Blog

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.


A Wise Approach to Taking in the News

In this day and age global news is everywhere. We get it from traditional news stations, social media, or just alerts from friends, family and colleagues.

The news always seems to come in the form of headlines that are meant to stimulate our nervous systems. This is so our eyes will stare more often and longer at the screen and they can charge more money for their ads. It’s pure economics.

We also have become accustomed to reading news in smaller bytes which means we usually jump from the headlines into a judgment or opinion and begin sharing it with other people prior to really investigating the story.

Shoshanna Goldstein, who has assisted me at Kripalu during my Uncovering Happiness Retreats and her husband John Tedesco, reminded me recently of a very important practice when it comes to a mindful (and necessary) way to engage news that I think would not only serve us individually in keeping our nervous systems balanced, but could help our culture as a whole.

Here it is:

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Are You Harboring Weapons of Mass Distraction?

You may have already realized that the geniuses behind many of the apps and media websites that we visit daily have crafted their apps to play on our anxious and addictive tendencies. Why? Because the more frequent and longer our eyeballs stay on a page means they can sell advertisements for more $$$.

Does it matter that it makes us more distracted, listen less to the people around us or increase mortality rates for car accidents?

Take a moment and watch this brilliant short video…you’ll love the graphics and the artistic spoken word.

So what does it mean to spend our time well? Or maybe a better question is what does it mean to be more intentional with our attention?

At this point, most of our brains have been trained by the tech’s environmental cues to jerk over to it the minute we either hear it, see it or feel it. Is it Time Well Spent to get sucked into 30 Continue Reading →


Charting the Course for Mindfulness: An Interview with Everyday Mindfulness and Elisha Goldstein

In this interview I sit down with Gerard Evans of Everyday Mindfulness to discuss what we need (and is currently missing) in the secular mindfulness field to help make mindfulness meditation stickier. Enjoy!

Warmly,

Elisha

PS – If you want to bring this alive in your life, learn more about a next level global mentorship program – A Course in Mindful Living. Starts October 2, 2017.


The Relational Neuroscience Behind How to Change a Habit for Good

Most of us walk around in this world in a trance with the delusional belief that we are only autonomous beings that are completely acting with free will. However, many scientists agree that we are interdependent with our environments and our brains are constantly making snap judgments based on internal and external cues.

You have recall this quote by Albert Einstein:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

The notion of willpower, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or manning up fails to take the psychological and scientific realities into mind. Alcoholics Anonymous has it right, if you’re addicted to substances you need to get them out of the house and begin to change your relationships. This was certainly my experience with my own struggle with substances years ago.

Considering the impact of our environments on our ability to be happy and make the changes we want to make, can drastically facilitate more adherence to whatever habits you’re trying to break or create.

Years ago, UC Berkeley Researcher Marian Diamond conducted a study where she randomly put mice in a few different cages. One had toys and playmates, one had playmates and one had neither. After a few weeks, they found that the brains of the mice that had toys and playmates had thicker cerebral cortices than the other two. This part of the brain is associated with higher order functions like cognitive processing. In fact, the one without toys and playmates showed the thinnest layer.

This is just to say that our environments not only impact our behavior, but also impact our brains (which impact our behavior).

So what’s the secret sauce?

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Worrying Less in 5 Steps

Worrying Won't Stop the Bad Stuff from Happening it just stops you from enjoying the good.

Worrying Less in 5 Steps

We’ve all heard the saying that in life there are ups and down and there is the classic eastern saying that life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. With this there’s the wisdom that all things come and go, but the brain has a funny way of amplifying the sorrows and minimizing the joys for good evolutionary reasons. Whenever the brain perceived something as “bad” it starts to worry about it. But often times there is no real utility to the worry, it only serves to dig us into a deeper hole and blinds us to the joys that might be waiting around the corner.

Here is one of the best cartoons I’ve found that says it like it is:

Worrying Won't Stop the Bad Stuff from Happening it just stops you from enjoying the good.

Illustration by Charles Schulz

There really is no way to cure worrying, but we can learn to get better and better at recognizing it and gently guiding ourselves back to a sense of perspective and what matters.

1. Soften your understanding of worry

The utility of worry is to try and anticipate and avoid any potential dangers and to keep us safe. It’s the brain trying to protect us and so worrying certainly has its place and time. But often times worrying only serves to ramp up our nervous system and kick us into an imbalanced place that only leads to more worrying. The brain has good intentions, but it leads us down a destructive vicious cycle.

2. Allow/Accept the feeling

Worrying usually arouses the feeling of fear or anxiety. In this mindful step, we’re simply acknowledging that this feeling is here. Calling it out. We want to do the opposite of resist it, because what we resists persists. So instead we practice allowing it to be as it is. Here you are just saying to yourself, “allowing, allowing, allowing.”

3. Feel into it with kindness

Now we have the opportunity to deepen our awareness and investigate the feeling. Here you may choose to put your hand on your heart or wherever you feel the sensation in your body. This is one way of signaling to the brain a sense of love or kindness to the feeling which may shift it all by itself. The brain also has to map the sensation of the touch with is inversely correlated with mental rumination, turning the volume down on negative thinking.

1. As you feel into it you might ask, “What does this feeling believe?” Does it believe you are unlovable, unworthy, or perhaps that if you allow it to be, it will consume you?

2. Ask the question, what does this feeling need right now? Does it need to feel cared for, to feel secure, to feel a sense of belonging?

3. Whatever the answer, see if you can plant these as seeds in yourself. For example you can plant the seeds of intention saying, “May I feel safe and secure, may I be free from this fear, may I feel a sense of belonging.”Make this personal to whatever your needs are.

4. Expand awareness and wishes to all people

Whatever the worrying is about, it’s important you know you’re not alone. Feeling vulnerable is part of the human condition and millions of people struggle with the same source of vulnerability that you experience. But when we’re feeling vulnerable with anxiety it often times is all about us, we need to also impersonalize the experience and get outside of ourselves.

You can do this by imagining all the other people who struggle worrying and wish them all the same intentions that you just wished yourself.

For example, May we all feel a sense of safety and security, May we all be free from the fear that keeps us stick in a perpetual cycle of worry, May we all feel that sense of belonging, etc…

5. Repeat steps one through four over several thousand times.

If you notice, steps one through four spell the acronym SAFE so you can easily remember what it is and what it’s for. As you intentionally practice this over and again, in time you will notice that you start to become less reactive to the worried mind, more compassionate with yourself as it arises, and even have perspective that this worrying is part of the human condition and you are not alone.

We we were able to turn the volume down on worrying in our lives, what would be there instead? For many people, it’s a sense of spaciousness, ease and joy.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy

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