On this page you will find articles, free audio and video, and other resources that may give you tips on working toward healing and growth. Whether you struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or addictive behaviors, no matter the struggles you come here with, this is a place for you to get some tips to support you.
Thursday, November 5, 2015 · Leave a comment
One things we know about parenting is that while it can be incredibly rewarding at times, at other times it can be extremely challenging. Then you throw in a little attention deficit and hyperactivity with the kids or parents and life gets interesting. Mark Bertin, MD is a board certified developmental pediatrician and respected mindfulness teacher whose latest book is Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress, and Helping Children Thrive. Today he is with us to talk about the unique challenges of parenting a child with ADHD, why we’re seeing more ADHD in our culture and a few specific techniques a parent can take home with them today to help themselves and their kids.
Elisha: What are the unique challenges of parenting a child who has ADHD?
Mark: Being a parent is, of course, frequently stressful and full of uncertainty. As a developmental disorder that affects not just attention but life management skills in general, ADHD amps up that experience. When you have a child several years behind in organizing, planning and self-management in general, that can affect everything from morning and bedtime routines to social and academic success. That’s hard for a child, and their parents too.
The challenge around ADHD becomes this: ADHD creates stress by making daily life harder. Too much stress makes us tired, burned out and less resilient. It makes flexible problem solving and communication harder. Which means, living with ADHD makes it harder to manage ADHD.
For any family, a significant step around ADHD is getting a handle on stress. It’s hard to start new routines, manage homework, make tough choices, and support a child who really does need more support than peers. When more grounded, you’ll see things clearer, and stick easier to all the things you want to do.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix, but directly supports almost all of ADHD. It starts with stress management, getting out of that flooded, fight-or-flight driven cycle. It also mixes with behavioral management for ADHD – the ability to pause, refocus, and catch a child being successful is harder than it seems without practice. So is sticking to limits and routines, if we’re too stressed and distracted ourselves.
Elisha: How do we change ingrained parenting styles that aren’t working?
Mark: One of the under-discussed parts of parenting in general, and certainly around ADHD, is how hard it is to change habits. We have ways of thinking and of doing things that begin in childhood. That even includes the fact that, for parents, children influence parenting style. In fact, ADHD tends to push parents away from the exact parenting approaches that best address ADHD. Continue Reading →
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 · 3 Comments
Most people believe that waiting is a waste of time and it’s best to fill that time with something… anything. Whether we’re in line at a the grocery story, waiting at a doctor’s office, or sitting at a stoplight, the brain seems to be cued to fill that space. Nowadays, many of us pull out our phones and begin sifting through various messages, reading over documents, or surfing the web.
However, the belief that waiting has no value is a mistake. In fact, the secret to a sense of personal control, general satisfaction with life and even success lies in learning how to find peace with waiting.
We’ve all heard the famous adage, “Patience is a virtue” or “Good things come to those who wait.”
Easier said than done, why?
We’re not in control of our brains
Because underneath the subtle yet intolerable experience of waiting is a little anxious gremlin that fears being alone. This gremlin is operating on old software that says if you’re alone that means you’re not being protected by your clan and it’s a threat to your safety. In those small moments of waiting, it takes the controls of your brain and reaches for something to “be with” so you’re not alone anymore.
In other words, the anxious gremlin is in control and you’re not in control. Studies are clear that lacking a sense of control is associated with negative stress, anxiety and depression. Also, the more we let the gremlin run the brain, the stronger it gets – or as the Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb says “neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Using waiting for good
Tuesday, October 20, 2015 · 3 Comments
Ajahn Chah was the spiritual teacher to many leading mindfulness teachers. He had a wonderful saying when it comes to being present in life, “It’s like this.” This saying always stuck with me as a great truth and a way to bring me back to the moment when my mind was spinning due to something stressful or difficult. In 2011, I realized that not only is “it like this,” but my mind would quickly begin swimming again and I would then say, “ah, and this too.” When I said, “and this too,” it brought be back once again to being here.
However, recently I found a new, practical and powerful use for the phrase, “It’s like this…and this too” that has everything to do with cultivating perspective and happiness.
It’s like this…
There’s nothing like an uncomfortable emotion of negative stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, shame, guilt or disgust to get the head spinning. It’s natural, the brain is trying to figure out how to balance us. So it jumps to the future thinking of worst case scenarios so we can be prepared or it ruminates on all the negative facts of the past so it use our history to mine for optimal decisions. This auto-pilot mental looping at best keeps us stuck or at worst exacerbates the difficulty.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 · Leave a comment
One of the essential commonalities we have as human beings as that at some point or another we all experience some form of suffering. This isn’t meant to be a downer, it’s simply a fact of being human. Today, you’re going to hear from an incredible woman, Toni Bernhard. She is the author of the award-winning book How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers and How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow. Her newest book is called How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide. She also writes a great blog called, “Turning Straw Into Gold.“
Today Toni talks to us about why the path to peace begins with facing difficulty realities, how mindfulness can help with chronic pain and illness, and some of the key lessons she’s learned.
Elisha: How is this book different from your other book on chronic pain and illness, How to Be Sick?
Toni: The new book is broader in scope than How to Be Sick, and it’s organized differently. How to Be Sick is organized around concepts and practices to help people learn to live with grace and purpose despite the limitations imposed by their health.
By contrast, the new book is organized around specific difficulties and challenges that people face, such as dealing with others who don’t (or refuse to) understand; making the best use of your short time with the doctor; coping with isolation and loneliness; handling mood swings and painful emotions; the difficult challenge of being young and chronically ill. The new book goes beyond my personal experience because I draw on the thousands of people who’ve written to me about their health struggles.
What the books have in common is a liberal use of personal anecdotes, easy-to-learn practices (such as mindfulness and self-compassion), and my conversational style of writing. People tell me they feel as if we’re sitting in the kitchen together chatting over coffee or tea.
Elisha: In the introduction, you say the path to peace begins with facing life’s stark realities. What do you mean by that?
Toni: I’m referring to some of the inescapable realities of the human condition. First of all, we’re in bodies and they get sick and injured and old. Coming to terms with this opens the door to Continue Reading →
Friday, September 18, 2015 · Leave a comment
As a Dad of 3 young boys I’m always interested in what the latest research says on how we should be introducing screens to our kids. Screens are a part of daily life now for almost everyone, they’re not going away, nor should they. Most adults don’t have a good handle on their screen use, so it’s easy to wonder how can we even be a model to our kids? Even so, knowledge is power and so I want to share some interesting research with you that gives some answers to the question:
Is it possible to overstimulate the developing brain?
Dmitri Christakis is a pediatrician, parent and researcher who had looked into this quite a bit. He reminds us that watching screens not too long ago wasn’t something we introduced to kids until later in life. At the moment, the average 5 year old is engaged with screens about 4 hours per day.
Additionally, the content they are exposed to is far more fast paced then ever which keeps them engaged, but can have major negative impacts on their ability to pay attention. Compare past programs like Mr. Rogers with current cartoon programs like Pokemon or Powder Puff Girls.
In a Tedx talk Christakis says, “Prolonged exposure to rapid change can pre-condition the mind to expect high levels of input which leads to inattention later on in life. “
Here’s the Tedx talk to watch (Warning: Images will not be rapidly changing, so if your brain has had prolonged exposure to screens you may not have the attention span to watch this – just kidding – sort of).