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 next 6-week online Happy Brain Group is May 31st- July 5th, 2023.

The idea for this series came to me from a writing class I’m taking, where I’m learning that when I write about something that happened to me, and it’s witnessed in warm community, it brings a new kind of meaning to the event, and I believe it registers differently in our brain than simply talking about it.
There’s a value in telling a story to myself with truth and clarity, without editing out what I don’t want people to read or know about me. It’s a tender process of mining our history for understanding and “of coarseness,” so we can look thru the lens of what happened before, see what’s important now, and build resource for how we would like to create the environment of our future.

We’ll look at some basic elements of resonance and social neuroscience, and for each session we’ll take one of these elements and use it as a writing prompt. For example, “I have feelings and they let me know if my needs are met or not met.”
The homestudy will be writing a short piece about something personal that relates to the element. If we choose to, we can share our writing in breakout groups. We will also do some writing during our group time.

Although we are all writers, this is NOT about becoming professional and publishing our writing. It’s a self-resonance practice where we allow ourselves to be seen and heard, giving ourselves the treasure of telling our truth, and doing it so vulnerably that we get to see how valuable that experience was to us.

Note: This will be the last Happy Brain series before our summer break.

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. Empathy is the golden key that unlocks our ability to allow more love in and share it. I hope you join us, and you're welcome to invite others.

  • Prerequisite: No previous experience necessary
  • Where: We'll meet via Zoom
  • When: 6 weeks, Wednesdays, May 31st – July 5th, 2023, 9:00 – 10:45am PDT
  • Facilitated by: Katherine Revoir
  • Cost: $155.93, 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.
  • Reading: The reading is: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
  • 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