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…”

Are You Ready to Sit Across the Table From Family Who Made Different Vaccine Decisions Than You? Here’s the Ultimate Mindful Guide to Complicated Holiday Dynamics

Adobe Stock/ Good Studio

During this holiday season, it’s expected throughout our culture to be merry, lighthearted, and tirelessly social—but the reality is that few of us can live up to these expectations all of the time. There are countless reasons we may be managing difficult emotions at this time of year—especially in the social situations that make up so many of our holiday traditions, no matter which holidays you celebrate. Tempers may flare. Tears may happen. It’s all understandable, if not comfortable. 

The good news is that mindfulness both lets us accept ourselves and our emotions as they ebb and flow, peak and plummet; our mindfulness practice can also help us to work with those emotions, giving us the inner space we need to care for ourselves and those around us.

First: Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself

One of the ways we tend to respond to the stress of this time of year is that instead of taking a break from our normal, busy lives, we fill our time with even more activity, more obligations, and more opportunities to encounter the edges of our capacity. We speed up as though, if we stay busy enough, we can outrun all the crazy. Part of self-care during the holidays is knowing when to slow down, and when to say no. This way, maybe you can actually enjoy this holiday season. 

Here are five self-care tips to help you slow down amid the bustle of familial and social events: 

Pace yourself. Remember to simply pause a few times a day, tune in to your body and breathe in the moment. You may be thinking: breathe? That’s your advice. But research shows that many of us aren’t breathing fully. So, take a moment, breathe in fully so that your belly extends on the in-breath. Pausing also applies to your social engagements: See if you can pass up a few invitations this year. If you’re hosting, consider a holiday potluck as an opportunity for folks to share a meaningful recipe, allowing you to enjoy their company instead of stressing out over food preparation. Emphasize kindness. Once you’ve mastered the art of the mindful breath, to give yourself a moment of pause, use that moment to remember to apply a light touch when it comes to relationships and subjects that are challenging for you. Hold the intention of wishing everyone well, (especially challenging people) even saying silently, I wish for this person to be happy. Instead of jumping on comments you disagree with or diving headfirst into an argument, do your best to look for opportunities to offer a genuine compliment or kind word, or get up from your seat and lend a hand with a task. Savor, don’t graze. Too much sugar, alcohol, junk food, you name it, combined with missed workouts, late nights, and packed weekends can lead to feeling less than optimal in body and mind. Psychologist and mindfulness teacher Christopher Willard suggests tuning in to your body’s signals of hunger and thirst. When you’re hungry, make yourself a proper plate of food (instead of grazing from a buffet table all night) and slow down when you eat, which allows you to better experience the flavors and textures of your food—and make you less likely to overdo it with mindless indulgence. Remember that sometimes our bodies mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for another cookie, ask yourself: am I thirsty?Listen to your emotional needs. We always talk about celebrating and being with loved ones, but holidays can also be a tremendously anxious or painful time, for many reasons. You may want to have this holiday feel “normal” again, but maybe you can try to embrace the ways it’s changed. Even the difficult ways. And then see how you can recognize the activities or situations that intensify difficult emotions for you, and take steps to minimize them. This might mean skipping certain events or limiting your interactions with some people.Notice what brings joy. What are you grateful for, really? When you close your eyes and exhale long and deep, what comes to mind as something you’re grateful for? Whether you follow a faith tradition or just enjoy the festivities, take a few minutes each day to focus on what brings you gratitude. The more attention you give to what you appreciate, especially the small things, the more reasons for joy and gratitude you’ll notice everywhere—even long after the holidays have passed.

Keep These 3 Mindful Phrases in Your Pocket for Challenging Interactions

No matter how well prepared you are, family events and other social gatherings can put your skills to the test. As Google’s mindfulness mentor, Chade Meng-Tan, would say: If you think you’re mindful, go to a family reunion. When stress and tension flare up, Meng shares three attitudes you can cultivate to find some inner calm this holiday:

Continue reading
  65 Hits
  0 Comments
65 Hits
0 Comments

The Best Mindfulness Books of 2021

With all its unprecedented ups and downs, 2021 has still been a wonderful year for books about mindfulness. They range from the cutting-edge science of meditation to deep contemplative insights, with more than a little humor, kindness, self-care, and practical guidance thrown in to enrich your mind—and your daily life. Here are the Mindful editors’ favorite new titles. 

1) Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind

 Judson Brewer, MD, PhD – Penguin Random House

“I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that one of the reasons so many people fail to see that they have anxiety is the way it hides in bad habits,” writes psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Judson Brewer. You might expect that a book about the anxiety that permeates our lives right down to our habits—and why much of the conventional advice for dealing with it doesn’t work—is unlikely to be a rollicking good time. 

Unwinding Anxiety defies that expectation. It’s richly pragmatic, down-to-earth, and (truly) fun to read, while making leading-edge neuroscience on habits and anxiety easy to grasp. Drawing from his own clinical practice, research, and personal experience, Brewer guides readers from identifying our anxiety triggers to understanding why we get trapped in fretful thought-loops. The result is an accessible guide to uncovering what you may unconsciously be doing that perpetuates your anxiety, and breaking the cycle through awareness and curiosity. – Amber Tucker

2) Yoke – My Yoga of Self-Acceptance 

Jessamyn Stanley – Workman Publishing

Continue reading
  59 Hits
  0 Comments
59 Hits
0 Comments

Terms and Conditions

1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. THE SWEEPSTAKES IS SPONSORED BY MINDFUL COMMUNICATIONS & SUCH, PBC, 515 NORTH STATE STREET, SUITE 300, CHICAGO, IL 60654

2. Entry Period: “Outsmart Your Pain” (the “Sweepstakes”) commences at 12:01:01 AM (EST) on January 1st, 2022 and ends at 11:59:59 PM (EST) on March 31st, 2022 (the “Sweepstakes Period”).

3. Eligibility: To take part in the Sweepstakes, participants must be legal residents of the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec, where the promotion is void), and at least 18 years of age at the time of entry. Employees (and their immediate families, i.e., parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, stepparents, stepchildren and step-siblings) of Mindful Magazine and its giveaway affiliated partner companies, sponsors, subsidiaries, advertising agencies and third-party fulfillment agencies are not eligible to enter Sweepstakes. By participating in this Sweepstakes, entrants: (a) agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the interpretations of these Official Rules by the Sponsor, and by the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final in all matters relating to the Sweepstakes; (b) to release and hold harmless the Sponsor and its respective agents, employees, officers, directors, successors and assigns, against any and all claims, injury or damage arising out of or relating to participation in this Sweepstakes and/or use or misuse or redemption of a prize (as hereinafter defined); and (c) acknowledge compliance with these Official Rules.

4. To Enter: Visit the “Outsmart Your Pain” Book Giveaway page and enter your basic information during the eligible period. Contestants may only enter the Sweepstakes once. If multiple entries connected to a single person or email address are received, only one entry will be eligible. All entries submitted in accordance with these Official Rules shall be hereinafter referred to as “Eligible Entries.” By entering this giveaway, contestants agree to receive Mindful emails including newsletters, marketing and sales offers. Contestants may unsubscribe at any time; ongoing subscription to emails is not a requirement to be eligible to win. 

5. Prize Winner Selection: 3 winners will be randomly selected from among all eligible entries received at the end of each stated period, or within a reasonable time thereafter. Winners will be responsible for all taxes and/or fees. No transfer, substitution or cash equivalent of prizes permitted. Winners will be notified by email. Sponsor is not responsible for any delay or failure to receive notification for any reason, including inactive account(s), technical difficulties associated therewith, or winners’ failure to adequately monitor any email account. The winners must then respond to Sponsor within 24 hours. Should a winner fail to respond to Sponsor, Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify that winner and select a new one in a second-chance random drawing.

Continue reading
  0 Hits
  0 Comments
0 Hits
0 Comments

Finding Community (Where You Least Expect It)

A global pandemic is a very inconvenient time to fall into the arms of cancer, chemotherapy, and hospital hijinx. And yet there we were, my husband and I, suddenly facing zillions of jagged little decisions and challenges. Meanwhile, everyone we knew also seemed to be struggling—with health, money, or relationships. Yet somehow, even during this time of seemingly ferocious division on planet earth, our wide-ranging network revealed itself to be a community that rose up to support us. Who knew community even still existed?

Community is an abundant ever-changing flow of spontaneous friendliness that might only be there for a precious moment.

When you live in a big city it is easy to imagine that no one cares. It can feel difficult to connect with others or hold relationships together. We might feel isolated, and that we are not part of a community. But consider this: Community is an abundant ever-changing flow of spontaneous friendliness that might only be there for a precious moment. It can be composed of long-nourished friendships or family; or, it could be a kind nurse you might never see again.

When we open to seeing ourselves as part of a living, breathing organism known as community, we recognize the communal interweave of the person we buy a donut from, the children who run by us on the street, someone crying on a bench, or singing in the park. As much as we might try to avoid this circus of humanity, we can’t escape each other. Letting go of our expectation of how community is supposed to be there for us allows us to rest more easily in the ocean of love and support that might come from unexpected directions: the pharmacist, colleagues, people who haven’t been in touch for years, a fellow traveler on the street.

The Power of One Small Gesture

Community is a mindset, rather than a concrete structure. It’s ever-changing and can manifest in so many different ways. In our case, some days there’d be a jar of soup, a casserole, or flowers left on our doorstep. Other days there might be heart emojis and rides to the hospital. There seemed to be no end to people’s generosity and what I noticed was that so little was needed. The smallest gesture of reaching out was a powerful and remarkable way to communicate connection and inclusion. We felt loved and held in so many ways!

Continue reading
  41 Hits
  0 Comments
41 Hits
0 Comments

Worried About the Great Resignation? How Leaders Can Walk Their Well-Being Talk

Some business challenges present themselves loud and clear: The disrupted supply chain results in a crucial part being delivered two days late. You’re dealing with an unstable internet connection just as you need to lead an important team meeting over Zoom. Your largest business unit objects to the reorganization you just announced.

Problems like these can pop up in every business, and every business commonly has the same basic response: Gather the necessary resources and fix it. Now—or, better yet, yesterday.

But what if it’s not your supply chain that’s breaking down? What if it’s your workforce? According to an October 2021 survey by Joblist, covering workers from a wide variety of industries, it very well could be your workforce. Workers report seeking a better work–life balance, better pay and benefits, and changing their priorities in the wake of the pandemic, leading to nearly three-quarters (73%) of workers saying that they are thinking about quitting their jobs.

The Great Resignation may be an unprecedented phenomenon, but widespread dissatisfaction at work isn’t a new problem. In a 2018 marketplace survey on burnout conducted by Deloitte, nearly eight in 10 respondents told us they have experienced burnout at their current job. Yet nearly 70% of the survey sample said their employer does not do enough to minimize burnout. And more than 20% claim their company doesn’t do anything.

If you took that approach to a supply chain problem, your company would likely go out of business—fast.

Continue reading
  56 Hits
  0 Comments
56 Hits
0 Comments