What are Happy Brain Groups?

We all have a core impulse to recognize our inherent wholeness. Happy Brain Groups are for those who want to experience support, community, and deep connection, and who want to be around other humans who are balancing their brains.

In our groups, one way we do this is by turning toward ourselves with warmth. This helps us to make our brain a happy place to live. I believe this process of regulating our brain is most likely to happen when we surround ourselves with other caring humans who want to hold us with kindness, understanding, and deep listening. An essential principle I’ve learned from doing this work is that we need each other — our brains are not wired to “go it alone.” We need, in caring community, to be heard, seen, witnessed, understood, and met for who, what, and where we are in the moment. This allows us the emotional resources to turn toward ourselves with kindness, while addressing what blocks us from living the life we want to live.

Our group has a different focus every 6 weeks, and in each group we practice a language for finding common ground with anyone, anywhere, both personally and professionally.

How does a Happy Brain Group differ from other groups?

What’s missing for me in our general mode of communication is warmth: turning toward ourselves with warmth and a true desire to listen deeply and compassionately to others, without trying to fix them or “help” them change. Many people (like myself) didn’t know how to receive tenderness, care, and listening, though these are universal needs that we all share. If we can’t get these needs met, we often blame ourselves (or others) for missing out on something we don’t believe we can have.

When we begin to companion ourselves with affection and welcome, a softening begins to emerge. Perhaps we’re in a cycle of pain and self-hatred where we haven’t been able to move past the darkness in our upbringing. The sense of belonging and mattering lets us be present with our past without needing it to be different. We’re having our experience while being held in caring community by others. We’re not alone. New neurobiological connections change us— a re-wiring of the brain happens, where there’s an inner strength that gently soothes the edges of self-blame and guilt. These changes help us to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life while we organically become more relational and empathic.

What happens in a Happy Brain Groups Group?

Happy Brain Groups take place in person in Mill Valley, CA. and online via Zoom video groups. Our group combines these three fields of study that help us make our brain a happy place to live:

1) The study of social neuroscience, AKA interpersonal neurobiology

Did you grow up in a family where there was warmth and tenderness, and your feelings and needs were cherished? Did you have an ongoing experience of mattering and belonging? If you’re like me and you didn’t, there’s great news about the neuroplasticity of our brains. We can develop an internalized version of the parent we always wanted, where we companion ourselves in ways that calm our inner critic, soothe emotional pain, and protect our tender nervous system from isolation, shame, and reactive triggers. It’s called our resonating self-witness, and it’s a slow and steady process of rewiring our brain.

In social neuroscience we learn how our brain relates to other brains, bringing a deeper understanding about our humanity. Using fun cartoon images, we’ll understand:

  • how our old patterns of thinking and behaving developed, and how to change them
  • how to nourish warm relationality with ourselves and others
  • ways we can experience a more calm, regulated nervous system, which includes more resilient and balanced emotions, the experience of calm self-connection, and flexibility in our response to others. This is an integrated brain, the heartbeat of well-being.

For questions or more information: email KatherineQ@Richerliving.org

2) The practice of compassionate communication

Using the tools and language of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), we speak and listen from the depths of our being, holding others and ourselves with care and resonance. Practicing NVC literally strengthens the fibers of connection in our brain and paves the way for us to become more compassionate, empathic, and loving. It also helps us express ourselves with ease and authenticity while honoring our universal deep needs to matter and to be understood.

We practice offering (and receiving) empathy, a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing, without trying to fix them and without turning away.

Current brain science tells us that receiving warmth and empathy helps us to heal trauma by rewiring our neural pathways. This allows us more flexibility and regulation of our emotions so that we do not get thrown off in times of stress or overwhelm. It also helps us to more easily feel empathy for others.

Here is a link to an animation of part of Brene Brown's Ted Talk on Vulnerability where she talks about the difference between empathy and sympathy.

3) Family Constellations

For 1 or 2 out of the 6 sessions, I will facilitate a Family Constellation, or we’ll do smaller constellations where everyone can participate as the receiver, a representative, or a witness. No previous experience is needed. Through this process we gain insight from the many historical influences after which we have unconsciously patterned our behavior. This making sense of our family history allows us greater choice as we move forward. Family constellation work is the quickest, gentlest, and most powerful tool I know of for harvesting the wisdom in our bodies. See above link for more info.

As we fold together neuroscience, NVC, and constellations in our Happy Brain Groups, we develop and nurture the neural pathways that create emotional agency. This strengthens the internal and external resources that are required for taking action on what we feel, want, and need.

I have deep love and respect for my teacher, Sarah Peyton (EmpathyBrain.com). Without her in my life I would not be a student and teacher of this work.

								 Make Your Brain a Happy Place To Live… Neuroplasticity: What’s in it for me?

Wednesday Online Group

Happy Brain groups are for anyone who is very motivated to make their brain a happy place to live. If this is your first Happy Brain group, you are welcome to jump in!

Our upcoming 8-week online Happy Brain Group is September 6th – October 25th, 2023. The title is: Feel It! Write It!: Exploring our 8 Circuits of Emotion Through Writing

For me, the greatest gift of studying social neuroscience with Sarah Peyton is that my brain has become more regulated. Regulated brains are calmer, with more equanimity. They are also more organically empathic and less reactive.

One of the fastest ways to a more regulated brain is to name and express our emotions. This relaxes our brain. The neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp identified 7 Circuits of Emotion and Motivation. These circuits are like bus lines that run throughout our brain, carrying our different emotions. The circuits are: FEAR, RAGE, PLAY, SEXUALITY/EMERGENCE, PANIC/GRIEF, CARE, AND SEEKING. Sometimes our circuits get entangled, e.g., I spent most of my life crying when I really felt anger, or expressing anger when I really felt fear. Before his death a few years ago, Jaak Panksepp was researching disgust as a circuit, and Sarah Peyton has found enough evidence to add it to the list, so now we have DISGUST as the 8th circuit.

I’ve discovered that the process of writing my truth about anything, without editing for possible retribution or loyalty, and then having my writing witnessed in warm community, has a very calming and grounding effect on my nervous system. It’s as though my brain is confirming, “Yes, this happened, I wrote about it, and it was witnessed. It really did happen.” Afterward I always feel my feet a little more solidly on the earth. I believe this registers experiences differently in our brain than simply talking about them. Also, learning to love our emotional circuits and what blocks us from them can bring "sensemaking" into our lives and help us understand and have compassion for other folks' emotions.

I hope you join us for our group!

  • Prerequisite: No previous experience necessary
  • Where: We'll meet via Zoom
  • When: 8 weeks, Wednesdays, September 6th – October 25th, 2023, 9:00 – 10:45am PDT
  • Facilitated by: Katherine Revoir
  • Cost: $192.20, which includes the PayPal fee. if you are paying from outside the U.S. add $5 to the total. Or you can send a check. Contact us if you need a reduced rate.
  • Register: PLEASE register by emailing Christina  – give her your name, phone number, and let her know you want to join the Wednesday Happy Brain group and that you have paid. Use PayPal to pay on our Happy Brain page (or you can send a check).

In-person Group

There are currently no in-person groups, only online groups.

In Happy Brain Groups we are welcome, just as we are. Here, we each are reminded that our humanity is sacred.

Click here for testimonials

“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind or ask him to change.”
~ Author unknown

Click here for other online groups