What kind of world do you wish for your children and grandchildren?
We are wired as much for love as we are for aggression. War is not inevitable. We have choices as individuals and as nations.
The physical and emotional fallout of war and conflict contribute significantly to the global burden of disease and distress. If we want to improve the health of individuals and nations, then we must reset our compasses to focus on “tools of widespread construction” rather than “weapons of mass destruction.”
It is the only sane and compassionate course of action and future generations will thank us.
Millions of people are suddenly dependent on computers for work-related video calls. Then, they transition into video calls with family and friends. Finally they relax with movies streamed via the Internet. All of this adds up to increased amounts of sitting.
Therefore, Risk Factor Mama, Epidemiologist and Expert in All Manner of Deadly Threats to Life, decided to speak out on this topic.
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is helpful in stress reduction and coping with difficult circumstances. It is also backed up by research in the psychology of health and wellbeing and will improve your quality of life, even if you are unable to change a lot of things at this time.
If you would like to participate in an interactive learning experience that is practical and immediately applicable to your daily life, please consider registering for my forthcoming webinar on May 20th at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. You can register here: Access Your Inner Calm – Mindfulness Made Accessible to All.
In this webinar you will experience my unique way of teaching mindfulness, such that you can immediately apply it in your life and benefit from it.
If you have never attempted mindfulness practice, or if your previous attempts at mindfulness have been unsuccessful, I encourage you to give this a try.
My teaching method enables people to immediately apply the learnings even if they lead busy lives and don’t have much time to dedicate to a traditional mindfulness practice.
Since 1996, I have taught mindfulness in universities, hospitals, professional settings, religious organizations, adult education and businesses in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Hong Kong and Thailand.
My focus is on practical steps you can take to integrate mindfulness into your daily life, such that it supports clarity when making decisions under stress. In this webinar you will learn how to maintain calm and a feeling of peace, even in difficult situations.
The proceeds from this workshop will support this website and blog. As the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected our financial situation, I would be grateful if you might consider supporting our work, and sharing this information with others who may also find the webinar useful.
Difficult situations can overshadow what is going well in your life, and the COVID-19 pandemic is like a giant shadow over all of our lives. There are many difficulties and challenges we are forced to accept. So many things are beyond our control and simple activities like visiting a friend or relative have become impossible.
As you work thorough the challenges, it is important to recognize and cultivate the good that is present in your life.
What are some of the good things, right in front of you, that you might be overlooking?
You may have to stretch your mind to notice the positive elements in your life. Try noticing the good, however small it might seem in the moment. Such things can be a source of joy and offer an uplift.
You don’t have to jump up and down clapping your hands. Noticing what is good in your life can be as simple as appreciating subtle things, such as the color of the sky, or listening to comedy or your favourite music on YouTube.
Mindfulness, practiced in its simplest form, for instance only sixty-seconds of focused attention, can nevertheless enable you to become aware of things that you may otherwise miss. If you like, you can just watch your belly rise and fall as you breathe and appreciate the intricacy of the human body.
What small things give you joy? Is it the smile of your child or grandchild? Might it be a joke that a friend shared with you in the course of a phone call? I’d love to hear about the simple joys in your life and invite you to share them below.
For Your Information: On May 20th at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, I will be doing a webinar through Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona. It is is open to the public and all proceeds will support the bookstore and our work during this difficult time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our financial situation negatively. Thus I would be grateful if you might consider supporting our work and sharing this information with others who may also find the webinar useful.
Mindfulness helps you to manage stress and increase your awareness of joy and gratitude in your life. It can also help to enrich your relationships with loved ones.
You don’t have to sit on a cushion for hours. Instead, you can simply turn everyday activities such as walking, eating, washing dishes, chopping vegetables and singing into mindfulness meditation.
Below is an excerpt from my book, The Time-Starved Woman’s Guide to Emotional Wellbeing: tools and strategies for balance, which offers you a brief overview of mindfulness. Of course this information is not for women only. I’ve been teaching mindfulness since 1996 to women, men and children in a variety of settings, including at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.
You might consider chocolate mediation. It’s something everyone tells me they like and I will be sharing more on chocolate meditation in forthcoming posts.
Mindfulness—Going from Automatic to Aware
Mindfulness is a non-religious activity that promotes health and is supported by modern-day brain and physiology research. It is a widely-used tool in health psychology.
Mindfulness is about going from automatic to aware and being focused on the here and now. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways to appreciate what is good in your life. You can also use it to become aware, in a non-judgmental way, of negative thoughts that automatically pop up in your mind.
Picture your mind as the pendulum of a clock, moving back and forth, from the past into the future. The mid-point of the pendulum swing is the here and now. When your thoughts are on autopilot and drift off into worries about the future or criticism about your past actions—or any negative thoughts, for that matter—bring yourself from automatic to aware.
Notice where your thoughts are straying. Are your automatic thoughts steering you toward feeling bad? Take note of what registers for you and steer yourself toward neutral or positive thoughts.
To get started with Mindfulness, breathe slowly and focus on your breath. Use your awareness of your breath as an anchor to keep your thoughts from drifting in unwanted directions. In moments when you catch your thoughts going in directions you don’t want or don’t like, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can look at your belly rising and falling as you breathe. Or you can notice the air going in and out of your nose as you inhale and exhale.
Your breath is your doorway to “stillness on demand.” It is available to you any time and any place, no matter the circumstances, whether it is during a medical procedure, at a performance review, or if you are about to erupt in frustration at your spouse or child.
Cultivating Mindfulness is easy and within everyone’s reach. It is not necessary to sit on a cushion or go on a retreat. If you’re too wound up—or just don’t have time—to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, you can focus on whatever you are doing, whether it is walking, eating, drinking, or working in the kitchen. You can even use everyday sounds in your environment, like the chirping of a bird or the ticking of clock, to keep you “aware” and keep your mind from drifting to automatic or negative thoughts.
Dance is not only fun, it is a good way to exercise. Its benefits for your mind and body are backed up by research. Hope this video inspires you to dance, regardless of whether you are confined with family or alone.
by Dr. SD Shanti, April 5, 2020. For translation and further details on how to use this tool, please scroll below.
What is Inside of You: Your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and motivations.
What You Do: Your actions and behaviors, including your interactions with other people.
The World Around You: Your environment, which includes the people around you, the culture in which you live, the physical structures of your home, aspects of your neighborhood, and the political and economic climate in which you live and work. The elements of your environment surround you in an array of concentric circles.
Use this three-part tool whenever you feel overloaded or stuck. You can also use it if you simply want to find a new way of looking at an old problem.
How to Use this Three-Part Tool
Whenever you are stuck or stressed, ask yourself these questions:
How can I think differently?
Can I view this situation from a different perspective?
What can I do differently?
Who can help me?
What can I change in my environment?
It might take some effort on your part to answer these questions. Allow yourself to be creative and go beyond conventional limits when seeking answers. Even if you cannot answer all of these questions, try answering one or two. The answers will give you clues for solving your problem.
Do not feel that you must use all three corners of the cartoon at once. Just begin with one corner, even if you cannot address all of them. Because the three corners are inter-connected in a two-way manner, any change you take in place can potentially have a positive impact on another corner.Remember – you always have options—and the questions above will help you find clues to solutions.
In forthcoming posts, I will share with you how people use this guide to solve situations and address challenges, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the way, this is my translation of science into practice, such that large numbers of people can use it in their daily lives. It is based on a landmark paper, The Self-System in Reciprocal Determinism(1978), by Professor Albert Bandura at Stanford University. And just in case you are wondering, yes he has seen it and approved it.
Please scroll below for translation of this prescription and for more information about self-efficacy and the children’s story.
Even if you’re not familiar with the classic American children’s story The Little Engine That Could, which illustrates the concept of self-efficacy, the message of the book is universally relevant. Research from around the world proves the importance of self-efficacy in helping people effectively manage their lives and overcome obstacles. If you’re interested in seeing the book and hearing the original story, here is a link on YouTube.
Translation of Prescription Rx When you feel hopeless, say to yourself what the little engine in the children’s story said to itself over and over again, as it worked hard to reach its goal: “I think I can…I think I can…”
This illustrates a concept called self-efficacy. It is the belief that you have in your ability to do something, even when it is difficult. Repeat this to yourself and defeat hopelessness. Research shows this is the most important predictor of success. It is your antidote to hopelessness. If you think you can, it is very like that you will!
Peace is always within you and this guided meditation shows you how you can be in touch with it as often as needed. You can use this as part of your daily routine or you can also use as needed when feeling tense or overwhelmed. In other words, you can use this video to brush your mind as needed.
You can follow the video with your eyes closed, or if you prefer to relax with your eyes open, you can enjoy the progression of the lotus flowers. I chose this flower because of what it symbolizes. The lotus flower grows in the mud and muck yet rises above that and offers beauty.
You can think of this as a symbol for your life, in that one part of your life is grounded in various daily realities (including the daily grind…) but you always have another part of you and another aspect of your life that transcends the daily reality, and offers you access to uplifts, beauty, meaning, and if you are so inclined, the sacred. It is a reminder that our lives can be lived on two planes and there is more to life than just the difficulties, hassles, and yes even the COVID-19 pandemic.