Holiday News Wrap-Up!

Mindfulness has been all over the news lately. The last month has been a blur of joyful holiday gatherings with family, and it felt like at each get together someone else would mention a different article or TV program they’d just seen touting the benefits of mindfulness. In case, like me, you’ve also spent the last few weeks away from your computer I wanted to give you some of the mindfulness highlights.

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Children + Mindfulness = Good Stuff

A quick post to share an article I saw this past week: Why Children Need Mindfulness Just As Much As Adults Do.

As you probably guessed based on the programs I offer for children, young folks can and DO benefit from mindfulness practice just as much as their grown ups do.

Carolyn Gregoire writes in this Huffington Post piece that research points to mindfulness helping children thrive in school, deal with cancer and other chronic pain, treat autism and ADHD, and even lead towards self-actualization.

As someone who regularly practices and teaches mindfulness, it is heartening to see research findings like this. :-)

Contact me today if you're curious about how mindfulness could help you and your family!   

Packing and Waiting: Tips for Mindful Travel

We’ll be heading out of town tomorrow for a family trip, so I thought I’d share some resources I found helpful in preparing for our journey. My friend Jared Gottlieb has written two blogs for National Geographic about traveling mindfully. Tapping into the wisdom of meditation teachers Jonathan Foust and Sharon Salzberg, Jared gives some great pointers on packing and traveling mindfully.

Packed and waiting...

Packed and waiting...

As I lay out my clothes, toiletries and other necessities for our travel, Jonathan Foust’s advice about packing is at the forefront of my mind.

"Jonathan says that while packing light is a priority, the decision-making process should always support a 'sense of safety and preparedness.' … It’s about being conscious of what’s important to you, Jonathan says. 'When I’m really mindful about what I carry, I feel more secure — I’m more open to the unknown.'"

Knowing that I have the essential items I'll need helps me to relax into the experience of traveling. I'm not constantly thinking about whether or not I brought the right stuff because I already spent some time figuring out a plan.

Once I fill up my backpack for the trip, I know I’ll be turning to these ideas from Sharon Salzberg to help me to best “appreciate the journey, especially the more unpleasant parts.”

When I remember to, I like to “wait with lovingkindness” as Sharon recommends, cultivating “a sense of benevolence or recognition that our lives are connected and that everybody wants to be happy.” Standing in line for security is less stressful when I’m wishing my fellow travelers a safe flight and happy travels.

And her advice to “be where you are,” is keeping me grounded today, as I sit with anticipation and excitement about what is to come. For now, I am here in my home, my feet tapping with a hint of anxiety and eagerness for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will be someplace else, and I will work to pay “attention to what’s happening around [me]—and within [me].” Because I trust that “when [my] attention is focused on where [I am, I’ll] arrive at [my] destination in the best possible state of mind.”

There are more tips and practical advice on the two National Geographic articles. Check them out before the next time you hit the road! 

How and Why Mindfulness Aids in Self-Control

Researcher Rimma Teper’s work looks into why and how practicing mindfulness can help regulate our emotions. Her interview with Emily Nauman over at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center gives some scientific backing to what many mindfulness practitioners have found through experience.

Rimma’s explains:

"The link between mindfulness and improved emotion regulation is certainly not a new one. What our model does is examine the nature of this relationship and helps to understand how mindfulness may improve emotion regulation.

There is often a misconception that mindfulness simply leads to less emotionality, or that mindful people experience less emotion.

Our model proposes that this is not the case. Specifically, we suggest that mindfulness leads to improvements in emotion regulation not by eliminating or reducing emotional experience, but rather through a present-moment awareness and acceptance of emotional experience. This sort of attentive and open stance towards one’s own emotions and thoughts allows the individual to still experience emotion, but also to detect emotions early on and stop them from spiraling out of control." 

In my own practice, it’s that “attentive and open stance” towards my emotions that helps shrink them down from the giant monster in my head to something more manageable. Instead of running in mental circles to avoid feeling something unpleasant, I can see the emotion for what it is and go from there. 

You can read the entire interview here: How Does Mindfulness Improve Self-Control?

Bill Treats PTSD with Mindfulness and Yoga

Each day, soldiers return home from combat often ill-equipped for the mental and emotional stress of life after combat. Suicide rates among veterans are upwards of 22 per day, and occurrence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among vets from Iraq and Afghanistan is between 11 and 20% according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mindfulness and integrative health programs may offer some relief for these veterans.  

A couple of weeks ago I brought up the utility of mindfulness for athletes, and today I wanted to briefly highlight an article about how mindfulness and integrative health programs may soon be among mental health options for veterans in the U.S.

Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) introduced The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013 in November. Among the many programs it seeks to introduce for members of the armed services, the bill would offer a variety of wellness programs aimed at veterans including mindfulness, yoga therapy and healthy eating. While some of these programs are already in place, the bill would make them more widely available to all veterans. 

Congressman Ryan, a practitioner and fervent advocate of mindfulness, explained to the Huffington Post that mindfulness is “helping the veterans, it’s low-cost, it’s low-tech, and there aren’t any side effects… If that doesn’t cross partisan lines, I don’t know what’s going to.”

Sounds reasonable to me!

Have a look at the full article here: Why This Congressman Is Fighting To Bring Mindfulness To Veterans

I'll keep an eye out and post an update on the bill's progress. At the moment, it has been referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.