Which Do We Feed? What Do We Practice?

by Judith Bobbe, LCSW

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” An old grandfather is speaking to his grandson about what causes the violence and cruelty in the world. “In each human heart,” he tells the boy, “there are two wolves battling one another—one is fearful and angry, and the other is understanding and kind.” The young boy then asks, “Which one will win?” His grandfather smiles and says, “Whichever one we choose to feed” Tara Brach

We each have fires, energies within which we nurture and feed. The fires of love build connections and the fires of anger create disconnection.

Sometimes we feed parts of ourselves, with attention and energy, without realizing it, simply out of habit, and often these parts are not beneficial.

There is a choice we can each make every day – do we feed the fires of anger, fear and resentment, or the fire of love?

Feeding the fire of self-knowledge, and compassion offers us clear perception, and is a very good thing.

The fires of anxiety and the silent smoldering embers of depression, on the other hand, drain the life force and cause deep unhappiness.

Until we take the time to notice and to think about it, we can by habit, feed emotional tendencies which cause unhappiness. Many people unwittingly feed these destructive fires and do not know that instead they can learn how to cultivate the inner fire of light and self- love.

The true self is self- luminous and we can develop our ability to access it and make it stronger.

Meditation practices, breathing exercises and yoga postures cultivate the fire of vitality, love and strength. So do being in Nature, being creative, and loving others.

When we build our strengths , it is not only a physical process, but also mental and emotional, clearing away the dross of habits steeped in fear, negativity and avoidance.

When we do breathing exercises we strengthen and clean the lungs. More essentially, we enliven and clarify the nervous system, and the complex web of mental and emotional patterning, which is the basis of our perceptions, expectations, and our actions. These patterns comprise the basis of our approach to life.

When we stoke the fire of self- illumination, we strengthen the body, the mind and the heart.   Creative self – awareness grows and becomes a framework for developing a happy life, day by day. Attachments to anxiety, depression, stagnation and fear, all become less attractive, and change happens more easily.

The only aspect of ourselves that is constant as long as we live is our own inner light.

When we use practices which strategically and systematically allow the inner light to burn stronger, we are leading a life of freedom: the freedom to choose to let go of old patterns and to create new ones instead.

Many people seek change within themselves.

For change to be real it cannot only happen in the mind.  The mind is totally influenced by its own habits, and is a sell-reinforcing loop. The mind on its own can be a trap.

Familiar thoughts feed on each other and we can obsess and get lost in it all.

Actually the most efficient way to change mood, and thoughts, is though the breath. We cannot talk ourselves out of a bad mood unless there is also a sustained awareness of how the body supports and influences the mood. The breath works directly on the nervous system, which in turn, influences thought in a different way.

As human beings we are usually identified with our moods and our thoughts, so much so, that it is often hard to comprehend a most basic truth: that how we see the world is totally dependent on our inner life.

When we are sad the world looks grim.  This is only a simple example.  More basically, the deeply ingrained unconscious expectations we bring to each day are often so invisible that we cannot see how much they influence our choices and ability to access our own unique capacities.

The most innate capacity that we are all born with is the ability to love.  The need for connection actually keeps us alive.

The basic human urge is to love and be loved.  When life experiences cause contraction and fear, the ability to love becomes diminished, and as a result self- confidence becomes weaker, and openness to our most luminous self becomes obscured. We can get stuck in patterns of neglecting our selves as confidence weakens.

Alternatively, we can open and heal these contracted states through emotional self- inquiry, supported by working through the body and the breath. Wise choice of practices cultivates self- love, health and a deep sustaining connection to our inner light.  What we do with our minds and bodies every day has a huge influence on our ability to grow and to heal old wounds, and an opening for strength to develop.

” A sense of connection changes one of the most basic elements of the brain, which is how you perceive threat. It changes the world into a safer world.”

From: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-09/features/ct-sun-0309-balancing-act-20140309_1_theory-sue-johnson-psychologist)

For more information please see my website: http://www.personal-discovery-chicago.com/meditationmindfulness.html

Experiencing Inner Freedom

By Judith Bobbe, LCSW

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“To the degree that you are able to access your soul and allow it to guide you, the less compelled you are to act on desires born from fear, old patterns, low self-esteem, and past hurts.” Rod Stryker

Yoga creates space in the mind and body so that we experience ourselves differently. We get out of our busy minds in which we typically get lost. Our minds are often filled with negative patterns, anxieties, and pressures from within and without, which increase tension in the mind and in the body.

When we focus on the body in yoga practice, we feel the breath moving in the body, sinking into sensation. We surrender to a deeper experience of who we are.

This deeper experience is an endless well of sustenance, nourishment and clarity, We can relax into who we are and feel safe.

We then see options for change, for letting go of patterns and habits and which do not serve us well. We begin to see that within us is the clarity of mind and perception that we need to guide us in our growth.

With practice we can learn how to listen to this inner clarity, and to feel more secure in ourselves.

We gradually make changes in our thoughts and in our actions, which accumulate into greater health and wellbeing.

But how does yoga work so that we do experience this internal freedom?

We put ourselves into postures that open the channels of the body so the nervous system relaxes with increased circulation, and we breathe. The combination of breath and movement opens us up, frees up energy, and fuels our persistence. We shift our minds to a larger perspective of neutral observation.  We shift and observe over and over again. We experience that we are really much more than our minds usually allow us to know.

We exert only the necessary effort so that we can feel ease in the pose as well as challenge. As we sink ourselves into the recesses of our own being we discover a light- filled ocean of calm, a reserve of energy and optimism which feeds our ability to let go of patterns and to feel ok.

We need to feel ok, to feel safe, in order to change.

Yoga postures and yogic breathing, deep relaxation, and meditation, all provide different ways of accessing our inner freedom and calm. When we practice over and over again we naturally learn to shift our psychological energies when we are not doing yoga, as well. This is the miracle of yoga.

We train and the training changes us. What we do with our breath and our body focuses and changes the mind.

A new set of automatic habits develop which are grounded in clarity rather than in the avoidance of discomforts.

Whatever we experience in life, whether it be it happiness and love or disappointment or loss, can be more easily accepted. We can compassionately see all that we live through as part of who we are, and we can stop struggling against life.

We can experience deep compassion for ourselves, which broadens our ability to live a life of fulfillment and purpose.

In other words we can stop identifying with the circumstances of life, and our judgements about our experiences, and instead identify with a much larger sense of self. We can relax.

The physiological benefits of opening the nervous system profoundly affect all aspects of ourselves, mental emotional and physical. The Vagus nerve is directly stimulated by the combination of deep breathing and the postures. This effect on the nervous system soothes and promotes health in all systems if the body.

These processes are now proven in current medical research, supporting the ancient practices, which have evolved into modern yoga:


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Our Thoughts and the Process of Change


by Judith Bobbe, LCSW

“Whatever we think about and ponder frequently becomes the inclination of the mind” Buddha

Thoughts have great power. Thoughts and habits of thought create a mindset, which influence how we perceive reality.

When we are involved with negative thinking we feel powerless, drained, angry and alone. If we stop and look, we notice that we feel constricted in our bodies by negative emotions as well, which reinforces the negativity of the mind.
In reverse when we think optimistically and with openness to other points of view, we feel expansive free and strong. We grow in our capacity to be connected with life. We can breathe more freely.

The ironic problem of being human is that we identify with our thoughts. We identify with a very small part of who we are. We think there is nothing larger in us than the contents of our own logic.

In this we become trapped because the logic of our minds is so patterned by the past, so created by previous experiences, and ingrained fears, that we cannot see outside of ourselves. We have a continual need to protect ourselves by protecting our own point of view. Because it is so familiar, we believe it to be true. We defend our own mindset even if it is to our detriment.

We cannot get outside of or own mind, using the mind alone.

Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and breath awareness, give us glimmers of experience of larger truths. We get a felt sense of a larger world within ourselves. We practice shifting our attention to an experience of something larger and more mysterious, over and over again.
We want to live in these larger truths because we know somehow, that there is a limitless presence that we are a part of. We are happiest when we feel connected. We feel calmer and can let go of worries and negative thinking.

Connecting with a larger sense of presence can be an elusive pursuit. We repeatedly revert to the traps in our own minds. The good thing is that if we compassionately look at the dynamics of what happens inside our own minds, we can soften the patterns which create self imprisonment.
When we witness with compassion the patterns of our mind, we enable ourselves to act with more vitality. The patterns become less intense and we can see options for change. They are only patterns and habits and do not have to define our choices.

Patterns are parts of ourselves which need attention and care.

The process of growth in self- awareness is therefore a spiritual path, a pursuit of connection, both with larger parts of ourselves, and with relationships and the world in all its aspects.
A spiritual path is a commitment to cultivating openness to change, even when it is uncomfortable, and even when there is no guarantee of the results of our efforts.
Just the act of committing to a process of change brings out our strengths, by intending to forgo the comfort of the familiar, more and more often, for the benefit of a deeper apprehension of who we can really be. It is an investment in our largest truest self.

We can become more naturally aligned with those glimmers of light, which with repetition of practice, grow into a flame. The flame warms and encourages us to be persistent.
The light within is always there and when we connect with it frequently, it drives us to become happier and more compassionate with ourselves and with all of life. We can be courageous and live differently, easing away from doubt, and inhabiting our strengths as the new normal.

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Judith Bobbe, LCSW

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“By connecting to your life purpose, you gather the forces of Nature in the same way a seed does when it starts to germinate.” — Rod Stryker, The Four Desires


There is a light inside each of us that is a part of the grand cosmic light, boundless with possibility.  The light inside us is the light of the whole universe.

The forms of nature all reflect the same structure: the human embryo looks like the snail shell, which looks like the shape of a galaxy.

We are all part of a continuum of life, which nourishes itself with an endless capacity for change and transformation.

We each carry within us the capacity for unimaginable potential.


The psychological landscape within us, however, can be fraught with conflict. We strive to avoid what we don’t want, and we to cling to what we do want. It is a difficult state to be in, this human mind. It is so often a challenge just to be peaceful with What IS.

Fluctuating states of emotions and thoughts can blur our awareness of the unique strengths that each of us do possess. Our true potential lies outside of our awareness.

Beneath the terrain of emotional patterns, thoughts and habits, resides a quiet pulse of life and timeless consciousness.

There is a layer of our minds that is free of all conflict. It is pure energy, and it is saturated with acceptance and love. This pool of wisdom is always present but we often don’t know how to access it. We are not aware that if we skillfully practice stillness, the light within will have space to emerge and will shine ever more brightly. Practices such as meditation, deep relaxation and yoga provide windows into deeper states of our inner world.

Our emotions are the filter through which we experience the world and we get stuck because we think we are our emotions. We think we are our behavior patterns and as such we are often confined within limiting definitions of ourselves. Our behavior patterns are conditioned and created by the past and do not truly define our capacities.

We feel ourselves to be less than we really are.   We have a sense of ourselves that is limited and we quickly identify with constricting emotions.

Expansive emotions such as gratitude love appreciation and wonder emanate from our true self.  When we cultivate inner light, we have greater access to positive experiences and attitudes.

Our aspirations, our search for truth and justice, our desire to contribute to the well being of the world, the ability to love, and to be creative, are all evidence of the light within. When we cultivate our strengths we learn how to tap into them as a reliable source of energy resilience and optimism.

The best part is that we do not have to change to become someone else, or someone better. We simply endeavor to uncover the light within, and to dwell in a larger sense of who we are. This gives us strength to be compassionate with ourselves and with others.

By recognizing in ourselves and in each other the light that permeates the universe we are reminded of our true capacities for beauty and strength.


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Habits and the Contradictions of Being Human

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by Judith Bobbe, LCSW

“If you don’t consciously choose the direction of your life, your past will choose it for you.” Rod Stryker

We are creatures of habit. Our habits of thought and behavior are embedded in how we think and in how we experience the world. Just like other animals which can be trained, we are trained unconsciously by our lives to see, think, feel and behave in particular ways.

Every time we think a thought it is conditioning our mind to believe that thought.

Each time we believe a thought, our patterns of feeling and behavior are inclined to support or justify that thought.

Our unconscious beliefs reinforce our identification with our thoughts.  We think our thoughts are true, and we think we are our thoughts. There is a cycle of reinforcement of habits inside us, of which we are largely unaware.

The interaction of thought belief and feelings gets translated into our sense of who we are and what we are capable of.

Real change depends on changing this quiet but powerful dynamic.

“Your mind has measureless capacity to affect the quality and content of your life” Rod Stryker

When we choose to repetitively introduce new thoughts, actions, and intentions into our minds, and choose not to automatically believe our habitual thoughts, we create room inside for the growth of new perspectives. We cultivate a new experience of who we are.

With repetition this newly felt experience becomes a foundation for taking the risk to change. Taking steps over and over again to embody new actions, and new intentions, provides the courage to let go of the self- limiting patterns of the past.

The funny thing about humans is that we all seek comfort, predictability, and familiarity. We feel better when we know what to expect. Familiarity helps us to feel safe and to tolerate the changes which life thrusts upon us.

But in addition to seeking familiarity and safety, we also seek a larger sense of ourselves. We seek a deeper connection with the spaciousness of life, which by its nature, is unpredictable. There is a yearning, which calls upon us to grow beyond our perceived capacities. We want to fulfill our deepest potential for productivity and happiness.

This call to growth can be looked at in terms of spiritual growth, or emotional maturation, or simply the desire to be more loving, kind, patient and generous with life.

It is possible to change and become happier with ones self and life, but it is a inside job.  HH Dalai Lama says “happiness is an inside job”.  This means that we have to change the way we think. Openness to changes in thinking becomes the basis for freedom and positive engagement with the world.

We tend look  to external things like people and situations to make us happy, but this is always ultimately frustrating and temporary because life is always changing.  When we learn how to rely on a more deeply felt sense of the timelessness of our own true being, we become stronger and happier.

We can cultivate an unshakeable belief in our own wholeness and power. We can grow beyond habitual thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, and can become more creative, more flexible, and in love with life every moment.

For more, see my website:



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What if…?

by Judith Bobbe, LCSW

“Through yoga and meditation, we can change the vibration of the subconscious mind by gently releasing the stored memories, beliefs, and haunting thoughts that limit us.” —Mukta Kaur Khalsa
What if our minds and hearts were as wide and open as the sky?
What if we could perceive the world, seeing beauty, opportunity and possibility everywhere?
Imagine how wonderfully reassuring that would feel.
Deep within each of is is a source of undeniable strength. This light within creates hope and confidence.
In our culture there is little training to look within to develop the stability and confidence to cope effectively with the challenges of life experiences.  How can we be strong and positive even in the face of disappointments, losses and the changes that are inevitably a part of being human?
The ancient wisdom and practices developed centuries ago in the East have hidden treasures which allow us to become the fullest, strongest and most vibrant individuals that we were meant to be. These skills are easy to learn.
Practices of mindfulness, deep relaxation, yoga, meditation, and breath awareness are windows into this world of infinite possibility and trust in life.
I can guide you, within the individualized context of psychotherapy, to take the steps into these practices, to choose the ones that are best for you, and to learn how to integrate your own practices into a lifetime of expansive healthy living.
You will experience more calm, optimism,  and confidence in yourself. You will have a greater in your ability to make changes in your life.It is hard to change without the right tools and methods, but these methods do exist. As with any other project you might want to start, methods are necessary. I am here to encourage you at every step, and to be persistent, when you feel discouraged.
Doubt and discouragement are a part of everyone’s path of growth and I will help you to keep going. I will help you to cultivate compassion for yourself and for your own growth process.
Within this context you will learn how to overcome and change negative thoughts and behavior patterns. You can change your internal environment, which will make all of life’s challenges easier to negotiate.
In addition, you will develop the internal strength to heal old wounds, traumas and stuck points which have been holding you back. You will find that you have more energy for your life. Developing new skills will give you the courage to move forward.
This is the true path of freedom and growth, which dwells in the expansiveness of the sky within you,  and in the light that shines inside you, which is waiting to be cultivated.
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For more see my website;


By Judith Bobbe, LCSW
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“May you honor the best in yourself and the best in others. … May love carry you and guide your breath, guide your thoughts, guide your actions, and guide your words. May you be a bright light in this world. May your soul catch fire… and with that light, light many other lights.” — Rod Stryker
What does it mean when a person wants to change?
I would say that even the thought of changing means opportunity.
When we decide we want to change it means that we believe, deep down inside, that there are strengths within which are not fully accessible, and that we want these strengths to be more available to us. We want to be the fullest most beautiful unique selves that we can be. We want to be free to love, to contribute to the world and to have a fully felt sense of purpose which transcends our own selves.
These strengths include intuition, wisdom and compassion. These strengths also include the ability to see what we really need, the desire for deeper connection with life, and the desire to become more than our habitual reactions direct us to be.When a person decides to change, by reaching out for help in any way, there begins the  possibility of ever- increasing self-awareness, growth and optimism. Taking charge of ones life by learning skills which go against stuck self- limiting patterns is the gateway to freedom and an endless capacity to learn how to be more happy.
Habits of coping with life learned in childhood are often fraught with limiting consequences. The need to get away, to shut down, to negate self-expression for fear of being hurt in some way, are habits which create difficulty, sadness and isolation in adulthood.
Many suffer, unaware that it is these patterns themselves within, which cause depression anxiety and addiction.
Shutting down the heart in order to feel safe is what makes most unhappy people,unhappy.
As a psychotherapist working with habit change through means such as mindfulness training, deep breathing, yoga and meditation, I see people freeing themselves of old patterns, often much to their own amazement.
Learning how to tolerate the discomfort of challenging emotions without reacting habitually, is emotionally empowering. Learning how to be still and experience a deeper level of who you are, along with skills of managing emotions, are keys to a new life of greater richness and fulfillment.
I can help you to actualize your own joyful capacities, to live more wisely from within your own intuition, and to emerge from limiting conditioning with optimism and confidence.
All it takes is persistence and the willingness to be encouraged to do new things with consistency. You will learn to believe in yourself.
I am very encouraging and I understand that change is challenging but that it is definitely possible. We will start and proceed patiently wherever you feel most comfortable, to develop new skills and habits.
Consistent practice will teach you that you can change, and that you truly have an endless capacity to live with more freedom and strength than you ever knew was possible.
You will know, from inside your own consciousness, that the limitations of the past do not have to determine your present and future. You can become the person you were truly meant to be, with your own unique contributions to make to the world and to your own life. You can learn how to live guided by the ever- present light inside you, leading you to accomplishments contentment and joy.