Well as you may know by now mindfulness has made the cover of Time Magazine. This means that mindfulness has arrived, right? When I first heard this I said to myself something I said to myself over a decade ago which was “this practice is going to reach the mainstream world, it something we sorely need right now.” But watching a short clip on MSNBC made me curious about whether it’s being conveyed in a way where people are going to truly get the benefit that the science of mindfulness promises.
Let me explain.
At times I’m a sucker for acronyms and when I find one where the name fits what it is trying to spell out I grab onto it. A few months ago I heard an acronym that knocked my socks off and spoke to the underlying secrets of healthy living and happiness. Dan Siegel, MD is a renowned neuropsychiatrist and author of many books, the latest being Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain where this incredibly relevant acronym is spelled out. In this book he explores what we know about the adolescent brain and how to navigate these critical years for optimal health and happiness for teens and parents.
Dan will be in San Diego on Saturday, February 8th delivering a talk to the public at the Bridging the Hearts and Mind of Youth Conference.
The brilliant acronym is ESSENCE and we can all take a lesson from it.
Smiling is something almost all of us could do a bit more often. Past science shows that smiling – especially the kind of smile that involves the muscles around the eyes – creates a specific type of brain activation that’s connected to being in a happy mood. More recent research shows that even adopting this kind of smile, known as a “Duchenne smile” leads to lower heart rate levels and quicker recovery from stressful activities. Resilience and positive brain activity are maybe good reasons to grin a bit more in our lives, but there’s even a better reason.
The following video will show you exactly what that is.
“Knowing the way you think and where you place your energy allows you to step away from the various stories and mind traps that don’t serve you and enter the space of awareness where you can consider alternatives for creating a more flexible, healthier mind.”
~ The Now Effect
Cheerios recently came out with a commercial that has brought to light how our learned mental models about how things in life “should” can create powerful emotional reactions. A recent Cheerios commercial depicts a mixed race American family pouring some cheerios. While there were many positive comments, many of the comments online were so racist and extreme that they had to take off the comments section online.
Here’s the commercial:
Everyone has tough days and for some the days seem to be a never ending string of murkiness. All of our mental afflictions, stress, anxiety, depression, addictive urges and trauma responses are experienced as contractions in the body. An antidote to this would naturally be opening the body up and that is one among many reasons why yoga can be helpful. But to take it one step further, laughter opens our bodies up, vibrates core areas where the stuck energy resides while simultaneously igniting resiliency centers of the brain.
Do yourself a favor, simply watch this 3-minute video and see what you notice:
You may have seen the video and maybe it touched you in a way that brought you to tears. A forensic artist sat down and asked the woman sitting on the couch next to him to tell him about her face. He opens with the question, “Tell me about your hair?” and then, “Tell me about your chin. After one woman thinks about it she says, “It protrudes a bit especially when I smile.” He continues, “What about your jaw?” Another woman answers, “My mom always told me I had a big jaw.” He then asks, “What’s your most prominent feature?” Taking a moment, she answers “Kind of a fat rounder face” or “I would say I have a pretty big forehead.” After he got his sketch he said thank you very much and left.
He didn’t see them again. But what happened next reveals a truth we each need to hear.
You have a big business meeting in the morning and you ask your partner to get home at a decent hour so you can both get to bed early. Your partner sneaks in a bit later and disrupts your sleep. You wake up in the morning a bit more tired than you wish you would be, make your coffee and while bringing it to the table your fingers fumble the cup. When it falls to the ground it breaks into a million pieces and the coffee shoots up ruining your outfit. The first words that come out of your mouth are, “Dammit Jim! Why did you have to get home so late?”
This is a story adapted from Brene Brown’s new audio program The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage. This was her story, but in her version she was wearing white pants making it that much worse.
The fact is there’s always someone to blame. In Brene’s research on shame and vulnerability she says that blame is “A way to discharge pain and discomfort.” I loved hearing that
A while ago I walked into a particular publisher and saw every title of their upcoming books having “mindfulness” in the title and I was concerned that it was getting watered down. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As of today, mindfulness has evolved within America and has the potential to have a greater influence than we had ever imagined. Leaders around the country are implementing it in early child development, the military, education, politics, neuroscience, medicine, healthcare, business, the prisons, at-risk youth, and of course, psychotherapy. In this post I’m going to highlight a few key things that are happening that you may want to know about and how our culture is ripe for a second wave of mindfulness.
No matter what time of year it is, stress will likely be a part of it. A little stress is good, it fuels motivation, but there’s a tipping point where it starts to have diminishing returns. When that higher level of stress hits, if it’s left unchecked it can lead to anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addictive behaviors, you name it. Today I want to give you something that you can BET on anywhere, anytime to help turn the volume down on the chaotic mind and bring you back into balance.
I’m a big fan of things that are short and sweet. Something I can remember that can help me in a pinch.
Here’s a short acronym that you can BET on throughout the day:
Whether this is your first time you’re coming here or you’ve been around for the almost four years I’ve been writing The Mindfulness and Psychotherapy column, I want to share a personal moment of gratitude and say “Thank You” for being a part of this community. This was a big year for this column, it will become 4 years old and is also the year that The Now Effect and Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler hit bookshelves. Now it’s my turn to give you some gifts of my favorite Top 10 posts of the year. In these posts you’ll read about the power of mindfulness, the importance of self-compassion in healing, the upside to embracing dark emotions, how to be alone, why multitasking is ineffective, many short practices and much more.
May they bring you a sense of insight, ease, peace and freedom. Enjoy!