Move Your Body Change Your Brain

Your brain is constantly remodeling itself. When you learn to play the guitar or expand your vocabulary, you physically alter your brain. When you meditate, you stimulate the executive parts of the brain to get bigger, and the anxiety parts to get smaller. In brain-speak, this is called neuroplasticity and there is powerful science to back it up. When I tell my mindfulness students about the research into brain science, they are excited that they are doing something positive and proven. When I first started meditating, we had no idea that meditation was changing the brain, just stories that said …

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Too Busy to Meditate? – Try This

I started out great! I was beginning to see the actual benefits of my practice…but then I got busy. My lapse in practice started with one day when I didn’t have time. Then, the next day it was really easy to say, “I broke my streak, I’m still busy, and I’ll get back to it tomorrow.” Then the next day, it was, “One more day won’t matter.” That was two months ago, and now whenever I think about meditating, I just feel guilty. How can something that was beginning to make a real difference in my life become so dispensable? …

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8 Simple Mindfulness Practices to Weave Into Your Day

Although I know that meditation calms my mind and makes me feel more confident and spacious, I can’t always fit a formal practice into my day. Knowing what’s good for me and doing it are often two different things.  I’ve experienced the profound healing that formal meditation practices can provide. These practices helped me through the anxiety and depression that were constant parts of my existence. At that time in my life, yoga and meditation were my medicine, and it was critical to take that time just for me. Some would say that these daily practices are the bedrock of …

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Benefits and Pitfalls of Mind Wandering

Moving Through Life on Auto-pilot Have you ever gotten into your car driven someplace, gotten out of your car, and had no idea what happened in between? Or, sat down to read a book and at the end of the page realized that you had no idea what you had just read? These are two examples of how we check out on our lives, how we can be there and yet not be there at all. Another word for this is mind-wandering, and researchers have found that our minds wander nearly half the time. The Benefits of Mind-Wandering The idea …

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The Practice of Welcoming: Well-Being Series

“Welcoming…means opening the door to everything we experience-turning nothing away-and learning how to authentically meet our own experience in each moment.” Kelly Boys But I don’t want it to be this way, you say. I want things to unfold according to plan! I hate this! That is natural, we all want to be happy and fulfilled. So, as often as not we refuse our experience. We create a story in our heads about our inability to handle that thing whatever that thing is. How we’re not smart enough or strong enough to find a solution. We look the other way …

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Train for Happiness with These Three Skills

When I got up this morning, things were not going my way. It was shaping up to be a really bad day. I stubbed my toe on the way to the bathroom, the plate shattered when it slipped out of my hand between the cupboard and counter, and I realized that the blog I was writing just wasn’t going to work for what I wanted to convey. Then, I stepped into the shower. The water was warm and felt good. I redirected my attention to the sensations of water cascading down my body and reminded myself how grateful I was that …

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Grounding with the First Chakra (Tools for Well-Being Continued…)

“Do you have the patience to wait, till your mud settles and the water is clear? Lao Tsu A chakra is a wheel or circle of rotating energy; some say real, some say metaphorical but useful nonetheless. (See brief overview from last week here.) We can use the chakra system to chart a path of understanding through the physical body, can view chakras through the eyes of human development, or we can use them to shed light on our habitual patterns and behaviors. We can explore our personal patterns of thought and activity through the lens of the chakras, and …

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Working with the Energy Centers of the Body – Tools for Well-Being

This last week things almost seemed like normal again. We had a great weekend with family, and I could feel my heart crack open when I spent the evening with my granddaughters. Lots of laughter and people talking over each other, just as it should be. It was in the midst of all of that I realized how abnormal everything had been over the last 18 months and how it had affected me more than I was willing to admit.  Many years ago, when I wasn’t really sure which end was up, I embarked on a healing journey through the …

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Well-Being Tools – Calm Anxiety with the Breath

One of the first books to tout the stress-reducing qualities of relaxation was “The Relaxation Response,” written in 1975 by Herbert Benson—cardiologist, author, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Institute. The particular practice he described was sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes twice a day, repeating a word over and over again. Sounds suspiciously like meditation. Since that time, there have been many forays into the realm of mind/body medicine and using the body’s natural capacities to move into a state of deep relaxation. These include explorations in the areas of breath, progressive relaxation, visualization, and meditation-all wonderful ways to use the power of …

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Body Kindness for Your Here-and-Now Body

I have noticed that many people who are interested in mindful eating are very dissatisfied with their body and want to lose weight. They are plagued with this belief: “When I lose weight, then I will have the confidence, health, and well-being I wish for.”   Even if you are committed to learning to trust your body, it’s very understandable to feel conflicted about intuitive eating and weight. I see people struggle with this strong wish to lose weight quickly while at the same time knowing they can’t withstand yet another diet.  Mindfully consuming a balanced, nutrient-dense pattern of eating can …

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