28 Day Meditation Challenge

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I just signed up for Sharon Salzberg’s 28 day meditation challenge. Want to join me? After you sign up, she’ll send you a daily meditation in the form of a 5-10 minute audio file.  This mornings was 8 minutes with an intro – easy peasy.  Research has been busting at the seams with all the benefits of meditation. 5-10 minutes a day. That’s not so bad, is it? Join me!

Reading Material: Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

Photo by Lia Leslie
Photo by Lia Leslie

This weekend’s reading material theme is getting comfortable with discomfort.

To start us off, check out Reid Wilson‘s new blog on Psychology Today – his latest post is titled “Winning the Battle Inside Your Mind”. It’s the story of how Reid, a psychologist & anxiety expert, worked through his own experience of panic, finding a way to Keep Going when his brain was shouting inside to stop.

Next up we have Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. I love the title of this post – “Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe“. I saved this to Pocket a while ago & find myself referencing his ideas whenever I need a boost. If you can master that everyday moment of discomfort – whether it’s anxiety, procrastination or prioritizing what’s important -nothing will stop you from achieving your goals and living a big life.

Finally, check out: “How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym“. In it, Brad Stulberg reminds us that what we gain most from exercise isn’t just physical fitness – it’s the ability to sit with and even embrace discomfort in life whenever it pops up. And, if you didn’t get a chance to read Healthy Habits in September, there are many more links to articles on the benefits of exercise & meditation in combatting depression & anxiety.

Happy Reading and have a beautiful weekend!

Healthy Habits

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In the rush of September, I’ve been thinking more about what makes me feel my best and what kind of daily habits I consistently follow.  In my head, I’m a person who meditates, exercises, prioritizes relationships and creates time for myself, but in actuality, I tend to go to bed way too late, skip meditating because I missed my “window of opportunity” and get my work done at home in front a computer screen instead of getting out and being with people.

A few days ago, though, I stole away for 15 minutes and meditated between getting my older two kids out the door. After walking the youngest to school, I got a text from a friend asking if I could go for a walk. A chance for exercise and social contact – yes! We walked for over an hour, caught up and discussed an upcoming project. I came back home feeling so much more energized with a happy outlook on life.

It’s not rocket science, right? But somehow it becomes difficult to make time for self care – even when we know that taking care of ourselves makes us happier people, easier to live with and more productive to boot. Seems like lots of folks have been thinking about how healthy habits like meditation, movement and sleep can affect overall health and outlook.

Here are a few reads to check out this week:

*I popped onto a blog I like called Hey Sigmund the other day and followed a link to this article on how exercise and mindfulness meditation can significantly drop rates of depression. The study referenced looked at how a consistent course of exercise and meditation effected people with and without symptoms of depression. Check out the link to see what they discovered & then also look at this article on exercise and anti-depressants.

*Taking exercise farther, Outside magazine online talks about finding ways to add movement throughout your work day. It’s not that getting an hour run in the morning doesn’t cut it, it’s just that slow, constant motion throughout the day, in a variety of positions, can greatly increase our overall health and wellbeing.

*Katy Bowman, who is interviewed in the above article, show us here how she lives a movement based lifestyle. Yes, a little hippy for sure, but I really enjoy her fresh perspective.

*The Chopra Center discusses the benefits of exercise, meditation and healthy eating for anxiety reduction.

*And two articles on sleep and anxiety plus this one from one of my favorite doctors!

*Need help finding ways to make your habits stick? Gretchen Rubin has a few free downloads to help us on our way.

How about you? What makes you feel your best and what’s stopping you from making those healthy habits a part of your daily life?

A Loving Kindness Meditation for Facing Anxiety

If you’ve dabbled in meditation before, you’ve probably come across one form called Loving Kindness. I was saying these beginning 4 lines, from Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness”,  in my head the other day and thought, “what would I add as I prepare to face anxiety in my day?”

A Loving Kindness Meditation for Facing Anxiety:

May I be safe

May I be healthy

May I be happy

May I live with ease

***

May I be brave

May I be clever

May I have courage

moving toward my dream

***

May I show up

May I be willing

May I step forward

Living bold and free

Then again, maybe that’s too sweet and soft when you’re about to take on Anxiety. Let’s add one more stanza:

May I kick ass

meeting my challenger

taking my life back

because f*** you anxiety!

That’s more like it.

I’m not saying to ditch the supportive voice.  You need both the supportive voice inside your head and the one that’s ready to take your life back by kicking some serious ass. Both are important, but stepping up to do the work takes a different kind of energy.

How do you talk to yourself as you prepare to take on anxiety? What tools do you use?

**And, if Loving Kindness meditation interests you, be sure to check out these Sharon Salzberg links:  Street loving kindness video series & her book Real Happiness.  I meditate about 20 minutes most mornings and started out with her book & CD – something about her voice & messaging is so real & just right for me.  Also, here’s a great article about the scientific benefits of Loving Kindness meditation and a video to try.

Namaste!

Reading Material

Photo by Lia Leslie

Here are a few reads for your weekend or to start your week off right.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee or green tea and cozy on up.

ABC News talks about which exercises are best for anxiety. Although, the ADAA reminds us that just getting your body moving – especially cardio – makes a big difference.

Research shows that mindfulness meditation can reduce overall anxiety and rewire the way our brains work. Here’s a nice overview as well.

Speaking of meditation, have you read Dan Harris’s book “10 Percent Happier”?  A national news anchor, he talks about having a panic attack on live television and what he did to get to a place of confidence again.

I’ve been meditating a lot more these days, so that means more links for you!

Love this infographicSharon Salzberg, and this great article on the reality of taking up a meditation practice.

Mind Traps

“When you go beyond seeing words as words, you’re buying into the illusion your mind creates. The thoughts shift from being thoughts to being something dangerously serious. And when that happens, you’ll often find yourself trapped in old behavior patterns that are neither helpful nor in your best interest. We call this a mind trap.” (pg. 70)

Come again? The idea of a mind trap is actually pretty simple and people (with or without anxiety) do it all the time. Mind traps occur when we make up stories in our heads and respond as if those thoughts are true. If we’ve imagined something scary, our bodies begin making lots of adrenaline and our physical symptoms kick in, followed by more scary thoughts. Of course, this is a great recipe for a panic attack and, over time, it simply becomes habit.

I remember a few years back, my husband took our older girls to a festival. When I couldn’t reach him by phone, I started to imagine that one of the kids got lost and he wasn’t answering until he found her. I imagined her lost in the crowd and crying for us – it was horrible. Even though I knew this scenario was highly unlikely, I found myself believing my imagination and feeling more and more anxious until I was able to reach my husband. The reality was that they were having so much fun that he didn’t hear the phone and everyone came home happy.

I so identified with Brene Brown‘s video when she asked the audience “what happens next?” My brain runs disastrous headlines on a daily basis. Sometimes I shrug them off and other times I get a little wave of adrenaline. What if it’s a sign?

Leaving the pool with my three year old while hubby and the girls stay behind.

“Little did they know that would be the last time anyone saw them alive”.

The phone rings before 8am in the morning.

“And that’s when she first heard that (insert name) had passed away during the night”.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, we do have a choice in how we respond to thoughts like:

What if?

It would be terrible if . . .

I’m going to have a panic attack and then . . .(this terrible thing will happen). . .

“One of the most courageous things you can do when your WAF’s (worries, anxieties and fears) show up is to sit still with them and not do as they say.” (pg. 76)

This week, I invite you to just notice when your mind starts to set a trap for you. See if you can simply watch the thought without having to respond to it. There’s an exercise on page 76 in our summer book called “Mind Watching” – it’s a good one. And, if you’re not reading the book, try sitting with some basic meditation every day for as long as you like. I’m going to aim for 5 – 10 minutes a day and see how it goes!