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.


Science Points to How Mindfulness Helps Us Break Bad Habits

There has been a growing amount of evidence that mindfulness can help us kick our bad habits.

In a recent study, 63 participants who were addicted to stimulants received behavioral treatment for 12 weeks. Four weeks into the program they were randomly assigned to two groups – one group received mindfulness training targeted at cravings and urges and the other received health education. At the end of 12 weeks, researchers measured changes in participant’s use of stimulants, and their reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.

87% of the participants with major depression were no longer using stimulants at the end of the 12 weeks, versus only 67% of the health education group. One month later, 100% of the depressed patients were off of stimulants compared to 50% in the health education group.

How could this be?

Change happens through experience and community support, not as much through cognitive education.

Mindfulness helps slow us down and creates space from the cravings (desires) and urges (feelings) that can control our attention and decision making. The reality is the greatest “bad habit” we have is our thinking.

The snap judgment of whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair all happens faster than the blink of an eye and then leads to the behavioral bad habit. Mindfulness trains awareness of this and over time the actual craving or urge becomes a “wake-up call” in the moment to choose a different response.

A healthier response.

After we practice and repeat noticing the urges and cravings that span from cutting people off while they’re talking, to stress eating, to more intense and destructive addictive behaviors, our awareness starts to be more automatic. Our awareness of our choices also grows and so we actually expand our “cognitive flexibility” which is correlated with well-being.

On top of that, when we feel better, we also tend to be more resilient and so the spiral goes up!

A Breaking Bad Habit Exercise – 5 Steps

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Thoughts Are Not Facts (Practice)

thoughts-are-not-facts-infog-revised

So you’re waiting in the hallway with your mind spinning about how it’s been a pretty crappy day and life just doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction you’d like it to. Your friend walks by you and although you raise your hand to wave hi, she looks at you and just walks by.

Take a moment to sense what happened in your mind before reading any further.

Various thoughts may have arisen in connection with uncomfortable emotions:

• “What did I do wrong?”

• “I’m worthless.”

• “I knew it, nobody likes me.”

• “What the hell is wrong with her?”

• “What’s the point, really.”

OK…now let’s say your boss just told you what a fantastic job you’ve done and how she’s going to give you a 15% raise and an extra week vacation. This is great news…as your mind is spinning Continue Reading →


7 Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

No matter where you live in the world right now, for a certainty, anxiety is high with many of us. After the election there was a number attacks on mosques internationally and now there has been an onslaught of over 60 bomb threats at Jewish synagogues in the U.S. in January alone.

To me this means we need to not act out of anxiety and anger, but instead to calm our nervous systems, get some perspective and then choose how we’d like to respond to our emotional tumult.  For some it will be signing petitions, for others it may be creating awareness for cultural sensitivity, and yet others may be so overwhelmed they need more direct self-care and self-compassion.

One thing we know for sure is we are active participants of our health and well-being. The first thing we need to do is regulate our emotions, creating a sense of stability and control. From this place we are level headed, have perspective and can make wiser choices.

In my work I have found 7 Ways You Can Ease an Anxious Mind.

  1. Slow down – At the first sign of things speeding up – thoughts racing, heart pounding, breathing accelerating – move a little slower.
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Different Ways of Sitting in Meditation

Many people are often curious about different ways we can sit in meditation.

Below is a short informal video I made around sitting meditation. I would also add that you can fold pillows to create a cushion, sit on a Zafu Meditation Cushion (I prefer buckwheat filling, it sustains longer), a Meditation Bench that allows for a straight spine, or sit in a chair, comfortable, again with the spine straight to allow for an ease of breathing.

Play with what works best for you. Here’s to your practice!

Warmly,

Elisha

P.S. – If you’d like to go deeper into sustaining a practice of Mindful Living – A Course in Mindful Living is a global online mentorship program that will begin in Fall 2018.


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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