soften, empowerment, relax, relieve anxiety, wisdom, self-healing, self healing


Softening: a simple practice to take the edge off what feels impossible.

What do you do when the overwhelm of life runneth over? Melt down? Succumb to worst-case-scenario thinking? (That is what our brains were designed to do, after all!)

And there’s a certain sensual satisfaction in a juicy meltdown, isn’t there? But I always regret it. It never leads to positive, constructive resolution. There’s inevitably fallout that leaves me feeling crappy.

My instant go-to is a powerful trick learned from my yoga teacher many years ago: I call it the art of softening.

“Soften. Soften your body, soften your face, soften your skin, soften your mind, soften your expectations, soften your stories.” I hear the voice of my yoga teacher, Betsy, as I hold a challenging yoga pose. She teaches this skill as a way to help us find composure while holding an intense yoga pose.

The beauty is taking it off the mat and into life. I hear that voice when I am worrying, becoming frustrated about something, having trouble falling to sleep, or judging myself. It works in an instant, separating myself from worry or tyrannical stories. It requires no thought. And it makes everything, well… softer.

Here’s what I do: When I hear that critical voice—the one that knows so completely, exactly how I’ve screwed up—or how impossible it all is, how unfair things are… the voice that has the story all worked out… I take note of it and say, “soften.” And I breathe.

One simple word. The edges of my thoughts start to blur—they become less sharp. The certainty, judgment, and hopelessness begin to fade out. I feel the possibilities of what could be flow into the space I’ve created for them. I’ve made room in this way for inspiration, wisdom, creativity, and resolution.

Softening doesn’t mean total surrender, giving up, or walking away from what’s troubling me. Just a little bit of space for the fresh perspective—previously unavailable to me in the midst of my tizzy.

Soften. Try it on…

Have a Beautiful day!


p.s. from my Archives:

The Art and Practice of Softening. 2016.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *