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6 Tips To Give the Gift of Mindfulness This Year

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The holiday season is filled with plenty of stress. From finding the perfect gift to dealing with your uncle’s terrible jokes, there are multiple ways that the holiday season can break us down. This is why giving others the gift of mindfulness this year, even if they don’t know that they’re receiving it, can bring you a higher peace as you go about your day. Here are 6 easy tips to begin giving this gift.

#1. When Driving

You’re stuck in traffic during the morning commute. Some dude just cut you off and made you slam on your brakes. There’s a pedestrian in the crosswalk when you’ve got the green light and they’re just standing there, staring at you like it’s your fault that they can’t move out of the way. Driving can create a lot of stress. By giving these strangers the gift of mindfulness, you can let this moments of frustration go. Let’s face it – will you remember what happened on the road today even a month from now?

#2. While Eating

Grandma might be making her syrupy sweet tea. Your father might be camped out in front of the TV watching football, spreading cheesy puffs everywhere. Your plate might be full of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, and everything else. Instead of inhaling the foods just so you can get through them, try to find one thing you appreciate about every meal, snack, and treat you get. There’s even something great about Grandma’s tea, even if you feel like you need a visit to the dentist afterward.

#3. While Speaking

One awesome way to give the gift of mindfulness is to practice active listening. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to try to interrupt someone because there is an important point you have to make “right now?” Hear what people are telling you, repeat it back to them so you know you’re on the same page, and you will have a delightful experience.

#4. While Relaxing

It’s fun to zone out sometimes in front of a favorite movie. You might be eating snacks during the big game without a second thought. Relaxing is the perfect time to give the gift of mindfulness. Enjoy how your body relaxes. Observe how others are relaxing around you. Take a few deep breaths if you’re in the middle of a football triple-header. It will bring everyone closer together.

#5. While Working

Your boss is giving you the stink eye. Your mother wants you to help wash all the holiday dishes even though you cooked most of the meal. You have a project that is overdue and your client is breathing down your neck. Mindfulness in this circumstance means putting yourself into the shoes of the other person. See life from their perspective. Feel what they are feeling. This understanding can then give you the boost of energy you need to get through any task.

#6. While in the Moment

There is no limit to your giving the gift of mindfulness. It can be extended at any time. If you feel stress, anger, sadness, or other difficult emotions or circumstances are close, then utilize what mindfulness can provide.

Of course you will be controlling and experiencing each moment when you give the gift of mindfulness. The end result is that your interactions with others will be calm and consistent. Don’t let the varying stressors of the holiday season get to you. Use mindfulness to get through the tough times and you will indeed have a happy holidays.

If You’re Tired of Painkillers, Then Try Meditation

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According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the practice of mindfulness meditation brings people a greater level of pain relief than a placebo alone. The findings show that meditation changes the brain patterns of those practicing it when compared to people using a placebo cream to control pain.

Led by Dr. Fadel Zaidan, who has already noted that meditation affects everything from expectation levels to a person’s moral beliefs, the enhanced cognitive function of the brain that comes from meditation could be the key to experiencing pain relief when chronic pain is present.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation focuses on the recognition of momentary events. Every second offers us all something new and unique to discover. This discovery process can occur emotionally, through cognitive events, or even through a person’s senses.

Because time is relative, we often take these brief moments and expand them to make them seem longer than they are. Sometimes different what-if scenarios will also be included. Some people even expand these thoughts into an alternative timeline that they live in from time to time as a way to reflect on past choices. This process often leads to negative emotional responses, regret, and even pain.

Mindfulness meditation changes that perspective. Instead of allowing the mind to return to the habit of creating more time out of a moment, it allows people to see a moment for what it really is: a brief moment of time. Instead of expanding it, in essence mindfulness freezes that moment and allows it to be fully explored.

How Does This Reduce Pain Levels?

Pain is essentially communication to the brain. Mindfulness changes the brain’s perspective of that communication by activating certain regions, such as the orbitofrontal region, that affect a person’s self-control. Less pain is experienced because the signals aren’t interpreted as a severe warning like they normally might be.

According to Dr. Zaidan, it may only take four daily 20 minute mindfulness meditation sessions to begin experiencing this benefit.

This is exciting news for people who are dealing with pain on a regular basis. Instead of taking potentially dangerous medications, such as narcotics, to help control pain levels, they can use the power of their own mind to reroute pain signals so the discomfort can potentially begin to fade away. It won’t provide instant pain relief, but it could be an essential part of pain management treatment plans in the future.

Many studies involve pain-free research volunteers. More information and research about mindfulness meditation is still waiting to be discovered. Despite this, this research is incredibly exciting. There could be a lot of truth to the idea that you have the power to heal yourself.

Defeat Workplace Stress Using Mindfulness Meditation

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Stress is a major health problem for many workers and the issue only continues to grow. One of the primary reasons why stress levels are going up today is because many workers are only distracting themselves from the issues at hand. Using your mobile devices, watching TV, eating a favorite food… these are call distractions.

To relieve stress, it is necessary to cope with the difficult emotions and circumstances that have caused it in the first place. This is where mindfulness meditation can become a powerful tool to use. Instead of running away from the stress to deal with it on another day, it becomes possible to resolve stressful situations as they happen, leading to a healthier body and mind.

Why Is Stress So Bothersome?

Stress is an internal trigger which causes a personal crisis situation. It creates negative emotional energies that start a cycle of anger, bitterness, and/or resentment. As time goes on, a downward spiral forms as these events repeat themselves over and over again. The mind becomes focused only on the past.

To defeat stress, the past must not be allowed to continue operating as an internal trigger. With mindfulness meditation, the perspective shifts from the past to the present. Instead of worrying about what happened to create stress, the focus becomes on what is happening right now, at this one given moment, and to explore what this one given moment contains.

How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

Stress is best described as an iceberg. You’ll see a small portion of ice floating at the surface, but underneath lurks a dark and hidden amount of stress that is much larger than what others can see. Mindfulness meditation helps to melt this iceberg because it focuses on recovery instead of the stressful triggers.

After you’ve isolated yourself to begin your meditation, begin to explore your point of view. Why was so much stress created? Summarize the thoughts that come your way that look at your reactions. Then connect the stress to the feelings you’ve experienced.

Mindfulness meditation also offers alternatives to a stressful reaction that can be implemented almost anywhere. Deep breathing to explore your internal feelings can change a perspective. Even experiencing the textures and flavors of a favorite food can become a form of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation Requires Practice

Most workers decide to give up on mindfulness meditation because it doesn’t seem to work right away. Like any new habit or skill, this will take time to develop. Instead of giving yourself 2-3 days to experiment with it to control stress and internal triggers, give it 2-3 weeks instead. Keep practicing mindfulness meditation in different situations to discover where it can be the most beneficial.

Then you’ll be ready to go back to work with a focus on the present or the future instead of the stressful events of the past. Stress will always be around thanks to the high pressure professional environments that workers have every day. Using mindfulness meditation to control that stress can help every worker enter this environment prepared for the challenges they may face.

Could Mindfulness Meditation Help to Treat an Addiction?

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Addictions can be extremely difficult to defeat. They cause us to spend money on the wrong things and make decisions that are out of character. Even when we try to overcome an addiction, 7 out of 10 of us will eventually relapse back into whatever we’re abusing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better way to overcome these harmful habits?

Mindfulness meditation might just be the solution. This is because the brain always has a desire to learn something new.

It’s All About Changing the Habit Loop

In the past, we were able to find rewards in our ability to sustain ourselves and our families. This positive habit loop would become a literal craving where our ancestors would literally be addicted to how they provided for themselves. This could be through hunting, gathering, or farming. We even see this somewhat today with the modern career.

And yes – work can become an addiction for someone just like drugs or alcohol can be one.

In our modern world, we’ve discovered how to replace those past rewards with something that provides immediate gratification. It becomes part of a negative habit loop because we’re looking to cope with a stressful and emotional situation. We become dependent on these substances to make us feel better, but there’s a catch: we don’t actually cope with the stress and negativity.

It still lingers there, festering until the next event that triggers a negative habit loop. Each negative loop is stronger than the previous one, which requires us to use more substances that can provide us with an immediate result which hides the painful encounter.

Mindfulness meditation changes the habit loop. It not only helps us to cope with those difficult situations, but it also provides the brain and the body with numerous positive benefits that encourage a change in habits. This, in turn, can help to defeat an addiction because it stops a negative cycle from its continuous looping.

Why Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

The idea is simple: there is perfection to be found in any given moment of the day. In order to find that perfection, we must explore in every detail that moments we encounter. This means we use our senses like never before to experience each moment instead of simply living in each moment.

Let’s use a smoking addiction as an example. Many people smoke to relieve stress or provide themselves with a stimulant. Normally we would look at how smoking makes us feel, but mindfulness forces the mind to look outward. What does cigarette smoke actually smell like? Taste like? How does it change the environment?

By answering these questions, we can identify our negative habit loops. Once they’ve been identified, they can be changed.

For this to work, there must be a desire to want to change serving as the cornerstone of mindfulness. If someone does not really want to quit an addiction, then nothing will really help and a relapse is the likely result. For those who do wish to defeat an addiction once and for all, however, mindfulness meditation could be the key needed to unlock their full potential.

How You Can Begin To Practice Mindfulness Right Now

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We all have tough days. There’s a really bad one thrown in here and there for good measure too. When we’re practicing mindfulness, however, those difficulties melt into the background and become white noise. Here’s how you can get started right now.

#1. Feel your breath. Breathing in and breathing out is life itself working. Pay attention to the rhythm. Feel the sensations of each breath and what it does to your body.

#2. Connect your senses. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the things we touch all create our existence. We take them for granted so often. Linger in the moment and enjoy what your senses are telling you. Then connect the different senses together to create a perfect moment.

#3. Pause in the silence. You don’t have to move onto the next task in your day right away. If you get started 2 minutes from now, the work will still get done. Pause in that 120 second silence and just experience those moments.

#4. Begin to actively listen. Instead of trying to state your opinion immediately, work on listening to what someone is actually saying. Repeat what you’ve heard them say back to them so you know you’re on the same page. Don’t listen to be negative or judgmental. Listen to learn.

#5. Do something incredible. We all have hobbies that we love, but they tend to get set aside so that more work can be accomplished. Schedule time in for your hobbies so you can be creative outside of your responsibilities. Get lost in the goal of doing or creating something incredible.

#6. You are what you eat. At least 3x per week, turn off the distractions that are around you at the dinner table. Shut off the computers, tablets, and phones. Leave the TV off. Maybe open a window if you can. Without the distractions, you get to experience the food in a different way. If you have a family, you’ll have a chance to connect with their day as well.

#7. Take a walk. Instead of pounding the pavement, try taking a walk that is light on the feet. Be aware of the strength of each footstep. You’re not trying to leave a trail on your sidewalk for others to follow. You’re trying to connect to the Earth without damaging it in some way.

#8. Meditate. 10-20 minutes of meditation every day can greatly enhance the experiences that mindfulness can provide. Adding this process can make all the difference in the world.

#9. Change things up. We are creatures of routine and that’s a good thing because it keeps us on schedule. It’s also a bad thing because we’re so used to our environment that we start ignoring what happens around us. By mixing up the routine from time to time, we can experience more of the world without sacrificing our schedule.

#10. Identify your thoughts. Instead of shutting out the thoughts you don’t like, observe them. Label them. Study them. See where they originate. Every action you take is a small step toward mindfulness.

You really can experience the world in a very different way thanks to mindfulness. Consider these options today so that you can begin immediately.

4 Simple Ways to Develop Concentration

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Many people notice they experience a lot of thoughts during their meditation practice. This is very common. Below are a list of tips to help you develop concentration so you can benefit more out of your meditation practice.

1. Focus on the candle flame prior to the meditation practice

Traditionally, beginners to meditation are taught to focus on the candle flame as an exercise to develop concentration. Light a candle and place it on your meditation table. With your eyes open, gently gaze at the candle flame for a few minutes prior to your meditation practice. When thoughts arise during this exercise, instead of following your thoughts, bring your mind back to the candle flame.

2. Use your physical activities as concentrated exercises

Throughout the day, use the physical activities you are engaging in as concentrated exercises. For example, instead of multitasking while eating your lunch during a work day, take your eyes off the mobile device or computer and just eat. Take a few moments to appreciate your meal. How does your meal smell like? Does the color combination of your meal look pleasing to your eyes? Have a moment of gratitude to the person who has made your meal. Take the first bite of your meal with total concentration and appreciation. How does the meal taste like?

Another example, when washing dishes, treat it as a concentration exercise. Focus on applying the dishwashing liquid on the dishes thoroughly. Use the sponge to fully wash dishes inside and out. Rinse the dishes with water. Feel the water running through your fingers. When your mind drift to something else, bring your mind back to the activity of dishwashing.

3. Do one thing at the time

Take a few minutes to observe how you work. Do you write a document, answer emails, answer instant messages, and facilitate a conference call at the same time? The myth is: the more you multitask, the more you accomplish. The fact is multitasking slows down and prolongs the duration to complete a task. Multitasking is designed for computers and is not for human beings. Focus on doing one task at the time. You will accomplish the task sooner and with higher quality.

4. Developing concentration is a process

Developing concentration is a process. It takes time and patience to master concentration. Develop the power of concentration gradually. As you develop your concentration, you can apply the concentration to the meditation techniques during your meditation practice. Focus on the techniques as hard as you can during your meditation practice. The better you’re able to concentrate, the better you’ll be able to focus on the meditation techniques during your meditation practice.

Not only developing concentration will help you meditate better and be more productive, it will also help you live in the moment. Bill Keane says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Don’t miss out the possibility of living in the present moment fully.

Exploring Mindfulness At Work

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Relaxation at work might seem impossible, but it can be done when mindfulness is involved. When the day just doesn’t seem to be going your way, don’t let the stress wear you down. Find a place where you can experience some peace right there in that bad moment. Here are some simple ways that can help you achieve that calm moment that can make all the difference in the world.

#1. Forgive yourself.

You are your own worst critic. It’s true for all of us. We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else around. This makes it very difficult to find any sense of peace because all of your free time is being used to beat yourself up with mental mind punches. The most important thing you can do at work is learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’re going to make. Look instead at the positive things you’ve done so far that day. It’s an easy way to take away the negative energy.

#2. Explore the moment.

There is perfection in every moment. Sometimes this perfection is difficult, if not impossible, to see, but it is there. As you’re drawing up your to-do list for the day, considered creating a to-be list at the same time. Set goals for yourself on how you’ll react to negative or emotional moments. Don’t just keep this to-be list in your mind either as writing it down or typing it up can reinforce the goals internally that you’re planning on setting.

#3. Learn to listen.

Most of the communication that humans give one another isn’t verbal in nature. Our body language and tone of voice are just as important as the actual words that are being said. Sometimes the stress that gets experienced at work happens because someone has misread your non-verbal communication. At other times, we haven’t realized what our body language is actually communicating. Close your eyes, listen to what your body is telling you, and take a deep breath. Repeat 3x. You may be surprised at what your body is trying to say.

#4. Make your own luck.

We all have superstitions that we follow to bring about good luck. Some people have favorite pants, socks, or a shirt that they believe will bring them luck. Others won’t wash their favorite shirt for luck. At work, it’s probably better to do the former rather than the latter. Putting on your favorite things works because you make yourself believe that something good is going to happen. This is the first step in a journey of mindfulness where you begin to seek out the perfection in each moment of the day.

#5. Disconnect.

This is absolutely required every day in some way. We are all hyper-connected to each other thanks to the internet today and there comes a time when you need to shut down that noise. Social media, business networking, emails, news alerts, and instant messaging give us virtually no free time whatsoever – even if we’re at home. Try to disconnect for 20 minutes to decompress and make this protected time so you get left alone.

There are ways that mindfulness can be explored at work. Consider these options today and you may just find that a sense of calmness and peace won’t be far behind.

Stressed At Work? Here’s 7 Ways Meditation Can Help

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It’s easy enough to get stressed out at work. Tight deadlines, micromanaging bosses, or the pressures of middle management are just some of the ways that stress can come about. Many people feel like they’re over-worked and under-paid. Meditation can’t help with your paycheck this week, but it could help you handle the stress that might be headed your way. Here’s why it can help.

#1. It improves clarity. If you have a difficult decision to make, a clear mind is necessary to lead yourself in the right direction. Meditation eliminates the distractions of body language and co-worker influence so the clear choice can be made.

#2. It balances emotions. There are two basic ways to make a decision: the rational way or the emotional way. It doesn’t take much for our emotions to become unbalanced. An insensitive comment or email can do a surprising amount of damage! Regular meditation at work helps to keep the mind balanced so it can be more rational and less emotional.

#3. It keeps you present in the moment. Ever have one of those moments when you’re at work at you “space out?” That lack of focus can be problematic if work needs to get completed or decisions made. Meditating helps to keep you in the moment more often throughout the day, letting you make the most out of every moment.

#4. It improves memory. Do you feel like you’ve got to write everything down at work or you’ll forget it? Meditation won’t fix this issue, but it will improve it. In return, you’ll be able to access information from your mind to make better instant decisions when consultation with your notes just isn’t possible.

#5. It creates a desire to actively listen. Meditation requires people to listen to the rhythms and patterns of their body. One must actively listen to their inner being to understand their outer being. This point of emphasis translates into the professional environment by encouraging the development of an active listening skill. Instead of being anxious to comment, those who meditate often at work find themselves listening and providing feedback more than trying to offer an opinion.

#6. It provides a certain sense of purpose. Why do you go to work every day? Why do you deal with all of that stress? Meditation can help to show you the meaningful answers to this question. It’s not just about the money. There is something you get from doing what you do. If it’s been lost, meditation will help you find that passion once again.

#7. It creates the foundations of leadership. Meditation ultimately helps people be able to take control over their own destinies. Instead of always being reactionary to the problems at hand, a more proactive approach can be developed. This is what makes people better leaders. They anticipate issues, have strategies developed to deal with those issues, and encourage others to build themselves up along the way.

The benefits of meditation can be quite profound, especially when they are regularly practiced at work. Find a quiet place for a few minutes, even if that just means kicking your shoes off at your desk. In return, you’ll begin shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach for that work-related stress.

How Mindfulness Can Enhance Your Happiness

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Mindfulness is an ancient practice that may have its roots in religious studies, but today is used every day in order to find greater focus and inner peace. From the board room to the classroom, millions have embraced mindfulness to enhance their happiness and so can you. Here’s why it is so effective.

#1. Mindfulness stops negative thought cycles.

Have you ever noticed that the first things you remember from almost every life experience tend to be the negative components? It might have been the perfect wedding, but a microphone cord was unplugged. It might have been an A+, but it was 99/100 and that one problem stopped a perfect score. Mindfulness helps to re-train the mind to focus first on the positive instead of the negative.

We already practice mindfulness without realizing it. If you power through those negative emotions, what happens? You remember the joy of a first kiss after the wedding ceremony. You remember the fun you had studying for a test with friends and all the laughter you had. We judge ourselves far too harshly. Mindfulness stops the negative thought cycles by stopping the judging.

#2. You connect on a deeper level.

It’s true that some people are comfortable living by themselves and they avoid social interactions. Yet every person benefits from social interaction. Loneliness is actually a risk factor for numerous diseases because of the stresses that get placed on the human body. With mindfulness, we can connect with others on a deeper level so that the social awkwardness or discomfort has the chance to go away.

#3. Your contentment matters more than you think.

How long did you spend on your morning jog today? How much have you spent for those ultra-high powered workout videos? We often believe that changing one thing we don’t like about life will make us happier, but it’s not always true. Happiness only comes when we’re able to tap into our inner contentment. We must learn to let go of the things we cannot control and place a sense of personal well-being as a higher priority than surface issues.

This can be difficult to do in an age where consumerism equates to happiness. Buying more stuff won’t create prolonged happiness. Being content is the only way.

#4. It’s the attitude of gratitude.

An amazing thing begins to occur as the first three components of mindfulness begin to take shape and form within your inner being. A sense of peace begins to settle on your heart. A weight gets lifted off of your shoulders. A feeling of gratitude begins to take over.

It’s a genuine gratitude that is reflective of the fact that today is a new day. There are new experiences to enjoy. New joys to find. New moments of perfection to explore.

Mindfulness helps us all to slow down and enjoy the moment. Just trying it for a few days could change your world. Happiness can be found right now and it starts with a choice to embrace mindfulness.

You Can Still Practice Mindfulness Even If You Are Busy

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used very frequently these days. It is a skill that allows a person to be more aware of their present circumstances. Instead of allowing a day to sail on by, a person practicing mindfulness will look at the perfection of each moment as it comes, no matter what their circumstances might be.

Why practice mindfulness even when busyness is the rule of the day? What mindfulness does is create a more rational mind. By being able to set emotions aside, a person practicing mindfulness is able to be more rational with every choice that needs to be made. Instead of having choices that are dominated by joy or fear or our flight-or-fight reflexes, a decision can be made using logic and reason.

How Can You Begin To Practice Mindfulness?

Here is one simple fact that we often choose to ignore: being busy is a choice. In many ways, the level of busyness that we have during the day is a badge of honor that we wear proudly. Because we are so busy, we take joy in the fact that we are unable to do the things that we actually love. It is a lot like an addiction. Just like you can be a workaholic, you can be a busy-a-holic. Mindfulness seeks to change that.

All you need to do to get started is to set aside 60 seconds. Take that one-minute and meditate during it. It can be as simple as sitting at your desk, closing your eyes, and taking three or four deep breaths. In those few seconds, your mind will begin to practice mindfulness. A natural side effect of these micro meditation periods is that you will feel less stress, feel less overwhelmed, and feel like you have more time to accomplish the things that need to get done during the day.

Sometimes Mindfulness Requires Action To Succeed

It is common for a mind to allow thoughts to wander. Sometimes we call this daydreaming. When you’re in the middle of an important business meeting, having your thoughts stray can be a bad thing. You might suddenly miss what was just said. You might “space out” for several minutes. This is wasted time that could be used for mindfulness.

Finding the perfection in any given moment means actively seeking out what is perfect. Sometimes perfection can be found in the words that we are hearing from someone else. Sometimes you can go beyond the words that are being said and find perfection in the ideas that are behind the words. Instead of spacing out for daydreaming, try focusing your concentration in the next business meeting you have on every individual word. By not allowing your mind to wander, you are being more mindful. You are training your brain to be in the present moment, right here and right now.

If you have 60 seconds, then you have time to start reprogramming your mind to accept mindfulness. Don’t accept the excuse of being busy anymore. When mindfulness is in your corner, you have an amazing opportunity every day to achieve great things. All you must do is decide to take advantage of those opportunities.

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