relaxation

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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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 Calm Before the Storm

The Calm Before the Storm

by cheryl on November 8, 2012

in Meditation

Just before Superstorm Sandy hit our area, in what was the calm before the storm, I attended a beautiful service in which the following thoughts were read aloud by Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman.  I was struck by the beauty of his words and wanted to share his thoughts with you.  We are sending our love and prayers to those impacted by this devasting storm.

The Calm Before the Storm  . . .

There is something called the “calm before the storm.”  I do not know whether it is a scientific reality – whether there really is a “calm before the storm.”  It’s possible.  Or it might be that when we know a storm is coming and we are playing out all the terrible possibilities in our mind, the present reality just seems very calm.

But in either case – whether real or perceived – there is a calm before the storm.

I sometimes think that we don’t use it properly.  We usually use the calm to prepare for the storm.  Yes, I imagine that is important.  And yet, it would be nice if we could appreciate the calm without images of the storm infecting it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a walk in the calm before the storm, and just enjoy the calmness?  In the calm before the storm the wind may be invigorating – not destructive.  In the calm before the storm, the drops of rain may be refreshing – not drenching.  In the intense quiet of the calm before the storm, we can think, we can close our eyes, breathe in life, and maybe we can hear the still small voice of God.

Life is filled with storms – physical storms, emotional ones, spiritual ones.  Sometimes they take us by surprise; but sometimes they don’t, and there is a special – almost holy – calm before the storm.  The trick is to not let the fear of the storm destroy the peace of the calm.  We can use the calm to give thanks for what we have – even as it may soon blow away.  We can use the calm to pray – use the calm to listen – use the calm to love.

Thank you God – for the calm before the storm.

-by Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman

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Give Yourself a Time Out!

Give Yourself a Time Out!

by cheryl on April 2, 2012

in Healthy Living

The Time Out is a disciplinary tool used by parents to correct bad behavior.  The idea is to send a child to a particular place so that he can think about his bad behavior, or simply feel the consequences of misbehaving by having to sit still, quietly and alone for a few minutes (or what seems like an eternity for a young child).  Yet, a new way to look at the Time Out, is to give our children the opportunity to have some quiet time, in a peaceful place, to regroup and calm down, rather than separating or isolating the child as a form of punishment.  Linda Lantieri, author of Building Emotional Intelligence, Techniques To Cultivate Inner Strength In Children, encourages parents to create a space where a child can have a “time in,” a peaceful place where the child can take a break from whatever may be upsetting him, where he can foster his own ability to calm down, reduce stress, quiet anger or eliminate frustration.  This ability to find that inner peace and quiet when faced with adversity or challenges is an incredibly important skill for our children to develop, and for us to nurture in ourselves as well.

As adults, I think we all need to give ourselves a Time Out (or a Time In) at least once a day, not as a form of punishment, but rather as a reward.   In a world full of noises and distractions, it is very difficult to find any quiet time during the day.  Most of us start our days in a great rush, hurrying the kids off to school and rushing to work.  And that is just the beginning.  The frantic pace, noises and distractions just keep coming — we have iPods playing, radios buzzing, kids screaming, co-workers gabbing, phones ringing, text messages beeping, e-mails blinking, and televisions blaring.  It is no wonder that with all of this external stimulation our minds are racing and unfocused.  We are so busy trying to digest and decipher all of this noise that we often end up irritable, distracted and stressed out.

I remember when my children were little, my house was a cacophony of little voices needing something, Elmo’s World playing on the television, and at least one child crying.  During those days, the peace and quiet of my tiny clothes closet seemed appealing to me as a secret getaway from the noise.  I would think, “Would anyone even notice if I went inside for a few minutes and shut the door?”  The idea of five minutes of peace and quiet sounded quite nice to me, even if it was in my closet.  Back then, even the stillness of my bathroom was a pleasant break, until the pitter patter of little feet entering the bathroom and at least one child demanding my attention, with complete disregard for my need for a minimal amount of privacy, would inevitably turn what is usually considered a very personal space into a public forum for all to enter.  (Oh the joys of motherhood!)

The challenge then, as it is now, is to find that peaceful and quiet space for even a short time each day to gather our thoughts, center ourselves and feel a sense of calm and OK-ness that we all need.  Taking a personal Time Out could mean a quiet walk outdoors, with no cell phone calls or music playing, and simply noticing how still and quiet the trees are.  Connecting to nature offers us an amazing sense of stillness and calm.  It could also mean turning the radio OFF in the car for a few minutes and simply enjoying the calm of a quiet car ride, rather than driving with the music playing or the distraction of disturbing news stories stealing our attention.  Your Time Out could also be closing your office door for five minutes, and simply shutting your eyes and breathing.  Try it and you will see that this simple act of giving yourself a Time Out can break the chain of noise and distraction that seems to build up throughout the day.  It is also very helpful to take a Time Out in the heat of the moment before hitting send on an angry e-mail or before responding unkindly to someone in a manner you might later regret.  In those instances, a little Time Out can be incredibly useful to pause before acting, to collect your thoughts and to settle your emotions.   It is in the quiet and stillness of our Time Out that we can have the opportunity to regroup and reset ourselves, and quiet our minds so that we can continue on with clarity and a sense of calm.  So, tomorrow, Time Outs for everyone!

 

 

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just breathe

Just Breathe

by cheryl on November 16, 2011

in Meditation

When I told some friends that the secret to inner peace and calm is to just breathe, my great discovery was met with skepticism and disbelief, and even a few chuckles here and there.  But I am sticking to my guns and promise that it is all about the breath.

We all breathe every day, all day, from the moment we are born until the moment we die.  We think that we are pretty good at it given the fact that we don’t even need to think about it 99% of the time, it just happens.  So, how can breathing be the magical key to calm?

To understand how profound the link is between breathing and finding our inner peace, we must first understand a little more about the breath.  In many cultures, the process of breathing is considered to be the essence of being.  In yoga, the breath is known as the prana or the universal energy that balances the body and mind, the conscious with the unconscious, and the sympathetic with the parasympathetic nervous system.  The breath is rather unique, because unlike other bodily functions, we can control it.  It is both voluntary and involuntary.  The breath offers us the ability to influence the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates digestion, blood pressure, heart rate and other bodily functions.  Therefore, controlling our breath offers us an incredible tool to help regulate our bodies in ways that otherwise are much more difficult to control.

Getting the most out of each breath

So we know that the breath is incredibly important, but are we making the most of each breath we take?

Have you ever watched a baby sleep or a dog stretched out, lying on the floor?  If so, notice their breath, notice what is moving? When the baby or the dog (any animal will do) is breathing, it is not their chest or their shoulders that are in motion.  Rather their belly, just below the rib cage and above the pelvis region, moves out with each inhale and in with each exhale.  Now think about when the doctor asks you or your child to take a deep breath, what do you do?  Most of the time, when asked to breathe deeply, we puff up our chests, raise our shoulders and suck in our stomachs, as we gasp in and then lower our chests and shoulders, and release our abdomen as we force our breath out.

This type of chest breathing is not our deepest or most natural breath.  It is not our best breath.  It is not the breath that we were born with.  It is not the breath that allows us to fill our whole lungs with that much needed oxygen.  Instead, it is our conditioned breath.  It is our response to years (and sadly only a few short years in children and teenagers) of teaching ourselves how to breathe incorrectly.  It is the result of stress, anxiety, worry and fear.  It is the result of losing that amazing ability that babies and animals have to not stress out.  They don’t sit around stewing about something someone just said to them, or fearing failing at a new endeavor, or worrying about a child.  They are divinely connected to their inner calm.

So why do we resort to chest breathing so often, particularly in stressful situations?

Think caveman times. In caveman days, an important part of human survival was the fight or flight response, when we needed to sense fear and respond to it, so as not to be eaten by a lion.  It was a vital survival mechanism.  But in 21st century living, we are almost always far removed from an actual life or death situation, yet this fight or flight response is often triggered in our daily lives.  Once the fight or fight response is activated by a stress trigger, we may experience increased heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing, tensing of muscles (abdominal, chest, shoulders, etc.), perspiration, tingling in our fingers and toes, and digestive problems (just to name a few).  We may experience these when we can’t find our keys, when we are running late, when we are worried about a child, when we make a mistake at work, or when we have to speak in front of a large crowd.  This physiological response to a perceived danger may have helped the caveman fight off a lion or run away from a charging tiger, but in modern times it usually does not save our life, but rather causes us great discomfort and dis-ease.  (Yes – disease, much more on that later.)

Chronic stress and the continual trigger of the physiological responses associated with the fight or flight response can lead to a restriction in the muscles surrounding the lungs, limiting the range of motion in the chest wall.  When the chest can no longer fully expand, the breath becomes shallow.  This chest breathing is much less efficient than belly breathing because it limits the amount of blood flowing in the lower lobes of the lungs, less oxygen transfers into the blood and poor nutrients go to the tissues.

Just by initiating good belly breathing — slow, steady abdominal breathing — you can greatly influence your body during stressful situations causing a stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in a reversal of those negative physiological responses that can be so harmful to our health and well being.  Proper breathing helps to relax the muscles in the abdomen, chest, back, and all over the body.  Creating a greater passage for air to fill the lungs, allowing the diaphragm to fully expand and contract.

What we all experience each day, and have accumulated countless moments of throughout our lives, is the negative effects of the fight or flight response.  The good news is – you can relearn to breathe properly!  You can practice taking slow, deep, abdominal breaths and regain that amazing ability to reconnect with your calm, peaceful self, much like that sleeping baby.  (And by the way, sound sleep is an important byproduct of learning to breath properly)

Meditation and mindfulness are intricately related to the breath.  If you can sit still, and simply follow your breath as it moves in your nostrils, down into your lungs and abdomen, and back up and out your nose, guess what – you are meditating!  Simply by sitting still and paying attention to your breath (and only your breath), you are automatically clearing your mind.  That’s all you need to do!  So, the first step to finding your inner peace and calm is to simply practice breathing.  I promise, if done correctly, you will feel better almost instantly.  The great news is that you can practice breathing anywhere, at a stop light, in a carpool pick up line, in the subway, in a movie theater, on an airplane, anywhere!  You have all of the tools you need with you at all times.  Pretty cool!

Many people pull breathing out of their bag of relaxation tricks when they are faced with a stressful situation.  I would encourage you not to save these breathing techniques for moments of stress and anxiety, but practice this breathing every day. Just as we need to train our muscles to run a race, we need to train our muscles to breath correctly. The amazing thing is, if you practice your breathing regularly, the benefits are incredible!  Not only can you avoid those nasty physical effects of the fight or flight response, you are actually creating a new, calmer and more peaceful you. The new you will have a greater capacity to shrug off many of those slightly annoying or even highly anxiety producing triggers of the fight or flight response. You may even find that the trigger that normally sets you off, may no longer bother you at all.  You can breath right through it!

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