Archive for MindBody

Be with yourself in stillness

You don’t have to meditate, but it helps.

The journey to stillness is different for all of us. I’m willing to bet that you can recall at least one time when your mind was quiet, even for a few moments, and you felt some peace and ease.

It’s true, stillness does happen spontaneously sometimes. What a relief to be unburdened from all the mind’s chatter, even if only momentarily. Maybe the stillness comes while you are being creative or making something. Maybe it’s while you are out in nature, entranced by the wonder of it all. It can happen while swimming, or dancing, or running, or listening to particular music. It can happen when connecting with someone dear to us.

These tastes of stillness let us know that a state of profound quietude is possible. It just takes some training of both mind and body to figure out how to get there on purpose. And once you are there, all there is to do is give yourself your undivided attention, with curiosity and interest, in a kind and affectionate way.

Both mindfulness and self-compassion training, as well as other forms of contemplative practice, provide a roadmap to stillness as outlined by what has worked for others in the past. It all starts with a willingness and the intention to be fully with yourself to see what’s there and what unfolds without escaping and without judging.

It’s all about learning to stay.

Because you, just like every other living being, are worthy of love and attention, especially your own.

Why Willpower Won’t Get You What You Want

Willpower Doesn’t Work

It’s hard to always do the right thing. Even when we know the thing is a bad idea, sometimes the pull to do it anyway, to be bad, is just too strong. Sometimes, it seems, willpower doesn’t work.

Think of a time when you planned on doing something you knew would be good for you, like get to bed on time. Yet there you are watching just one more episode of Queer Eye, well past midnight.

It’s easy to be hard on ourselves in those moments. It’s as if the proverbial angel and devil have appeared on our shoulders — and the devil has won.

Maybe we fall into the thought trap, “I must not be trying hard enough,” or “I must not want it badly enough.” We even worry that others see our struggles as a sign of weak character and bad judgment.

So, what’s going on here? Why do we so often do things against our own best interest? And why do we see it as a moral failure?

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Three Reasons Women Who are Done with Dieting Struggle with Mindful Eating

It’s easy to get frustrated with all the conflicting weight loss advice. And even more confusing to sort through the information on how to stop dieting. Methods like intuitive and mindful eating sound great initially, but for some, it’s just as hard to continue those habits as it is to stay on a diet. Even research tells us that one of the biggest reasons diets don’t always work is that they are all but impossible to stick with (file that under obvious, right?).

Most diets are not meant to be permanent lifestyle changes. You do it for ten days, maybe 30, and eventually go back to normal eating. For most people, if the food restrictions go on for too long, any weight lost comes with a heavy price. With each new food restriction comes a barrier to freedom and missed opportunities to connect with others. Once these secondary consequences start to affect your well-being, the diet is now a big problem. Click here for a post on how to start the process.

By the same token, if new habits from mindful eating do not weave themselves into your lifestyle, you may come up empty on that count, too. When it feels like a chore or another thing you have to do, it’s really hard to stick with it. But just like with food, it’s the general approach to mindful eating that makes all the difference.

Why the struggle?

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Whole Body Love

Many of us, men and women, are resistant to the idea of loving our bodies. It seems so foreign. Sometimes even wrong. Learning to love your body can be a tangled endeavor, fraught with destructive emotions and uncertainty. Part of the difficulty is due to our natural bias toward the negative; therefore, we tend to get hung up on the parts of our bodies we don’t like, rather than celebrate those we do. We really get stuck when we compare ourselves to others and assign a value judgment to our appearance, which creates a better than/ less than dichotomy.

When we focus on things we don’t like, we often feel compelled to fix or change those things in order to feel better about ourselves. Unsurprisingly, the diet and self-improvement industries are founded on this kind of self-deprecation. But what if we let those uncomfortable parts just be for awhile and learn to take a more realistic view of the body?

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Seven Ways Yoga Helps Us Trust the Body and Eat with Ease

A rash of new research has yet to explain why and how yoga and other mind-body therapies appear to be effective in treating and preventing eating and body image concerns. Much of the evidence remains anecdotal and the actual benefits are unclear. The research indeed suggests that yoga practice is helpful, but the studies have conflicting results and the effects are not as great as expected.

What’s increasingly clear is that yoga enhances embodiment and mindfulness, two qualities that we do know are helpful in preventing and treating these issues. To state it broadly, both embodiment and mindfulness require present-focused awareness and deliberate attention to sensations, thoughts, and feelings in order to establish a mind-body connection. When we are not fully inhabiting our bodies, it can be tricky to identify and manage emotions, impulses, and thoughts leaving us at their mercy. Continue Reading →

The Yoga of Balance

When I first started practicing yoga, I noticed two things. First, I loved balancing poses. And the second? They require a particular kind of grounding.

To start with, any time we have a lot of internal stuff going on, like distracting thoughts (whether they be warm and fuzzy thoughts, like a new crush, or the debilitating thoughts that come with loss), self-criticism, or comparing mind, balancing can seem a lot harder. Just as centering is needed to focus on a task or calm a racing mind, grounding techniques are requisite for balancing. After all, you must get grounded before you can fly. Continue Reading →