Bad Habits Thrive on Autopilot – Mindfulness is the Antidote

The brain is a habit-making machine! Every time I do something that brings pleasure, the brain lays down some tracks to help me remember that good feeling. For example, a coworker gives me a couple of Dove Chocolates, and I take them back to my desk. I get back to work, and things are humming along nicely until I get a distressing email. I start to feel the anger rising, and then I notice the chocolate and pop one into my mouth. Yum! A burst of pleasure rushes, the anger relaxes a little bit, and I go back to work …

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Stress & Parkinson’s Disease: How Mindfulness Can Help

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month Parkinson’s Awareness Month is observed worldwide in the month of April. World Parkinson’s Day is on April 11th and commemorates the birth of James Parkinson in 1755 (267 years ago!). April is also National Stress Awareness Month and has been recognized since 1992.   How might stress impact Parkinson’s Disease? While the cause of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is largely unknown, increasing evidence points to stress as a possible risk factor in the development of the disease. It’s been postulated that prolonged emotional stress can trigger PD with increased loss of brain cells (neurons) in some …

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Befriend Your Body with Self-Compassion

“before I could release the weight of my sadness and pain, I first had to honor its existence” —Yung Pueblo For thousands of years, our ancestors listened to the call of the body to inform the mind and spirit. At what point did we lose this ability? The body is the most amazing repository of wisdom. Our bodies tell us when we are tired, when we are in love, when we are peaceful, and when we are afraid. And yet, we consistently ignore the signals our body is sending us. Have we become oblivious to our most sacred source of …

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9 Tips to Bust your Sugar Cravings

A little sweetness is okay.  Eating too much added sugar can set you up for endless cycles of wanting more.  Research suggests that too much sweet stuff plays a role in the development of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.  Rather than the common myth of causing hyperactivity, excess consumption of simple carbohydrates zaps energy levels.   Foods made with sugar are delicious and sweet foods have a place in a healthy pattern of eating.  Cravings are complex experiences that can be driven by emotions, deprivation, environmental or social situations, and one’s eating pattern. While we can’t turn off the desire for …

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Parenting is Like the Seasons

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Kahil Gibran We have all journeyed through the lessons of winter: hibernation, healing, and inner growth. We see gray skies and lots of cold, icy weather! It can be comforting to pull on warm, cozy clothing, wrap up in a blanket and enjoy a good book. We learn to endure, maybe even embrace the beauty of sparkling snow, and the fresh, brisk air.  Spring is a long awaited season, a time of renewed hope. We begin to see early signs of spring- our first robin, our …

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The Gifts of Mindfulness

These days, the word “mindfulness” is everywhere. And apparently, practicing it is really helpful!  But what exactly is mindfulness and what does it do for us?  Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness of our inner and outer experience.  Mindfulness practices are the things we do to strengthen our brains and to make mindfulness accessible.  When we want our bodies to become stronger and healthier, we lift weights, do aerobic exercise, or practice yoga; when we want to strengthen our awareness, cognitive abilities, and internal sense of resilience, we do mindfulness practices. When I first started practicing mindfulness, I felt anxious …

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Meeting Difficult Emotions with Compassion

Life is full of incredible difficulties. Amidst the pain and challenge, we experience a range of uncomfortable emotions. We get sad, angry, frustrated, and lonely. We get confused and afraid. When life is going well, some new challenge presents itself and our emotional system sounds the alarm bells or crashes again.  I’ve been looking for ways to escape the pain of this emotional roller coaster most of my life. When I was in college, there were times when my anxiety became unmanageable. As a young mother, I struggled with depression and eating a whole pizza became my escape. As a …

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Parenting – Reduce the Stress & Recapture the Joy

Imagine bringing mindfulness into your parenting journey. Imagine finding a source of peace and acceptance with yourself and your kids, even at the worst of times. Imagine being able to take a breath and pause before you react in an unhelpful way. Imagine developing a self-care ritual so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and so stressed. Parents have a huge impact on their children. Our kids watch us and model our actions, words, and emotions based on how we conduct ourselves. It is not so much what you say, as what you do. Parenting Fantasy vs. Parenting Reality I was …

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Mind the Gap: A Guide to Mindful Eating

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor E. Frankl On a trip to London, we frequently used the extensive subway system known as the Underground. At every train stop, there was an announcement to MIND THE GAP between the train car and the platform. As an accident-prone person, I came to appreciate this frequent and kind reminder to be mindful to prevent the risk of an injury if I were to mindlessly step off the train. In our culture, …

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4 Ways Mindfulness Helps My Anxiety

By Rachel E. Watson When my husband and I took the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class at Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness in 2013, we weren’t sure what to expect. I approached the class with trepidation. What if it’s too much work? What if there’s an Eastern religious angle that conflicts with my Christian faith? What if it doesn’t help reduce my stress? Won’t it be stressful to attend a class every week and do homework every day? Turns out, my fears were groundless. Yes, the class was a bit of work—maybe an hour a day, or up to two hours …

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