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Mindfulness and Anxiety

Mindfulness practice, at its core, is the opposite of an anxious mind.

What Is Mindfulness?

“There have been many tragedies in my life, but most of them have not happened.” —Mark Twain

Anxiety lives in fears of the future that haven’t happened yet. How often does what you worry about actually happen? Take a second to reflect on the last spiral of worry that took over you. While bad things do happen, the odds are that it was much worse in your mind than what happened or what may happen.

The truth is, most of what we worry about never happens. We’re hardwired to be perceiving and responding to threats. It’s what has kept us alive evolutionarily; other mammals can fight with fangs and claws, but we are “thinking mammals.” We can hardly spend a few moments without thinking. This makes sense, as it’s what has kept us alive. This often causes an emergency response, despite the veracity of the actual threat.

Fear (the core of anxiety, really) is our body’s ancient response to perceived peril, no matter how negligible it actually is. It can present itself as a stress-related physical symptom, making us desperate to get rid of it. This constant state of worry and threat-scanning and detection can wear us down. This can make us avoid any danger signs, even when they often are just signs.

Unfortunately, this is often a trap. What we constantly avoid, we strengthen (i.e., the confrontational conversation or passing by the area where you were robbed), reinforcing its danger, no matter how harmless it may be and usually is.

Our propensity to plan, especially when it stems from anxiety, can also easily become excessive and counterproductive, taking us away from the pleasure and richness of the moment, the only time we can actually feel joy, happiness, pleasure, and peace. We’re also conditioned by capitalism to look for the next thing, taking us away from the now, and everything is usually OK right now unless it’s an emergency or crisis. This is where mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness practices rewire the brain toward savoring the present moment, instead of dwelling on anxiety, which is often living the state of perceived fears. In mindfulness practice, we learn the wisdom in prioritizing. Things that we’re worrying about often aren’t urgent.

It’s easy to forget you have time to deal with many of the stressors you chronically worry about, and you’ve dealt with them well your whole life! In fact, thinking about bad things happening is worse than just dealing with them! Showing up 20 minutes late to the event wasn’t that bad after all, right?

Worry can also, covertly, feel enjoyable; it’s easy to worry even when everything is OK now. I’m personally an expert at this. The mind can think that worry is what prevented something bad from happening, which can mistakenly reinforce it, despite its factual falseness. Worry often tricks us into thinking we’re “taking action” to prevent danger, when we may actually be reinforcing it.

Mindfulness practice helps you see and prevent these mental pitfalls from decreasing your unnecessary suffering and worrying. What can be better than that? When stuck in traffic, do you want to be fuming like everyone else, or kicking back, relaxing, at ease, savoring life’s blessings? Mindfulness reveals this choice for you, no matter how elusive it felt prior.

Jason Linder, MA, LMFT, is a licensed bilingual (Spanish-speaking) therapist and doctoral (PsyD) candidate at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego.

Feb 08, 2020
Mindfulness-Definition-Square

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?
The modern mindfulness is the brainchild of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor emeritus of medicine. He defines it as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”

In simpler terms, mindfulness helps sustain attention to feelings, emotions and thoughts in the present moment without getting carried away by them. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, and from an ancient tradition, it has evolved into a modern mind training. It is a quality that some people possess naturally, but it can also be trained and improved. Mindfulness is the bridge in between our mind and present moment that helps us understand and better react to stressful, overwhelming situations.

Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness is a powerful practice that can help with improving wellbeing in terms of physical and mental health. From the physical point of view, mindfulness training can help with stress relief, lowering blood pressure, reducing pain and improving sleep. Mindfulness gives people a larger perspective on life, clear thinking and patience. Our minds don’t have switch off buttons for unwanted thoughts; however, it is possible to train yourself to control them. Systematic training improves focus attention and concentration. It results in having more energy to become fully engaged in important activities of everyday life instead of getting carried away by worries and intrusive thoughts. Mindfulness meditation helps develop better resilience and can help people recover faster from tension and stress.

Scientific foundation
Research on mindfulness has been expanding rapidly in the last decades. The evidence for the benefits of mindfulness is promising and proven in several trials with clinical and social applications.

People have their mind wandering almost 50 percent of the time they are awake. That means their mind is not where their body is; instead, they’re thinking about things that happened in the past, could happen in the future or might never happen at all – all while being involved in many other daily tasks. Evidence suggests that a wandering mind leads to unhappiness.

However, the brain can be trained to sustain focus and attention in the present moment. Introducing mindfulness training in daily routines has the potential to improve mental and overall health treatment outcomes.

Clinical applications of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) have proven to be effective in several studies and trials. Researchers report that MBCT can decrease the severity of depression symptoms of currently depressed patients in just eight weeks. A number of trials show a positive effect of mindfulness on brain changes and immune responsivity, and even influence the healing process of skin diseases related to psychological stress.  In the context of mental health, mindfulness encourages people to develop a more compassionate and accepting relationship with their own thoughts and feelings.

Approach
There are many mindfulness techniques, but all of them focus on the same: paying attention and accepting your thoughts on purpose, without judgement. You can practice mindfulness where and when you want; it doesn’t necessarily need to be a lengthy process and can take a couple of minutes – on your break from work, for example.

Mindfulness starts with posture. You can choose whether you want to sit comfortably, lay down or even walk, but you need to have your back straight. You continue with breathing exercises and scanning your body. By focusing on your physical sensations, you can switch to focusing on sensory aspects as sounds, smells and touches. It’s important to observe the feelings and thoughts you’re having without judgement and let them go.

This focusing exercise is just an example of many meditation techniques. Guided meditations are popular and can be easily accessed on many resources online.

Written by Ana Maria Sedletchi     December 9, 2019
 
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3 Steps to Deepen Your Mindfulness Practice

Let’s imagine that you’re a reasonably healthy adult with all of your basic needs met, people who care about you in your life, and things you enjoy doing available to you … you should be pretty happy, right?

It turns out, even in this incredibly lucky scenario, most of us still struggle — stress, anxiety, frustration, overwhelm, letting ourselves and others down, disappointment, hurt feelings, anger, feeling like you’re always behind … it all creates a sense of unease that is not aligned with our fortunate circumstances.

So how do we go about enjoying life, finding a sense of peace and calm and purposeful focus?

I’ve found mindfulness practices to be the key. They’re not a magical solution to anything, but they do ease the suffering we experience in our lives.

Those of you who who have practiced meditation for awhile know what I’m talking about. Let’s look at a few ways to deepen into the practice, if you’re interested.

Step 1: Drop Into Direct Experience of the Moment
Most of us are caught up in our thoughts about our lives, ourselves, other people, the world around us … most of the time. We’re stuck in a movie in our minds, a storyline or narrative about the situation. This causes all of our trouble — frustration, disappointment, stress, anxiety, overwhelm, unhappiness.

The practice here is to drop into the direct experience of the moment. Not the thoughts about the moment (though those will come up), but the actual sensations happening in the moment.

You might notice the sensations present in different parts of your body, including how your breath feels, but also how your torso feels, seeing what you can notice in your neck and head, in your arms and legs. You might notice the sensation of air on your skin, or ground beneath your feet. You might notice sounds or light or colors or shapes.

Whenever you notice yourself caught up in thoughts or ideas, in a narrative or fantasies … drop back into the direct experience of the present moment. Experience everything with beginner’s mind, as if this were the first time you ever experienced this before.

This is a practice that you can get better at, returning again and again to direct experience. You move from concepts and thoughts and ideas and storylines, to direct experience. Just observe, just notice, just be curious.

If you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, try this and see if it shifts anything for you. See if you’re caught up less and present more.

Practice this for at least a month (though it’s really a lifetime practice).

Step 2: Bring a Sense of Friendliness Towards the Experience
After you’ve practiced dropping into direct experience … you might try a new way of relating to that direct experience.

Instead of just noticing as an impartial observer … see if you can bring a feeling of warmth, friendliness, gentleness, kindness, even love to your relating to this direct experience.

For example, if you see someone on the street, you can just notice that there’s a person there … or you can feel a friendliness towards them. Welcoming them into your experience like you would welcome someone warmly into your house.

In the same way, you can bring a friendliness and warmth and welcoming towards anything you notice in your direct experience. You notice the sensation of air on your skin, and you might feel friendly towards these sensations. The same with anything you hear, see, smell, touch. The same with how you notice nature all around you, or sensations in your body.

It’s a continuation of the practice of direct experience, but with a shift in how you relate — it’s unconditional friendliness to anything you bring your awareness towards.

Practice this for at least a month as well.

Step 3: Drop the Sense of Self, and Motivation from Gain & Loss
Once you’ve practiced the two steps above, you’ll be grounded in a view of reality that is much more free of conceptions and storylines, more open and unconstrained.

The next step is to notice that when you’re in direct experience, there is no self. I mean, there’s a body and brain, but it’s not separate from everything around it — it’s interconnected, not identifiable as something distinct from the world around it. Just as you might pick a drop of water in the ocean and say, “This is a separate drop of water!” … it’s only separate in our minds, in concept. In reality, it’s not separate but a part of everything around it.

This might sound pretty philosophical, but what is very real is noticing whether everything you do is motivated by a desire for gain or desire to avoid a loss. For example, you might want someone’s praise or affection (gain), or you might want to avoid them getting mad at you (loss). You might be scrolling through and posting in social media looking for validation (gain) or worried about missing out (loss). You might buy something because of how you think it will make you look or feel (gain) or because you’re feeling worried or insecure about a situation (loss).

All of these actions motivated by a sense of gain and loss are completely normal — we all do it. But they all come from a sense of separate self — we are trying to gain something for the self, trying to avoid a loss for the self. Helping this separate self get what it wants or avoid what it doesn’t want becomes our biggest activity and goal in life. It is what makes us frustrated or angry when we don’t get what we want, or hurt or sad when we get what we don’t want, or anxious or stressed when we might gain or lose something.

Being motivated by gain or loss is what causes our struggles in life. And that stems from the sense of separate self.

What’s another way? Dropping the sense of separate self. Just being present with direct experience. Feeling a friendliness and even love for everything and everyone around us. And then being motivated by that love — I act from a place of love and compassion for everyone around me (myself included, but not only myself).

Try it! It’s an incredible practice. Be directly with your experience, dropping your sense of self, of separateness from everything around you. Start to appreciate how connected you are to the world — you breathe in air from the world, eat food from the world, drink water and get information and heat and clothes and shelter and love from everything and everyone around you. You’re completely interconnected and interdependent. Dropping the conception of self, like you drop other concepts, return to direct experience.

And then watch your actions and see if they’re motivated by a desire for gain or desire to avoid loss. See if you can come from a place of love and compassion for everyone in the world, every living being. It’s a really powerful place to be moved from.

 
BY LEO BABAUTA
 


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Patience

Don’t Let Frustration Get the Better of You

Patience is a virtue, and there’s a reason – it’s a tough skill to master.

Imagine, for instance, that you’re waiting for someone to finish compiling a report that you need for a meeting. You’re already late, you can feel your body getting tense, and you’re starting to get angry. Suddenly, you lose your temper and yell at the person for putting you behind schedule. You can tell that they’re shocked and upset by your outburst, but you can’t help it.

We likely all lose our patience occasionally. But doing so frequently or inappropriately can harm your reputation, damage your relationships, increase stress, or escalate a difficult situation.

In this article, we explore different kinds of patience and how they apply in the workplace. We also examine the strategies that you can use to develop and nurture this essential quality.

What Is Patience?
Patience is the ability to stay calm while you’re waiting for an outcome that you need or want. According to research by psychologist Sarah Schnitker, it comes in three main varieties: interpersonal patience, life hardship patience, and daily hassles patience.

Let’s look at these in more detail:

1. Interpersonal Patience
Interpersonal patience is patience with other people, their demands and their failings.

You may consider some people to be slow learners, hard to understand, or even downright unreasonable. Or, they may have bad habits that drive you crazy. But losing your patience with them will be of no benefit, and it may make matters worse.

Patience and understanding toward others is essential when you’re onboarding new staff, or when you’re delegating tasks. It’s also a huge help in dealing with difficult co-workers or managers, and it’s central to high-quality customer service.

This type of patience is active. Listening skills and empathy  are vital, and, when you’re dealing with difficult people , you need the self-awareness  and emotional intelligence  to understand how your words and actions affect the situation. You can’t just wait it out and hope for the best.

2. Life Hardship Patience
We could use the term perseverance to sum up life hardship patience. It can mean having the patience to overcome a serious setback in life, like waiting long term for the outcome of a lawsuit, or for medical treatment. But it can also include your ability to work toward a long-term goal – whether it’s professional, such as a promotion, or personal, like getting fit or saving for a vacation.

Whatever the obstacle you have to overcome, it will likely require determination and focus  to achieve. And you will need to keep your emotions under control throughout the journey. These emotions can range from eagerness to get it done, to anger at the frustrations you encounter along the way – which can cause you to become demotivated.

3. Daily Hassles Patience
Sometimes you need patience to deal with circumstances that are beyond your control. These are your “life hassles.” Something as trivial as getting stuck in a traffic line, for instance, or waiting for a computer program to load.

You also need patience to get through those dull but unavoidable day-to-day tasks that don’t necessarily contribute to your personal goals. The ability to maintain self-discipline , and give a job – no matter how mundane – the attention to detail it needs, is a hallmark of patience.

Research suggests that people who can stay calm in the face of these constant, petty frustrations are more likely to be more empathic, more equitable, and to suffer less from depression.

The Benefits and Risks of Patience
In general, being patient means that you’re more likely viewed positively by your co-workers and managers (and your family and friends). You’ll likely be a better team worker, and more focused and productive.

If you’re often impatient, people may see you as arrogant, insensitive and impulsive. Co-workers may think that you’re a poor decision maker, because you make snap judgments or interrupt people. If you get a reputation for having poor people skills and a bad temper, others may even deliberately avoid working with you. As a result, not surprisingly, impatient people will unlikely be top of the list for promotion.

Of course, being patient doesn’t mean you should be a “pushover.” Far from it. Sometimes it’s OK to show your displeasure when people keep you waiting unnecessarily. So, ensure that you establish strong boundaries . But, be sure that you’re polite and assertive , never angry and aggressive.

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it open.
– Arnold Glasow, American humorist.

Understanding Impatience
Impatience has its roots in frustration. It’s a feeling of rising stress that starts when you feel that your needs and wishes are being ignored. In a modern environment where we’re accustomed to instant communication and immediate access to data, it’s a growing problem. But recognizing the warning signs can help you to prevent impatience from taking hold.

Impatience Symptoms
Impatience has a range of symptoms. Physical signs can include shallow, fast breathing, muscle tension, and hand clenching. Or you may find yourself restlessly jiggling your feet.

There may be changes in your mood and thoughts, too. You may become irritable, angry, or experience anxiety or nervousness. Rushing to do things and making snap decisions – the symptoms of hurry sickness  – are clear signs that your impatience is gaining the upper hand.

Impatience Triggers
If you experience these feelings and symptoms, try to identify what has caused them. Many of us have “triggers” for impatience. These could be specific people, words or situations.

Make a list of things that cause you to become impatient. If you’re having trouble identifying your triggers, stop and think about the last time you felt this way. What caused it?

If you’re not sure, ask your co-workers (or your friends and family) about your impatience. Chances are, they know what gets you “wound up.” The 5 Whys  technique can also aid you in identifying the root cause of an issue.

Try keeping a journal  to record when you start to feel impatient. Write down the details of the situation, and why you’re getting frustrated. This can help you to examine your actions and to understand why you respond in this way.

You won’t always be able to avoid the triggers that make you impatient. But you can learn to manage your reactions to them.

Tip:   Many people become impatient due to physical factors such as hunger, dehydration or fatigue . Bear this in mind the next time you start to feel impatient. A simple remedy might be a snack and a glass of water!

Managing the Symptoms of Impatience
When you feel impatient, it’s important to get out of this damaging frame of mind as quickly as possible. Try to develop strategies to deal with your impatience as you notice it.

Managing Physical Symptoms
Take deep, slow breaths, and count to 10. Doing this will slow your heart rate, relax your body, and distance you emotionally from the situation. Sometimes you might need a longer count, or to repeat the process several times.

Impatience can cause you to tense your muscles involuntarily. So, consciously focus on relaxing your body . Again, take slow, deep breaths. Relax your muscles, from your toes up to the top of your head.

Force yourself to slow down. Make yourself speak and move more slowly. It will appear to others as if you’re calm – and acting patient often makes you feel more patient.

Emotional Symptoms
Remember, you do have a choice about how you react to certain situations. You can choose to be patient, or not: it’s up to you. (Read our article, Managing Your Emotions at Work , to learn more about this.)

Challenge your negative assumptions, instead of letting your impatience build. Aim to reframe the circumstances in a more positive light. For example, people might not mind if a meeting is delayed, as long as you let them know in advance that you’re running late. There may even be benefits to the delay: understanding a developing situation more clearly, for example.

Warning:Uncharacteristic displays of impatience may be a sign of underlying problems such as stress , exhaustion or burnout . If you think this may apply to you, seek advice from a qualified health professional.

Being Patient With Other People
If your impatience causes you to react angrily toward others, read our article on Anger Management  to learn how to control this powerful emotion.

Practicing empathy can also enable you to defuse your impatience. Give the other person your full attention, and try to see beyond your own frustrations by imagining yourself in the other person’s position.

Remind yourself that impatience rarely has a positive effect – in fact, it may even interfere with the person’s ability to perform. Impatience will likely generate more conflict and stress, which will be counterproductive.

Although some people are naturally patient, the rest of us need to practice, for it to become a habit. Becoming more patient won’t happen overnight, but persistence can pay off!

Key Points
Patience is a vital quality in the workplace. It can reduce stress and conflict, lead to better working relationships, and help you to achieve your long-term life and career goals.
Many of us struggle with impatience. Learn to recognize the physical and emotional symptoms associated with it, and to identify the situations that trigger it.
When you understand the causes of your impatience, you can develop strategies to prevent or overcome it. These could include attending to your physical well-being by using deep breathing and relaxation techniques, and developing your empathy and emotional intelligence skills.

 

By the Content Team
 
source: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_78.htm 

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7 Strategies to Build Your Patience Muscles

Patience is one of those virtues that sounds simple from a distance. However, while the thought of waiting for something you want or need seems easy in theory, it is much more arduous in practice. When you’re actually faced with the obstacle, the entire concept of patience grows more challenging, and it can be difficult to improve patience in the moment.
This test of patience rings true not just for Type-A East Coasters like me, but also for special education teachers, speech therapists, and nurses – who drip with patience. At times, it’s not a muscle that’s easy to flex no matter who you are.
Some people have more patience for family and loved ones, while others find strangers actually easier to be patient around. For some, the smaller the obstacle, the less the patience – and for others, the opposite is true.
Whatever or whomever your trigger, patience is most difficult to muster up when you encounter a roadblock or waiting time between you and that something you want or need. Whether it’s as simple as:
  • The long line at the grocery store when you just want to get home with your groceries
  • The hold time when you want to speak to a customer service representative
  • The five minutes you must wait when your spouse is running late for dinner
  • Waiting for your computer to reboot
  • Traffic!
Or as BIG as:
  • Waiting for your doctor to call you with test results
  • Waiting to hear back about whether or not you got that promotion or dream job
  • Waiting for an investor’s offer on a business
No matter the gravity of the situation, mindfulness can help you practice patience. What is the link between mindfulness and patience? Let’s have a look:
Patience vs. Mindfulness
To understand the role mindfulness plays in being patient, let’s make sure we are all working off of the same definition of patience, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary means, “bearing pains or trials calmly and without compliant” and “steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.”
You can’t really practice patience if you’re not mindful – aware of the situation you’re in and your reaction to it. In the face of discomfort, inconvenience, or difficulty, which is an inevitable part of life on this planet, you must persevere calmly, steadily, and mindfully.
This may be easier in the face of some of the simple inconveniences, like waiting in line or in traffic, and can become much more difficult at the center of a very troubling or prolonged situation.
The good news is that even the most impatient people can improve patience. And there are ample opportunities to practice being patient, given the inevitable inconveniences, annoyances, and unplanned challenges that show up pretty much all the time. So you want to get better at patience? You must practice patience. Here are seven strategies you can use to build your patience muscles.
Pause and Breathe
If you use the time you must wait to take a few deep breaths, your nervous system will slow down instead of speed up. In some situations, by the time you have taken 10 deep breaths, your wait will be over. In others, these breaths will help to center you and invite a calmer reaction to the wait.
Stop Resisting
Have you ever noticed that when you meet an unplanned inconvenience or challenge with resistance, you are really thrown off – and your mood can turn sour and heavy? Everything becomes about overcoming and removing the challenge when you resist it.
On the other hand, when you meet an unplanned inconvenience or challenge with calmness, your mood remains steady and patient. This is the power in responding, rather than reacting to unwelcome circumstances. Most often, it is not external circumstances that make you upset, it is your reaction to those external circumstances that causes the greater dose of stress in life.
How do you control this when you’re at risk for getting impatient? The trick here is to reduce resisting experiences that come your way, where you are unable to affect change. Practicing acceptance does not necessarily mean you like, want, support, or endorse everything you cross paths with. Rather, it means you’re choosing to allow it to be there without resistance, when you can’t change it anyway.
In this way, practicing patience is to practice making your default reaction to accept what is with openness, rather than resist it. This does not mean you have to welcome the situation with open arms and enthusiasm – it just means that you avoid resisting it and let it happen within a neutral attitude.
Acknowledge the Effects of Impatience
In the moment, notice what is making you impatient and ask yourself:
  • Do I have control over the situation? If not, what do I have control over in this moment?
  • Is the feeling of impatience helping or exacerbating the impact of the situation?
  • What emotion or mood would be more helpful, instead of the impatience?
Look for the Silver Lining or Lesson
Get curious about the particular moment you are in. Is there anything about the challenging or inconvenient situation that may land a positive impact on your life? Is there anything positive that was not available to you before – and now is – now that this challenge has presented itself?
This may be include meeting someone new, discovering a new coffee shop, or having the opportunity to practice patience and exercise those muscles.
Use the Extra Time Wisely
Now that you have extra time in this moment, what will you do with it? Instead of focusing on the thing that is in your way, or the thing you are after, focus on something else you normally don’t have time for.
After all, how often do you find yourself with “extra time?” Probably not very often. Use that time to meditate, read an article, listen to a podcast, text something nice to a loved one, or practice gratitude.
Try a Mini Meditation
Take a time-out and practice a short meditation to help you calm any frustration or anger that may result from the situation you are in. Here are 10 mini meditations you can try.
Befriend the Situation
Assume that the obstacle before you was put in your way because you needed to slow down and take a break.
Watch your impulse to perceive the challenge before you as unfair or as bad timing. Instead, shake off any anger or frustration and take this as a cue that an old friend is reminding you that you need a moment to slow down and reset.
If you shift your thinking about the meaning of the obstacle, you’ll wind up arriving wherever you’re headed with a calmer, clearer mind and attitude.
Getting better at being patient will make your life (and the lives of those around you) easier and ultimately will make you a happier person. After all – adversity won’t be going away anytime soon – it’s part of the human experience and you can’t escape it. So you may as well learn to improve your patience and calmly endure the setbacks, difficulties, and unwelcome roadblocks along the way.


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The Practice of Letting Go

There are a number of times when our mind clings to something tightly, and it is rarely helpful:

  • I am right, the other person is wrong
  • That person is living their life in the wrong way, they should change
  • My preference is the best way, others are wrong
  • This is the thing I want, I don’t want anything else
  • I really don’t like that, it sucks
  • I should have that person in my life, loving me
  • I shouldn’t be alone, shouldn’t be overweight, shouldn’t be however I am, shouldn’t have this life

In all of these cases, and more, our minds are fixed in a certain viewpoint, and we often judge others. We complain. We are attached to what we want and what we don’t want.

It leads to stress. Unhappiness. Anger. Righteousness. Being judgmental. Distancing ourselves from others. Closed-offedness.

And it leads to being closed off to the beauty of this moment, as it is, full of openness and possibilities.

If you’d like to work on letting go, I would like to offer a simple practice.

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The Practice of Letting Go

You can actually practice this all day long, because even if we don’t realize it, we’re clinging and hardening and fixing upon viewpoints all day long.

Here’s how to practice:

  1. Start by realizing that you’re hardened. Notice that you are stressed, upset at someone, feeling like you’re right, complaining about someone or a situation, not open to other viewpoints, putting something off, avoiding, tensed. These are good signs that you are holding on, hardened in your viewpoint, fixed, attached, clinging. Get good at noticing this.
  2. Notice the tension in your body. It’s a tightening that happens from your stomach muscles, through your chest, into your throat, up to your forehead. Think of this as your central column, and it tightens up when you think you’re right, or someone else is wrong, or you really want something or don’t want something.
  3. Start to relax those tightened muscles. This is the heart of changing from holding on to letting go. Whatever is tight in your central column, relax. Try it right now. What is tight? Relax that. Soften.
  4. Open your awareness beyond yourself. Once you’ve done this (and you might have to repeat the relaxing, multiple times), you can open your awareness from just your own body and your self-concern, to the world around you. Become aware of the space around you, the people and objects, the light and sound. Open your awareness to the neighborhood around you.
  5. Become aware of openness & possibilities. With your mind opening, you can start to feel more open. Your mind is no longer closed, but has made space for possibilities. You are not fixated on one right way, but are open to everything. This is the beauty of not-knowing.
  6. Open to the beauty that is before you. Now that you are not fixated on rightness or your way or the way things should or shouldn’t be … you can take in the actual moment before you. You’ve emptied your cup, and made room for seeing things as they actually are, and appreciating the beauty of this moment, the beauty of other people, and of yourself.
  7. Step forward with a not-knowing openness. From this place of relaxing your fixed mind, of opening up … take the next step with a stance of not-knowing. You don’t know how things should be, let’s find out! You don’t know if you’re right or wrong, let’s explore! You don’t know the answers, you just hold the questions in your heart, and move into open possibilities.

It’s that simple. And of course, it takes a lot of practice. You can do this at any moment, but it’s helpful to have a short time of day when you set a reminder and then take a few moments to sit still and practice with whatever you’ve been clinging to today.

When we practice like this, we are shifting from our habitual patterns of self-concern and shutting out all possibilities, to openness and not-knowing, to unlimited possibilities and seeing the breath-taking beauty of the world in front of us.

BY LEO BABAUTA     FEBRUARY 4, 2019

zenhabits.net

Obstacles That Stop Us from Decluttering
—And How to Overcome Them

Years ago, Cas Aarssen would spend hours looking for lost items, cleaning and tidying, and dusting items she didn’t even like.
Sound familiar?
Sometimes, we get so entrenched in our routines that we don’t see the belongings that no longer belong in our homes. Or we feel too busy, too overwhelmed, too exhausted to tackle a big project such as decluttering. We think it’ll require energy and effort we just don’t have.
Another obstacle to decluttering is actually letting items go. “We are especially reluctant to declutter things that were expensive, have sentimental value, or things that we perceive as being useful ‘someday,’” said Aarssen, an author and professional organizer. “Unfortunately, almost everything can land in one of these categories and by holding onto too many ‘useful’ items, we are making the spaces in our homes ‘useless.’”
We also don’t get rid of items because our stuff starts to represent different possibilities. And that stuff ends up replacing our actual habits. For instance, professional organizer and ADHD coach Debra Michaud, M.A., worked with a client who had a growing yoga DVD collection, which she didn’t use. “What she really wanted was the habit, but she found herself instead buying more and more DVDs.”
Basically, our clutter can personify the people we want to be. The person who lifts weights and runs on the treadmill. The person who always looks put together in fancy (and uncomfortable) shoes. The person who uses cookbooks to make elaborate dinners for their family. The person who does arts and crafts and makes beautiful things.
“Unfinished projects are a very common cause of clutter,” Michaud said. You might be surrounded by broken things you’re planning on fixing one day and piles of magazines you’ll read next week or the week after that or the week after that or….
“People often hang on to [these items] as some sort of albatross, almost a punishment for not getting everything done.”
All of these are super-common obstacles—which you can absolutely overcome. These tips will help.
clutter
Have a clear vision
“The best motivator to declutter is to have a clear vision of what is beyond it,” Michaud said. She suggested asking yourself: What do you really want? What would you really miss?
Remind yourself regularly why you’re decluttering. For instance, clutter robs us of our time and causes a lot of needless stress, said Aarssen, bestselling author of Real Life Organizing and Cluttered Mess to Organized Success. It also zaps our energy, makes us inefficient, and prevents us from living in the present, Michaud said.
Start small
So overwhelm doesn’t stop you from starting, Michaud always suggests tackling clutter in small chunks. Really small. For instance, you might identify one item per day you’re going to donate.
Michaud also recommended using a timer, and starting with five-minute sessions. “Five minutes of focused decision-making is more productive than two hours of wheel-spinning and moving things around.” In fact, she defines clutter as “the interest we pay for deferred decisions (or projects).”
And because of the decision-making required, pick a time when you can focus, Michaud said. “At the end of a tiring workday, for example, will probably yield a frustrating and inefficient organizing session.”
Start with garbage
Aarssen suggested grabbing a garbage bag and filling it as quickly as possible with things you can throw away without any hesitation. For instance, this might include old receipts, expired medications, stale food, empty boxes, and old magazines.
Address your guilt
Michaud always tells her clients “wouldn’t you rather [an item] go to someone who needs it and uses it, than have it sitting in the back of your closet?” She also asks them if the giver would really want them to feel burdened by their gift. And, of course, they wouldn’t.
When it comes to unfinished projects, remind yourself that no one gets to everything. “In a way, letting go of clutter is…coming to terms with the finiteness of life,” Michaud said. However, “ironically, it’s when we let go that we start to feel in control.”
Self-reflect
If your stuff represents different possibilities, wishes and people, consider if those are still true for you. Consider if you even want to do these things, if you’d even enjoy them. Do you want to lift weights and run on the treadmill? Maybe you don’t—and that’s OK. Maybe you love to take walks. Maybe you actually prefer to cook quick meals, and don’t like cooking from recipes.
Either way, you’ll feel so much lighter once you let go of the stuff that represents your unrealized and unwanted dreams—along with those no longer-relevant dreams.
Donate 21 items
“I love this decluttering technique because it is a big enough number that you need to push yourself, but small enough that it isn’t overwhelming and won’t take you more than a few minutes to accomplish,” Aarssen said. Again, the key is to go quickly, and make it into a game.
Create a time capsule
According to Aarssen, when you’re really struggling to relinquish certain items, pack them in a box and write an expiration date on it: “If Not Used By September 2018, DONATE This Box.” Keep your box somewhere in your home. When that date arrives, if you haven’t missed or needed anything in the box, donate its contents, she said.
Get help
“Sometimes the biggest impediment to decluttering is just knowing when to reach out for help,” Michaud said. She suggested hiring a professional organizer or finding a neutral “clutter buddy.” This might be a close friend or a member of Clutterers Anonymous.
Whoever you pick, it’s important that they’re not judgmental and can ask you thoughtful questions, such as: “Do you love it? Do you use it? Realistically will you use it in the next 2 years? Would you buy it again today? Would you miss it?”
Decluttering does take time and energy and effort—but it’s time and energy and effort that aren’t a waste. It’s worthwhile, and it’s absolutely freeing. As Michaud said, “We often don’t even realize how much clutter is weighing on us until it’s gone.”
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. 
Associate Editor        8 Jul 2018


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Have More Patience

“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.”
— Mother Teresa

Patience: The Key To Peace

Patience is a spiritual lesson.

It calls us to the higher part of ourselves, that part of us that recognizes the divinity within. It overlooks our fear, mistrust, anger, confusion, and all the ways we build barriers to its recognition. It doesn’t even matter how high we build those barriers. Patience is always within reach, a steady force that sings a quiet song of peace.

Impatience isn’t a mere personality quirk or bad habit. It is a life lesson from your soul. Where there is a lack of patience there is a lack of trust and a hopeless feeling of being out of control. Impatience is fear made manifest. It tells us that outcome is uncertain. And uncertainty is never of the soul. Uncertainty is always of the ego and is your first clue that impatience is not the truth. The soul knows outcome is always assured because the soul sees your grace. When you are impatient you must ask yourself, “What is my source?” If you can truly answer that love is your source you will experience patience. “Love” meaning, the Love of God.

When we trust in the divine as our source we know we cannot be left out of the equation of life. The only thing that turns patience into perpetual waiting is lack of trust. Lack of trust comes from a lack of connection to the Infinity within. Your power really is already with you. It will never come from the outside. You will indeed wait forever if you are waiting for any force outside of you to come along and save you. Society teaches us that the “perfect” person or job will make us feel fulfilled. So many of us wait impatiently for that “perfect” something to come along. But that is not trusting. That is waiting on time and space to give you something. Patience is trusting in the presence of your soul and knowing that presence has the power to create that which you need in life. Patience is taking steps of action that lead you gently down the path of your own self. Patience does not compare and contrast. It does not judge. It keeps you in the present moment in grace and love. It is a gentle hug that reassures you that you are safe. The outcome is assured because you have allowed room for what you want to change form if that is what is needed. You have allowed room for personal growth and it is always personal growth that helps you recognize opportunity when it comes knocking.

 

patiencequote

What are you trusting in? Love. Plain and simple. Not the flight of fancy that changes with every glance or the desire that disguises itself as love. Not the wanting of the ego that drives into dark corners confusing us with promises of false satisfaction. No. The love that comes from knowing you are one with the divine, infinite nature that is the source of all there is. The love that keeps you firm in the truth of your soul. The love that cannot be altered based on the behavior of others. The love that is the constant wellspring within. From love flows peace as naturally as any river flows. It brings the calm, regal presence of trust into your conscious awareness and establishes a base of self actualization. From this base, you are centered, intuitively aware, and mindful.

When you are impatient with life remember, impatience takes away.
Patience provides.

Impatience takes you out of the present moment. Patience keeps you in the present moment. Impatience is fear. Patience is love.


by Livnam Kaur
Spiritual Intuitive, Writer, Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner, Reiki / IET Master Teacher, Speaker


Livnam Kaur is a Los Angeles based spiritual intuitive. Her work is about self-empowerment and finding the truth. Known for taking big spiritual concepts and explaining them in easy to understand language, she is a sought after teacher, writer, and speaker. She works to help people find fulfillment by connecting them to their own internal spiritual guidance, Divine Will, the Will of Soul. Once that connection is made, time and space clears and healing is welcomed. Livnam has a monthly spiritual advice column, Dear Livnam, answering questions about walking the spiritual path. She facilitates a weekly study group for A Course In Miracles, gives Spiritual Counseling and Healing sessions, teaches Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Intuitive Development, and offers Personal Coaching.


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Buddha’s Keys to Unlocking Change in your Life

By Luke Miller        Saturday April 9th, 2016

There are no guarantees
the life we are living today
will be the same tomorrow

There are very few certainties in life but one thing that will remain consistent through your life is, you will continually have challenges and problems to overcome and while these challenges will differ from person to person, the solution for any problems can be broken down into 7 key areas for development.

In a sacred text called the Sabbāsava Sutta the Buddha outlines these 7 areas; my interpretation of this text is below. The original text is available to read here in Pāḷi and English.

1. Knowledge/Insight

We currently live in an age of information, and while this stockpile of knowledge can at times be overwhelming it is very useful for overcoming challenges in your life.

When you have a challenge there is always a solution out there, it’s your job to gather the info, syphon the good from the bad and work out a plan for getting there.

It’s not always easy; in fact it’s usually very difficult and depending on the problem you are facing could take some real trial and error.

But if you are determined to overcome a problem you are facing there will always be a solution out there, you just have to find it!

2. Resistance/Replacement

When you are making a transition in life there will be times when you will have to call on your resistance to temptation.

If you are starting a new exercise regime, trying to overcome procrastination or trying to get rid of an addiction of any type, there will be times when you will have to resist the temptation to fall back into bad habits. But while this is very important it is really only part of the solution.

To give up a bad habit using resistance alone would be very difficult, so when you are trying to change a bad routine you will find it easier if you consciously replace it with a more productive one.

If you stop smoking, you could start painting. If you stop eating junk food, you could start eating health food. Or if you are going to stop hanging out in nightclubs and getting drunk, you could start going to yoga and drinking raw juice.

It’s very important that you consciously look for a healthy, sustainable replacement to bad habits, because if you don’t you may end up with a worse habit in its place.

3. Consumption

Consumption works both ways; you could be over consuming or under consuming.

You could be eating too much or not enough. You could be not drinking enough water or be drinking too much fizzy drinks. You could be buying too much stuff that you don’t need or you could be depriving yourself from the things that you do need.

However it is in your case, consuming more or less of certain things will help you overcome some of life’s challenges.

This lesson really goes hand in hand with knowledge as when you learn more about your need’s as a human being you get more of an understanding of what you need to consume more or less of.

A prime example of this is medicine and when I say medicine I am not just talking about pills, I am also talking about plants, herbs and food medicines.

A lot of us are taking pills for problems that we can overcome naturally and because of these pills we are starting treatment with one problem and the side effects of these medicines are leaving us with more problems all of which need different pills to overcome them.

This is the vicious circle of symptom based treatment and not looking at health as a whole.

Most illness, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical can be overcome naturally. So try your best to find out how you can use nature to overcome your problems before consuming toxic and dangerous medicines.

Consumption also works for the mind to, your thoughts become things. So if you are stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts you may want to try to replace them with something a little more positive.

patience

4. Patience/Persistence

You cannot always have what you want, when you want it! This is not a bad thing; just imagine everything you set out to do was completed straight away. You would have nothing to aim for, no goals and no reason to wake up in the morning.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient and you will also need to be persistent.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient.
If you work every day towards a goal and that goal is something that you have some control over then the only thing that can stand between you and your goal is time!

One thing to remember here is to try and enjoy the journey, if you think a certain goal will bring you happiness and you struggle to find anything to be grateful for on the way chances are when you finally get there you will still not feel satisfied.

Celebrate every small victory on route to your big goals, be patient and persistent and you will get there in the end!

5. Avoidance

Some things in your life will be out of your control, certain people and places will leave a negative impact on you. Sometimes it will not be possible to just walk away from these things, but you can do your best to avoid them.

If someone at work acts negatively and always leaves you feeling down avoid them. If you are making dietary changes and your friends are going to a fast food restaurant don’t go. If your partner happens to love Housewives Of New Jersey and you don’t, go read a book when they are watching it!

Some things in life will need to be confronted, but sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to just avoid or ignore it.

6. Removal

There will be times in your life when avoiding a problem is just not viable. Sometimes in life you have to make tough decisions, but usually the tough decisions result in the biggest impact.

Sometimes friendships and relationships end. Sometimes a career is having such a negative impact on your life that you will have to leave. Sometimes you have to stop relying on will power to help you through your diet and throw out them chocolate chip cookies.

Your life is your responsibility and when certain things have a constant negative impact on you, you will have to make a decision – am I going to accept this or remove it and move on.

This can be one of the hardest things a person can do, but when you take note of things, people and places that impact your life in a bad way and do your best to remove them, your life will change for the better.

7. Lifestyle

The first step for lifestyle is finding out what lifestyle you really want, a lot of people go into adulthood without knowing what they want or what they stand for.

Lifestyle will affect your health, wealth and relationships so it’s important if you want to lead a fulfilling life that you know what you want and build a lifestyle around that.

Lifestyle is really a combination of the knowledge you acquire, the daily habits you partake in and what you deem to be acceptable on your journey.

It’s very important that you set strict boundaries in some areas of your life to make sure your life is the one you want to be living.

Let’s face it we all have the same amount of time in the day, yet some people can barely manage to get on top of household chores, While others can run a Fortune 500 company and still find the time to meditate, go to the gym and hang out with friends and family in the evening.

It’s very much about viewing your life and seeing what is productive and empowering you and what is negative and disempowering you. Then doing more of the positive and less of the negative!


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The Importance of Cultivating Patience

Patience: the one trait that can be used to easily differentiate between a child and an adult.

Impatience is almost entirely expected of kids isn’t it? Are we there yet? I want this toy NOW! Immediate gratification was what they liked and expected. Unfortunately, we see this same trait in some adults today as well. I want to make some fast money NOW! I want to lose this weight NOW! I want the perfect life NOW!

What these types of adults fail to realize is that patience is a refined sense of confidence knowing that you WILL get what you want. This quality will help you attain your dreams in three ways.

Cultivating patience gets you out of the instantaneous gratification model of thinking.

No great achievement was ever created instantaneously by anybody at anytime. Great achievement is always a function of patience.

Impatience often makes us do rash things and engage in poor decisions because we didn’t take the time to gather the correct information and resources. For example, let’s say we have two car companies. One who just wants to get a car out as fast as possible to make a quick buck, but another which takes the time to gather the best information, the best parts, and the best engineers to produce a quality car. Sure, the first company would be the one to make money sooner, but in the long run, which car company is going to generate the most profit? The second one by a HUGE margin. The patience the second car company displayed resulted in a quality product, which then domino effected toward huge future profits as consumers readily saw the difference between the two car companies and their products.

When you’re patient, you know that the achievement of your goal will take time, which is the proper and healthy way to view it. Because it will take time, you know that hard work is going to be involved. You know and expect that setbacks will occur. When it’s all said and done, when all the cards are on the table, you know that you will inevitably achieve what you set out to accomplish and that you will have done it with quality.

You see impatient people embracing the instantaneous model of gratification all the time, especially with kids today. They are always asking how they can make money quick and easy. Some of these kids will probably engage in criminal behavior in order to get the money quick and easy. Those kids who are patient will do the work to get the money and when they do, they’ll find themselves in a more favorable position because of it.

Patience

Take for example the kid who mows the neighbor’s lawn for a measly 5 bucks. If he’s patient enough to do a good job, that neighbor may be so impressed with his work that he refers him to another neighbor, and another, till the kid starts generating more cash than he did at that one job. Another kid who’s impatient and just wants the five bucks will do a mediocre job, and will have missed out on the future opportunities the patient kid was given. All because he was impatient with his work.

Another common example is a person who wants to lose a lot of weight. The quick and easy way would be to have surgery, but we know that can bring along with it a whole host of complications and consequences. The patient way is to exercise daily, get the correct diet information, eat healthy, etc., and sure it might take months or even years, but in the end, you get quality results. You have more self-discipline, more self confidence, great eating and exercising habits, things that you would NOT have gotten had you taken the instantaneous gratification way out.

Patience gets you into the quality model of thinking. Look around you and see what has gone into the making of the computer you are using, the chair you’re sitting in, the books on your shelves. Realize how much patience has gone into developing these products. We correctly correlate quality with patience. Patience implies that works needs to be done, and that work will take time, which is the best attitude to have.

Cultivating patience makes you aware of your surroundings and allows for breakthroughs to occur.

Impatience is directly correlated with narrow-mindedness and gets the mind to focus in on the negative side of things. If you’re patient, you become open minded and you see all the positive opportunities all around you. Those who are impatient in line are often seen huffing and puffing, being exasperated that they must wait, while those who are patient view this opportunity with an open mind and see it as a chance to strike up a conversation with a person nearby, which may lead to a new network contact or friend.

Going back to the example of the kid mowing the lawn, his patience in getting the job done with quality may make him aware of other areas to generate money. While taking time to mow the lawn, he may become aware of weeds in the garden that he can pull or the dilapidated fence he can paint new again. Had he been impatient and just wanted the money, he would’ve missed out on those opportunities to generate more money. Because he has the patience in knowing that the work that needs to be done will take time, he becomes aware of his surroundings and can leverage that to create breakthroughs.

Cultivating patience makes you see everything in the big picture.

Patience gives you the ability to place everything along your journey in the big picture. You see the lessons that you learn and you become aware of how they can help you. In other words, you leverage every experience along the way and maximize its use. Because you see things in the big picture, you anticipate roadblocks instead of being surprised by them, which makes them easier to deal with. When you become impatient, you think short term and quit and miss that moment where everything clicks together.

For example, if your dream is to open up a pizza shop, but you get rejected by several investors, you take each rejection and place it in the big picture. You know it’s going to take time and beacuse of that, you learn something from each rejection. If you didn’t have patience, you’d probably quit at the very moment where you would’ve had all the necessary information to make the next presentation to investors a successful one.

Cultivating patience supports the belief that you know you’ll get what you want in due time. It’s the bridge connecting your vision to your end game and without it, nothing of great achievement will ever be accomplished.

source: briankim.net


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5 Practices To Help You Become The Person You Were Meant To Be

The journey of becoming who we were born to be never ends. It’s limitless, eternal.
We don’t arrive — we grow. And to grow requires presence and practice.

So let’s talk about practice.

No matter how hard we work, the aim and purpose of practice is not to be done with it, but to immerse ourselves so completely in life by any means that we, for the moment, are life itself living. Excellence, if we achieve it, is a welcome byproduct of complete immersion. But the reward for practice is a thoroughness of being.

Given the pulls to be cruel or kind, to be clever or sincere, to hoard or give away, we can explore several practices that, if personalized, can help us turn our burden back into wonder.

The practice of uncertainty is patience.

That is, the only way to move through uncertainty, the only way to listen for what it has to say, is by being patient. The speech of uncertainty is slow. When we move too fast, the lessons are unintelligible.

The practice of opportunity is trust, which means following our heart.

Opportunity always presents itself as an opening that seems a bit smaller than we think we can fit through. Following our heart means trusting that we will fit through the opening we are given.

sunset

 

The practice of courage is doing small things with love.

This was Mother Teresa’s anthem. We begin to dismantle what is overwhelming by beginning the journey of involvement one hand at a time, one kindness at a time, one utterance of truth at a time. From the outside, things that require courage seem impossible, but once we begin, we’re no longer on the outside. This lets us see more.

The practice of connection is holding and listening.

We are born with these two capacities that never let us down, though we may forget how to inhabit them. When we feel disconnected, any act of holding or listening will return us to the larger world.

And the practice of expression is how the heart breathes.

Only by allowing what we feel, think and experience to move through us can we be animated enough to sense what matters, and so join with it. This is imperative because the life of expression is the tuning fork by which we find our way to the sacred.

Whether we’re asleep or awake depends on the practices we enliven. Whether we’re cruel or kind depends on how we say to life and all its obstacles and possibilities.

The endless practice of being human involves learning how to strengthen our heart by exercising it in the world, and how to refine who we are through caring, building, holding and repairing. No one can do this for us, though no one can do it alone. The way cells need blood and blood needs tissue, we need each other to be fully alive.

by Mark Nepo, author of
THE ENDLESS PRACTICE: BECOMING WHO YOU WERE BORN TO BE
published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.