Author helps people develop self-compassion

Tara Bradbury
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Ruth Fishel to sign books, conduct seminar Aug. 24-25

Years ago, when Ruth Fishel began teaching meditation to women in prison and in a halfway house in Massachusetts, it didn’t take too long before she noticed something.

The women were changing. Profoundly, and for the better.

“There had been a lot of fear about ‘How do I stay sober?,’ and a lot of shame and a lot of guilt,” Fishel explains.

“This helped them to feel better about themselves and give them more confidence. I remember standing outside the prison one day and knowing that I was really helping a small group of women — maybe 30 in the prison and 18 in the halfway house — and I knew that I wanted to help more. I just knew that I had to write a book.”

Fishel has written a number of books over the past 30 years or so, which have gone on to sell nearly a million copies. Among them: “The Journey Within: A Spiritual Path to Recovery,” “Change Almost Anything in 21 Days,” and “Wrinkles Don’t Hurt: Daily Meditations on the Joy of Aging Mindfully.”

This week and next, she’s on the Avalon Peninsula, conducting a retreat and giving workshops on meditation and how people can use it to change their lives.

While meditation can include numerous techniques, it comes down to transforming the mind through deep concentration. Relaxation is not the only side effect, Fishel explains, and the process can benefit anyone, not only those dealing with illness or other issues.

“First of all, it helps you when you age; your memory stays younger longer, sharper longer,” she claims.

“People go to the hospital less frequently, it helps people sleep better, and lowers blood pressure. I can go on and on. You’re better spiritually, mentally and physically.”

The women-only retreat Fishel is currently conducting in Conception Harbour is called “Uncover to Discover to Recover,” and deals with focusing within to realize the blocks we have put in our own path of developing potential.

These include resentments, guilt, shame, insecurities and low self-esteem, Fishel says. When we look deeply and find the source, we can let go of our blocks.

“Maybe your parents put you down and you didn’t end up growing up with self-esteem,” she says. “We could really look at that and see maybe our parents couldn’t really help what they did; they did the best they could. We can find our good qualities and we can start to feel good about ourselves.”

Fishel will be holding a book signing at Chapters on Kenmount Road in St. John’s on Saturday from 2-4 p.m., and another one at Natural Health Shop on Stavanger Drive from 5-6 p.m. On Sunday, she’ll conduct a workshop at MUN’s education building from 2-6 p.m., open to men and women, dealing with self-compassion.

“If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we really can’t feel good about anybody else. Similarly, it’s looking at the blocks that keep us stuck from feeling good about ourselves and then the power of mediation and affirmation. The way I teach affirmations is that you write them 10 times a day for 21 days, so they form new pathways in the brain and change the brain so that we begin to let go of the negative things we say about ourselves. It sounds so trite when you say it like that, but it works.”

Fishel will conduct another workshop at Lotus Yoga Centre Aug. 28 from 2-6 p.m. To register for one of her workshops, call Dianne at 743-7814.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Chapters, Natural Health Shop on Stavanger Drive, Lotus Yoga Centre

Geographic location: Massachusetts, Conception Harbour, Kenmount Road

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