The whole debacle might have been prevented if I (think Lucille Ball) had not listened to my doctor husband (think Desi Arnez) who insisted that our two-year-old daughter’s hand-mouth disease was gone and that she was perfectly fine going to daycare the next morning. If I hadn’t listened, I would have had a fighting chance of getting a babysitter the night before.
Posts by Edith "Edie" Raphael, PhD
The countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve creates the sense that something profound is
taking place. We’re wrapping up another year of our life, with pride, regret, or nostalgia. And
then we turn with great hope to the new year about to unfold.
When we’re meditating, our minds will often start to wander. They might go off on a stream of consciousness for several minutes before we catch ourselves and bring them back. Often, we think of the mind wandering as a failure, and yet, in fact, the real success is not in keeping the mind from wandering but in the bringing it back and beginning again.
The sages define suffering as wanting things to be different than they are.
The experience of gratitude, however, renders the complete opposite effect. When we cultivate a feeling of appreciation, we feel happy, maybe even blessed. Gratitude requires a mindful attention to what is good in your life. When we’re not mindful, we are likely to give all of our attention to the squeaky wheel while losing perspective for the well-oiled ones.
Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?
One of the benefits of mindfulness is, to paraphrase Viktor Frankl, the space it creates between stimulus and response. In that space between, we find choice. Mindfulness then creates time for us to choose our response. (Over time, the practice of making that choice helps us to create new neural pathways, which then become our new default responses.) One such choice is the words we use, or more generally, what we give voice to.
Over twelve years ago, I bought a refrigerator magnet about finding peace. I knew very keenly that the people I loved the most needed me to be calmer in my heart. The quote on the magnet challenged my inherent belief that I would only find peace when my kids were both in school all day, the house was cleaner, my job was better, my extended family stopped being so annoying, I finished writing my first book and got it published, and the stars aligned perfectly. The refrigerator magnet helped me see that equanimity is an inside job, independent of external circumstances.
Sometimes, investing time sitting quietly, can be perceived as self-indulgent navel-gazing. Here I present nine reasons why mindfulness is the best thing you can do to help others.
One: Meditation helps slow down your reactivity between stimulus and response, thus enabling you to carefully choose your response to, say, critical comments or back-talking teenagers.
How your body aligns in meditation is important, whether you are sitting on the floor or in a chair. It’s essential to feel a firm connection with the floor (either through the “sit bones” — the lower portion of the pelvis — or through the feet). It’s also always appropriate to keep the spine long.
Morning Resolutions (spoken like a mantra) are a great way to begin or complete your daily meditation. A morning resolution sets your intention for the day and brings it to the forefront of your mind, thus reinforcing your most deeply held values.
Gandhi suggested that “the first act of every morning be a resolve such as this:
Creativity is the ability to make connections between two or more things in a unique manner. For many people, creative expression is one of the joys of life, and for others it is also part of their livelihood. A certain line in a poem or song lyric, or a color used in a painting can enhance our experience of life and allow us to see the world in a new way.
The idea of mindfulness is that there is more happening than what we perceive from the thinking mind. There is a deeper level of insight and knowing that comes when we bring our full attention to the present moment. The thirteenth and fourteenth-century Sufi poets wrote bodies of work which capture the experience of awakening more fully through a settled mind.
Don’t have time to meditate? There’s an old parable about the meditation guru directing his acolyte to meditate for an hour. The acolyte responds that he doesn’t have time to meditate for an hour. “Okay,” says the guru. “Then meditate for two hours.” The lesson here is that the moment you’re too busy to meditate is the moment you need it most.
As I shared in my article last week, burnout is more than a passing feeling. It can have real and serious implications for your career and—more importantly—your mental and physical health. When you experience burnout on the job, you’re more likely to take sick days, and the days you do show up physically, you’re probably not as productive as the not-burned-out version of you. This can lead to jeopardizing your future work with the company, or in your field.
So, if you believe your workplace stress might be heading towards burnout, the time to act is now, with whatever energy and capacity you still have, in order to find solutions that will change your course and keep you from burning out.
One of the common questions on the issue of burnout is how it’s related to stress. Does stress cause burnout? Or is stress just another word for burnout?
Here’s a helpful distinction: stress can described as a state of “too much,” while burnout is characterized as a state of “not enough.”
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” -Soren Kierkegaard
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu
Today’s Wireboard starts with a little physical activity. And given the fact that sitting is the new smoking, we could all use it! It’s easy and there are just three steps. I’ll wait while you do them:
- Stand up.
- Take the slowest step forward you’ve ever taken.
- Take a couple more just as slowly.
What was that like for you? Notice anything? When I did this exercise, I noticed two things: First, when we’re walking, we’re constantly shifting weight between one leg and then the other. Second, there’s a subtle act of balance when we only have one foot on the ground. But we usually don’t notice the shifting or balance because we do it so quickly and we’ve been walking for so many years.