stress

Mindful Living: An Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation

In this course, we will explore meditation and mindfulness practices that can be used everyday to help reduce stress, increase a sense of calm, clarity, and connection, and create greater contentment in our lives.  Each class will consist of a discussion of mindfulness tools and the developing research on the neuroscience of mindfulness, as well as group mindfulness practices.

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”

― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation include:

  • Increased attention, focus and concentration
  • Decreased levels of stress
  • Increased sense of calm, balance and equanimity
  • Improved mood
  • Greater ability to regulate emotions
  • Improved sleep patterns and overall sense of  wellbeing

Class Dates & Times:  Four week session begins February 26th.  Classes will  meet from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on Wednesdays, February 26, March 5, 12 and 19. Snow date will be March 26th.

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

To Register click here.

 

 

 

 

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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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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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One of my favorite writers was Erma Bombeck.  She always had an amazing sense of humor about life.  Upon learning that she had cancer, she wrote a list of things that she regretted doing or not doing in her life.   I like to keep this list in my kitchen as a reminder to live each day to the fullest and to not sweat the small stuff!  If you haven’t read this, enjoy!  If you have, it is always worth reading again.

If I Had My Life To Live Over

by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck


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On Friday, the 2mindfulmom’s had the pleasure of going to our 6th grader’s middle school for an event called Real Work/School Work.  We where asked to present to 4 different classes of 6th grade students about our company 2bpresent.  We explained to the kids how we started our company and how the things we learned in middle school where applicable to the work we are now doing.  We then had the pleasure of listening and interacting with them as we discussed meditation, breath work, stress, and tools for handling difficult situations.

The fun really was listening to their insights and leading them on a Guided “mini vacation” meditation to their most favorite place in the world.  The meditation we used was a blend of Real Happiness Concentration (Sharon Salzberg) and also included the work of  Linda Lantieri (http://www.lindalantieri.org/) from her Inner Resilience Program geared towards children.  The kids where guided to visualize being in their most favorite place and feeling what it was like to be there, smelling what it was like to be there and then spending time in stillness in that very special and safe place.

What was amazing for the 2mindfulmom’s was how receptive to this entire experience the kids where.  Whether we asked them to share their feelings or locations they went to they where all eager to share and tell us how good it felt to close their eyes and just breath.  Many of the kids took themselves to places in nature disconnected from the modern world and their very fast paced lives.

We stole a few minutes of mini meditations during these sessions for ourselves and absorbed the energy of these fabulous kids.

My daughter provided feedback from the informal lunch room survey that took place over sandwiches and the kids thought the session was really cool.  We encouraged the kids to try taking their parents on a mini vacation.

We hope everyone is having a good week with their sitting practices.

-the 2mindfulmoms

 

This post was included as part of our 28 Day Meditation Challenge with Sharon Salzberg for Real Happiness

 

Middle School Meditation Students

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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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