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Online Grief Expression Process group now available, for anyone grieving for any reason, known or unknown.


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We welcome you to join us. We are a team of facilitators who are forging a path through these challenging times with all of the tools we have on hand, those we can remember together and create now. Gathered together in the inner space, for real, and on zoom symbolically, we will follow a structure to remind us what causes our grief, and how we can honor and express it to find relief and renewed clarity in our own minds, bodies, hearts and souls. Below is the link to sign up. The event recurs every other Monday evening at 630 pm

Celebrating Diversity in Sonoma County (written for a local publication)


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When counting the many beautiful wonders of Sonoma County let us remember to count among them our county’s human diversity.  We stand out, even among California counties for our extremely diverse population.  No matter under what lens you examine us, our diversity will show up.  Look at us by our ethnic or racial identities, our religious or sexual orientations, or socio –economic positions.  However you look you will see quite a range, and many differences.  It is up to each of us to remember that this diversity is a tremendous asset, bringing color, richness, and flavor to our county and deepening our hearts and minds.  We can let our experiences of diversity be a valuable tool for keeping our hearts open and letting our minds grow flexible and open up too.

Diversity in humanity sometimes brings ruffled feathers, hurt feelings and misunderstandings due to communication barriers, and the widely divergent world views held by this world’s various cultures.  However, if we keep the perspective that diversity is valuable in mind, then with an open heart and mind we can transcend and resolve the various difficulties that arise when people from different places and different cultures come together by chance.

When groups of humans coalesce and grow there is often a force of homeostasis which seems to push most people toward the mainstream, while leaving some people out of the flow of this push and leaving them vulnerable and  disenfranchised from belonging and access to the resources of the group.  How can we  be careful to resist this tendency of the lower emotions of territorialism, greed and fear?

Its about flexibility.  Flexibility of the mind and the heart, which are the key to embracing diversity are not much different than flexibility in the body.  We have to use the flexibility we have or we will loose it in time, and conversely,  if we really want to we can expand the flexibility we have through practice.    What do we need to practice?

We need to practice curiousity and willingness which are known to be powerful energetic mental states which  enhance our subjective experience of “flow” and therefore increase experience of happiness.

We can practice remembering natures facts about diversity.  It really takes a lot of diversity to make any ecosystem work over time.  It takes all of the colors of the rainbow, and their mixes to make the colors of nature come alive.  Each color can be enhanced by the presence of other colors whether similar or complementary (opposite).

It may serve us all well to remember just how boring the world would be if we were all the same color, race, religion, orientation or gender.  We all need us to be as diverse as we are, and there is room for all of us here, if we are willing to make room for each other to be.

Appreciating diversity comes more naturally for some, and for others can be a learned set of skills and values.  When it is not coming naturally its important to assist ourselves by remembering that we are participating in something much much larger than our own minds and belief systems, and to remember to be curious and approach the world with wonder.  We must remember to ask:  What can we learn when we drop our preset mind and participate in the vastness of the beautiful world of human diversity?

And at times when we find our resistance more challenging, and old patterns of closing down seem to be closing in, its really important to remember that our county is growing more and more diverse with time, and that cultivating and developing our inner and outer flexibility is an important set of skills to insure our own peace of mind, let alone the peace of those in relationship with us.  Let us all remember to contribute to world peace in everyday ways, with the simple gift of appreciating diversity, approaching human differences with curiosity and willingness, and letting go of our preset ideas about how things “should be” in order to get on with the business of participating fully in the world as it is.

Vicki Van Winkle, MFT has been a psychotherapist and meditation teacher assisting the people of Sonoma County to recover from dealing with highly stressful life events, anxiety and depression for over 15 years.   If you have any questions regarding approaching life with curiosity and willingness please contact me at  I would be happy to assist you or direct you to some resources to assist you. 

Self Help


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Here are some things to consider when you would like to help yourself feel better right away.

If you would like more assistance in applying these methods in your life, feel free to call, email, or schedule an appointment now, online. for an in person or telephonic session.


The quality of your mind will match the quality of your breath. The Breath can control the Mind.

When you are upset and start breathing shallowly, rapidly or holding your breath, the mind interprets that to mean that you are in some kind of serious danger. When that happens the mind will whip up a tornado of thoughts and speed up its scanning of the environment, reading in more trouble behind every corner! You can intervene at times like these by intentionally breathing in a more slow and steady way.


Try the triangle breathing method of training the breath to stabilize.
Triangle Breathing: imagine an upside down equilateral triangle. the left side represents the inhalation, the top represents the holding in of the breath, and the right side the exhalation. Your job is to make all the sides of the breath triangle as long and as equal as possible.
Begin this technique by inhaling as slowly as you can and counting how long your breath is. Then hold your breath in your lungs for the same amount of time. Next count the same number out as you slowly release your exhalation in a controlled fashion, making sure you have enough breath to make it all the way to the end of the count. After you have completed the first cycle, complete 2 or 3 more the exact same way. Next add one number to the count as you inhale and do a couple of cycles at the higher number if you can. If you can not, simply return to the lower number and try to increase it when you practice the triangle breathing next time. You can continue to train your breath to be slower, richer and deeper by practicing this method regularly, at least 3 times a week. It is a safe method to use to train your breath, even once per hour. So employ it liberally, and enjoy a greater peace of mind and a more relaxed body today! See my post “Reboot Yourself” for a more extensive description of this method.


Stress causes you to use up key nutrients very quickly

If you are under a great deal of stress you can become easily depleted in B vitamins, which give you energy, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium which help you to relax. If stress is making you feel bad you might want to learn more about what kind of vitamin and mineral supplements will help. Besides ordinary food and multivitamins, you may benefit from specific supplements
help encourage healthy brain function, such as SAMe, phosphatydal serine,
GABA,or HTP 5 Hydroxy tryptophan.

You own mind may be making things worse by attacking you instead of helping you calm down and solve the problem at hand.

You may need to take some time to evaluate whether your own thought process is helping or hindering you in reducing your stress levels at this time. Dont Believe Everything You Think!!!! You may be blaming yourself, or jumping to conclusions or seeing things in black and white. You may be maximizing your obstacles and minimizing your strengths or making any number of cognitive errors. In order to best help yourself it would be good to get the book, FEELING GOOD, by David Burns. He explains the common errors we make in our thinking that make us feel more and more miserable. In his book he makes excellent suggestions for sorting out these distorted thoughts and getting our own mind back on our side of the problem solving crisis at hand.

If you are currently ready to seek in person therapy in Santa Rosa, CA ….or would like to schedule a telephonic therapy session please click here: