Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

The Journey

spiritual-journeyAre you willing to pause, and listen, and re-connect?

“…And there was a new voice,

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world…”

Mary Oliver – The Journey, in DREAM WORK (1986)

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mindful eating changes everythingMore from The Weight Escape  – can you tell that I’m liking this book?

“Mindfulness is the antidote to the modern fight or flight syndrome. It enables us to shift into an alternative pause and plan mode…and to respond with intention or purpose. Mindfulness gives us the mental space to ask the question, “What do I want to do in this moment?” or “What do I want to stand for now?” It helps us insert a mindful pause between our impulse to eat and the action of eating. Just one mindful breath can be all we need to gain control of our actions” (p. 132).

The authors call mindfulness the “ultimate habit,” and I’m inclined to agree, as a psychologist trained extensively in MBSR and other mindfulness-based approaches. Mindfulness training is now the foundation of every intervention I offer my clients. As I develop an updated, comprehensive EAT curriculum to teach beginning in October, you can bet that it will be at the heart of what I do, at A Mindful Meal!

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thinking-person-hiYou’ve seen this before, right?  And another: “Don’t believe everything your mind tells you.” Easier said than done. Especially if your mind is telling you that you are stupid. Ugly. Bad. Yep, the yucky stuff – the kind of messages we’d like to silence or ignore.

As I make my way through “The Weight Escape” book, I’ve found it helpful to review some of the principles and exercises from the Acceptance and Commitment
Therapy (ACT) model once again. To think about ACT principles, like how we all try to control our internal experience (and how that doesn’t work); how easily we can become fused, or caught up in our thoughts; and the value of living more fully in the present moment (if we’re willing). During a training, I heard one ACT expert say that we are trying to move away from a “feel good” agenda to a “feel your feelings well” agenda.  This can be hard, right? I know when I have a painful thought or feeling, I still want to run away! (Although I’ve gotten much better at recognizing this impulse, and staying, when it is in line with my values.) (more…)

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back to school message

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“But ICute Little Girl With Her Teddy Bear HD Wallpaper-1280x720-cutelittlebabies.blogspot.com want to be a kind and generous friend,” my six-year-old daughter says, sniffling from the back seat. Underneath her unruly mop of curly hair, her big brown eyes fill with tears.

“But honey, how did you feel when Tommy insisted on taking your bracelet, even though you said no?”

“Bad!” She begins to cry, clutching her scruffy bunny to her chest.

This morning, I had an opportunity – albeit a painful one – to discuss the idea of “being a good friend to ourselves” with my daughter; to suggest to her that saying “No,” and learning how to stand up for ourselves, can be part of cultivating self-compassion.

It’s a tough ride, this thing we call life, and we all can get a little banged up along the way, adults and kiddos alike. But through the practices of self-compassion, a balanced, kind approach to the experiences we encounter as part of daily existence, we can ease our suffering, respond more skillfully, and feel more connected with ourselves – and others – as a result.

For more self-compassion resources and research from several of the pioneers in the field, check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s website or the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, which was developed by Dr. Neff and another esteemed self-compassion researcher, Dr. Christopher Germer.


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“I must have good control of my feelings in order to be successful in life.” “If I can’t suppress or get rid of a negative emotional reacHap-Trap-Front-Cover-300dpi-2Sept10tion, it’s a sign of personal failure or weakness.” “Negative thoughts and feelings are a sign that there is something wrong with my life.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so, do you strongly believe any (or all) of these statements? And if your answer to this second question is YES, how are those beliefs working out for you so far?

I’m falling in love with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, said as one word), a program that has been around in the field of clinical psychology for well over a decade, which lots of solid research to suggest that it is beneficial for individuals with a wide variety of concerns. What do I like so much about the ACT approach? It emphasizes the following principles, designed to strengthen psychological flexibility (a great skill set for navigating everything that life can throw our way!):

  1. Defusion – relating to your thoughts in a new way
  2. Expansion – opening up to unpleasant feelings and sensations rather than trying to avoid them
  3. Connection – with the present moment
  4. developing an Observing Self
  5. using Values to guide your direction in life
  6. Committed Action – engaging in action that is motivated by your values, over and over again

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know how passionate I am about #3 – connecting with the present moment, including our experiences with food and our body. But without values to guide us, and committed action to move us forward, we can easily become lost or stuck. In other mindfulness-based programs, we talk about moving forward “in a more deeply informed way,” as a result of ongoing mindfulness practice. In ACT, you can learn mindfulness skills, and other essential principles, although with any such approach, practice is key.

If you’re intrigued – and I hope you are – and if you are ready to “stop struggling and start living,” I’d encourage you to check out The Happiness Trap or any other book on ACT; visit www.thehappinesstrap.com for more information. If you’re looking for a well-trained ACT psychotherapist, check out this directory, too.

Happy reading!

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“The research indicates that these are very simple contemplative practices that don’t require any special tools other than one’s own mind and can be practiced for a few minutes at a time and if they are done regularly, they lead to systematic changes in the brain, systematic changes in behavior and changes in experience.”davidson

From a short article on bringing mindfulness into daily life….And read even more of Dr. Davidson’s work by visiting his website at http://richardjdavidson.com.

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