November 2014

The Dalai Lama’s Laugh

The Dalai Lama’s Laugh

by cheryl on November 24, 2014

in Meditation

It is Thanksgiving time again.   Time to gather with friends and family to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have.  This time of year, however, is also full of stress and anxiety for many who are rushing around preparing for the holiday season.  Time with family and friends, and holiday travel, also bring challenging situations, annoyance and for many a feeling of sadness.    Although this is a time for giving thanks for all that we have, it is sometimes difficult to feel grateful in the midst of the stressful holiday season.

So what does all of this have to do with the Dalai Lama’s laugh, you may ask?  I recently had the great pleasure of spending two days with the Dalai Lama in New York City. I sat in a crowded theater with hundreds of others listening to him speak. When I first arrived, I was surprised to hear protesters outside the theater chanting loudly that he was the “false Dalai Lama.”  As we were ushered into the crowded theater, we were searched for dangerous objects before being allowed into the room.   This was all a strange and disturbing beginning to a day with the the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.  When I finally arrived at my seat, excited to be in the presence of such an important historical figure, the Dalai Lama began his lesson in Tibetan.  For the first 20 minutes, and throughout the two days, he spoke in a language I could not begin to understand.    Then, when his interpreter began to speak in English to translate his words, it seemed that even English was not going to help me truly understand the complicated teachings of Dependent Origination and Intrinsic Existence.  As I struggled to understand his existential teachings, I found myself captivated by one thing – the Dalai Lama’s laughter.

Many of us shared the same experience that day.  There was something about his deep, joyful belly laugh that seemed to exude happiness.  This is a man who has lost his country, who bears the burden of continuing the Tibetan culture and its spiritual teachings, who, at 79 years old, lives in exile and travels the world sharing these teachings to hundreds of thousands of people, and who has the fate of an entire culture in his hands.  And yet, despite the tremendous burden he carries, he manages to sit happily, with a radiating smile, filling the large theater with his laughter.  This alone was worth the price of admission.

Back to our own Thanksgiving tables.  The Dalai Lama’s laugh is a great example of how our own happiness need not be defined by our circumstances.  Despite our suffering, our challenges or our difficult circumstances,  we too can choose to find happiness and laughter.  As the Dalai Lama says, “Happiness is a choice.”   There are simple ways to find joy in each moment.  For example, we can simply take a deep breath and enjoy the fact the we can take a  breath.  I often think back to when my mother was ill and I found tremendous joy on mornings when she could simply breathe with ease.  This simple act of gratitude is easily forgotten when life gets busy.  But the ability to take a slow, deep breath is something to be very thankful for.

Another way to bring gratitude to Thanksgiving is to look at the food on our table and think about everyone who has contributed in some way to our meal — the famers in the field, the animals in the farm, the food company employees who produce and package our food, the truck drivers, the grocery store clerks, the cashiers, the caregivers and cooks who prepare it, and those who worked to make money so the food could be purchased.  Each and every person played a part in getting this food on the table for us to enjoy.  This brings a great sense of interconnectedness, interdependence and a feeling of appreciation and gratitude to our hearts.   Try thinking about all the people who contributed in some way to your Thanksgiving meal, from its very beginning in a field somewhere in the world to your plate.

On to a more challenging gratitude practice – dealing with difficult people.  Even the difficult people in our lives can help us find gratitude and happiness.  Pay attention to the person in your life who causes you discomfort or unease, and try to find something that person has done for you, directly or indirectly, that brings you joy.  They may have brought someone into your life who you love very much, or perhaps they make someone you love very happy.  Whatever it is, recognize it and be thankful for it.   It is also helpful to recognize that even the people who are most challenging for us are also just searching for their own happiness, and are often struggling in their own way to find it.  Opening the door to compassion for them, will also help us find our own peace and happiness.

Bah Humbug!  Why even try?  All this effort to cultivate gratitude can actually pay off.   Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, has spent years studying the brain and has found that we can actually change our brains and create more happiness in our lives with practice.   We can cause our neural machinery to cultivate positive states of mind.  This is known as “self-directed neuroplasticity.”  Neuroplasticity refers to the malleable nature of the brain.  Dr. Hanson has found that we can change our brains to be happier by deliberately training the mind to appreciate the good that is all around us.  What better time to start practicing happiness and hardwiring your brain for positivity than Thanksgiving.

So, this Thanksgiving, practice laughing out loud like the Dalai Lama and take the time to look around or inside yourself and notice a few things that you can be truly grateful for.  Whether it is your breath, your health, your children, the food in front of you, the sun rising, or the person sitting next to you, simply take the time to notice how fortunate you are and give thanks for that good fortune.

 

 

 

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Weekly Wisdom #43

by cheryl on November 24, 2014

in Weekly Wisdom

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”  – Frederick Keong

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Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness at Work

by cheryl on November 13, 2014

in Classes, Events and Classes

Mindfulness at Work

Helping People and Companies Thrive

2bpresent uses the latest research from the fields of Neuroscience and Psychology, combined with Mindful Awareness practices to teach people the skills they need to thrive at work and in life.

2bpresent’s Mindfulness at Work Program:

  1. Enhances Performance at Work through Heightened Emotional Intelligence
  2. Cultivates Outstanding Leadership Skills
  3. Creates a Corporate Culture of Cooperation, Innovation & Resilience
  4. Increases Happiness and Health of the Individual and the Organization

Mindfulness Training is the foundation of building Emotional Intelligence. The latest research shows that mindfulness training helps individuals increase their ability to manage stress, to improve focus, to manage difficult emotions and to resolve challenging situations.

As Kate Pickert wrote in the February 2014 Time magazine cover story, The Mindful Revolution, “most leaders…feel besieged by long work hours and near constant connectivity. For these people, there seems to be no time to zero in on what’s important or plan ahead.” Mindfulness training can help leaders slow down, focus, skillfully solve problems and make better decisions.

Mindfulness Benefits Individuals: In our world of hyper-connectivity constantly pulling our attention and focus in many different directions, we need to learn to:

  • Slow down in order to concentrate on what is important;
  • Focus our attention and energy; and
  • Access our creativity and innovation to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.

In order to access our greatest potential to meet these demands, we must first learn to

  • Raise our self-awareness and understand our emotional responses;
  • Create a greater sense of clarity and calm; and
  • Connect to our  purpose and goals.

 

Mindfulness Benefits Organizations: Mindfulness training helps

  • Employees and business leaders develop a greater sense of interconnectedness, cooperation and compassion;
  • Companies create a positive corporate culture of cooperation, innovation and resilience; and
  • Improve the overall health of the organization and its individuals

2bpresent’s Mindfulness at Work gives organizations the tools to build a more effective work environment with a greater sense of productivity, efficiency and the capacity for intelligent decision-making and skillful leadership.

About the Instructor:

Cheryl Vigder Brause has a degree in Economics from the University of Michigan. Upon graduation from college, Cheryl worked as an investment banking analysts for Goldman Sachs. She then earned her law degree from New York University School of Law. Cheryl worked as an attorney for several years in Manhattan practicing corporate litigation, white-collar crime and public interest law. She has had many roles in her life, but her most challenging and rewarding job yet — mother of three children.  The culmination of her life experiences in the corporate world and as a busy parent led her to explore a personal yoga and meditation practice. The life-changing effect of these practices and her desire to share the amazing teachings of leaders in the field of meditation and mindfulness, inspired her to co-create 2bpresent.  Cheryl has studied meditation and mindfulness under the guidance of many leaders in the field.  She is trained in Learning to BREATHE and Mindful Schools Curriculum Training.   She has completed her Level I and Level II Meditation Teacher Training from Om Yoga.   Cheryl has studied MBSR and Buddhist Psychology, as well as Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. She has also participated in Search Inside Yourself, Google’s Mindfulness-Based Leadership training. Cheryl is a motivational speaker, and teaches mindfulness and meditation privately to children, teens and adults, as well as to businesses and organizations.  She has created and taught programs in and around New York to train executives, teachers and students in stress reduction techniques and mindfulness tools to help them thrive.  It has been through her daily practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness that she recognized that it is the journey itself, and not the destination, that matters most.  She is thrilled to be taking this journey 2bpresent and sharing it with you.

 

What people are saying about 2bpresent Programs:

“Every now and then you come across a class or a person who helps you to be a better person. Cheryl offers just that. I am a better person because of all the things that I have learned- I am a better spouse, a better mother, a better friend, a better co-worker, and actually even more compassionate with myself. And what’s the best part? That I got all this by simply learning how to slow down and calm down. I will be forever grateful! Taking the beginning meditation class is the single most important thing I have done for myself in the last decade. I can honestly say that my family and I are all happier because of my taking this one step to learn how to be calmer and more mindful.” – Psychologist, participant in Real Happiness and Mindful Living

“Cheryl’s class taught me not only how to meditate, but how to incorporate mindfulness into everything that I do. Cheryl is extremely knowledgeable about the practice of mindfulness and has a teaching style that is very easy to understand and accessible. It was a truly life changing experience. I can’t wait for my next class!” – MBA, participant in Mindful Living

“I took Cheryl’s mindfulness class last spring and the effects have stayed with me. The tools and techniques she showed the classes were fun and easy to use and the discussion really brought everything down to a real level that can be applied. Cheryl has a unique way of speaking about mindfulness that is very insightful and practical. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and would highly recommend it!” – Organizational Development Consultant, participant in Mindful Living

Mindfulness at Work Programs

6 Week Mindfulness at Work Program:

This 6 Week Program consist of six, 45-minute lunchtime sessions. In each session, participants learn new Mindfulness tools each week and discuss the science behind how and why mindfulness practices decrease stress, increase clarity and focus and improve overall wellbeing.   2bpresent teaches tools to increase self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy, as well as tools to foster cooperation, compassion and creativity.   These classes include guided mindfulness meditation practices and exercises each week so that participants experience first hand the benefits of the practices.  They also will experience the added benefits of a lunchtime class that will help to reduce stress, relax the body and increase clarity, focus and wellbeing.

 

Mindfulness at Work Executive Workshop:

A 2-hour workshop to kick start your program and introduce key Mindfulness concepts and practices. This hands-on training will help participants better understand the science behind mindfulness meditation, and give participants the opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness tools to help them lower stress, increase their focus and attention and improve their overall sense of wellbeing.

 

Custom Fit Programs  – Design Your Mindfulness at Work Program:

We can work with your organization to custom design a Mindfulness Based Program to help your employees and your business thrive.

Please contact us at info@2bpresent.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

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Perfect Parenting

Perfect Parenting

by cheryl on November 13, 2014

in 2mindfulmoms

Let me start by saying there is no such thing as perfect parenting.  Period. Full Stop. Instead, I would say that the only type of parenting is imperfect parenting. I think that we can all agree that we do that quite well.   This is not due to a lack of trying. As parents, we are very busy trying to do the right thing for our children.   We buy parenting books, full of expert advice,  to teach us how to parent better.  I have stacks and stacks of these books lining my bookshelves at home; each offering me loads of advice on how to raise my children. I have attempted to read many of them, but I must admit that I have barely scratched the surface.   I usually get through the first few chapters when I am interrupted by my life — my children asking me for help with a problem, dinner to cook, a carpool to drive, an argument I need to help settle, or the most challenging of all, my very heavy eyelids refusing to remain open after a busy day.

In my long search for answers, I have come across some deeply meaningful ideas that translate into what I consider the keys to parenting. Three qualities of awareness that help me to be less bound to the pages of my parenting books (that I never seem to finish), and free to raise my children from a place of authenticity.  These help me to understand my own values, to do what feels right and to connect to my children in a deep and meaningful way. They are:

(1) Presence. I try very hard to take time to be fully present with my children. I am far from perfect at this, but I am trying.  For example, I have caught myself having breakfast with my precious 9 year-old, unable to recount what I imagine was probably a beautiful story she just told, because I was distracted or too busy in my own head to listen to her.   I have to remind myself to turn off my phone, power down my laptop, clear my thoughts, judgments and analysis, and simply be there, like a sponge, for my child.  It is important to remember that this is not a matter of quantity of time; it is a matter of quality of time. It is about picking your moments and not being afraid to say, “I can’t listen right now, let me finish what I am doing and then I am all yours.” And then doing it. To have a few minutes a day of true listening, paying full attention, is such a gift to you and to your child. No special toys need to be purchased; no elaborate trips need to be taken, just being fully present with your child allows your child to feel felt and to be heard, and gives you the opportunity to connect in a deep and meaningful way.

(2) Understanding. It may seem easy to be present, but to be present with an open mind and an open heart is a much greater challenge. It is acting more like a sponge than a bumper, absorbing and taking in what your child is doing, saying, feeling and thinking, rather than diverting or invalidating their thoughts and feelings. For example, when a child says, “You never listen to me.” It is refraining from saying, “Yes I do. I always listen to you.” And, instead, understanding that your child doesn’t feel listened to. It means seeing things from your child’s point of view, putting yourself in your child’s shoes. In doing this, you not only validate their feelings and experiences, but you can also better understand what your child needs from you and how you can best serve your child.

(3) Acceptance.   Our willingness to recognize and accept our children’s thoughts and feelings enables us to see our children for who they really are, and not who we want them to be. It also allows us as parents to see ourselves the way we really are and not the way we wish to be.   This acceptance fosters self-confidence, safety and comfort in children and in parents. It releases us from the cycle of disappointment after failing to meet unrealistic expectations, and allows us the freedom to embrace what is, who we are and who our children are, and all the possibilities that come from that very real place.

The challenges of parenting are constantly changing. We have to be able to be present for the laughter and joy, and face the fear and uncertainty as they come. The best we can do is parent from a place of love and not fear, and acknowledge that we are doing the best that we can.

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Weekly Wisdom #42

by cheryl on November 13, 2014

in Weekly Wisdom

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Want to find some inner peace in this very hectic world?

Join us on a journey to finding real happiness as we explore meditation and mindfulness, and learn how to incorporate them into our everyday lives. Mindfulness can help you lower your levels of stress, stay focused and calm, and live your life with a greater sense of ease and happiness.

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of mindfulness and meditation, and will help you gain a deeper understanding of these practices.

Join me for this private group session for contemplation, meditation and action-based exercises. This is a five week class. We will meet for one hour each week.

Morning Class Dates & Time: 1/14, 1/21, 1/28,  2/4 and 2/11 from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Investment: $195

Location:  Larchmont, New York.

 

To Register for Your Private Group Session  click here.

About the Instructor . . .

Cheryl Brause is the Co-Founder of 2bpresent. She has practiced meditation and mindfulness for many years, and has worked in the field of teaching mindfulness meditation for the past four years to adults, teens and children. Cheryl has studied meditation and mindfulness under with many leaders in the field. She has completed her Level I and Level II Meditation Teacher Training from Om Yoga.  She is trained in Learning to BREATHE – a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents, and completed her K-12 Mindful Schools Curriculum Training. She has trained in Search Inside Yourself Leadership Training and teaches Mindfulness at Work to corporations, organizations and business leaders.  Cheryl teaches mindfulness and meditation privately to children, teens and adults.  She has also created and taught programs in our community to train teachers and students in stress reduction techniques and mindfulness tools to help them thrive.

What people are saying about 2bpresent classes and workshops. . .

“Every now and then you come across a class or a person who helps you to be a better person. Cheryl offers just that. I am a better person because of all the things that I have learned- I am a better spouse, a better mother, a better friend, a better co-worker, and actually even more compassionate with myself. And what’s the best part? That I got all this by simply learning how to slow down and calm down. I will be forever grateful!

Taking the beginning meditation class is the single most important thing I have done for myself in the last decade. I can honestly say that my family and I are all happier because of my taking this one step to learn how to be calmer and more mindful.” – Psychologist, mother and participant in Real Happiness and Mindful Living

“Cheryl’s class taught me not only how to meditate, but how to incorporate mindfulness into everything that I do. Cheryl is extremely knowledgable about the practice of mindfulness and has a teaching style that is very easy to understand and accessible. It was a truly life changing experience. I can’t wait for my next class!” – MBA, mother, participant in Mindful Living

“I took Cheryl’s mindfulness class last spring and the effects have stayed with me. The tools and techniques she showed the class were fun and easy to use and the discussion really brought everything down to a real level that can be applied. Cheryl has a unique way of speaking about mindfulness that is very insightful and practical. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and would highly recommend it!” – Organizational Development Consultant, mother, participant in Mindful Living

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In Pursuit of Silence

In Pursuit of Silence

by cheryl on November 3, 2014

in Healthy Living

Have you ever noticed how noisy life can be?  Movie theaters play films so loudly it produces heart pounding reactions, literally.  We walk outside with headphones playing music or conversation in our ears,  our car radios create a constant hum of background noise for each drive, and our televisions, computers, text messages and phones beep and chime creating piercing reminders of all that we have to do.   Even when we manage to escape to a quiet place, the noise inside our head — spinning thoughts, to do lists, nagging fears, and a vast array of emotions — is often just as loud as the noise in the world around us.  We try to quiet that noise, but it is challenging.   Instead, we distract ourselves with other sounds in attempt to find some peace and “quiet.”

Silence can be magical.  Learning to sit in silence can open the door to creativity, wonder and a deep sense of peace.  Sitting in silence allows us to  connect to our inner wisdom, strength and resilience.   Once we recognize and access these incredible resources, we can call upon them when needed.   Welcoming in silence, is the real challenge in our very noisy world.

We recently learned of director Patrick Shen, an award winning documentary film maker, and his new film,  IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE.  In this new documentary, Patrick is exploring our relationship with sound and the implications of living in a noisy world.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with the associate producer of the film about the extraordinary exploration of silence in this fascinating new film.   2bpresent is excited to be partnering with the creative team to contribute to the completion of this important film.    You can view the trailer below and support the film and their kick start campaign at http://support.pursuitofsilence.com.

(For more information on this film, here is the link to the Huffington Post article: http://huff.to/1tgDMKP)

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Weekly Wisdom #41

by cheryl on November 3, 2014

in Weekly Wisdom

“Speak only if it improves upon the silence.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

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