Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Mindful Live Q&A with Michelle Maldonado and Heather Hurlock

Questions About Mindful Live

Will this Mindful Live session be available to watch again? 

Yes, you can watch the Mindful Live session with Michelle Maldonado and Heather Hurlock here.

How can I stay up-to-date on upcoming Mindful Live events? 

Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop about Mindful Live events. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for reminders and updates.

How can I learn more about resilience?

Find resources, guided meditations, and more at mindful.org. Or, be the first to know about Michelle Maldonado’s resilience course by signing up for our newsletter.

Further Reading From Michelle Maldonado

Turning Awareness into Action

If we take a moment to consider how complex, volatile, and uncertain current societal conditions are, as well as the spectrum of emotions we are feeling individually and collectively, it is easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and confusion about how to engage with the world from a place of strength, groundedness, and calm. 

Follow this foundational awareness practice with Michelle Maldonado designed to help bring about three key insights: clarity of intention; understanding of our power, presence, and impact; and opportunities for wise action-taking.

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3 Ways Unlearning Bias Would Benefit Everyone

Unconscious bias carries heavy social, emotional, and even economic costs. But the stereotypes and ideas that fuel these consequences are just that—ideas, not facts. 

In this seven-minute video, Anu Gupta, founder and CEO of BE MORE with Anu, explores what we can collectively gain by facing our unconscious biases.

1. We can be truly present with one another.

“There is nothing inherent about bias.” Gupta says. No one is born thinking that certain skin colors, social classes, or genders equate to attractiveness, worthiness, or success. It is, instead, the media we consume, the people and culture surrounding us, and the stereotypes we accept as true that wrongfully shape the ideas we have about other people. 

“People aren’t seeing one another. We aren’t seeing one another. We’re seeing ideas of one another.” Gupta says. In order for us to move toward a world where we are truly present with the people around us, as they really are—not mixed up in the ideas we craft—we must each acknowledge our unconscious biases.

2. We can close the wage gaps, and address other inequities.

The most important reason to close wage gaps is that it’s the ethically right thing to do, and would combat poverty on a huge scale. According to a 2013 study by the Kellogg Foundation, “if people of color were compensated the same as non-people of color, they would collectively earn a trillion dollars more.” It’s also the most economical course of action: A more recent study by the Kellogg Foundation found that by 2050, the United States could gain $8 trillion in GDP by closing the racial equity gap. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness for Sleep

Sleep is a critical component of overall well being. It doesn’t just heal your body; it heals your mind. A good night’s rest can change how you interact with the world by elevating your mood and improving your concentration. But in our fast-paced world, increased feelings of stress and anxiety can prevent people from tapping into the healing power of sleep. An estimated 30% of Americans are regularly sleep deprived.

With regular sleep deprivation, your attention span, mood, and memory suffer, according to Matthew Walker, PhD, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Over time, he suggests, sleeplessness could also lead to unwanted weight gain and mood problems. In up to 15% of adults, insomnia causes daytime distress or impairment, with the risk for insomnia being greater in women and older adults.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. This guide will help you practice mindfulness for sleep by introducing meditation and movement techniques based on cultivating awareness and awareness. The ability to “be with what is” holds powerful benefits for taming anxious thoughts, calming your mind, and promoting a good night’s sleep.

Why Practice Mindfulness for Sleep?

“Mindfulness can quiet the brain and allow for deeper sleep,” says Shelby Harris, PhD, a clinical sleep psychologist in private practice in White Plains, NY. One of the biggest problems her clients share is dreading the night as it comes and growing anxious about trying to make themselves get sleepy. They worry, she says, that they “won’t be able to do X, Y, Z the next day” if they don’t sleep. “That thought process makes you stressed, worrying—often unnecessarily—about the next day’s effects. That cycle worsens sleep,” says Harris.

Mindfulness can set the stage for sleep by allowing you to be more aware of your thoughts and to be able to let go of those anxieties instead of getting stuck on them, says Harris. “Strengthening your ‘mind muscle’ through daily practice helps you better recognize the negative insomnia-inducing thoughts and let them pass.”
Mindfulness meditation prepares your mind for drifting off to sleep, and it can also improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that mindfulness may be at least as effective as other highly recommended insomnia treatments.

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Cultivating Courage and Confidence in Motherhood

My memories of motherhood are filled with moments of self-doubt. No mother alive doesn’t go through some self-doubt. Given all of the ideas of what is best for children, it is easy to doubt your decisions. From the mundane to the seemingly “big decisions”, it is easy to spiral into negative emotion doubting ourselves. 

A client of mine spent some time talking with me about the fact that she and her son and husband didn’t have a ritual for dinner together. It made sense for her family and their schedule that her son ate before her husband got home, yet nearly every day she would have thoughts of doubt about whether that was really okay. Turns out it was just fine, as now he is a wonderful young adult and they are very close. It seems silly looking back that we can get so hung up on things like this but it’s easy to do. How do we know it’s going to be okay?

Magazines, newspapers, and websites often produce stories out of research findings that show how some action or behavior is linked to some outcome, even when there is no definitive evidence that it was the cause for the outcome. The best test of how something works for your family is how it works for your family, over time!

How nice it would be to have a crystal ball to be able to know for sure that any given choice would be the “right choice”, and that everything would turn out okay. The mind can blow things way out of proportion and make the risk to their development and well-being seem enormous. In our grasping for certainty and our fear of our doubt, we may create a lot of optional suffering. It is helpful to kindly remind yourself that kids are resilient and that you can be too. You can always make new choices after seeing the outcome.

When Fear Is Present

Like self-doubt, fear is another major topic in parenting. From the barrage of news reports about terrible things happening to children, mass shootings, catastrophic weather events, wars, etc., there is plenty to fearfully focus on. Add to that “time travel” in the mind, thoughts of what might or could happen, and that’s a whole lot of optional suffering in motherhood. Using mindfulness, especially a regular practice of mindfulness of thoughts and feelings, can help you step out of autopilot to see if you are actually suffering unnecessarily.

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3 Mindful Practices for Resilient Kids

On the first day of school every year, I would stand as stiff as a board in my brand-new outfit with my back pressed against our front door, waiting for my mom to take a mandatory first-day-of-school picture of me. I vividly remember wanting to get it over with so that I could run to the bus stop to shake off the jitters that came with the excitement and nervousness a new school year brought—a whole new year of drama, growth, conundrums, confusion, and fun.
 
No matter where you are, the first day of school was probably quite different this year. While my Facebook feed indicates that first-day-of-school photos were not affected by the pandemic, I imagine there’s a lot that feels like it’s lost. It might be the luxury of physically sitting in a classroom with peers and friends or simply not being able to get close enough to someone to whisper in their ear in a game of broken telephone. Regardless, kids must be feeling all kinds of feelings. While this year is going to be a challenge for parents and teachers out there, kids may be the ones who need the most support in building their capacity to be resilient, adaptable, and grounded
 
Here are a few mindfulness practices for kids that may be useful to you and your little ones.

1. Make Mindfulness Fun

“When we teach kids mindfulness, it helps to turn the lesson into a fun activity—through play, movement, visualization, and games,” writes Christopher Willard. One way to teach kids to follow the breath in difficult moments is with this breath ball practic. All you need is an expandable ball called a Hoberman sphere or your own ten fingers to create a DIY sphere with your hands. 

2. Notice Positive Moments

Mark Bertin says kids may feel stressed by a test, or a friend, or their parents and it can be hard to let go of that kind of thought. Like anything else, focusing on the good stuff can take a lot of practice. Here’s an eight-minute guided meditation for encouraging kids and teens to notice the positive.

3. Breathe

Wendy O’Leary also recommends breathing practices to calm your child’s nervous system. To try four square breathing, “breathe in for a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Do several rounds and return to normal breathing,” writes O’Leary.

Original author: Kylee Ross
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