clarity that she needed to separate from her husband. It was an incredibly difficult time in her life.
One of her teachers noticed that Shauna had a lot of self-judgment about her situation and suggested that she practice lovingkindness toward herself. Her teacher said, “What you practice grows stronger. How about practicing self-kindness? You could say ‘I love you, Shauna’ every day.”
Shauna was resistant. So her teacher suggested she start by simply saying upon awakening, “Good morning, Shauna.” And knowing that Shauna is a scientist, she recommended that she put her hand on her heart while saying those words, an action that is known to release oxytocin, a hormone sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” because of its feel-good effects.
Shauna shares how simply saying “good morning” to herself with her hand touching her heart started to create a shift away from the avalanche of shame, fear, and judgment she was feeling. And eventually how this practice led her to saying the words “good morning, I love you”—which, in time, cracked open her heart, not just to her own experience but to all people and all experience.
According to Shauna, the secret sauce of mindfulness is self-compassion. Everything changes when we learn how to hold our experience, no matter how difficult or challenging, in a larger container of kind, loving awareness.
- How practices of mindfulness and self-compassion rewire our neural pathways, and the research that shows that our “set point” of happiness can be changed—not by changing any of our outer circumstances but by changing our internal orientation
- The power of making micro-changes—for example, relaxing your shoulders right now by just 5 percent
- How the learning centers of the brain become shut down when we feel shame and judgment—and become engaged when we feel safe and curious
- The research that shows why self-compassion is a more powerful motivator of change than self-criticism
“Good morning, I love you” is now a phrase that Shauna says not just to herself, or to her son, but also to the garbage trucks and the trees. It is also the title of her new book, which has received wide critical acclaim and is being passed from person to person. Why? Because it contains the secret sauce we all need, the love goo (backed by science) that softens our hearts.
With love on the journey,
Founder and Publisher, Sounds True