Mindful Mondays

All Articles in the Category ‘Mindful Mondays’

Mindful Monday- Don’t Try to Fix It!

We’re so accustomed to trying to fix things but also moving on to the next bigger and better thing (is that expensive new phone truly that much better than your last one?).  This human propensity tends to lead us to try to fix emotional challenges and when that doesn’t work, we often give up.

 

 Say, you’ve had a rough day at work or with the kids and are sharing with your partner whose good-intention answer is to problem-solve your feelings. We all know how well that usually works. We don’t want to quit the job and we can’t quit the kids. I know. I’ve tried. We simply want someone to validate feeling badly. So we offer polite thanks-but-no-thanks for the advice or get more upset for not feeling understood.

What we are asking for, in so many words, is a mindful awareness reminder that we can have bad or hard moments (okay sometimes hours) in our days without needing to declare the entire day a disaster and without needing to do anything at all.

Here’s an easy mindfulness exercise for when you’ve had/are having one of those days.

  • Get comfortable – this may be sitting or lying down or moving your body.
  • Take three deep breaths in and out.
  • Say to yourself – I had some hard moments today. I felt/feel (name the feeling(s)).
  • Stay with this for a couple-three minutes. You don’t have to relive the day but also don’t resist if it pops up.
  • Say Hard moments are part of life.
  • Say Tomorrow is a new day.

 That’s it. The point is to validate your feelings without exaggerating, resisting, or judging and with recognition that we all have hard moments. No one is spared.

Mindful Monday- Snippets from Shamash Alidina

I recently participated in a thirty-one day Mindfulness Summit, and a handful of presenters were my favorites, including Shamash. I liked his easy-going style and humor and I also just like saying his name. He, like most of the summit speakers, has taught mindfulness for many years and has a book on the subject. While I’ve never cared for the title of this book series, I did enjoy his Mindfulness for  Dummies and will share some of his mindfulness tips.

 Healthy & Helpful Attitude

Shamash tells us that attitude is an important part of mindfulness and that attitude is a choice. Being aware on the attitudes we bring to life – whether it’s marriage or parenting or our work or practicing mindfulness – can affect the outcome in so many situations. We all know people who seem to have a sour outlook on life. Life is not fair. No one has it as hard as I do. Nothing will ever change. Nobody understands. Why do bad things always happen to me? No one likes me. They seem eternally stuck in unhelpful attitudes.

 Shamash identifies these helpful attitudes that are the foundation for a healthy life:

  1. Acceptance – not giving up but allowing thoughts, feelings, sensations to exist without resistance
  2. Patience – listen more than you talk, choose the closest rather than the shortest line
  3. Seeing afresh – try looking at common things with new eyes – what have you missed?
  4. Trust – believing that both joys and challenges are temporary/ to be expected helps build trust that things are okay
  5. Curiosity – ask lots of questions about thoughts/feelings/sensations “I wonder what this is about?”
  6. Letting go – First realize what you’re holding onto. Doing so helps to let it go.
  7. Developing kindness – non-judgment of self and others
  8. Appreciating Heartfulness – pay attention to whatever brings you warmth and happiness
  9. Gratitude – even if not perfect, acknowledge the good there is to your life
  10. Forgiveness – for self and others – acknowledge being human and that we all are imperfect

 

 Now imagine the opposite attitude of some or all of the above. Identify which of these attitudes you might need a little work on. See if it makes a difference.

Mindful Monday- Ten Mindfulness Tips from an Olympic Runner

Ten Mindfulness Tips from Olympic Runner Deena Kastor

While most of us aren’t bronze medalists, we all have goals and a desire to be the best we can be. I found this article by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee on mindfulness in HuffPost. Here are Deena’s ten tips. 

 

  1. Live a Quality, Purposeful Life
  2. Live with an Attitude of Gratitude 
  3. Practice Positivity and Purposefulness
  4. See Challenges as Opportunities
  5. Focus on Your Passion
  6. Live with Continuous Improvement 
  7. Be Excited about Life
  8. Get Enough Rest
  9. Turn Nervousness into Excitement
  10. Take Things One Step at a Time

 

Click here for the link for the entire article.  It’s worth reading. I love this line: “I truly believe my fastest days are behind me and my best days are ahead!”

Mindful Monday- Loving Kindness for All

Metta and Tonglen

Loving Kindness for All

The practice of metta, loving kindness, as taught in Buddhist tradition, begins with self and radiates out to all. This may be easy when life is good and things are going our way. But what about when life is hard and things are not going our way? The challenge is to act with compassion no matter the circumstances.

Metta Exercise

Sit comfortably and quietly and take a few deep breaths in and out. Hold in your mind all the people you are sending unconditional love. Feel it extending from you to these people and then throughout the universe. Say to yourself, “May all feel peace. May all be happy.” Or come up with our own good wishes.

Tonglen

Tonglen is Tibetan for “giving and taking” or “sending and receiving” and is practiced as a meditation focused on developing/nurturing compassion and the unselfish regard for others.

Tonglen Exercise

Sit comfortably and quietly and allow your mind to be still yet open. Take some deep breaths in and out. Call to mind someone (can be an individual or group of people) who you know are struggling. With each inhalation, take in their struggle and in doing so, provide them relief. On the exhalation, wish for them peace, sleep, relaxation, insight, patience, courage, love – whatever you think they might need. Do this a couple, three times.

Quote of the Week

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”  ~Albert Einstein

Mindful Monday- Meditation

 

Meditation

 

No More Excuses

If you’ve told yourself you want to give meditation a try but find you have more excuses than mindful moments under your belt, here are some tips from Redbook magazine and Timothy McCall, MD:

“I don’t have time.”

You don’t need to do 10 minutes a day. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Start somewhere! It’s easier if you pick a time of day and stick with it. Upon waking or at day’s end are the most common but you can meditate any time of day.

“I can’t turn my brain off.”

You don’t have to! The goal isn’t to stop thoughts. That’s impossible. Don’t fight them but also don’t dive in. Just let them pass through like traffic in the background.

“I tried it once and nothing happened.”

Not every second of a ten minute meditation needs to be deep. Even if you only get 30 seconds of that time immersed in the process, you still have benefit. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will slow and you are becoming more mindful.

Beginning Meditation Exercise

Sit comfortably but with your back straight – on the floor against a wall, in a chair, even in bed but sit upright. Have a watch or clock or phone (turn it off!) nearby.

With eyes open and a soft focus, take a few deep breaths, feeling your chest rise and fall. Breath deeply so that if someone were next to you they could hear you breathing.

Gently close your eyes and notice the sounds around you. Don’t try and block them but also don’t hyper-focus on them. Just notice them.

Notice how your body feels, scanning from head to toe. Any discomfort or tightness? Don’t block it or hyper-focus on it, just draw your attention to wherever you feel it. You may find your self taking a deep breath or repositioning yourself as you do this.

Breathe naturally and as you inhale, think “in” and as you exhale think “out”. Your mind will wander, thoughts will intrude. That’s A-OK and to be expected. Don’t try and block the thoughts, just notice them and return to “in” and “out”. Some people prefer to focus on a mantra, a word or sound that is repeated over and over. If you prefer a mantra, choose a word or sound that doesn’t have an association for you. For example, if I think “love”, I will automatically call to mind all the people I love and lost love and why we love and on and on. If I choose a non-word, a sound such as “umba”, there is no association to divert my attention.

A key component of meditation is nonjudgment so if you have thoughts or feelings such as “What’s wrong with me, I can’t do this right!” just notice them and let them pass. Remember that the first time you do anything, you are learning and it will take practice.

After a few minutes of focusing on your breath, draw your attention back to your body. Do a body scan and note how you feel.

Notice any sounds or smells.

Gently open your eyes and stretch.

Quote of the Week

“At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free