JOIN ME in New York City for a special screening of this beautiful new film which I am very proud to have been a part of since its humble beginnings . . .

In Pursuit of Silence

In Pursuit of Silence is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, sound and the impact of noise on our lives. Beginning with an ode to John Cage’s ground-breaking composition 4’33”, In Pursuit of Silence takes us on an immersive cinematic journey around the globe– from a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, to the streets of the loudest city on the planet, Mumbai during the wild festival season – and inspires us to experience silence and celebrate the wonders of our world.

 

Replete with imagery that shimmers with the kind of almost otherworldly wonder one might associate with a Terrence Malick movie… This film does more than just tell a story, it testifies to the sheer loveliness of anything — everything — when drenched in silence.” -The Huffington Post

I hope you will join me as 2bpresent co-presents a screening on

Monday, June 26th 
7:15 pm
Village Cinema
22 East 12th Street

for an introductory silent meditation, screening of the film, brief Q&A
and post-screening drinks too!

To buy tickets to see the film, click on the link HERE.

Also, please let me know you are coming!

RSVP to cheryl@2bpresent.com.

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New Website Coming Soon!

New Website Coming Soon!

by cheryl on June 20, 2017

in Meditation

As the summer months approach and change is afoot, 2bpresent is getting a new website and a new look!  Stay tuned for  new classes and programs and a variety of online resources to help you find your calm, all on our new website

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Communicating Mindfully

How to Communicate Mindfully

by cheryl on March 16, 2017

in 2mindfulmoms

We can enjoy many of the benefits of our meditation practice, reduced stress and greater focus for example, but we often find that when the “rubber meets the road” we are still triggered (although perhaps less often) by our partners, angry with our children or frustrated at work, unable to connect to that sense of calm when we need it most.

So, the question becomes, How do I take the lessons and skills from my meditation practice and apply them in my real life? 

Getting to Know Your Mind

The ultimate answer, that I have been told by numerous experts in the field, is to continue to practice. Mindfulness meditation is a practice.  Understanding it conceptually is one thing, living mindfully takes practice  Just like going to the gym, learning to play an instrument or getting better at a sport, you need to actually do it to get better at it.

The modern word “Mindfulness” comes from the ancient tradition of Vipassana meditation, which means insight or clear seeing. Western “mindfulness” is being used to lower stress, increase focus and improve cognitive function (to name a few of the benefits), which are real and important benefits of mindfulness.  But living mindfully can change us in much more profound ways if we want to deepen our practice beyond those health benefits. It can help us better understand our own minds and help us lead happier lives.

Mindfulness practice is a practice in open awareness, in seeing our moment–to-moment experience as it unfolds. As we develop our mindfulness practice, we begin to see the nature of our minds – our thoughts, emotions and the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences – without getting swept up by them or overwhelmed by them.

Similarly, we learn to feel and observe our physical experience, both our sensory experience and the felt sensations of our emotional responses. When we simply notice what we are feeling, and see the thoughts that fuel our emotional responses, we can better understand our habitual patterns of behavior that are causing us suffering.

This awareness or insight is what mindfulness practice helps us to uncover, and this is a way to alleviate suffering and increase happiness in our lives. So, the meditation itself is where we practice this state of open awareness or “clear seeing,” but life is where we put our mindfulness into action.

So, how do we put mindfulness into practice in the real world? One example is through Mindful Communication. In a recent training on Mindful Communication through Mindful Schools, Oren Sofer, used the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communications: A Language of Life, to explain how the important skills we develop through mindfulness can help us communicate more effectively. Here are just a few of the many important lessons I learned from his teachings about how we can Mindfully Communicate, which can benefit our parenting, our relationships, our work and so much more.

 

4 Ways to Communicate Mindfully 

(1) Be Present

We all know what it feels like to be talking and not listened to.  We also are familiar with times when we are supposed to be listening, but our minds are so busy or distracted that we do not hear a word the other person is saying. So, the first rule of mindful communication is to be present.

Start by noticing when you are not listening because you have become distracted (turn off those phones) or are mentally somewhere else entirely. Also, notice when your mind is so busy analyzing, judging or trying to fix the problem that you are no longer fully present and listening. This exercise in focusing your attention is one reason we spend so much time training our attention with concentration practices in mindfulness meditation. If we can’t exercise control over our attention and place it where we want it, it is very hard to be present. So, notice when you are distracted, and practice drawing your attention back into the room.

Use mindfulness of the body to draw in and anchor your attention back on the conversation. Simply connect to your body – the feeling of your feet on the floor, the sensations of your hands on the desk or the sensations of your own breath. You can use anything that is actually happening as an anchor of your attention. This will draw your attention back into the room and open your
awareness to your own internal state and back to listening to the person speaking.

Being present is critical to effective communication because it helps you gather information so that you can connect with the others in the room, hear what they are saying and come up with creative solutions.

 

(2) Set Your Intention

Often when we enter a conversation we have a clear intention. Being aware of what your intentions are can be the first step in communicating more mindfully. Ask yourself, what are my intentions? And, will this intention help me effectively communicate?

Either consciously or unconsciously, we often enter a conversation from a place of judgment or blame, or of knowing the answer or solution we want. These intentions create barriers to communication, deteriorate trust and are roadblocks to problem-solving. Learning to train our intention to come from a place of curiosity and care allows for much greater connection, compassion and more desirable resolutions.

Prior to your conversation, phone call or meeting take a few minutes to reflect on your intentions and then set clear intentions for yourself before beginning the conversation. Cultivate a sense of curiosity, openness and care. For example, say to yourself, “I am here to learn from the other person, and to hear what they have to say.” Rather than, “I am here to show them why they are wrong and why I am right.” See differences as natural rather than as obstacles, look at conflict as a grounds for learning, and see each person as adding value to the conversation.

This radical shift from blame to curiosity, from win/lose to win/win, from right/wrong to greater understanding truly fosters communication and connection. Setting proper intentions can also make it much easier for you to listen because you are coming from a different mindset of curiosity and care.

(3) Speak Mindfully

We often think that we need to be loud and dominant in a conversation to show off our expertise and leadership.  Or, we want to avoid that awkward pause or uncomfortable silence and so we fill the silence with our own voice.   Try asking yourself, why am I speaking at all? At any given moment, you have a choice of whether you want to speak or to listen.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to speak right now?
  • Why do I want to say this?
  • Is this the time to speak or the time to listen?

It can be quite powerful and effective to not be the one talking or to allow some moments of silence to let what is being said settle in.  If you choose to speak, try pausing more often. The more words you use and the faster you speak, the less powerful your speech is. Instead, when you do speak, speak slowly and take pauses so you can deliver a strong and thoughtful message that people want to listen to.

When we modulate our speech, slowing down and taking more breaths, we also calm ourselves down. In a heated conversation or when we are very nervous, our “fight or flight” response is often triggered and we breathe more rapidly, our thoughts are scattered and our emotions carry us away. The result is often a rather unwise, unskilled or overly emotional response, and we may later regret either the message, or the manner of delivery, or both. When you are feeling nervous or are emotional, simply slow down your speech, which will slow down your breathing. Pause frequently and give yourself time to think and to deliver your message clearly, calmly and effectively.

(4) Really Listen & Hear What is Being Said

Perhaps the most important part of communication is not speaking, but rather listening and allowing the other person to be heard. Communication is driven by the need to create understanding.  We communicate to connect, to get something done or to meet a need.

Negative feelings like anger, frustration, and sadness, are the result of a need that is not being met. We tend to blame others for “making us feel” a certain way, but our feelings come from our own unmet needs. Therefore, we are responsible for our own reactions, not someone else. Being open to and aware of those unmet needs can help foster communication, as well as connection, compassion and understanding.

To better understand your own feelings, ask yourself which of your needs are not being met?  Then, you can better articulate what it is that you need.  To better understand others, try talking less and listening more so that you gain an understanding of which of their needs are not being met (for example, are they not feeling respected, loved, safe, etc). You can simply reflect back or restate what you are hearing to be sure you are understanding what they are saying.  This will help clear up any confusion and will allow them to truly felt heard and understood.

Mindful Communication is a way of putting our mindfulness skills into action. It helps us be more mindful in our everyday lives so we can foster deeper connections and understanding, cultivate compassion for ourselves and others, communicate more effectively and more easily resolve conflict and creatively find solutions.  

 

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Commit to Sit in February!

Join the 2017 Real Happiness Meditation Challenge and commit to sit and meditate each day in February.  I am thrilled to be a guest blogger again this year for Sharon Salzberg’s 28 Day Meditation Challenge. Now in its 7th year, I will join people all over the world in an online meditation community the entire month fo February, and you can too! Just sign up for the challenge by clicking here and you will receive Sharon’s daily lessons and FREE guided meditations, courtesy of our friends at Happify.  You can read more about it and sign up for the challenge by clicking here or #commit2sit.

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Weekly Wisdom #63

by cheryl on February 9, 2017

in Weekly Wisdom

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

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Accepting What Is

Accepting What Is

by cheryl on January 31, 2017

in Meditation

Acceptance.

Mindfulness can help us learn to accept what is – to accept our life experience as it unfolds. As Eckhart Tolle likes to say, we must accept the “isness” of our lives. When we are mindful, we begin to observe whatever we are experiencing – our physical body, our thoughts, and our emotions – and simply notice our experience as it is happening.  We notice our bodies: tightness, tension, openness.  We notice our thoughts: “Why did I do that?”  “I can’t do this.” Or, “I’m never going to get his all done.”  And, we notice our emotions: fear, sadness, joy.

One myth of mindfulness is that it eliminates all the bad stuff and leaves us to simply relish in the pleasant, joyful moments of life.  Mindfulness does not eliminate difficult emotions.  Instead, we become more skilled at self-awareness and better at understanding our experience without judging it or becoming overwhelmed by it.  We learn to be with whatever is there and feel it fully – the pleasant, the unpleasant and the neutral.  Rather than trying to get rid of it, fix it, or figure it out, we learn to sit with it, see it for what it is and accept it fully.

In this process, we begin to recognize that some things are simply out of our control, like other people’s actions, illness or even our own feelings that can arise in response to those things. But by sitting with our experience, by observing what is there, and acknowledging it, we can begin to accept it as it is.  We can be with our sadness, our frustration, our anger or our feeling of powerlessness, and simply recognize that those are all OK to feel and they are justified simply because we are feeling them.  No judgment, just observation. Acceptance does NOT mean that we have to agree with the situation or that we have to like it, it simply means that we accept that it is happening.

While mindfulness helps us recognize that many things are outside of our control, it also helps us learn that there are many things within our control.  We can begin to exercise our power to choose how we want to view our situation, we can choose how we want to respond to it and we can choose which actions we want to take to move forward in a healthy and meaningful way.

Mindfulness strategies we can use when faced with challenging situations:

(1) Focusing on A Pleasant or Neutral Present Moment Experience.  

Sometimes accepting your current situation can be incredibly difficult, particularly when you are facing great challenges. Often that difficulty brings up strong emotions like fear or anger.  When we are feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty sitting with strong emotions, it can be very helpful to direct our focus and attention to something neutral or pleasant. This is when our mindfulness practice gives us the insight to know that we are struggling or feeling overwhelmed, and the ability to place our attention on something more positive while our minds and bodies settle down.

Simple mindfulness practices like placing your attention on your breath, mindfully drinking your coffee, listening to the sounds around you or going outside and enjoying the full sensory experience of being in nature, can help you get out of your thinking mind and into your sensory world of experience. This can be at the very least a neutral experience and at best a quite pleasant one. Taking time out to take a few, deep, mindful breaths can also help activate your Rest and Digest response and turn off your Stress response. Practicing mindfulness in this way can help you relax, settle your mind, and add some pleasant, more joyful moments to your day.  I love this poem that beautifully expresses how we can move mindfully through our day   . . .

Walk Slowly (Danna Faulds)
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.

 

(2) Accepting What Is.

This may be much easier said than done, but it is the key to lowering our suffering.  In Buddhist teachings, suffering is caused by our struggle against what is. Life can be painful, but our true suffering comes from our struggle against what we cannot change.  We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to agree with it, we just have to accept that it is happening. This shift in mindset can help us move forward and take the necessary steps to cultivate a healthy approach to how we can move on in a healthy and productive way.

When you are feeling ready, you can simply sit with whatever you are feeling and allow yourself to feel it fully.  Invite it into your meditation, as we say. You can simply label it – anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.  Notice how it feels in your body.  And, simply notice how that feeling may change by simply observing it and accepting it as it is.  Soften into it.  One of my mindfulness teachers likes to point out that the word emotion has the word “motion” in it for a reason, and that is because emotions will move through us if we allow them to.

 

(3) Self-Compassion. 

One critical part of all mindfulness practice is self-compassion.  It is OK to feel anger, it is OK to have trouble accepting what is. Be aware and be careful not to add on a layer of self-judgment and self-criticism to what you are experiencing. By using your mindfulness practice to simply see what you are experiencing, to feel it fully, to acknowledge it and to accept it, you can begin to move forward. This self-compassion is a critical part of your self-care. Remember, we are not trying to eliminate, suppress or “correct” our emotional response, we are simply trying to recognize what we are feeling and accept it fully.  We are human and our feelings are real and justified simply because they are there.  In doing this, we can allow our emotions to move through us so we can move on.

 

(4) Acceptance and Mindful Parenting.

Acceptance is critical in mindful parenting.  Too often we try to correct our children or tell them why what they are feeling is not valid or why they should not feel that way.  For example, we may catch ourselves saying, “One day you will realize how silly this is.”  Instead, we need to listen fully and attentively, offering them our open, nonjudgmental attention. We must turn off our mental running commentary and hear what they are saying.  Try not to interrupt.  Just listen.  Be aware of your own thoughts and judgments and how those may be interfering with your ability to simply listen and absorb.  Accept what they are feeling simply because they are feeling it.  Finally, we need to validate what they are feeling and let them know that we hear them.  For example, we can simply say, “Wow, that must have been very hurtful.”  Simply listening without judging or trying to solve a problem, accepting fully what your child is feeling and validating those feelings can create an open and meaningful channel of communication.  It fosters deep connection and a safe space for them to feel heard and understood.  It also allows them a healthy roadmap to process their own feelings.

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New class this Spring 2bp . . .

Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation

Friday mornings, starting March  17th – 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. In this 6-week series, we will learn and practice formal and informal mindfulness meditation practices that will help quiet the mind, bring increased focus to your daily activities, cultivate greater happiness and improve overall health and wellbeing. To learn more and to register, click HERE.  

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Weekly Wisdom #62

by cheryl on January 26, 2017

in Mindful Tools, Weekly Wisdom

“It’s all fun & games ’till someone loses an I.”

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Joy on Demand

Joy on Demand December 21, 2016

Our mindfulness practice helps us to be more present, awake and alive for life as it unfolds. We don’t practice to get better at meditating, we practice to be able to live more fully, deeply and openheartedly. Mindfulness helps us to be more aware of our inner world and how we respond to the world […]

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Weekly Wisdom #61

December 19, 2016

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl Tweet

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