We are now many months into the Mindfulness Monday series, and have experienced a variety of mindfulness exercises. But as any long term practitioner will tell you, no matter how long you engage in mindfulness, revisiting the basics will always be needed to keep you skills shape. As such, this week will be our third session in our return to basics series.
Many of us have taken to indulging ourselves in greater quantities of our favorite healthy foods, or more calorie-dense treats over the last year. The holidays did not help. One evidenced-based means of reversing this process is through mindful eating, which is the topic of today’s exercise from the website MyLife and their Stop, Breathe, and Think series.
We are now many months into the Mindfulness Monday series, and have experienced a variety of mindfulness exercises. But as any long term practitioner will tell you, no matter how long you engage in mindfulness, revisiting the basics will always be needed to keep you skills shape. As such, this week will be our second sessions in our return the basics, with another fundamental element, progress muscle relaxation (PM&R).
We are now many months into the Mindfulness Monday series, and have experienced a variety of mindfulness exercises. But as any long term practitioner will tell you, no matter how long you engage in mindfulness, revisiting the basics will always be needed to keep you skills shape. As such, this week will be our first return the basics, starting with the most fundamental element, breathing. This week, our exercise is lead by John Davisi.
The events that took place January 6th in our nation’s capital have left many of us even further shaken after an already difficult 10 months of pandemic related stress and racial turmoil. These events were fueled by fear and anger, two emotions that, while natural, can be very dangerous when left unchecked or, in an even worse case scenarios, exploited. The problem is not the emotions themselves, of course, but the behaviors that we choose in reaction to them. Unfortunately, bad actions on one part are likely to spark fear and anger on the part of others who, in turn, engage in unhelpful behaviors in the face of their own emotions and so on, and so forth, until everyone is hurting. So what do we do?
Sadly, there is no simple solution. The problems laid before us have existing throughout much of our history and have been looming larger with each passing year. To really see change will require intervention at every level of society but, as with most things, we can start with ourselves. Today’s mindfulness exercise, known in the mindfulness community as “Loving-Kindness” is meant to help with that. So let’s begin.
Many of us begin each new year by making resolutions, and for many with whom we have spoken recently, these goals are related to things that did not happen in 2020, but that they hope will happen in 2021 as we learn to better control and live with COVID-19.
While goals are good, mindfulness is often more focused on intentions. There is a difference between goals and intentions, and there is a time and place for each.
Goals, by their nature, take us out of the present moment, which runs contrary to the fundamental principle of mindfulness. This usually happens by creating a discrepancy between what we are experiencing now and what we would like to happen, and this discrepancy can lead to feelings that we are not good enough until the discrepancy is resolved.
Intentions on the other hands are centered in the present and, by their nature, suggest that at the moment you set the intention, you have accomplished what you set out to do, almost like an instant success. An intention cannot fail, because it happens right now, and thus does not lead to a discrepancy. For example, if you set an intention as you begin a mindfulness practice along the lines of “I will just start the exercise and see what happens” you invite curiosity and remain open to whatever you find, rather than setting an expectation.
Another difference is that Intentions are generally internal, and related to our state, whereas goals tend to be focused on something external, and involve many things outside of the self. When we focus on intentions, our satisfaction rests only on ourselves rather than being contingent on something outside of ourselves.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that things external to us are never guaranteed, and so practicing setting intentions may help leave us in a better place to maintain a sense of normalcy and consistency when the world around us becomes full of uncertainty. So, while it is good to have some goals for 2021, let us also begin the practice of setting intensions, which will be the focus of today’s exercise.
For many of us, the new year means a resolution to change our eating habits and lose weight, often driven by the extra pounds put on during the holidays. While there is often an initial burst of efforts in the form of restrictive dieting or intense exercise, research tells us one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off it to start by building small, sustainable habits. In the world of Behavioral Weight Loss, one of those habits is mindful eating, and that is the skill we introduce today.
Before you hit play, be sure to grab a small piece of food to use during this exercise.
To manage the ever growing list of demands we are all facing these days, today we will be trying any exercise designed by New York Times bestselling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices Sharon Salzberg. Before we get started, grab a piece of paper or open a new word processing document on your computer, they will be needed for this exercise. Ready? Let’s jump in!
Tara Brach is a psychologist, author, and proponent of Buddhist meditation. She is a guiding teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. Dr. Brach is an engaged Buddhist specializing in the application of Buddhist teachings and mindfulness meditation to emotional healing. She has authored books on these subjects including Radical Acceptance, True Refuge and Radical Compassion. Today, she leads us in an exercise of Opening and Calming.
In an ongoing effort to help you incorporate mindfulness into your existing daily routines, this week’s exercise focuses on one of the most basic and common activities of the day, standing. Recognizes the many demands on your time, this is also a brief exercise, clocking in at exactly 5 minutes. To that end, let’s jump right in!
2019 data from the American Psychological Association found that 38% of Americans reported increased levels of stress over the holidays, while data from Healthline suggests those number may be as high as 62%. With many unable to be with family and observe usual traditions, we can expect those numbers to increase in 2020. Psychologists are offering a number of ways to address this, including creating new holidays traditions, connecting with family virtually, and perhaps most importantly, focusing on self-care. We have discussed the role of gratitude in promoting self-care and overall good mental health in previous Mindfulness Monday posts, but its importance cannot be understated. Noting its importance, and as we approach a day meant to put giving thanks front and center, this week’s exercise again focuses on cultivating gratitude.
From all of us here at the RRT, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving.