December 3, 2019

Living in Our Heads-Mindfulness Meditation to Increase Awareness

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , at 1:44 pm by kellyfdennis

beautiful bloom blooming blossom*

Saturday, January 11, 9:00 am-10:30am; Counseling office: 304 N. George St., Millersville, PA 1755

The aim of mindfulness practice is to be more aware, more often. A powerful influence taking us away from being “fully present” in each moment is our automatic tendency to judge our experience as being not quite right in some way—that it is not what should be happening, not good enough, or not what we expected or wanted.

Mindfulness concepts and Meditation practices covered will include: Mindfulness of the breath and body, Mindfulness to “unhook” from thoughts, Sensory mindfulness,Mindful self-compassion

Each session will be a combination of practice, lecture, and group discussion. Each session is taught in a supportive environment with no more than 8 people. This workshop is suitable for all levels of mindfulness meditation experience. Cost: $50

Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC is the facilitator. Pre-registration is required.

*Photo by Arul on


June 21, 2019

Dealing with Life’s Uncertainties with Mindfulness Meditation

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 1:52 pm by kellyfdennis

mountains near body of water panoramic photo*

Saturday, July 20, 2019 9-11am

Counseling office: 304 N. George St., Suite A, Millersville, PA

Whether coping with small annoyances or full-blown catastrophes, this 2-hour workshop leads you through a mindfulness meditation process to strengthen the response flexibility innate in your brain and your being. We will explore how to find calm, clarity and courage in the midst of any adversity.

 In this workshop you will:

-Learn/participate in three practices to return the nervous system to its range of resilience
-Learn practices to cultivate the positive emotions that counteract the brain’s negativity bias
-Participate in guided meditations that create new resources of support in your brain

Facilitator: Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC; Contact Kelly to sign up, space is limited. Cost: $75.00

*Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

May 15, 2019


Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , , at 1:53 pm by kellyfdennis

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair*

Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely,and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. After a good cry or talking with a friend, we usually feel better.

However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist. Crying does not help and talking with a friend is hard because one tends to feel alienated, because others can’t seem to understand why they can’t just “snap out of it.”

Major Depressive Disorder is a debilitating illness. Those suffering describe feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, despair, isolation and lonliness. One of the most difficult parts of treating depression is the negative cycle in which sufferers engage. Feelings of low self worth, negativity, and hopelessness beget more of the same thoughts and the cycle sends the person into despair.

Fortunately, when the individual learns to distance themselves from the cycle of negative thinking, he/she can begin to see a glimpse of light and hope. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Meditation are awesome tools to help begin the process of distancing.

Check out my YouTube video for a Cognitive therapy-based mindfulness mediation designed to help you begin to learn the process of not engaging with every negative thought.

Be well and have a wonderful day!

*Photo by Nathan Cowley on

November 14, 2018

Mindfulness During the Holiday Season

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , at 4:09 pm by kellyfdennis

yellow bokeh photo

Photo by on

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn. As we learn to create purposeful present moment awareness we begin to see the changing of things in our lives that cause us stress. We learn to relate to our difficulties in life with more openness, compassion, and acceptance. Holidays can be stressful, if not difficult times for many people.

With this holiday season comes a chance for to slow down and reflect on what makes this season so special. When we choose to respond to situations with gratitude and notice the areas available for true connection with others, we can find peace under the chaos. When we practice mindfulness to the conversations we have with others in the moment it helps us connect to that which fills our hearts and minds with thanks.

In this time of festivities, shopping, gifting, we can be reminded there are ways to practice mindfulness. Slowing down during this time to appreciate the hands that have made the food, the time and effort to take to make the items we purchase, the people that are interconnected to us in the process. (

I invite you in this season, and in our current state of our nation, to take the time to be present to others.  Give a moment of gratitude in your heart to the goodness that everyone is trying their best to offer in interaction, and see if a deeper more meaningful connection can arise to support your well-being and another’s well-being.

May you, your family, and friends live with peace and ease.

February 9, 2018

Wisdom and the Inner Critic

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, identity tagged , , , , , at 4:09 pm by kellyfdennis

dune fenceThe negative inner critic is a result of your early childhood experiences.  We all receive self-esteem “messages” from parents, siblings, extended family, other caregivers, teachers, coaches, and peers.  The negative messages individually are mostly harmless, but when our subconscious strings thousands of them together, they can shape who we believe ourselves to be. Trauma also fuels the nasty girl. Many of us were affected by sexual, physical, verbal abuse which cause feelings of fear and fear makes whatever we believe and learn much more powerful.  Trauma in childhood many create a belief system where we may think we are to blame for just about anything that went wrong. Trauma and negative self-esteem make it hard to us to identify our needs and figure out how to get them met.

This engages our “reasoning mind” and sends us on a problem-solving, evaluating, and decision-making mission.  As human beings we evaluate and make judgments about things in our lives and surroundings.  Evaluating and judging our surroundings helps us to determine our likes and dislikes. The reasoning part of our mind is trying to make sense of the world. This process helps us to decide what to include and not to include in our lives.

That Nasty Girl criticizes and insults you to so you’ll live by the rules you internalized in your growing up years; she tells you to judge and compare yourself to others; she pushes you to be perfect so no one will reject because your “flawed”; she tells you you’re stupid for even trying so you won’t even bother trying and therefore don’t have to worry about messing up.  She’s trying to “help” us to get our needs met while minimizing pain; the only problem is that even if it does work once in a while, the “feel better” time is very short-lived.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s best to acknowledge her, thank her for trying to be helpful and then distract or move on to something else. But what happens when the Nasty Girl is actually getting in the way of you being able to be your authentic self and live a fulfilling life? Maybe the messages she’s sending you are preventing you from applying for that dream job, taking healthy risks and reaching out to others in order to know and be known. When we believe her messages, it can certainly stop us in our tracks. We can get stagnant and stuck, spinning our wheels, not being able to move forward because she tells us we just have to accept where we are as the good for nothing people we are.

Inner Wisdom

I think there’s another way. Throughout our existence as human beings, people have talked about, drawn about, written about another side of us. A “wise inner knowing”, “our intuitive selves”, “our spiritual guide”, “insightfulness”. Whatever you want to call it, we all have it. Our reasoning minds shut off this inner wisdom, because inner wisdom isn’t about problem solving, evaluating, and analyzing. Often our inner wisdom is a whisper; a murmur that’s especially hard to hear over your harsh inner critic.

In the next post, I’ll share some ideas about how to access this wise part of yourself. Until then check out my most recent mindfulness meditation video. Meditation helps to slow down the mind and allow us to disengage from “reasoning  mind”, an essential skill for being able to access the “wise inner knowing.”

Until next time, Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!




February 7, 2018

Inner Critic

Posted in Mindfulness, Self Image tagged , , , , , at 4:49 pm by kellyfdennis

Kellysmile1The harsh internal critic was called the “pathological critic” by psychologist Eugene Sagan to describe the negative inner voice that we all possess.  I call her the “nasty girl that lives inside my head”.  Gender is a moot point, though, the pathological critic can take on either gender.  Therefore, your harsh internal voice may be a “nasty guy” if you are male. I’ll use female pronouns, but these principles apply to any “nasty” voice regardless of gender.

The thing about this nasty girl is that she thinks she’s being helpful. She seems to assume that if she beats me up enough, I will change my ways! That doesn’t usually happen, though. I tend to just feel crappy when she is saying nasty things to me. I have found it very  helpful to recognize when she’s “talking” and acknowledge her existence and what she’s “saying” by telling her, “Thank you, I hear that you think I’ll mess up that thing I’m working on, if I don’t try harder; but really, I’ve got this, thanks anyway.” Then I move on and shift my thinking. I  might have to do this several times in one hour depending on the situation!

Recognizing the difference between your own wise “voice” and the irrational nasty “voice” can be a little dificult at first. That “voice” has probably been in existence in your mind for a long time. Mindfulness can be very helpful in beginning to separate out what is the “wise” person “voice” and what is the “nasty” person “voice.” I have recently put up two videos on my You Tube channel that begin to teach the basics of mindfulness mediation. While they are not targeting the nasty and wise voices specifically, they do help you to get in touch with what’s happening in your mind and body and take you out of autpilot.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to get access to all the content from past uploads as well as future uploads which will include a “Wise Voice” meditation.

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

December 11, 2017

5 Steps to Improve Mental Wellbeing.

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , at 6:09 pm by kellyfdennis

MandalaColoringEvidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.

If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.

What is mental wellbeing?

Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says: “Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole.

“Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are, too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. “But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

It can help to think about “being well” as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out.

“No-one can give wellbeing to you. It’s you who has to take action,” says Professor Stewart-Brown.

Five steps to mental wellbeing

Below are five things that, according to research, can really help to boost our mental wellbeing:

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.    From:

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

March 16, 2014

Self-Appreciation: The Flip Side of Self-Compassion

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:02 pm by kellyfdennis


Originally blogged by Kristin Neff

“Sometimes it’s more difficult to see what’s right about ourselves than what’s wrong. For some of us even thinking about our positive traits makes us uncomfortable. Praise and compliments can make us squirm, and we often don’t know how to respond without self-consciousness. Flattery feels a lot better than insults, of course, but how many of us really take the praise in? Own it. Delight in it. For a whole host of reasons it’s often trickier than you might think to feel positively about ourselves; most of these stem from fear.

One fear involves setting up overly-high expectations. Underplaying our good points means that we’re more likely to pleasantly surprise others by doing well rather than disappoint them by doing poorly. We’re also afraid of letting go of the devil we know. If we’re in the habit of cutting ourselves down, recognition of our positive qualities will feel alien to us. Another fear is the perception of being vain. Nobody likes a narcissist — except the narcissist.

So how do we celebrate our admirable qualities in a healthy way? I believe the answer is self-compassion, which involves treating ourselves with kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness when considering our perceived inadequacies — though in a different guise. I like to call it “self-appreciation.” When we can enjoy what’s good about ourselves, acknowledging that all people have strengths as well as weaknesses, we allow ourselves to revel in our goodness without evoking feelings of arrogance or overconfidence.

Let’s first consider kindness as it applies to self-appreciation. Would you take your friends’ good qualities for granted without ever acknowledging them or letting your friends know what you like about them? Probably not, yet many of us do so to ourselves. It’s a great gift of self-kindness to appreciate ourselves and to demonstrate our approval with sincere praise. We don’t have to speak this praise aloud, making ourselves and others uncomfortable in the process. But we can quietly give ourselves the inner acknowledgement we deserve.

The sense of common humanity inherent to self-appreciation means that we appreciate ourselves not because we’re better than others, but because all people have goodness in them. To appreciate others’ goodness while ignoring our own creates a false division between us and them. But as a distinctive expression of the universal human condition that animates all our experience, we honor everything when we honor ourselves. As the Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn writes, “You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible.” Celebrating our achievements is no more self-centered than having compassion for our failings. We can’t really claim personal responsibility for our gifts and talents. They were born from our ancestral gene pool, the love and nurturing of our parents, the generosity of friends, the guidance of teachers, and the wisdom of our collective culture. Appreciation for our good qualities, then, is really an expression of gratitude for all who have shaped us as individuals. Self-appreciation humbly honors those who have helped us become the person we are today.

Self-appreciation also entails mindfulness. Just as we need to notice others’ good qualities in order to appreciate them, we need to consciously acknowledge our own positive features. However, we’re often so focused on our mistakes and flaws that we don’t even see when we get things right. What do you notice most when you get a work evaluation, the nine points of praise or the one point of criticism? Some may be concerned that if we focus too much on what’s right about ourselves we’ll ignore much needed areas of growth. This is true only if our focus is, in fact, “too much.” If we take a lopsided view of ourselves — “I am perfect and have no weaknesses whatsoever” — that would certainly be a problem. But the truth is that every human being has both positive and negative traits. Rather than running away with an exaggerated storyline about either, good or bad, we instead need to honor and accept ourselves as we authentically are. No better and no worse. The key is having balance and perspective so that we can see ourselves without distortion.

William James, one of the founding fathers of Western psychology, once wrote that “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Luckily, we can meet this essential need without depending on other people to approve of us. When we treat ourselves with the same kindness with which we treat our good friends, we’ll have the support and care required to help us thrive.”

To learn more about self-compassion you can visit Kristin’s website at There are informational videos, research articles demonstrating its benefits, a way to test your own self-compassion level, and a variety of exercises and guided meditations. You can also read more about self-compassion in her book “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind,” published by William Morrow.

For more by Kristin Neff, click here.


ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

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