Step into Silence and Discover the Real You

February 18th, 2012 by

In this article Deepak Chopra describes your true essence: wholeness that you can feel and know by quieting your mind and resting in silent awareness.

Step Number One: Love That Which You Are

February 16th, 2012 by

In my work as a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) educator, I meet people for whom stress has taken the upper hand in their lives. One of the things we discover as we learn how to meditate and observe our thoughts and emotions is that everything we say, and do, and feel is connected to other things. Often at the root of the stress vortex is not just a lack of self love, but a harsh and judgmental narrative that throttles the self regularly. You are connected to everything around you. If your interior landscape is habitually harsh and critical, your outer landscape will reflect the same quality. It’s like a law of nature. Many of the new students that I meet are plagued by a harsh inner critic. The most important thing you can do to transform your life is to start a new habit of treating yourself with kindness. Make it a practice and watch how things begin to change. Here is a great little article by Wendy Strgar that explains how and why kindness to yourself is so fundamental.

Mindfulness : A Foundation for Personal Transformation

February 13th, 2012 by

More and more people want to know about mindfulness as the scientific evidence for its benefits grows stronger. Mindfulness is a process of bringing attention to moment-by-moment experience. It’s a combination of “the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance toward one’s experiences.” Through a regular mindfulness meditation practice, the mind gradually becomes quiet and shifts away from the thinking process into a state of restful awareness. Over time you can begin to shift from “automatic pilot” to present moment awareness during whatever you may be doing or experiencing. Mindfulness during your daily activities leads to an expanded perspective and understanding of oneself. As you practice, you’ll begin to observe thoughts and feelings with the same quality you observe any sensory experience, without habitually reacting to them, as many of us do. As we know, most of us spend our lives not present and habitually reactive! This is important because the mind tends to take on the qualities of the things we (habitually) pay attention to. One of my teachers describes this phenomenon by saying, “we are always practicing something,” and “whatever we practice we get good at.” For example, if we habitually rehash things that make us angry, we unconsciously get very good at being angry and unhappy. If we unconsciously pay attention and react to worrisome thoughts, we become very, very good worriers.  However, if we intentionally cultivate the quality of patience (as we do toward the fluctuating nature of our own mind in mindfulness practice) we get good at being patient with ourselves and others. If we practice cultivating qualities of non-judgment and kindness (especially toward ourselves) we become kind and less judgmental. By learning and practicing being “present” in the  “moment” (rather than on “automatic pilot”) we can wisely influence what unfolds in this moment, and the next, and thus the rest of our lives.  This is a foundation for transformation and the development of our human potential.

In prior posts I’ve highlighted some of the numerous health and quality of life benefits associated with having a personal mindfulness practice: less stress, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, benefits for people with high blood pressure, chronic pain, diabetes, fibromyalgia, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and depression. But mindfulness doesn’t stop there. Regular practice can also propel the practitioner on a journey of personal growth and transformation. In my work with people who come to study mindfulness to reduce stress, as well as in my own life, I’ve seen how a difficult life situation, even what some might call a physical or emotional “breakdown”, typically signals a transformation – the emergence of something new.  For example, several years ago my own cancer, insomnia, unhealthy weight loss, chronic pain, anxiety and depression signaled the serious need for change in my life. There were things I needed to pay attention to, feel, and release to make room for the new me that was emerging. It was only through a regular meditation practice that I came to understand the underlying origins of my physical and emotional stress. It was a time for undeniable truth with myself. This was a difficult but healing process. By practicing being open to my inner turmoil with compassion, without judging it as good or bad, but simply the truth that was emerging through me at the time, and allowing that pain to be fully felt, I discovered I already had everything I needed – inside –  to face the scary monster within. The anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain were telling me to look within and to pay attention. The emotions at the root of these symptoms were demanding to be known and felt. Only then did these symptoms and emotions stop running my life. In their place came spaciousness and the possibility for something new to enter. This is transformation and it’s available to you too!  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a course in which you’ll learn how to practice mindfulness skills and make them a natural part of your life. You’ll begin to respond rather than react to the difficulties of life. This new way of being opens you to the possibility of transformation. Attend the Free MBSR Talk on Wednesday, March 7th at 10 am at the Naples Daily News on Immokalee Road. Also visit www.IntegrativeMindfulness.net.  I look forward to meeting you and practicing mindfulness together!

References

Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research, AHRQ publication No. 07-E010, June, 2007 prepared by the University of Alberta Evidence-Based Practice Center for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Meditation: The Royal Road to the Transpersonal, Roger Walsh, MD, PhD and Frances Vaughan, PhD, eds. in Paths Beyond Ego: The Transpersonal Vision,  Penguin, 1993 pp. 47-55.

How to Meditate On The Go: Shift Into Neutral

February 9th, 2012 by

Here’s a simple idea from one-moment meditation.com for informal mindfulness practice when you’re pressed for time: Shift into neutral. When my teenage son was angling to inherit my car, he suddenly became concerned with how I operated it. “Mom, when you’re at a stop light shift into neutral. It preserves the life of the transmission.” This advice also applies to another vehicle we don’t want to lose – our bodies! Shift into neutral on a regular basis (how about stop lights?) and preserve the life of your body and your mind.

 

How to Meditate While You Eat

February 8th, 2012 by

How do you usually eat a meal of delicious ravioli! Could you intentionally practice eating another way: Smelling the fragrance, seeing the beauty of the food, feeling the smooth texture in the mouth, savoring the delicious flavor? And that’s just the first bite! In this excellent New York Times article, Jeff Gordiner thoroughly explores the practice of how to meditate while you eat!

 

Learn How to Meditate for a Good Night’s Sleep

February 7th, 2012 by

Great article by Cindy Gross on recent research demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness for sleepless nights. She states: “mindfulness is hypothesized to facilitate disengagement from the concerns of the day, and enable falling asleep.” Yeah! Being able to fall asleep without drugs.

 

 

A Mindful Moment (or Two) or How to Meditate with a Cat in Your Lap

February 6th, 2012 by

This morning as I sipped my cup of tea, my cat “Edie” made her usual visit to my lap. I noticed that I was lost in thought at the moment – that seemingly nonstop inner narrative about meaningless minutiae. Then I consciously shifted to what was actually happening with my kitty. I placed her, for a few moments, at the center of my attention. I luxuriated as my fingers moved through her incredible softness. I delighted at the tactile sense of her dainty ears. I felt the vibrations of her purring through my belly, heard her powerful little “motor”, and reveled in her intense love for me (and mine for her). A nice way to start the day – and far superior to being lost in thought about things that weren’t even happening. The richness of what WAS actually happening was right in my lap – I just had to stop thinking long enough and remember to notice! Now that’s stress reduction!

 

 

.