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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

image-header_long-e1447711621383This morning during a writing exercise, I found myself reflecting upon how frustrated I feel when I don’t have enough time for my creative projects. How painful it feels to start — only to end before I’m ready. Zooming out, I suspect that sometimes I might even avoid creative work because I don’t want to experience this uncomfortable, unpleasant dynamic.

Suddenly, I remembered words of advice that I share every day: I encourage others to show up and “savor” their experiences with food. We practice inhaling delicious aromas, gazing at our food, exploring texture, and holding it in our mouths to fully absorb flavors. By doing so, we experience the richness of each bite, each meal. We allow ourselves to feel more fully satisfied – and to discern what we like, or don’t like, and how our bodies receive these gifts, so we can make adjustments in the future.

So often, I forget that I can practice savoring many moments of my day. With food, and during other activities. I do remember to “show up” for some of the good stuff – a walk beneath a beautiful, smoke-free blue sky, for example; doing so fills me and helps to buffer difficult parts of my day. However, for those activities that I especially love (writing, as an other example) but experience with scarcity, I become fused to the story “not enough, not enough”….and miss what is happening, what is possible, even in the moment.

Is there an activity or connection in your life for which you desperately long? Can you experiment with showing up – with intention and curiosity – to its next occurrence, to explore what is available to you, even in a few brief bites?

 

 

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20180828_105302.jpgFor those that follow me here or on my business Facebook page, you’ve seen my postings on the therapeutic benefits of gardening. When I’m not in the office, I’m usually either working on my hobby farm, writing, or parenting. This morning, I was struck yet again regarding the parallels that run beneath these varied experiences of being human.

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Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness bookI was delighted to receive this book in the mail recently – not only is Dr. Treleaven’s book a long-awaited and valuable contribution to the field of scientific mindfulness-based programs, but it is also a timely exploration of the relationship between trauma, privilege, power, and oppression.

From an article he wrote recently:

“Trauma is not just an individual tragedy—it is rooted in larger social systems that shape our lives. When we peel back the layers of a traumatic experience, we find that they’re bound up within a larger social context.” Safety is an essential ingredient in the development of any self-awareness practice.

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What did you see? What didn’t you see? I’ll talk more about the nature of selective attention – and what we potentially miss during activities such as eating, during this weekend’s free virtual event.

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2370002698764This past month, I’ve re-read “Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine,” by Saki Santorelli, Ed.D., the Executor Director of the UMASS Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society. Dr. Santorelli is a long-time MBSR practitioner and teacher,  and I would add poet and philosopher to his impressive list of credentials, after moving through his book for a second time. And truly, I was moved.

Narrative medicine has been described as a way for healthcare providers to “…reach and join their patients in illness, recognize their own personal journeys through medicine, acknowledge kinship with and duties toward other health care professionals, and inaugurate consequential discourse with the public about health care. By bridging the divides that separate physicians from patients, themselves, colleagues, and society, narrative medicine offers fresh opportunities for respectful, empathic, and nourishing medical care” (Charon, 2001).

In Heal Thy Self, this author thoughtfully enters into an intimate exploration of his own experiences, personal and professional (as Saki himself reminded us during an MBSR training, the two are not separable, as much as we might wish to demarcate a distinction), over the span of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course.

More than ever before, healthcare providers and their patients are engaged collaboratively in efforts to improve individual health and well-being. (more…)

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worried-woman-with-doctor-patient-breast.jpg All of us have felt vulnerable in our bodies at some point in our lives, especially during an illness, fleeting or chronic, or as part of the normal process of aging. But what do you do when you find yourself preoccupied excessively with health concerns?

In mindful eating, we often talk about “inner” and “outer” wisdom, as in: listening to the cues from the natural feedback system of our bodies, and consulting reputable, solid resources in our community. Sometimes, however, life feels overwhelming. When it comes to food, we are often flooded (via the Internet, popular media, sometimes by well-intentioned friends, family members, or even providers) with too much – or conflicting – advice about what is “good” or “bad.” Similarly, our minds can become flooded with thoughts of anxiety, especially when we are struggling with some aspect of our physical experience. After all, it’s not as if we can leave our bodies entirely (even if “checking out” is a strategy you might use, from time to time). As someone who is recovering from an inner ear condition that has caused symptoms of vertigo, I can relate to feeling off-balance (literally) and sometimes out of control in my body. But how do we decipher all of these confusing messages from mind-body, respond effectively, and not get lost in our fears?

Whether it relates to making skillful food choices (what/how/why do I want to eat), or navigating medical conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes, or heart disease, the S.T.O.P. exercise can help when you begin to feel lost:

  • Stop what you are doing. In the parenting world, we used to talk about taking a “time out,” but a more helpful approach is often allowing a “time in” – with yourself. Go to the bathroom, shut your office or bedroom door, pull over to the side of the road. Do what you can, within your power, to pause for several moments.
  • Take a breath (one complete in-breath, followed by one complete out-breath). You know what? Go wild and crazy – take two, or three!).
  • Observe – what thoughts are you noticing right now? Emotions? Sensations in the body? This isn’t the time for an analysis or dissection of your experience, but the equivalent of putting your head out the window to gauge the current “weather” system. Your weather system. Also, do you find yourself wanting a particular part of your experience to go away right now, or are you feeling curious and interested? There are no “wrong” answers. Whatever information you discover is useful.
  • Proceed forward, perhaps toward something that is in line with your values (completing a task, connecting with a loved one, attending to your body in some way). Not sure what to do? Take a few more breaths, notice what happens in your mind and body, and then see if a choice becomes clear.

Repeat as needed. These are the kinds of skills I love to teach clients, whether to navigate food, health issues, or other life stressors more effectively. Remember, sometimes we can’t change the occurrence of experiences we are having, but we can learn to work with them differently and respond in a way that reduces our suffering.

 

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morning-viewThis morning while I was engaged in a short morning sit, my daughter peeked her head into the room. She was holding her bunny lovey and several other stuffed animals under one arm, and watched silently until I gestured that she could come in.

Over the remaining fifteen minutes, she sat, scooted, scampered, created a fort of meditation cushions and yoga blocks for her orange-and-black stripped Tiger, and only occasionally spoke aloud to me, quickly falling back into quiet when I put one finger to my lips. This is noteworthy for my “spirited” child who brings a loud, energetic presence into our daily lives. I suspect that something about my own intentional stillness this morning – and the fact that I’ve been slowly introducing mindfulness to her, over the years – contributed to her response.

Perhaps something in the stillness called out to her, to her own busy body, as well.  (more…)

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