The Pause That Refreshes
In our crazy busy lives, we don’t often pause.
Stop. Halt. Cease. Be.
We go. Move. Hurry. Worry. Do.
How do we even begin to slow down?
One small step at a time.
Mindful Exercise (from Rubin Naiman, PhD in a year of Living Mindfully)
At a time when you feel calm, jot down a few situations that caused moderate to significant reaction – perhaps irritation, anger, anxiety. Could be getting the kids out the door. Or being stuck in traffic. Or feeling burned out at work. Think of ones that tend to recur.
Select one and for the next week, have the intention of pausing inwardly in the midst of the situation if/when it recurs. For no more than 60 seconds, try to offer a nonjudgmental, neutral appraisal of what’s happening. Take deep breaths. Notice how your body feels. Instead of “I’m going to be late for work again!” try, “Traffic is bad today. I’ll get to work when I get to work”.
See if you notice any difference between reactivity vs mindful awareness. With practice, you will.
Quote of the week:
“Life is lived in the pauses, not the events.” – Hugh Prather, Morning Notes: 365 Meditations to Wake You Up
We hear a lot about resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity whether it is a devastating loss or the many smaller stresses we live with each day. TIME (Bounce Back, Mandy Oaklander, June 1, 2015) cites the work of two psychiatrists, Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and Steven Southwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. “Resilient people seem to have the capacity to appropriately regulate the subcortical fear circuits under conditions of stress,” says Charney. The article cites research in the area including recent studies on the effect of mindfulness practices on building resilience.
Expert Tips for Resilience (from TIME Bounce Back)
- Develop a core set of values that nothing can shake.
- Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened.
- Try to maintain a positive outlook.
- Take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
- Don’t run from things that scare you. Face them.
- Be quick to reach out for support when things go haywire.
- Learn new things as often as you can.
- Find an exercise regimen you’ll stick to.
- Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past.
- Recognize what makes you uniquely strong. And own it.
Quote of the week:
“Very few highly resilient individuals are strong in and by themselves. You need support.” ~Steven Southwick, MD
A Higher Sense of Self
In a year of Living with more Compassion, Michael Yapko, PhD uses the term,” a higher sense of self” to refer to the small but important gestures we make when showing compassion for self and others. This might be getting up a few minutes earlier to make a lunch for your spouse, taking the time from your busy day to acknowledge a friend or colleague, or “catching yourself” when upset with someone before saying something unkind. All of these are demonstrations of a higher sense of self.
Write down examples of the small gestures you’ve extended to yourself or others this week. Note your feelings. For example, you might have felt upset with someone but later proud that you refrained from saying something unkind. Or you may have felt stressed about being able to do something nice for your spouse but after getting up earlier and still getting to work on time, glad that you made the effort. Another exercise is to pay attention to the gestures of others and if appropriate, let them know your observation.
Quote of the week
“If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.” ~Tribal Saying, Zimbabwe
Whether it’s allowing another driver to “cut in” in traffic or the person with just five items to do the same in a grocery store line, it seems little acts of kindness are getting harder to find as our hurry-up-and-wait lives get even more rushed. You know how it feels when someone cuts you off or barges in – we feel annoyed at best and outraged at worst.
Here are some tips for dealing with the daily indignities we all encounter:
- Remember it’s not personal. No one is singling us out with the intention of taking advantage of us. We’re all busy and self-centered about making it through our day.
- If someone does slight you, and it triggers a strong emotion, try and imagine what’s in their head at that moment. I recently held a door open for a customer in a restaurant nearby and she didn’t say thank you or even acknowledge me. My immediate reaction was “how ungrateful!”. I took a breath and considered that she may have just left our center and been told her child had autism or left her doctor’s office where she was told she had cancer.
- If your immediate reaction is to respond in a less-than-kind way, try a mental “halt!” and do the opposite. Say or do something kind. Pay attention to the reaction you then get.
Quote of the Week:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Expectations & Possibilities
Phillip Moffitt, in a year of Living Mindfully tells us that “the (mostly unconscious) expectations that fill our mind direct what we pay attention to and how we interpret things, preventing us from living from our intentions”. Expectations can lead to disappointment, defeat, and a heavy burden to carry around. Where do these come from? All over! We’re bombarded by messages that tell us to be this or do that and much is focused on achievement in some way. Read full post »