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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Making Time to Meditate

In my experience, and maybe you can relate, it often seems easier to read a book or article about meditation than it is to actually meditate. I’ve had more than one person commiserate with me about how we know that meditation is “good” for us—that it can help us gain a clearer perspective, appreciate life more, and even support the healing process—and yet, it’s so damn hard to find the time for it! Well, believe it or not, there’s something even more important to figure out before deciding when, where, or how long you “sit” for. Identifying Your “Why” Intention …

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Skills for Re-Entry, Part II

Moving forward with awareness and kindness I recently heard someone comment that there’s less room for small talk after the year we’ve all had. We’ve been through something significant together, even while apart, and we probably have a lot to say about what happened, or what we lost, in the last year. Still, like me, you may have noticed yourself answering the well-meaning, asked-out-of-habit “How are you?” with a one-word answer that doesn’t sum up how you’re feeling. But how would you answer that question? Do you feel in touch with your experience? Or have the days been passing by? …

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Skills for Re-Entry, Part I

Re-entering a world that’s far from “normal” What a difference a year makes. Here in Michigan, it was announced yesterday that remote working is no longer required, and those who are fully vaccinated can work without masks or social distancing requirements. Even before that, many were struggling with the thought of returning to the workplace, feeling their employers aren’t honoring employees’ safety and well-being by “returning to normal” at such a pace. But what we’ve all gone through in the last year was not normal. What we’re slowly (or not so slowly) re-entering is not normal. Even the way of …

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Acknowledging Our Suffering

“If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate; if you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill… if you can always find contentment just where you are… you are probably a dog.”  We all laugh because we know it’s true.  We get angry, jealous, sad, and anxious.  We don’t choose it. If someone gave us a menu of …

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Meeting Difficult Emotions with Compassion

Life is just hard sometimes. We get sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, and afraid—and the events of the last year may be providing us with a real test.  I have a long history of running away from pain.  When I was in college, there were times when my anxiety hit the roof and I would do just about anything to get away from it. As a young mother, I struggled with depression, and there were times when I would eat a whole pizza so I wouldn’t have to feel it. As a business person, I can remember being super overwhelmed and …

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To What Do You Pay Attention?

Each of us has a finite amount of attention we can use each day—and that was true even before we entered the current “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous” state of the world.  Still, even though it seems the world is demanding a lot of us each day—and the hamster wheel shows no signs of stopping itself—it’s worth asking ourselves: Am I giving my attention to the things that matter to me? For everything we (purposely or inadvertently) pay attention to: Work (particularly outside of “work hours”) Social media/email/texting News (especially of the political variety) Our attention is removed from activities, items, …

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Parenting Through a Pandemic (and Beyond): Presence, Not Perfection

“When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices The exasperation of parenting COVID-style has become the theme of many online memes, sarcastic jokes, and parodies to try to ease the intensity of this very intense experience. Perhaps just the words “COVID” or “virtual schooling” are enough to trigger thoughts of doom and gloom. It has certainly been a difficult year on many many levels. Trying a Different Perspective If we had the time to reflect on this past year, I believe that we could each …

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How Do You Care for Your Mind?

And an update on our mission In January 12’s newsletter, we shared the recent Ten Percent Happier podcast interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. My takeaway from the discussion is that the single most important thing we can each do at this moment of great personal, political, and global turmoil, is take care of our minds.  Practicing mindfulness helps us notice our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, which creates the foundation necessary to objectively examine our biases, discomforts, and the values and judgments we’ve inherited from others rather than consciously formed for ourselves.  Yes, I agree; …

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