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, December 15, 2016 · Leave a comment
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!
Thursday, December 1, 2016 · 1 Comment
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?
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 · Leave a comment
A little while ago I led the Sunday Morning drop-in meditation at The Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles. In this particular drop-in I led one of the early meditations in A Course in Mindful Living. In the course you have the option of doing 10, 20, or 30 minute versions of this practice. In this meditation, the intention is to play with the balance of being deeply relaxed, yet completely awake to the moment.
For now, sit or lie down and enjoy this practice!
P.S. – A Course in Mindful Living is a 6-Month online mentorship training program and it starts January, 2017. Registration is open NOW!
Monday, November 21, 2016 · 5 Comments
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:
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
Thursday, November 17, 2016 · Leave a comment
How we start the morning often sets the stage for how the rest of the day unfolds. Of course life throws us curve balls in the middle of the day, maybe you get a stressful email or someone rear ends you with their car or you lost that deal that you were looking forward to. Anything can happen in the present moment, but how we start our day can often affect how we greet those challenges.
Here are four tips to start your day that will help you with the inevitable ups and downs that you get handed.
It’s good to begin the day simply noting where you are starting the day from. How is your body, what emotions are present, is your mind calm or already racing off to work? If you’re lying in your bed, you just note that, getting a sense of the body feels comfortable or tense. Are you feeling calm, anxious, annoyed, or maybe neutral? What is on your mind?
Here’s a 2-minute video to give it a go:
Prime Your Mind for Good
After a brief mindful check-in, one way of inclining your mind toward resiliency and even opening up to the good of the day is to consider an intentional gratitude practice. What in your life right now do you have to be grateful for? It could be something simple, like waking up on the right side of the bed, to having a roof over your head, to having a good cup of coffee in the morning. Just practice inkling your mind to the good in life.
Bring Presence to the Morning Activities
When you’re in the shower, be in the shower, not solving problems at work already. When you’re making breakfast for you or your family, consider the intention of that being to take care of yourself and others through the day. Put some love into your food. If there are pets or other family members in the house, before you leave make sure to say an intentional goodbye, looking into their eyes
Red Light Practice
As you drive to work use red lights as an opportunity to just check in, pressing the reset button if traffic has got you flustered or just using it as an opportunity to get centered and focus on what matters. You can make the choice to listen to your favorite music, intentionally plan the day out in your mind, or just have a quiet drive for a change. If you take public transportation you can do the same thing every time the bus, train, or subway stops. If you work from home, try this before turning on your computer. Exposing yourself to choices and acting on them just feels good and primes your mind for the rest of the day that you have choices in how you want to respond to situations.
Try these four things each morning as an experiment to see how your life changes.
Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy