THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT STRESS. I'VE INCLUDED IT IN THE MINDFULNESS SECTIONBECAUSE MINDFULNESS HELPS RELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU WILL READ ABOUT HERE.
From HeartMath, Inc
April is National Stress Awareness Month. A great many of us believe our stress is increasing, so it’s a good time to redouble our efforts and take stock of what’s causing our stress and what we can do to minimize it.
We all know we should reduce our stress, but that’s easier said than done when we’re simply trying to keep up in these fast-paced times. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) most recent statistics are evidence that a lot of people are having a difficult time.
APA 2012 Stress Findings
• 69 percent of U.S. adults surveyed who reported experiencing high stress said their stress had increased during the previous year.
• 33 percent of U.S. adults said that they never discuss ways to manage stress with their health care providers.
• Although overall stress declined from 5.2 on a 10-point scale in 2011 to 4.9 in 2012, 35 percent of Americans said their stress increased in the last year, with 20 percent reporting extreme stress levels of 8, 9 or 10.
Changing Nature of Stress
We’ve long known chronic stress exacerbates problems with health, communication and performance.
Many of us hear that inner voice telling us to live less stressfully so we don’t become casualties of excessive stress. By all estimates, stress is a major threat.
In the words of APA CEO Norman Anderson, “Stress could easily become our next public health crisis."
Not long before this new millennium, stress often was considered a major problem only after a life crisis such as trauma, illness, home foreclosure, job layoff, divorce, death of a loved one or other major life events.
Day-to-day life was different for most in many ways. We had more time between events like eating, sleeping and working. We spent more time with family and simple hobbies. There was actually time to unwind and recoup, whether at day’s end or on vacation.
Now we worry about emails piling up so high we wish we hadn’t gone on vacation at all. Advances in technology now make so much more possible and enable us to constantly multitask, take on more and be ever hyperconnected.
Today’s stress is more persistent and pervasive. With more to do than ever before, we do more. We expect more of ourselves and others. Life constantly accelerates and changes. Uncertainty about the future seems greater than ever.
It’s a placing an enormous amount of pressure on us, and not releasing it can send us into mental and emotional overload. Stress is our body’s way of saying we’re out of balance,
risking poor decisions about health, relationships, schoolwork, job performance and more.
These HeartMath tips have worked for thousands worldwide.
Tip 1. Heart-Focused Breathing™
HeartMath research has shown that Heart-Focused Breathing, which only takes a few minutes, can help quickly reduce stress,
anxiety and anger, especially in times of emotional overload.
• Imagine breathing through your heart, or the center of your chest. See yourself taking a timeout to refuel your system, breathing in an attitude of calm and balance. Breathe in for 5 or 6 seconds and out for 5 or 6 seconds.
“Mindfulness is probably one of the most
powerful stress busters out there. It’s also a phenomenal way to become fully engaged with life. Practiced and taught by teachers in traditions ranging from Vedic and Tantric to Buddhist and everything in between, it’s a versatile practice that we often gain access to through meditation, but can easily transfer to everyday living.”
Here are just a few ways to be mindful in everyday living:
Now add some more ideas of your own.
imagine countless numbers of people with goals of deepening their inner peace. Imagine countless numbers of people committed to sending this peaceful energy out into the world. We are joined together in our hearts, in our intentions, and in our commitments.
All of us reading this page today are truly a community.
It is so heartwarming to know that I am not alone, that I am joined with so many other people who are as committed as I am to personal peace and world peace.
One Minute Breathing
An excellent way to introduce your students or children or really anyone. to the benefits of their breath is to have them count how many times they breathe in one minute. Explain that an in breath and an out breath count as one breath. They will count from the time you say start until the time you say stop. Be sure you have a second hand on your watch or on the wall clock.
At the end of this minute have them share how many times they breathed in that minute. Explain that there are no rights or wrongs here. Each person has a different rhythm. And their breathing varies all the time. If they have been just running or they are anxious, their number of breaths in a minute will increase. If they have just been sitting quietly, their breathing will be slower and they will have fewer counts in the minute.
The importance here is for them to become aware of what they experienced in this minute.
Some questions to ask:
Did it feel long or short?
Were you surprised?
What feelings did you notice?
Explain that this is something they can do at anytime on their own to calm down. It is an excellent technique to use if they are angry or irritable. Rather than acting out in anger they can spend one minute with their breath and notice the difference in how they feel.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
How Do We Practice Mindful Meditation?
Meditation is really very simple. Sit either in a crossed-leg position on a cushion, on a meditation bench, or in a chair, wherever you are most comfortable. Sit with your back as straight as possible, with your eyes closed very gently, or look down at a
45-degree angle. Begin by being mindful of your breathing. Feel your breath going in and coming out of your nose. You can also watch your chest as it rises and falls and your stomach as it fills and empties.
It’s normal for thoughts to come in, your body to itch or hurt, or for you to become impatient. Simply notice whatever comes up that takes you away from your breathing and return to your breath, without any judgment. The more you practice, the more peaceful you become. Practice this for the minimum of 20 minutes every day. As you develop this practice each day, you will be able to bring this mindful awareness
into other areas of your day.It feels so good to begin my day connecting spiritually
with the practice of mindfulness. I am bringing peace and an open heart to the rest of my day.
Today's practice is amazing. Teacher Thich Naht Hanh suggests we see if we can tell which breath we are on upon awakening! Quite a challange. He tells us when we can do this we have arrived!
Experiment with this and see what happens for you.
TODAY'S PRACTICE #4
From WRINKLES DON'T HURT The Joy of Aging Mindfully
Did you ever stop and think about your thoughts and where they come from?
Are they real?
How do they make you feel?
Have you noticed that when you have a thought,
your body responds with a feeling?
Take some time to be aware of your thoughts today.
Just notice a thought when it comes in.
Notice how long it stays.
Where does it go after you have it?
Is it a habitual thought?
Do you have it often?
Do you have similar thoughts over and over again?
Do your thoughts give you pain or bring you joy?
Can you stop the ones that bring you pain?
Can you change them to a thought that brings you joy?
When you see that you have the power to let go of
unpleasant thoughts, it’s a wonderful feeling!
Why not let this be your mindfulness practice today!
from WRINKLES DON'T HURT
Mindful eating is a wonderful way to develop the habit of being in the present moment. It helps us to slow down, reflect, and see how connected we are. You can imagine all the people it took to bring the variety of food to your table. There are those who prepare the soil, plant the seeds, harvest the plants, transport the food to be processed and packed. Then those who transport it to the store and the people who unpack the boxes. Here is a wonderful prayer written by meditation teacher and
author Thich Nhat Hanh. It is nice to recite this before eating.
The Five Contemplations
This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky, and much hard work.
May we eat in mindfulness so that we may be worthy of receiving it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of understanding and love.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all beings.
PEACE IN OUR HEARTS, PEACE IN THE WORLD
April 16PEACE IN OUR HEARTS, PEACE IN THE WORLDApril 16
Through community, through those who hold the energy that
keeps us awake, we can tune in and ask God for guidance. No individual knows everything, but God does. Spiritual community reminds us that we are connected.
—Mary Manin Morrissey
WRINKLES DON'T HURT. Daily Meditations on the Joy of Aging Mindfully April 16
I am taking all the time I need
to take care of myself today,
to be gentle with myself,
to listen deeply
to my inner being,
my wise self
and to flow gently
From PEACE IN OUR HEARTS, PEACE IN THE WORLD
Today’s Peaceful Exercise
Today I am bringing my full awareness to a daily routine.
I am taking time to do at least five minutes of very slow
walking.I am being mindful of every aspect of my walking.
I am aware of the touch of my foot as I place it on the ground,
the sand, or the rug.
I am aware of the feelings in my legs and my feet.
I am aware of my balance or lack of balance.
I am aware of aromas around me.
I am aware of any sounds that I hear, such as planes or birds or
waves or cars or other people.
I am aware of the sights I see, such as flowers or trees or furniture
or pictures on the walls.
If thoughts take me away from my awareness, I simply notice
them and return my attention to my walking. I can do this
any time during the day wherever I am.
This quiets my mind and gives me great peace.
I am carrying this peace with me for the rest of the day.
From WRINKLES DON'T HURT
BRUSHING MY TEETH
Our minds are usually on other things when we are doing something routine, such as brushing our teeth. We might be going over our to-do list or worried about something. Brushing our teeth is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Each day make an intention to be with the total experience of brushing your teeth. Bring your awareness to your breath. If at any time you find yourself in a thought or a daydream, just bring your awareness back to the moment.
Feel your hand on the faucet as you turn on the water.
Listen to the sound of the water.
Feel your hand on your toothbrush and the toothpaste tube.
Smell the toothpaste.
Be aware as you put the toothpaste onto your brush.
Notice what it feels like when you put the brush into your mouth.
Notice the taste.
Feel the water in your mouth.
Stay with the movements of your hand as you brush your teeth.
Listen to the silence as you turn off the water.
Enjoy the peace.
As you develop this habit you will soon find it easier to bring this practice of mindfulness to others activities of your day.