November 2016

Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is a powerful practice that can help lower stress, increase focus and attention, and improve our overall happiness and wellbeing. In this interactive, two-hour evening workshop, we will explore mindfulness practices that help us become more aware of our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions. These practices can help us relax, become more self-aware and accepting of own inner states, be less reactive to the world around us and feel more centered in a constantly changing world.

 

I am thrilled to be offering this evening workshop at Tovami Yoga, 112 West Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, New York.  To register, click HERE.

 

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Mindful Tips for the Holiday Season

Mindful Tips for the Holiday Season

by cheryl on November 21, 2016

in Meditation

Holiday Recipe: Mix complex family histories with pressure to have fun.  Add in travel fatigue and general exhaustion.  Don’t forget a dash of unease at the disruption to your daily routine.  Let simmer over the holiday season.  You will get a mix of fun times sprinkled with frustration, exhaustion and annoyance bubbling up to the surface at exactly the time when you want to be your best self and just be happy during the holidays. As Ram Dass once said, “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” The holidays can be both joyous and challenging.  No matter how often we practice peacefulness and calm, our long and ingrained history with family members and the stress and pressures of the holidays can often spark a mix of emotions this time of year.

Mindful Tips for Getting Through the Holiday Season.

(1) Be Kind. As the Dali Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” How, you ask, can we be kind when we are feeling exhausted, frustrated or annoyed? First and foremost be kind to yourself for feeling this way. It is completely normal and natural, and there are millions of others who feel exactly the same way. Kindness and compassion for yourself will relieve any pressure you feel to be happy and smiling throughout the entire holiday season. Next, be kind to others. They are also feeling holiday stress and need a little extra understanding and love this time of year.

(2) Take a break. Take time for yourself. Even though there is tremendous pressure to spend 24 hours a day with family members, especially when you rarely get to see them, be sure spend a little time alone and give yourself the opportunity to regroup, relax and rest. The time spent together when you are feeling calm and rested will be that much better if you give yourself some time to unwind. So, take a walk, meditate, or take a nap. This is your holiday too and you deserve it. Remember this will not only serve you, but it will also serve those around you if you can rejoin the group refreshed and rested.

(3) Show compassion. Especially this year, we are all feeling a bit on edge and uncertain about the future. Many of us will face family members with different political views. There are two ways to show compassion this year for people experiencing such raw and sensitive emotions. If emotions are running high, make your Thanksgiving table a politics-free zone. You can choose to simply agree not to talk about politics. It will all be there to discuss and debate after Thanksgiving.  Alternatively, you can take this opportunity to agree to really listen to one another. Set ground rules that you will each listen with curiosity and openness to the other’s point of view. Forget trying to prove you are right, and instead, simply try to cultivate understanding and compassion for another point of view.

(4) Foster Connection. Time together is a wonderful time to foster deeper connections with one another. One way to do this is to start a conversation that will give everyone the opportunity to learn more about each other and about ourselves.  Start a conversation around the Thanksgiving table and ask everyone to reflect — kindly and compassionately —  about what they learned this year, and how what they have learned has changed them. Leave judgment and criticism aside, and remember to listen and be open to what you can learn.

(5) Give Thanks. Bring your attention to the spirit of this holiday – Gratitude. This is an opportunity to give thanks for all that you have. Place your attention on the good in your life – family, the food on the table, children, good health, time together, or even the sun shining outside or the roof over your head. Giving thanks helps you recognize the positive in your life and creates an opportunity to feel good during the holiday season. As Sharon Salzberg said, “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.”

(6) Smile, breathe and go slowly. Thich Naht Hanh once said, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” This is a wonderful mantra to repeat during the holidays. Smile because you are alive. Breathe because it allows you to feel present in your body, and gives you a moment to pause and simply be grateful for each breath. Finally, go slowly. We move so fast most of the time, so use this time to go slowly and be present for each moment. Each moment matters and when added together these moments make up our life. So, take each moment as it comes. Experience your life as it unfolds. Smile and breathe.

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Stress among teens is reaching epidemic proportions. This excessive, prolonged stress affects their bodies and their brains. Researchers at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University found that when toxic stress is triggered continually over a period of time it can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health — for a lifetime.

As the mother of two teenagers and one pre-teen, and as a mindfulness teacher working with teens, I see every day the tremendous stress our teenagers experience in their young lives. I often ask the teens I work with to make a list of what stresses them out. Homework, school and college admissions are always at the top of the list. Now, they have added a new stressor to their list – their cellphones— as they are admitting that their compulsion to check their devices, and the added pressure that comes with that constant connectivity, is distracting and anxiety provoking.

This overload of schoolwork, the pressure to succeed in an extremely competitive culture and their constant connectivity leaves our teenagers with no time or ability to disconnect from their peers, to relax and unwind or to connect with their families.

As a result, we are seeing record levels of anxiety, depression, insomnia, attention disorders and even suicide among our teens. Studies also show that teens are turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol, to tune out or avoid the discomfort of their anxiety. There is a critical need for parents and children to learn skills that will not only help them cope with this stress, but will also help them thrive.  I am thrilled to be partnering with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to help parents and teens learn healthy ways to cope with stress.   To read more on Mindful Practices for Calm, Focused and Happy Teens, click here.

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Weekly Wisdom #60

by cheryl on November 12, 2016

in Weekly Wisdom

“Sending lovingkindness to a difficult person is a process of relaxing the heart and freeing yourself from fear and corrosive resentment – a profound, challenging, and liberating process . . .”  – Sharon Salzberg

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As I awoke Wednesday morning to the election results, I found myself feeling shock, disbelief and uncertainty about our country’s future. After a presidential election fueled by ugly rhetoric, fear and divisiveness, our country is hurting and people are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to cope with their intense feelings. As I do everyday, I turn to my mindfulness practice as a source of comfort and strength during this extremely challenging time. Here are some mindful ways through the aftershocks of this election.

Impermanence. Mindfulness helps us recognize the impermanence of our experiences. Our breath comes and goes, our emotions ebb and flow, political movements rise and fall, and presidencies start and end. Recognizing the impermanence of life’s experiences helps us endure the discomfort of unpleasant feelings and the challenges of difficult times by recognizing that this too shall pass. Remind yourself of this often, and remember that we all have the capacity and inner strength to carry on.

Letting Go. Mindfulness also helps us cope with the relentless torrent of thoughts and emotions that continue to overwhelm us. Our emotions are being triggered by two different thoughts right now. First, how did this happen? Second, what will happen next? Obsessive rumination about the past triggers anger, resentment and regret. Uncertainty about the future triggers fear. We must recognize that we cannot change the past or control the future. No matter how much we think about it, that won’t change. Instead these thoughts will only keep us stuck in unpleasant emotions. Know yourself and understand what is triggering you. It may be time to turn off the TV for a while, spend some time in nature, and enjoy thinking about something else. Know what is causing you to feel fear, frustration and anxiety, and simply allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. Let it come and let it go.

 

Try this . . .

A short mindfulness practice to let go of strong emotions:

In the moment of strong negative emotions, the best way to let go is to allow your emotions to pass through you. Try this mindfulness practice to let go:

 

  1. Feel it. Recognize what you are feeling and allow yourself to simply feel it, recognizing how your feelings are felt in your body – – tightness, tension, stomach upset. Just feel it. All feelings are welcome and part of our human experience. All feelings come and go.
  2. Notice your thoughts. Notice what thoughts are fueling your emotions. Feelings are like a small fire and our thoughts are the kerosene that fuel the flames. Our thoughts stoke our fears and keep our emotional fire burning. By noticing our thoughts and recognizing that our ruminations are not serving us, we can begin to create space between our thoughts and our emotional response to those thoughts.
  3. Let it go. Once we allow ourselves to recognize our thoughts and our feelings, we can simply accept them as they are, and we can begin to let them move through us.  Then, we can begin to let them go, so that we can move forward in a healthy and productive way.
  4. Be Present. To help us in letting go, try focusing on what is actually happening right now. You may be sitting comfortably reading this. And, you are OK. Notice this. When we focus on the present moment, and what is happening right now, we can begin to appreciate that we are fine. The only moment that we will ever have is this one. So, get out of your head and into your life as it unfolds. There are many treasures there waiting to be noticed. Be awake and be present for them, and learn to appreciate the “OKness” of right now.

 

Acceptance. This is a hard one, I admit, but it is the key to minimizing our suffering and acceptance allows us to move forward. We must accept what is. When we struggle against what is, we cause ourselves tremendous suffering. We don’t have to like it, but we do have to accept it. We also have to accept the fact that we simply do not know what will be. These are uncertain times, and uncertainty breeds fear. The only thing that is certain is that we have absolutely no idea what will happen next. If we linger in our dire predictions of the future, which are based on nothing but conjecture, we continue to live in fear. We need to fully accept what is and the uncertainty of what will be, which will allow us to move on.

 

Feeling into Action. Fear is a normal part of our human experience. It alerts us to danger and is an essential part of our ability to survive. However, fear can be incredibly harmful when it prohibits us from acting and leaves us unable to respond in a rational, compassionate and wise way. That is why we must be able to calm our emotions, accept what is, and use those feelings to motivate us into wise action.

Mindfulness helps us recognize when we are coming from a place of fear, and allows us the choice of turning to compassion and openheartedness instead. The practice helps us to recognize that we all are human and that we are all more alike than we are different. If we focus on our differences, we remain divided. If we focus on our similarities, we can begin to heal the wounds of division, hatred and “otherness.”

Compassion meditation practice offers us the opportunity to recognize that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves and that we are all inextricably connected to one another. So, we must use our energy to better understand each other, with a sense of interest and curiosity, instead of criticism and judgment. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy. By opening our hearts even to those that cause us pain, we can create a new perspective from which we view each other. As Sharon Salzberg explains in her book Real Happiness, “Sending lovingkindness to a difficult person is a process of relaxing the heart and freeing yourself from fear and corrosive resentment – a profound, challenging, and liberating process . . .”

 

Find the Silver Lining. In every moment of every day, we have a choice of how we want to view the world. By choosing to focus on the good in others, instead of the bad, we begin to see ourselves in others and to see others in ourselves, no longer harboring the “us” versus “them” mindset.

I am writing this blog from Ohio. I am well aware that I am surrounded by many people who have vastly different political views than I do. Over the past few days, I have had meaningful conversations with them about their families and their lives. I have heard about their troubles and their concerns. I have heard that they feel completely abandoned by our political system, and by our politicians. Some are single-issue voters who voted based on their deeply held religious views on abortion. I have learned that each person has their own unique story and their own distinct perspective. Despite our differences, everyone wants our country to prosper and everyone wants a better life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

This election presents an opportunity for a better future and this is our silver lining. We have a choice. We can fall into the abyss of hatred, fear and anger, and let it paralyze us. Or, we can take this opportunity to look deeply into the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, hear them and learn from them, so that we can take wise and compassionate action to make real change for a better future for everyone.

As I awoke Wednesday morning to the election results, I found myself feeling shock, disbelief and uncertainty about our country’s future. After a presidential election fueled by ugly rhetoric, fear and divisiveness, our country is hurting and people are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to cope with their intense feelings. As I do every day, I turn to my mindfulness practice as a source of comfort and strength during this extremely challenging time. Here are some mindful ways through the aftershocks of this election.

 

Impermanence. Mindfulness helps us recognize the impermanence of our experiences. Our breath comes and goes, our emotions ebb and flow, political movements rise and fall, and presidencies start and end. Recognizing the impermanence of life’s experiences helps us endure the discomfort of unpleasant feelings and the challenges of difficult times by recognizing that this too shall pass. Remind yourself of this often, and remember that we all have the capacity and inner strength to carry on.

 

Letting Go. Mindfulness also helps us cope with the relentless torrent of thoughts and emotions that continue to overwhelm us. Our emotions are being triggered by two different thoughts right now. First, how did this happen? Second, what will happen next? Obsessive rumination about what already happened triggers anger and sadness. Uncertainty about the future triggers fear. We must recognize that we cannot change the past or control the future. No matter how much we think about it, that won’t change. Instead, these thoughts will only keep us stuck in unpleasant emotions. Know yourself and understand what is triggering you. It may be time to turn off the TV for a while and enjoy thinking about something else. Know what is causing you to feel fear, frustration, and anxiety, and simply allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling but then let it go so you can move forward.

 

Acceptance. This is a hard one, I admit, but it is the key to minimizing our suffering and acceptance allows us to move forward. We must accept what is. When we struggle against what is, we cause ourselves tremendous suffering. We don’t have to like it, but we do have to accept it. We also have to accept the fact that we simply do not know what will be. These are uncertain times, and uncertainty breeds fear. The only thing that is certain is that we have absolutely no idea what will happen next. If we linger in our dire predictions of the future, which are based on nothing but conjecture, we continue to live in fear. We need to fully accept what is and the uncertainty of what will be, which will allow us to move on.

 

Feeling into Action. Fear is a normal part of our human experience. It alerts us to danger and is an essential part of our ability to survive. However, fear can be incredibly harmful when it prohibits us from acting and leaves us unable to respond in a rational, compassionate and wise way. That is why we must be able to calm our emotions, accept what is, and use those feelings to motivate us into wise action.

Mindfulness helps us recognize when we are coming from a place of fear and allows us the choice of turning to compassion and openheartedness instead. The practice helps us to recognize that we all are human and that we are all more alike than we are different. If we focus on our differences, we remain divided. If we focus on our similarities, we can begin to heal the wounds of division, hatred and “otherness.” At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy. By opening our hearts even to those that cause us pain, we can create a new perspective from which we view each other people. As Sharon Salzberg explains in her book Real Happiness, “Sending lovingkindness to a difficult person is a process of relaxing the heart and freeing yourself from fear and corrosive resentment – a profound, challenging, and liberating process . . .”

This type of compassion meditation practice also offers us the opportunity to recognize that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves and that we are all inextricably connected to one another. So, we must use our energy to better understand each other, with a sense of interest and curiosity, instead of criticism and judgment. We must look at what is best for our country  and harness our energy in this moment in history to take action to move this country forward.

 

Find the Silver Lining. In every moment of every day, we have a choice of how we want to view the world. By choosing to focus on the good in others, instead of the bad, we begin to see ourselves in others and to see others in ourselves, no longer harboring the “us” versus “them” mindset.

I am writing this blog from Ohio. I am well aware that I am surrounded by many people who have vastly different political views than I do. Over the past few days, I have had meaningful conversations with them about their families and their lives. I have heard about their troubles and their concerns. I have heard that they feel completely abandoned by our political system, and by our politicians. Some are single-issue voters who voted based on their deeply held religious views on abortion. I have learned that each person has their own unique story and their own distinct perspective. Despite our differences, everyone wants our country to prosper and everyone wants a better life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

This election presents an opportunity for a better future and this is our silver lining. We have a choice. We can fall into the abyss of hatred, fear, and anger, and let it paralyze us. Or, we can take this opportunity to look deeply into the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, listen to them and learn from them, so that we can come together and make real change for a better future for everyone.

 

 

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New Class – Diving Deeper

by cheryl on November 6, 2016

in Classes

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 4.34.44 PM

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

In this six week series, we will explore mindfulness meditation practices and dive deeper into what it means to be present.  We will also learn more about the science of happiness, mindfulness of the body, and getting unstuck from unhealthy habits of the mind.  We will also practice meditating together each week.

This is intended for those who have taken my basic Mindfulness and Meditation class and wish to strengthen and deepen their practice of mindfulness.

Friday Mornings:  9:30 am to 10:45 am.  December 2, 16, January 13, 20, 27 and February 3.

Location: Suite 9, 132 Larchmont Avenue, Suite 9, Larchmont, New York.

Investment: $240

To Register click HERE.  SORRY, THIS CLASS IS CURRENTLY FULL.  To be put on the waitlist, please email info@2bpresent.com.  

 

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MINDFULNESS

FOR

MEDIATORS

_________________________________________________________________

In any situation,  but particularly helpful when working in conflict resolution, we not only face the people and situations around us, but we also experience our own internal state.  We can learn to become more aware of our own inner experiences and learn how to use our inner world to benefit our clients and create a more constructive process.  In this interactive class, we will learn and experience tools of self-awareness and self-reflection, which can help us pay attention to our own emotions, thoughts and judgments.  Skillfully working with both our internal and external worlds, we can learn to best navigate each situation, be fully present with our clients and help parties determine their best course of action.   

 

WHEN:
The following Fridays 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

December 9th
January 6th
February 10th
March 24th

WHERE:
Suite 9
132 Larchmont Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538

 

To register, click HERE.

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Weekly Wisdom #59

by cheryl on November 6, 2016

in Weekly Wisdom

“The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control, mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth. It says: this is how it is. You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many possible perspectives. It is no more than a bundle of thoughts. But reality is one unified whole, in which all things are interwoven, where nothing exists in and by itself.”

– Eckhart Tolle

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