Archive for April, 2012

30 Seconds to a More Mindful Life

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I want to share with you something that is simple and short. If you’ve been around in this world long, you’ve come to know that, for most of us, making change isn’t easy. Most of us don’t live in communities that are aspiring to support us with our highest aspirations. That’s why we need support, some kind of reminders that can help us tap into being more mindful and re-minding us of what truly matters.

I woke up this morning and in my inbox was my Daily Now Moment called “Elementary Advice.” I have to say, I really enjoy these, what a treat to receive them and get to take it in as a reminder to drop into mindfulness and into what really matters.

Here is the one I received today that I wanted to share with you:

In practicing mindfulness one fourth grader said:

” ‘Before a test, if I’m nervous, I just breathe, calm down, and it sends a message to my mind that I can make it!’ Even in the face of adversity, the positive feelings of calm and hope naturally arose. This is The Now Effect in action.”

~ From the “Seeds of Resiliency” chapter in The Now Effect (p.130)

If you find it useful, refer back to the STOP practice as you begin to face moments of adversity.

This takes all of a 30 seconds to read and perhaps an extra minute or so if you’d like to drop int a practice (which I highly recommend). You can calm your nervous system, regain capacity of your entire brain, become more flexible in your decision making, and feel better.

A good question is what would the hours, days, weeks and months ahead be like for you if you had more mindful support in your life?

There are other ways to put supports in your environment. You can put up signs in your work environment, put reminders in your phone, find a like-minded friend and make a verbal contract to support one another in being more present to life. Or maybe actually join a community in your area or virtually that primes your mind toward what matters to you.

The Daily Now Moments are available as a free resource in The Now Effect Community to support you along this life’s journey at work and at home. Enjoy!

What other resources are supportive to you?

Your interaction, thoughts and questions below provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Inspiring A Mindful Nation: An Interview with Congressman Tim Ryan

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In the west, the concept and practice of learning how to be more present in our lives has enjoyed an exponentially growing audience in the last 10 years. There have been a number of people and books raising awareness of the importance of cultivating greater mindfulness for the purpose of healing great stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, chronic pain and even creating great joy.

However, it wasn’t until now that someone within our own government began working to help transform our society from the inside out, in a recently published book A Mindful Nation.

If you haven’t be introduced to him yet, it is my pleasure to bring to you an exclusive interview with Congressman Tim Ryan as he shares with us why there’s a need for change, who inspires him as mindful change makers, some wisdom from Bobby Kennedy, and the quiet revolution happening in America right now.

Elisha: You open up the first chapter of A Mindful Nation with a quote by John F. Kennedy, “In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.” What do you see as the danger we face right now and what’s the opportunity?

Tim:  I guess that can be different for each individual, but we all share some collective dangers – constant states of stress and anxiety for various reasons, high levels of information overload and a growing disconnection from each other as human beings.  These dangers are leading to an ever growing inability to take the time needed to solve the challenges of growing income inequality, affordable and accessible health care and child care and how we make time available to spend with our children, family and friends, basically all the things that make life worth living.  I feel that those are our collective dangers.

The opportunities actually come from us as a people being exhausted and burned out.  Collectively we are looking for a new way of doing things that is not going to come about by us simply balancing our national budget or spending more money on a certain program.  The opportunity that presents itself now is for deep, structural and systemic change in how we run our society.  The openness for this kind of change can only come when there is some kind of crisis.

Elisha: Who else it out there doing the work that inspires you to build a mindful nation?

Tim:  All of the people in A Mindful Nation and it is growing by the day.  The people in the trenches doing the hard-nosed research, implementing the programs and making the change.  They are on the front lines in some of the most difficult of neighborhoods and schools, some of the busiest health care facilities and some of the most dangerous prisons. They inspire me with their tenacity in their belief that if people touch what is deepest and most profound inside them that they can experience their lives in a much more sane and enjoyable way.

Elisha: You close your final chapter with the quote from JFK’s brother Robert Kennedy that is timely, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred…but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another.” Give us a glimpse into your thoughts on this.

Tim:  I just find Bobby Kennedy’s short campaign for President so inspiring because his rhetoric identified what America can be like if we care about each other.  It is that simple.  I’ve been on enough sports teams in my life to have experienced the magic of what can happen when a group of people care for and love each other.

Everyone on the team becomes better, even the water boys.  And I believe that if we can care about whether or not our neighbor has a good job or access to affordable health care for their children, and we move to implement the policies that can improve these situations, we will unleash vast amounts of human potential and recapture the American Spirit.  You can feel that when you read or listen to Kennedy’s speeches.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from a constituent right now who was struggling in our current national climate, what words of wisdom might you have for this person?

Tim: Obviously, I have certain policy positions that I push and advocate for that would benefit people dealing in a system the breeds inequality and makes life more difficult for people.  I would want them to know that who they votes for does make a difference as to how, and if, these problems get fixed.

But, I would also let them know that America is strong and resilient because our citizens are.  And I have been witnessing a quiet revolution happening in America that can fundamentally change the way we look at our political, economic and social systems. That as we all stop and slow down a bit, we can see how connected we are and realize that we can change the systems that breed poverty, violence and extreme inequality. And that change can help us enjoy the benefits of true family values, like more time with our families and less at work, like a better and more well-rounded education system and a new respect for workers.

Everyone has to do their part too. No one is disconnected. And everyone has to improve their skills, take care of their own health to the extent they can and contribute their time and talents to the community and country.  So, if we all agree that we will improve ourselves and then share those improvements with society, we can allow this revolution to quietly and gently transform our citizens and our country.

Elisha: Thank you so much for your inspiration Tim.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

 

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Lessons from the Last Round of Life

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Human beings are social creatures and the fact is, we need one another for support and survival in this world. Too often in the midst of our relationships one person says or does something that offends another and a spiral of hurt and grievance begins between the two.

People get so boiled over with anger inside and make a choice not to connect or make amends with the other because “they don’t deserve it.” What we’re missing in this picture is that this grudge, this boulder of anger we’re carrying within us, is actually hurting us!

I have seen it now a number of times. “What was the last thing I said to him before he went out the door?” she asked on the day her boyfriend was killed in a tragic accident.

We’re heard a resounding cry of this years ago during 9/11. Why does it take something so severe as death or threat of injury to bring us back to our senses to what is truly most important…our connections.  The Now Effect opens up with a story of a successful business man lying on his deathbed turning to his doctor saying “I had it all wrong. It’s so simple, it’s about who you love and how you love and the rest of it, the rest of it never mattered.”

We could take some lessons from those who are in their last round of life.

When reflecting on this topic, it makes me think of the people in my own life who are still alive. Life can be so fragile and while at times we can all think that we’re all immortal and will live forever, reality informs us that we all come and go in this life. The truth is, we just don’t know when that will be.

In a past blog post, Ronald Pies, M.D. said, “having problems means being alive.” I’d like to add to that, “having problems with others means they are alive too.” Whether we are struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, or illness, long before modern psychotherapy was even around, we came to understand that connection and support can be the most healing of all.

Sometimes we might hold a grudge or haven’t spoken to a loved one for quite a while over what seemed like an important dispute. We reactively dug our heels in the ground and decided to not speak to them. Meanwhile, we’re holding the discomfort inside; we’re the ones suffering. Learning to let go of a grudge is not condoning what the other person has done. It is simply saying, I don’t want to hold onto this anymore.

We all have a terminal condition, its called life and we can take the word of those who have lived it a bit more often: “It’s about who you love and how you love them.”

Author Stephen Levine asks us to consider “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say and why are you waiting?”

The present moment is really all we have, so who do you want to connect with today or this week. Make a list, even if it is only one person. What do you want to say and why are you waiting?

As always, please share your thoughts, questions and stories below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Mindful Parenting: The Buck Stops Here

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

While there may be many books out there on parenting, there really isn’t any definitive guide because every baby and child is unique and all parents come with our own unique baggage from childhood and genetics.

Becoming a parent is wonderful for stirring up all of those old memories and connections from our own upbringing for us to deal with.

Mix this in with our continuous fractured attention and we begin to see why it is becoming increasingly important for us to learn how to attune to our own thoughts, feelings and emotions so we can have the ability to do that with our children.

For many, childhood was a time of betrayal and invalidation where parents were potentially disconnected from their inner worlds of thoughts, feelings,and emotions. As a result, security and trust wasn’t fostered and this bled into our intimate relationships and we swore that it would be different with our kids.

The fact is, one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is their presence, validation, and security. When we’re present with our children it lays the path for attunement and resonance. Attunement is when the parent is aware and present to the child’s inner world of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When attuned, a state of resonance occurs where the child “feels felt.” Think about anytime you felt completely understood. It breeds a sense of safety and when a person feels safe they cultivate the ability to trust.

My friend and colleague Daniel Siegel, MD has a great acronym for this:

PART (Presence, Attunement, Resonance, Trust)

He notes that this attunement and resonance builds regulatory circuits in the brain that supports the child’s ability to foster empathic relationships be resilient in the future.

This is an invaluable gift to give a child.

Easy enough, right?

Um…no. It can enormously challenging at times to be a parent. Author and professional blog writer Therese Borchard often writes about her struggles being a mom and suffering with depression. As a parent, we are now responsible for a whole host of new responsibilities, trying to do the best we can while feeling guilty that we’re not doing enough.

Mindful parenting informs us to first begin to practice PART within ourselves. Sometimes just taking a moment or two to let the dust settle and tune into how we are feeling physically, emotionall, and mentally can be a wonderful gift in helping to cultivate self-attunement and resonance. Through this process we can begin to come down from the chaos in our minds and trust ourselves.

When practicing with yourself, you can begin to do this with your children. If you find that all day you have been frantically running around, practicing continuous fractured attention and not paying attention to your children, rather than riddling yourself with guilt, see if you can recognize that you are now present, let that be, and invite yourself to be present to your child now.

If the little one is crying because he skinned his knee, you might notice the urge to make a happy face or give him a lollipop to ease his woes. See if you can instead validate his feelings, letting him know that his response is appropriate and allow it to come and go. This teaches the child that it’s OK to feel hurt and it’s OK to cry when you get hurt. This earns the child a sense of security within him or herself.

This could be more difficult if you have many children and the crying becomes contagious. So when the voices arise that you’re not fit to be a parent, see if you can be aware of that trap, become present and remind yourself that you’re good enough.

As is said in The Now Effect, we will never be the perfect parents so let go of the burden of that fantasy. However, we can be good enough as the well-known Psychologist Donald Winnicott pointed out. Mindful Parenting is the process of being aware of how you were parented affects your style of parenting and also to make it a practice to be present and attuned to your child’s inner world. If you stray from this, that is perfectly fine, just let it be, and invite yourself now to be with your child.

As soon as you notice yourself drifting, you are present and can shift to tuning into to your child’s inner world. It is that close. Be compassionate to yourself knowing this is a practice.

As always, please share your stories, thoughts, and questions. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Neutralize Your Stress Response: An Interview with Christy Matta, MA

Monday, April 16th, 2012

I often say that there are two things in life that we can count on besides death and taxes and that’s stress and pain. With that said, it’s my pleasure to bring to you Christy Matta, MA. Christy has over 15 years experience in the mental health field, is author of the recently released book The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress, founder of the blog Dialectal Behavior Therapy Misunderstood and contributor for the Huffington Post and MentalHelp.Net.

Today, Christy talks to us about what Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is, how it can help with your stress right now and some advice for those of us who are struggling.

Elisha: Can you give us a brief synopsis of what Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) is and how it relates to stress?

Christy: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) grew out of the work of Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.  Linehan is a cognitive behavioral psychologist by training and developed the theory while working primarily with women who had extreme emotional reactions and who tended to be impulsive and engage in risky or harmful behaviors.

Over time DBT strategies evolved to focus on helping people identify and change problematic thoughts, understand their own emotional reactions and the difficulties inherent in the process of change and to teach practical strategies to deal with crisis, calm and center yourself, relate to others in a positive way that gets your needs met and reduce extreme and painful emotions. DBT’s effectiveness in helping people temper extreme emotions and reduce unhealthy and risky behaviors makes it an attractive treatment, especially for people who struggle with high levels of stress and overwhelming emotion.

Elisha: You mention in your book that there are costs and benefits to Radical Acceptance. Can you explain what that term means and some of the costs and benefits?

Christy: Radical Acceptance, a DBT skill, involves facing reality rather than rejecting and judging it. Some think that acceptance is a state that simply comes—with time, patience, or understanding. This misconception can leave you feeling out of control.

Radical Acceptance involves making a choice to accept yourself and the current situation, even if you wish you or the situation were different.  It may mean acknowledging a health problem that you’d like to avoid, accepting that an adult child has made life choices with which you disagree or admitting that you’re disappointed in yourself.  Acceptance doesn’t mean that you like the circumstances or even that they are okay.  It’s simply acknowledging to yourself the reality of the situation.

Stressful and painful situations happen to all of us. When we fight, avoid, procrastinate, or try to fix something that we have no control over, we usually do so because the situation is scary or it means we are losing something important.  The costs of acceptance are often that we have to experience painful emotions, such as disappointment, fear or shame.

However, by acknowledging our circumstances and accepting them and our own emotions and behaviors, we are able to deal with them as they are and find solutions.  Sometimes the process is painful, but acceptance allows us to get through difficult times, solve problems and move on.

Elisha: What are some key practices that readers can take away right now to start enhancing their Stress Response?

Christy: When you are stressed, it can be helpful to first get your body into a more calm and relaxed state, which will have a calming effect on your emotions and thoughts.  A focus on breathing is an important part of treatment for stress, panic, and anxiety.

One strategy I suggest is called Balloon Breath.  You begin by imagining your lungs as a balloon. Slowly inhale and as you do, imagine that your lungs are filling like a balloon. Then exhale slowly, keeping the image of the balloon in mind and try to push all the air out.  Continue for ten to twenty breaths (if you start feeling tired or dizzy while practicing, stop and return to normal breathing).

Sometimes symptoms of stress come from the energy that is released during an acute stress response.  If you’re sitting behind a desk or are in a car and feeling stressed, you may need to release some of that energy.  If you’re not able to get up and walk around or exercise, it can be helpful to tense and then release different muscles in the body.

For example, you might clench your fists as hard as you can for five to ten seconds and then release your fists and let the energy drain out of your forearms and hands.  Repeat that two or three times and your body will begin to feel less revved up.  As your body relaxes, you will likely find that your thoughts have also slowed and that your emotions have calmed a bit.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from someone suffering with anxiety, worry or other symptoms of stress, what thoughts might you have for them?

Christy:  Although you might feel overloaded and under constant strain, it is possible to recognize your own response to stressful circumstances, and, with increased knowledge, change the impact that stress has on your life.  There are strategies that can help you get through a crisis, lead a less chaotic life and feel less overwhelmed and better able to focus on the positive aspects of life.

 

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Mindfully Breaking Free from The Power of Habit

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Most of us have some kind of habit in our lives that we’re either trying to change or want to change. Throughout the days of our lives, most of us have experienced moments of clarity that for a moment, help us break free from these habitual cycles and also give us insight into what actually matters in that moment.

At first, we often hear the words of change as whispers. They come very lightly, causing us to pause for a second with a little information about what needs to change or how we need to change it. These whispers are not that sticky for the majority of us as our auto-pilot takes over and we fall back into our habits.

As time goes on, the whisper starts to get a little louder; maybe we get in trouble at work, a friend stops returning calls, we get a ticket for speeding, or maybe we gain eight pounds from eating cookies as Charles Duhigg did in The Power of Habit.

Then, if these aren’t heeded, the whispers turn into shouting where the wall comes down, we get fired, lose the friend, have a serious car accident or maybe develop heart disease.

Who’s whispering and how can we help ourselves more deeply listen to break free from the power of habit?

You can think of this in many ways, if you’re religious, you might think it is God whispering to you, if you’re not religious, you might think it is your higher self or intuition, that inner wisdom that knows what’s right for you. Either way, the messages get delivered.

In my experience, mindfulness is a tremendous way to start priming the mind to be more aware of these messages earlier. In mindfulness you are practicing attuning more to what is happening in the present moment where the whispers appear. You get more connected with your body that is constantly sending you signals of being balanced or imbalanced. You get better at not getting so caught up in the storms of the mind that can toss you into states of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness teaches us to listen deeply to our lives and get some space from the triggers, cravings and urges associated with the habit. As Viktor Frankl said, “in that space lies our power to choose our response and in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

I can’t think of anything more worthwhile to do. When we listen to our lives, we get connected to what really matters to us and open up to possibilities and opportunities to develop new healthier habits to take action with. This space of clarity and choice is The Now Effect.

But first we have to train ourselves to tap into the spaces of awareness and hear the whispers, why not start today?

Take a moment right now to practice mindfully checking in to your experience. Ask yourself, “Where am I starting from right now mentally, physically and emotionally?”

Or give yourself the gift of 10-minutes:

Stop, take a seat and indulge in this fundamental practice called The Body Scan. This can help your brain become more aware of the cues your body is sending when habits are starting to take action (There’s many more of these instructional videos woven throughout The Now Effect to give you direct access to the practice in your daily life):

Bring this practice into the moments of your life at home and at work where you notice the habits occurring. Allow it to widen the space of awareness and choose a different response. As you practice and repeat this over time, the habit is more likely to fall away as you move into more growth and freedom.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Why the Blogs You’re Reading May or May Not Be the Answer

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Blogs are great, obviously I’m a fan. It’s where seeds are planted to help us make change, but we have to remember it’s a seed and we need to bring the content into our daily lives to make it real.

In a popular past post Refusing to Forgive: 9 Steps to Break Free, Andrea commented, saying:

I feel that while the blogs may provide some little clue to addressing all our concerns. It is in no way enough. I am not saying that it is your job to address our individual griefs but clearly this is a difficult and big topic that cannot be address in 300 words or so. There is no one size fits all. There is a lot of pain up above. And i wish i could talk to all these women. I hope they are all getting someone to talk with. Even if its to take these questions and points further.

Andrea has made a very important point that is worth a blog in itself. Reading a blog post by itself as the sole means of healing the enormous wounding many of have suffered in life is not the answer. If you have are currently struggling from intense anxiety, depression, addiction, or trauma it is very important to seek support at the very least from a caring community, group therapy, or working with a skilled therapist and potentially a psychiatrist.

Blogs need to be taken with a grain of salt because they often only cover a piece of a topic. The length of the blog may not be quite as important as quotes or short poems can often have a greater impact than reading an entire book.

This Viktor Fankl quote that sets the undertone for The Now Effect has had an great impact on many people’s lives:

“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.”

This poem by Sufi poet Rumi speaks volumes about how our automatic drive to judge everything gets in our way of love:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language. Even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

It’s important to note that online communities and blogs have a wonderful ability to create daily insight to integrate into our lives and cultivate a sense of connection in community. Blogs are not just about the people writing them as the source of therapy, they are about the community. As people respond to the blogs and hear other’s stories and questions, the thought of not being alone in this world can be healing.

Blogs can be one source of support in a personal therapy practice toward health and well-being. The blog does not need to address an entire topic, but instead is meant to help us think or give us that little something to change the way we see things for a moment so that we can take it with us and apply at work and/or home.

In an effort to really reach out and support people in integrating mindfulness into daily life, I have started a free live monthly mindful event that people in the community can access to integrate more mindfulness into their lives. There is one Wednesday, April 10th at 9am PST, 12pm EST and every time zone in between. Allow this blog to be your entryway into greater mindfulness.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to connect and grow from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

A Practice to Wash Away Stress and Misery

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Whether we’re in the midst of a storm of anxiety or depression or we’ve come out of the storm but are in fear of relapse, strong uncomfortable emotions can seem like the devil’s spawn that we try our best to ward off against.

For many of us there is a fear that these strong emotions will be overwhelming and lead us back into the great abyss of depression or another round of intense anxiety. However, it is in this very struggle of non-acceptance or non-acknowledgment of this feeling that our misery becomes compounded.

Although our minds believe they are doing the best thing for us, their acts are often driving the exact habitual mind traps we’re trying to neutralize.

What’s another way?

In the mindfulness circles the acronym R.A.I.N has floated around to support people in dealing with difficult emotions. It has been found in Tara Brach’s book Radical AcceptanceJack Kornfield has said it, and you will find it in A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook that I co-authored a couple years ago with Bob Stahl, PhD.

If you’ve heard it before, just think of this as a good reminder. Here is a sneak peek:

“R” is to recognize when a strong emotion is present.

“A” is to allow or acknowledge that it is indeed there.

“I” is to investigate and bring self-inquiry to the body, feelings, and mind.

“N” is to non-identify with what’s there.   This non-identification is very useful in that it helps to deflate the story and cultivates wise understanding in the recognition that the emotion is just another passing mind state and not a definition of who you are.

Just like seeing a movie, standing back and watching the actors play out their dramas, by non-identifying with your story and seeing it as impermanent, this will help assist in loosening your own tight grip of identification.  Utilizing R.A.I.N. as a practice can help you bring space to be with things as they are and grow in deeper understanding of what drives, underlies or fuels our fears, anger, and sadness. This moment of clarity, of mindfulness is what is called The Now Effect

Turning into our emotions can feel a bit foreign since most of us live in such a pain denying culture.  Isn’t it time to begin acknowledging stress, anxiety or pain rather than suppressing, repressing, or all-too-quickly medicating it?  Can we learn to view these challenges as a rite of passage instead of running away from them?

In an earlier blog, a brave warrior on the path of life commented about her difficult experiencing feeling the pain enroute to healing. Indeed, often times growing up our love with our parents is wrought with other uncomfortable emotions such as fear, confusion, and sadness. So it is, often times we have to learn to approach and “be with” our pain in the service of a greater healing. This can cultivate more love and compassion for ourselves which is the elixir of healing.

Remember, this is called a practice because we’re going to be imperfect at it. It’s not a magic bullet, but something to be applied over time, with intention and heart.

May you find healing, be happy, be healthy, and be free from fear.

As always, please share your thoughts and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

A Secret to Resiliency in Mental Health

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In the years that I’ve been working with people either directly in therapy or teaching mindfulness groups I have been fortunate enough to witness some wonderful transitions. However, most of us think that’s where therapy ends, and one of the secrets to not only maintaining mental health, but continuing to thrive is by giving back and helping others. This is what often gets forgotten, but Jeff Bell, author of many books, including Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, has an answer that makes this opportunity easy to access.

Adversity 2 Advocacy (A2A) was created to help people find a path to not only get informed about mental health issues, but even more so to  help others share their stories and give back. The fact is, we are social animals and motivation and hope for many of us comes from connecting to others and hearing their stories.

For years I’ve been advising people to find a path to help others through their transformations because it’s well known in the mental health field and in all the world’s wisdom traditions that service to others in some way is a key component to feeling well.

Why?

Because when we give back to people it not only inspires hope in them, but inspires a sense of a common connection among us all. Mother Theresa once said,

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging.”

When we provide hope to others it can’t help but cultivate a sense of belonging which is at the core of feeling well. When we feel like we belong, we’re more resilient.

In a day and age where mental health continues to carry a stigma that feeds a sense of shame, in my mind what A2A is doing is creating a sense of belonging and hope and I can’t help but support that.

Right now you can choose to:

My suggestion is to set any judgments aside and get involved as an experiment, without expectations and allow your experience of how you feel to be your teacher.

A wonderful resource to us all!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com