What an incredible honor to be a part of the Massachusetts General Hospital education conference earlier this month which helped educators and parents with strategies to ensure kids find success in the classroom. I had the privilege of speaking about the effects of stress, how meditation aids us in managing stress and helps us self-reflect in the moment (so we are able to make better choices when we’re stressed) and then led the group in a guided meditation. The Q & A resulted in discussing about our experiences and how we can use mindfulness in the classroom, by practicing it ourselves.
We unpacked so much during the day. I personally learned a ton about epilepsy – I listened to two powerful patient presentations on living with epilepsy, watched an eye opening presentation on applied behavioral analysis with assistive technology from Mark Matoune, and was amazed by a tremendous presentation by Sarah Ward, on Executive Function skills for youth. She had great tips on how to maximize brain function abilities for kids, especially how to manage time effectively.
For more information: http://mghcme.org/courses/course-detail/epilepsy_and_education_conference
WHAT: Newly opened YOTEL Boston, the affordable luxury hotel inspired by first-class air travel, introduces ‘Meditation Mondays’ with The Boston Buddha, Andy Kelley, beginning Monday, September 18 at Sky Lounge!
Locals and hotel guests alike are welcomed to the Seaport hotel’s rooftop Sky Lounge for 30-minute guided meditation set against the backdrop of Boston’s skyline. Andy Kelley will help attendees hone their focus and mindfulness, Mondays from 8-8:30am, so they can tackle the workweek ahead.
‘Meditation Mondays’ is just the latest wellness offering from YOTEL. The hotel brand also produces Mindfresh, a series of 5-minute meditation and relaxation videos available for viewing in-cabin and on the YOTEL app.
Research shows that how we spend the first hour of the morning often sets the pace for the day. Why not, wake up and start the day & work week feeling relaxed and recharged? Attend ‘Meditation Mondays’ in PJs, athleticwear or business clothes and leave feeling happier, focused and energized. The series is a definite antidote for anyone with a case of the Mondays!
WHEN: Monday mornings starting September 18th, 8-8:30am
COST: $15 per session; complimentary for YOTEL guests
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl
This has always been my favorite mindfulness quote. We all need to look for the spaces between the stimulus and the response. That awareness begins with a pause. That self reflecting ability – in the moment noticing. In that pause we begin to notice what’s really happening (worrying about the future… a flash of irritation – a craving for food). With that realization, we allow what’s there – to be there – without reacting. In these moments, we enter a space of freedom – the freedom to choose.
After your meditation – or at a time where you feel relaxed – identify several situations during the day where you become or slip into a moderately reactive mode. Look for signs of anxiety or irritation. For example, for me it’s getting my son up for school. I can catch myself “mindful yelling”. For you it may be, getting caught in traffic, a deadline for a project, feeling tired, overwhelmed at work, or being criticized by a loved one.
Select ONE area and for the next week have the intention to pause for a few breaths and become aware inwardly when you’re in those situations.
In that moment of pausing – that awareness – take real interest in what’s happening inside you… An uneasy feeling? Tension? Numbness? Pressure? Are you aware of anger, anxiety, or cravings? What are you feeling? Be with whatever sensation or emotion is present.
Then, take a few full breaths relaxing with each of breath and then resume your daily activity.
Notice the difference between being caught reacting all the time and being aware and awake. Honor these moments because it’s a deep awakening inside you.
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?” – Tao Te Ching
Whenever I’m creating a new guided meditation, it gives me the opportunity to work with my own experiences with the subject matter. I had plenty of time to explore my experience with impatience last week – with a stomach bug that is going around – that’s for sure. I was trying to rush things and trying to move a little too fast before my body was ready… until I realized that I could just “breathe myself back
to this moment” and not worry so much about the future. This helped me relax and get back into the natural flow of my life and let my body heal naturally. I notice when we’re impatient, we are really just trying to make things different or better than they are.
When we want to change our lives in some way, we tend to focus a lot on the future – how awesome it’s going to be when we reach that goal. We look to that immediate result. It’s like when we’re riding a bicycle… we’re always pedaling past the present moment. Say we want to go from Southie to Cape Cod… we’re in Southie, but our attention is really focused on how great it will be when we get to the Cape. We feel that things will be so much better when we get to the Cape, so we push and try to pedal as fast as we can to get away from Southie.
Our present moment patience is also constantly being hijacked by our smart phones, autopilot choices, and our knee jerk reactions to the speed of our lives. We constantly react to stressful situations and become way too ridged and inflexible in our choice making ability. Mindfulness can help us drop down into the actual feelings that are there, so we can reflect and get a sense of what’s really going on. Using the breath as our anchor, we breathe ourselves back to the moment. This helps us disconnect from that reactive panic button that we all have, and frees up a little space – allowing more thoughtful and creative choices to bring us back to the moment. Be patient… this takes time.
The next time you feel impatient, check in with your body. What do you feel? Chances are you’ll feel some irritation. Let yourself be with that. You might find that “breathing yourself back to the present moment” helps. Take a moment for yourself to recognize that your life can become your meditation if you choose to approach it with this kind of awareness.
As we move into next week, I put the challenge out there for all of us to meditate for 10 minutes every morning and anytime throughout the day you feel impatient – work on enduring the present moment by “breathing yourself back to the moment”!
Last Morning Mindfulness class of the semester. The Mindful Olympics! The kids favorite class. We tried to put all together as the students collaborate and combine their efforts to make an important difference in the world – and connect them to the larger community… and let’s be honest, they just really want to beat me in the competition😜.
We worked on our perspective taking these last few weeks. We played “Mirrors” and tried to mindfully consider other viewpoints – besides our own. We discussed how we can’t literally put ourselves in certain peoples shoes because they won’t fit – or we wouldn’t choose to wear them because we are all so different – and that’s great! Amazing group of kids!
“Every meditation is like a snowflake, no two are the same.” – davidji
It’s a great question and one that students, friends, and colleagues ask me often. There are plenty of days I ask myself the same thing. My answer is that for me personally, some days are easier than others and we need to try to accept the present moment as it is – without trying to change it or make it different. Continue reading “Does Meditation get easier over time?”
Let’s face it, we all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Repeating the same old boring choices over and over again. It’s like we’re on autopilot, just going through the daily grind, in a trance, where we are sleepwalking through the choices of our day. And even when we think we’re here, present, in the room, we’re usually thinking… about the past, the future, judging something, or reacting.
In order to get ourselves out of these ruts, we need to become more aware of the choices we make ‘in the moment’ and ask ourselves how these choices make us feel.
Take a minute to reflect on all the emotional energy and effort you put into everything that you do in your life – your work, family, friendships, community, travel, health, etc.
Our lives are very busy and clearly over-scheduled! Sometimes we forget how restorative and renewing it can be to take any time away from our daily routines, to recharge the batteries and connect deeply with ourselves and others in nature. When was the last time you took a weekend for yourself and disconnected from your phone, your laptop, your weekend routine and just recharged?
“The greatest gift you can give someone is your presence.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh
I like to think that the greatest gift you can give to anyone this holiday season is to get your sh!% together. =)
The Holidays are a time of joy, love, family, friends… and stress. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Holiday season. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the look on my kids face when they’re opening their gifts on Christmas morning. But… between the physical demands of always being on the go – running from one party to another – and the extra emotional energy needed to catch up with family and friends… not to mention socializing with colleagues at company parties, the Holidays can be VERY stressful. Add in an ample supply of cookies, candy canes, caffeine, and some extra Nog, you’re bound to get some heightened physical and emotional reactions to your stress.
In order to slow things down so we can really enjoy the Holiday season this year we need to start planning NOW. Here are five tips that will help you manage your stress levels over the Holiday season.
Active listening is the essence of meditation. It’s also the only thing that really matters in relationships.
As we explore our relationships, what matters most is staying present, being empathetic, knowing how to pay attention and to listen, holding space for difficult emotions, and regulating our emotions. All of these are directly trained through meditation practice.
If you’ve ever been with someone who is not listening to you, not really there with you, isn’t empathetic, you sense it, and you don’t feel as though you’re being heard. What is fundamental to a relationship is being seen, feeling heard, and understood. So the first thing meditation does is train us how to actually be present. How to focus our attention on this moment as we connect with that other person.
Even as a meditation teacher it is challenging for me to practice what I preach. That’s exactly WHY I practice. Everyone’s mind wanders… a lot. Mindfulness helps me build up these critical skills (through those mental pushups) that positively influence my relationships.