Healthy Living

So many things affect our physical and mental well being – the food we eat, our daily routine, our exercise habits, and so much more. In this section we would like to share with you our thoughts on food, gardening, recipes, yoga, exercise, and even those mindful moments when we are deep in thought about what really matters to us. We would also like to share with you Simple Steps that we can all take to make the most of each day.

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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Joy on Demand

Joy on Demand

by cheryl on December 21, 2016

in Healthy Living

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 around us. It gives us the space and precious time to connect inward and find our inner compass so that we have a better sense of who we are, what we want and how we want to move through our days. It also gives us a skill set to be abe to slow down, to turn off our over-thinking brain so that we can simply notice and experience our life as it unfolds. Finally, through our mindfulness practice, we develop the amazing internal power of choice. When we slow down and stop our habitual patterns of behavior and reactivity, we can see that in each moment we have the power to choose how we wish to see the world and how we wish to respond to it.

Mindfulness practice is just that – a practice. And, it takes practice.  As my kind and patient family will attest, it is not easy to break habits, and when we feel overwhelmed or sad or frustrated, we act out and those long-ingrained patterns of behavior which are often our default mode. When that happens, our mindfulness practice teaches us that we must treat ourselves just as we would treat others, with kindness, patience and compassion. We invite all of those feelings in and sit with them. We give ourselves permission to be human. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Everything is part of the curriculum.”

Joy on Demand in 2017

After a challenging end to 2016, I have been feeling a persistent malaise and unease lately. So, I have been looking to pump up my daily dose of happiness and joy in 2017. Awareness is the key. I look at what brings me joy – dancing in the kitchen, listening to my favorite music, cuddling with my kiddos, finding peaceful, quiet times to just breathe and connecting with my friends. I also know what brings me down – too much news (the world will still be there if I turn off CNN or my phone for a while). I made a list of what makes me happy and put it on my refrigerator, then pledged to do more of those things each day. In 2017, I choose to do more of what makes my heart sing. You can too!

In his book, Joy on Demand, Chade-Meng Tan, the former software engineer and founder of mindfulness programs at Google, describes how he went from being someone who was “constantly miserable” to becoming the “Jolly Good Fellow” of Google.

As we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to a bright and shiny new year, we can start with the intention of finding more joy in each day. Meng explains that “thin slices of joy occur in life everywhere . . . and once you start noticing it, something happens, you find it’s always there. Joy becomes something you can count on.”

Here’s how:

(1) Easing Into Joy – Stilling the Mind – The first step in finding more joy is to quiet your mind. Suffering comes from our thoughts. As Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Many of us find that our minds are very busy and generally in a state of unrest. When we learn to quiet our minds by simply anchoring our attention on our breath, on our the bodies or on the warm sunlight on our face, we can create a stillness and an openness that makes way for joy. Easing our minds helps us be more open and present for the simple pleasures all around us.

(2) Inclining the Mind Toward Joy – When we are caught up in our heads (in thoughts of the past or future), we miss out on the present and opportunities for great joy now. We are usually caught up in thinking about things that are simply out of our control, and no matter how much we think about it, our thoughts won’t change that. So, we can open ourselves up for more joy simply by being more present for what we are experiencing right now. We can learn to invite joy in by simply stopping to notice the simple pleasures all around us each day.

(3) Rediscovering What Brings Us Joy – Singing out loud, dancing in the kitchen, watching the sunset, being in nature, these are a few of my favorite things. Once we find more moments of ease and stillness, we can bring our attention fully into our actual experience. We can also choose to fill more moments with those things that make us happy. Think about what makes you happy and find more opportunities to do them each day. Then, fully immerse yourself in those moments and feel the joy envelop you.

(4) Uplifting the Mind – We can learn to invite in more wholesome joy, joy that is widespread, not ego-centric, and joy that can truly change the world. This joy arises from goodness, generosity, lovingkindness and compassion. We can volunteer, give time to those in need, help a stranger, call a friend. Research shows that joy we experience from helping others, joy that comes from meaningful acts of interconnectedness, is joy that last longer and is more deeply fulfilling.

As Meng writes . . .

“In modern society, with modern technology, pleasure is more accessible than ever, all around us, on demand. Our lack of joy is certainly not for lack of ways to gratify our egos and senses. However, the joy that comes from these sources is inherently problematic since it depends on external factors out of our control.

By contrast, joy that comes from within—from a peaceful mind as a result of taking a few breaths, joy from being kind toward others (which involves other people but does not depend on them), joy from our own generosity, joy from doing the right thing—all this joy is ours to have, independent of circumstances. If we do accidentally lose our joy, or something really bad happens and overwhelms us, there’s still joy in knowing we can get it back. We all have an infinite resource at our disposal, no matter how constrained or difficult our circumstances, and that resource is joy. Joy isn’t elusive when you know where and how to find it.”

I wish everyone a very healthy, joy-filled and peaceful New Year! I encourage you to keep up your mindfulness practice each day. And in 2017 . . .

May you be happy,

May you be healthy,

May you be safe, and

May you have a 2017 full of peace!

 

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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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Tips for Transitioning Back to School

Tips for Transitioning Back to School

by cheryl on August 30, 2016

in Healthy Living

Say Hello to stress.  As the school season begins, many parents find themselves scrambling to get back to their fall routines.

Cheryl Brause, a mindfulness and meditation instructor, mom of three and owner of 2bpresent in Larchmont, offers the following tips to ease into your September .

  •  Organize! Much of our stress comes from worrying about not being prepared; take those thoughts out of your mind by getting ready early.
  •  Get some Z’s . Go to bed at the same time each night and take all electronics out of the bedroom. A regular routine that helps you unwind, relax your body and your mind is critical to your health and well-being, allowing you to get the rest you need.
  •  Unplug. Ever had a computer that’s on the fritz? Thinking there’s a major problem, you call a computer specialist and ask what to do. Rather than get a whole new computer, they tell you to unplug it and let it rest. Amazingly, this little reboot, resolves all your computer’s problems. Just like our computers, our brains need to rest and reboot. Enjoy simple pleasures like taking a walk, a bike ride or playing with a pet (without your phone in hand). Research shows that unplugging just a few minutes each day can help lower stress and increase you daily does of happiness.
  •  Stop negative thoughts. When you find yourself being self-critical, stop that negative thought train in its tracks by taking a nice deep breath. Repeat to yourself that you are good enough, you are perfect exactly as you are and you have the strength to conquer any challenges that lie ahead.
  •  Breathe. Nothing is healthier than learning to connect to your breath. When you’re feeling stressed about the upcoming school year, take a slow, deep inhale, feel the air in your body and clear your mind of any stressful thoughts by focusing your attention on how it feels to simply breathe. Remind yourself that you are here and you are fine.

This article appeared in the Mamaroneck Daily Voice, written by Jeanne Muchnick

http://mamaroneck.dailyvoice.com/lifestyle/larchmont-mindfulness-expert-shares-tips-for-transitioning-back-to-school/678452/#.V8V5kkgk7FI.facebook

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Tips for a Mindful Summer

Tips for a Mindful Summer

by cheryl on June 14, 2016

in Healthy Living

The long, sun-filled summer days are the perfect time for most of us to unwind and slow down a bit.  Summer provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the busyness of our lives.  Here are some tips to make this summer one in which you can really slow down, be present, find some true peace of mind, and foster a greater connection with yourself and with those around you.

 

(1) Become more aware of how you spend your mental energy. This summer, become more aware of the amount of time and energy you spend on technology.  The latest research shows that we experience the same reward pathways in our brains from our use of smartphones as we do from the use of drugs, and we suffer real negative consequences from this technology addiction as well — exhaustion, lack of focus and concentration, poor sleep, and increased stress, to name a few.  So, begin to notice your smartphone habits and how often you are on your device.  Notice how that time spent on your device makes you feel.

(2) How are your connecting?  Although technology can help us stay connected, our devices very often take us away from where we are and keep us from being fully present with those around us.  For example, think about how often we take pictures of a beautiful sunset, or take a video of a concert or sporting event, so we can enjoy it later or share it with others, rather than truly experiencing what is happening as it unfolds and being in the moment.  Similarly, instead of truly connecting with those around us, we are busy sending snapshots of where we are to all those not present, missing the opportunity to truly connect to the people we are with.

(3) It’s OK to do nothing.  In our culture, we pride ourselves on our busyness.  The more we do, the more “alive” we feel.  But are we truly feeling “alive” or are we mistaking that feeling of aliveness for low-grade chronic stress and a false sense of productivity?  Is this busyness making us happy?  We often feel that if we are not multitasking, we are not making the most of our time and our talents.  However, the more we try to cram into our days, the more we find that we are not enjoying what we are doing and we are not doing it well.  Try doing nothing for a little while.  Experience what that feels like.  Be bored.  When you immerse yourself in your surroundings it is amazing what you will notice. Being bored is actually quite difficult when you learn to simply be where you are and notice all that is around you.  You may find that it is not boring at all, but peaceful, interesting and enjoyable.  Boredom also sparks creativity and imagination.  Some of the greatest and most innovative minds of our time found their greatest inspiration when they were simply doing nothing (Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Philippe Starck, to name a few).

(4) Unplug.  Leave your phones at home for a while.  You will be OK – I promise.  Make a rule to only check your email two or three times a day, at a particular time, and stick to it.  See how that feels.  Studies have shown that people who do this are more efficient, more productive, make fewer mistakes and report lower levels of stress and fatigue.  The bad news is that teens and adults are now reporting that their phones are one of their greatest stressors.  The good news is that we can do something about it — turn it off.

(5) Resist Temptation.  Begin to notice when you have that urge to check your phone.  You may be bored or in need of a distraction from an unpleasant feeling.  Notice the urge to take a picture or video, and instead immerse yourself in the moment and soak it in.  Enjoy that beautiful sunset or a conversation with a friend.  Notice all the interesting people around you when you are taking a walk, in the grocery store or commuting to work.  Resist the lure of your device to take you anywhere other than where you are.  You may find the world to be an incredibly interesting, enjoyable and peaceful place once you begin to be fully present in it.

 

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When I asked a group of children recently what they thought mindfulness meant, one young girl replied, “It means that our minds are full.” I then asked, “What are your minds full of?” She replied, “Thoughts. Lots of thoughts. I always have thoughts running around my head.” The other children in the class agreed. Intrigued, I asked, “What are the thoughts you have running around in your head?” One by one they answered. “Worries. I am always worrying,” said one boy as others nodded their heads in agreement. “I am always thinking about all the homework I have and about how I am going to get it all done,” said a wide-eyed girl with a look of frustration on her face. “Me too!” said her neighbor on the carpet.

What occupies your mind?

When we take a good look at what occupies our minds, we start to notice that much of what we are thinking about  is not actually happening right now. Most of our mental gymnastics involve thoughts about what has already happened or thoughts (and worries) about what might happen. Studies have shown that we spend at least fifty percent of our time thinking about things that are not actually happening at all, and most of those thoughts are unpleasant. In addition, we often tell ourselves stories about what is happening that simply are not true.

An example . . . we text a friend and she does not respond.  While waiting for her response, we begin to worry.  She always answers quickly, we think.  Why hasn’t she responded?  Is she OK?   Should I call a friend to check on her? Was there something I did to offend her?  Is she mad at me?  What could I have possibly done?  Then, we plan what we will say when she finally does call.  We spend time and energy creating stories in our minds, and creating nervousness and anxiety that we can feel in our bodies.  Finally, a response.  She is fine.  Her phone had died.

Despite the children’s confusion between “mind fullness” and “mindfulness,” the word mindfulness really means awareness. The goal of mindfulness is not to get rid of thoughts. We are human and humans have thoughts. In fact, many thoughts can be quite helpful, necessary and pleasant.  We need to plan, to create, to organize.  The evolution of our ability to think has helped us evolve and adapt to our environment and to survive.  However, the evolution of our thoughts may have evolved to a point of becoming unhelpful and even detrimental to our wellbeing.

Can our thoughts actually make us sick?

The beauty of mindfulness is that it helps us become aware of our thoughts and begin to recognize our thoughts for what they are – just thoughts.   Without this awareness, we consider our thoughts to be facts, they become our reality. We even identify personally with our thoughts and think we are our thoughts.   We often get so caught up in our thoughts, overwhelmed by them, believing them to be true, that we suffer the physiological consequences often caused by our thoughts, chronic stress and anxiety, and all of the serious, negative effects stress has on our bodies, which can literally make us sick.  The amazing thing to realize is that thoughts are not real and the stress that often accompanies them is unnecessary.

Thoughts are just thoughts.  You don’t have to believe them.

Mindfulness helps us create a space between our thoughts and ourselves. We can begin to see our thoughts for what they are – just thoughts – not who we are and not what is actually happening. This awareness helps us to stop putting ourselves through an imaginary obstacle course in our minds.  We can begin to quiet the noise in our heads, no longer feeling overwhelmed by all those thoughts.

Many who begin to practice mindfulness meditation try to silence their thoughts and quickly realize that this is a futile exercise. Thoughts just arise. The more we try to stop them, the more frustrated we get. Instead, in mindfulness practices we learn to simply observe our thoughts as they come and go, and not allow our thoughts to take over.

Our thoughts are just a lens through which we see the world.   They are the product of our life experiences. We can begin to understand that we don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. Once we recognize this, we are free from the power our thoughts have over us.  We can observe our thoughts and better understand which thoughts are helpful and which thoughts do not serve any useful purpose.  Only then can we truly free ourselves from our thoughts.  We simply learn to observe them.

Listen to your thoughts, but don’t take them so seriously.

It is incredibly liberating and freeing to recognize that in every moment of every day we have a choice. We can choose how we wish to see the world. By taking a step back and simply observing what is going on in our minds, we can begin to detach from the grip of our thoughts. We can see our thoughts, but we no longer have to believe them.   Then, we become more aware of what is actually happening, as it is happening, and be more present for it.

 

Try this at home:  Mindfulness of Thoughts

Take a few minutes during your day and begin to notice your thoughts.  Here is how:

  1. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking about?”
  2. Once you begin to notice your thoughts, try labeling them: planning, worrying, organizing, day dreaming, judging, etc.
  3. Then, ask yourself, “Is this actually happening right now?”  Begin to notice throughout your day when you are fully present with what is actually happening and when your mind takes you somewhere else.  The first step in raising your awareness and becoming more present is to begin noticing your mental habits.  Notice when your mind drifts off in thought, taking you into the past or the future.
  4. Don’t judge yourself or label your thoughts as good or bad.  Instead, just be curious and more self-aware.

 

 

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Top 10 Tips for a Happy 2016

Top 10 Tips for a Happy 2016

by cheryl on December 27, 2015

in Healthy Living

(1) Be Present.    Be Exactly Where You Are.  We spend much of our time with our minds somewhere else.  Recognize when you are ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  Anchor yourself in the now.  You can do this by simply focusing on your breath for a few minutes or on your body. You may start to realize that where you are is exactly where you should be, which is actually a very pleasant and peaceful place to be!

 

(2)  Accept the Uncertainty of Life.   Much of our stress and anxiety comes from trying to control our lives and our future.  However, we cannot change the often unpredictable path that our lives take.  The only thing we can do is accept it fully and recognize that no matter how hard we try to control it, life just happens.  Once we accept the uncertainty of life, we can start to get unstuck from the “if only ‘s” or the waiting game or the endless attempts to micromanage what we cannot control.   Instead of fighting against what is, or wishing things were different, or making our happiness dependent upon someone or something, we can lean into what is, learn from it, accept it, embrace it and venture onward.

 

(3)  Believe in Yourself.  The number one stumbling block we face is self-doubt and a lack of confidence in our own abilities.  Everyone has a wealth of inner strengths, but we must first recognize them in ourselves before we can share them with others. Take a little time at the start of this New Year and simply recognize that you already have all that you will ever need to succeed, you just have to believe it.

 

(4) Be Kind to Yourself.  You as much as anyone else, deserve your own kindness.  Embrace and love your perfectly imperfect self.

 

(5) Be Kind to Others.   We never really know what is going on in other people’s lives.  The best we can do is give others the benefit of the doubt and offer them kindness.  
We are all doing the best that we can.  One quote that I think of often is, “Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.” Or, as the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

 

(6) Take Care of Yourself.   Your health and wellbeing is most important. Don’t put yourself at the end of a long list of people to take care of and of  things to do. If you don’t take care of yourself,  you cannot take care of others.  So, always put your own oxygen mask on first, and then you will be all set to help others with theirs.

 

(7) Breathe Deeply.   Nothing works better to relax your mind and your body, and ground you in the present moment, than a long, slow, deep breath.  Think about the fact that your body’s natural instinct when you are overwhelmed or stressed is to sigh. That happens for a reason. It helps you slow down your body and your mind so you can reset and move forward with a greater sense of calm and thoughtfulness. When feeling stressed or anxious, try taking a deep inhale through your nose for 5 counts, then sigh deeply and slowly, loudly exhaling for a count of 8.  Repeat this for three minutes and notice both your body and your mind slowing down and relaxing.

 

(8) Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.   Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, or in the decisions we are making, that we lose perspective of how unimportant what we are currently dealing with actually is in the broader scheme of life. We get so buried in the minutia of daily life, that it helps to take a giant step back and look at the bigger picture, evaluate what is really important and what our goals actually are.  Another favorite quote, “Don’t take yourself  too seriously.  No one else does.”

 

(9) Let Go.   Get rid of that excess baggage. Regret, anger, resentment, the “if only’s” of life, or the “I will be happy when. . .,“ these are heavy and exhausting to carry around.     Start your New Year out a lot lighter and let those go. Forgive yourself, forgive others, live in the now, accept what is, and you will greatly lighten your load in 2016.

 

(10) Laugh Often!   Nothing quite compares to getting caught in deep, uncontrollable laughter, the kind where you try to stop laughing but you just can’t, the kind that emanates from deep in your belly then takes over your entire body and finally seeps out through streams of tears gently moistening your face.  They say that laughter is the best medicine, and this is true in fact.  Researchers have proven that laughter can lower stress, improve blood flow and keep your heart healthy.  So, try to find more opportunities to laugh in 2016.  That’s a prescription for happiness in the year to come.

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Introducing – 2bp TV!

Introducing – 2bp TV!

by cheryl on October 1, 2015

in Healthy Living


Check Out 2bp’s New YouTube Channel

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We are thrilled to announce our new YouTube Channel!  In the coming months, we will continue to add new video shorts explaining the science of mindfulness, the “How To’s” of integrating mindfulness into your life, more on mindfulness for children, and lots of new guided meditations and instructional videos to help you lower stress, improve your focus and concentration, overcome test anxiety, get a better night’s sleep, prepare for that big game, create more meaningful family time, and so much more!  Be sure to sign on to our newsletter to get updates on what’s new and subscribe to 2bp TV.

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Sowing Seeds of Happiness

Sowing Seeds of Happiness March 20, 2015

Did you know that today is not only the first day of Spring (hard to believe for those of us awaiting another snow storm), March 20th is also International Day of Happiness?!  So, whether the snow is falling or the sun is shining, try to sow these Six Seeds of Happiness into your day today! 1. Spread Kindness & Compassion –  Look […]

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How Meditation Can Change Your Brain

How Meditation Can Change Your Brain December 6, 2014

Over the last ten years, researchers and scientists have been uncovering the physiological benefits of meditation on the brain and the body, benefits that practitioners have understood for thousands of years and western scientists are now proving.  This research quantifies and scientifically demonstrates the amazing benefits of meditation practices that can improve our overall health and […]

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