STOP Reacting and Start Responding Powerfully

Mindfulness is a way of restraining yourself to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life. It is a way of reasserting control of your mental and emotional life, by helping you reconnect to the present moment, rather than the pain of the past or anxiety about the future. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives.  It is not necessarily a method of getting rid of life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body.

Mindfulness techniques focus on awareness of thoughts and feelings without attachment or judgment. When we are having intense emotions, it is often because we are caught up in our catastrophic interpretations about what is going on. The more we become entangled in the thoughts about the situation, the worse it feels, and the more intense our emotions become. Mindfulness short-circuits this process by helping us to disentangle ourselves from our distorted thought patterns and connect to the actual situation. This enables us to more skillfully address the difficult situation, and to do so with less emotional reactivity and psychological suffering.

You’ll probably find engaging in a formal daily Mindfulness practice has real benefits in reducing the stress and anxiety you feel throughout the day. There is significant research showing this is usually the case. However, there are more effective ways you can engage in mindfulness to positively shape your day to an even greater degree than formal sitting practice. One skill I often teach members of my Mindfulness Matters group is the mindfulness practice of STOP.

STOP is primarily used to introduce mindful experience throughout your day, when you need it most. Even after a good mindfulness meditation in the morning, it’s easy to quickly get caught up in all of the stresses and activities of daily life. By applying mindfulness to these experience during your day, your mind will be on autopilot less, and you will be able to check in with how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and what behavior you’re engaging in.

STOP is an acronym that stands for:

S: Stop. Whatever you’re doing, just pause momentarily.
T: Take a breath. Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment.
O: Observe. Notice what is happening. What is happening inside you, and outside of you? Where has your mind gone? What do you feel? What are you doing?
P: Proceed. Continue doing what you were doing. Or don’t: Use the information gained during this check-in to change course. Whatever you do, do it mindfully.

By occasionally reminding yourself to stop during your day, you can increase your awareness of what is going on around you and inside you. You may stop and notice you are engaging in a lot of negative self-judgments. Using STOP may help you recognize when your body is becoming tense, and allow you to correct it before you are in pain. You might find that you’re hungry, or that a break might be helpful. The more you STOP during the day, the more you re-engage with reality, and disengage from the habitual busyness of your mind.

Don’t forget: I share this skill in more depth through the 8 session Mindfulness Matters group!

Space is limited to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.

Register for a screening here:

http://www.subscribepage.com/mindfulnessmattersgroup

Keep in mind that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self in the life you want to celebrate!

Comment and tell me how you STOPped reacting and started responding powerfully in your life again!

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Mindfulness Matters Group – Now Enrolling!

If you have ever said…
I can’t focus or think straight
I can’t seem to figure out what I want
Everyone judges me
I’m not good enough

HELP GET CLARITY AND SHOW UP POWERFULLY IN YOUR LIFE!
This 8-week group will provide you with support + give you the skills to…

+ Notice the here and now experiences even when you are overwhelmed and unsettled so that you can participate in the parts of your life that are meaningful
+ Engage in activities even when you’re feeling scared or insecure so that you can lead a fulfilling life and feel happy
+ Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to feel fully comfortable in your own skin
+ Quiet your self-critical voice and learn to love yourself for exactly who you are

Space is limited to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.
**only 5 spaces remain**

Register for a screening here: http://www.subscribepage.com/c6q6s5

Or email drnazari@drsallynazari.com for more information.

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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Even Just ONE Mindful Moment Matters

Many people have started to find their rhythm again after the hustle and bustle of the hectic season. Some are still looking to find their footing. Still, many others are looking to figure out the new normal for themselves amidst new goals. After so much activity and taming giant to-do lists, you might be finding it hard to focus on just doing ONE thing in this ONE moment. It might feel like it’s hard to see why just that ONE really matters unless it’s part of a bigger whole or has a grand agenda attached to it.

Here’s the thing – It’s natural to feel that way and, yet, it can hold us back from allowing in some of those very things that can help us get on the pathway towards exactly where we want to be so that we can cultivate the life experiences that are meaningful to us. In fact, one of my favorite things in the Mindfulness Matters group is a story about how just ONE simple act can have a tremendous impact on every single moment that follows.

Here’s the story:

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. 

One day he was walking along the shore.  As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day.

So he began to walk faster to catch up.  As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. 

As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
 
“The sun is up and the tide is going out.  And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
 
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
 
The young man listened politely. 

Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it
Into the ocean, past the breaking waves and said –  “It made a difference for that one.”

We can easily find ourselves getting caught in the whirlwind of life or even falling into a rut where it then becomes hard to just make ONE shift. It’s in those one small acts and moments where we can begin a new pattern for ourselves that allows us to make great gains. Each week in the Mindfulness Matters group, we take steps just like this to help bring in a powerful tool for turbocharging your life to quiet your inner critic, break out of your mental rut, and tune into your best self so that you can carve out the life that serves you best. I’m happy to talk to you about how this group can help you get where you want to be – you can easily get in touch!

In the meantime, what’s ONE thing you can do today to make sure you wrap up your day with greater clarity and a bigger smile than when you started it?

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch! Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self in the New Year!

Please feel free to comment and share your favorite Mindfulness tip with me! That way, we can spread the word together – because even just ONE act of Mindfulness matters!

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MORE Tips and Resources to Stay Mindful!

For many of us, the holiday season can be riddled with stressors, frustration, loneliness, or even disappointment. In the midst of that, we might even feel out of line because the holiday season is “supposed” to be filled with cheer and “should” have joy and merriment. This can lead us to feel even more frustrated, alone, and like we’re a bad person for our reactions.

Here’s the thing – even positive experiences and situations can bring with them some difficulty. We may not have influence on the long lines or the traffic jams – but we do have influence on the ways that those things impact us. Learning to navigate disruptions and the tough feelings that leave us feeling frazzled can be a really valuable skill for us so that we can really maximize the joy and connectedness we have throughout this holiday season.

I recently spent some time talking with Deborah Turner of Natural Awakenings and Rockland World Radio’s “Connections with Deborah Turner” to talk about some ways we can navigate our emotions this time of year. Whether you’re looking to celebrate a holiday or you’re feeling stressed juggling work and family life, this time of year can bring with it some challenges. Deborah and I talk through a number of ways to build your tools for more easily busting stress so that you can feel like your best self again.

Be sure to listen to the conversation HERE so that you can get some more tips on how to navigate difficult emotions, bust through the stress and frustration, use Mindfulness to sort through your never-ending to-do list, and even leverage more sleep this holiday season!

I really loved sharing these tips with everyone because I know the pressure that this time of year might bring for many of us can be intense and detract from our experiences. It’s important to me that sharing information about how simple tools like working on our sleep a bit differently or just noticing our breathing and using the cracks of time can bring with them  great gains. That way, we can start to feel more like ourselves and reconnect with the things and the people in our lives that bring us joy.

Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self into the New Year!

Please comment below and share what stood out to you as your  favorite tip with me!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

 

Know Your Superpower!

One of the benefits of the Mindfulness Matters group is to help us get a better sense of our moment to moment experiences. The thing is, I am sometimes asked why this matters.

For many of us, we find ourselves going through our day on autopilot. The downside of that is that, when we are not connecting with our experiences, things seem to pop up out of nowhere… and then we are left in a panic, reactive, or even frozen.

Becoming more Mindful in our routine, day-to-day interactions and mundane activities can help us develop a cumulative buffer against feeling like we are always caught off guard. In fact, it can leave us better equipped to more easily surf and navigate the things that do seem to come out of nowhere for us.

In the short video below, Sharon Salzberg does a very nice job of illustrating this concept in describing the two wolves (metaphorically!) that we all deal with. In fact, having this skill gives us a bit of a superpower in the sense that it can leave us feeling empowered and acting from a place of empowerment rather than reactivity when we are met with difficult situations.

I would love to hear how what you thought of this story! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate your superpower with you!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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Mindfulness with 5 Senses

One of the aims of my Mindfulness Matters group is to provide people with accessible, fool proof tools to help them ground in the present moment so that they can eradicate the inner critic, paralyzing self judgments, and gain the sense of empowerment they need to make the best choices about how to react to what pops up in their lives. Today, I wanted to share one of these tools with you. This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring us into a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two or, for whatever reason, you don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan, this five senses exercise can help you bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.

Use this exercise to quickly ground yourself in the present when you only have a moment. The goal is to notice something that you are currently experiencing through each of your senses. Begin by making sure you are seated or lying comfortably enough that you can relax, yet still upright enough that you can focus on the following questions. As you go through this set of questions, allow yourself to become immersed in each experience before moving on to the next question.

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

The numbers for each sense are only a guideline. Feel free to do more or less of each – remember to make modifications with Mindful awareness. You can also listen to a guided audio version of this exercise with my “Beyond the Couch” podcast episode easily. 

I would love to hear how this went for you! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

 

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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What’s for Lunch?

It’s almost lunch time for most of us!

What are you having for lunch today?

And HOW are you having it?

Did you know that Mindful eating can help you keep your weight loss goals, build your confidence, and get more out of your lunch hours and dinner dates?

Mindful eating helps us build a better relationship with our eating habits, the way we consume our food, and its impact on not just our bodies, but also our mood! It’s one of the more popular sessions of my Mindfulness Matters group because it brings so much value – members have shared weight loss triumphs, greater self-esteem, and more gratitude for their food with this tool!

For a brief sample, listen HERE!

If you’re curious about how Mindfulness Matters can help you start your path to a healthier relationship with food and with yourself, click here: http://www.subscribepage.com/c6q6s5

Want even more information? Get access HERE!

Showing Up Powerfully in Your Life

If you have ever said…
-I can’t focus or think straight
-I can’t seem to figure out what I want
-Everyone judges me
-I’m not good enough
HELP GET CLARITY AND SHOW UP POWERFULLY IN YOUR LIFE!

The Mindfulness Matters 12-week group will provide you with support + give you the skills to…
+ Notice the here and now experiences even when you are overwhelmed and unsettled so that you can participate in the parts of your life that are meaningful

+ Engage in activities even when you’re feeling scared or insecure so that you can lead a fulfilling life and feel happy

+ Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to feel fully comfortable in your own skin

+ Quiet your self-critical voice and learn to love yourself for exactly who you are

Groups are an amazing way for us to lean how to express ourselves and understand that we are not alone. The Mindfulness Matters Group will run on Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm  beginning on July 11th and running through September 26th.

Space is limited to 6 participants to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.
**only 3 spaces remain**

New Mindfulness Matters Flyer PNG
If this group looks like a good fit for you, contact me for more details.

 

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

How Would You Save Your Life?

Have you thought about what your Iife depends on? Or have you thought about the things that you do on a day to day basis that keep you going and preserve your safety? How about any situations you might have been in where you have thwarted danger?

If you’re asking yourself these questions and reflecting on the answers, you might have noticed that you have a set of default and automatic things that you say to yourself. You might also have a pattern of criticizing yourself or thinking that you can’t handle what comes next or that you’re just not good enough to get through. You might find it hard to focus or feel like you’re being judged.

It can be overwhelming and we might find ourselves shutting down even further.

There is a more effective way for us to find clarity so that we can maneuver difficult situations in a way that’s helpful to us. With the confidence and clarity to navigate terrifying situations, we give ourselves permission to show up and shine in our lives!

I share openly in my Mindfulness groups that I believe Mindfulness can change the world. Now I can say very frankly that Mindfulness can save our lives. I’d like to share an example of how this played out for me recently.

Of course, Mindfulness has physiological benefits that not only extend our lives but that also improve the quality of our lives. Yet, there is a more immediate impact that refers to a way that use of a variety of Mindfulness skills can help us escape terrifying and even, in the case of my example, potentially life-threatening situations in that moment it’s happening.

Recently, I attended a training in Fort Lauderdale. As a lover of the water, I was happily practicing Mindfulness skills while enjoying my time in the beautiful, calm, and warm waters along with several other trainees on the evening of the first day.

We noticed the water begin to move very differently along with a very distinct shape appear next to me just a few feet away. The thoughts running through my mind were that there is no way it could be possible for a shark to to be so close to me in water that is less than four or five feet deep.

Yet, my Mindful observation clearly depicted the one, along with the shift in the movement of the water.

I quickly removed my awareness from the judgments in my thoughts and looked to observe again. It was unmistakable – both the shark fin and body as well as the flow of the water with such a buoyant creature so close by.

In the next second, I observed where the water was easier to move through. Now drawing upon Mindful movement skills, I quickly and deliberately led the group of us laterally away from the shark before we began to Mindfully wade our way back to the shore.

In doing so, we struggled a bit and one of the other trainees began falling. Our Mindful focus helped us to keep taking steps forward while the LovingKindness mindset of Mindfulness allowed me to reach out to help steady the falling member.

When we finally reached the shore safely, we started to feel the full scope of what a potentially terrible situation we had just escaped. Rather than panicking, we reached for our Mindfulness of feelings skills and began notifying other beachgoers calmly.

Several commented that our calm approach helped ward off their panic and help others take responsive and effective actions. We also notified the property staff so additional safeguards could be taken.

Once all the appropriate actions had been taken, I spent a bit of time reflecting on what had happened:

+I realized that I had made use of the Wise Mind, where an integration of both Reasonable and Emotional Mind informed my interpretation of the situation and the actions we took

+I knew that a reaction embedded in the Emotional Mind, while understandable could have put me in greater jeopardy

+I also knew that everyone’s safety was of paramount importance, a mindset that has been nurtured with the compassionate Mindfulness practices of nonjudgment and LovingKindness.

+I also remembered both my initial wave of shock and panic along with the exhaustion in my legs as we were working our way back to shore and knew that my practices of Mindfully noticing my experience without judgment and coming back to the present helped me, rather than getting stuck in them and struggling more, to instead choose with awareness a set of actions and responses that would best serve me in this moment.

THIS is the essential benefit of Mindfulness of our lives.

Luckily, I was not harmed – nor was anyone else – and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for the reminder of the value of Mindfulness in my life.

Each of the skills I drew upon are ones I teach and practice in my Mindfulness Matters group. I even shared this story in our final session of the most recent round of the group and am looking forward to sharing it in the upcoming cycle of the group beginning in just a few weeks. Of course, my hope is that no one is in such a jarring situation but that they have the skills to take the kinds of actions that will best serve their lives no matter what kind of shocking, scary, or upsetting situation they are in.

If you are curious about what skills you can learn to help you keep moving toward what you want to celebrate in your life, hit reply and let me know! Or click on the button below to learn more about it.

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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Exploring the Impact of Mindfulness, Part 2

Last week, we began to examine some of the scientific principles behind how and why Mindfulness benefits us while we are adapting to life changing circumstances. We will be building upon that discussion today with an overview of some scientific findings.

Modern scientists began studying the brains of people who regularly engaged in meditation practices sixty years ago. They found that these practitioners could weather stressful events with more resilience, come up with more original and creative ideas, and engage in improved cognitive functioning such as memory recall. In the last ten years, however, we have come to also discover that every time we think, feel, or act, a neural connection occurs in our brain. Things that we think, feel, or do most often strengthen these connections and pathways. In the same vein, those connections that we don’t use become weakened and begin to fall away. We can notice this with our habits that have become automatic and often mindless. Our thoughts and thought patterns work in the same way.

We can notice this with our habits that have become automatic and often mindless. Our thoughts and thought patterns work in the same way. Worry thoughts, angry thoughts, guilt, shame, and even sadness can all become habitual and strengthen the neuronal connections that forge them. It then becomes much easier to go there – and more readily.

Because these connections become so strong, habitual, and repetitive, it often begins to feel like we are powerless to change them. Yet, we merely need to understand how we can change our brains and these neuronal connections to make effective and enduring changes. This is where neuroplasticity can be impactful.

Neuroplasticity refers to the idea that our brain is, in many ways, like plastic and malleable. Things we find difficult can become easier with repetition – the more we do, think, and feel, the easier these challenging tasks become. Restructuring our brain through

Restructuring our brain through Mindfulness happens through the practice of noticing our thoughts, feelings, and sensations and bringing our awareness back to the present experience of these things rather than getting caught up in them. As we do this, we begin to both create and strengthen new neuronal pathways as well as weaken previous, maladaptive ones that were not helpful for us.

Scientists looked to see how, over three months of Mindfulness practices can change the brain structure of people engaging in this practice. Findings indicated a greater amount of grey matter in the regions of the brain responsible for working memory and executive decision making. These areas, interestingly, are typically associated with decline as age increases. Yet, the converse of this effect was found amongst those practicing Mindfulness over three months. In other words, Mindfulness slows down and prevents the natural age-related decline in cortical structure.

A follow-up study looked to target whether these effects in the brain were, in fact, due to the meditation instead of other potential factors. As a result, these other variables were isolated to see what changed amongst practitioners of Mindfulness meditation. The findings that were illuminated highlight valuable benefits for a regular Mindfulness practice.

Scientists noted an increase in the size of the hippocampus amongst practitioners of Mindfulness. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that aids in managing emotions, learning, and memory. In fact, we see a decrease in this area among people with PTSD and depression. In addition, scientists also noticed changes in the temporo-parietal area of the brain, which contributes to perspective taking, empathy, and compassion. This is not a surprising result of studies since, often, one of the documented benefits of Mindfulness has been an improvement in interpersonal relationships.

Additional findings were also reported in these robust studies including some that suggest Mindfulness is a particularly useful tool for overcoming disruptions and challenges in our lives. I explore further findings in next week’s blog post as well as in an episode of the “Beyond the Couch” podcast.

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Connect with me to see what support I can offer!

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