57: Mastering Mindfulness in Your Relationship – with Dan Siegel

How do you harness the power of your mind so that it’s working for you, not against you – especially when things get triggering with your partner? We now know that our minds are flexible, and that through neuroplasticity you can continue to develop and change throughout your whole life. In today’s episode, we are talking with Dr. Dan Siegel, one of the world’s leading experts on mindfulness and neuroplasticity, about how you can apply mindfulness with your partner to develop deeper connection to each other, and to yourself. Come along for the ride, as we take an in-depth look at the relationship between your mind and body – and your partner’s mind and body!

Self- In today’s culture we have equated Self as an output of the mind, and the mind as some outcome of the brain. We have narrowed our definition of Self and separated it from a broader and more integrated wholeness. Invite in the possibility that your sense of SELF comes from the weaving together of many layers of your being, and is as expansive as it is tangible.

Integration: Integration is the basis for wellbeing. Integration is the unifying principle that various aspects of a system are honored for their differences, and then linked. Integration is at the core of healthy brain functioning, and healthy relationships. In an integrated state, the social engagement system of our brains is turned on and we are available for connection.

MWE: A healthy relationship is not about dropping your own sense of Self, it is about learning to honor the uniqueness and individuality of both partners and integrating the two into a new whole. It is about going from ME to MWE: a new WE created by the joining of your two Selves into a new entity.

Mindsight: Mindsight is our capacity to be aware of our own minds. It is our ability be aware of our habitual patterns and behaviors and move away from being on autopilot. Mindsight is the capacity to 1) have insight into yourself, 2) have empathy for other people, and 3) honor differences and promote integration. Mindsight is something that can be developed and learned, and must be in order for healthy relationships to form. Thanks to neuroplasticity, increasing mindsight can physiologically and neurologically change our brains- helping us shake off old or inherited patterning and allowing us to become more aware, available, and attuned individuals.

PART: This is an acronym that helps get to the core aspects of how you are or are not showing up in your relationships. What PART do you play in your life to bring more health and restoration to yourself and your relationship?

P: Presence- Presence is the ability of being in an open and receptive state that allows you to connect with whatever is arising inside of yourself. Once you can be present for yourself, you can learn to develop a deep acceptance of what may come up. As we learn to be with, and tend to, and remain aware of our own triggers, emotions, thoughts, and patterns, we then learn to caretake ourselves in ways that take pressure off of our partners and allow us to be more present with THEM!

A: Attunement- By learning to direct your focus of attention, as if it is a stream of energy you can point in various ways, you gain the ability to attune to both yourself and others. Asking questions is a wonderful way to refocus attention. Ask yourself: what meaning does this have for me? What is happening right now? What is happening beneath my/your behavior right now? This curiosity and looking for the underbelly of behavior allows you to gain access to the subjective world of attitudes, beliefs, stories, longings, dreams, insights, and other aspects that are often influencing behavior in the moment.

R: Resonance- If, and only if, you are present, open, and attuned, can you resonate with others. Resonating with others is the ability to allow someone else’s internal state to affect your own. It is the openness to being changed because of another. To be touched. To shift inside in response and attunement to another. Feeling felt by others, and willingly feeling with others is the beginning of becoming a MWE.

T: Trust- When presence, attunement, and resonance are achieved the social engagement system of our nervous system is engaged and turned out. Our brains are wired towards reactivity (flight, fight, freeze, disconnect, avoid, defense, etc.) however when we are in safe and true connection with others we become receptive. Our neurobiology is changed when we feel safe- our muscles relax, our heart rate lowers, and we enter into a ventral vagal state that allows for even more P and A and R. Trust is simultaneously a requirement and an outcome of being in connection with others.

Positive emotion comes from connection. Research (and experience)  have shown that positivity resonance is possible whenever there is human connection, even if it is around being together through suffering or difficulty. The act and process of reaching out to another and connecting, no matter their state, changes the neurobiology of both of you and increases the level of integration. The higher the integration the higher the positivity resonance. This is true because as you reach out you provide relief for the sufferer (who felt alone before), and the sense of compassion and empathy is increased in both individuals, therefore forming a sense of MWE.

Converting implicit memories into narratives of growth and coherence: Very often our reactions in a given moment are more based on implicit memories (those that live in our subconscious) than they are to the present issues/content. We react to the now as if the past were the present, and this can cause confusion, hurt, and high tension in relationships and wreak havoc in our interactions. When we are unaware and unable to differentiate between present and past we react to triggers in one of four ways: fight, flight, freeze, or faint. To begin the process of bringing these patterns into awareness, attune to your own internal state and notice when you shift from a place of receptivity to one of reactivity. Notice the difference in your body, and become aware of the micro-shifts that help clue you into knowing you are beginning to go into defense/reactive mode. This process has a physiology to it- be it clenched jaw, tightened chest, shallow breathing, getting sweaty, higher pitched voice- begin to map these for yourself so that you can fine tune your self-awareness.

Something needs to be done. Nothing positive happens in relationships when we are reactive! That said, it is crucial to learn ways to move out of reactivity and back into receptivity before engaging in fixing/healing/processing. Once you have become skilled in attuning to your internal state of being and noticing when you shift into a reactive state, then it is critical to learn how to take care of yourself. This can be anything and everything from journal writing, to walking around the block, to sitting for a meditation, to calling a friend, to putting on some music and dancing, stretching, drinking a glass of cold water, etc. Whatever your go to self-care and de- escalation strategy is, you MUST first be aware that you need to take a break! This inner work allows you to get back into a state where you are available and open to receiving and being in connection.

Memory retrieval is a  memory modifier. Once you are able to 1) notice that you are being triggered and 2) able to pause and get out of the reactive state, then you can begin to get curious. What past experiences- be it a single incident, or chronic long term patterns, are informing your reactions right now? Ask non-judgemental, open ended questions of yourself. Write. Process with others. Go to counseling. As you find core explicit memories, you then have the opportunity to bring them into awareness and label as ‘past’. The process of bringing memories into consciousness (memory retrieval) is in itself a form of modifying the memory. Identifying the old memories that have been informing your present reactions allows you to make connections, see links, and gain insight into why you respond the way you do. From here you can make meaning of madness, and meaning of memory. Your implicit memories become explicit, and what is automatic becomes autobiographical. You can begin to own your reactions in empowering ways, saying things like ‘There is a theme in me where I get very defensive when I have the feeling of being rejected because my father never thought I was good enough.” Themes that you may begin to identify could be:  abandonment, feeling worthless, neglect, isolation, rejection, being invisible, being smothered, being given too much responsibility, being ignored, being abused, etc.  As you shift the ways you relate to yourself and your past, you will find your relationships shift too!

SIFTing: Our brains are wired with a negativity bias- meaning we automatically scan and focus on negative aspects of an experience (this is due to survival wiring). That said, our brains are elastic and neuroplasticity allows us to change our brain by changing our focus and rewiring our circuitry. We can do this by taking the time to notice and savor positive experiences. SIFT is a practice and process of focusing the Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts associated with a positive experience. Try it! The next time you recognize a moment or experience for which you are grateful for, relieved by, appreciative of, or feeling good about, pause and flow through the SIFT process focusing for just long enough to soak in the various aspects of the experience. Neurons that fire together wire together, and therefore these small but frequent exercises begin to reshape our brains in a way that is organized around positivity, making us more receptive and less reactive.  

The Wheel of Awareness: Imagine a wheel- hub at the center, spokes leading outwards towards the rim. Now imagine that the hub is the seat of your awareness. Your consciousness resides here- centered, central, calm, clear, open. From here you can send a spoke of attention around to the rim, upon which resides all we can be aware of: our five senses, the interior of our bodies, our mental activities, and our sense of interconnectedness. Through practicing the wheel of awareness meditation you can develop the ability to 1) differentiate between awareness of rim elements and awareness of hub elements, 2) recenter yourself in the hub as the source of your consciousness, and 3) redirect your focus of attention/spoke. All of this helps to build your capacity to be in that deep presence so essential to receptivity and attunement.

Remember: The more integrated you can become the more you are able to lean into challenges, and the more open you become to new possibilities!

Resources

Visit Dan Siegel’s website for more resources

Want to know more about the Wheel of Awareness? Check it out here!  

Read Dan Siegel’s book Mindsight

Order your copy of Dan’s newest book Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human which is set to be released October 18th, 2016.

Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Dan Siegel.

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If you want to practise mindfulness, the garden is the place to be

Many of us have had a perfect day in the garden, the kind of day that we hope would never end. A day when the herbaceous borders burn brightly with colour, and the trees and shrubs stand green against the blue sky. A day when the grass is soft and rolling. A day when there is a warm sweetness in the air while you prune and weed and plant out seedlings. It’s a kind of day that leaves you feeling calm, collected, and aware.

If you’ve ever had a day like this, there’s a good chance you’ve achieved, at least for a few moments, a mental state known as mindfulness. In the last few years, mindfulness has had a great deal of media attention. Simply put, mindfulness is about being more aware of what is happening both inside and outside ourselves. Mindfulness stems from eastern Buddhist traditions and practices. In the west, it has been embraced and modified and is now considered a useful tool to help focus the mind. Many have found it particularly useful for mental health problems, and it is recommended for issues from anxiety to depression. Even the NHS has endorsed mindfulness. Their website states that, “Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.” There are now hundreds of books on how to become more mindful. There are classes being offered in church halls and offices. There are apps, CDs and DVDs.

For me, the perfect activity to truly become mindful, the thing which allows me to genuinely engage with the world around me, is something I can find right outside the back door – my garden. I do practise mindfulness meditation in the classic way (eyes closed and belly breathing), and I have found it to be very useful. I’ve even been known to light the cliched stick of incense or two. In short, guided meditation is good. But nothing connects me more to my surroundings than gardening. We gardeners know that on a good day, when all the plants around us are reaching toward the sky, when the soil in the vegetable beds runs richly through our hands, that we feel totally connected to the present moment. There is a calm in gardening which cannot be found anywhere else.

My peace comes in those long days adrift in the garden. As I pot on seedlings, carefully lifting them by their new bright leaves so as not to damage their delicate stems, or saw strenuously on the branches of an overgrown privet hedge, I disappear into the act of gardening. The horizon in my mind seems to become smooth and level like the open sea. At this point I have entered what psychologists call “flow”: a term used to describe a person’s state of mind when they are completely absorbed in an activity. The feeling of flow is closely associated with mindfulness. When I’m lost in the act of gardening, few things can draw my attention. Yes, I’ll stop what I’m doing if my daughter asks me to play with her on the grass or if the grumbling of my stomach tells me it’s time to stop and get something to eat. Family and food always come first – after that, it’s the garden.

Trite as it may sound, I feel as if all the individual threads of my mind are woven properly together by the act of gardening. We’re taught in school that humans have five major senses (though in reality I’m told there are many more), and if mindfulness means being fully aware of the world around you, fully engaged with your senses, then I can think of no better task than gardening to become more mindful, for what keen gardener has not closed their eyes and bent down to inhale the gentle fragrance of a flower? When I’m gardening, a great point in the year is when I can begin to harvest early peas. It’s always exciting to pull the first one from the vine, pop open the pod, tip my head back, and with a flick of my thumb pour a handful of sweetness into my mouth. Then there’s the other senses: the dazzling sight of cherry blossom in spring or the sound of grasses dancing in an autumn breeze.

These experiences are not the preserve of the elite; nature is all around us. My garden is no rural estate; I live in a quiet suburb attached to a larger city. My plot of land is typically narrow and long. There is nothing unique about where I garden. And that, is the beauty of gardening; it is an activity which is available to almost anyone. Most of us do not have acres of land, but around 90% of British households do have access to some kind of garden. For those who do not have any outdoor space, there are allotments and community gardening schemes across the country. With a modicum effort and a decent trowel, we may all be able to find our little piece of Zen.

Gardening and mindfulness seem like a perfect match. There are so many aspects of modern life which people seem to disconnect from – long monotone office meetings, spreadsheet filled computer screens, cramped train rides or traffic jams. Due to the stressful and fractured nature of life, people often want to be somewhere else. It doesn’t need to be like this. If you want something that reconnects you to the world around you, which makes you more mindful of the present moment, than look no further than the green grass beneath your feet. You really won’t find a better meditation mat.

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A person seen the some of the most talked-about mindfulness ways, just like self-examination, there is however an increasing measure of research letting you know that many hobbies and interests may also behave as efficient mindfulness exercises. For the reason that individuals encourage people to concentrate on the project for hand. Doing all your activity train engines one to enter a situation regarding movement, notably once you like and enjoy what you are currently doing. Acquire ceramic, to get example. The actual concurrently that would be important to produce a work of genius will help focus as their pharmicudical counterpart and also helps stressful feelings to travel away. Even if to recognise a stunning lots of artistic talent, the entire process of backlinks your head by using your whole body in making craft will give you for this moment.

What you generally carry out earlier than sleeping? In case you are including lots of people, you most likely selecting a cell phone, observe telly, and / or look over societal media. And then, probably you have a hard time decreasing asleep. As a substitute for costing you moment practicing these matters, looking for a calming activity will be able to slow down any pulse and reduce how often connected with your head surf from night. That allows you to go to sleep much more easily. Moreover, sense the actual “good” sort of fed up right after getting lively for the https://campingsurf.com/how-to-fix-mobile-casino/ day will help you get an increasingly good sleep. If your current craft might be more proactive, just like choosing a kickboxing program in the daytlight, this assists tire out your body’s cells not to mention be prepared the item meant for an excellent night’s sleep.

Damages yourself an activity that you really like, you can show it all with the help of spouse and children, and even take more time together. It’s possible that your main relationship through your wife or husband has changed into a piece monotonous and continual, in addition to it’s time to include that flicker rear in. Should there isn’t a completely new leisure activity that you just each of those like get started on together with each other, suggest to your partner to participate most people through your current hobby. Perhaps you have created a fascination with cooking. Question your wife or husband to hitch you actually with the cooking and then determine precisely what everyone can easily develop together. This will assist waste time along whilst you’re baking, then more instance after whilst you’re making the most of everything else you decide to make.

Communal likes through activities just like new music, disciplines, and then sporting activities are one of the surest ways to plug to many other people. This means that, it feels right to try together a hobby in the event you are planning to fulfill cutting edge individuals who equivalent interests. Sitting on the subject of through like-minded folks who show a passions may turned out to be an effective in order to boost up social circle. Linking with other people will allow you to know something totally new as well as advance your skills whilst earning friends. An individual perfect pasttime that will be the equivalent of speak to different folks is actually dancing. Examine an important salsa category and a different sort of sorts of dance that has sessions in your city therefore,you should view along with interact with similar individuals every different week.

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Kathy Bates lost 60 pounds using mindfulness techniques: ‘I Just Wish I Had Done It Years Ago.’

More than for aesthetic reason, a lot of people are on a diet to achieve a physically fit and healthier body. In line with this, different kinds of diets surfaced to help people achieve the body they are dreaming of. From using coconut oil, drinking organic pressed juice, eating gluten-free food, going vegan, and to trying out the latest fad- Keto diet, it sure is safe to say that there are a lot of ways to lose weight!

However, records show that most people can only keep up with their diet for an average of 5 weeks. And about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting regains the weight they have lost in a matter of 1-5 years. Which only goes to show that regardless of what diet people are on, it is very hard to sustain- making it kind of ineffective.

But there is a ‘diet’ that seems to be more promising than the other. Recently, Kathy Bates, an Academy Awards recipient known for her caliber acting showcased in Titanic and An American Horror Story, made noise on various news outlet after losing 60 pounds. And the secret behind her incredible weight-loss is actually quite simple!

In an interview with the US Weekly, the 70-year-old veteran actress shared what it took for her to be 70 pounds lighter. And her not-so-secret diet plan will surely blow your mind away!

“Mindfulness, just knowing when to push my plate away.” Kathy happily revealed during WebMD‘s Health Heroes event.

“My niece told me this little secret, I guess it’s no secret, it’s a biological thing, that at some point when you’re eating, you have this involuntary sigh and that’s really your brain and your stomach communicating that you’ve had enough.” The veteran actress further explained. “The trick is to pay attention to that and push your plate away.”

Mindful eating, a diet technique rooted from zen and Buddhism, is simply all about learning how to pay attention to your body cues and evaluating your thoughts. This means that you need to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are feeling full. In addition, you also need to ask yourself if you are eating for the right reason.

Are you eating because you are starving or are you simply stuffing food on your mouth out of boredom? Are you tasting the food you are eating or do you simply gobble them down? Asking yourselves this kinds of question actually keeps you from over-eating.

What makes mindful eating a diet cut above the rest is the fact that you do not have to restrict yourself in a very limited variety of food. You get to taste every food that you are craving for in a time that your body wants to have it. Instead of depriving yourself from the pleasure of eating, which doesn’t really work in the long run, you get to enjoy and savor your meal.

However, this diet is only for those who doesn’t mind waiting for results because as they say, anything that is worth having is worth waiting for. Kathy sure did not lose 60 pounds over night but her mindful diet sure delivered the result she wanted to see.

“It took a few years,” Kathy admitted. “I would say you have to be really patient … I don’t like the word willpower, but I like the word determination.”

But the result sure is worth it! For Kathy, she has never felt better than ever after incorporating mindful eating in her lifestyle.

“I have never been in such good health,” Kathy happily shared. “I just had a physical. I’m doing great … I feel like a completely different person. I can move, I can walk. I just wish I had done it years ago.”

There is nothing wrong about wanting to go for a diet in order to feel better about yourself. But your diet should not compromise your health and put your well-being at risk. For safety reasons, health experts recommend to seek advise from dietitians before making any drastic changes in your diet.

SHARE Kathy’s amazing healthier and lighter body at the age of 70! Though each and everyone of us have a different body which may not work with Kathy’s mindful eating. Still, her story will surely remind us about the great things we can accomplish as long as we put our mind and whole heart on our goal!

Unexpected Mindfulness – MBWP

Dr. Eric Dickson is Assistant Professor of Music, teaching trumpet at Truman State University. Eric participated in the 5-day Mindfulness workshop at IU last summer and will be completing MBWP Teacher certification in July.

Before starting my current position at Truman State University, I spent several years as a freelance musician and educator in the Indianapolis area. Living an hour south of Indy in Bloomington meant that I spent a LOT of time in the car driving from gig to gig and from lesson to lesson. To help pass the time, I listened to a lot of audiobooks, and was always on the lookout for something interesting.

One day, I stumbled upon Mindfulness for Beginners by John Kabat-Zinn. I’ve been interested in the mental side of music since my undergraduate studies, reading (and rereading) books like Zen in the Art of Archery, The Inner Game of Tennis, and Effortless Mastery, and I thought mindfulness might prove useful in performance. When I started listening, I was immediately hooked, not so much by what Kabat-Zinn had to say (although it was pretty cool), but by the way he said it. He delivered everything with a matter-of-fact nonchalance that really struck me. It reminded me of something a former professor said: “People don’t scream about the things which they themselves know to be absolute.” (Imagine a maniac running around, frantically screaming about the impending sunrise tomorrow morning…) I figured, if this guy is this confident about this mindfulness stuff, maybe he’s on to something.

My fortuitous stumbling continued a few years later when I came across the Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning seminar at the IU Jacobs School of Music. Here was an opportunity to integrate these techniques directly into music, without the need to translate concepts from some other discipline. And while I went into the seminar searching for ways that I could integrate mindfulness into my own performing as well as my teaching (maybe I could help my students avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced as a young musician), I’m happy to say I found that and so much more. In fact, perhaps the most profound impact on my teaching has come in the most unexpected place: my jazz appreciation course.

After taking the seminar, I was excited to incorporate mindfulness into my syllabus. I began by replacing online listening quizzes with a number of in-class “mindful listening activities” throughout the semester. After leading students in a breath awareness exercise for a few minutes, I play a jazz recording. When the music starts, students shift the focal point of their awareness from the breath to the music, while continuing to non-judgmentally observe their thoughts. Their only instruction once the music stops is to write about their experience: “Tell me where your thoughts take you today.” The responses have been fascinating: some students choose to write about the music, some describe a scene from a movie (oddly enough, they all tend to describe the same movie), and others write about how they can’t stop thinking about tests, homework, lunch, or the speeding ticket they got on the way to campus that morning.

In a larger assignment, students listen to 20 minutes of Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, and then write two to three pages about their experience. Reading these reaction papers has quickly become the highlight of my semester! Most are variations on a theme: they hated the first five minutes, but as they continued to listen, they began to find order in the chaos. In fact, many responses are first-rate descriptions of what the avant-garde is all about: throwing out musical structure and evoking a visceral response from the listener. By bringing a little more openness and a little less judgment to their experience, students have been more receptive to the music, and less likely to dismiss it as just “noise.”

For non-majors, having to speak intelligently about music can be as daunting as learning a foreign language. I have found that these activities help students really hear music without having to sift through thoughts like “am I doing this right?” or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to hear.” By allowing themselves to focus on what they can hear instead of what they can’t, most find that they already know more about music than they thought they did. Consequently, they’re more willing to offer their own opinions about the music we listen to in class. More importantly, though, my hope is that, by cultivating a little mindfulness throughout the semester, these students can get a glimpse into how their thoughts function, in a way that will positively impact their day-to-day lives. Perhaps, like me, they’ll be happy they stumbled into mindfulness as well.

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Mindfulness Meditation – How To – Manifestation Miracle

Do you want to unlock your inner power to manifest the life you’ve been dreaming of? Don’t forget to check out the Manifestation Miracle program…

What is mindfulness meditation?   

Mindfulness is the state of being presently aware of everything. It means, if possible, using all our 5 senses to be all active and in a state of awareness.   

It’s doesn’t mean that the only time you have to be mindful is when you’re meditating. You can be mindful when walking by feeling the ground, feeling your shoes, hearing the birds. You can also be mindful while cooking by smelling the food, etc.   

How? Simply by tuning in with your senses.   

So, how does all this relate to mindfulness meditation?   

When meditating, you sit without moving for a few to several minutes. During that time, your mind will have a tendency to wander off. Your mind will go to places even without your intervention. That’s the nature of the mind. Sometimes it’ll feel like it’s not yours because it does things on its own.   

But when you practice mindfulness while meditating…  

…you won’t have any problems with your mind wandering off. You’ll have to accept its nature. You’ll have to be okay with it.   

You’re an observer when you’re doing mindfulness meditation. You’re observing how you feel, how you think. It’s like going out of yourself and look at yourself from the outside. Without any attachment.    

But let’s get in to why first. Why should you do mindfulness meditation?   

Time and time again, it has been proven and tested through studies…  

Meditation and mindfulness meditation can help do the following:   

Now, how to actually meditate mindfully?   

First, make sure that you will try to make this a habit for at least 5 to 10 days when you’re starting out.   

Because you won’t feel any difference if you’ll only do this once or twice.   

Now, as a beginner, you might find it difficult to remember all these steps at the first go.   

And while mindfulness meditation is one of the best types of meditation…   

There are simpler ones.   

You can meditate easily by listening to our meditation tracks.   

These meditation tracks are designed with binaural beats. Binaural beats help your subconscious mind to be in a relaxed state.   

These meditation tracks also have affirmations repeated throughout its duration.  

And binaural beats will also help your subconscious mind accept the affirmations. Making it more effective.  

Listen to these tracks for 60 – 90 days will help you achieve lasting results.   

Get your meditation tracks by clicking here:

Mindfulness For Parents | 5 Quick & Easy Mindfulness Exercises

In my last post, I discussed the incredible benefits of mindfulness for moms. To follow that, I wanted to provide you with some simple and practical mindfulness exercises for parents so you can start making it part of your routine and taking advantage of all it has to offer.

Mindfulness can seem like something that is completely unobtainable or overwhelming, but my goal is to show you that the tools of mindfulness are available to everyone, and not as complicated as you might think.

You don’t need to spend 20 minutes every day meditating to reap the benefits of mindfulness. In fact, none of the exercises in this post involve meditation at all (even though meditating is a great habit to start!).

I am confident that even the busiest parents can carve out time in their day for at least one of these. The best part? most of the suggestions don’t require any extra time at all, just that you are more intentional with the time you already have.

So let’s dive in to these 5 simple mindfulness exercises so you can start experiencing all the benefits they can offer you.

This post may contain affiliate links

Deep Breathing

Perhaps the most simple exercise in this list is taking deep, slow breaths. Breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of five. Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale.

I take 3 deep breaths anytime that I notice my stress levels are rising. It is a great way to calm the nervous system and works almost like magic. If deep breathing is not already part of your routine, start by anchoring it to something that you already do.

One of my favorite podcasts suggests doing this anytime that you take your car keys out of the ignition. I also take a few breaths anytime I come to a stop light while driving.

Gratitude

Gratitude is a great way to bring your attention to something positive and remind you of all the blessings in your life. It is especially beneficial to do this if it has been a particularly challenging day. You can read more about the amazing benefits of gratitude here.

To start a gratitude practice, you can spend a few minutes writing down 3 things you are grateful for. I think writing it out is beneficial, but if you are pressed for time, even just reflecting on something you are grateful for can work. 

Choose A Time To Be Fully Present

The greatest gift you can give your child is your presence. Choose a time of day and set an intention to be fully present with your child. You may want to consider one of the three most important parts of your child’s day. No electronics, no distractions.

Bring your full awareness to the present moment, and if your mind starts to wander to other thoughts, try to let them go and then bring your focus back to your child.

**Side note: don’t worry if your mind wanders, this is totally normal and to be expected. Just keep working on bringing your attention back when you notice it. 

I like to do this while I’m putting my kids to bed. I spend a few minutes snuggling and talking to each of them individually. They know that they have my full attention. It’s a time that all of us truly treasure.

Designate “No Phone Times”

It is so easy to let our phones and devices take over our whole day. With so much information just a Google search away, it can be really hard to step away. But having intentional times of the day where you put your phone away is a great way to stay present.

If you struggle with putting your phone down, make it harder for yourself to actually use it. You could unfollow people on Facebook (read about my experience doing that here), delete time-sucking apps, turn off your data, or keep it in a completely different room. Try different things and see what works. 

In addition to being more present, it is very important to me to model healthy electronics habits to my kids. I don’t want them to be glued to a screen when they are teenagers, and I also don’t want them to think that my phone is more important than spending time with them. Not to mention I have noticed that I am much more irritable after I spend time mindlessly scrolling my phone.

That is why I try and limit my phone usage when they are around. For my own personal boundaries, I do not bring my phone into the bedroom or to the table during meals. I also try not to touch my phone at all in the mornings until the kids go to school (even though I sometimes will listen to a podcast as part of my morning routine).

Think about ways you can limit your phone and device usage and start making it a habit.

Pay Attention To Your Reactions

This exercise will seem hard at first. Once we get into our lizard brain, it can be hard to step out, and if you usually lean into anger (like me), it will take some practice. But don’t give up!

If your child does something that triggers you, recognize that you have been triggered and pause, take a breath and assess the situation. Doing this allows you to see the bigger picture and respond in a way that has a more positive outcome. 

The more you practice noticing your reactions, the less reactive you will become and the more effective your parenting will be.  It is a great way to manage your anger.

Hopefully after reading through these mindfulness exercises you are feeling more confident about making mindfulness work for you. You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk in order to benefit from mindfulness, you can start small by using these quick and easy suggestions and learn to become calmer and more centered. 

Mindfulness Book Suggestions:

Want more book suggestions? Check out my suggestions for Personal Development Books to help you create a life you love!

The post Mindfulness For Parents | 5 Quick & Easy Mindfulness Exercises appeared first on Mama Finds Her Way.

Overcome These Five Obstacles to Your Mindfulness Practice

Many media outlets have been talking for a number of years now about how ubiquitous mindfulness is, the impact it’s having in a variety of sectors and all the wonderful science that continues to be published. But I noticed that many people in the media don’t talk much about the actual formal practice of mindfulness meditation and that’s probably because it can be a hard habit to establish. One thing I’ve learned is if you want to establish a practice you have to look directly at what’s getting in the way, and allow those obstacles to be your greatest teachers.

Here are five common obstacles to meditation, and how to overcome them:

1. Doubt

The uncertainty about whether something will “work” or not often plagues many people in the beginning of their practice. The thoughts is, “this can work for others, but it won’t work for me.” Sometimes doubt is healthy, teaching us to look closely at things before we buy it. But the unhealthy doubt just takes us away from experience before it teaches us anything.

Solution: We have to remember that thoughts are just thoughts; they’re not facts (even the ones that say they are). When we notice this doubt slipping in, just take note of it, perhaps even notice the fear that is often underneath it, and then gently return back to the practice.

2. Restlessness

Let’s face it, it’s hard to sit still for a period of time when the mind can be so busy. We’re trained from a young age to do, do and do some more. The mind may rebel a bit when learning how “to be.” You might catch it running through a million to-do lists and try and count the minutes until the end of the practice. This is all completely natural.

Solution: It’s important to recognize that restlessness and boredom are just sensations like any other. If you look deeply at restlessness or boredom, underneath it is often some form of anxiety or fear. But you don’t need to investigate it to reduce its impact, just naming it as you recognize it can really reduce its impact. You might even try adopting a beginner’s mind and getting curious about the sensation of restlessness. Or, if you really find it too difficult to sit still, why not try a mindful movement practice?

3. Irritation

Irritation comes up for many reasons. Maybe we don’t feel like we’re having a good meditation experience or there’s an annoying noise in the room or it’s a secondary emotion that comes after feeling restless. In other words, we’re irritated that we’re so restless in the practice.

Solution: While our urge is to resist the irritation, we have to remember the old adage “what we resist persists.” The work here is to include it as part of the mindful experience. Our work is to recognize the irritation, allow it to be there and we can either investigate it deeper or watch as it naturally comes and goes.

4. Sleepiness

Being the sleep deprived nation that we are, it’s easy to feel a bit sleepy when we come down from our busy minds. Our body does what it naturally wants to do, go to rest. We also feel sleepy sometimes when an experience is overwhelming, so it’s good to be curious whether the tiredness is telling you that you need more rest or that there’s a feeling that needs to be expressed.

Solution: If from time to time you fall asleep when meditating, consider it a good nap that you needed. However, if this is happening often you might try sitting in a more upright posture, standing up, having your eyes slightly open or maybe splashing some water on your face before starting. Still not working out for you? Try a bedtime meditation, which aims to put you to sleep.

5. Wanting

You’ll notice when you practice that your mind may fall into a state of wanting to be somewhere else than where you are. Or maybe it’s even more innocent, of just craving a bite to eat and so the mind starts drifting onto different food topics. Or before you even get to practice your mind wants conditions to be different than they are so you don’t even get to practice. This state of mind can either stop us from practicing or ignite restlessness, irritation and others.

Solution: If you notice this state of mind before you practice, you might consider what you can practice instead of what you can’t practice. If the mind is busy wanting to be somewhere else during the practice, see if you can be easy on yourself, simply continuing to notice the thoughts straying and gently bringing your attention back. If it’s continues to be a strong pull, maybe intentionally shift your practice to being aware of thoughts.

Ultimately, having a regular mindfulness meditation seems so simple, but practice isn’t always easy. We have our brains to contend with who throw up all these obstacles.

Even if you just made it your intention to be on the lookout for these obstacles and apply the antidotes as best you can, that would be an extremely beneficial practice.

Be forgiving of yourself as you go and remember you can always begin again.

Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy.

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Mindfulness for singers: tips to get started with meditation – isingmag

Do you want to stop worrying and start living in the moment? Abby Ahmad explains how you can find focus and clarity through meditation. Fear, insecurity and doubt are emotions familiar to all singers. We continuously question ourselves, our technique, our artistry and our accomplishments, casting broad shadows on small things. Unchecked, this devours our natural, emotional reactivity and sends our nervous system into a tailspin, depleting the very skills we’re aiming to improve. Succeeding in the music industry while keeping your sense of self in tact is a huge challenge. The voices that move us most embody emotions fully, and the singers who possess such voices have the strength to take criticism without compromising the vulnerability necessary to embody intense feelings. How is this balance achieved? How can we allow our emotions to flow truthfully? How can we moderate the messiness of the mind and liberate our voices to their most authentic? The answer is meditation, a powerful practice that can transform your life and instrument. It provides the equilibrium essential to nurture a voice to become expressive, reliable, dynamic and compelling. By calibrating ourselves to actively feel emotions without bias, we start to repair our tendency toward attachment and expectation. This is a game changer for vocalists. Meditation can be intimidating for a newbie. Some feel they don’t have the time, privacy or disposition for the practice. Additionally, many find it challenging to be still or silent. Luckily, there are many methods available to you which will help incorporate meditation into your daily routine in a way that is feasible and fun. Journaling meditation  Journaling is a fantastic way to urge an active brain toward deepened consciousness. Here’s how to do it. Purchase a new journal specifically for this exercise. Make sure it’s book or notepad that’s aesthetically pleasing and choose a writing utensil that feels good. Set a timer for five to 10 minutes and, using free association, write based on the prompt “right now”. Think of it as a way to purge any thought that arises. There is no right way, only a write way. When you have completed your initial thoughts, return to the prompt and begin again. Repeat until the timer sounds. When you have completed the task, carefully read your writing aloud, allowing any emotions or attachments to arise. Go back and highlight any pertinent thoughts/ideas. Om chanting meditation  Find a calm place where you can sit comfortably. Let your hands rest naturally. Set a timer for your desired length of time (five minutes is a good start). When chanting “Om”, it is important to resign any attachment to pitch, tonality or performance. Om is considered the vibration of the universe, unmatched by any human voice. Let the sound of your voice be informed by your breath and expressed organically and effortlessly. Om is composed of four sounds: “a”, “u”, “m” and the silence that follows. The parts should merge equally to create the sound “OME” (like “home”). Using your voice, chant the sound “Om”, taking as many rounds of respiration in between as necessary. Let it be smooth and unhurried, reflecting the natural rhythm of your body and breath. Repeat until timer rings. Walking meditation Take a solo walk leaving behind the distractions of your everyday life. Abandon your phone, music and bulky backpack, etc. Do not let anything come between you and the vibrancy of the world around you. Focus on feeling untethered and completely connected. Notice your sensory receptors. Feel the heat from the sun, smell the flowers or the garbage. See the people, animals or plants you encounter with clarity. Remain conscious of your breath. Bring awareness to the feet with each step. See if you can create a rhythm with your whole physicality that the mind can follow. Choose a path where you can walk continuously without physical interruption. Walk for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. Wilfully distracted meditation  This one seems counter-intuitive, but what better way to put your mindfulness to the test than to utilise these principles when in an actively stressful situation? The next time you find yourself in a scenario with a lot of outward distractions (crowded subway, construction noise, kids screaming, heavy traffic) focus your attention on your breath. Notice which emotions emerge within as you are agitated. Notice where tension arises in the body. Notice how long it lasts and if it shifts. Notice what prompts the shift, if any. Tune into the distractions instead of shying away from them. Investigate them with curiosity. Allow the experience of openly embracing frustration and negative emotion to shed light on something new. Guided meditation Guided meditations and conversations on mindfulness/creativity are a salve for the soul. Beginners may find it useful to be led into meditation with the help of a professional. Listening to conversations and interviews regarding life, spirituality, health and mindfulness will deepen your connection to self. I find guided meditation particularly soothing when anxiety rears its head at bedtime. App/podcasts you make like to try  Tara Brach, Simple Habit, Meditation Studio, On Being, Untangle Oprah’s Soul Sessions and Big Magic. Beginner tips for traditional meditation Start in a comfortable position, seated on a chair, cushion, or mat, or lying down. Set a timer for a reasonable duration. (Begin with three minutes and work your way up to 20 plus. You can also do a shorter practice multiple times throughout the day). Begin with gratitude. Find something you are thankful for: family, friends, a pet, a working body, running water – whatever you can muster in the moment. Establish a “mudra” or hand position. For example, palms down on thighs to connect internally, palms upward for receptivity. If you find your body fidgeting in the meditation, try shifting mudras throughout. (For more on mudras  CLICK HERE ). Begin inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Connect to the natural rhythm of your breath without judgement. From there, deepen the breath, allowing the inhalations and exhalations to match in duration and intensity. Assign a mantra to your breath cycle. A mantra is a silently repeated phrase which assists you in transcending the activity of the mind. It can be as simple as “in” on the inhalations and “out” on the exhalations. Other options are “let”/”go”, “I”/”am” or Sanskrit words “sat” (truth)/”nam” (identity). Or create your own. Continue to breathe and repeat your mantra (only if it feels helpful). Notice which thoughts arise. Notice the urges of your body to disconnect. Do not repel these thoughts and sensations. On your inhalations, actively recognise their existence. On your exhalations, let go and allow them to release. Repeat this cycle until your designated time is up. Have patience and compassion for the process. Meditation is not about feeling good immediately or thinking about nothing. It is the progression of allowing all your emotions, sensations and thoughts to play out. Be honest, be consistent, and you will continue to unfold and unravel unto the beauty of yourself.

Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention

There’s no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps these days, promising to help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. We scoured the app stores to find the most comprehensive and easy-to-use mindfulness apps that are available for free. The majority of mindfulness apps include free offerings and starter packs alongside premium packages, so we considered a few of those, too, to see how they stack up.  

1) Insight Timer

insight timer app screenshot

Available for iOS and Android

Price: Free with in-app purchases ($5 per course)

Insight Timer has an insanely huge library of content: nearly 13,000 guided meditations from over 2,600 teachers on topics like stress, relationships, creativity, and more.

Right from the beginning, the app feels like a community—the home screen announces, “420,065 meditations today, 5,059 meditating right now.” In fact, Insight Timer has attracted more than 5 million meditators from around the world. After you finish a meditation, you’ll learn exactly how many people were meditating “with you” during that time—and by setting your location, you can even see meditators nearby and what they’re listening to.
Once you find a teacher you enjoy—like Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, or Sharon Salzberg—you can follow them to make sure you don’t miss any new content. If you prefer a quieter meditation, you can always set a timer and meditate to intermittent bells or calming ambient noise.

Insight Courses

This year, Insight Timer launched Insight Courses, which feature 10-15 minutes of audio per day alongside group discussions. You can start with the free “Learn to Meditate in 7 Days,” but the other 10-day courses will cost $4.99 each. You can also tune in to hundreds of free talks and podcasts for life advice and inspiration, and music tracks to soothe your mind or help you sleep.

Depending on your preferences, Insight Timer’s extensive collection can be either a blessing or a curse—an endless list of choices that leave you overwhelmed or a buffet of tempting options to sink your teeth into.

2) Stop, Breathe & Think

Stop, Breathe & Think app screenshot

Available for iOS and Android

Price: Free or $10 a month

If other apps expect you to dive right in, Stop, Breathe & Think wants to create a more deliberate, intentional experience. A section called Learn to Meditate explains what mindfulness is and why it’s beneficial, including some of the neuroscience and physiology behind it. Each day when you open the app, you’re invited to check in with yourself—to rate your mind and body on a scale of “rough” to “great,” and note up to five emotions you’re feeling. Then, Stop, Breathe & Think will recommend meditations, yoga videos, and acupressure videos tailored to how you feel.

Meditations based on how you feel

The app features 34 free sessions. For many of them, you can choose between different lengths and either a friendly male voice (Grecco) or a calming female voice (Jamie) as your meditation guide. Most of the meditations are short, up to 15 minutes, and feature simple introductory practices like Being Kind to Your Body, Forgiving Yourself, and Joy. You can also simply set a timer and sit in silence, or learn different breathing techniques, or listen to relaxing forest sounds.

Stop, Breathe & Think is ideal if you need to understand why you’re meditating and see how it’s benefitting you in order to keep up the habit.

A progress page keeps track of how your mind and body have been feeling over time, and your most common emotions (before and after meditating, when the app invites you to check in again). Plus, you can earn cute stickers: As a newbie, I’ve collected “Good Start” and “Trio of Tranquility.” Stop, Breathe & Think is ideal if you need to understand why you’re meditating and see how it’s benefitting you in order to keep up the habit.

3) Calm

calm app screenshot

Available for iOS and Android

Price: Free, with in-app purchases ($59.99 annual subscription)

The moment you open the Calm app—rated the 2017 app of the year by Apple—you might feel a sense of…calm. Relaxing sounds of falling rain play automatically in the background, but you could also opt to be greeted by lake noises or birds trilling.

Calm’s free offerings include basic mindfulness practices. These free meditations, about 25 in total, come in different lengths, from a quick 3-minute meditation to a half-hour sit. You can start off with 7 Days of Calm, a week-long beginners’ series that includes practices for cultivating awareness, returning to the breath when the mind wanders, and training for how to bounce back when the brain switches into “autopilot mode.” Other free sessions include 7 Days of Sleep and Calming Anxiety. Plus, like many other apps, you can set a timer for silent meditation or meditate to intermittent bells.

Calm lives up to its name

For nighttime relaxation, Calm features seven free “sleep stories”: bedtime stories for adults that help you transition into slumber with their soothing voices and tranquil nature settings. Calm’s music section—a feature that more and more meditation apps seem to be adding these days—includes over 100 free tracks to help you relax, sleep, or focus.

Calm entices you to subscribe by making the first sessions free in series like 7 Days to Focus, 7 Days to Happiness, and 7 Days to Self-Esteem, which feels like a bit of a teaser. But its subscription is one of the cheapest out there if you do decide to make the investment. And if calm is what you’re after, the design of the app—with its soft lines, soothing sounds, and uplifting photos—lives up to its name.

4) 10% Happier

Available for iOS and Android

Price: Free 7-day series, $99.99 annual fee.

The tagline for 10% Happier tells you the most important thing you need to know about the app. It’s “meditation for fidgety skeptics”—a relatable, no-nonsense way to learn mindfulness for people whose goals veer more toward sharpening their brains than befriending their souls.

It’s “meditation for fidgety skeptics”—a relatable, no-nonsense way to learn mindfulness for people whose goals veer more toward sharpening their brains than befriending their souls.

Unlike some other mindfulness apps, 10% Happier comes with a tour guide. Dan Harris is a news anchor who famously had a panic attack on live TV, an experience that eventually led him to pursue meditation.

Authoritative conversations about meditation

There are sparse free offerings on 10% Happier, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in accessibility and authority. What’s free is The Basics series, a one-week orientation to mindfulness. Each day features an introductory video by Harris (often in conversation with instructor Joseph Goldstein), and a meditation by Goldstein.

Harris uses his journalistic chops to take these conversations with Goldstein to the heart of the most pressing questions new meditators have—like how to know you’re doing it right and how to deal with boredom. Goldstein, who is a seasoned meditator, offers wise answers based on his decades of experience.

Harris also hosts the 10% Happier podcast for free (outside the app), featuring conversations with people from Richard Davidson to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arianna Huffington to the Dalai Lama. If other mindfulness apps don’t speak your language, 10% Happier might be the app for you.

5) Meditation Studio

Available for iOS and Android

Price: Free with extras you can buy, $49.99 annual fee

Meditation Studio is a more traditional offering. The app features an introductory series with Dr. Elisha Goldstein—a licensed psychologist and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living. Goldstein guides you through ten days of meditation to cultivate calm, energy, and compassion, mostly by focusing on the breath.

You can also preview what the paid app has to offer in the Discover series. Discover is a selection of popular tracks on anxiety, sleep, negative thoughts, and more, featuring teachers like Chrissy Carter and Faith Hunter. At the moment, it includes a meditation for kids and one for college students (while the paid version has targeted content for moms, veterans, entrepreneurs, and even first responders).

An app for experienced meditators

Meditation Studio might be more suited to people who are familiar with the basics of mindfulness and breath awareness techniques, such as using the breath or an external object as an anchor for your attention. For example, the end of the first session invites you to take one minute to “completely be,” being present to your whole experience—breath, thoughts, life—which feels like a tricky practice for a novice. The free meditations last up to 33 minutes, a long time to sit still for someone who’s not used to it. More advanced meditators can also set a timer and pick some background music for an unguided session.

If you’re more of a seeker than a skeptic, and you enjoy the experience of completing a series and getting to know different teachers, Meditation Studio could be a helpful resource on your journey.

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