How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

(video: 2:45) Having a hard time sticking to your New Year’s resolutions?
You want to start running, but you can’t get out of bed? You want to practice meditation everyday after lunch, but you’re just too busy?

The trick is to remember why you want to do it… BEFORE you do it. Laying there in bed, motivate yourself by remembering how good you feel when you exercise. Let tuer good feeling motivate you to get up and go running! Sitting at lunch, remember how calm and collected you feel when you meditate. Let that sense of peace motivate you to take a few minutes before you rush off.

You know you’ll feel better! Remember that feeling before you do things and mer that good feeling be your motivation!

Happy New Year!

Your Relaxation Toolbox

(video:3:09) The holidays can be stressful!

How can you make them more relaxing so that you enjoy them to the fullest?

One thing that you can do it think about the things you like to do to relax & de-stress in everyday life… What kinds of things do you do that help you relax normally? Do you like to exercise? Do you have a cup of tea? Do you read, go for a walk, or play with your cat?

Now think about how you can you set yourself up to do those things over the holidays. How can you do those things wherever you are? Can you bring your running shoes or a few weights or exercise videos? Can you take your favorite tea and share it with other relatives, making it into a nice shared moment of relaxation together? Can you bring a great book or magazines? Can you plan daily walks, perhaps after big meals with the whole family or by yourself in the mornings to get out and enjoy the world waking up?

Whatever will work for you, set yourself up with a few things and create a Relaxation Toolbox to use every day and to pull out whenever things get a bit too hectic. You will appreciate it and so will your friends and family!

Prepare for relaxation and make your holidays bright!

Mindfulness is Not Self-help

(video 4:12) I listened to the Science of Meditation Summit presentation by meditation teacher Susan Piver who said one of the myths about mindfulness is that it is a form of self-help. “It’s not,” she says, and after listening to her explaination, I totally agree.

Mindfulness as a concept is simply being present, aware of ourselves, and pure mindfulness practice is simply noticing ourselves. What ever we’re doing, thinking, feeling, we simply notice. We don’t try to change anything, we simply notice.

Self-help is another set of meditations, therapies and tools that we use to change what we notice. If, using mindfulness, we notice that we’re angry a lot and inappropriate with how we express it, we might take other steps to create healthier expressions of our anger. Now we’ve added self-help.

I find this distinction really useful for understanding the role of mindfulness and the role of self-help. Mindfulness is for being aware of what is happening. Self-help is for changing what is happening.

What I Do in Crisis (6): Ujjayi Breath

(Video: 4:57min) Ujjaya breathing is a yoga breath that is fun to do because you can actually hear your self breathing! This is great for people who like to focus on sound.

Watch the video for instructions if you want them, and enjoy using this tool during stressful situations. I use it when I’m stressed and I want something else to listen to for a moment besides my speeding train of difficult thoughts.

Using ujjayi breathing a great way to stay engaged in the moment and to give myself some perspective… there are other things in my life right now than this upsetting thing that is happening… like my noisy breath!

What I Do in Crisis (5): Align & Relax

(Video: 4:40min) This is a very quick, body based practice that I do when I’m super stressed and want to regain equilibrium.

This is part of a much deeper practice that I learned from Will Johnson’s wonderful book, Aligned, Relaxed & Resilient. This version is simple enough to do in crisis.

First, inhale and let the breath softly lift your body up straight and tall. Second, exhale and let the body melt and relax into this gently upright position. Let the body slowly align itself, gently lifting and relaxing with each breath.

This is a great meditation practice to do at any time, and works best during crisis if you teach yourself how to do it first when you’re not stressed… Then in crisis you already know how it works and it’s just a simple matter of doing it.


What I Do in Crisis (4): Equal Breathing

(Video: 4:55min) Equal breathing is simply making your out-breath the same length as your in-breath. You don’t need to change anything about the speed or depth of your breath, simply notice how ever you are breathing and play with making your out-breath match your in-breath.

This is a great way to give yourself something simple to focus on besides whatever you’re upset about. The point isn’t to ignore the situation, the point is to help you stay engaged and calm down a bit at the same time.

Maybe you are having a fight with your partner. If you take a moment to focus on how you are breathing for a few breaths, you stay engaged in the situation and allow yourself the space to calm down a bit.

If you are a new meditator, you will be giving yourself a few seconds of focusing on something else within the situation that isn’t so upsetting, your breath. This will give you some perspective within the situation, you will immediately remember that there are other things going on within this situation, and you will start calming down. “My partner is yelling at me, and hey! I’m breathing!” A few breaths later, you will be a bit calmer and the situation won’t seem so overwhelming. If it does, focus on your breath a few more seconds, check back and keep repeating until you feel calmer.

If you have been meditating a while, you will be able to focus on your breath while focusing on what is upsetting you (at the same time). “My partner is yelling at me, and I’m also breathing really quickly.” Breathe into the situation. Listen to them and notice your breath as you listen attentively. Put part of them and part of your attention on your breath. Listen to them as you breathe in and listen to them as you breathe out. Notice that as you do this the situation gets less overwhelming.

Why? One reason is that focusing on breath helps you remember that whatever is happening is only one part of your reality, it isn’t all of your reality… there is this upsetting thing AND there are other things as well (breathing for instance). “I feel really upset AND I am breathing. Ah! There are other things going on in my world than being upset. There are other things in my life than this situation. There are other parts of my life.” Now that you have regained the perspective that there are many things in your reality, you can chose solutions from other parts of your life. You can bring in solutions and creative thinking that are not based in being upset right now. Now you have choices… do I put all of my energy and focus into being upset or do I put some of my focus and energy into thinking of solutions and feeling the different ways that I feel about this person/situation?

What I Do in Crisis (2): 1 Deep Breath

(video 2:33 min) Taking one deep breath can help the body release stress during crisis. It’s a great way to release the pressure, a sigh of relief.

During crisis, I take one deep breath and use the exhale to literally blow out the stress. One deep breath works better for me than taking a series of deep breaths, because a series can feel like I’m forcing change in the middle of an already stressful situation… It’s just too much. One small change has a big impact. Trying to make lots of change gets overwhelming.

One deeper breath feels so good these days that my body almost does this automatically!


Is Mindfulness Helping You or Not?

(4:01) Why are you practicing mindfulness? Do you want to be less stressed, more focused or have better relationships? Maybe you want to sleep better?

And is mindfulness helping you with this? Are you getting better? How do you know?

Sometimes the answer to these questions are obvious, especially if we’ve been practicing mindfulness for a while and we can see lots of change over time. Sometimes it is less clear if our practice is helping or not.

If you aren’t sure, there are a few simple things that you can do… First, it helps to get clear about your motivation: why are you doing it? Get clear about what you want to improve.

Second, identify something about it that you can measure over time. For instance, if you want less stress, pick something that stresses you like every time you get a new project at work, and notice if your stress reduces over time. You can do something like give yourself a number from 1 to 10 each time it happens, write it down, and see if your number goes up or down overtime (from 1= not stressed to 10= really stressed) .

If you see positive change, you’ll be motivated to keep practicing! If not, then think about doing something different than mindfulness to address your issue or consider adjusting your mindfulness practice to suit you better. I specialize tailoring practices to suit individuals, so check other videos or email me for suggestions!

Happy Improving!