All it takes is 10 minutes

Are you dreaming of getting into a daily mediation practice, but you just don’t know where to start?

Have you tried meditation again and again and given up again and again?

Or, maybe you  want to get into a daily practice,  but you feel overwhelmed  just thinking about it?

Maybe you feel so stressed that you think it would be impossible? Look at this….

Breathe

Breathe

 

I came across Andy Puddicombe, the creator of GET SOME HEADSPACE –   a mindfulness meditation program online. He has THE most pragmatic, fantastic and down-to-earth approach to meditation you will ever find!

The benefits of taking just 10 minutes out of your day to meditate, are tremendous.

I love and live my meditations – this time of my day, reserved for me, is a way to reconnect and tune in, it’s my sanctuary. In a busy life with lots of balls in the air, this is what makes me feel grounded, connected and reconnected.  It’s really not just about me, when I’m more in touch with me, I’m more in touch with my children, my family, friends, the people I work with and meet during my day. I’m able to be truly present with the world. 

These are some of the side-effects you may experience when meditating.  Be aware, you may feel more:

  • calm
  • clarity
  • laughter and happiness
  • energy
  • creativity
  • flow

Mindfulness meditation:

  • Reduces stress
  • Reliefs anxiety
  • Helps with depression
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Improves your sleep
  • Helps with Addiction
  • And even PTSD

And all it takes is 10 minutes!

Andy Puddicombe has created the Get Some Headspace program – which starts with a 10 minutes for 10 days program and it’s FREE for you to download HERE

Read how mindfulness meditation may be more efficient than drugs to treat anxiety and depression, HERE

10 tips on how to establish a meditation practice – read them HERE 

More articles on meditation HERE

The Danish/American documentary,  FREE THE MIND  about how meditation changes the brain, see the trailer and read more HERE

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Summer without stress

I’m off! Today is the day I have been longing for – for months – the first day of the summer holiday!

I am off to spend 3 delicious weeks in a summer-house by the sea.

I can hardly wait.

Summer

Summer

I am so excited and at the same time I know it’s important to plan ahead, so that we make the most of it. Successful holidays don’t just happen. Holidays can be disappointing! We all have expectations and dreams and they may not turn out the way we wished, hoped and longed for. Unfulfilled expectations cause stress and disappointment!

The time leading up to the holidays can be particularly stressful.

We all need our holidays – to recharge, rejuvenate and fill ourselves with new energy.

So how can we increase our chances of fulfilling it …

This is “my” plan for a stress-free summer:

  • Unplug. Actually turn of all electronics and be out of reach. Yes, no need to check emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs etc.
  • Mindfulness – live in the moment. Practice mindfulness, breathe, and be in the moment.
  • Meditate – to reconnect with myself through daily mediations
  • Read books – instead of computers and internet, I want to read great books, in the shade …..
  • No plans – be spontaneous. No schedules, just feel the flow and be part of it.
  • Play – God yes, be crazy, play let go, have fun, look silly
  • Bare feet – connect to the earth and the ground -lots of research on this …. great idea.
  • Go slow – nothing I need to do or nothing I need to get to – just inhale the moment – remember to stop and smell the roses.
Smell the roses

Smell the roses

“Every Sweet-scented rose tells from it’s heart the secrets of heaven and earth” –Rumi

Bare feet in the sand

Bare feet in the sand

Beach

Beach

I know this will not be easy and I am sure I will have withdrawal issues for a while 🙂 But I also know how vital, how crucial, it is to disconnect to reconnect – and recharge.

IMG_0675

” And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”

Khalil Gibran 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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Unplug

Last week it was “National day of Unplugging ” did you know?

It went by without me having the slightest clue even of its brilliant existence. Probably while I was myself plugged in and most likely busy working online, tweeting, blogging, updating Facebook,   Unplugging Day came and passed me by!

Hmm, I asked my two gorgeous teenagers – “did you know it was National Unplugging Day, a few days ago?” No reaction – and not surprising – they didn’t know either.

But when talking about health and well-being, unplugging is crucial! We need to unplug and create space to slow down, be quiet and simply just be.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

 

We need this quiet time to listen and tune in to our needs. Even though, the body is amazing, the perfect GPS, always reliable; it has to have the space to tell us what we need. It can tell us if we are happy and content, if we are stressed and out of tune. So often we look outside ourselves for the answers, but the best answers come from within. The body never lies it always tells the truth. But, it needs to be “unplugged” from the outer influences and given time to relay its messages.

Our happiness and health rely on us taking that time to tune in.

I remember when I trained to become a psychotherapist, part of my training was going through intense therapy sessions and I remember how difficult and humbling it was for me to try to answer the simple question “How do you feel?” – How did I feel? Really feel? I didn’t know!

The honest truth was, I was so used to, when asked that question, to say “fine” without ever actually feeling my body responses. It was a new experience to me to connect to myself, to listen to my body and then be able to answer honestly how I felt. An even worse question was “What do you need?” – Again, I honestly had no clue. That was painful!

It took time and practice to learn and relearn. We are born with the ability to feel and know what we need, but early on we learn to suppress those feelings – in order to fit in.

I am a great believer in creating unplugging moments, every day. But how do we do that in a world that is so plugged in all the time?

I have devised a set of unplugging strategies, that works for me:

  • Getting up 1/2-1 hr before everyone else to meditate, sip tea, write my journal (with a pencil), run, jog, or just sit.
  • Unplug over the weekend just giving myself time to hang out with the family, read good books, wear my gumboots and do gardening, hike, walk, feed the hummingbirds and generally just be.
  • Before bed some quite time for a hot bath, a good book, some journalling, a lit candle, some gentle music, an evening meditation.
  • Sitting still with a hand on my heart, closing my eyes, while asking my heart (not my mind) the questions “how do I feel'” – ” what do I need” and quitely wait for the answers.

How do you unplug?

Presence

Presence

Here are some great links to inspire you further:

http://www.expresswhoyouare.com/

http://zenhabits.net/

 

Give yourself a break

When did you last spend 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing? Just 10 minutes?

We are busier than ever, running faster and faster, expecting more and more from ourselves.

 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Stop procrastination and succeed with your new years resolutions

Do you have any new years resolutions? Do you want to lose weight? Start doing yoga? Be more healthy? Start meditating?  Stop procrastinating?

We all procrastinate to some extend and make excuses as to why today is not a good day to start that project you’ve been planning, stop smoking or eating healthily.

Some of us may procrastinate so much that important things in life never get done. Robbing us of our dreams and deeper longings, ultimately leaving us dissatisfied and depressed.

 

New Years resolutions

Today it is easier than ever to get distracted and seduced by procrastination. Busy lives, busy schedules, too much work, families, children and all the things that add up and make us desperately trying to make ends meet. On top of that there is social media, oh there’s a message on my Facebook, wonder who it’s from? Oops a text, wonder what it says? I should Google it and find out about …….  and click, click, click hours and hours have gone by and it is too late, I’ll do it tomorrow.

We become addicted to the news the likes and the comments, we want more of that feeling. The same with emails, text messages – we just need to see if there are any new mails any new messages any new likes, any world news we cannot live without – any rewards.

We know we are fooling ourselves and, in fact, wasting precious time away from what we intended to do, what really matters. This creates frustration and increases feelings of not following through, not doing good enough – so we try to repair that feeling with going back for more – a quick fix – of ice cream or Facebook.

The quick-fix happiness feeling is short-lived and followed by a feeling of inadequacy – a vicious circle.

I know in my own life I can make endless excuses – for not going out on that run, or not sitting down to meditate or finish the children’s book I have worked on for years. So is it because I really don’t want to run and stay fit? Don’t I want the book to be finished and get out in to the world? Yes, I do, I want it with all my heart, more than anything – it’s a longing, a passion, my deepest mission. So why do I procrastinate and do less important things? – Because there is always “real” work,  there is always dishes that needs to be done, some washing to do or some clothes to fold, or some dinner plans to make, some children to drive, some phone calls to make …………….

Seen from a psycho-dynamic perspective, I know I have to look at what is underneath, I know that if I am self-sabotaging my goals, there is something underneath that needs my loving attention.

Key is embracing emotions – If we are stressed, if we feel sad somewhere deep down, if we are angry, because someone walked all over us – it’s time to go within, it’s time to confront those feelings inside.  Maybe it’s time to talk. If we suppress some feeling, it stays in the body and creates stress and discomfort. It doesn’t just disappear because we turn the other cheek – it loads up within the body and creates havoc, it makes us want to eat more, procrastinate more, postpone more.

I know why I procrastinate finishing my book, or sitting down to meditate, even though these are really important to me – there are some issues I need to attend to first. For example, one of the things that I have to say goodbye to is that we have just sold our farm in Denmark, our home of many years, and we are starting a new chapter. Our children were raised there and it’s a place filled with many wonderful memories. This means there is grieving to be done, there are more tears and feelings I need to embrace. If I don’t do this, I know it will stay within my body and take my creativity, my happiness, my flow and it will ultimately sabotage my goals.

I recommend:

  • Journaling – get a note-book and write your heart out. Everything, anything, no censoring just fill the pages with whats on your mind and in your heart. Don’t think of grammar or doing it “right” just write.
  • Pauses/breaks spend time every day to check in with yourself, to breathe and reconnect. Take 5 min – give yourself 5 min.
  • Meditation – mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to create space, overcome stress and fatigue.
  • Talk to a trusted friend and tell them how you really are
  • A self-help group – a place where you can talk from the heart and be heard.
  • Consult a therapist/ a psychologist/ a coach

Once we embrace our emotions, all of them, we automatically get more energy and we want to be active, we want to eat better, we become more compassionate towards ourselves and the world and we make better choices for ourselves. This leading us to a feeling of contentedness and there will be no more procrastinations but an eager to get going.

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens – Carl Jung

Also read:

Love as a daily supplement

Great scientific proof – mindfulness treats depression and anxiety

Anyone who has ever been defeated by depression or overwhelmed by scary anxiety attacks, will know what I am talking about here. It is an awful experience!!

But, it doesn’t need to be! It’s indeed possible to get help and find relief from both anxiety and depression! There are many great roads leading to Rome – one of them is mindfulness, which is what I’m going to talk about.

I read an interesting research article in the Danish Videnskab.dk. The Danish researchers have found that practicing mindfulness actually helps, if it is done properly. The study shows that young adults suffering from depression or social phobia, and, as well, cancer patients, suffering from depression and anxiety, all show significant improvement after just 8 weeks of intensive mindfulness training!

The research has been published in an Ph.D study: ‘Mindfulness-based therapy for social phobia, recurrent depression, and psychological symptoms in cancer patients and survivors‘.

The research shows;

  • Patients using a mindfulness program improved the same as patients who went through Cognitive treatment.
  • the re-occurrence of depression is significantly less if patients use mindfulness, and
  • cancer patients feel less depressed and anxious.

According to Psychologist Dr. Jacob Piet from Aarhus University who was in charge of the research – it is quite fantastic that an intensive 8 weeks course of mindfulness practice can improve peoples’ lives like this! But, it is an intense program and people have to be motivated.

Dr. Piet says that mindfulness means “conscious presence” and many misunderstand it and think it is “just” something we do. But it is not that simple, he says. Mindfulness is a competence that comes with dedicated practice and intense training – every day.

When you are mindful you are in the present moment aware of emotions, sensations, thoughts, impulses  – you observe what goes on right now, without judging or analyzing.

To use mindfulness as a successful treatment it has to be practiced intensely over a period of time.

The first study that was done showed that relaxation was just as effective as confronting a fear. A group of young patients suffering from social phobia – was separated into two groups.  One group was treated with cognitive therapy where part of the treatment was to confront the fears – which is common in cognitive therapy. Another group was treated with mindfulness based therapy .

The results showed that mindfulness treatment was just as effective as cognitive therapy.

The second study showed that mindfulness can be as effective as medication! This study involved 593 patients with reoccurring depression and as a treatment diligently practiced mindfulness. The results showed a decrease in re-occurrence of depression with up to 43%! The research is so promising that the British Health Authorities recommend the method to all people who have previously suffered depression.

Cancer patients, as a group, are understandably often suffering from depression and anxiety. In the third part of the study, 1403 cancer patients participated. The results showed that after 2 months practice, the patients felt less anxious and less depressed. These cancer patients felt emotionally better, after using the mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness

I can understand why mindfulness could play such an important role in overcoming depression and anxiety – and even preventing it from reoccurring.

Mindfulness teaches us to be in the moment – it teaches us to observe without judgement – whatever feeling, sensation, thought or impulse there is. It teaches us to feel, rather than suppress – it teaches us to tune in with our core. It teaches us to relax, take some time every day to be in the moment, without judging without fixing – just being.

Interesting links about mindfulness:

Center for mindfulness

http://mymindfulnessblog.wordpress.com/

UCSD Center for mindfulness http://ucsdcfm.wordpress.com/

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center http://marc.ucla.edu/

Balancing life with mindfulness

I don’t know about you – but my meditation practice went down the drain as we got into summer with the kids being home, guests arriving, dog sitting, trips away from home and things going on all the time.

Meditation is one of those things that is as important to me as brushing my teeth. It is where I reconnect with myself, find balance, tune in to my core, listen to the songs of my soul and come home.

When I get out of my life-balance rhythm, I suffer and it leads to unrest in my body. As a result, I get stressed, I feel grumpy more often, feel restless. I get distracted and feel disconnected. I may overeat, convince myself I don’t have time to run or that I really, really need that bag of chips!

When this happens, I know it’s time for me to reconnect with myself, and one of the best ways I find, is mindfulness meditation.

In an earlier post I wrote about how meditation changes the brain – how meditation keeps us clam and grounded long after we finished mediating. It helps us stay calm and focused, even in stressful situations. The situation is very much like the way that running helps us to burn fat even in between runs and while resting, because our muscles have become a fat burning furnace. The same happens in the brain when we mediate – and even after just a short period of time it is possible to see changes in the brain. The propensity for relaxation becomes larger and it becomes easier to find back into the same peaceful place within, just as we experience during meditation.

I know that in beginning meditation may very well feel inside like Times Square during rush hour! It takes a while to find the calm and it is important to remember that meditation does not mean that the mind is totally quiet. As my mediation hero, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says: “If you have a mind, it is going to wander”! When the mind wanders and you start thinking about shopping lists, who is driving the kids to soccer, what you should have said to someone or should not have said, when you start telling yourself you will never learn to meditate and you don’t need it anyway – the trick is, to return to the breath – again and again, without judgement.

I have downloaded my meditations to my phone so I can hear them whenever I need them – 5 min, 10 min, 15 min 20 or 30 minutes meditations – voila no excuses.

The latest addition to my collection is a Mindfulness Meditation App – it has 4 guided meditations 3 min, 5 min, 15 or 30 min – it also has 4 silent meditations and a guided Body Scan. You can set it so that at certain times, it reminds you that it’s time to meditate. It can even poke you at certain intervals to remind you to be more mindful and allowing yourself to be exactly as you are – not escaping life as it is, but to be mindful in the moment.

For years I have used Jon Kabat-Zinn’s  mindfulness meditations and I never get tired of them

Here is a workshop Jon Kabat- Zinn gave at Google some years ago

Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation is a great life skill, one that is part of a balanced life. For example, I feel that meditation ought be taught to children in school, along with math, PE and social studies!

Mindfulness meditation has been, and is, an important part of my life. It is one of the elements in my life that keeps me healthy, sane and adds balance to my life. It is as important to me as cleaning my teeth, eating well or going out for a run. I can live without it, yes, but …………….

when I feel stressed and imbalanced, when life is overwhelming, hectic or confusing; meditation, is a way to effectively find balance again. Breathing mindfully, even just a few deep breaths.  Sitting in mindful peace, even for only a few minutes, can make a difference, and I can feel the balance, peace and life-connection again.

Often I meet people who say “oh, I so wish I could get into a meditation practice but …….. I don’t know how, and every time I try my mind keeps racing – so I must be doing it wrong and I am also too busy, but I so wish that I could”.

I think that we all long for quiet space – we crave it. Meditation is such a great way to get it!

But we tend to have this illusion that meditation has to be done just right, sitting down on a mountain, cross-legged, for hours and years, with a perfectly blank and quiet mind. So many give up before even trying. And even if we give it a try, then we experience just how busy the mind is, thoughts bombard us with, what do I cook for dinner, oh, he won’t like that, I need to remember to buy washing powder, I should have asked…, I have to remember to call……etc. When this happens, we think we are doing it wrong, and give up, not realizing that is actually quite natural and part of it. The mind is a wanderer and we will think of a billion things while we meditate, thoughts come and go, feelings come and go, sensations come and go.

As Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, a researcher, a scientist and a teacher of mindfulness meditation says, ” if you have a mind it is going to wander“. We are not doing it wrong, we are just human with a wandering mind. Simply observing that there are different thoughts coming, without following the thoughts, just noticing and going back to the breath. Don’t strive, let whatever happens, happen – just notice and be mindful with what happens, without analyzing or judging it, then return to the breath.

Dr. Kabat Zinn has been an amazing inspiration for me on my meditation path! What I like about mindful meditation is that it is simple – there is no right or wrong – it is “just” being – it is straight forward and down to earth. Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn makes meditation simple and obtainable – he removes the mystic part and makes it easy, durable and fun. Something for everyone!

Meditation can be done anywhere and anytime, sitting cross-legged on the floor or on a chair, on the bus or in the airport, walking, standing in a line up or laying down.

This YouTube is a workshop he did at Google – it is full of great and inspiring information. I hope you will enjoy it.

12 years ago, when I first started meditating I bought Jon Kabat-Zinn’s  CDs and I have used them ever since. They are so helpful when you start out and still to this day, I use them – fortunately, before I wore the CDs out, I added them to my iPhone and  listen to them when I need it.

You can read more about the CDs here

You may also want to read these two other blog posts I wrote on meditation :

Compassion 

-Meditation changes the brain

Getting into the great habit

Developing new habits to help balanced living, can be a big challenge. The norm is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit.  Over the past 2 years, I have nurtured and created new habits and have been successful with maintaining them. Looking back, I can see that there were some important factors that were essential to my success.

Developing good balanced-living habits:

1. Create time – don’t wait for time, take time.

2. Make good routines – Do the new endeavour in the same way and at the same time – the same thing – at the same time – every time. It is easier to create a habit if you make it a routine, for example do the same time every time i.e., running in the morning, mediating from 7 -7:15, etc. Especially in the beginning as the habit is forming – you will be motivated by the great feeling it gives you. You feel how good it is for you and will fall into the rhythm of doing it, because you want more of that feeling.

3. Keep at it – the more that you do it , the easier it is, so do it again, and again, and again, – you are creating new little paths in the brain that eventually turn into new highways. Every time you do it, it becomes easier.

The biggest challenge though, when it comes to creating a new habit, is in the mind. The “monkey mind” I call it. The one that will tell you that you do not need to go for a run right now, it is too early, you are too tired, it is raining, it is cold, you are too busy and tomorrow will be much better. It will continue telling you that you are much better off without and it will, if you allow it, convince you that, yes indeed, mañana, will, of course, be much better.

The problem is that if we let ourselves be seduced by the “monkey mind”- days will go without running, meditating, writing that book, losing the weight, stopping smoking, dancing, taking care of ourselves – or whatever the goal is, days will pass, months will pass, years may pass, a lifetime may pass!

So how to turn off the “monkey mind” and get over the upstart to our jogging, meditating, writing? We can’t turn it off,  but the less we listen to it, the less obnoxious it is .

First of all – the “monkey mind” never tells the truth, so by starting to realize that we are being fooled and conned by the a lying “monkey mind” – is the key. Starting to observe the messages and ask if this is really truth, is an important first step.

Monkey mind : This is way too early, turn off that alarm clock immediately, this has to be a joke !

You: Right it is early, but I will be grateful that I got up to run.

Monkey mind: Hey common – you can’t be serious, feel the warmth of the bed, close your sweet little eyes and dream.

You: Okay, I hear you are really tired and maybe we can nap in the afternoon.

Monkey mind: No no no – now is better, much better and apart from that it is cold and dreadful out there and by the way, you are too old to start running, you don’t need this!

You: I know what you are up to – and it sounds good, but I need my run, that is the truth, so I am off, tired, old and all.

When I wake up having planned an early morning run at 7 am – I can assure you that the “monkey mind” is there, trying every dirty trick in the box, to get me to stay in my warm bed and take another hour or two snoozing. So I am aware – and I know what is coming.

I have tried it so many times that I know that going out there running will benefit me in so many ways that I tell the “monkey mind” – “thanks for your input I’m off running anyway, buddy” – I know by now, that the run will do me so much good and I will love myself for doing it later, so I do it!

Other times I will follow a trick from Jeff Galloway the former Olympic runner, and say ‘ okay I hear you, you are so tired and all we will do this morning is, put the shoes on and run to the end of the drive”! But by the time I reach the end of the drive, I have smelled the fresh morning air, felt the air on my skin, and the sun on my face, and the “monkey mind” is forgotten and I am out there enjoying the run.

“Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as are bad habits” Robert Puller

Compassion

Last week I wrote about Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and researcher of meditation. His research shows how meditation changes the brain and benefits us profoundly. Fascinating to find research that actually proves there is something we can do right here, to improve overall health. Meditation is one of them.

Dr. Davidson has been looking at war veterans who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. If you did not get a chance to read it, here it is

Today my post is about the connection between meditation and compassion. Dr. Davidson’s research shows that our ability to be compassionate, increases when meditating regularly and our capacity actually increases the more we meditate.

Compassion, including self-compassion! is such an important capacity  – when we are met with compassion, we are more relaxed, we are happier, we perform better, we laugh more, we enjoy life more -we grow and feel nourished. When we feel compassion, we are better parents, friends and lovers.

The Dalai Lama heard of Dr. Davidson’s research and invited him to Dharamsala India, to interview monks with extensive experience in meditation. Davidson was amazed by the level of compassion he experienced there.

I hope you will give yourself time to see this interview about compassion, with Dr Davidson here – it is a great interview!

Meditation is an act of self-compassion. It fulfills a need – a deep underlying need for just being, in peace and stillness. When we satisfy our needs and allow ourselves to be with whatever is, we reconnect to love and compassion residing inside us. Research shows that it builds the area in the brain, adding to the capacity of compassion.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”  The Dalai Lama