A New Habit

Ahhhhhh.  Summer rolls around again. The days are longer and the weather more inviting. With a renewed sense of energy and excitement in our lives perhaps we can bring our attention toward a new habit of well being.  I invite you to take a deeper look into the world of mindfulness and meditation.

You might ask, what is this “mindfulness” I hear so much about?  Or, why should I try meditation? Meditation and mindfulness is about relaxation and presence with our felt experience, and while it can also be a religious/spiritual practice it doesn’t have to be. Recently a client of mine asked,  “How often do I have to practice mindfulness and meditation for it to have a positive impact on my life?”  In reflecting on an answer, it came to me how well our bodies respond to habitual practice.  I told them that like exercise, doing it once is beneficial, but making it a regular habit produces even more positive results.  

Read More

Teenagers as our Teachers

The books, articles, and blogs dedicated to surviving and explaining the terrorizing teen years are endless.  So when Dr. Daniel J. Siegel in his new book Brainstorm described the four qualities that make up the “normal” adolescent experience as: novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional intensity, and creative exploration, I quickly wanted to add it to my pile of “adolescence is awful” literature. Then he did something unexpected and outlined not just the negative impact of adolescence but also the positive. His highlighting of the upside of being a teen challenges the mainstream view of teenagers as simple moody nightmares and points to their ability to teach us how to create a more fulfilling life.

Read More

Surviving and Thriving In Good Times and Bad

I once read that all human beings are very much alike: we all have our struggles and we all wish to be happy. Sometimes people identify certain events as having the power to create particular emotional states, such as joy, sadness, or anger. However, we also have an internal capacity to increase our ability to have and sustain positive states of being. To aid us in the quest, I have developed a model I call The Four A’s.

The first A we’ll visit is Awareness. I often think that many of us, particularly because of hectic lifestyles of our times, move around in a state of automatic pilot instead of being aware of our surroundings, moods, and thoughts. Why bother you might ask? Because, without awareness, we don’t know what is working for us and what needs to change; we don’t know how we impact others or if our relationships are fulfilling; we don’t know what is lingering from our past that perhaps needs a closer look, since it impacts us today. A beginning approach to increase awareness is to take a few minutes every day, sit comfortably and focus first on your breathing. Notice how you naturally breathe in and out with very little effort on your part. Then extend your awareness to your body, scanning each part starting with your toes and continuing to your legs, stomach, etc. noticing how each part of your body feels. Then move on to what you notice around you, sounds, smells and so on. Now you are inviting in the first A, Awareness.

Read More

How To Launch Your Child with Courage

Imagine these scenarios: A young, female college student returning after winter break, requests a ticket from the train conductor. He gruffly tells her that she should have purchased her ticket in the station. Flustered and panicked that the train is almost ready to leave, she reluctantly leaves her seat to follow his instruction. The train pulls out with out her. Another young man, in tears with desperation in his voice, telephones his father from his freshman dorm to express his frustration that he can’t seem to get out of the “triple” he was promised was temporary. The father empathizes with his son’s dilemma, but encourages him to contact the housing manager and work through the problem on his own. The father, a good friend, later confesses it would have been easy for him to help his son, but allowing him to problem-solve is practice for working through life’s real problems.

Read More

Grief’s Journey

With the holidays approaching, it may seem an odd time to read about loss and grief. Yet those who have experienced the death of a loved one, understand that holidays bring poignant and even painful reminders of their losses. So it seems an appropriate time of year to consider what author Judith Viorst calls normal and necessary—the journey of grief.

Read More