Mindfulness: Hollywood Takes Notice

December 4th, 2013

Since Jon Kabat-Zinn appeared on Bill Moyers in 1993, research on the applications of mindfulness has soared exponentially. If you’ve been following this blog you’re highly aware of that already. His Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has splintered off into Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depressive relapse, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) for addiction, Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP), MB-EAT for eating disorders and many more.

After the research became clear, corporations starting coming out of the woodwork interested in the applications of mindfulness for stress, productivity and reducing healthcare costs. Every year now it seems that Google, Facebook, Intel, Twitter and many more take part in the Wisdom 2.0 conferences, curious about how to integrate this into their work environments. Emindful.com has a 12-week live online program that has clear evidence of reducing stress in the workplace, increasing productivity and reducing healthcare costs. Mindful Schools, CALM for Teens, among others are bringing it into the school systems and now Apps for the various Smartphones are abundant.

But you know something has hit mainstream when Hollywood takes notice. In a new film by Paul Harrison, appropriately titled “The Mindfulness Movie,” we see leaders come together such as Rick Hanson, Dan Siegel, Mark Williams, Dan Millman, Kristin Neff, Jeffrey Schwartz, and so many others (including myself) to weave together important mindful insights about what it means to us and where it is all going.

Here’s a short clip to see what I mean:

We’re witnessing the beginning of a new wave that is going to become a regular thread in mainstream culture.

To make this statement a little stronger, I think we’re witnessing the seeds of the evolution of the human being.

A being who has the abilities to act with greater awareness and compassion.

A being who is not as enslaved by automatic thoughts, but instead engages life with greater freedom.

A being who makes decisions individually and socially not in service of disconnection, but rather in service of connection.

May we all grow in this direction and perhaps this film brings us a bit closer.

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

The New Science of Smiling (It’s More Powerful than You Think)

November 27th, 2013

Smiling is something almost all of us could do a bit more often. Past science shows that smiling – especially the kind of smile that involves the muscles around the eyes – creates a specific type of brain activation that’s connected to being in a happy mood. More recent research shows that even adopting this kind of smile, known as a “Duchenne smile” leads to lower heart rate levels and quicker recovery from stressful activities. Resilience and positive brain activity are maybe good reasons to grin a bit more in our lives, but there’s even a better reason.

The following video will show you exactly what that is.

That’s right…smiling and laughter are contagious!

Set any judgments aside for right now and ask yourself, what would the world be like if there was a bit more smiling and laughter? To me, it seems like it would be a happier and even kinder place.

Try the experiment of smiling a bit more today, stick some chop sticks in your mouth if you have to. Do this with your local grocery clerk, your neighbors, friends or the person walking by you on the street. Feel free to laugh in public, it turns out it’s an altruistic act. In fact, there’s an entire movement of Laughing Yoga that backs up this understanding

Here’s a short BBC clip below with John Cleese exploring laughing yoga in India. Watch it and see what comes up for you.

Smiling and even laughing in public more often will not only make yourself a bit happier, but the ripple effects can go further than you think. Start right now :) .

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

The New Science of Smiling (It’s More Powerful than You Think)

November 26th, 2013

Smiling is something almost all of us could do a bit more often. Past science shows that smiling – especially the kind of smile that involves the muscles around the eyes – creates a specific type of brain activation that’s connected to being in a happy mood. More recent research shows that even adopting this kind of smile, known as a “Duchenne smile” leads to lower heart rate levels and quicker recovery from stressful activities. Resilience and positive brain activity are maybe good reasons to grin a bit more in our lives, but there’s even a better reason.

The following video will show you exactly what that is.

That’s right…smiling and laughter are contagious!

Set any judgments aside for right now and ask yourself, what would the world be like if there was a bit more smiling and laughter? To me, it seems like it would be a happier and even kinder place.

Try the experiment of smiling a bit more today, stick some chop sticks in your mouth if you have to. Do this with your local grocery clerk, your neighbors, friends or the person walking by you on the street. Feel free to laugh in public, it turns out it’s an altruistic act. In fact, there’s an entire movement of Laughing Yoga that backs up this understanding

Here’s a short BBC clip below with John Cleese exploring laughing yoga in India. Watch it and see what comes up for you.

Smiling and even laughing in public more often will not only make yourself a bit happier, but the ripple effects can go further than you think. Start right now :) .

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

What’s in a Mindful Moment?

November 22nd, 2013

Over 10 years ago I had a realization that we walk through life often times unaware of all the sacred moments that are there. I was curious whether we could become more aware of these moments as they were happening and also were they possible to cultivate? After conducting a national research study I found that not only can we train ourselves to be more aware of them and we can also cultivate meaningful moments. Not only that it’s associated with stress reduction and increased well-being, but all the interviews pointed to a common theme of feeling more connected to life.

What is sacred in life is right in front of us and we often time don’t realize it until it’s passed. We’re “too busy” in our own heads to see it.

The other day I was at a Mindful Self-Compassion training with Christopher Germer, PhD and Kristin Neff, PhD where they showed this video which reconnected me to the sacred in everyday life.

Now I’m going to share it with you.

The moments in our lives are so precious because they’re here and then gone so quickly.

Make it a point today to be more present to what’s sacred in your life. Take a moment, breathe it in and allow it to linger for a few seconds. This isn’t to grasp onto it, it will eventually pass, but it’s to live fully for the whole of it.

See what you notice as you begin to become more mindful of the sacred moments of your life. Allow your experience to be your teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interactions are a living wisdom that we all benefit from.

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

What’s in a Mindful Moment?

November 22nd, 2013

Over 10 years ago I had a realization that we walk through life often times unaware of all the sacred moments that are there. I was curious whether we could become more aware of these moments as they were happening and also were they possible to cultivate? After conducting a national research study I found that not only can we train ourselves to be more aware of them and we can also cultivate meaningful moments. Not only that it’s associated with stress reduction and increased well-being, but all the interviews pointed to a common theme of feeling more connected to life.

What is sacred in life is right in front of us and we often time don’t realize it until it’s passed. We’re “too busy” in our own heads to see it.

The other day I was at a Mindful Self-Compassion training with Christopher Germer, PhD and Kristin Neff, PhD where they showed this video which reconnected me to the sacred in everyday life.

Now I’m going to share it with you.

The moments in our lives are so precious because they’re here and then gone so quickly.

Make it a point today to be more present to what’s sacred in your life. Take a moment, breathe it in and allow it to linger for a few seconds. This isn’t to grasp onto it, it will eventually pass, but it’s to live fully for the whole of it.

See what you notice as you begin to become more mindful of the sacred moments of your life. Allow your experience to be your teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interactions are a living wisdom that we all benefit from.

The Secret to Taking Stress Out of Holiday Travel (and Making the World a Better Place)

November 20th, 2013

Yes, you know it, I know it, the holidays are coming up. With the holidays comes travel and when there are a lot of people traveling for most of us that’s stressful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s traveling via trains, planes or automobiles we could all use a little help in making this world a better place to move around in. What’s something we can all do that not only reduces travel stress, but also makes the world a better place?

It’s all about learning how to be the “Ambassador of Compassion” and here’s how you do it:

When sitting on a plane, train or automobile, see the “choice point” to consider all the other people on the plane, train or road who are also struggling with being an anxious traveler. Remember, up to 40 percent of people struggle with some form of anxiety about traveling. Be an Ambassador of Compassion, connecting with your heart and saying:

May you feel safe and protected.

May you be at ease.

May you be free from this fear.

May you be happy.

Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

We have to ask ourselves, what would the holidays be like if there were more people being kind to each other while in transit?

Make a commitment throughout the upcoming season to be an “Ambassador of Compassion.” Try this out as an experiment and see how this transforms your stress with traveling.

Don’t just do it for yourself, imagine the ripple effects it will have on others.

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

The Secret to Taking Stress Out of Holiday Travel (and Making the World a Better Place)

November 19th, 2013

Yes, you know it, I know it, the holidays are coming up. With the holidays comes travel and when there are a lot of people traveling for most of us that’s stressful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s traveling via trains, planes or automobiles we could all use a little help in making this world a better place to move around in. What’s something we can all do that not only reduces travel stress, but also makes the world a better place?

It’s all about learning how to be the “Ambassador of Compassion” and here’s how you do it:

When sitting on a plane, train or automobile, see the “choice point” to consider all the other people on the plane, train or road who are also struggling with being an anxious traveler. Remember, up to 40 percent of people struggle with some form of anxiety about traveling. Be an Ambassador of Compassion, connecting with your heart and saying:

May you feel safe and protected.

May you be at ease.

May you be free from this fear.

May you be happy.

Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

We have to ask ourselves, what would the holidays be like if there were more people being kind to each other while in transit?

Make a commitment throughout the upcoming season to be an “Ambassador of Compassion.” Try this out as an experiment and see how this transforms your stress with traveling.

Don’t just do it for yourself, imagine the ripple effects it will have on others.

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

If the Children are Our Future, Teach Them Mindfulness

November 14th, 2013

In her infamous song the late Whitney Houston said, “I believe the children are our future.” The fact is, this is simply true and if so, it seems more important than ever to provide them with the tools to be grounded in the midst of an increasingly chaotic world. Recently my wife and I led a group of teens from our CALM (Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness) program on a daylong retreat in the heart of a beautiful canyon. During part of this daylong we do a guided “Mindful Hike” and on this hike one teen discovered the root cause of all of our suffering and how we can begin opening up to hope.

mindful hike

The hike ends with us coming back to a little room, breaking the silence and my wife and I ask, “What did you notice on the hike?”

One teen raised his hand:

 “There was a moment where you asked us to reach out and touch the surroundings. In my mind I felt like I knew what all the leaves, branches and debris felt like and so I was initially resistant to doing it. You then mentioned to bring a beginner’s mind to this process and so I thought I’d give it a shot. I discovered that for some of the leaves I was completely wrong. What looked like a leaf that was alive and well was actually dead inside and cracked when I touched it. I was so surprised.”

There was something powerful in that noticing so we went a bit deeper:

“What does that have to do with the rest of your life?”

He thought about it for a moment and continued:

“I guess there are a lot of things my mind judges. At times it’s told me that I can’t do something, or that something is wrong with me. Other times it’s judges another person based on their clothing and so I stayed away from them. I guess those judgments aren’t always right and they keep me away from challenging myself, caring about myself or having new experiences.”

That was pretty profound for a teen (or for any adult for that matter).

The root cause of our suffering in this world is our brain’s snap judgments telling us what we can and can’t do, who we can and can’t like. When it comes to having stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or trauma, it goes on overload biasing toward the negative.

But are these thoughts absolutely true? And if not, how do they make us feel? Often times lousy or like avoiding the mystery of life. What would be there if these avoidant thoughts weren’t there? Maybe we’d be more curious, light on our feet and open to new experience. Maybe, just maybe, we’d be happy.

The teen’s lesson here wasn’t to throw our minds out, they can be quite useful, but it highlighted at a young age, how quick we are to judge.

What would the world be like if more of us learned to pause, put our judgments aside and let our experience guide us?

That is the gift of mindfulness.

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

If the Children are Our Future, Teach Them Mindfulness

November 14th, 2013

In her infamous song the late Whitney Houston said, “I believe the children are our future.” The fact is, this is simply true and if so, it seems more important than ever to provide them with the tools to be grounded in the midst of an increasingly chaotic world. Recently my wife and I led a group of teens from our CALM (Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness) program on a daylong retreat in the heart of a beautiful canyon. During part of this daylong we do a guided “Mindful Hike” and on this hike one teen discovered the root cause of all of our suffering and how we can begin opening up to hope.

mindful hike

The hike ends with us coming back to a little room, breaking the silence and my wife and I ask, “What did you notice on the hike?”

One teen raised his hand:

 “There was a moment where you asked us to reach out and touch the surroundings. In my mind I felt like I knew what all the leaves, branches and debris felt like and so I was initially resistant to doing it. You then mentioned to bring a beginner’s mind to this process and so I thought I’d give it a shot. I discovered that for some of the leaves I was completely wrong. What looked like a leaf that was alive and well was actually dead inside and cracked when I touched it. I was so surprised.”

There was something powerful in that noticing so we went a bit deeper:

“What does that have to do with the rest of your life?”

He thought about it for a moment and continued:

“I guess there are a lot of things my mind judges. At times it’s told me that I can’t do something, or that something is wrong with me. Other times it’s judges another person based on their clothing and so I stayed away from them. I guess those judgments aren’t always right and they keep me away from challenging myself, caring about myself or having new experiences.”

That was pretty profound for a teen (or for any adult for that matter).

The root cause of our suffering in this world is our brain’s snap judgments telling us what we can and can’t do, who we can and can’t like. When it comes to having stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or trauma, it goes on overload biasing toward the negative.

But are these thoughts absolutely true? And if not, how do they make us feel? Often times lousy or like avoiding the mystery of life. What would be there if these avoidant thoughts weren’t there? Maybe we’d be more curious, light on our feet and open to new experience. Maybe, just maybe, we’d be happy.

The teen’s lesson here wasn’t to throw our minds out, they can be quite useful, but it highlighted at a young age, how quick we are to judge.

What would the world be like if more of us learned to pause, put our judgments aside and let our experience guide us?

That is the gift of mindfulness.

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

Turn Your Stress Down with this Simple Practice

November 5th, 2013

pawYou may remember the story of Pavlov’s dog. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian psychologist who made the conditioned reflex famous. He rang a bell and at the same time introduced the dog to a bowl of food. Every time he introduced the food, the dog would salivate. Eventually all Pavlov had to do to get the dog to salivate was ring the bell because the bell was now associated with food in the dog’s brain. In this same way our brains have a “conditioned reflex” to try and get away from stressful or uncomfortable feelings. As it does this the body contracts and the mind frantically looks for solutions piling on more stress to the difficulty that is already there. There is a simple practice to play with that can help you break free from this stress cycle and into choice, perspective and freedom. 

From Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler:

The fact is, emotions are expressed through our bodies. Fear and anxiety are often felt as some form of tightening, a rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, or maybe a clenching of the jaw. When we see the sensation just as it is, it loses its power over us. 

When you experience uncomfortable emotions standing in the line of the terminal, on the airplane, or anywhere else, try seeing what happens when you recognize it as “just a sensation.”

Take this phrase with you, and allow your experience to be your guide.

The idea that emotions can be seen as “just a sensation” to people is a very freeing experience. The neuroscience behind it is that it dials the volume down on the part of the brain that is involved with rumination. The stress cycle needs our ruminative mind to feed it and keep it alive. The moment we see the emotion as “just a sensation” it takes the story away and allows us to come back into the present moment and focus more on what we need in the moment.

The reality is difficult emotions are part of our common humanity, we all experience them, even the darkest hours.

In those moments, may we all experience clarity and self-compassion.

Warmly,

Elisha Goldstein, PhD

Dog listening image available from Shutterstock.

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