happiness

All New 2bp TV !

by cheryl on October 1, 2015

in 2bp TV, Classes, Events, Events and Classes

Announcing 2bpresent’s All New You Tube Channel!

 

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We are thrilled to announce our new You Tube Channel!  In the coming months, we will continue to add new videos explaining the science of mindfulness, the “How To’s” of integrating mindfulness into your life, Mindfulness for Children, and lots of new Guided Meditations and 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, 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

by cheryl on March 20, 2015

in Healthy Living

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 for ways to recognize other’s accomplishments, needs and difficulties.  Find small, simple acts of empathy and kindness that may lighten their load.  Remember, they have loads too!  Open a door, smile and say thank you, show your appreciation, lend a helping hand.  Kindness is contagious.  Your acts of kindness will not only warm the hearts of those around you, they will warm your heart too.

2. It’s not always about being right.  As Anne Lamott says, “It’s better to be kind than to be right.”  Try letting go of the need to be right (even if you are) and simply be kind to that person with whom you have a disagreement.  Sometimes kindness is the best way to resolve a conflict and spread some happiness.

3. Be Present – Our stress and anxiety almost always come from thoughts of regret, anger or sadness about something that has already happened, or rumination about something that might happen in the future.  These thoughts are rarely about things that are actually happening now.  So, let those thoughts go and focus on what is happening in this moment, and find joy in where you are and who you are with right now.

4. Reach Out and Touch – In the immortal words of Diana Ross, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make this world a better place, if you can.  Take a little time out of your busy day to show a little love to someone who may have lost their way.”  (You can click on the link above and sing along with Diana Ross like I have been doing all morning — apologies to my children.)  Enjoy a nice long hug with your child, spouse, parent or friend and simply share a moment of togetherness.  Call that friend or relative that you have been meaning to call.   Human connection, as positive psychologists will tell you, is one of the key components of happiness.

5. Count Your Blessings –  Gratitude is the best way to turn a frown upside-down.  We all have so much to be grateful for, but we lose sight of those things when our lives get busy.  So, take a moment to think of five things you are grateful for – a roof over your head, food in your belly, someone who loves you, clean laundry, or even your breath.  Whatever it is, big or small, notice it, appreciate it and let gratitude bring a smile to your face.

6. Sing, Dance, Play!  Close the blinds, crank up the music and dance, sing and let loose!  Life can be stressful and we all need time to have some fun.  Choose something that makes you smile and make time to do it.  You deserve it!

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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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What if you could be more peaceful with yourself, those around you and your 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 us for contemplation, meditation and action-based exercises. This is a five week class. We will meet for one hour each week.

Evening Class Dates & Time: 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29 and 11/5 from 7 pm to 8 pm.

Investment: $195

Location: Groove, 108 Chatsworth Avenue, Larchmont, New York.

 

THIS CLASS IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING REGISTRATIONS

 

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 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. 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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The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

by cheryl on October 22, 2013

in Meditation

Happiness is a big topic these days.  There are many happiness blogs and books that explore how we can achieve greater happiness in our lives.  The emerging field of Positive Psychology, the study of happiness, has produced a large body of scientific research that helps us understand how we can be happier.  Major universities, like the University of Pennsylvania, have their own Positive Psychology departments that conduct research on what makes happy people happy.  Dr. Martin Seligman, thought to be the father of Positive Psychology, heads the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  Where traditionally the field of Psychology focuses on mental illness or psychological problems and how to treat them, Dr. Seligman and his peers examine how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled.  So, why is happiness such a “hot” topic these days? Research on the mental health and wellbeing of Americans may shed some light on the answer.

Statistics show that anxiety and depression affect many Americans and that those numbers are growing.  Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in our country, affecting over forty million adults in the United States (18% of U.S. population).   An estimated one in ten adults reports being depressed.  In addition, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children in the United States and rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past fifty years. Today, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or an anxiety disorder when compared to half a century ago.  These statistics suggest that in the United States, a country in which we have greater material wealth and individual freedom than most other countries in the world, we are increasingly unhappy.

So, why aren’t we happier?

Perhaps it is because we live in a culture where we never feel that we have enough, or that we are enough.  We are always looking to get more, be more, have more.  Our culture values extreme individualism and ambition as characteristics needed to achieve success, creating a culture in which the fear of failure runs rampant.   In such a culture, we think that happiness is conditional upon our achievements.  Although our goals are often quite concrete (being promoted at work, buying a new car, moving to a bigger house, winning a race, making a team, getting into an ivy league school, fighting for social justice), if we press further in our investigation, we will usually find that our ultimate goal is simply to be happy.  As Tal Ben-Shahar, Harvard Professor and author of several books on Positive Psychology explains, “Wealth, fame, admiration and all other goals are subordinate and secondary to happiness; whether our desires are material or social, they are means toward one end: happiness.”

What the research shows is that the attainment of a particular goal to achieve greater happiness is misguided.  The  achievement of our goals may bring temporary joy, but it does not impact our overall level of  happiness.  For example, studies of both lottery winners and people who have been paralyzed reveal that people return to their same level of happiness (or unhappiness as the case may be) one year after the event.  Our projected happiness (or unhappiness) after certain events is not what we actually experience.  We have all experienced a situation where we work very hard to achieve a goal, are overjoyed in accomplishing that goal, only to emerge a short time after our goal is met asking ourselves, “What’s next?”  We quickly realize that the happiness we felt after achieving that goal was merely temporary.  We may even feel depressed when we realize that the achievement of our much-anticipated goal did not bring us the lasting happiness we desire.

So, how can we be happier?

Research suggests that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics, traits we are born with such as temperament.  The good news is this leaves us with 50% to work with.  Many researchers are looking at the effects of mindfulness practices and other cognitive exercises that can help us shape our reactivity and perceptions of ourselves and the world we live in.  In other words, instead of looking externally at what we can accomplish next, what we lack and what we want to gain so that we can be happier, we can change our perception of who we are, what we want and how we react to our circumstances.

This pursuit of happiness is what Sharon Salzberg explores in her book Real Happiness.  She explains,  “Because the development of inner calm & energy happens completely within and isn’t dependent on another person or a particular situation, we begin to feel a resourcefulness and independence that is quite beautiful—and a huge relief.”   In the practice of mindfulness meditation, Salzberg teaches people to look inside themselves in moments of quiet and accept things as they are.   Those quiet moments help us to connect to our own inner strength, our compassion for ourselves and for others, and our ability to ride the tides of our own emotions.  These qualities, which we all possess, can be fostered and strengthened simply by recognizing that they are already there.

Once we take the time to reconnect to who we really are, value our inner strengths and find a sense of peace and contentment in ourselves as we are, we are able to feel more happiness in our lives.  We can foster our own feelings of optimism and gratitude, which will enhance our sense of well-being.   With this new perspective, it is not the achievement of goals in which we seek to attain happiness; we already have a sense of happiness along the way as we pursue our goals.  The relationship between happiness and success is reciprocal – not only can success contribute to happiness, but happiness also leads to success.

 

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We are thrilled to welcome back Sharon Salzberg to our mindful community for a fall evening exploring Lovingkindness in the Face of Adversity

Wednesday November 13th from 7:00-9:00pm

Mamaroneck, NY (location to be sent upon confirmation)

 

Sharon is one of America’s leading spiritual teachers and authors.  She is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work.

During this evening we will explore the power of lovingkindness when we face our own physical challenge or illness, emotional upheaval, negativity from others, or unfairness in how we are being treated. We will look at lovingkindness and compassion as strengths rather than as submissive states, and talk about joining them with discerning action, wisdom, and our often untapped capacity for resilience. We’ll practice meditation along with dialogue and discourse.  Suitable for both beginning and more experienced meditators.

To Register Click Here

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Top Ten Mindfulness Tips for 2013 for Living a More Peaceful Life

Top Ten Mindfulness Tips from 2012

by cheryl on January 10, 2013

in Meditation

In 2012, we explored many ways to bring calm and joy into our lives.  Here is a recap of some of our favorite tools to help us lead a more stress-free, joy-filled and meaningful life.

 1. Breathe Deeply

That’s our story and we are sticking to it – one of the simplest and most effective ways to calm down is through simple mindful breathing exercises.  The simple act of taking a few long, deep breaths can work wonders on your body and your mind. Research has shown that the simple act of breathing deeply and fully can stop the release of stress hormones in the body and allow physical and neurological function to be restored to a normal state.  Breathing deeply and mindfully helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which triggers this relaxation response.  By focusing your attention on your breath, you will also slow down the tornado of thoughts spinning around in your mind.   So, try to stop for a minute or two each day, close your eyes and breathe deeply, inhaling fully through your nose and filling your lungs and belly as you inhale.  Then, empty your chest and abdomen completely as you exhale.  Repeat for a few minutes in the morning or throughout the day to find a bit of space, calm and relaxation wherever you are.  Try it with your children and you will be teaching them a valuable way to calm themselves down in any stressful situation.  It even helps at night to relax and unwind before bedtime, and get a better night sleep. So, in 2013, keep breathing deeply!

2. Do An Act of Kindness

Little acts of kindness not only brighten other people’s days, but can go a long way in increasing your own happiness. The new and emerging science of positive psychology, the study of happiness, shows that we can increase our own sense of wellbeing by making other people happy.  So, share a smile with a stranger, help someone open a door, offer a helping hand to someone in need, and you will feel a wonderful sense of connection and joy.

3. Practice Mindful Listening

Often when we lend an ear to a child or a friend, we are in problem solving mode.  We are analyzing, judging, or trying to fix something most of the time we are listening.  The truth is that people just want to be heard and feel listened to.  So, try some mindful listening by saying little, by looking into the other person’s eyes and  by giving them your full attention  – no texting, e-mailing or other distractions allowed.  We all know that frustrating feeling when we are speaking and we can actually feel that the other person is not really listening to us.  Rather, be a compassionate and fully present listener.  What a wonderful gift to give a child, parent or friend.  In doing so, you are also modeling mindful listening and may reap the benefits of that person learning to give you their full attention in return.

4. Think of Something You Did Well Each Day

At the end of each day, we often go through a list of all that we failed to accomplish and all that we did not do well.  Instead, at the end of each day, make a list of all that you did right.  We need to take the time to recognize and appreciate all that we accomplish each day, big or small.  Whether it is taking some much needed time for ourself, making sure our children are clothed and fed, calling a friend that we haven’t spoken to in a while, or completing a project at work, we need to appreciate our efforts and recognize our worth.   We may feel we are in a “thankless” job or situation, but the truth is there is great value in thanking ourselves on a job well done.  So, each night make sure to think about something you did well each day – you deserve it!

5. Take Time for Yourself

As we mentioned in one of our first blogs, it is so important to put your own oxygen mask on first.  We cannot find peace and calm in the world around us if we are not peaceful and calm ourselves.  We cannot expect our children to be relaxed and joyful if we don’t model that behavior.   So, it is essential to take a time out and make time for yourself.  In the end, it is not only a wonderful opportunity to connect with yourself, but it will pay off many times over in how you interact with the world around you.

6. Keep a Gratitude Journal

We often get stuck in the monotony of our daily schedules and forget to take note of the extraordinary gifts we have in our lives.  One way to get out of this rut, is to buy a small notebook and create a Gratitude Journal.   This can be a personal journal or you can create a family gratitude journal, in which each member of the family can jot done one thing he or she is grateful for each day.  You can also make this a family routine during dinner, with each person reflecting on something good that happened that day.  Research has shown that by simply recalling a positive experience our bodies release pleasure hormones, which can give us an increased overall feeling of wellbeing.

7. Unplug

It is increasingly apparent that we are becoming a society addicted to our electronic devices, unable to go for 60 seconds without checking our e-mails, voicemails or texts.  In 2013, challenge yourself to “unplug” for at least 30 minutes each the day, and during mealtimes.  Make “screen free” time in which you turn off your devices, phones and computers.  Although these are valuable tools in our modern world, they are also a source of distraction, increased stress, and huge energy zappers because they take us away from where we are and who we are with.  Checking our messages while engaged in a conversation with someone sends a strong message to those we are with that they are not important or worthy of our attention.  We must be mindful as well of the example we are setting for our children as we constantly check our devices while we are at a stoplight, while they are talking to us or during mealtime.  We can’t ask them to unplug if we are not willing to do the same.  So, take time each day to power off, so you can tune in and be fully present in the moment, before those moments pass you by.

8. Look into their Eyes

We have all heard that the Eyes are the Windows to the Soul.  Try it out and see for yourself.  Make a point of looking into the eyes of the person you are with.  When saying “Good Morning” or “Thank you” to people throughout the day, look into their eyes and see if you notice a difference in how it feels.  You can establish a much greater connection to the people around you by taking the time to stop and notice them by looking into their eyes.  So often these days we are so busy doing other things, that we don’t take a few seconds to truly acknowledge the people around us.  Try it and you will see that you can enrich your everyday experiences with your children, your colleagues and even total strangers by simply taking a brief moment to truly notice them.

9.  Take a Walk in Nature

Enjoying nature is a great way to take a much-needed break in our busy, hectic lives.  It offers us the opportunity to slow down, breathe deeply and clear our minds.  When taking a walk, running, hiking, or walking the dog, try to be fully present where you are, rather than solve problems, make mental lists or think about your busy schedule, which takes you somewhere else.  Use this time to clear your thoughts, appreciate where you are at that moment, and connect to the beautiful world around you.

10. Practice Acceptance

In 2012, we wrote about Letting Go of Expectations.  The flip side of that lesson is to practice acceptance.  Life is a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs, great joys and great disappointments.  If we can learn to accept that life is not perfect, we are not perfect, those around us are not perfect and we embrace those imperfections and accept people and situations as they are, life becomes much easier.  We can learn to accept ourselves and the people in our lives for who they are, not who we want them to be.  In doing so we learn to embrace and appreciate ourselves and others with an open heart and mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you feeling tired, a lack of focus and concentration and out of patience?   Do you want to learn ways to slow down, clam down and find a greater sense of balance and happiness in your  life?

Join us for Mindful Living: An Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation

We will explore  meditation and mindfulness practices that can be used everyday to help bring calm, clarity, connections and contentment into your daily life.  Each class will consist of a discussion and practice.

Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation include:

  • Increasing your attention, focus and concentration
  • Understanding your own stress reactions and how to minimize them
  • Increasing your sense of balance and equanimity
  • Fostering a greater connection in your relationships
  • Enriched appreciation of the ordinary moments of life
  • Learning to listen with kindness to yourself and those around you
  • Improved sleep

Class Dates & Times:  Tuesday evenings, November 19, 26, December 3  and 10, from 8 to 9:30 pm.

Location:  Westchester Jewish Center, Rockland & Palmer Avenue, Mamaroneck, New York.

Investment:  $140 members and $160 non-members

*This class is a prerequisite for classes we will be offering in 2014 on Meditation and Spirituality.

**Registration opening soon for this class.

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The Art of Letting Go

The Art of Letting Go December 6, 2012

As the New Year approaches, we begin to look back at the year that has passed and consider all that we experienced.  We think about our New Year’s resolutions and set our intentions for the year to come.  Looking at the past, we often want certain things to be different or better in the New […]

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A Meditation for the Holiday Season

A Much-Needed Holiday Stress-Reducing Meditation November 20, 2012

Why is it that during this joyful, festive time of year so many people are feeling anxious, depressed or depleted?  All that gift giving and holiday cheer  can be exhausting.  There is pressure to be happy and full of joy.   So when we don’t feel like being in the holiday spirit (or we may […]

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