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How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge

An excerpt from How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge by Mellissa O'Brien

There have been five main ways that mindfulness has helped me and the family during this time. I’d like to share these in case these may be helpful to those out there who find themselves in a similarly difficult time. May these bring peace and presence into the darkest of days.

Present-Moment Attention

This was the strongest predictor of increased positive emotions in the students who were more aware in the present moment indicated that they felt happier and better overall. Why might this be? When you allow your attention to wander it shifts to things like anticipation of future events or regrets about the past.

When you notice your mind wandering, try focusing on your breath or something in your current surroundings.

1. The Breath Hug

The 3-breath hug has been the most beautiful way to ground ourselves and reconnect with each other and our moment-to-moment experience. Kristen Race shared this simple practice on Day 23 of The Mindfulness Summit as a practice for mindful parenting, but we’re finding it invaluable right now to bond as a family.

When one of us (or all of us) becomes very distressed, we have been coming together for a 3-breath hug. Imagine this situation – we had a very emotional family meeting with a doctor (telling us that Gary will never be the same due to massive brain damage) which ended with another family member in the room having a seizure and another one nearly passing out. We then had alarms going off and nurses rushing in to help. Very stressful, very difficult. We gathered outside the room right after that meeting, put our arms around each other and had a 3-breath hug to ground ourselves and give each other love and support. What a gift!

The kids especially love it when they’re stressed and it’s a way that the adults can wrap them up in love and support in the middle of it all.

2. A Mindful Mantra 'This Too'

When life presents us with the unpleasant and the unwanted there is a strong tendency of the mind to resist what is happening. Resistance to pain, though, just creates more suffering. It’s futile. So here we are in this extremely stressful situation. A loved one in bed fighting for his life, probably not going to make it out of that bed alive. That’s very unpleasant. Feelings of fear, grief and loss naturally arise, and if I let them come and go without suppression, that is healthy and natural.

But if I begin to get into mental resistance patterns like ‘why is this happening to me?’ or ‘it’s not fair’ or ‘this shouldn’t be happening’ or ‘I want this to stop/ change/ go my way’ then I start fighting with reality. I start fighting with the present moment – and that, I know, is completely futile and just creates more layers of suffering. I will also lose touch with myself and the present moment if I get into resistance.

But the tendency to resist is strong when there is a lot of unpleasantness. That’s why I have been using my mantra that I always use in difficult times ‘This too.’

‘This too’ is my abbreviation for saying ‘I accept unconditionally the unfolding of this present moment in whatever form it takes – this too is allowed and accepted.’

‘This too’ reminds me to soften my resistance. It reminds me to stay grounded in presence (as best I can) and connects me to background of ease and peace even in the middle of this pain. I often repeat it mentally, sometimes out loud.

3. One Conscious Breath

We spoke at the summit, about the power of just taking a few deep, slow, conscious breaths – especially when you’re stressed. Breathing just a couple of breaths this way whenever we have felt overwhelmed has been so soothing for us all.

I’ve also been using my time in the ICU waiting room to do these mini-breath meditations, taking this time to step out of the mind and reconnect with my body and being-ness. It’s so simple, but has been profoundly nourishing.

I might just close my eyes and take one long slow breath, or maybe ten, if I have a minute free. One conscious breath brings me back to my self – reminds me that the world is still turning, birds are still singing and the sun is still shining through the window. There is more to this moment than just the pain, it’s all alive and it’s a miracle.

4. Creativity to Connect

As I mentioned, there is a lot of waiting around so we were looking for ways to be mindful while we waited. It’s all too easy to become caught up in the stressful energy of the ICU ward and all too easy for the mind to start running ‘what if’ scenarios while you wait.

At the summit, Danny Penman spoke about mindfulness and creativity and we also did a DMC (Daily Mindfulness Challenge) of colouring in. It was a fun and grounded practice and one we’ve brought into the waiting room. We’ve got a whole bunch of mindful colouring in books and so we have all been engrossed in mindful coloring in between visiting Gary by his bedside. Check out some of our creations! We ended up with a lovely board of pictures to put by his bedside.

5. Keep Up a Daily Practice and do Things that Nourish You

It’s common that we tend to abandon our daily practice on the darkest of days – when we’re sick, tired or stressed – but that’s exactly when we need it the most. I’ve found my daily meditation an incredible gift during this time. It’s been a time of cultivating self-compassion and gentleness. It’s been a way of opening up to the wholeness of life and reconnecting to what really matters.

We’ve also made sure that we are doing things that nourish us like eating well, going for swims in the ocean and getting some exercise. This is a way of self-nourishing at a time when I think many of us feel like drowning our sorrows in junk food, booze and unhealthy habits. It’s an act of kindness to ourselves in a time of uncertainty and pain. Also, reach out to get support from your loved ones. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you’ve faced your own challenges and can share some tips with us, please do in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.

I hope this blog post may help anyone going through similar challenges to what we face right now. The main thing is to just take it all one step and one breath at a time.

Full Article:


How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge


 BY MELLIssa O'BRIEN


O'Brien, Mellissaon May. “How To Use Mindfulness In Times Of Crisis and Challenge.” Mrs. Mindfulness, 3 Apr. 2019, mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-use-mindfulness-in-times-of-crisis-challenge/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

When facing times of crisis, it is easy to succumb to those serious emotions. It can be so overwhelming that it leaves you feeling powerless. Personally, I believe that having these steps to turn to can help you regain control in a time where you have none. 

Mindfulness Activities You Can Do During a Busy Week

An excerpt from Mindfulness Activities: Fun Ways to Be Mindful (No Matter How Much Time You Have!) by Rachael Kable

These mindfulness activities are short and easy to implement. Why? It’s simple - I know you probably don’t want long and complicated things to do during a busy week!

These mindfulness activities are also designed to help you effectively slow down, become present and switch off from stressful thoughts. So, if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your to-do list, these mindfulness activities can be really useful. Let’s dive in!

Start Each Day with a Mindful

Breathing Technique

If you have an alarm clock, set it up so the alarm wakes you 5 or 10 minutes before you need to actually get out of bed. When the first alarm goes off, you can either hit snooze or set a new alarm so you’ll still get out of bed on time.

For those extra 5 or 10 minutes, sit up in bed in a comfortable position and use that time to do a mindful breathing technique.

This can be a great strategy for a few different reasons.


  • One - you still get out of bed on time and you don’t have to sacrifice anything else from your morning routine.
  • Two - practicing mindfulness first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day. Hopefully, you’ll feel calm, refreshed, and clear-minded.
  • Three - it gives you time to wake up gently, rather than jumping out of bed and already feeling rushed.

You might be wondering, what is a mindful breathing technique?


A mindful breathing technique involves paying attention to your breath without changing it. Even though this might sound easy, focusing your attention on a simple thing like your breath can actually take some discipline and practice. Your mind will probably wander off. Many times.


Mindful breathing is simple in theory, but it can be a challenge to implement, especially at first. However, the more you practice and get used to bringing your mind back when it wanders, the more you’ll be able to experience the calmness and connection to the present moment that mindful breathing techniques can offer.


Choose One Daily Task to Do Mindfully

There are probably many different tasks you do every single day on autopilot. Those tasks are wonderful opportunities to invite more mindfulness into your life!


Here are some ideas:

  • Drink your morning cup of tea or coffee mindfully by putting your phone down and paying attention to the flavour, aroma, temperature and textures of your cup
  • Shower mindfully by observing the sensation of the water falling onto your skin.
  • Walk mindfully by listening to all the different sounds you can hear in your environment, or feeling the ground underneath your feet as you walk, or looking out for objects you’ve never noticed before.

The point of this daily mindful activity is to create a habit of doing something simple each day in a more mindful way - letting go of distractions, being present, and focusing on your senses so you can actually experience the activity.

Give Yourself Space to Feel your Emotions (Without Judgement)

This can be a great mindfulness activity to do towards the end of the day to help you check-in with yourself and your needs.

Simply ask yourself “How am I feeling right now?” and if you can, give yourself a few minutes to really observe your emotions and create space to experience them.

For example, you could sit down somewhere quiet and turn your attention inwards.

Notice how you’re feeling physically.

Reflect on the events that unfolded during the day.

Observe your emotions and the reasons behind them.

Then, let go of the reasons and focus on the emotion itself. “I feel irritated because the house is messy and my boss expects too much from me” simply becomes “I feel irritated”.

Notice how it feels to be irritated without berating yourself for feeling that way.

Allow yourself to fully feel that emotion and you might even notice the intensity of it start to fade.

Try the "Don't Know Mind" Technique

I learned about the Don’t Know Mind from Jack Kornfield over a year ago and I still use it often.

It involves recognizing and becoming comfortable with uncertainty and the more I practice, the more I feel like I’ve been able to let go worrying about things I can’t control.

The “Don’t Know Mind” technique works like this:

  • When you notice yourself predicting the future, or obsessing over certain outcomes, or worrying about what’s going to happen, give yourself some time to do this practice.
  • Observe what your mind is doing for a few moments, then in your mind, start to say the words “I don’t know what will happen and that’s okay”.
  • You might like to repeat these words a few times and let yourself explore what it’s like to embrace uncertainty; to let go of the need to achieve a certain outcome and to trust in yourself that no matter what happens, it will be ok.

For example, a lovely friend of mine showed me a cool online platform recently called Medium. It’s a huge collection of great quality articles on a range of topics, including psychology, productivity, mindfulness, work, money, and relationships. I was so impressed that I thought “Wow, it would be really great if I could write my own articles and publish them there.”

I did quite a bit of a research and worked on an article and a few days later, I posted my first article about setting goal categories (rather than “random” goals), which was both exciting and really nerve-wracking.

Then, I started thinking “What if no one likes my article?”, “What if my article goes viral and I actually make some money – how amazing would that be?!”, and “What if nothing happens and it ends up taking too much of my time?”.

I was starting to feel stressed and kept checking my statistics… Until, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to practice the “Don’t Know Mind” technique.

I’ve practiced it a few times now to become more comfortable with the uncertainty of writing on Medium, and now I feel much more accepting that I can’t control what might happen. I’ll do my best and learn new things, but I’m not quite so attached to any particular outcome. It feels more like an experiment – and that’s way more fun!

Full Article:


Fun Ways to Be Mindful (No Matter How Much Time You Have!)


 BY Rachael Kable


Kable, Rachael. “Mindfulness Activities: Fun Ways to Be Mindful (No Matter How Much Time You Have!).” Rachael Kable, Rachael Kable, 6 Mar. 2021, www.rachaelkable.com/blog/how-to-be-mindful-with-fun-mindfulness-activities.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Sometimes the weekdays get so busy you feel like you're drowning in them. It's very helpful to have a few techniques that take little time, but can help regulate your entire day. 

Students Meditate to Cleveland Orchestra Music in Schools

An excerpt from IdeaStream.org

Living in a fast-paced, on-demand world can be stressful. Although many of us try to cope with the distractions, that can be particularly tough for children.   An Ohio-grown educational program, Mindful Music Moments, combines the music of the Cleveland Orchestra with meditative techniques to promote a sense of calm.

At Canterbury Elementary in Cleveland Heights, each morning at 9:00, students stop for a moment and listen to a few minutes of Cleveland Orchestra music. 

Although he prefers dance tunes, one of the third-graders, Chase, said there's something special about the classical music.

Full Article:

Five Science-Backed Reasons Mindfulness Meditation Is Good for Your Health

 BY David C. Barnett and Mary Fecteau

Barnette, David C., and Mary Fecteau. “Students Meditate to Cleveland Orchestra Music in Schools.” Ideastream, 5 Mar. 2019, www.ideastream.org/news/students-meditate-to-cleveland-orchestra-music-in-schools. 

Former President

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Rachel]

“The testimonies of these kids say it all. I am moved every time I see children stop on purpose, breath in some sort of short practice, and then acknowledge the benefits of it... so good!!”

A Mindful Guide to New Year’s Resolutions

An excerpt from A Mindful Approach to New Year’s Resolutions by Sarah Rudell Beach

I think our problem with resolutions is that they put us firmly in militaristic effort mode, obsessed with outcomes and notions of success and failure.

But the answer is not to flee to the other extreme, to abandon the practice of self-improvement altogether. It is to find that sweetspot between effort and patience: to identify areas for growth, summon the courage to transform our habits, and, most importantly, to do so with kindness and compassion for ourselves.

We should perhaps think in terms of intentions instead of resolutions. Intention comes from the Latin intendere, “to turn one’s attention,” and intentionem, “a stretching out.”

While resolutions are firm and hard, intentions are flexible. They’re about where we direct our attention. They’re about being mindful.

As we seek personal transformation in the year ahead, I offer you this mindful approach to New Year’s Resolutions and Intentions:


1. ​Consider Your Intentions

The most common resolutions are to lose weight, spend less money, and get organized. Those are all valuable and healthy practices. But why are they your intentions? Do you want to feel better about your body? Know that you won’t need to worry about money for retirement? Stop wasting time looking for all your things in the morning? Honoring the personal meaning behind an action helps us maintain our resolve.

2. ​Focus on Process, Not Results

Resolutions like “lose weight” and “get organized” are completely focused on a result, with no identification of a process for how to get there.

Studies show that when employees — from sales executives to Formula One pit crews — focus on process and style instead of sales numbers and speed, they actually perform better. Intensely focusing on results paradoxically makes us less likely to achieve them.

Instead of focusing on “losing 10 pounds,” try focusing on going for walks or eating healthy salads for lunch — you will probably end up losing some weight in the process. And you’ll probably enjoy the journey a lot more.

3. ​Change Your Habit Loop

Self-transformation begins with self-awareness. First turn your attention to the habits that you would like to change, and examine what sustains those habits. If you want to spend less money, for example, take some time observing how and when and why you spend money. Is it your morning habit to turn to your phone, check your email, and click on all those ON SALE NOW–ACT QUICK! impulse messages? If that remains your morning ritual, you’re going to have a hard time saving your money.

Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, argues that the key to changing our behaviors is understanding the habit loop — the cues that trigger a particular action, and the rewards that lead us to continue to do it.

For example, I wrote this post a few years ago about my old morning habit loop that I wanted to change: instead of checking my email, coffee in hand, as soon as I woke up, which often left me grumpy, I made my coffee the “reward” for meditating in the morning instead. And after a while, meditating in the morning simply became routine. I looked forward to it, and noticed the benefits of a more dedicated practice. But I had to change my habits (i.e., ditch the early morning phone routine), not just resolve to “meditate more.”

So take a careful look at your not-so-skillful habits that are currently supporting the behaviors you want to change in the upcoming year. Duhigg writes, “Once you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with the gears.” You can find the little tweaks to your routine that can support transformation.

And wouldn’t you know? The word “resolution” is derived from the Latin resolvere, which means “to reduce into simpler forms.” That’s where we should start.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

No matter what intentions we set for ourselves, there will be days and weeks when we don’t live up to our expectations. A fundamental lesson we learn through practicing mindfulness is that we are constantly beginning again — each day, each breath. We sit down to meditate, and we experience a brief moment of awareness. Then our mind starts chattering, planning dinner and worrying about the kids. And then with a deep breath, awareness rearises– and the mind is off again, wondering what’s up next in our Netflix queue.

When the mind wanders, we gently bring our attention back to the breath, without judging or berating ourselves. The moment we notice our mind has wandered is the moment of insight — noticing the action of the mind is the practice itself.

The same goes for resolutions. When we fall short, we can gently and non-judgmentally bring our awareness back to our intention. That’s really the purpose of setting resolutions — bringing a kind awareness to our behavior, recognizing when we’ve wandered, and beginning again. And again…

5. Consider Resolution Alternatives

If the pressure of New Year’s Resolutions is too much, consider a few alternative ways to set your intentions for the upcoming year:

  • Make a Vision Board: You can find lots of online instructions for making a vision board (like these ones here, which include users’ uploaded pictures of their boards). A vision board compiles images that represent what you want for yourself in the upcoming year. It’s a great way to have a visual reminder of your intentions (I have mine hanging in my office). The images of heart-shaped fruits, dancing yogis, and glowing candles gently remind me to eat healthy food, move my body, and make time for stillness.
  • Choose a Word of the Year: Many people have embraced the trend of choosing a word for the year — like breathe, trust, dance, fly — that encapsulates the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors they desire in the year ahead. This word can guide your choices and actions — instead of setting firm expectations for yourself, you can ask if a particular behavior aligns with your word and your intentions.


Ultimately, New Year’s Resolutions are about growth and improvement. They are about bringing health and joy and ease into our lives. With mindfulness we can bring awareness to our habits and hold ourselves with compassion and kindness as we seek meaningful transformation.

Full Article:


A Mindful Approach to New Year’s Resolutions


 BY Sarah Rudell Beach


Beach, Sarah Rudell. “A Mindful Guide to New Year's Resolutions.” Left Brain Buddha, 13 Jan. 2020, leftbrainbuddha.com/mindful-approach-new-years-resolutions/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I resonated with this article because it is so easy to get caught up in the final destination that you forget to celebrate the accomplishments you make along the way. Setting small, obtainable goals can help you stay on track and feel good about the progress you are making, no matter what your resolution is. 

Be Mindful This Holiday Season

An article from the Health Promotion Unit at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) on HealthyMindsPhilly.org

Across our city, country, and the world, seasonal and religious holidays have not been and will not be the same this year. For many, the coming weeks are always a fragile time of year, and 2020 is certainly no exception.

Sadly, people have lost family members and friends in recent months, some have lost jobs, and most will not be spending holidays together for health and safety reasons. For some, absent friends or family has always made the holidays difficult, but this year, more of us will feel this emptiness. Our lives have been turned upside down, and some have gone from bad to worse.

Whatever your circumstances, it is not at all unusual to feel overly emotional or act differently than you typically would during these uncertain times. While some may be able to “keep calm and carry on,” there’s nothing wrong with not feeling calm or finding it difficult to carry on.

  • Choose not to surrender to negative feelings, accept our situation, learn from it, and find comfort in what we still have.
  • Think back to other harsh challenges we’ve confronted in our lifetime and how we managed to get through those.
  • Give ourselves credit for what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and try to accept what we can and cannot control at this time.
  • Recognize that we are all doing the best we can, and everyone struggles in one way or another.

Remain realistic and still enjoy the present moment. 


  • The holidays don’t have to be perfect- are they ever? Not everything has to be the same as it was in past years.
  • Trying to make things the same, or worse, faultless, will only get the better of you, and you’ll forget that being grateful and hopeful, and if you’re lucky, loved, is what counts. It’s what has always counted

Seek gratitude this holiday season despite our circumstances and appreciate what we can still do.

So what can we do to embrace this year’s holiday season, try to manage our emotions, and carry on?

We can start by accepting that this is a year like no other. We can:

  • We can continue to connect with others outdoors, over the phone, or online.
  • We can send cards and good wishes, practice many familiar religious rituals, cook for others, or assist a person struggling to pay bills.
  • If we are fortunate enough to have a home and plenty of food, we can relax, eat seconds, watch a football game or long movie.
  • We can think of creative ways to stay close and give those who have nothing a helping hand.
  • We can read, donate decorations, play games, and worship virtually. We can try out a new recipe, share stories, and make fantastic plans for next year’s holidays.

We can continue to be thankful and hopeful no matter what our situation, and proud of what we’ve been able to manage so far.

The world is hurting, people are suffering, and we all feel the pandemic’s pain and tomorrow’s uncertainty. Let’s be mindful together and place our thoughts on the good around us. Together we can overcome today’s challenges, enjoy the holidays as best we can, and remain hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Full Article:


Be Mindful This Holiday Season


 BY Maria Boswell, Director, Health Promotion Unit, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS)


Boswell, Maria. “Be Mindful This Holiday Season.” Healthy Minds Philly®, 1 Dec. 2020, healthymindsphilly.org/en/blog/be-mindful-this-holiday-season/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because much like many others this holiday season, I am facing the sadness of abnormality during what would normally be time spent with family and friends. Although being apart is the responsible decision, it doesn't make it any less difficult. Throughout this process, it is important to take a moment to be thankful for all of the moments we do have. 

Translating Mindfulness to Distance Learning

An article from Edutopia by Michael Ray

The many challenges of this year have required people to cope with a range of external stressors. The United States is still navigating community response to George Floyd’s killing and racial inequities. Many are physically distancing and trying to survive economic fallout from the pandemic. As an adult, I find it hard to take things one day at a time, focus on my breath, and move forward with purpose and gratitude. Young people are looking for ways to cope and heal as well.

At our middle school in inner-city Oakland, we started incorporating mindfulness into our daily announcements and homeroom time. Mindfulness is intentionally focusing awareness on the present moment without judgment. Many people have a mindfulness practice even if they do not call it mindfulness explicitly. Research shows that taking moments to practice and discuss mindfulness helps students thrive emotionally and academically by increasing focus and memory and reducing stress and anxiety. Distance learning creates a different context for mindfulness practice. Some simple strategies can help integrate mindfulness practice in distance learning.

Set the Groundwork

Begin by explaining how the brain works. Sometimes, knowing the science behind mindfulness can be just as important for a new practitioner as knowing what meditation is or how to do it. Explain to students the relationship between their amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Students should know that an “amygdala hijack” is a physiological response to stress that makes it harder for them to think, learn, or remember. While it is not their fault, it is something that they can learn how to control through mindfulness practices.

Modeling mindfulness can show students how the process works. Do you start your day with a quiet cup of coffee or an inspirational quote? Talking about a ritual and why it excites you may add to a child’s bank of experiences even if they choose not to do the practice on their own. Modeling a mindfulness practice in online learning shows students that it can be a simple, quick, and accessible activity.

Offering choice is a way to show students the accessibility of a mindfulness practice. Allow students to pick an activity or exercise and do it with them. Apps and videos may be useful. My students and I love the guided meditations and mindful hip-hop from the Mindful Life Project app. Let the students guide which practice to do and when to use it. Ask for their suggestions about mindfulness in the daily school routine.



Incorporate Mindfulness in Daily Activities


Practice and talk about everyday mindfulness activities like mindful eating, mindful walking, or mindful cleaning. My grandfather instructed me to chew my food exactly 32 times before swallowing, which allowed me to focus on the full experience of the food. What are other daily activities that might benefit from nonjudgmental awareness? Ask students to brainstorm daily life occurrences and ways to bring mindfulness to them.

The act of remembering and sharing daily gratitude has been shown to have positive impacts on both cognitive and emotional well-being. Encourage students to practice acts of gratitude by creating a gratitude tree. It can be a drawing or wire frame of the trunk, limbs, and branches of a tree. Each day, students write one thing they are grateful for on a paper “leaf” and attach it to the tree. The leaves can be anonymous, or students can share their gratitude with the class. Students can add to the tree as part of the daily routine.

Another option is to ask students to make and decorate a jar of inspirational quotes and take turns pulling one out and reading it aloud. This is an activity that translates easily to online instruction, bringing mindful reflection to virtual learning.


Demonstrate Mindfulness in Motion


Mindfulness activities do not have to be in stillness. Find a recipe for kinetic sand, slime, or oobleck. Because sometimes, mindfulness has to be a little messy. My teenage sister and I learned how to make aromatherapy play dough.

Settling one’s thoughts can be difficult. A glitter focus jar helped some of my students with ADHD and ASD learn ways to calm their minds. Fill up a mason jar halfway with water, and then add some glitter glue and glitter of various sizes. Glue on the top so students can shake the jar and watch the glitter swirl around before settling slowly back to the bottom. The settling of the glitter mirrors the settling of our thoughts, something that can be hard for many of us to do without help.

Mandala coloring pages are made up of repetitive shapes and patterns that students can take their time to color as they choose because there is no right or wrong way to complete the designs. I find this especially useful for students who prefer to process their thoughts silently.

Use Written Reflection


Mindful writing can become an important part of a daily routine. Whether through daily journal prompts or written reflections after discussions, the act of putting your thoughts on paper brings about a similar kind of metacognition and awareness as meditating. Reflecting on earlier writing can show students how perspectives change.

The practice is useful for academic writing tasks, asking, “How has your opinion on this topic changed after reading and discussing this text?” as well as social and emotional understanding, asking, “What did you think/feel after witnessing or hearing about the fight that happened today?” Writing and reflection may be intimidating at first, so remind students that their ideas do not have to be fully formed.

Full Article:


Translating Mindfulness to Distance Learning


 BY Michael Ray


Ray, Michael. “Translating Mindfulness to Distance Learning.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 17 July 2020, www.edutopia.org/article/translating-mindfulness-distance-learning.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because it has a lot of wonderful mindfulness challenges to do with students who are currently adjusting to distance learning. Some of these, such as mindful eating, is something I plan to incorporate into my daily life, as I think it is important to take the time to be in the moment and enjoy the small pleasures in life. 

Enter the Trend of Mindfulness Challenges

An excerpt from DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge by Krysta Shannon​​

A 30-day mindfulness challenge promotes the practice of daily activities that reduce stress and anxiety, improve performance and productivity, and increase happiness with a greater sense of peace, presence and overall well-being. Taking this challenge will also provide practical tools and strategies you can start using immediately to gain more focus and presence in your own life.

Set Your Mindfulness Goals


Take a holistic approach to your emotional needs and start building an awareness for yourself and the world around you. Mindfulness is a practice that can drastically change the way you think, feel and act.

Start by setting your goal for the next 30 days. Here’s how:

1.

Identify what you want to achieve in the 30 days. This could be anything from more peace, a greater sense of presence in your day to day life – anything!

2.

Visualize this goal, and encourage your brain to think differently and find new ways to achieve the desired results. For example, if your goal is to cultivate more gratitude, imagine what it would look and feel like to already have more gratitude in your life. For the best results, repeat this visualization every day for the next month.

3.

Remind yourself why you decided to do the mindfulness challenge and why it is so important to you. Focus on that importance and use it as motivation!

4.

Look at the bigger picture and visualize the next 30 days. Picture yourself overcoming any possible hurdles that might hinder your performance.

5.

Imagine the finer details of your personal goal and what it will be like to achieve it (see #2).

6.

Imagine the level of elevation you will feel after successfully focusing on your personal aspirations for a month and achieving your goals.

7.

Gently bring your thoughts back to the present moment and take that good feeling with you into the rest of your day.

Completing your own 30-day mindfulness challenge will require discipline, commitment, focus and sacrifice. It won’t guarantee that you have a mindfulness habit for life, because you can fall out of good habits just as easily as you fall into bad ones. However, it will be a step in the right direction. So take the leap, start a 30-day mindfulness challenge, and enjoy the journey to connecting with your spirituality.
 

Full Article:


DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge


 BY KRYSTA SHANNON


Shannon, Krysta. “DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge.” YogiApproved, 30 June 2016, www.yogiapproved.com/life/diy-30-day-mindfulness-challenge/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because lately I have been getting into setting schedules and goals for myself to keep me motivated throughout my quarantine. Now is the time to practice both self-motivation and mindfulness, so I enjoyed these helpful tips that combined the two.

3 Easy Mindfulness Practices to Incorporate Into Your Day

An article from Yoga International by Megan Thompson​​

Most of us find it hard to stay on top of our regular activities and commitments. Leading the fast-paced lives we do, it’s not surprising that many of us feel perpetually stressed out.

Mindfulness practices can ease stress and can even help to relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety. A recent study followed 93 individuals who dealt with generalized anxiety disorders. The researchers found that those who completed even one mindfulness-based stress reduction session showed a significant reduction in their symptoms.

A 30-minute mindfulness meditation session may seem at first glance to be the ideal option for helping us to calm down and regain focus. However, the truth is that even grabbing five minutes for a few deep breaths can feel like a luxury. But if we want to improve our well-being and cultivate a calm, focused mind, integrating a few simple mindfulness practices into our lives can definitely help. And it’s easy to do—we just have to know how and where to practice them.

Check out these three very quick and simple mindfulness practices that you can immediately include in your daily routine!

MINDFULNESS PRACTICE 1: PRACTICE AWARENESS

Becoming more fully present and cognizant of each of our daily actions and their consequences is enhanced by incorporating mindful awareness into our lives.

To cultivate this awareness, first consider something you do on a very regular basis—something like picking up the phone. Practice awareness with this very routine action, and each time you pick up your phone, stop for a second and notice where you are and how you’re feeling. Consider how this action (sending a text message to a loved one, checking Facebook, writing an email) will influence you and your mood. Take a second to appreciate the healthy hands that are holding the phone, as well as the brain that enables you to understand how the device works.

Consider something you do on a very regular basis—something like picking up the phone.

You can practice this exercise with any movement or experience—mindfulness is as appropriate with a physical action as it is with a felt emotion. In fact, the perfect opportunity to practice mindful awareness is when you’re feeling anger, fear, or embarrassment. Becoming mindful in those moments will help you learn to accept those emotions, instead of struggling against them. This makes it easier to process and release them, as resisting negative emotions only encourages them to persist for longer.

This exercise will discourage you from auto-piloting through life, helping you instead to cultivate purposeful awareness of who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing. As a result, you’ll likely find yourself growing calmer and more grounded.

2. PRACTICE-FOCUSED BREATHING

We all breathe. And although it is essential for our survival, we can easily take it for granted. That creates a great opportunity to practice becoming more mindful!

You can begin mindful breathing by consciously taking a deep breath in and then out. Do this slowly. Three seconds in, and three seconds out; breath through your nose, if possible. Pay attention to the sensations you feel, and purposefully focus on your breathing as the air makes its way in and out of your body. If you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath. (Your to-do list for the rest of the day can wait.) Picture the air revitalizing your body as it enters your lungs, and dissipating into the environment around you as it leaves your nose.

Want to know what you’ve just been practicing? A mind-calming exercise we call meditation!

3. PRACTICE PURPOSEFUL OBSERVATION

We often lose touch with the beauty of this world and all the wonder hidden in our natural environment. Mindful observation of our world can help us reconnect.

To make mindful observation part of your daily routine, choose one natural object within your line of sight. It could be something as simple as the clouds outside your window, a beloved pet, or even a potted plant in your office.

Now, simply focus on it. As you concentrate, look for the tiny details you normally would not notice (if it helps you to focus, you can say those details out loud). Pay careful attention, remembering that you’re part of that natural world, which is so much bigger than ourselves.

Connecting with a piece of nature can help us to feel harmony with the world around us. Focusing intently on one object helps to quiet the mind.



Final Thoughts


Once you understand that mindfulness can be practiced at any time and in any place, cultivating it one moment at a time is not hard to do. Just incorporating these three simple mindfulness practices into your daily routine can help you be present in each moment of your life, and more in tune with the world around you. Such awareness is grounding, and it can create a feeling of wonderful calmness. It also can help you to cope well with everything life throws at you.

Practiced regularly, these exercises help to root the mind in the present moment. In addition to being present, mindfulness helps us to perform daily activities with greater calm, command, and open-mindedness.

Give these simple mindfulness practices a try. You might find they’re just what you need to quiet your mind, deepen your yoga practice, and become more in touch with who you truly are.

Full Article:


3 Easy Mindfulness Practices to Incorporate Into Your Day


 BY Megan Thompson


Thompson, Megan. “3 Easy Mindfulness Practices to Incorporate Into Your Day.” Yogainternational.com, Yoga International, 19 June 2017, yogainternational.com/article/view/easy-mindfulness-practices.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because it is so easy to go about our day without stopping to think about the things we're doing. It's important to slow down and put consideration into our actions so that we can live a more mindful life.

A Mini-Mindful Challenge

An article from Mindful.org Today

A few months ago I was walking with a long time friend of mine who has had a long history of working in the field of personal and professional development. He said something that really surprised me. He had developed a discipline of checking into the present moment every minute of the day. Just for a few seconds he’s check to see where he was, what he was thinking, and how he was feeling. Over a short time he got pretty good at this and his mind just started to automatically bring him to the moment. This may seem extreme, but maybe there’s something for the rest of us to learn here.

What if during multiple moments of the day you had a mini-moment practice where you brought your mind to the present moment and checked in with yourself. What would change?

In the middle of eating breakfast and you’re thinking about the plans for the day, you bring your mind to the present and simply spend a few moments tasting your food.

While talking to a friend you guide your mind back from thinking of the next brilliant counterargument and simply begin to listen.

In the middle of an important business meeting, a mini-moment is prompted and you notice your shoulder’s tightening and your mind worrying that you’re going to have to speak soon, and you choose to take a few breaths and roll your shoulders.

Maybe mini-moments don’t have to happen every minute, but what if we had mini-moments every hour. Is that so much to ask of ourselves? We can take about 20 seconds to check-in and bring our minds back to the life that is happening right now.

I hereby propose The 24 Hour Mini-Mindful Moment Challenge where you do this one time every hour.


If you need some structure to the mini-moment you can:

  1. Body – Notice how it is positioned, if there’s any tension anywhere.
  2. Emotions – Are you angry, frustrated, calm, happy, sad, stressed?
  3. Thoughts – Are you worrying, stewing, or rehashing? Are you stuck in the past or future?
  4. Location – Where are you?

Just take these four steps and then breathe. You’ve done it.


Of course, don’t take my word for it, set an intention to take one day and practice a Mini Mindful Moment every hour. Do it as an experiment for yourself and see what happens.


As always, please share your thoughts, questions and stories below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Full Article:


A Mini-Mindful Challenge


 BY LINE GOGUEN-HUGHES


Goguen-Hughes, Line. “A Mini-Mindful Challenge.” Mindful.org, 9 Apr. 2015, www.mindful.org/a-mini-mindful-challenge/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because a lot of people are starting to go back to work and with all that time off, going back to a daily routine might be a little overwhelming, so having something quick and simple would be helpful.

10 Mindful Attitudes That Decrease Anxiety

An article from Mindful.org by Bob Stahl

Mindfulness is, in short, the practice of being aware of what’s happening or what you’re experiencing in the present moment. It’s being here and now without judgment. This is a capacity that all human beings possess. Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.

Although more research is needed to illuminate the mechanisms at work, it’s clear that mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry. By bringing mindfulness to our actual experience in the moment, we can increase the likelihood of exerting more conscious control over our behaviors and attitudes. In so doing we learn to work with our intention, wise effort, will, discipline, and capacity to be kind to ourselves. These are all resources that can be harnessed and cultivated.

Mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry.

With that in mind, there are certain attitudes that play an important role when working with anxiety mindfully. These attitudes are central to mindfulness, and fostering them will help you develop and sustain your practice. It’s similar to adding nutrients to the soil to cultivate a vibrant and healthy garden. By attending to the attitudes of mindfulness, you can support your practice and help it flourish. And just as a well-tended garden bears seeds and fruit, so too will practicing mindfulness help foster all of the attitudes of mindfulness. Keep in mind that you may find slightly different lists of the attitudes of mindfulness in other places. Below are the qualities that we believe all play an important role in working with anxiety mindfully.

1.

Volition or intention is the foundation that supports all of the other attitudes. Your intention, will, or volition is what sets you on the mindful path to working within yourself to gradually transform your anxiety and find more ease, freedom, and peace. By bringing intention to working with anxiety, you’re developing persistence in seeing yourself as whole, capable, and resourceful.

2.

Beginner’s mind is an aspect of mind that’s open to seeing from a fresh perspective. Meeting anxiety in this way, with curiosity, can play an extremely important role in transforming your experience. When you’re willing to adopt another point of view, new possibilities arise, and this can help you challenge habitual anxious thoughts and feelings.

3.

Patience is a quality that supports perseverance and fortitude when feelings of anxiety are challenging. Patience offers a broader perspective, allowing you to see that moments of anxiousness will pass in time.

4.

Acknowledgment is the quality of meeting your experience as it is. For example, rather than trying to accept or be at peace with anxiety, you meet it and your experience of it as they are. You can acknowledge that anxiety is present and how much you don’t like it, even as you apply patience and see anxiety as your current weather system, knowing it will pass.

5.

Nonjudgment means experiencing the present moment without the filters of evaluation. In the midst of anxiety, it can be all too easy to experience a secondary layer of judgment on top of the already uncomfortable anxious feelings. Stepping out of a judgmental mind-set allows you to see more clearly. When you let go of evaluations, many sources of anxiety simply fade away. When you feel anxiety, adopting a nonjudgmental stance can reset your mind into a more balanced state.

6.

Nonstriving is the quality of being willing to meet any experience as it is, without trying to change it. With nonstriving, you understand the importance of being with things as they are—being with your experience without clinging to or rejecting what’s there. (Note that nonstriving relates to your present-moment experiences during meditation and doesn’t in any way negate the value of setting a wise intention to grow, learn, and change your relationship to anxiety.) In the midst of strong anxiety, the first response is often to flee or get out of the situation. If you can pause and really be with your experience without exerting any force against it, you gain the opportunity to know your experience more clearly and choose your response. You can also become less fearful of the physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany anxiety.

7.

Self-reliance is an important quality for developing inner confidence. With practice, you can learn to trust yourself and your ability to turn toward your anxiety or any other uncomfortable feeling. In turning toward these feelings, it’s important to bring other qualities of mindfulness to your experience, allowing the feelings, acknowledging them, and letting them be.

8.

Letting be or allowing is similar to nonstriving. It’s a quality that gives space to whatever you encounter in the moment. For example, if anxiety comes up as you meditate, you could choose to work with it by allowing the feeling to be there. In time, you can learn to ride a wave of anxiety until it dissipates, just as a storm runs its course in the sky.

9.

Self-compassion is a beautiful quality of meeting yourself with kindness. Yet, sadly, so many people are their own greatest adversaries. Most of us probably would never treat another person the way we sometimes treat ourselves. Self-compassion will naturally grow as you practice meditation. And bringing this quality into your experience of anxiety can be like being your own best friend in the midst of hardship, offering your hand in a moment when help is needed. As your self-compassion grows, you will come to know that you are there for yourself, and your anxiety will naturally decrease.

10.

Balance and equanimity are related qualities that foster wisdom and provide a broader perspective so that you can see things more clearly. From this perspective, you understand that all things change and that your experience is so much wider and richer than temporary experiences of anxiety and other difficulties.

Mindfulness Practice:


Take some time right now to slowly reread the descriptions of the attitudes of mindfulness. After reading each one, pause and reflect upon what it means to you, especially as you begin to work with anxiety. Take a moment to try on each attitude and see how it feels. As you do so, tune in to how you feel in your body, mind, and emotions. Finally, after trying on each attitude, briefly describe your experience, noting how it felt. For example, did it feel natural or easy to adopt a particular attitude, or was it difficult? If it was difficult, why might that be? Was the attitude unfamiliar, or did you feel yourself resisting it in some way?

Full Article:


10 Mindful Attitudes That Decrease Anxiety


 BY bob stahl


Stahl, Bob. “10 Mindful Attitudes That Decrease Anxiety.” Mindful, 16 Oct. 2018, www.mindful.org/10-mindful-attitudes-decrease-anxiety/.

President

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Rachel]

This article gets to the heart of so much with brevity. While the topic it is written for is anxiety, the 10 mindful attitudes apply to so much in life. I love that it points out that interrupting automatic reactions is a skill, that anyone can learn.

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