Currents: March 2017


Currents is published monthly by Windhorse Integrative Mental Health of Northampton, 211 North St., Suite 1, Northampton, MA 01060. Executive Director is Victoria Yoshen. For questions, concerns and suggestions about Currents, contact us at

Upcoming Events

mark your calendarMark your calendars for community gatherings this month!

Community Events:
Community study of Recovering Sanity in the community room
Wednesday, March 22nd, 10:30am-12pm

Brunch at the North Hadley Sugar Shack
Thursday, March 23rd, 9-11:45am

Community study of Recovering Sanity in the community room
Wednesday, April 12th, 10:30am-12pm

Community Lunch:
Tuesday, April 11th, 12:30-1:30pm in the Windhorse office kitchen.

For more information, contact us at

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Staff Training with Judy Lief

On March 3rd and 4th, Judy Lief shared her wisdom in compassion practices by leading meditations and teaching the staff.  We met at Windhorse Hill in Deerfield, a beautiful space offered by Fleet Maull of the Prison Dharma Network.   Within the two days we had time to socialize, learn, talk in small groups, meditate in different ways, walk in the woods, and integrate how our practice can support our work and ourselves.  If you are interested in content, there will be audio excerpts of the two days located under Resources on the website at in April.

Written by Victoria Yoshen, Executive Director of Windhorse IMH Northampton.

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Hiking in the Pioneer Valley

Though the Northeast is still in the grips of winter, we thought we’d look ahead to spring (March 20th is the first day of spring after all), and tell you about some of the great hiking spots in and around the Pioneer Valley. This is a mere taste of the all that the Valley has to offer by way of hiking, but it’s a good place to start. Apart from some of the trails on Robert’s Hill, all of these hikes are fairly level and would be appropriate for beginner hikers.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary –
Located in Easthampton, this sanctuary provides four miles worth of easy and mostly level hiking trails as well as the potential to see the area’s wildlife. In addition to the traditional trails, there is also a wetlands boardwalk and an observation tower for your viewing pleasure. Please note that some areas of the sanctuary can get flooded during periods of high rainfall. The hours are Monday through Saturday, 9am-3pm; Sundays open seasonably. Trails are accessible from dawn to dusk. A donation is encouraged but not mandatory.

Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area –
This popular conservation area surrounds Fitzgerald Lake, a manmade body of water. In addition to hiking around the lake itself, the well-marked trail system also provides the opportunity to hike around and/or through forests, meadows, and wetland habitats. While some of the trails near the lake can be a little rocky at times, much of the trail system is level and easily walkable.

Puffer’s Pond –
This is the largest open body of water in Amherst and a much-loved location for hikers, swimmers, bird watchers, and picnickers alike, and offers such features as foot trails, grassy slopes, a beach, and a waterfall. Trails are marked but are not available all the way around the pond. The area is open from 6am until dusk.

Robert’s Hill Conservation Area –
Located not far from Northampton, in Leeds, MA,  Robert’s Hill offers a number of trails of varying difficulty, including one historic trail that follows an 1812 stage route to Albany, as well as a couple of trails that take you to the summit for a view. Parking can be tricky as there are houses nearby, but a designated parking area is provided.

Whiting Street Reservoir Loop Trail –
This flat and walkable trail is a four-mile loop and offers beautiful views of the reservoir and surrounding scenery. It is open year-round and is located in Holyoke, just a fifteen-minute drive from Northampton Center.

For some other trails in the area, check out or

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Self-Compassion: Befriending Ourselves

Windhorse held its first Self-Compassion Group this winter based on the book, The Mindful Path of Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer. As the group winds down, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a few favorite concepts and practices from the book with the wider Windhorse community.

What exactly is self-compassion? According to Christopher Germer, at its essence, “self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” This sounds pretty simple, but to get a sense of how radical this concept is, I would like to ask you to consider two scenarios:

  1. The first scenario is to think of a time when someone you cared about was really struggling. They may have made a experienced a failure, or disappointment. What types of things do you say when they are having a hard time and feeling bad about themselves? What is your tone of voice? What is your body language like? Take a moment to consider it.
  1. Now, the second scenario is to think of a time when you yourself were facing a painful situation and were really struggling in life. What types of language do you use when you talk to yourself? And, just as important, what tone do you use?

Do you notice a difference in the words you say, and in your tone?

We often feel like we don’t deserve self-compassion, that it could make us weak, or unmotivated, even more self-absorbed. Researcher Kristin Neff has tested these possibilities, and it turns out the opposite is true: self-compassion relates to resiliency, greater motivation, and lower rates of anxiety and depression. Through her research, Dr. Kneff has identified three basic components of self-compassion; they are self-kindness, mindfulness, and shared humanity. To say a little more about them:

  • Self-kindness is treating oneself with care and understanding, rather than harsh judgment.
  • Mindfulness is about noticing all of what is arising with a quality of spaciousness and nonjudgment. It allows us to avoid the extremes of either overly identifying with emotions or running away from them.
  • Shared Humanity relates to recognizing that life in general and everyone is imperfect. We know this logically, but on an emotional level when we make a mistake or suffer in some way, we often feel that this should not be happening. In actuality, our moments of emotional pain unite us as humans.

These three elements of self-compassion contribute to resilience and well-being because they allow us to befriend ourselves when we need it most.

You can learn more about self-compassion and listen to guided exercises at or by reading The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.

Written by Katie Keach, intern and team counselor, and co-facilitator of the group.

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Past Sessions of the Recovering Sanity Community Study

As you may remember, back in January Windhorse began a study of Recovering Sanity: A Compassionate Approach to Understanding and Treating Psychosis, the book by Windhorse founder, Edward M. Podvoll, M.D. This study has been and continues to be open to the wider Windhorse community. Since not everyone is able to attend, we have made the transcripts of past meetings available for your use.

Transcripts of previous Recovering Sanity sessions.


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New to the Windhorse Library

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, PhD

“In this important book, Christopher Germer illuminates the myriad synergies between mindfulness and compassion. He offers skillful and effective ways of making sure that we are inviting ourselves to bathe in and benefit from the kind heart of awareness itself, and from the actions that follow from such a radical and sane embrace. ” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, author of Arriving at Your Own Door and Letting Everything Become Your Teacher

“Loving-kindness and compassion are the basis for wise, powerful, sometimes gentle, and sometimes fierce actions that can really make a difference–in our own lives and those of others…In the following pages your will find a scientific review, an educational manual, and a practical step-by-step guide to developing greater loving-kindness and self-compassion every day.” – from the Foreword by Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness


Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective by Mark Epstein, MD

“As patients and therapists find themselves reaching for new solutions to their problems, the traditional distinctions between matters of the mind and matters of the spirit are increasingly being questioned. This book is a major contribution to the explosion of discussion about how Eastern spirituality can enhance Western psychology.” – from the back cover

“A most lucid and expert account of the wedding of psychotherapy and meditation. An Eastern-Western psychology that truly speaks from the inside of both worlds.” – Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart


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