Posts Tagged ‘stress reduction’

The Roosters are Everywhere

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

This is a true story of Bob sitting at an all day meditation at the Buddhist monastery he used to live at – working with what comes up when a group of 6 roosters were cockadoodling all day long.

The Single Candle

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Just as a single lit candle dispels darkness in the moonless night, mindfulness and love dispels fear, anger and the broken heart. This is a short talk and meditation on mindfulness and loving kindness.


Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

This Vblog talks about important distinctions between “Letting Be” and “Letting Go” as it relates to mindfulness meditation practice and life.

Important Aspects of Mindfulness Practice

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

The difference between acknowledgment and acceptance. The metaphor of the sky as non-judgmental awareness that allows all storms to dissipate. The importance of self-compassion.

Working with Practice: Sleepiness, Wandering Mind, and Perception

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

This MBSR Workbook Vblog talks about how to work with sleepiness and wandering mind while meditating. It also speaks briefly on perception and how we see things from a limited view.

What Brings You Here?

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

At the beginning of every Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class we go around the circle introducing ourselves and saying what brought us here. In “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook”, we ask a similar question, what brings you to this book? Listen to Bob Stahl speak about what brought him to mindfulness practice.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Friday, February 26th, 2010

This video is a short introduction to the New Harbinger publication, A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has changed the way thousands of people live their lives. In this workbook, you will learn how to change your relationship to stress, pain, and illness and move in the direction of greater calm, balance, and peace. Find out more at

Welcome to the MBSR Workbook

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

This is a short video welcoming you to MBSR Workbook. It includes a brief overview of what is mindfulness and a short guided meditation.

Calming Your Anxious Mind: An Interview with Jeff Brantley, M.D.

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Today I bring to you a wonderful mindfulness teacher, Psychiatrist and author, Jeff Brantley, M.D..  Jeff is Founder and Director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine, and author of the popular book Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness & Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, & Panic, and co-author, with Wendy Millstine, of his recent hit series Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices To Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long, and Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind

In this interview Dr. Brantley answers some important questions about seeing a rise in anxiety in our culture, practical skills to help us out, and his favorite ways to take 5 Good Minutes in his daily life.

Elisha: In my own practice I seem to be seeing more people coming in with heightened anxiety than ever before. Have you seen a rise in anxiety, and if so, why are people so anxious right now?

Jeff: Yes, I think most folks would agree that there are even more sources of anxiety in our lives now, than even when I wrote the first edition of Calming Your Anxious Mind in 2003.

Obviously, worries about the economy and jobs have worsened since then, and with that are the related issues of health care costs and availability to millions of Americans. Plus there is the on-going global issue with radical fundamentalism and the harsh facts that our country has deployed its military men and women multiple times to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, there is the disturbing information about environmental changes and global warming perhaps unfolding more rapidly than previously expected.

And, against all of these serious matters, our country’s political and cultural atmosphere seems to have become even more polarized and calcified into vastly different ideological camps with one result being a degradation of civility and tolerance in public discourse and in many individual relationships.  Such intolerance and mistrust surely works against enacting any positive plan of response on a national and international level, and it likely also contributes to some increased despair in the general public about the ability of our government, and ourselves, to deal with these massive problems.

So, if fear is a natural response to a perceived threat, and “anxiety” is a state of feeling fear when there is actually no immediate threat, or a feeling of fear in excess to the danger of the threat, then I think all of these factors contribute to folks feeling more anxiety-excess fear in daily life-about these things.

In short, they may be feeling fear about ideas that have not happened, or that have happened but have not impacted their lives directly, or that they have little capacity to actually affect, except to worry about them.

Also, I think that our media and sensationalist news driven culture has contributed to the general anxiety by so often showing (often in grim or gruesome detail) very disturbing images and stories, and (to my way of thinking anyway) rarely leaving the viewer with anything positive, or any real resolution or action they can take in the situation.

Then, there is the whole range of everyday issues that folks have to deal with, just living and raising families.  They haven’t gone anywhere, but now exist against this larger background of national and international issues.

In short, I think folks nowadays have even more to “worry” about and, too often, still have little guidance or support in managing the disturbing impact of the constant “news” about how bad things are.

Elisha: In light of this, what are some practical skills you can share with readers of the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog to calm their anxious minds?


  1. The first “skill” is actually a perspective, or wise view, you might say. That is, you are not your thoughts, and your anxiety is not a permanent identity.  Anxiety is not who you are.Once a person understands that the anxious thoughts they experience are only thoughts, and are not permanent, and probably not even accurate in some fundamental way, then the “scary story” in those thoughts will lose considerable power over them.

    And, even if there is some truth to the “scary story”, that the danger is real (one may lose a job, for example, or a loved one may be deployed to Afghanistan), it is still important to recognize that the thoughts one’s mind generates about a situation can either be helpful or add to the anxiety. For example, if one becomes stuck, ruminating on the mere possibility of losing one’s job, what is happening is that each of those worried thoughts is a signal to the body that danger is present.  So, through the mind-body connections, the worried thoughts signal the body to go into the “fight or flight” response.  The body does, and becomes hyperaroused and ready to act.

    If a person understands this reaction to threat in their own mind and body, and knows how their own thoughts about what is happening actually can contribute to the feelings of fear, then the next “skills” become more important.

  2. The second skill then would be having a method of strengthening and sustaining self-reflection or self-awareness (something many call “mindfulness”) of what is actually going on in the mind and body.  So, the noticing of bodily arousal, plus the noticing of mental/cognitive and emotional reactions and “stories” can be developed as a “skill” using mindfulness.
  3. Then, the skill of wise response can be utilized. This can include acknowledging what is happening and taking any possible practical steps to meet the problem.  For example, checking with one’s boss about the likelihood of actually losing the job.  Or, developing a plan of what to do if that happens, etc.And, the wise response must also include coping skillfully and compassionately with one’s own inner life, and reactions to the situation.  Some people call this “emotion-focused coping” as compared to the “problem-focused coping” when one develops a plan for getting a new job. So, if the mind is worried and the body is agitated, having some methods to soothe the mind and body that are constructive and positive.  These could include practicing meditation, using spiritual life, talking and gaining support from loved ones, eating better, exercising, etc, etc.

In Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Classes, we often say “you can’t stop the waves (of stress), but you can learn to surf.”

In part what we mean is that you can learn to recognize the “waves” of inner reactivity to stressors, and learn to “ride” them without making them stronger or succumbing to them.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from somebody who was really experiencing deep emotional suffering, what kind of wisdom could you give to them?

Well, that’s a tough one.

I might begin with simply acknowledging that they are suffering.  Saying something like, “I am so sorry that you have to go through this.” And, acknowledging ( to myself and to the other) that there is only so much anyone can do to take it away, but knowing that the act of bearing witness is extraordinarily powerful and comforting. Something like:  “I know I cannot take your pain away.   I know it is here and, and I am here with you.”

Then, I think a great gift for someone in pain is simply to ask them what they need or want, in that moment.  If you can assist that, then do it.  If you cannot, (and many times you will not be able to), then staying present with them is very important, if they want that.

I think many, maybe all of us; have a tendency to want to “fix” our loved ones pain, for reasons both altruistic and selfish. Altruistic because we are moved by genuine compassion to relieve the pain of another, and selfish because we can also be so threatened by the pain or vulnerability in another that we cannot tolerate being with it (or them), and hence we are “driven” to “fix” or remove the pain.

So, I think any “wisdom” is best generated from the position of willingness to simply be present (and perhaps to be silent) for the other person.  Then, as we are listening both to them and to ourselves, the “wisdom” that is most appropriate in that moment might find its voice through us.

Thank you so much Jeff!

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

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

Mindful Recovery and Relapse Prevention for the Holidays

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

As family and friends begin to gather during the holidays at one point or another may have to face either ourselves or a loved one with addiction. There are really very few people who are not touched by addiction in one way or another. Addiction comes in the form of alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, eating, sugar, and other compulsive behaviors that are an avoidance strategy and eventually cause distress.

When caught up in the cycle of addictive behavior, there is an inability to accept whatever is being felt in the present moment and the mind is constantly wandering onto the next ‘fix.’ So it’s safe to conclude that addiction often builds a wall of disconnection and makes it difficult to actually be present for the holidays.

If you or someone you love struggles with addictive behavior I recommend checking out the Mindfulness and Addiction series I wrote about earlier in the year.

  1. Mindfulness and Addiction Part I
  2. Mindfulness and Addiction Part II
  3. Mindfulness and Addiction Part III

Aside from those, it may be a good idea to do a bit of preparing and planning for the holidays. Here are some tips:

  1. Plan some activities that don’t focus on alcohol, like games, sports, or talking
  2. Be aware that there may be people who have addictive behaviors and don’t make the flaw of saying, “Hey, how come you’re not drinking?” In other words, don’t bring attention to the fact that someone isn’t drinking.
  3. If you have an addictive behavior, make sure you have a trusty alternative. Remember, cravings often last a maximum of 20-30 minutes. Bring a bottle of water or if sugar isn’t your addiction, make sure to bring some chocolate with you, sometimes sugar can trick the brain into feeling satisfied.
  4. Keep a number on you of a trusted friend or someone who can talk you down if a craving pops up.
  5. Take a time-out and go to the bathroom or outside and practice some mindfulness with urge surfing or another short mindfulness practice, or maybe go on a walk. If you’d like to practice mindfulness as an approach for addiction and relapse prevention, you can check out the CD program Mindful Solutions for Addiction and Relapse Prevention.

You may want to write some of this on a card and take it with you to remember because the brain may not function that clearly when cravings hit.

As much as possible, practice kindness with yourself and others during this holiday.

Please share what works for you below or any comments and questions you may have. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on