Welcome 2017! Sending out a wish of Loving Kindness to all beings: In this New Year, May we all be peaceful, safe, healthy, happy and live with moments of ease!
So, how do you plan to start off your New Year? With a list of resolutions of what you need to change, or by listing intentions of what you wish to create in your life this year? Whatever route you take, try bringing your values into the picture, mindfully. They can help guide you at any crossroad you encounter in the moment, when you are trying to decide between one thing or another. Reflect on your values and then make a choice that is aligned with what you hold important, to live more authentically.
Revisit Your Values
Start by revisiting your values. Make a list of your values on a piece of paper or post it, and put it somewhere visible in your workspace or home. Or you can create a note on your phone to bring up at any time. Identify your values, listing them as overall categories: Health, Family, Career, Recreation, Nature, etc…. You can expand these categories with details that fall under that heading. For example, if I appreciate time with family, the value would be listed as “Family,” and under that category I would identify the family relationships that are important to me: mom, daughters, son, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc…. I can also list family rituals that are important to me which involve family members.
Brainstorm Activities that Support the Value
Make another list. Brainstorm acts or activities that you can do to support the value. In my case, with Family as the value, my list of activities that I can do to support or strengthen this may include calling on the phone or video conferencing at least 1x a month, sending a text or email weekly, setting up monthly or quarterly dates to be with those important people, and acknowledging birthdays or other special events. Think about creative or novel ways for you to support these values. Is there a way to support two or more values with one activity? For example, if I value family, nature, health and physical activity, I may suggest to my kids a hike at the beach or lake. I make sure to remind myself of the main value being supported, so that I don’t have major values vying for my attention.
Fit the Supportive Activities on Your Calendar
Schedule those supportive acts on your calendar. Look at your daily, monthly or yearly calendar and note– what events occur naturally in each month, i.e. birthdays, holidays, special celebrations, etc…? Where might you intersperse a few ideas from your brainstormed list? Are there better times of the year to participate in certain activities? And, if you need buy in from other people, make sure to give them advance notice to fit it into THEIR schedule.
Reflect on Values When at a Crossroad
When you come to a decision point and need to assess how to spend your precious gift of time, reflect on your list of values to remind yourself of what is important. If the choices do not support your values, what other options do you have? Can you say “no” to something that is not aligned with your beliefs? For example, if my work-life balance is out of whack, and I have an opportunity to spend more time at work, or some time with my family– given family is important to me, I may choose family at this time. Or perhaps I have “self-care time” on my calendar, and a new work opportunity arises. If self-care is important to me, saying “no” to the other opportunity allows me to say yes to my value of self-care. Know that at every crossroad, you have the option to choose. Try making the choice based on what you hold important, and live in accordance with your values.
Ask “What do I value?” Answer Honestly, and Support Your Beliefs
Bring more authentic living to your days by taking the time to check in and notice: what is important to you? What do you value? What brings you life or joy? In what activities or roles are you involved that you lose track of time? Where does your passion lay? What makes you feel fulfilled? Asking these questions, and then honestly answering them are the first steps. Revisit those values, make room to support and live by them, and then notice how much healthier and satisfied you feel. Make this year one in which you strengthen and cultivate a more authentic you! Do it today… value the gift of this day that has been given to you… your time is now!
We’ve hit that time of year again, New Year’s Eve, where you may look back in time and assess your life. You may ask yourself, “What did I do this year to support myself on a healthy journey? How, where and with whom did I spend my time? Did I meet my goals or readjust my expectations? How did I progress or regress during the year?”
Sometimes in this process of reflection, we get stuck ruminating on how something SHOULD have ended up, or how things SHOULD be right now. This cycle of ruminating may influence how you feel overall, and keep you in that downward spiral. So instead of dwelling in the land of SHOULD HAVE/SHOULD BE, I’d like to invite you to cultivate one of the attitudes we encourage in mindfulness meditation- that of letting go.
When we sit in formal meditation, we are encouraged to let go- of expectations of how OUR PRACTICE is supposed to be (effortless, producing a certain outcome, etc…), how OUR BREATHING is supposed to be (holding for how many seconds, where we are supposed to feel it, etc…), and how OUR MINDS are supposed to be (clear, quiet, not busy, etc…). To support this letting go, we also cultivate acceptance -allowing for our experience to be just as it is. Even if we find our minds wandering numerous times, as they naturally do. By accepting our level of attention- in this case, a busy mind in this moment- we are able to let go of how it should be different. This acceptance allows us to see we cannot control every moment, and that some, if not all, processes need to unfold on their own schedule.
Moreover, we also see by the power of acceptance that when we get to a crossroad, or decision point, we notice where the mind goes and choose to bring it back to our object of focus (breath, sound, image). We allow for our minds to behave this way as they naturally do, noticing, and then redirecting without judgment.
When we sit in meditation, we are training our minds– with these attitudes. By having a consistent practice, we may find some of these attitudes flowing out into our daily life. We are able to let go more, or find it more natural to let go– of expectations we hold for ourselves and others. We are able to let go of how situations SHOULD be, and allow them to unfold as they naturally would. We are able to see the past as just that– something that has ALREADY happened– which we can no longer change. We may let go of beliefs and rules that no longer serve us. Or let go of relationships- be it friendships or more- that also no longer support us.
Letting go means releasing your embrace, and allowing and trusting in a process to naturally unfold. With this trusting in the natural flow of things, we are strengthening our own trust in ourselves: our intuition, decision making and more.
As you can imagine- meditation does more for us than just sitting still on a cushion or whereever we sit. The attitudes practiced in meditation can overflow into daily life, and bring us back to what we have: this current moment.
So, as you go thru this eve of the new year, bring into your awareness this attitude of letting go. And then notice what comes next? What arises out of the possibility of not knowing but allowing for the moment to unfold. Let go of the way things SHOULD be and accept them as they are. And then notice how letting go may affect your mind, body and heart. Be with whatever arises– knowing there is a natural flow to this moment, to this life.
Happy New Year!
Be well, be merry, be you!
As I facilitate mindfulness meditation classes and coach individuals on mindful eating, self-compassion and stress reduction, I’m constantly asked the question, “Which mindfulness program is the best one for me?” My answer: it depends on that which you wish to focus– the relationship you want to experience differently. I’ve been asked this question so many times that I wrote an article on it that appears in L’Chaim Magazine this month entitled, “Increasing Your Well-being.” Check it out! But first ask yourself– is there a relationship that I wish to experience differently with: myself, others in communication, food, stress, concentration, relaxation, etc…? If so, perhaps a mindful approach can offer you a different perspective than the one you normally have.
Keep in mind that mindfulness is about attention training. And what we know about our modern world is that our attention is constantly divided and in demand 24/7– as we rapidly shift our tasks (what some call multi-tasking), are asked to be available all the time, and be productive beyond belief. With mindfulness, we bring the intention to slow down, really attend, and recognize reactions and conditioned responses/habits that keep us stuck– from experiencing happiness in this moment.
If you have any questions after reading the piece, contact me. I’d be glad to chat and perhaps look at the current relationship you have with that on which you wish to focus– one that may be out of balance, in need of a refresh, or resulting in reactivity that you experience as unhealthy. Bringing deliberate, focused attention into our lives can allow us to experience greater well-being, and positively influence those around us.
What are you waiting for? ‘Tis the season… to be mindful!
Wondering how to reduce your stress and enjoy life more this holiday season? Take a look at the latest blog post I penned for the HeraHub Herald, a resource for Women Entrepreneurs. Imparted are practical mindful TIPs (Taking In (the) Present) that you can pack in your toolbox to use when you are faced with overflowing calendars, store lines, traffic and mindless eating.
Supporting you to be well, be merry, be mindful this holiday season!
Looking for tips on how to get through the stress of the holidays? Find yourself with busy schedules, long lists of to-dos, anticipated changes in new ways to be with the holidays, managing relationships and more? Need a reminder on why gratitude is important, and new twists on old practices? Check out a couple of posts I wrote recently or contributed to that speak to all of these situations.
Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season can be found on Hera Herald… the e-news site from HeraHub, co-working space for women. These tips are not only healthy for you, they are mindfully-based… where you can bring your focused attention to the subject, with an open or beginner’s mind, along with non-judgment, patience, and non-striving (letting things unfold as they may).
Interested in Gratitude from another angle? I wrote this piece for the A2ZHealingToolbox for their Thanksgiving edition, focusing on how to employ gratitude during times of loss and grief (family status, job/career, transitions, and death). I list certain practices and put a new spin on some older ideas. Worth a preview at: A2ZHealingToolbox: Thanksgiving: Gratitude .
Check back later this week for links to two more resources from BeingMerry: a guest blog post on Reducing Holiday Stress with Mindfulness, and an article focusing on and The Introduction of Mindfulness-Based Applications to Increase Well-being.
Until then, be well, be merry– and be mindful!
Yes, the holidays are upon us… as are the bowls filled with Halloween candy, bottomless cookie platters, delicious baked breads (healthy because they are pumpkin, carrot or zucchini, right?), rich creamy soups and casseroles to warm us, and festive cocktail beverages that go down effortlessly. Such a spread would increase anyone’s waistline over time, if encountered mindlessly. How do you plan on eating this holiday season? Giving yourself the gift of eating mindfully might be your answer.
An Ancient Practice Revisited: Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is not a new mindfulness fad, as some media sources suggest. It’s actually existed since our ancestors started eating with awareness thousands of years ago. However, lately what many experience in today’s world is mindless eating—where we consume our food and nutrients while distracted by our devices, hectic schedules, hectic minds, and each other. In our modern world we don’t “experience” eating as we multi-task or task shift, preventing our bodies and minds from being united in the same space and time, unaware of how much we’ve taken in. As a result, we tend to overeat, and then feel bad and beyond full– and may even beat ourselves up over it– which can result in eating even more to make us feel better emotionally. This mindless eating can turn into a cycle and affect our weight and wellness at the same time. In 2013-2014, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the percentage of adults over 20 years of age with obesity was 37.9%, and the percentage of adults over 20 years of age considered overweight (including with obesity) was 70.7%. Is mindless eating the culprit? Perhaps it is one variable that is influencing our conditioned eating habits. The antidote to mindless eating and to fuel our minds and bodies simultaneously, with exactly what we need, is eating mindfully.
Slow Down and Gain Awareness
Thankfully, eating mindfully is gaining momentum in the west. Mindful eating is not about a certain diet that promotes certain foods over others (though healthy choices are recommended). Mindful eating encourages us to intentionally focus on the present moment internally (acknowledging the thoughts, emotions, and sensations) and externally (the environment). Mindful eating is about slowing down and bringing awareness to nourishing ourselves: with the what, why, when, where and how. When coaching or teaching about eating mindfully, we look at all areas where our appetites might arise (we call these hunger centers), acknowledging them, and then ask what do I need to nourish myself most appropriately. Check out my website at your leisure, for more information about the curriculum specifically in the Eating Mindfully class.
5 Mindful Eating Tips to Keep You Healthy this Holiday Season
And in the meantime, consider these five mindful eating tips, to help you nourish yourself this holiday season in a healthy way:
1) Check in with yourself and NOTICE your hunger. Where are you hungry? What sensations, thoughts or emotions do you notice? Sometimes we THINK we are hungry when we look at the clock and notice it’s 12pm. Or we SENSE we are hungry when we walk into the mall and smell the cinnamon bun baking. If you feel a need for connection or warmth, heart hunger is asking to be nourished. Did you know there are a total of nine hunger centers? We cover these in the Eating Mindfully class. Taking an assessment BEFORE you eat on where you are hungry can lead you to make healthier choices on how to meet your appetite needs.
2) If you feel sensations in your stomach area or other bodily sensations that suggest food is what you need, ask yourself what kind of food do I need? Cellular hunger requests a type of food to satisfy a deficiency in a specific element that keeps our bodies going. Listen to what your body is legitimately telling you to put in your mouth, stomach and system. And then give it what it needs.
3) Before you eat, ask yourself HOW MUCH food do I need? Stomach hunger just wants volume (as it cannot taste food) and may not need as much as you think? Remember, our bodies are pretty wise and will give us the answer if we just listen. This is especially an important question to ask when eating out at a restaurant. Generally, in today’s restaurants, one plate of food is really 2-3 servings combined. After you ask yourself how much you need, serve yourself 2/3rds of that initially, knowing you may go back for seconds.
4) Reduce Distractions: Turn off the electronics and your monkey mind. Many people consume their food while watching TV, surfing the net, or reading their email. Try turning off the electronics and tuning into your own self. Finding a comfortable place to eat, like at a dining room table, can help reduce the mindless eating being distracted and on the go. Set the intention to be present to your food and eating experience. When your monkey mind wanders to thinking about something else, don’t criticize your mind for wandering…. that’s it’s job! Just simply and kindly bring your attention back to your meal.
5) Pause. Before, during and after your meal. Before you begin eating, perhaps offer grace as a blessing for the food you received, acknowledging all the hands that helped get this food to you. Then take the time to savor what is before you. Take in the colors, textures, shapes and smells. During the meal, put your eating utensil down between bites, and chew your food fully (perhaps over 20 complete chews). Chewing your food more allows for efficient digestion. Also during your meal, check in to see if your appetite is satisfied. Try not to aim for fullness; it’s better to find a sweet spot where you are 2/3rds full instead of overly full. After your meal, walk away from the table and notice how your body feels. Does it feel energetic, tired, sluggish, fatigued? Listen to your body and may your next choice for action be a healthy one based on your body’s answer.
Folks who eat mindfully can alter their weight, weighing 10 pounds less a year, due to simply becoming aware of how much, when, where, what and why they eat. Eating mindfully has the ability to change eating patterns or at least question them. Once we start to question, our awareness increases. Once we are aware we step out of auto-pilot, and have a chance of changing a bad habit, in that moment. So why not arm yourself with some healthy tips this holiday season and avoid the mindless eating trap. Your mind, body and heart will be glad you did.
The next Eating Mindfully course will start in February of 2017 at the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla. Be sure to check out the registration page and sign up! I also coach one-on-one Eating Mindfully skills—bringing in the curriculum into our co-active coaching calls. Whichever route you go, may you be mindful with nourishing yourself!
Check out the guest blog post I penned this week for A2Z Healing Toolbox.com . This is a GREAT resource for anyone experiencing any type of grief, loss, trauma and transition.
Whatever the grief is, know that comparing your grief with someone else does not help. Making it smaller than it is, or larger than it is does not serve you in dealing with it. Check out this website to find tools that may help you work through whatever it is that you need to work through. And know that you are not alone!