We help you create an inner refuge – a nourishing relationship with yourself
Somewhere there is a basket
that contains all our failures.
It is a big basket. It wants to know
what to do with these.
Mercy has no use for them. – Stephen Levine
Who we help
Welcome to growing human(kind)ness! We help healers, artists, seekers, and mindfulness oriented people who self soothe with food and who want to create a place of secure connection within themselves.
If you’re here, you probably care deeply about compassion and are generously compassionate with others. You may have a lot of skill, practice, and capacity in using meditation, mindfulness, and self compassion in other areas of your life.
Yet you may struggle with sugar or food in ways that feel discouraging, embarrassing, hopeless, or shameful to you. You may feel like an imposter, or a fraud – especially if you’re a therapist, healer, or teacher yourself.
You may isolate or hide your struggle from others. You may be working conscientiously, mindfully, and diligently to heal – and yet feel frustrated by a lack of progress. And you may have a hard time bringing compassion and self trust to this area of your life – you may think you ‘should’ be knowing or doing better.
How we help
We’re here to help you turn your compassionate heart towards your own being – especially to this tender place of separation, this muddle with food.
In our courses and groups, you’ll learn about the relational, developmental needs that drive food seeking, so you can make sense of your self soothing responses, soften the sense of ‘falling short,’ surrender to your true needs, and rest in the mercy that leads to healing.
You can think of this as healing your relationship with food – or more accurately, healing your relationship with the ways you’ve struggled with food.
Much of what we’re doing is coming into a deeper acceptance and stewarding of our vulnerability, creating a different relationship with our wounds, developmental needs, and those tender places of frozenness and stuckness.
With a different kind of relationship, you respond differently – you bring kindness to all the places where you feel you ‘should’ve known better’ and support for the growth process.
You’ll also learn how to transform your inner landscape from shame and criticism into a place of warmth and welcome, where your journey is held in a womb of peace, connection, and confidence.
With this inner refuge, habits of self soothing with food, isolation, and self judgment have the safety, levity, and wisdom they need to gently fall away. And as the ‘falling short self’ softens, so too, does isolation and shame so you can love, connect and give freely in all the ways your heart longs to connect with others, connect with yourself, and serve life.
Where do I start?
What to do after an introductory course
If you want to go deeper in healing your relationship with food, and you want to go deeper with us the next step is to take a group class.
We offer two group classes.
When Food is Your Mother is for those who’ve taken an introductory course and who want to go further. This 9 week class is done with others in a group, has a private online space for sharing, and also includes the chance to ask questions in weekly Q&A webinars.
When Food is Your Mother is a good fit for you if you want to learn more about the developmental needs that drive overeating and how to gently steward and soften these patterns.
The Book of Love is for any stage of your journey, both those who are brand new to us and our beloved alumni. This 6 week class is a playful way to bridge places of separation, to reconnect with the story underneath the story. While this class can help you soften the shame of overeating or other overconsuming, it can also be used to care for any area in your life where you’re feeling guilt, loss, sorrow or self blame.
In past classes, people have used The Book of Love to:
- say goodbye and thank you to a dying parent
- reconnect with a teenage child after going through a challenging time as a family
- say goodbye to a beloved home
- mourn the pain of mental illness
- grieve and honor the loss of a marriage
- mourn the pain of an addiction
- nurture the dream of writing a book
- move through a cancer diagnosis
- feel grounded after a difficult stretch with a child
- heal a painful body image
- and bring compassion to the suffering of chronic illness
We love hearing all the ways people use this class to nurture their particular place of soul healing, and we look forward to witnessing your creation.
How long does it take to heal?
In addition to, ‘Where do I begin?,’ we often hear this question from our people: How long does it take to heal?
It’s a powerful and sincere question! And this question can arise when we’re feeling overwhelmed, longing for hope – or when we feel at our wit’s end. So the question underneath the question can be, “How much longer?” Yes, you long for relief, and you long to know that healing is possible!
While each person’s journey is unique – and full of its own timing, heart, and wisdom – in our experience, it takes 2-4 years to nurture and ballast the healing process. It’s a developmental process, and it takes time.
When our people commit to the healing journey for this length of time, and with an approach of ‘gentle persistence and persistent gentleness,’ as my friend Catharine Clarenbach says, we see significant shifts! This is especially true if they’re healing with a group’s connection, help and support.
Why a couple years to heal?
During this two to four year window, several important things are happening. You’re:
- softening self attack, perfectionism, shame and self blame, things that make healing harder
- cultivating the compassion, patience, and curiosity that supports healing
- moving out of isolation and into connection with others
- pruning out what doesn’t work
- grieving the losses that live underneath overeating
- strengthening your capacity to be with discomfort and feel uncomfortable emotions
- and becoming more comfortable with your vulnerability, like learning how to ask for help
And like all relationships, your relationship with food and your body is something that rests in your spending time with these things, in becoming intimate and familiar with these aspects of yourself. Intimacy grows with steady, step by step companionship and relating – not rushing or force – and this includes intimacy with ourselves, our bodies, and food.
Why it’s necessary – and helpful – to surrender to the time it takes to heal
For all these reasons, if there’s one takeaway that you receive from this page – whether or not you choose to take our offerings – we hope that you can surrender to the truth that healing takes gentleness, patience, and time.
The shame of overeating can create a lot of anxiety and internal drivenness that has us rushing to try and ‘fix’ the overeating, and as soon as possible. This anxiety can be heightened if you’re a meditation teacher, therapist, or minister yourself – a teacher or helping professional who thinks, ‘I should know better.’
And if you feel like you’ve just had it with the weight gain and the pain of overeating, the underlying frustration can also create a lot of urgency and drive to be in a different place.
I get it! Of course.
And here’s what we’ve learned from companioning others through their healing journey:
The more you face and accept this truth – the very place where you’re at – then the more you can rest in the healing process and be carried by it.
And the more that you accept that healing has her own wisdom, timing and pacing that can’t be rushed or forced, paradoxically, the easier your journey becomes.
An acceptance of your struggle changes the tenor and tone of the relationship that you have to it. It is the bedrock of healing. It is a ‘reverence of approach.’
If we’re trying to rush or force our healing, we misunderstand and miss the gifts that are already here, that are being born in this exact moment, in the very ground underneath our feet. As Rumi says, “Keep your eye on the bandaged place. It’s where the light gets in.” For this is where the gift is, where she’s being born.
Acceptance also changes the way we relate to our overeating, our vulnerability, and our pain itself. We ‘come alongside ourselves,’ as my mentor Dr. Neufeld puts it, with humility and love, with vulnerability and courage, as ally and support, rather than coming ‘at ourselves’ as the judge, frightened young one, or frustrated seeker.
Surrendering to your journey is what softens the heart so you are seated as the wise steward, the midwife to your healing, rather than feeling caught in criticism, shame, contempt, or demands.
Each moment of the journey, rather than something to be endured or gotten over with as quickly as possible, becomes something precious, a place of kinship, re-membering, and re-connection.
I invite you to bow your head and heart to what is being asked of you in facing your relationship with food, for it is for you, arising from love – from a desire to help you – and not something that is against or being done to you.
There is so much mercy, here, in your relationship with food, right where you stand, and so much understanding for the many threads that wove it into being. And there is also much mercy in the unraveling of these threads, and their reweaving.
As my mentor Mark Silver, a Sufi teacher and business coach, has taught me, “Is love available, even here? Where is the love, right here in this moment?”
The importance of a group
Lastly, if you want to heal patterns of self soothing with food, we highly recommend working with a group in some fashion. Working with a group softens shame, softens isolation, and makes the journey easier. Our pain becomes less personal – we recognize, ah, other people feel and experience this too! And our strength and courage becomes deepened as we ‘do hard things, together.’
In 2019 we began a process of restructuring our offerings so that we offer more group support to our people, and more support for our people over a longer time period. This includes our year long intensive, Nurturing the Inner Mother for alumni of When Food is Your Mother. Now, if you’re wanting support for several years, and you want that support from us, you have the option to stay with us for that time period.
In closing, we respect your time, money, energy, and dreams of healing, your heart and your longings. We want you to get the support you need. We also want you to get the right fit for you. If you have any questions if a course is right for you or if we’re a good fit, please reach out. We’re here to help, whether you work with us or with someone else.
We bow our hearts, bend our knees, and tune our ears to the beauty in your journey, to the longings in your heart, and to the mercy that holds us all.
With sincerity, Karly and the Growing Humankindness team
Do at home courses
You can begin our do at home courses at any time.
If you overuse sugar or food for stress relief, to care for your emotions, or to self regulate, this course will help you soften self criticism, set nourishing limits, and change your eating habits with a gentle, compassion based approach. You’ll receive daily emotional support and learn how to apply self compassion to the process of habit change, so you can create more nourishing self talk and build resilience, that internal sense of, “I trust myself to move through this.”
This course is our most popular and has been taken by thousands from around the world since 2012. *Note – this course used to be called The 30 Day Lift. It was renamed and revised in 2019 as Emerge: Create a New Habit.
Available any time. Includes an email companion, guiding you through the course. $129 USD. Payment plan available.
When you attempt to make changes in how you eat, care for your body, or care for your self, you may bump into your Inner Rebel – the part of you that strongly says “No!” The result? You may get stuck in collapse, resistance or inner conflict – fighting amongst these various parts and needs.
In this course, you’ll learn how to soften this inner conflict, understand the needs underneath the inner rebel, and playfully work with this part of you rather than against it. This will help you follow through on the changes you want to make and express a greater sense of power in your life.
Available any time. Includes an email companion, guiding you through the course. $129 USD. Payment plan available.
If you’re wanting more help to soften self soothing with food, the next step is When Food is Your Mother, a 9 week, small group class. Course materials are delivered online along with a private, closed forum on Mighty Networks. We also meet for Q&A webinars to connect, share insights, ask questions, and practice the exercises together.
We offer When Food is Your Mother once a year. The next class begins in August, 2021. You can sign up for the waiting list for the next class here.
For many people, overeating and binge eating are not just “bad” habits or coping strategies but emotional bonds – a well intentioned coping mechanism to feel safe, secure and connected in the face of isolation, intense emotions, powerlessness, or pain.
In moments of overwhelm, this emotional bond with food – and the needs that drive it – can override other needs, such as a need for health or nurturing limits. In this class, you’ll learn how to nurture the internal and external safety that enables you to soften your bond with food.
$450 USD. Payment plan available.
The next class begins on March 22, 2021. Sign up for the class here.
When we experience heartache, hardship, or pain, or when we struggle with something long term like illness or trauma, it’s easy to feel like ‘damaged goods’ – like there’s something wrong with us.
Our struggles can become the lens through which we see ourselves, coloring our perceptions and beliefs about who we are. In the wake of this separation, we often lose our connection with ourselves: our hopes and dreams, abiding goodness, capability, and trustworthiness.
The Book of Love is a playful, art based class to reconnect to your wholeness: to birth the deeper story that lives underneath disconnection.
In this 6 week class, you’ll be crafting a journal – using a blank book that you fill with images, stories, symbols and more – to create a book of connection, a chronicle and witness to your soul’s story. Through this creation and through sharing a space with others, you’ll reconnect with your deepest self, soften shame, and embolden courage.
$300 USD. Payment plan available.
Small group intensive
The small group intensive is for When Food is Your Mother alumni who want to come together in a small group to nurture spaces of inner ‘mothering’ within themselves – to create an internal refuge of warmth, welcome, compassion and courage.
Over a year’s time, we’ll come together to deepen and integrate the healing you began in When Food is Your Mother so habits of self soothing with food, isolation, and self judgment can gently fall away.
This is a year long offering. The next group begins in November 2021.
More about Growing Human(kind)ness
Growing human(kind)ness means 3 things: to grow into the fullness of your humanity, to foster kindness for your vulnerability, and to deepen your inner and outer connectedness.
There’s a deeper story that lives underneath the surface story of your struggles, and this story is both more true and more merciful.
Together, we sing this story into being.
The roots of our approach
Our approach is grounded in and woven from several threads: self compassion/mindfulness; attachment theory and developmental psychology; IPNB (interpersonal neurobiology); and contemplative spiritual practices from many wisdom and indigineous traditions, including Buddhism, Sufism, contemplative Christianity, and depth psychology.
We also pay homage and respect to IFS, Internal Family Systems; Focusing, the work of Eugene Gendlin, and the power of creative expression to facilitate healing.
People who align best with our approach are those who feel comfortable with meditation and contemplative practices as well as psychological tools.
(You can read this page here to learn more about my teachers. You’ll find information about them at the bottom of the page.)
From these disciplines, we hold these things dear, the bedrock for all that we offer:
- That our brains are shaped in and wired for relationship – what we’ve learned from IPNB (interpersonal neurobiology) and attachment theory.
- That all our internal parts are valuable and worthy of compassion, respect, warmth and curiosity – what we’ve learned from systems like Focusing, non violent communication, and IFS (Interal Family Systems.)
- That we’re fundamentally resilient, created in goodness, and rooted in love – what we’ve learned from our contemplative and wisdom traditions and from trauma research.
- That we heal in connection, community and compassion – what we’ve learned from all of the above.
- That we are beheld in a bond of Love that is sung throughout all of creation – what we’ve learned from attachment theory and our wisdom traditions, especially the Divine Mother.
- And that the safety we seek outside of ourselves can be found within, in the Womb of Love that cradles us all, the ‘arms we can never fall out of.’
Our courses are here to help you create inner hospitality for the ‘not beautiful’ parts of your journey so you can care for the vulnerability that lies underneath coping strategies like overeating, overdoing, and perfectionism.
Being tender with our pain grows our love for ourselves, for each other, for life, and for all of humanity. It softens the tendency to blame or scapegoat, and deepens forgiveness, an understanding and an embrace of the complexity of being human.
As you reconnect with your wholeness, goodness, and strength, you also connect with what you could call the ‘Deeper Story.’ Connecting with your Deeper Story softens the shame of trauma and reunites you with wholeness, where you can create a more merciful and embracing relationship with yourself, others, and all of life.
Vulnerability is a pathway to love, how we connect with others on an emotional, not an intellectual level, how we grow and embody the fullness of our hearts. It’s also a pathway to rest, and to joy.
Our statement on equality and justice
We also believe that vulnerability is a catalyst for nurturing economic, social, racial and environmental justice, equality, healing, and peace in our outer communities, something that we at Growing Human(kind)ness feel called to learn, support and nurture.
The pain and suffering of racism, sexism, sexual discrimination, poverty, and other forms of prejudice is a seering wound of separation that impacts individuals, families, communities, other life forms, and our Mother Earth.
We care deeply about nurturing and supporting a more just world of interbeing, where all can thrive and all are cared for. In our own small circle of influence, we yearn to create a community in our courses and classes where all colors, bodies, and beings are welcome, and we open ourselves to the humility, desire and willingness to grow and make the mistakes that this learning requires.
We help in 3 key areas
- Changing how you see – we see compulsive behavior, defenses, and self protections as a cry from the soul: cries for connection, and help. Learn how to use compassion and connection to build the container for growth: loving relationship.
- Changing how you relate – connection can support you in difficult situations, when you feel triggered and reactive. This is an important switch: responding to your needs, emotions, challenges, and triggers with compassionate, caring support rather than fear/anxiety, disgust, contempt, frustration, collapse/helplessness, or self hatred.
- Changing how you grow – learn how to use the safety of relationship to support your growth out of compulsive behavior. Connection makes healing and growth easier, less stressful, and possible.
The fruits of this approach appear “up on the surface” as changes in how you respond to triggers, changes in how you talk to or relate to yourself, and changes in how you relate to your emotions, struggles, losses, and vulnerability.
Our approach is non-violent, gentle, and grounded in deep respect for our human vulnerability.
We bow our hearts, bend our knees, and tune our ears to the beauty in your journey, to the longings in your heart, and to the mercy that Holds us all.