Change your awareness, change your physical response

Changing your awareness can change your physical response. Consider this: your body doesn’t know the difference between stress you imagine and real stress. If you are watching a suspenseful movie, your heartbeat may quicken and you may even find that beads of sweat are forming on your forehead. Your body is reacting to your mind’s cues.

But by bringing awareness to the content of your mind through meditation, you may be able to release tension in your body. If a woman is at the dentist thinking “I hate being here,” her body may be tensed up as a result of her thoughts. But by bringing awareness to her thoughts and to her body’s tension, she may be able to untangle mental and physical stress and bring her body to a more relaxed state – even though she doesn’t like being where she is.

Just as pulling aside the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz” revealed that the Wizard wasn’t so powerful, pulling aside the curtain on what the mind is thinking can help reduce the power of thoughts, and the related physical stress.

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The Irony of Getting Help for Anxiety

It’s ironic, isn’t it? Your anxiety may be getting in the way of getting help for your anxiety! Perhaps you are worried if you ask your doctor about it you will be perceived as abnormal, or weak, or any number of other negative connotations.

Consider taking up the practice of meditation as a starting point in dealing with anxiety. Meditation allows you to see more clearly, so that you can become aware of the stories you are telling yourself. If you can see that you are telling yourself a story about your doctor judging you negatively when you request help, ask yourself: What’s more important to me – what I believe about my doctor’s perceptions, or getting help for my anxiety? Another question to consider is this: If I feel so uncomfortable discussing issues with this doctor, can I find a different health-care professional that I feel comfortable with?

The practice of meditation can be as simple as sitting and noticing your breath for a couple minutes a day. Any time your mind wanders, gently bring your awareness back to your breath, even if it’s every few seconds. Meditation doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and best of all, it’s free!

reduce stress

Finding Happiness Within

If only (fill in the blank), then I’d be happy. Maybe your “blank” is making more money, shedding extra pounds, or having a different job. Yet, it’s a common myth to think that if these “if only” scenarios come true, then you’ll find happiness.

Here are some facts to debunk the “if only” myth:

1-The future is unknown. Who knows if more money, weight loss, or changing jobs will really create happiness? Although each of these has the potential to bring happiness, they also have the potential to create new stressors.

2-Everything is impermanent. Just because outside circumstances change, does not mean they will stay that way. Situations are not static; they are fluid.

3-Outside events are often beyond your control. Although you can control your actions, you cannot control the results.

Consider turning within to find happiness, as opposed to looking outside yourself. Meditation is one great way to begin this process. It’s accessible to most anyone, no special equipment is needed, and best of all, it’s free!

meditation

Quiet Your Mind for a Good Night’s Sleep

A great way to shut off your brain and relax your body to prepare for sleep is to do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise. Here are the directions:

Lie on your back and bring all your attention to your body. Begin a process of gently tightening and releasing each muscle group, starting with your feet and working your way upwards to the top of your head. Hold each muscle as tightly as you can for about 5 seconds, then release it completely and see if you can notice the difference between the muscle tightened and the muscle relaxed. Move onto the next muscle until you’ve relaxed your entire body.

Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the tightening and releasing of each muscle group.

This technique was developed by American physician Dr. Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920’s

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Shift to Positive Thinking!

Thinking negatively is often due to a narrow perspective. Just by widening your perspective and focusing on positive aspects of a situation, you can change negative thoughts to positive thoughts!

Consider Suzie. She hates putting utensils away once the dishwasher finishes its clean cycle. Every day she is annoyed  as she sorts the knives, forks, and spoons into their slots in the silverware drawer. One day she decides she doesn’t like feeling annoyed. She widens her perspective to one of gratitude for the hands that enable her to complete this task. Unlike her aunt who is debilitated with arthritis, Suzie recognizes she has dexterity in her fingers. Now, when she sorts the silverware she does so with a spirit of gratitude for the flexibility in her hands.

Whether you don’t like doing household chores, writing that monthly report, or doing any other number of tasks, thinking positively can simply be a matter of shifting where you place your attention.

the power of positive thinking

Mindfulness at Work: Take Time to Sharpen the Axe!

As the old saying goes, you have to take time out from chopping the tree to sharpen the axe. Since your mind is one of your main tools, it’s vital to keep it sharp. By pausing to take 2 minute mini-meditation breaks throughout the day, you are doing the axe-sharpening work. Yet, often the most difficult part is remembering to pause for your break.

Hang a reminder in your office space: Hang a picture of nature, or a beautiful sunset, or anything that reminds you to take a moment and pause. You could even schedule your breaks into your calendar.

Take a break. Here are three short practices to do at work:

1-Walk mindfully. Bring all your attention to the soles of your feet as they touch the ground. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your feet. You can do this while walking in the hallway, walking to the elevator, or anywhere else you have space to walk.
2-Breathe mindfully. Bring all your attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body. You may want to notice the coolness of the air as you breathe in, and its warmth as you breath out – or you may want to notice your chest rising and falling. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Count with each breath until you reach 40. (Or 50, or 60 …)
3-Listen to a short guided meditation. You can find a 2:11 audiio meditation on https://joyrains.com/meditation/guided-meditations/

By doing this axe-sharpening work, you are clearing your mind, and improving your focus for the tasks that lie ahead. Walking and breathing meditations are available to you anywhere and anytime. It just takes intention – and remembering!

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