Julie Potiker - Mindfulness Expert & Author, “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos”
Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson.
Today, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” Life is full of potential stressors, from those on the home front like strained communication with family members, to those that sometimes catch us off guard out in the world like an unhappy boss or a traffic jam that makes us late. We can’t control what other people bring to the table or what the world will throw at us on any given day, and Julie has learned to stay calm amidst the chaos. In her new book she shares a moving series of trials and triumphs — as well as tangible tips for how anyone can add the calming effects of mindfulness to their life.
I’m so excited for you guys to connect with Julie, check out her work and her new book, and follow along as she continues to spread her message of mindful self-expansion and staying calm in the midst of life’s chaos.
I'd love it if you'd introduce yourself, what you do, and what you're working on.
Thank you! I’m Julie Potiker. I’m a life long learner, teacher, author, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Right now, I’m wrapping up a cool six-week course combining the Kabbalah (with teachings from expert Rabbi Daniel Bortz) with Mindful Methods for Life – my mashup of mindful self-compassion, experience dependent neuroplasticity training, gratitude practice, joy practice, mindfulness in daily life, and meditation practices, among others.
How did you get started?
I was a bit of a train wreck, and needed to learn tools to manage my stress. A neurologist ruled out a brain tumor but recommended I take an eight-week course called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). That course launched me into a deep dive into brain science classes, various retreats and trainings, and the Mindful Self-Compassion course (MSC). MSC was transformative, and I jumped at the chance to be in the first teacher training cohort of MSC teachers in 2014. Once you learn it and it works, teach it!
What inspired the work that you're doing?
Human beings suffer and need help. I’ve always noticed profound suffering; now I have the privilege and honor to help. My natural empathy used to flood me with despair; now I can help others avoid going down to the bottom of the snake pit.
What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you're living your passion and purpose?
My biggest passion is alleviating suffering. There is no question I am living my passion and purpose. It’s amazing teaching people tools to help themselves, and then seeing them happier and healthier. It raises the bar for humanity. Let it ripple out!!!
What is your joy blueprint? What lights you up, brings you joy, and makes you feel the most alive?
I love teaching and writing in service to others. I also love spending time with my family – husband and kids, as well as my sisters and my Dad. I adore sailing with my husband, and I love being on the beach or in the mountains. I also love live entertainment – when I’m sitting in the audience of a play or concert, I’m ecstatic (especially if it’s on Broadway!).
How do you live intentionally? Are there tools/resources/practices that you rely on to help you stay mindful and grounded?
If enjoying more calm and clarity in your life sounds like a good thing (and let’s get real – who doesn’t need this?), adding a mindfulness practice to your days is an excellent way to go about it. In case you’re unfamiliar with mindfulness, it is the practice of being consciously aware of your experiences — everything from thoughts and feelings to body sensations — and residing in this state of awareness without judgment. It’s an opportunity to become a mindful, objective observer which, with practice, allows us to create more and more comfortable distance between ourselves and the general chaos of life.
You can practice mindfulness as a meditation, but you can also weave it seamlessly into your day so that you’re practicing this calming skill whether or not you have time to sit and meditate. It’s easier than you think to get started. Here are some quick tips to help you incorporate more mindfulness into your life.
Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To! Try These 12 Tips.
1. Practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth: This is a great place to start. Begin your mindful day as you wake up and do your morning routine. Brush your teeth mindfully by tuning your full attention into each step (i.e., putting on the paste, brushing, rinsing) and each sensation (i.e., tastes, smells, and textures; the feeling of the brush). Tip: it’s easier if you close your eyes!
2. Practice mindful eating: Be the observer and pay mindful attention to the way you prepare, serve, and eat your food. Slice and dice mindfully; put your fork to your mouth mindfully; taste and chew mindfully. It’s also lovely to consider the source of the particular food — where and how it was grown, the farmers who produced it, the distribution chain that allowed you to enjoy your meal. That naturally leads to a moment of gratitude.
3. Practice mindful walking: You can do this mindful activity whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll at your favorite outdoor spot or hoofing it across the parking lot as you head into work. Pay attention to the soles of your feet as they meet the ground; the rhythm of your steps; your breath in and out of your nose; the sights, smells, and sounds around you; the feel of the air on your face; etc.
4. Practice taking in the good: Amidst the chaos, life is full of beautiful moments. Whenever you experience one, really take it in for a few breaths and relish it. Do this often and you will begin to experience the beauty of rewiring your brain for happiness.
5. Let music help you be in the moment: Make a playlist of songs that fill you with good feelings. You can use this playlist to boost your experience of cooking or walking or driving or anything else you can enjoy with music. (You can even just sit back and focus on the music!) The more goodness that fills you up, the more you can practice number four above.
6. Practice the Receiving-Sending Meditation (Tonglen): When you experience moments of strife in your own life or you wish to support those around you (whether people you know or strangers), this is a great mindfulness practice to use. Breathe in the pain; breathe out goodwill. Breathe in the chaos; breathe out peace. Observe how your experience and that of others begins to shift.
7. Call yourself “sweetheart”: Choose something silly and sweet to call yourself and use this term of endearment to soften and comfort you when things feel rough. Let this practice bring you back into love and compassion whenever you need it.
8. Practice Loving Kindness: Loving Kindness invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others, including those whom you find off-putting. Here are a few phrases to experiment with: “May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.” You can also try replacing “I” with “you,” or with “all beings.”
9. Make a joy list: Write down a list of things that bring you joy, then do one or two of those activities every day.
10. Start a gratitude practice: Write down a few things you are grateful for or a few things you enjoyed each day. Write a gratitude letter to someone. Let these feelings of gratitude fill you up.
11. Get grounded: Whenever you need some extra calm and comfort, mindfully ground yourself in your body. You can do this by putting your attention on the soles of your feet and focusing your energy downward (either while sitting or walking). Keep your attention there and breathe slowly and deeply.
12. Practice meditating: If you are interested in adding meditation to your daily mindfulness practice, there are several great apps out there to try (i.e., Insight Timer). Even if you only have a few minutes, you can select a short meditation that works for you. Pick a time and a meditation that fits into your schedule.
Hopefully, this list gives you some new ideas to try. As you can see, adding more mindfulness to your days doesn’t have to mean setting aside time for “one more thing.” In fact, using mindfulness throughout your day will begin to condition you to tap into this calmer, clearer way of being more easily when you need it most. Pick a few ideas from this list and get started today.
What would your younger self think about what you're doing now?
Wow, my younger self would be shocked, stunned, and amazed! I was a lawyer, then a full time mother and community volunteer, and then a stressed out and clinically depressed mom with three teenagers, trying to manage some very difficult parenting issues. I think my younger self would be so proud that I walked through fire and am now helping others nurture themselves and rewire their brain for more happiness and resilience.
Do you have a go-to mantra or affirmation?
May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease. May we be safe, may we be happy, may we be healthy, may we live with ease.
What is your biggest dream?
I would love to help the maximum amount of people – maybe that’s main stage presentations at big conferences, or writing another book that becomes a “go to” for healing.
To learn more about Julie you can connect with her on her website www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com and on Facebook @mindfulmethodsforlife and on Twitter @juliepotiker and you can purchase her new book “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos” here
Joy Corner is an interview-style blog series brought to you by Seek The Joy Podcast. Our mission continues to be a desire to share your stories, truths, joys and inspiration in your words. We invite you to join our corner, and share your joys, passions, and moments of inspiration as we continue to seek the joy, together. Join this series here