New To Meditation? Try These Tiny Stepping Stones From Headspace

By Summer Beretsky

New To Meditation? Try These Bite-Sized Stepping Stones From HeadspaceWhile I’ve played around with meditation before, I never really held myself to its committed practice. I’d get excited about it for a few days, cozying up with Meditation Oasis podcasts after dinner, but then I’d drop the habit out of boredom or inattention. Or both.

But for the past ten days, I’ve been using a meditation app called Headspace to get me meditating more habitually. I can’t even remember where I’d first read about it — probably some Reddit thread, which is where I usually find enjoyable things and then forget the source — but I’m now hooked on creator (and former Buddhist monk!) Andy Puddicombe’s creative approach to easily-digestible ten-minute meditations.

That’s why I love them — even though they’re only ten minutes long, and according to his TED talk, that’s plenty of time to spur considerable changes in the brain:

So, with continued meditation practice, I hope to accomplish three main things (which Puddicombe says are, indeed, possible):

  1. I want to see my thoughts — particularly the thoughts of anxiety, worry, and stress — as ideas that simply pass in and out of my head. I want to see them come and go without latching onto them. That’s the key — without latching on.
  2. I want to become more comfortable in my skin. Whether I’m a bit jumpy with a racing heart, or feeling dumpy and exhausted down to my bones, I want to learn to accept that. To notice and acknowledge without judgment. (After all, isn’t it the judgment of our feelings that causes additional layers of mental distress?)
  3. I want to stop being so afraid of doing nothing.

I’ll elaborate on that last point: not long ago, I went to a local park and sat down on a bench. And that’s all I did — I sat. No phone, no book, no coffee cup in my hand.

Sure, that’s not really headline-worthy stuff, but I felt uncomfortable — like passersby were judging me. Why is she there? Why’s she just sitting? She must be up to something.

For some reason, I felt like the act of sitting and doing nothing might be interpreted as cause for concern. Why do I think this, you might ask? Well, maybe it’s a holdover from my teenage years and all those “No Loitering” rules my friends and I broke (and often got in trouble for). But as an adult, I need to remind myself that it’s perfectly fine to sit for the sake of sitting — and to do nothing for the sake of doing nothing.

But often, we forget this. I forget this.

The “Take Ten” meditations on the Headspace app (free on the iTunes store) are bite-sized stepping stones that (I hope) will lead me — and perhaps you? — toward these goals.

(By the way, given that I’m doing a lot of Headspace gushing right now, I should tell you that they are not paying me for this blog post. Some bloggers do things like that — they get a few bucks or a free product or service in exchange for some favorable words. I don’t do that sort of thing. I truly love this app and its meditations!)

Photo: Spaceamoeba (Flickr)



Sloppy And Scattered: This Is Your Brain On Grief

By Summer Beretsky

Sloppy And Scattered: This Is Your Brain On Grief

Ever since my dad passed away three months ago, my brain has been busy. Busy, cluttered, and disorganized.

I’ve felt so mentally disorganized, in fact, that I’ve had a difficult time writing. (This probably isn’t news to any of my regular readers who have noticed the lack of blog posts lately.)

I have about seven half-written blog posts in my “drafts” folder that just…don’t…make the cut.

They’re sloppy. They’re scattered.

And I, too, feel sloppy and scattered. I’m grieving the loss of my father, handling his estate (and by “handling”, I mean “drowning in paperwork regarding”), and preparing for a brand new full-time job that starts…uhm, tomorrow.

That’s a lot of slop. And a lot of scatter.

Continue reading… »



A Helpful Pamphlet About Heart Disease? There’s Just One Problem.

By Summer Beretsky

A Helpful Pamphlet About Heart Disease? There's Just One Problem.

A few days ago, I received the following letter in the mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield, addressed to my father:

Dear Paul,

Managing a chronic condition can feel overwhelming. I am here to help!

We just learned that you recently saw your physician about a new or existing health condition. I’ve enclosed some information to help you learn more about the condition and ways to manage it.

Enclosed was a handy booklet on heart disease, complete with cartoonish diagrams of the human heart and stock photos of sweatsuit-clad seniors doing yoga at the park.

The letter continued:

Together we can find ways to improve your health and your overall sense of well-being…I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Susan Stevens, RN, BSN

Back to the booklet now. On page five, a drawing of a “normal artery”, which looks something like an enclosed waterslide, and a drawing of an “artery narrowed by plaque”, which, based on the artwork alone, convinces me that “plaque” must be housefly larvae.

A Helpful Pamphlet About Heart Disease? There's Just One Problem.Page 14? A photo of legumes, grapes, walnuts, and bell peppers. Not pictured: my father’s favorite foods. Think peanuts, steak, and salty pretzels.

And then, the kicker on page 24: aspirin. He took aspirin every day.

“Honey,” he’d tell me, “see this? See how I carry all of these baby aspirins in my pocket? You just never know.”

Continue reading… »



A Very Sad Hiatus for ‘Panic About Anxiety’

By Summer Beretsky

A Very Sad Hiatus for 'Panic About Anxiety'There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just blankly blurt it out as if it doesn’t twist my insides into a million knots.

My father died unexpectedly last week. Heart attack, right out of the blue. No warning; no (known) history of heart problems.

My worst nightmare, basically, has come true.

Continue reading… »



Video: Earthquake On Live TV? These Anchors Calmly Own It

By Summer Beretsky

Video: Earthquake On Live TV? These Anchors Calmly Own ItLast night before bed, I found myself putzing around on my iPhone on my living room floor.

It’s a nightly thing: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit. Rinse and repeat if I’m still not sleepy.

But I was caught off guard while scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook news feed — suddenly, I felt the floor shake.

Always on high alert, I jumped. What was that?

After a moment or two of frozen uncertainty, I audibly exhaled when I realized the source of the shaking: a heavy diesel truck, barreling down my street.

Continue reading… »



Do You Feel Like An Impostor? You’re Not Alone!

By Summer Beretsky

Do You Feel Like An Impostor? You're Not Alone!

In my last post, I introduced you to what Dr. Pauline Rose Clance calls the “impostor phenomenon” — that nagging feeling that, despite being perfectly qualified to do something, you just don’t belong.

That you’re just not good enough (even though you are).

That you’re just not smart enough (even though, again, you are).

Have you ever felt like this before?

Continue reading… »



Do You Feel Like An Impostor? A Fraud? A Phony?

By Summer Beretsky

Do You Feel Like An Imposter? You're Not Alone!Do you ever feel like you’re “faking it” — at work, at school, or at home? Like you’re not qualified to be there, but by the grace of chance or luck, you are?

And do you feel like one day someone’s going to “out” you? Reveal you as a fraud? Point a finger at you and identify you as an impostor?

Continue reading… »



A Panic Attack On Live TV? ABC News Anchor Dan Harris Reflects

By Summer Beretsky

[Warning: this video might (obviously) be triggering for those of you with panic disorder. It definitely put me a bit on edge. It does end on a happy note, if that's of any consolation.]

Have you ever had a panic attack in front of a large audience?

I’ve had my (unfairly large) share of panic attacks — but most of them were only in front of small audiences, like the gaggle of shoppers who were behind me in line at CVS when I doubled over in dizziness at checkout.

(The moments between that first scanned item and that final step of swiping my payment card is akin to being stuck on an elevator between floors. After the first “beep” of the UPC scanner, I am trapped. I no longer have an easy excuse to run out of the store, if needed. I have to have to have to keep it cool and stay non-panicky, dammit, until that receipt is in my hand, right? I mean, otherwise…I’d look like a complete ass running out of there.)

And, oh, the marketing meeting at my former job in a stuffy, sardine-can-of-a conference room! I’ll never forget that panic attack.

Continue reading… »



Adjust Your Posture This Weekend For A More Confident Monday

By Summer Beretsky

Adjust Your Posture This Weekend For A More Confident MondaySo, I own a pet bird. (That’s him on the left.)

Actually, I hesitate to call my parrotlet a pet. He’s more like a little bird friend — a tiny little feathered dinosaur who talks.

He’s a comical little guy: he knows how to play peek-a-boo, he loves shredding tissues, and he’s learned to imitate my laughter with near-perfect pitch.

But when he gets angry — when he doesn’t want to be touched or bothered, for example — you know it.

And how do you know it? Well, he fans out his tail feathers if I try to touch him. He also fluffs up the feathers on his back.

This birdie non-verbal language lets me know my little featherbutt doesn’t want to play. The feather fanning and fluffing makes his pint-sized, hollow-boned bird body look bigger and stronger, as if to say, “Hey! I’m big and powerful, mom! Go away. We play by my rules because I’m the boss around here.”

FLUFFING UP: IT’S NOT JUST FOR THE BIRDS

I don’t think it’s any secret that adopting a “power posture” (say, standing with your hands on your hips or reclining on a chair with your arms behind your head) can communicate a nonverbal message to someone else.

Using a power posture tells others that you’re the boss. You’re in charge. You’re the alpha.

But can these confident postures tell yourself anything? Can they tell yourself that you’re in charge and in control?

Continue reading… »



I Hate Quotes About ‘Success’ (Except For This One)

By Summer Beretsky

I Hate Quotes About 'Success' (Except For This One)Generic platitudes tend to annoy me. You know the kind I’m talking about — right?

Say you’ve just been through a bad breakup. It stings monumentally, and you keep hearing crap like this:

  • “It’ll all work out in the end.”
  • “Maybe it’s for the best.”
  • “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Blah. These phrases are so scripted into our culture, and I’m sure the people who use these phrases mean well — but I can’t help rolling my eyes a bit at these saccharine one-liners.

Continue reading… »



 
 

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