Using mindfulness to create positive change

Today’s Quote:

The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.
~Robyn Davidson

Reflection:

When do you know it’s time to make a change in your life? Sometimes the thought of starting something new can seem daunting. Starting a new job, moving to a new place, or changing the status of an intimate relationship are a few of the major life-changing decisions that can seem frightening or overwhelming. It’s fear of the unknown that can keep us stuck and ultimately make us feel miserable. So why is it that many of us choose to stay in situations or relationships that might no longer serve us or the people involved?

Sometimes, our lack of confidence in our ability to learn something new or make adjustments to new situations can prevent us from taking a risk worth pursuing. However, when we quiet the inner critic by accessing our innate wisdom we can allow ourselves to feel as “powerful and strong” as we allow ourselves to be. We can experience strength and perseverance by moving forward and leaving what kept us stuck in the past behind, where it belongs.

Ultimately the change you wish to make needs to come from within your heart and soul. No one else can make that decision for you. What they can do is provide support and encouragement along the way. We have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them rather than be afraid. There is no perfect life and there is no one perfect decision. We are all learning and growing as we move along this life journey. Life is too short to stay stuck in something that is no longer working for us. This week think about something you wish to change. Try the guided meditation below and let me know how it works out for you. Good luck!

Today’s Practice:

Take 10 minutes to listen to this guided visualization on creating change.  Combining relaxation with visualization helps release the fear and stress of making a life-changing decision. We can create positive change in our lives to experience long-lasting happiness when we let go of fear. By envisioning ourselves making a wise-mind decision we can allow ourselves to feel “powerful and strong.”



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Holiday Meditation

Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA photo by Sofia Reddy
Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA photo by Sofia Reddy

Christmas is right around the corner! Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday, this guided meditation will help you to tune out the stressors of the holiday season and tune into what makes it special and meaningful for you. So, take a few minutes out of the busyness of the day to refocus on what really matters to you. Remember, a few minutes of down time now, will make you more energized and productive later. So find a comfortable place to sit down and close your eyes…Merry Christmas!

 

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The power of visualization to calm your mind and body

Capturing the moment during a stroll with my son

Think back to a time you felt really happy, calm and relaxed. What were you doing? Who were you with? How do you feel recalling this memory? Notice it in your body. Check in with your breath. Is it fast and shallow, or deep and smooth? Are you breathing from your chest or deep down into your abdomen?

When I recall the walk with my son last week during a beautiful spring day I feel calm and at peace. I can feel it in my body. My breathing is smooth, deep and regular and my muscles feel loose and relaxed. My mind feels clear and focused. It’s like reliving this wonderful moment all over again!

We can pay attention to our bodies to raise awareness about our current state of mind. Our heart rate, level of muscle tension and how we’re breathing can tell us whether we are calm and relaxed or stressed and anxious.  Our body functions as our very own barometer that helps determine how much internal mental and physical pressure we are experiencing.  When we are in a happy memory or experience, our breath tends to be smooth and rhythmic and our muscles are loose and relaxed. Contrast that when we experience anger or anxiety.  During an anxiety or anger episode our stress hormones release to prepare us for the “fight or flight” reaction to protect us from danger. Our heart rate increases, and we might experience a “nervous” stomach, shallow breathing, a headache, or other painful condition. In the midst of a real dangerous situation this is a necessary process to prepare us to escape from imminent danger. However, when we are caught in the vicious loop of re-experiencing anger or anxiety-provoking situations from the past, our bodies will kick into high gear to protect us from this perceived threat as if it’s happening in the present. Over time, these repeated episodes cause wear and tear on the body, and in the short term will leave us feeling drained and exhausted.

Repeated stressful reactions like this can trigger episodes of depression, overwhelming anxiety or substance use to alleviate the pain (both emotional and physical). However there are natural ways to obtain relief from stressful experiences. Visualization coupled with deep breathing is a powerful method that works to calm your mind and body so you can feel grounded and at peace.

The audio visualization below about accessing a happy memory was recorded live with my stress management group. You can practice it in the quiet of a private space where you will not be interrupted. I invite you to take a 10-minute break from whatever it is you are doing, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, close your eyes and listen.

Happy memory visualization

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