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The Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

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You’ve probably heard mindfulness and mediation are beneficial. Researchers are still uncovering connections between mindfulness practices and our state of physical, emotion, and spiritual health.


One finding that has big implications is that mindfulness reduces inflammation markers. Inflammation is one of the leading markers of disease. By reducing inflammation you can improve the overall health of your body.


Here are some other mindfulness-related findings scientist have recently shared:


  • Mindfulness is good for our hearts—in one study, people who practiced mindfulness mediation experienced a significantly greater reduction in their blood pressure than those who did a progressive muscle relaxation technique. In another study, mindfulness mediation was found to support heart health.

  • Mindfulness may decrease cognitive decline—a review of mindfulness studies indicates that mindfulness may mitigate cognitive decline.

  • Mindfulness may improve your immune response—a variety of studies have shown that mindfulness seems to lead to faster healing

  • Mindfulness may reduce cell aging—research shows that mindfulness meditation has an affect on the telomeres which reside at the end of our chromosomes, seeming to protect the telomeres and reduce the rate of cell aging.

  • Mindfulness may help reduce psychological pain—Jon-Kabat Zinn’s large body of research shows that mindfulness can help people cope with the pain, anxiety, depression, and stress that might accompany illness, especially chronic conditions.



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How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Overwhel

How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed can have many causes. Often, we experience overwhelm when we “have too much to do” or when we are placing high expectations on ourselves for not getting things done fast enough.


To counter the problem of too many things to do we can use clear communication with others about what we can and can not do. In speaking up for ourselves, we can create a new agreement. By committing to that new agreement, we can create more space and time for ourself so we can focus our attention and energy on what we’re doing rather than on dealing with juggling a myriad of tasks and people. By consciously addressing issues of overwhelm we can reduce our stress, create stronger relationships with others, and be more effective at what we’re doing (be that for work or home life).


Overwhelm can also occur for reasons other than having too much to do. Here are five common causes of overwhelm:


  1. Fear of things going wrong or not how we want them to go

  2. Fear of uncertainty 

  3. Not knowing all the answers for problems immediately upon finding a problem

  4. A racing mind that feels cluttered with thoughts

  5. Self-criticism and judgement


Here are some mindfulness strategies you can use to address feelings of overwhelm.


First, be kind with yourself. You feeling overwhelmed does not mean there is anything wrong with you. It just means things have built up. You likely have some feelings arising from over-riding your body’s desire to say no or not commit to as much and you are feeling like too much is going on. Face into and feel your feelings, and kindly be present with them so they can pass. 


Second, acknowledge the overwhelm, don’t try to force yourself to feel or experience something different. Instead, choose to honor your experience. By wanting to jump right from feeling bad to feeling good, you risk not giving your attention to your deeper experience. By giving your loving attention to your deeper experience you begin to make the big feelings no big deal, making it easier and easier for you to quickly transition out of overwhelm and into responsible action from a center place.


Also, bring yourself into the present moment through some suggested mindfulness practice. Some examples you could try on are a short meditation, a body-scan in which you feel the sensations in your body and name them, doing a breath-work practice, going for a walk and getting some fresh air, or putting your feet in the grass. Really, any practice which supports you being with what’s actually happening right now in your inner experience, and not in your head or a story about what’s happening, will support you countering feelings of overwhelm.


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A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind

A study of 2,500 people around the world concluded that we are most present to our current experience—and happiest—when being intimate with our partner (Killingsworth et al – Science, 12 Nov 2010). Our mind quiets, we feel our experience, and we engaged directly with another person during intimacy. We experience happiness during sex in part because we are present with the current moment. Imagine if we were that present with our work and with how we communicate with our loved ones. We have some tools and practices that we believe can help increase your presence.

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The researchers found that to be happy in general, we need to be present to the current moment often throughout our day. Being present is a form of mindfulness.


When our mind wanders we are not in the present moment. With a wandering mind we are not in touch with our deeper experience. We are off in a world of fantasy and thought, usually worrying or stressing about what could go wrong, how we can control a situation to get a desired outcome, or recycling a drama we’re trying to figure out and solve. A wandering mind often leads to feeling overwhelmed.


Being present to the moment is a mindfulness practice.


Here’s a few mindfulness practices you can use to support your being present to the current moment as you reduce your mind wandering:


Meditate. Meditation is a great way to practice focusing your attention and allowing thoughts to drift by like clouds, rather than trains you hop aboard. By meditating regularly—even in 5-10minute increments—you will train your mind to relax, let go of trying to control events, and allow yourself to be immersed in the present moment.


Activate your flow state. Flow state is a deeply focused way of being. In flow-state there is no mind wandering. In flow state you are totally in what you are doing. Most of us achieve flow state during physical activities. 


Stop multitasking. Multitasking trains your mind to bounce from thing to thing, to alway be on to the next thing before fully completing the current thing. It creates urgency and a state of alertness—based in fear—that is not physiologically compatible with being present.


Set down distractions. Regularly grabbing for your phone? Always have the TV on in the background? Turn off your devices and give your mind a rest from the constant barrage of stimuli calling for your attention. Instead of watching live TV with ads, try on streaming a nature documentary from an ad-free service. Take small steps to reduce what calls for your attention.

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A Healthy Connection to Anger

Many of us feel angry these days. There’s lot going on in the world we can’t control and it can be frustrating.


How you tune in with your anger and express it is important. If you don’t consciously choose to address your anger it can manifest into unpleasant experiences in your relationships as well as disease in your body.


The good news is you can develop a new relationship with your anger and other “negative” emotions. You can transform from an old paradigm of being at the affect of the world and your emotions to responding to what you experience. While we never want to dismiss our feelings we don’t want them to over-run our experience and control us.


Anger has lots of energy to it. You can learn how to be with your anger, get the messages that reside underneath your immediate story about what’s happening, and then utilize the energy of anger in service of creating what you really want to be experiencing in the world. Think about the anger of injustice, people protesting injustice, and new laws being written to eliminate the injustice.


So, how do you change your relationship to anger?


Here’s two practices from world-renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg to support you transforming your relationship with anger into a compassionate, healthy perspective:


1. Watch Your Anger Movie


This exercise is a thought experiment.

  • Bring up a time in your mind when you were really angry at yourself. 

  • Just bring it back and let it fill you. 

  • Notice what that feels like in your body. Notice what that story is. It’s like you’re watching the anger movie, and it’s interesting.


2. A Meditation to Treat Anger with Self-Compassion


A very common foundation practice involves resting your attention on the feeling of the breath. Just the normal, natural breath, wherever you find it most powerful—this is where we hone our relationship with our present experience, so we can connect to it as it is, without judgment.


  • Sit comfortably. You can close your eyes, or keep them open.

  • Notice your breathing. See if you can find the place where your breath is strongest for you, the clearest for you, e.g. where do you feel the rise and fall of your breathing most strongly? Maybe the nostrils, or the chest, or the abdomen.

  • Direct your attention towards one place. Bring your attention to that place and just rest your attention lightly.

  • Focus on one breath at a time. Just feel the sensations of the natural breath, one breath at a time.

  • Note when the inner voice surfaces. If your attention starts to wander, and you realize that, notice how you speak to yourself. Is it harsh? Is it punitive?

  • Gently return to the breath. If so, see if you can gentle that voice, and bring your attention back to the feeling of the breath.



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Exploring the Roots of Anger

Anger has something to teach us. The question is: are we willing to listen and learn?


A common misconception is that what angers us resides entirely outside ourselves. Something external threatens our safety and security or goes against what we want. We feel trespassed against, angry.


Often, we don’t see the things we are doing and saying as generated from a place of anger. Criticism and blame are forms of anger that we usually mentally justify. 


Anger points us to what lies underneath the anger, our underlying beliefs, our core values and what is important to us. 


If we can bring mindfulness to our anger, we can uncover what’s beneath it, learn the lessons, and transform our habit of anger into…



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