Mindful Mondays

All Articles in the Category ‘Mindful Mondays’

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

Mindful Monday- The Pause That Refreshes

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

Mindful Monday- Resilience

Resilience

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)

  1. Develop a core set of values that nothing can shake.
  2. Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened.
  3. Try to maintain a positive outlook.
  4. Take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
  5. Don’t run from things that scare you. Face them.
  6. Be quick to reach out for support when things go haywire.
  7. Learn new things as often as you can.
  8. Find an exercise regimen you’ll stick to.
  9. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past.
  10. 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

Mindful Monday- A Higher Sense of Self

mindfulA 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.

Exercise

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

Mindful Monday – Kindness

mindfulKindness

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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