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Meditation Mindfulness Yoga

Mindful Minute New Years Resolutions

1. Get Your ZZZ’s

When you don’t get enough sleep, or the quality of your sleep is not restful, it takes a giant toll on your mind and body. It probably comes as no surprise that even short-term sleep deficiencies can negatively impact your mental and performance state. For a better quality of life during your waking hours, including the ability to focus and be present and mindful during your day-to-day, make your goal for this new year in 2022 to get the sleep your body needs.

2. Design a Morning Routine for Success

But the first thing you do when you wake up will set the tone for your entire day. If you want to move through your day with ease, energy, awareness and confidence, start your day with activities that encourage those states of mind. If you want to move through your day feeling anxious and irritated, there are things you can do to incite those feelings, too, although I wouldn’t recommend them.

3. Quit a Bad Habit

It can feel daunting to break a bad habit that you’ve been struggling with for years, but it’s not as hard as you might think if you have a solid plan. Just as you learned to do the thing you’re trying not to do – you can unlearn it, too. It takes 30 days to learn a new habit and 30 days to break one as well.

4. Learn to Be More Patient

While the thought of waiting for something you want or need seems easy in theory, it is much more arduous in practice. 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. 

5. Walk

Walking meditation is a great way to slow down your mind and movements. We spend too much of our time rushing from point A to point B. Walking meditation is an opportunity to do just the opposite — think of walking meditation as a slow stroll without any other purpose or destination except to stroll — and be with any experiences that come up while putting one foot in front of the other. 

6. Sign Up for a Meditation Class

Meditation is the ultimate practice to add to your days to practice mindfulness. To jump start your practice, try making your 2022 goal to sign up for and commit to a class. It’ll answer any questions you have as you get started and help you make it a habit. I recommend MBSR, or mindfulness-based stress reduction, an eight-week program. You will love the accountability, structure, and camaraderie that came with learning as a group. Try our  online version of the MBSR program.

7. Prioritize

At the beginning of each day (or end of each day for the following day), make a to-do list that only includes three things. You may be tempted to add more than three things, but don’t. If you’re feeling stressed and it’s because you have too much to do, take five minutes to write down all that’s swimming in your head, and then prioritize. Remember, if your to-do list is overwhelmed, chances are you are, too.

8. Schedule Device-Free Time Each Week

One of the biggest roadblocks to maintaining a peaceful mindset is technology. Between our laptops, tablets and smart phones, as a culture, we have become slaves to notifications, dings and beeps.

Try designating device-free windows of time where you ditch your device and stay in the present moment, instead.

9. Go Outside

Spend at least 10 minutes outside each day connecting with nature as your 2022 goal. Feel the wind, listen to the birds, notice the flowers, smile at the passers-by…

10. Practice Yoga

Mindful movement is a great way to practice mindfulness, especially if it’s hard for you to sit still.

In yoga, we start with the body—allowing the body and breath to lead, and the mind to follow. Many people find their way to meditation and mindfulness through yoga because it’s easier to focus on the physical body first. For me, it was the entry point to the entire world of mindfulness.

Plus, it can be a great way to get some exercise, stretch your body, and break a sweat.

11. Get Some Exercise

If yoga isn’t your thing, choose your own exercise to anchor your mind. Check out our list different types of yoga, you would be surprised how many poses your body can go into! But really, any activity that puts you in that heightened state of awareness will do.

12. Develop Your Curiosity Muscles

When you’re curious, problem solving becomes easier because you see more options, paths, and ways of solving a problem than your non-curious counterparts. You question more; you gather more opinions; you don’t stop at the first solution – which can lead to greater possibilities. And, curiosity can definitely help you stay present and mindful to all that surrounds you.

13. Go on a Retreat or Plan a Relaxing Getaway

Make your 2022 goal to plan a mindfulness getaway. Getting away from your day-to-day life and spending some hard-earned down time in a new place is a great way to infuse a giant dose of mindfulness into your year. The trick is: don’t over-plan your trip!

14. Practice Gratitude

It’s easy to be thankful for things and people and gestures that do us right. But it’s also easy to quickly forget. Practicing gratitude — actively — is becoming more aware of the things you treasure and appreciate in your life, leaving behind a sense of happiness and mindfulness, bundled up and stashed in your heart. 

15. Eat Mindfully

mindful eating is also incredibly rewarding. When you appreciate and taste each detail of your meal, it’s a truly enjoyable experience and practice in patience. Start your 2022 goal by eating one meal a week mindfully and see how it feels. 

16. Spend Quality Time Connecting with Loved Ones

Go to dinner, play a game, have a conversation — and try to keep your smart phone resting on the sidelines to really connect with your present company. You can also try this mindful listening practice to connect even deeper with those around you.

17. Learn How to Say No

Saying NO is one of the most difficult things on earth. Learning to say no is one of the most important skills to have in order to focus on the things you really care about in life. 

18. Listen to Music

Instead of flipping the TV on as soon as you get home or phoning a friend, tune into some relaxing music at the end of the workday. Music is a powerful tool to boost your mood, spark an emotion, and calm your soul. Check out these two music playlists — created for meditation, but perfect for unwinding any time.

19. Space Out Activities on Your Calendar

Ever notice when you move from one activity to the next is often where you rush the most? Getting from point A to point B can be stressful. What if there’s a point A ½ that we didn’t quite plan for?

Creating bigger cushions in your day and planning to arrive a few minutes early will allow you to meet unforeseen traffic unfazed, and allow you to take a few deep, mindful breaths with that extra time before your next meeting, activity, or event begins.

20. Meditate

And of course, this list would not be complete without adding meditation as an option for your 2022 goal. Meditation makes you more focused, productive, creative, compassionate, less stressed, and overall a healthier and happier human. Need I say more?

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Meditation

Mindfulness V. Meditation

 

Mindfulness v. Meditation

Dr Deborah Norris explains the difference:

 

 

While we hear the terms “mindfulness” and “meditation” almost interchangeably, there is an important difference and relationship between the two words.  By understanding this relationship, we can deepen our comprehension of both the practice and its outcomes.

The difference between meditation and mindfulness is that one is a practice and the other is a state of being. Meditation is what we are doing when we are sitting on the cushion with our eyes closed, or however you practice.  Mindfulness is what we gain as a result of the practice. Meditation is to strength training as mindfulness is to being strong. As a result of strength training, we become strong. As a result of practicing meditation, we become mindful. Just as being strong is a state of being, mindful is also a state of being. By closing your eyes and witnessing yourself breathing – meditating, palpable shifts begin occurring within you, potentially changing your state of being. Mindfulness is arising within you.

“Mindfulness” is now also used to refer to a specific type of meditation, as in Mindfulness Meditation, as opposed to Transcendental Meditation or Kundalini Meditation, and many other forms of practice.  What all forms of meditation practice share in common is the use of a single point of focus to begin to still the mind. In closed-monitoring practices, one remains focused on that single point. What varies with the different practices is where we aim that point of focus. Transcendental meditation focuses on a mantra repeated over and over. Kundalini focuses on ecstatic awareness.  Compassion meditation practices focus on sensations from the heart. Other forms of the practice may focus on a visual experience or point, such as a candle. And others may focus on a sound, such as a chime, or singing bowl. Transcendental Meditators remain in that closed-monitoring state, continually focused on their mantra.

 

In Mindfulness Meditation the point of focus is sensate awareness of interoceptive experiences. This can include the full gamut of sensations that may arise in the body, including sensations of the breath moving in, through and from the body, circulation, digestion, a specific body part, or the felt sense of thoughts flowing through the head. It may also include sensations of pain, or relief, hunger, or satiety, etc, noticing where in the body these sensations are arising. In Mindfulness Meditation, one can shift at any time to open monitoring – that is, letting go of the single point of focus, and noticing and experiencing anything that arises in the sensate awareness.  One may start the practice focused on the sensations of breathing, and perhaps once the mind is stilled, shift to a broader perspective of anything that comes up. This is similar to focusing on a specific point on the horizon, and then stepping back, expanding both the breadth and the depth of the perception, and noticing the full horizon!

I define Mindfulness Meditation as being in a curious state of awareness. During the practice, we continually invite ourselves back to curiosity about the sensate experiences of being. What do I feel like, and where in the body do I feel it? This practice activates specific regions of the brain, and measureable growth occurs in these regions. Mindfulness Meditation is associated with activation and growth in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a part of the brain that regulates self-awareness, self-regulation and self-control. The behavioral consequence of this practice and growth of the ACC is greater feelings of self-integration, control, and resilience. We feel more open-minded, aware and present – more mindful.

Since different forms of meditation practice have been found to have different effects on the structure and function of our brain, our biochemistry, and behavioral outcomes, it is relevant to pick the type of meditation practice that works best for you. Mindfulness Meditation has been shown to be one of the most effective self-care practices for the relief of chronic pain. Something about directing our attention towards pain facilitates the actual resolution of pain. Mindfulness Meditation is also effective in rebalancing the brain biochemistry and even helping to restore balance to hormones such as cortisol, thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, insulin, growth hormones, and mineral corticoids regulating bone density. (Yes, sitting on a cushion meditating has been found to improve insulin function, and in other studies, to increase bone density!)

All forms of meditation lead to enhanced states of being.  Just like all forms of exercise improve overall well being. At different times in our lives, we may find different forms of exercise more appropriate for our condition.  I encourage exploring the meditation practice that works for you. What makes you feel better? The exploration itself is part of the practice that leads to greater mindfulness.


Interested in Meditation Training?  Learn more by watching our Meditation Training Playlist on Youtube!

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Meditation Mindfulness

Meditation Techniques for Covid Relief

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