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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Christmas candlePause. Breathe. Breathe again. Many of us are exhausted and stressed by this point at year’s end. Sometimes, we are so exhausted that we can’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of  having yourself a “merry little Christmas,” maybe we could work toward a mindful Christmas. Here are a few ideas to give yourself a mindful moment this season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate.

10 Finger Thanks

Think of ten things you’re thankful for as you count on your fingers. This may take some extra thought, but the benefits of a grateful heart are worth it! You can do this by yourself or with family and friends.

3 Senses

Pause and use three senses to observe your surroundings. Spend a minute on each sense. What are three things you can see? What are three things you can hear? What are three things you can feel? For more information, see the 3 Senses Mindfulness Activity. What would we see if we truly looked?

“Mindfulness is a love affair with life. You see the beauty in everybody and in everything.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do “You” this Holiday

Sometimes we try to please others and be who they think we should be. That can make a person miserable, and tired. Truth is, the best we can be is our best self. Honor your own desires and wishes. Maybe you just need a little time for yourself to gain perspective. Maybe you need a ‘long winter’s nap!’ This meditation from the Center for Mindfulness can help a person observe their own thoughts and emotions.

Breathe in Your Reality

When we stop comparing our life to the ideal we wish it was, and start accepting our own reality, we develop contentment and serenity. And we could all use a little more of that this holiday. When we start to accept our own reality, we may find treasures in our own situation we didn’t realize before.

 

Sources

American Psychological Association. (2018). “Managing Expectations.” https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations.aspx
Wong, J. & Brown, J. (June 2017). “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health.” Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

 

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

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Branson Treber Jr. Life is short, sometimes shorter than we think. Forty one years ago this New Year’s Eve, my father died at age 52 of a heart attack. This was especially traumatic for me; I was a 17-year-old senior in high school. As you can imagine, it was a difficult time for my mom, sisters and grandmother.

Every New Year’s Eve, I remember my father’s passing and take time to reflect on the past year. It is a good time to let old grudges go and reflect on the positives in your life. This tough life lesson helped me realize that life is short, and we should do our best to be optimistic and positive even during tough times.

As we begin 2015, perhaps you will decide to “forgive” an experience that is holding you captive. According to WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/forgive-forget you may receive health benefits by forgiving the person such as lowered blood pressure, a stronger immune system and reduction in stress hormones.

Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Hope College states that “Forgiveness does not involve a literal forgetting. Forgiveness involves remembering graciously. The forgiver remembers the true though painful parts, but without the embellishment of angry adjectives and adverbs that stir up contempt.”

Here are some tips to help you let go of past hurts. These tips are from Frederic Luskin, PhD, of the Stanford Forgiveness Project.
• Start a “gratitude journal” or write down one thing each day that you are grateful for. It is fine to start with small things that you are grateful for – you may find this practice helps you focus on all the positives in your life.
• Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation, yoga, or meditation. These practices may help you reduce your stress levels and develop a calmer attitude.
• Can you “rewrite” the story so that it is framed in a more positive light? This practice sometimes helps us move forward on our forgiveness journey.

Other things that may help you in the New Year include reconnecting with old friends or family members. Write that letter or thank you note to someone you have been meaning to contact. Write in a journal the positives from the past year. Reflect on the highlights and milestones. Each year, write down these milestones for your child, parent, family or friend. Your family will appreciate that you took the time to write about these precious memories.

Want more ideas for 2015? Check out this website for timely tips and suggestions: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/

Sources:
Valeo, T., Reviewer Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/forgive-forget
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, University of California at Berkeley http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Patricia Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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Muscle Meditation

walking1Meditation is currently “en vogue” for a very good reason. It facilitates the unity of mind and body. It helps us de-stress, quiet our mind, and find that point of stillness within ourselves. Most of us spend the day with one thought after another racing through our heads; encompassing everything from work–to family–to our “to do” list of chores and activities we need to accomplish by bedtime.

Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize we are being controlled by our incessant thoughts. What’s even more frustrating is realizing that much of the time we spent on those thoughts was unnecessary, especially time spent worrying. When you quiet your mind in meditation, you start to realize how many distractions compete for your attention. Distractions will never let up, but you can teach yourself to let them go.

Some people pray, some do yoga; others just spend time in quiet contemplation and solitude as a source of meditation. My favorite form of meditation is to walk outside. I call it muscle meditation in the outdoor “gym.” Exercise is as important for your head as it is for your heart. Regular exercise brings incredible changes to the mind and body. It is uniquely qualified to relax, to calm, and to dissipate stress. We know that both meditation and exercise are good for us. Why not combine the two?

Exercise provides opportunities to get away from it all and to enjoy some solitude. I find that outdoor movement reduces and minimizes life’s problems. If you are not currently an out-of-door exerciser, you may find that in the beginning you have to make yourself get up and go out. But as you get into shape, you’ll begin to tolerate exercise–segue into enjoying it–and finally get to the point where you depend on it every day for your sanity.

Almost any type of exercise helps, but many people find that using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion works best. That’s what makes it “muscle meditation.” Walking and jogging are two primary examples; a simple 20-minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress. People who prefer running enjoy a more vigorous workout, but the end result is the same.

There are many different meditation traditions and techniques. Americans, accustomed to fast-paced living, may be more inclined to choose active meditation techniques. I know that walking works best for me. It helps me find balance in my life. To start your own muscle meditation:

• Choose a pleasant location, such as a park or pretty neighborhood.

• As you walk, try to avoid thinking too much. Set your conscious thoughts aside and focus instead on the joy of your legs working, and fresh, pure oxygen flowing in and out of your lungs.

• Tune into your surroundings, focusing on the perfection of landscape and sky.

• Get into the habit of stepping outside the flow of your conscious thoughts and allow yourself to settle into a state of calm, steady movement.

Guess what? You’re meditating!

Written by:Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu
Reviewed by:
Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D.
Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Resources:http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefits-of-exercisereduces-stress-anxiety-and-helps-fight-depression
https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx
https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

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