Mindfulness

Stress & Parkinson’s Disease: How Mindfulness Can Help

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 brain regions. Although this idea has been contested, many authors of recent scientific publications have pointed to extreme psychological stress, emotional shock, and prolonged anxiety as risk factors in PD. It’s also been reported in the literature that it may not be the major life events themselves, but rather the individual’s …

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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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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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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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Learn to Love Yourself

Most of us have a flaw in our self-perception. When we look at ourselves we have a blind spot for our good qualities and a magnifying glass for our faults. This can do a lot of damage to our confidence and happiness.  Did you ever hear the phrase “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” That’s right if we let our self-loathing go unchallenged it can make us miserable and, along the way, all the people we hold dear.  The more we live in this skewed perception of who we are, the more miserable we become. This distorted picture isn’t …

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5 Ways to Create More Ease and Less Stress for the Holidays

It Doesn’t Have to Take Much Time. We all want the season to be a beautiful time of sharing and happy memories, but perhaps it’s not feeling so beautiful right now. Maybe, in fact, it’s feeling downright stressful as your TO-DO list gets longer and the time gets shorter. This is the situation many of us find ourselves in, and yet, there is an alternative: Mindfulness. You think to yourself, “If there’s one time I don’t have time for one more thing, it’s now!” But think again! Mindfulness is portable. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it just …

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Thanksgiving: A Time to Appreciate the Richness of Our Lives

Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season and a time to stop, take stock and say thank you for all the gifts we have been given. It is a time to reflect on the abundance that surrounds us and the people that give our lives meaning. So, Why Is It So Hard Sometimes? But, often this is also a time when we feel overextended and under-resourced and balancing the many demands in our lives can feel more like drudgery than joy. Our natural tendency is to see what isn’t working and where we are not being enough or doing …

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Care for Yourself This Holiday Season by Asking: What Do I Really Need?

I teach what I need. When I teach mindful eating, I often say mindful eating is a lifetime practice. That may feel daunting to hear, but my personal experience tells me that it’s true.  At this time of year, my mindful eating practice always requires some extra care and attention.  Amongst my family and close friends, there are 10 birthdays to celebrate within a few months and preceding and after the prime holiday season. Mindful eating is the practice of returning to the experience of tasting, savoring, breathing, and resting, over and over. Practicing mindful eating helps me to focus …

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The Habit Loop: How it Can Lead to Mindless Eating

Mindful eaters don’t eat mindfully all of the time. Cereal has always been a favorite food of mine.  Somewhere along the way, I created a habit of eating a small bowl of dry cereal with my morning coffee. I would brew coffee, pour cereal then munch and drink while watching the morning news.  I enjoyed the combination of bitter coffee and sweet and crunchy cereal. Many times, I asked myself if there was any harm in my habit?   I was aware I  wasn’t being that mindful, yet  I didn’t see any significant consequences.  Over time though as I continued …

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Parenting is Hard: Mindfulness to the Rescue

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” Elizabeth Lawrence By now we have settled into the school year, established our routines, and maybe even had a bit of time to relax and soak in the beauty of fall. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The warm air is balanced with a bit of coolness. Temperatures begin to drop drastically at night and rise quickly during the day. Our days become shorter and a general softness settles in. The leaves turn brilliant colors, eventually falling and becoming crisp and fluffy. Mother Nature is preparing to rest and …

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