April Kaiserlian

My Amygdala Made Me Do It!

Imagine a world where each time you messed up or said something mean, you yelled, “My amygdala made me do it!” Although that may sound funny, it could be just the thing to help you step back from reactivity and take more responsibility for your actions. Why? The amygdala is the portion of the brain responsible for sounding the alarm when we perceive a threat or some nearby danger (see Carol’s blog post: Change Your Brain). The time between the amygdala sounding the alarm and our reaction is so fast we usually do not realize the alarm has sounded until after …

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Resilient and Joyful Parenting with the AC/DC Method

I have been a parent for just over 14 years. I think that should make me an expert. In fact, if I gave a significant portion of my time and energy to almost any other subject for 14 years straight, I am confident I would feel some measure of competency. But these rules do not seem to apply to parenting. In fact, most of the time, I end up feeling fairly incompetent—which is to say I am never 100% sure if I am choosing actions that are helpful to myself or my children. The feeling of “not sure” seems to …

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Embrace Space

“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 Frankl Viktor Frankl’s wise words capture so much of the heart of mindfulness—SPACE. When we cultivate space in our lives, we step out of reactivity and gain the power to choose wiser and more discerning responses to the circumstances of our lives. And then, as Frankl so aptly observed, we are able to grow and feel more free. What is SPACE? When Frankl uses the word space, he is referring to mental …

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How to Feel Your Feelings

“The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings.” —Gita Bellin I love this quote because it truly blows my mind! What does that mean? How do I feel my feelings? How does that lead to freedom? Although my mind doesn’t entirely understand, my heart feels an immediate sense of relief. Oh. I just have to feel. I don’t have to fight or resist or push anything away. Just feel. I start to breathe a little easier. Naming Basic Emotions It is important to get both heart and mind on board together when learning new things. And so I …

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Multitasking Is Good for You!

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “I thought multitasking was bad for you!” “Isn’t multitasking the exact opposite of mindfulness?!” You’re probably reacting this way for good reason. Studies have shown when we try to focus on more than one thing at a time, it can cause a 40% drop in productivity. It can also lower your IQ by ten points, which can feel the same as losing a whole night of sleep! And if you use a cell phone or hands-free device while driving, it is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of .08%. Yikes! Multitasking certainly doesn’t …

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Therapy as “Assisted” Mindfulness

A few years ago, I took a ride with my family in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park. If you have ever had this experience, you may have noticed the “blinders” the horses wear to cover a portion of their eyes. Blinders are small, square pieces of leather designed to block out some of the horse’s peripheral vision. They help the horse stay focused and not spook as easily, which supports their ability to safely navigate the pathways of the park. Much like the horses of Central Park, we put on “blinders” of our own in order to safely navigate …

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How I Teach My Kids Mindfulness

“How do you teach your kids to practice mindfulness meditation?” This is one of the most common questions I am asked when people find out that I teach mindfulness meditation for a living. I am often met with a look of confusion when I answer, “I don’t teach my kids how to practice meditation.” Let me explain. But before I do, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the simple practice of training your attention to focus in the present moment with full acceptance. Why wouldn’t I teach my children this simple tool when it has been shown to support mental, physical …

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Mindful Parents Know How to Do One Thing

What does it mean to be a mindful parent? Is a mindful parent unusually kind? Is a mindful parent unusually happy? Is a mindful parent unusually patient? A mindful parent may be some of these things some of the time, but they are also something more. Rather, they practice something more. This practice will help you become a wiser and more discerning parent. It will help you become a calmer and less reactive parent. It will help you let go of always trying to be perfect. A mindful parent knows how to do one thing. A mindful parent knows how …

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