Archives for December, 2010
Almost 2 years ago on January 16th, 2009 The Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog was birthed and I want to express my gratitude to John Grohol and all the readers who have been a part of this whether you just read a post and took something from it or whether you have been active in commenting or even retweeting. Looking back on these last 2 years, my intention was for this blog to be an avenue for all of us to interact around mindfulness as it touches the many facets of life. I tried to create posts that were practical and accessible and that we could actually read and apply in our daily lives. I feel grateful to have interviewed leaders in the field like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Daniel Siegel, Susan Kaiser Greenland, Jeffrey Schwartz, Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, Sylvia Boorstein, among many others. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Mindfulness and Psychotherapy blog posts for 2010, enjoy!
In the past I wrote the blog Neuroplasticity, Gratitude, and Your Mental Health: Food for Thought and thousands of people viewed it as being reminded of the really powerful effects of counting blessings over burdens. So here we are, at the end of the year. Answer these 4 questions for yourself right here, right now in an effort to move into 2011 with less stress and a greater sense of resiliency and well-being.
What is it about us that we often feel like we have to be right at the expense of our mental health or the health of our relationships? The need to be right causes so much suffering and the truth is, most of the time we feel we’re right about an opinion which is a subjective stance that other people are free to have different views on. We’re right about being a Democrat versus a Republican, we’re right about one side of abortion over another, we’re right about whose turn it is to wash the dishes. I guess the real question is, as we’re steeped in our right-ness, how are we feeling? Usually pretty contracted and stuck. What would it be like to practice not knowing? Joseph Goldstein is the author of One Dharma along with many other books and known as one of the leaders in bringing mindfulness to the west. He’s giving a talk at InsightLA in Santa Monica on January 4th at 7:30pm. In a PBS write up, he tells us to get comfortable with not-knowing:
If you aren’t familiar with the game Tetris, it’s a computer game where four block shapes fall from the top of the screen in different combinations and you have fit one into the next. A number of years ago, a boy in Australia had been playing Tetris for a considerable amount of time and he soon found that his dreams were made of Tetris shapes and in his waking life his mind was often trying to fit objects into one another. He began to automatically see the entire world as a Tetris game. This was later called The Tetris Effect. It seems that what we pay attention to and how we pay attention not only has an effect on how our brain grows, but also has an effect on how we view the world. So the question is, what do we spend our invaluable resource of attention paying attention to. A Nielson poll says that the average American spends 4 hours a day watching television. How does that fall into the Tetris Effect?
The end of the year is near and if you’re like most people you’ll catch the mind wandering back onto the year looking to measure up how it turned out. This automatic process can be a bit tricky as the mind has an automatic negativity bias and tends to look for the things that didn’t work out and can kick us into a downward spiral of dissatisfaction with life. But we need to look back on our lives so we can learn from the past, be more intentional in the present and be well in the future. What we need in the process is a little self-compassion. So what do we do?
As family and friends begin to gather during the holidays, at one point or another we may have to face either ourselves or a loved one with addiction. There are really very few people who are not touched by addiction in one way or another. Addiction comes in the form of alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, eating, sugar, and other compulsive behaviors that are an avoidance strategy and eventually cause distress. When caught up in the cycle of addictive behavior, there is an inability to accept whatever is being felt in the present moment and the mind is constantly wandering onto the next ‘fix.’ So it’s safe to conclude that addiction often builds a wall of disconnection and makes
Ariane de Bonvoisin's most recent book is called The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier which has a number of fantastic quotes in it that I believe if reflected on mindfully could very well change your life. If you missed the interview with Ariane, you can find it here. Now, we’re not just going to glance over these quotes, I’m going to suggest that you take at least 30 seconds with each quote doing the following 5-step mindfulness practice. Get centered — Take a moment to just notice your body here, noticing any tension and seeing if you can choose to let that tension go. Become aware that you’re breathing.
When it comes down to it life is driven by our intentions. Read over the following progression from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook a couple of times: 1. Intention shapes our thoughts and words. 2. Thoughts and words mold our actions. 3. Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors. 4. Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions. 5. Bodily expressions fashion our character. 6. Our character hardens into what we look like. There’s simply so much truth to this. There’s a reason the Dalai Lama looks happy. However, most of the time we live unintentionally and that’s when we look back many years later and say, “Where did it all go.” It’s time to live as if it mattered.