Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Mindfulness

This is a time of great change and high emotion!

How Mindfulness practices help us manage the stress of change and change the way we respond to stress:

The divisiveness of political and economic unrest in our nation, the uncertainty manifested by social, political, military and economic conflicts around the world, and the inner struggles we face in seeking to determine our role in and responses to these circumstances can leave us feeling powerless, sad, frustrated and angry.

We experience these rapid changes and strong emotions closer to home and in our work places.  We hear about them from parents and teachers dealing with recent documented spike of fear and anxiety among school children, and they seem to be the constant tone presented by our 24 hour news cycle.

But is this all totally bad news?

Remember, we can’t change what we do not see and so, although changes can result in stress, the awareness of the stress can also result in healthy changes.

In classrooms across the country, programs like the one in the Baltimore schools https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/06/baltimore-school-students-meditation-patterson-high are offering new options to kids to better manage their emotions.  Law enforcement officers like the ones in Wisconsin are teaming up with mindfulness teachers to address trauma. https://centerhealthyminds.org/news/uw-madison-teams-up-with-madison-police-department-to-foster-officer-well-being

Even in our contentious Congress, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio is leading a regular MBSR group http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/tim-ryan-meditation_n_1429854.html  for staffers and elected officials.

Our strong inclination is to quickly slip into dualistic thinking, labeling everything with superlatives such as “fantastic” or “disgusting”, “always” or “never”.  Dualism will surely drown us in the river of judgment.  Without awareness and before we know what is happening, we will find ourselves mindlessly projecting onto others the very dis-eased emotions we find so uncomfortable within ourselves.  Is it possible that these times of great change, increased fear and anxiety could serve as opportunities for increased healing and growth?

For the past 15 years, we here at the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Clinic in Austin, have been teaching and supporting individuals in the development of mindfulness practices according to the model set out by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his classic book, Full Catastrophe Living, and through the curriculum and research of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Regularly practicing mindfulness (paying attention moment by moment, non-judgmentally to thoughts, sensations, emotions and actions, while making intentional choices) clearly can bring healing change.

Engaging in these simple practices, on the cushion and in the wider world will produce positive shifts our lives, improve our health and strengthen our relationships. It’s even possible that through regular practice we can become an agent of the “good news” in the midst of all this “bad news”!

  • What would it be like if you were able to reframe the stressful circumstances you face as the very purpose for which you have been called and prepared?
  • What would it be like if we could welcome the skills and exercises learned in the MBSR Clinic as specific tools available to shape us into agents of hope and healthy change in our homes, our work-places, our political system and even in the world?
  • You could spend an hour surfing the web for apps, podcasts, articles and webinars about mindfulness and you will find plenty of news about it’s growing healing presence in our culture.  That could be a good thing to do?

Still, another option might be to find a quiet place…in your parked car, in your office, on your bed or in the shower…and simply settle down and be still, taking a mindful breath and then another.  Give yourself permission to re-engage with your own being and your own body and slow down so you can intentionally notice what is going on in there.  From that more centered place, you will surely see other options and responses and be able to make choices for health, wellbeing and positive action.

A commitment to resting more regularly in your “observer” mind, so you can  constructively engage with conflict rather than being drawn into it, captured by it or driven into hiding from it, will surely result in less reactivity to both inner and outer experience.

  • Maybe you have “fallen off the wagon” of your regular practice and your choice will be to “begin again”.
  • Maybe you are practicing regularly but it’s time to be more mindful about intentionally expanding the formal practice into the rest of your ordinary day.
  • Maybe you want to consider joining with others to receive some additional support and accountability from a teacher and/or a group.

You can reach us here by calling 512-695-3387 or sending an e-mail to sr@stressreductionclinic.org.

Maybe there is someone you know who could benefit from our 8 week MBSR training, which begins on June 5th  and the Summer Silent day will be July 25th, for these events go to the events page on our website

or

Mamata Misra will be leading the Mindful Mondays

Every 2nd Monday of the month

from February to July, 2017

at Sol Healing & Wellness Center,

13805 Ann Place, Austin 78728

and

Geeta Cowlagi will be offering Mindful Mondays

Every 4th Monday of the month

To register for either of these group events go to http://www.joyfulliving.us

Exploring a deeper MBSR practice with a 7-day Silent Retreat

Graduates of the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) programs often find that the day of silence that they explore with the class opens them up to deeper insights.  Longer silent retreats that are teacher led might be a way to deepen the MBSR experience for some.

The Mindfulness Meditation Retreat: A 7-day, Teacher-led, Silent Retreat cosponsored by the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine and Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts might be an option to explore.  Nestled in the lovely mountains of Colorado, this Fall 2014 retreat may offer you the boost you need to renew or deepen your MBSR practice.

May your practice of Mindfulness continue to benefit you and all those around you.

 

I do not want to be in a state of Permanent Distraction!

Greetings friends,

We wanted to remind you that our June 2014 8-week MBSR Class is filling up very quickly.  Please do remind friends who may be interested to register as soon as possible.  Thank you!

We are also happy to share a guest post by Carlos Gutierrez.  Carlos attended one of our 8-week MBSR classes a few years back with his wife.  He continues to benefit from his mindfulness practices.

“I do not want to be in a state of Permanent Distraction!”

January 27th, 2014

Carlos Gutierrez

A recent article on Mindful Leadership was ‘eye-opening’ to me as I personally face the increasing challenges of our work environment.  As the article states, we are all facing “a daily entanglement of problems and plans, conflicts and worries that make up our fast-paced days”.  So our minds have to perform this unstoppable dance of balancing, prioritizing, context-switching, interrupt jumping…  well, how else can we get everything done?  Multi-tasking, of course!

Well, not so fast!  As I continued to read and invest time on how I can personally improve as a leader, I realize that multi-tasking is really not an answer.  Recent research continues to demonstrate how inefficient we are when we are constantly servicing interrupts.  At the end of our days, we feel really good about the fact that we have been “effective multi-taskers”.  After all, we have spent our day putting out so many great fires!  In reality, we are “serial-taskers”:  we switch serially from one problem to the next one, in fast succession, in many cases looping back constantly to try to get to our original goals.  I am sure you also have days when you wondered what you have accomplished, aside from jumping through a series of endless micro-tasks that did not really align to your original goals and priorities for the day.

Since reading several articles over the holidays, and thinking about how I can personally improve, I have been quietly observing myself and those around me.  I found myself very distracted, easily reaching for my next email, or action item, or text message, or pop-up notice, or cell phone buzz…, while I am trying to get a task accomplished.  Attention to urgent matters is important for myself and all of us in our roles; don’t get me wrong, it is the nature of our demanding business.   But I believe that excessive attention to ALL distractions significantly erodes our productivity.  We are not efficient at switching context and loosing our main thread.

In particular, I have been observing the meetings that I attended since the beginning of the year:  my un-scientific observation is that at least 4 out of 10 attendees are mentally not present at any point in the meeting, and in doing so, 4 out of 10 are losing valuable communication, and 10 out of 10 are losing valuable interaction, even if the topic may not seem relevant to those 4 team members.  4 out of 10 of us, (myself included!) drift in and out of a meeting to continue our “serial-tasking”.  There was one notable exception:  one leader, in particular, impressed me and gave me a model to aim for:  he shows up to every meeting with only a blank piece of paper and a pen, phone put away, no laptop, and 100% of his attention on the topic in the front of the meeting room!

At a personal level, I am working on improving the quality of my 1-1 meetings as well:  I found that while I am trying to listen to the person right in front of me, my mind wanders to urgent topics that want to direct me away, instead of really being present with full attention and support for my peer.

Having completed our Transformation phase from 2011 through 2013, the R&D organization faces two interesting challenges across the next two years:  (1) we are beginning to execute in our Acceleration phase, and (2), we are evolving our world-wide team from “Storming” to “Performing” as defined by Tuckman’s model of development  [Reference #4].  I strongly believe that it is very important for us to improve our personal presence, our focus, our mindfulness, and in turn, the quality of our communications; these are high standards in any world-class team.  The article on Mindful Leadership reflects on an environment of communication excellence where we each have a strong connection to our peers and the larger organization; quoting directly from the article:

“The work of developing leadership presence through mindfulness begins by recognizing how much time we spend in a mental state that has come to be called Continuous Partial Attention”

So, what is on my mind?   Two key lessons from the articles I researched are heavy on my mind:

1. We need to create the space between our endless urgent activities and our long-term goals.   To me, this means that I need to invest time to think across a longer horizon to mindfully consider our team evolution and our Acceleration phase, instead of letting myself fall on the constant and inefficient cycle of “serial-tasking”.

2. We must create true connections with people around us by improving your presence and active listening.  If I show up to your meeting, I will connect with you;  I will not be “multi-tasking or “serial-tasking”; I will be paying even closer attention to what you and those around us have to say.

In summary, I am going to work hard to avoid the state of Continuous Partial Attention, or in my own words, the state of Permanent Distraction.

We are all leaders in what we do… I invite you think about these key lessons and to work on being mindful leaders!

Carlos.

References:

(1) http://www.mindful.org/at-work/leadership/finding-the-space-to-lead

(2) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201103/technology-myth-multitasking

(3) http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/21/0903620106.full.pdf+html

(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman%27s_stages_of_group_development