5 minutes: A Mindful Breath Awareness Practice
Updates: January 2017
Happy New Year!
I am now a full time professor at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I'm teaching mindfulness to university students and later this year will be teaching again in the southwestern Michigan community.
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Dr. Lori Boothroyd coaches in a warm, dedicated manner that makes the process of positive behavior change a series of highly productive, enjoyable events. Lori taught me how to expand my mental capacity to visualize and implement positive outcomes in the areas of stress management, nutrition, inter-personal relationships and business growth. Thanks to Lori, I have learned to “live in the moment” and I am currently enjoying life to its fullest.Jim Dagwell , Traverse Tax & Accounting, Traverse City, Michigan
In Lori’s course on Mindfulness and stress reduction, I have learned to slow down, both physically and in my little monkey mind. I hope that I am a better listener and observer of situations before I act. My mind feels spacious, not crowded with thoughts. I learned that anxious moments and thoughts don’t define me. I am more than my thoughts!S.S., educator, Traverse City, MI
I feel calmer and clearer. I am more compassionate to myself and others. I wear my own truths more clearly, and I feel braver in attending to them. I trust more, in a faithful way, I feel safe, supported and secure in my life.M.S., educator, Traverse City, MI
Before I hired Lori, I struggled alone. Through our work together, I have learned to trust my own abilities and more effectively use my strengths. As a result, my life today is more satisfying and I know myself to be someone who is strong, resourceful, and intuitive.Heidi, Wellness Educator and Licensed Wellcoach, Boston MA
As a result of the stress reduction workshop with Lori, I can finally enjoy my life without as much anxiety because I now have tools that I can tap into myself and control. I am now also authentic with myself, relationships and life.L.L., Business Owner, Traverse City, MI
Would I recommend the stress reduction class to others? Oh gosh! I’d say to not wait until you “have time” – that will never happen! And the more you believe you don’t have time….the more you need to take this class. Do it, jump in, and priorities and sense of time will follow, naturally. It’s a tremendous act of self-care with heaps of unexpected benefits – both shared with fellow classmates and highly individuals ones. Take the time and take the risk. It’s of imme… Read moreM.A., physicians assistant, Traverse City, MI
After the stress reduction class was over, I felt positive changes to the goal of not treating myself so harshly. It was an eye opening experience! I encourage anyone to take the class because it is a gift to yourself to learn how to respond rather than react in stressful situations.T.L., educator, Traverrse City, MI
One of the most valuable “gems” I received from Lori was a thorough explanation of the stages of change that everyone goes through and what made change so challenging for me. I was stuck and not sure about making change; Lori helped me realize that until I was willing to make a commitment both mentally and emotionally, I would only continue to feel frustrated and berate myself. I highly recommend Dr. Lori Gray Boothroyd!K. McPherson, Psychologist and Mother of Three! Las Cruces, New Mexico
The stress reduction class taught me how to increase levels of self care leading to decreased stress levels and overall improved quality of life. This class is about getting to know yourself better and being more “awake” during your waking hours.M.M, educator, Traverse City, MI
As a result of taking the mindfulness stress reduction workshop, I feel better equipped to handle stressful communication. Due to the mindful movement, I have greatly decreased my chronic pain and headaches. Lori herself is very calming in both voice and dress. This worked well for me to focus on calmness. Lori brings me back to “sanctuary”.L.M., manager, Traverse City, MI
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New research on the efficacy of mindfulness training on the treatment of depression. Check out the link for more information. Exciting times for Mindfulness based interventions!
Often, our perceptions of stress come when things don’t quite flow the way we had hoped or planned for them to. Our desire to control can often increase our sense of stressful situations, heightening emotions such as frustration, anxiety and even anger. Today’s article explores the concept of going with the flow and next week’s article will continue with some simple strategies for helping you to let go and go more with the flow.
What do I specifically mean by the term go with the flow? Going with the flow means practicing acceptance to bring us peace, happiness and a deeper sense of harmony. Practicing acceptance is an art form unto itself. And I often focus on it in my workshops and in coaching my clients because it is indeed so challenging for all of us!
There are essentially two ways to experience joy: Getting what you want, or through wanting what you have. Accepting and wanting what you have is probably the most reliable and consistent method of the two. This doesn’t mean that we give up or settle for less in our lives; acceptance means practicing contentment moment to moment with what we have (whether that moment is one to be fully savored or one you choose to change down the road). Neither savoring nor making conscious change in our lives is truly possible without first accepting the experience for what it is. Without acceptance, we are like children pressing our faces on the glass windows of a candy shop, at the edges of our existence and not fully living.
Below are some suggested areas for practicing acceptance (adapted from author Victoria Morgan).
1. Ourselves – height, age, marital status, disposition, health, overall appearance.
2. Our Past – family history, hurts, disappointments, regrets, nostalgia about the good ol’ days and how much better things were years ago.
3. Our Present – where we live, our occupation, our income, who is sharing (or isn’t sharing) our present with us.
4. Other People – those who may or may not accept us for who we are, those who know us best and those whom we know the most about.
5. Uncontrollable Circumstances- death, taxes, the weather, traffic patterns, the antics and salaries of celebrities.
6. Whatever comes, in each moment – joy, sorrow, anger, fatigue, wonderment, surprise, just to name a few.
My suggestion is for you to review this list and choose just one thing this week you would like to bring your awareness of acceptance toward. If you benefit from journaling, this is the perfect topic to explore through some writing time. I’d love to hear what you choose – please email me with your acceptance growth-edges and any questions you may have.
The bottom line in regard to acceptance is this: The more you accept, the greater your energy and clarity for living grows. When you accept, you are free to change some things, probably more than you believed possible. In the process, you are bound to experience more contentment and – who knows, even more happiness along the way!
Life, I am the new year.
I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life
during the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me,
waiting for you to search it out with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve
is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped
but did not will,
all the faith that you claimed but did not have —
these slumber lightly,
waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity
I am the new year.
Allow-by Danna Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightening bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a stream, and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting is all in-
the wild with the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
when loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes
Hello Friends! Interesting article from the NY times I’ve posted below. A quote from it to tempt you: mindfulness can “create a world where you experience depth, meaning and connectedness. You see joy and sadness more fully and settle more deeply into an authentic way of being.”
May it be so!
As I prepare for a new workshop series of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction this week, I’m reminded of the value of simply “starting here”. Wishing you all well! Lori
Image from the talented ladies at “Dharma Comics”:
A “Mind Jar” is a relatively simple tool for helping kids (and adults) appreciate mindfulness. This past week I offered some suggestions to the school counselors for the local district and I made some mind jars to share. A few participants asked for the recipe, so I promised I would post it here!
A Mind Jar can be shaken, and it is filled with glitter. The glitter represents how busy our mind and body can be with thoughts and physical sensations, such as anxiety and worrisome thoughts. For kids, shaking up the mind jar is way of expressing how they feel. Watching the glitter slowly settle and noticing the breath while doing so teaches kids a way of self-regulating their emotions, and allowing thoughts or reactive tendencies to settle…..just as the glitter settles. Eventually, we can see more clearly through the jar, just as we teach ourselves to allow the mind to settle, we “pause” and learn how to respond to a situation more skillfully, rather than impulsively react.
Pretty cool! This is obviously a glass ball jar, but any container can be used. I’ve experimented with peanut butter jars and various plastic containers. Glass is easiest and clearest, but plastic may be more practical for kids, especially for tiny hands.
So, what’s the trick? It’s not that difficult to make, nor is it an exact science, but here are my guidelines (and I’d love to hear what you learn as you try it yourself!).
Choose your container(s) and heat enough water to fill the container almost to the top (quite hot water, but not boiling). When water is heated, ideally in a large measuring cup, add a lot of glitter glue (any color) and whisk it so the glue doesn’t clump. Essentially, add glitter glue as well as any combination of colors and textures of regular glitter. Add a few drops of a clear dishwashing soap (like Dove) and a far amount of glycerin (this thickens the water and makes the glitter drop more slowly). If you can’t find glycerin at your local craft store, I’m told that light colored corn syrup also works well.
Now here is the in-exact science of it: Put the lid on tight after you’ve poured your mixture over into the mind jar container. Shake it up and decide for yourself if there is enough glitter, too much glitter, and if the solution is thick enough to suit your liking. If you want to make adjustments, pour the solution back into a mixing cup and adjust the thickness and amount of glitter. Just repeat until you are pleased with the way your Mind Jar “behaves” when you shake it up. When you’re satisfied, use a super glue adhesive to seal the lid on tight and prevent leaking (or a child opening it up!). And voila!
Have fun with your Mind Jar! Adults love them too…….
“Comfort in the Chaos”: living mindfully in the “real world”
What does living mindfully really mean to you and how does that definition fit within your daily life? Are you challenged by the curve balls life throws at you or by the sense of being too “crazy busy” to attend to your health and well being? Those are the times when understanding and experiencing mindfulness can reveal “comfort in the chaos”…..staying centered through the storms of life as they blow through.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of waiting for something or someone to change and receive this as a signal of return to our balance. “Once I, s/he, it……(fill in the blank here)…..then I can take care of myself and prioritize my stress/health/wellbeing.”
But we don’t need to wait for the calm after the storm to begin feeling a sense of peace and awareness. Here are some simple suggestions for bringing peace with the present:
1. Return to the body:
Using our breath, gentle movement, or simple awareness of our body instantly brings us back to the present moment and cuts through the “crazy-busy” for a moment. The more we practice having these “in-our-body” experiences, the more automatic it becomes to return there when we’re feeling overwhelmed or disconnected.
2. Listen for what you need:
When we say what we “want”, be aware that beneath those words are emotional “needs”. What are the big goals, the things you talk about wanting in your life? When you’ve identified those goals and wants……check out what the emotions are underneath. Then ask yourself, “How do I want to feel different? What could I do right now to create that feeling?” Do you have an “escapist” fantasy? Those fantasies can tell us a lot about what we need. For example, a past client of mine would wish that she could be alone in a small cabin in the woods for at least a month. This was her “escapist” fantasy. But in the present, she had three small children and a demanding executive position. Beneath her words was a need for quiet, simplicity, solitude and a mindful sense of herself in the midst of daily demands. A small way she learned to meet this need is to take 5 minutes when she wakes up to light a candle, notice her breath and take in that sense of inner quiet. She ends her day in the same way. Sometimes she even has ten minutes to do so! And you know what? It made a significant difference for her sense of well-being and self-awareness throughout the day.
So, in very small (yet significant) ways, we can meet some big needs while still attending to our responsibilities. But we first have to identify what it is that we truly need, what we long for, so we can then mindfully attend to it.
3. Embrace what is already here.
Shifting our expectations of what it means to be authentically well can be a great support. What is your vision of authentic wellness? What can you recognize and embrace in your life today, in the tiniest way that will take you toward that vision? Gratitude, expressed in myriad forms shines light through the murkiest, chaotic moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an author and master mindfulness teacher, shares this perspective in his classic book “Full Catastrophe Living”. The title comes from the story of Zorba the Greek, who, when asked about his life, said “Wife, house, kids, everything……the full catastrophe!” His description wasn’t a complaint, but rather a full appreciation for the ups and downs of life and all its riches within. If we wait for that Zen Retreat in the mountains to feel balanced……we could be waiting a long while, missing life’s riches along the way.
The next time you find yourself caught up in the chaos of daily life……take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your full catastrophe. You may catch yourself smiling! As the saying goes, “we can’t always stop the waves….but we can learn how to surf!”
For those of you observing the Easter holiday this weekend, Happy Easter!
This morning I received a reflective quote by the author Parker Palmer. He is a wise and gentle soul. I share it here with you, with wishes for joy and a choice to “come alive” in each moment. Be well, Lori