Tag - mindfulness

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness

As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Vij distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

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Managing stress requires being mindful about the here and now. The barrage of stimuli we endure every day from all our electronic gadgets is the antithesis of mindfulness. Technology is constantly distracting us with stimuli from outside our current time and place.

The next time you are walking in a park on a spectacular sunny day, note how many people are staring at their electronic devices, sending or receiving messages or checking social media, when they could be enjoying the present time and place. Our modern-day addiction to devices that are supposedly “connecting us” is actually taking us to a place other than the here and now. Why are we so afraid to observe our own thoughts that we constantly need to fill our mind-space with busywork?

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness

by Pankaj Vij

Here are seven attitudes that define or contribute to mindfulness: nonjudgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, nonstriving, acceptance, and letting go.

Nonjudgment: Take the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience as it happens. This is the ideal “witness state” of a human being. Notice the stream of thoughts and judgments: “This thought is good/bad/neutral.” Become aware without trying to stop the flow. The mind is constantly judging situations and people, but mindfulness means seeing things as they are without adding judgment.

Patience: Let things unfold in their own time, and practice patience with yourself. A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis, but this will likely harm or kill the butterfly. Why rush through some moments in order to get to other, “better” ones? Your life is what you experience in each moment. No particular experience is better or worse than another; only our judgments label them as such. Be completely open to each moment, accepting its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.

Beginner’s mind: Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” stop us from seeing things as they really are. Cultivate a willingness to see everything as if for the first time. Be receptive to new possibilities. Don’t get stuck in a rut of your own expertise. Recognize that each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.

Try cultivating a beginner’s mind with someone you know: Ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes, as he or she really is. Ask yourself the same question with your problems, with the sky, with your dog, with the clerk in the corner shop.

Trust: Develop a basic trust in yourself and your feelings. Trust in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way. Honor your feelings. Take responsibility for yourself and your own well-being.

Nonstriving: Practicing mindfulness means seeking no goal other than being who you already are. Pay attention to how you are right now, whatever that is. Just watch. The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goal will happen by itself.

Acceptance: See things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. We try to force situations into how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive change from occurring. Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change.

Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything about yourself and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow. Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.

Letting go: Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. Let things go and just watch. If you find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on your mind, you can direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Looking at the ways we hold on will show a lot about its opposite. You already know how to let go. Every night when we allow ourselves to fall asleep, we let go.

About the author:

Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP, is the author of Turbo Metabolism: 8 Weeks to a New You: Preventing and Reversing Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease, and Other Metabolic Diseases by Treating the Causes.
As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at http://www.doctorvij.com.

Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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Keys to Serenity: Creating a Strategy of Self-Care During Distressing Times

By Serge Mazerand

In a world of massive disruption and distraction, of obsessive connection to the internet and to our devices, ironically, we have come to lose the most important connection: the relationship with our essential self. In subtle and less subtle ways, this disconnect creates significant stress and anxiety that often lead to illness.

So, how do we reconnect?

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The key is awareness. It is also called mindfulness, consciousness, vigilance and often, more simply, paying attention. However, it is far more than that; it is a way of being. Awareness could be compared to an embedded antenna that allows us to effortlessly scan our inner and outer environment. Being a musician, I call it the art of listening to the subtle music that plays within.

Awareness is the first key, one that plays in synergy with all others and allows us to truly become the composers and conductors of our lives. The biggest challenge to awareness is that most of us live in “autopilot” mode, meaning that many of our thoughts, words and actions are created by our subconscious mind. We think one thing and say something else. We say one thing and, again, do something else entirely. Sound familiar? Thoughts, words and actions create subtle energies which, when not aligned, generate dissonance and therefore inner conflict.

Awareness allows us to produce coherence and to implement a convergent strategy of self-care throughout the four essential sections of our “orchestra”: the Physical, the Mental, the Emotional and the Spiritual. Self-care isn’t about being selfish or self-centered in a narcissistic way. It is about nurturing and empowering ourselves with self-love, self-respect and self-esteem. If we don’t love, respect, and care for ourselves, chances are we won’t be able to care for others either.

How does a strategy of self-care unfold in day-to-day life?

Physically, we become aware of the “information” we take in through food, drink and any other substances that we ingest (drugs, medications, etc.) Everything we absorb has a specific frequency that interconnects with the frequencies of our cells, creating either harmony or dissonance––hence the importance of carefully listening to our bodies. Thus, we become aware of our internal rhythms, of breathing deeply, of balance between movement and rest.

Mentally, we also learn to become mindful of the “information” we absorb: the junk news, the manipulative news, the false news, the trivial and the many ubiquitous distractions we are tempted with, every day. We learn to filter what comes into our mind, in turn creating clarity and coherence.

In the emotional section of our “orchestra”, we attune to the energy of our feelings. Ignoring them or repressing them creates subtle energy blockages that often lead to the onset of psychosomatic illnesses. Emotions are like waves in the ocean. They can smash us to pieces or carry us to bliss. Rather than suppress them, we need to express them, yet manage them by tapping into what is called the “heart intelligence.”

Lastly, in the spiritual section––the section of the heart and soul––we learn to assess the validity of our beliefs, many of which are acquired by conditioning. We become aware of who we are at the core and begin to live in authenticity. We learn to trust and believe in ourselves and to harness the inner powers that lie within us.

These four sections are all interconnected in holistic fashion. What happens in one affects the others. Our health and wellness and ultimately, our happiness, are shaped by how mindful we are in creating and implementing this strategy of self-care.

About the author:

Serge Mazerand is the author of 7 Keys to Serenity: Creating Harmony Within . He is an improvisational pianist and composer of healing music. He records and writes under the private label and brand, Keys to Serenity®.

Mazerand is available as an inspirational speaker and musician to set the tone at conferences and events that focus on health and wellness, spirituality and self-empowerment.

Learn more about Mazerand and 7 Keys to Serenity at www.keystoserenity.com and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Pinterest.

7 Keys to Serenity can be purchased from Amazon and www.keystoserenity.com.

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What is Mindfulness?

By Linda Lehrhaupt, PhD

Mindfulness meditation has been described in many ways in recent years, but I still find that one of the definitions by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, is very helpful. He says that mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally. He added in an interview on YouTube…“as if your life depended on it.”

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Mindfulness takes place in the present moment.

There is much talk these days about the need to be in the present moment. Why? In fact, many people realize as they begin to practice mindfulness that they are rarely in the here and now. They notice how often they are lost in memories or in anticipation of the future. They are aware of becoming caught up in a way that hijacks their attention, making it more difficult to stay present.

“Why is this a problem?” people sometimes ask. “My memories are often wonderful, and I like to think about what is to come. Also, sometimes I have to think about the future. I have to plan.”

Which is all very true. At the same time, we often, and more often than we are aware, function on a kind of automatic pilot, skimming through life rather than diving deep. We tend to miss so much of our actual life because we tend to exhaust things quickly and look for the next activity to keep us occupied.

As people practice mindfulness, they notice they can ask themselves: “Am I aware where I am? Am I as engaged as I can be in what is right before me? Or am I swept along, feeling driven, or withdrawing because it all feels too much?”

Being able to even ask these questions has meant for many mindfulness practitioners the difference between connecting to themselves or feeling adrift in a storm of life.

Mindfulness is a capacity that can be trained and strengthened.

The practice of mindfulness can be compared to muscle-strengthening exercises. In much the same way that our muscles can weaken or atrophy when not exercised, our capacity for mindfulness can weaken or atrophy when we don’t make use of it. The core of mindfulness-based training programs is the systematic training of the muscle of mindfulness.

Mindfulness can be cultivated.

When we practice mindfulness, we tend the garden of our life, watering and caring for it. Everything nourishes this garden: the wonderful moments of our lives as well as the difficult ones. The difficult ones in particular— what one meditation teacher called the “compost of our lives” — can provide a rich source of nutrients as we learn to meet challenges with mindfulness.

In mindfulness training, we strengthen our capacity for nonjudgmental awareness.

One of the first things we notice as we practice mindfulness is how caught up we are in judgments, ideas, and opinions about things and our lives in general. As we continue to practice , we see that it is possible to set judging aside (at least some of the time) and experience elements of our lives in a less-filtered way, freer of tunnel vision. This may in turn create a richer and clearer understanding that we have a choice about things. Opting to exercise that choice becomes a conscious step toward mindful action, rather than a detour into wishful thinking, resignation, or impulsive behavior.

Mindfulness gives us access to our own wisdom, insight, and compassion.

If we reverse the syllables in the word insight, it reads as “sight in,” which means “sight within ourselves.” Mindfulness develops our capacity to look within. It gives us access to our own wisdom, insight, and compassion, the rich ground of our lives.

“As if your life depended on it.”

It might seem to be overly dramatic when Kabat- Zinn talks about practicing mindfulness “as if one’s life depended on it.” But in my experience as an MBSR teacher and in my own life, there have been countless times when people say that meditation practice “saved their life.” Sometimes, they mean it literally. Lost in the tumult of a difficult life situation, dark thoughts can cross their minds. In those situations, I have seen many people benefit both from skillful counseling from mental health professionals as well as training in mindfulness practice. They seem to support each other beautifully.

Mindfulness saving one’s life can also mean that people who were overwhelmed by stress can learn to make life choices in favor of taking care of themselves, physically and emotionally, reconnecting to their families, friends or loved ones. In the middle of dealing with chronic pain or other health crisis, people notice that there is more to life than their illness. Their life can expand to include things they have often turned away from (e.g. hobbies, sport activities, attending cultural events). They can acknowledge it is possible to live with rather than in spite of what is going on.

It is at times of almost “losing it,” that we realize how precious life is. For each person that may mean different things, but being able to hold such a gift with tenderness and deep love has given many a sense of joy and fulfillment. Coming home to the moment is to find the treasure that has been buried under the floor in our house for as long as we have lived there but always thought was somewhere else.

About the book:

Based on the book Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: The MBSR Program for Enhancing Health and Vitality. Copyright © 2017 by Linda Lehrhaupt and Petra Meibert. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

About the author:

Linda Lehrhaupt, PhD, is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches and one of Europe’s most senior MBSR teachers. Petra Meibert, Dipl. Psych., is a psychologist and one of Germany’s leading experts on MBSR, MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), and the applications of mindfulness in medicine and psychotherapy.

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New Mindfulness Book Provides Practical Tips

mindfulness8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness: Practical Strategies for Emotional Health and Well Being

by Manuela Mischke Reeds with a Foreword by Babette Rothschild

Every moment of our lives can become an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Becoming mindful is about the small, everyday things such as pausing to take a breath before you drive off in a hurry or considering the food that will nourish your body before a meal. 8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness invites readers to sharpen their awareness and ask themselves with more frequency, “What do I notice right now?” or “How do I need to respond or be with this situation?”

These seemingly tiny moments of noticing oneself can have a major impact on life. Practicing mindfulness is not about being better by figuring it all out. It is about tolerating the moments when you don’t know or learning to be more curious about the struggle.

This new book will show readers how to establish a basic practice with guidelines for posture and breathing as well as various options for meditations that involve sitting, walking, gently moving or lying down. These exercises are designed to incorporate small moments of mindfulness throughout the day, during a lunch break, in the morning, or before bed.

Mischke Reeds has developed a clear and comprehensive guide to establishing mindfulness in your daily life! This book will help you feel and sense what is truly happening in the moment so you can make a more conscious choice about how you’d like to respond to daily events, rather than react out of habit. Her heartfelt tone, real-life examples, and ‘embodied’ exercises make this whole process easily accessible—anyone can do this!
-Rik Isensee, LCSW, author of Shift Your Mood

A wonderfully clear, concise, and accessible guide to the practice of mindfulness. It is on the cutting edge by showing how mindfulness is grounded in the body and is a powerful method for our emotional healing. Highly recommended for beginners as well as experienced meditators. Bravo!
-Reginald A. Ray, PhD, author of Touching Enlightenment and Mahamudra for the Modern World

8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness is a great boon to both the beginning and the dedicated practitioner of mindfulness. Speaking to the needs of contemporary Westerners, Mischke Reeds offers clear, systematic instructions to help readers reconnect their awareness to their bodies and daily lives, ground their understanding in cutting-edge science, and pursue a compassionate response to our world. Offering inspiring stories of everyday people who have shifted their lives to ones of self-knowledge, she encourages readers to choose such a life.
—Donald Rothberg, PhD, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre, California; author of The Engaged Spiritual Life

For more books in the Norton 8 Keys to Mental Health series, visit wwnorton.com/psych/8keys.

About the author:
Manuela Mischke Reeds, MA, MFT, is an international teacher of Mindfulness-based and Somatic Psychology. She co-directs the Hakomi Institute of California and teaches in the US, Europe, and Australia. A meditation practitioner for the past 25 years, she lectures, consults and trains professionals in Mindfulness Meditation, Trauma and Attachment and Movement Therapy. She maintains a private practice in Menlo Park, CA.

8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness: Practical Strategies for Emotional Health and Well-being (8 Keys to Mental Health)
Author: Manuela Mischke Reeds
Publication Date: June 22, 2015
Pages: 256 pages/Paperback
Price: $19.95 US
ISBN-13: 978-0-393-70795-3

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