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.
Friday, September 16, 2016 · 1 Comment
I haven’t met many people who say they wouldn’t enjoy feeling more relaxed or even being able to relax-on-demand. The good news is that according to a study published in the journal Nature, learning how to get better at relaxing, not only feels good, but increases our brain’s ability to remember new information (including strengths of mindfulness, compassion and joy).
The researchers in this study recruited eight epileptic volunteers who were shown 100 photos and then 30 minutes later were shown 50 of the same and 50 different photos. They then had to tell the researcher which photos they had seen before and which they had not.
While the participants were using their memory, the researchers used electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes to record electrical activity in the area of the brain where memories are formed.
The findings showed that recognition was highest when participants were in a relaxed state (referencing “theta waves”).
Okay, it’s not necessarily news that we learn better when we’re more relaxed, so why does this matter?
It matters because at this point in time, we happen to live in a petri dish of overstimulation and fractured partial attention on a daily basis. The way we’re living right now stresses out our nervous systems making it really difficult for any new learning (mental or behavioral) to really stick.
Some people think mindfulness meditation is the answer – a tool that is meant to actively relax us. But no, it’s meant to help us cultivate awareness so we can make wise choices, which may be to Continue Reading →
Thursday, September 1, 2016 · 3 Comments
Enjoy these 11 Ways to bring more mindfulness (and happiness) into your daily life.
1. Eat Slightly Slower
With the speed at which we do most things today, eating can easily become just another thing to cross off your to-do list. The next time you eat, try slowing down—you’ll pull more enjoyment out of your food, feel more satisfied, and your digestive system will thank you.
2. Honor the Elements
Every piece of food we eat has its own rich origin story, which we usually don’t think about. Next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment to acknowledge everything that went into the food on your plate. Consider the people who made it, bought the ingredients, stocked the store shelves, delivered it, harvested it, and all the natural elements of sun, rain, soil, and wind that allowed it to grow.
3. Cook with Love
Even if you’re just making a sandwich, food tastes a lot better when we put a little love into it. Pay attention to the preparation of your food, think about who’s going to eat it, and say in your mind, “May this food help you be strong, healthy, and happy.”
4. Take a Trip
Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Break from routine, try ethnic foods from different regions of the world and imagine, even if just for a moment, that the food is transporting you there for a mini vacation in your mind.
5. Try Something New
Novelty is the spice of life (and a source of healthy neuroplasticity), so be adventurous and reach outside of your comfort zone. Be bold. Push yourself to try something you never thought you’d like—you never know, you just might be pleasantly surprised!
6. Start from Scratch
Most of us eat the same foods week to week for convenience and taste. And that’s okay. See if you can approach a familiar food with a sense of curiosity: Imagine it’s the first time you’ve ever eaten this food; what new sensations or flavors do you notice?
7. Eat Local, Be Respectful
Fruits and vegetables don’t grow at the grocery store. Get to know where your food comes from by visiting a local farm (or at least a farmers market)—not only will you feel more connected to what you eat, but as a rule food tastes better when it’s fresher. For those of us who eat meat, it can be tricky to figure out where the meat came from and how the animal was treated. Whenever possible, buy from companies you know treat animals respectfully.
8. Use Your Nose (and any other senses that apply)
Our sense of smell has a lot to do with how food tastes. Before eating, pause for a moment to take in the aroma of the food. What scents can you pick up? Does a memory emerge? Take a second look, what colors do you see? Then take a bite and see how much richer the experience can be.
9. Just Eat
When we eat we are often “doing” something else at the same time (working, looking at a device, talking with someone, reading, etc.), which takes away from tasting and fully enjoying the food. See if you can, for at least one meal or snack this week, just eat.
10. Have a Communal Meal
Since the dawn of time people have made it a point to “break bread” together. Invite people over for a special dinner, have a potluck, or go out to a restaurant. Feel the connection grow.
11. Surf Your Urges
We have all been prone to want something that isn’t good for us—for many of us it happens more often than we’d like to admit. Try an experiment: Next time you are craving something you know isn’t healthy for you, set a timer for 20 minutes and then check back in to see if you still want it. That space can often invoke perspective that will help you make a more mindful decision.
Originally published in Mindful Magazine Dec’ 2015
Thursday, August 11, 2016 · 10 Comments
To be human is to be in relationship with difficult people.
The reality is if all the difficult people in our lives felt deep kindness in their hearts, they would cease to be difficult people. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Peace in oneself, peace in the world.”
Aside from learning how to create a calm and stable mind, one of the months in my 6-month global online program A Course in Mindful Living (coming early October, 2016) is spent entirely on learning how to realize the power of compassion and connection in our lives formally and informally. This not only impacts us, but the people around us, and the emotional contagion of it can create immensely beneficial ripple effects.
There’s an informal practice that I’ve been doing for a while that is so simple and yet so impactful in working with difficult people and also bringing a sense of balance and perspective in the moment, it’s almost shocking to me. I live in Los Angeles, California which is well known as a city with one of the highest degrees of traffic. If we were to be able to peek into the average LA driver’s brain I think you’d see a hyperactive amygdala and most of the blood flow moving out of the prefrontal cortex. In other words, LA drivers can be a large group of difficult people with emotions and stress running high.
One day while I was driving here I was cut off by some sports car who seemed to be speeding weaving in and out of the car lanes. My teeth locked together and my shoulders tensed and what went through my mind is only appropriate on HBO.
In that moment I realized how tense I was and likely how out of control that driver was. It made me think of all the cars on the road and how many people were very likely tense in their cars.
That simple recognition sparked the beginning of something important.
My shoulders dropped a bit and the question arose, “What is it that I’m actually needing right now?” The word “ease” came to mind.
So I said…
Tuesday, August 2, 2016 · 3 Comments
Lately I’ve had a lot of aggravation in my heart.
Right now there seems to be so much turbulence and violence, verbal and physical, in the world. On top of that, because our brains’ are wired with a negativity bias, we’re automatically drawn to the fear, anger, and turbulence. The media knows this and so they keep updating their pages with new stories about negative things.
The cycle is vicious, depressing and contagious, leading to more anger, fear and reactivity.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Our hearts don’t need to be aggravated anymore, instead they need to be touched and soothed, acknowledging the pain and opening up to a vision of a brighter future.
Here is a wonderful family’s rendition of singer, songwriter Matisiyahu’s song One Day.
Monday, August 1, 2016 · Leave a comment
We all want to be happy, undeniably.
For some people happiness comes easier than others, but what we’re starting to understand is that happiness, that sense of connection and ease of appreciating the good moments and being more graceful and resilient during the difficult ones, is a skill and strength that we can all build.
Here are Five Simple Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life
(Note: Set all judgments aside when you read this, practice them for yourself and let your experience be your teacher).
- Practice happiness for other people’s happiness – When you see someone doing good things for themselves like exercising, laughing with a group of friends, or experiencing an accomplishment, practice being supportive to them in your mind. Say things like “good for you for taking care of yourself” or “glad you’re having a moment of joy,” smile in your mind at them or just say “Yes!”
- Practice non-violent communication toward yourself – We’ve known for a long time we’re our own worst critics and the way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on how we feel. Being a little self-critical is okay, but most of us experience it all too regularly. That has to be nipped in the bud as a practice. See if you can label any of that self-judgment and in that moment flip it to actively thinking about things you like about yourself.
- Continue Reading →