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Mindfulness in Stressful Times

In these days of the spreading viral pandemic, feelings of stress, anxiousness, fear & even panic are common. Alas, what can we do to calm our minds and still the nervous body?

Mindfulness – being present in each moment, allowing self-reflection and insight, is something that, with practice, carries the capacity to transform turbulent times & situations into new possibilities for learning and compassion.

There are many ways to practice, but what I want to explore with you today are some of the tools of Energy Psychology specific for enhancing mindfulness.Here are some sample steps for transforming distress into inner peace:

  • When you note internal distress, visualize placing a white light around the whole situation, and step back a bit.
  • Then treat yourself with gentle rubbing of the mid-chest, the heart area, and affirm: Even though this pandemic is happening, even though I feel anxious, I deeply and profoundly accept myself and trust that there is positive learning and joy in this.” Repeat with your own words on the underlined areas as often as needed so you don’t get stuck in negative perceptions.
  • Next, allow yourself to move to gratitude. Notice every little thing that does indeed work well, including your fine and powerful mind. Write down 10 things for which you are thankful; then add 10 more.
  • Take time for reflection while doing daily tasks. Be mindful, aware, of getting dressed, doing the dishes, making lists, housecleaning, preparing food, eating, walking the dog.
  • Gently pat or tap all of your body starting at the head, neck, shoulders and arms, across your body, reaching to the back and down each leg to your feet, bringing increased vibrancy to all your cells.
  • Imagine each cell of your body listening carefully to your thoughts and send deep thanks to all of your being and to your environment.
  • Each evening before going to bed, write down at least 3 things you were grateful for that day. Can’t think of anything? How about being able to see, hear, taste, smell & touch? I’m grateful for having a bed, warm covers, a room with a roof that doesn’t leak. Have enough food to eat. . .water to drink. . .a place to sit. . .family. . .a pet (or 2 or 3) – all good things to appreciate.
  • When you awaken the next morning, try repeating this short gatha from Thich Nhat Hanh. (I know, it’s not energy psychology, but it works well to help start the day on a positive note.) “Awakening this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. I vow to live each moment mindfully, and view all beings I encounter with eyes of loving kindness.” When I do this, after the words ‘all beings’, I add ‘especially Copper’ my loving dog who is always there when I arise. That way, both of us wake up happy!

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More on Gratitude

With the start of this new year, I am filled with deep gratitude for all the beauty, bounties and blessings of life on this precious planet.

Gratitude has been defined as a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for all of life. Spending a few minutes each evening contemplating the things for which I am grateful brings a sense of peace and joy, balancing out life’s frustrations, sorrows and worries.

Comfort and strength come from appreciation of the myriad people, places, events and living beings who have enriched our days and our lives. Gratitude makes us stronger, more buoyant when facing the rough waters in our lives. With a focus on gratitude, we become happier and more satisfied, able to be more mindful of all our interactions.

If you are thinking. . .How can I feel gratitude when there is so much wrong in my life and in our world? . . . here are a few suggestions that may help:

Find a jar, bowl, vase or other container with a color, shape or design that appeal to you. Be sure the top is wide enough to fit your hand, or at least a few fingers, inside. Cut up small strips of colorful paper, maybe 1″ X 3″. Each evening, take a strip of paper and write on it 1 thing that day that you appreciated, enjoyed, or felt happy to have in your life. Be creative – it can be a person, animal, plants, scenery, song, or something as simple as having vision to see, hearing to enjoy music, or any of your other senses.

Gratitude jar

Start a gratitude journal – it can be any sort of notebook . Each evening, contemplate the day, then write down 3 things/people/animals/places/events/encounters/conversations/whatever that you appreciated or were pleased about. You may be surprised how soon you start wanting to write down even more – indulge yourself – write a whole page of gratitude if you wish!

Gratitude journal

If you don’t want to take on a writing project, try relaxing at bedtime, sitting or lying down, then taking a few slow, deep breaths. Contemplate the bounties of the day, then speak aloud about those things that made you smile, laugh with joy, or warmed your heart. You will sleep so much better for having done so.

Sweet dreams