The Beginning of My Journey

We live in a fast-paced world, and often everything seems to be spinning out of control. I know well the feeling that I could scream if someone gave me one more thing to do or keep track of. A few years ago, when I was going through a divorce, a change in employment, and a son in the throes of addiction, I just wanted to give up. I had tried everything I could think of: working harder and more hours; giving everyone around me advice on how they should live their lives; worrying incessantly; and demanding that things be done …

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Why The !%*? Did I Say That?

“The willingness to show up changes us;  it makes us a little braver each time.” —Brené Brown Why the !%*? did I say that? I don’t know how many times I’ve agonized over that question or a similar one, like “I really screwed that up; what made me yell at him like that?” Or, “I know I’m right about this—why can’t she see it?” Or,  “I wonder if he  thinks I’m an idiot for saying that?” I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time sitting with either my embarrassment or my self-righteousness. Through the lens of  mindfulness, I began to see …

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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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Why Leaders Need Mindfulness

During my career, I’ve been in many leadership positions and I’ve worked with many different leaders. We all seem to get tripped up and stumble in the same places, and our effectiveness suffers. We don’t take the time, or aren’t able, to get through all the noise and confusion to see what is actually happening; we can’t clear enough mental space in our overloaded brains to come up with groundbreaking solutions; and we too often lose touch with the very people that can help us navigate change successfully. The qualities of an effective leader that I’ve observed and experienced really …

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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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Practicing Mindfulness: Intention, Attention, Attitude

There are three essential elements to the practice of mindfulness: Intention, attention, and attitude. INTENTION is WHY we practice. It’s what brought us to this practice and what keeps us practicing, it’s what is really important to us? Are we practicing to heal a physical or emotional wound, to reduce our stress, or simply for the joy and equanimity it brings to our lives? ATTENTION is WHAT we practice. What we are engaged in is paying attention to this very moment. We know that our mind will wander into thoughts of the past and future, that’s just what the mind …

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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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