mindfulness

Learn about different techniques for becoming more mindful in your daily life.

January 2022

What will 2022 Bring?

2022-08-29T19:16:59-04:00January 4th, 2022|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

 

With all of the chaos outside of our homes, it can be hard to visualize what we want to see for ourselves in the New Year. As a person who just moved across the country and still does not have her belongings with her, I feel like there has also been internal chaos for the last 6 months. Self-induced but there nonetheless.

One of the many reasons for the move was that I started envisioning the life I wanted and then looked at what needed to happen to get there. Like many of us through the pandemic, my priorities have shifted. I want more time with my family. I want to live a more active lifestyle. I want freedom around my work schedule. I want to be in a connected community.

When I looked at what I wanted I realized that my current life was not it. It was not a bad life it just was not what I wanted for myself. Most people won’t and shouldn’t pick and move across the country but for me, it allows me to have more of the life I want. With the freedom of being able to work from anywhere, I no longer was pinned to living in one place.

I encourage everyone to think about what life they want to be living. It is so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day and lose our priorities. What do you want to wake up thinking about? How do you want each day to end? Decide what your top priority is, and then you can evaluate if there are changes you can make to live those priorities.

I suspect to survive the last few years, many of us may have checked out. How else do you cope with perpetual political crises and a pandemic that seems like it may never end? You watch a lot of Netflix, or eat a lot of ice cream, or do something else to check out. No judgments, It is a survival part. However, the pandemic may seriously impact our lives for years to come. We get to make a choice to either stay checked out or try and reengage. I hope by examining what you want you can make some changes that will allow you to live a calmer life.

Wishing everyone a calm and safe 2022!!!

 

September 2018

Finding Our Quiet

2018-11-22T00:46:36-05:00September 8th, 2018|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I have begun photography as a new hobby. So for the last few weeks, I have been spending my Friday afternoons at different park areas in the East Bay. First I have to say there are many beautiful parks in the East Bay and I am a bit embarrassed to admit I hadn’t been to most of them before this. Today I was at Point Isabel which is an extremely popular place for those with dogs. I was one of only a few people wandering there without a dog.

As I walked around taking many dog photos I noticed how relaxed everyone was. For the most part, people were enjoying their dogs and the walk. A few had their music on too but very few were on the phone. It was really lovely. It made me think that walking your dog must be one of the few quiet joys left in an urban area. I live in a beautiful place but it is still a city. And people move fast and are often exceedingly impatient. Our entire culture is built on busy. People brag about how busy they are. I suspect for many it helps them feel worthy. Being quiet means being unproductive which is not a good thing.

But those dog walkers they get to be productive by walking their pets and also engage in the moment and the joy of walking around a beautiful park on a sunny day in a leisurely manner. It’s a win-win. For me, photography has been serving a similar purpose. Since I am new at it I am trying to practice every week. That motivates me to get out to new places and take pictures of different things. I am a person who very much tries not to engage in the culture of busy but still it is having this new hobby that has motivated me to find this quiet time every week.  None of us should need an excuse like a dog or a camera to do it. On the other hand, if the dog or camera works then more power to you and it. Just find a way to create some quiet and mindful time in your week and extra bonus points if you can do it outside. Find Your Quiet.

July 2017

Practicing self-compassion

2017-07-18T18:38:46-04:00July 18th, 2017|anxiety, mindfulness|

Practicing self-compassion

I work with many people that are very empathetic and compassionate, except towards themselves. It is interesting to me how so many of us have a double standard for behavior for ourselves and others. I believe that self-compassion is a cornerstone of a happy life.

Compassion is defined as

“a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/compassion

 

So feeling the pain or another and wanting to make it better. So why is it that many times when we have the opportunity to do this towards ourselves we cannot?

The other day I got into a fender bender. It was my fault. It was an accident and no person was hurt and the damage was relatively minor. But I beat myself up over for a few days. I knew I was doing it. Friends called me out on it. And I know that if a friend did the same thing I would say it’s okay. It was an accident. Things happen. So why did I struggle with it?

 

  1. We have visions of perfectionism for ourselves that we don’t hold others to. Somehow in my mind, I felt like I need to be perfect and I am not allowed a mistake. Not kind and not very realistic.

 

  1. We second-guess our decisions if they turn out poorly. I questioned why I had parked in the spot I had questioned earlier on. If I had not parked there the accident would not have happened. I did not question any of the million of decisions I made earlier in that day that turned out well. I picked one that may or may not have really contributed to the accident and focused on that.

 

  1. We have some sort of association that equates punishment with an accident or bad decision. In my mind, I had to beat myself up and give myself consequences for my mistake. Instead of just living with the natural consequences of repair costs.

 

So what did I do and what could I do differently. Well since I am practicing compassion I can say overall I did ok. I did ruminate on it for a bit but I was able to let it go after talking to friends. I recognized that my thought patterns were distorted and were not helping me. I also challenged my beliefs that this incident was going to be bigger than it was. I remind myself that even those compassionate to themselves might have a bit of self-pity or worry after a fender bender. I allowed myself to have my feelings and I moved on. Hopefully next mistake I make I can do even better with kindness towards myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Copyright: glopphy / 123RF Stock Photo

December 2014

Meditation In Practice Continues

2017-03-25T23:08:00-04:00December 30th, 2014|anxiety, mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

Meditation In Practice Continues

Not to long ago I wrote a blog piece about my struggles with keeping a regular meditation practice.  A friend recently recommended the book Full Catastrophe Living to me. This book is one by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is a founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programs. In class form this consists of 8 2.5 hour classes plus one full Saturday class. You have to commit to meditation 45 minutes a day while in the program. In fact, there is some recent research that doing this program can change your brain in the 8 week period.

My first reaction to looking at dong the home program was “No Way!” I If you are didn’t think I could do 45 minutes a day of meditation. But I tried it. I am now starting week 3 of the program where you can add Mindful Yoga to your routine if you are able. I have to say that since I have been doing this I have felt really good. I have also found myself looking forward to doing my 45 minute meditation every day. It is hard no doubt. Right now I am doing the Body Scan Meditation which is focusing on one part of your body at a time. I have to redirect my thoughts about every 5 seconds or so it seems. But I do it and I feel like it is making a difference. Interestingly enough I have been more engaged in doing the longer meditation daily than I ever was in the shorter ones I did previously. I know I can keep up on the practice for the 8 weeks it is structured for and I hope I can keep it up as an ongoing practice beyond that. I have read so much research recently on how meditation can improve both physical and mental well being that it seems really important to add this to my day.

If you are interested here is a resource to get the meditations for free. And here you can find more information on MBSR and buy Jon Kabat-Zinn’s cds for the program.

I would love to hear from you more about how you try and integrate mindfulness into your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

November 2014

How I Nagged Myself into Regular (almost) Meditation

2017-03-25T23:08:00-04:00November 18th, 2014|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

As a therapist I try to practice what I recommend to clients. As a human I struggle with these habits as much as anyone. I try to meditate every morning. Just a few minutes. I have apps on my Iphone that I use. The current one is Stop, Breathe, Think which evaluates how you are and then recommends three different meditations. Still I just wasn’t doing it every day. I would do it for a day or two  then miss. I was frustrated because it is just 10 minutes a day, how could I not get this in my day? I know how valuable that daily meditation is to a persons health and well being.

So I set up a self nag. I put a reminder into my Iphone and set it to go off at 8am everyday reminding me to meditate. If I don’t check it off it will continue reminding me all day long. So if I don’t find the time in the morning I come back to it in the evening. And while I am still not perfect in my practice I find that the reminder has increased the days I do find the time to meditate.

Everyone has to find the meditation technique that works for them. For me using a app that talks me through the meditation and reminding myself until I actually do it is what works for me. I would love to hear from you what you do to keep yourself committed to your mindfulness practice.





Photo Copyright: nebojsa78 / 123RF Stock Photo

September 2014

Hurry Up-There Will Be No Relaxing Here

2017-03-25T23:08:00-04:00September 24th, 2014|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

Here I am at home mid day and what have I done? Ate lunch, prepped dinner, and am now writing my blog posts. I am fortunate to have a job that sometimes allows me random daytime hours off. However, I will confess that during that time I have difficulty relaxing. It is a beautiful day out. I have many books to read yet I made my choice to work. Why? I feel guilty about having this time, somehow it just seems wrong. It is one thing if I had work I had to do but I don’t. I could have continued to procrastinate on writing my blog post for this month. But I have bought into the cultural values about time and wasting time. Which is flat out silly. How can it ever be said that enjoying yourself is a waste of time?

I admit to be being a work in progress. I am listening to the ballgame as I type (Go A’s!) and after I finish this post I promise to go sit on the front porch with a book. I wish I was at the point where I could have relaxed the entire three hours I have off but I am happy to at least go have some fun for an hour. Because life is to short to spend it busy.

I challenge my readers to find some time in the next week to goof off. I myself will promise to do this again next week. Practice makes perfect.

Photo Copyright: nu1983 / 123RF Stock Photo

July 2014

Why is it so hard to stay in the moment?

2017-03-25T23:08:01-04:00July 29th, 2014|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I want to start this by saying I love my Iphone. I love Facebook. I feel like I have been able to stay more connected with some people because of Facebook. The reality is I wouldn’t be calling many of these people on the phone but I love to see pictures of their children and their lives. The reality is this is a false sense of connection. There is no vulnerability involved in posting our happy pictures on Facebook. And vulnerability is where connection really lies. However, vulnerability is really hard for most of us. It is far easier to be checking our phones than to say to someone I had a tough day today and it was really hard for me to get through it.

While we all seem to be craving connection at the same time our actions seem to indicate otherwise. We want to connect with our partners but then we check our email ten times during dinner. We have a magical moment and our first thought is “I have to post this on Facebook.”  How many times have you been doing something you enjoyed but also struggling not to look at your phone while doing it? We have become a society really uncomfortable with being in the moment and having our feelings.

I often wonder as I have the impulse to check my phone while waiting in line for something what did I do in line before cellphones? I imagine I just stood there but the concept seems so strange now. But it shouldn’t be. I should be able to stand five minutes in line and think about life or breathe or just let my mind wander. It isn’t instinct to do that anymore though. It is an effort. An effort that I think is worth it. I believe the more we check out the hard it is to stay present. So it is important to find ways to stay engaged in the world. What about talking to the person in line next to you? There is some connection and it would probably even feel good for both people.

I am finding ways to be less cell phone involved and more present. I would love to hear the things that work for you in the comments below.

 

 

Photo Copyright: johan2011 / 123RF Stock Photo

March 2014

Is Change Really Just About Acceptance?

2017-03-25T23:08:01-04:00March 27th, 2014|mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

So I have really been working the last year and a half on being a calmer person. The life lessons I have had in the past few years have all shown me that it is so important to be both present and grateful. But I suppose like many people I was hoping to fundamentally change myself. I wanted to be relaxed and present and grateful. I wanted to be Cathy 2.0. What I have found out is that while I can be more present, relaxed, and grateful, that perhaps I will never be that “Relaxed Person” that I wanted to be.

So that really got me to thinking was my desire to be that relaxed person holding me back from being a relaxed person? Perhaps by judging myself and my personality I was keeping myself from being that person. A total Catch 22. So now as I continue with my goal of being more relaxed I allow myself not to be relaxed. If I get worried about something I tell myself it’s okay to worry. Lots of people worry.  When I allow myself to just be in whatever space I am in, it becomes okay. Okay if I am worried, okay if I am relaxed, just okay to be me.  And for me that is how the change will happen.

 

 

July 2013

June 2013

How To Keep That Aloha Spirt-Or Not

2017-03-25T23:08:02-04:00June 7th, 2013|classics, mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I will confess that I was born and raised in NJ and I have the East Coast Type A personality that 20 years in CA has not been able to beat down. But I want to be that relaxed person you read about; the person I am not sure I have ever totally met but have heard about so often. So after a recent vacation in Hawaii, a wonderful place where people are just calm and unhurried, I tried to bring that Aloha spirit home with me.

Yesterday when I was driving to work I ended up trapped in a situation where only one car could go through each change of the traffic light. I could write another blog post about how the people that design traffic intersections in the Bay Area apparently only ride public transit, but that would only really be therapeutic for me and not very Aloha. So as I sat there watching the lights turn green and then back to red again while being unable to move forward I worked hard on finding my Aloha spirit. I took deep breathes, I reviewed a gratitude list in my mind, I sang along loudly to music and I thought I had it. But then as I crept closer to getting through the intersection the person a few cars up totally stopped. And it was still a green light! Before I could take a deep and cleansing breathe my hand slammed down on that horn. Mr. Construction Guy to my left looked at me sadly as I hung my head in shame. Mr. Construction Guy to the right tried to get the next person to go through the light, but they couldn’t understand the complicated set up so they sat there. And there we went through another round of lights.

I tried not to berate myself as I drove on to work. I worked on trying to understand what happened. I was only really held up about 10 minutes and it was on a day that I had left early for work so I had plenty of time. I just think it came down to the core NJ girl popping out. I strongly believe in being your authentic self and apparently right now my authentic self is an impatient driver. So I will look today for another way to move slower and more peacefully through my day, knowing that for a Type A former NJ resident that may look a little different that my CA friends expect.  And I am okay with that.

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