Mental Health, Motivational

Slowing Down

tired

Most of us spend our waking lives up in our own internal world. We over-think and, like overdoing anything, over-thinking tends to have negative consequences. In the case of constant mental meanderings, the risk is that they will lead to a negative spiral of indecisiveness, self-loathing depression and insomnia. One way to counter this is to make yourself more mindful.”

Dr Michael Mosley – The Clever Guts Diet

Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Your Mood?

Dr Michael Mosley, famous for his documentaries on the human body, was examining the role of diet and gut health on the body. He wanted to objectively measure what effects, if any, mindfulness practice would have, on his brain. So he underwent a series of tests before embarking on beginning mindfulness techniques.

The studies showed he had cerebral asymmetry, which meant he displayed greater activity on the right side of their frontal cortex, than on the left. This indicated he was pessimistic by nature. Pessimistic people are prone to high levels of neuroticism and anxiety.

Evaluation of Mindfulness Techniques on the Brain

Following the testing, Michael Mosley practised mindful meditation for six weeks, mainly via an app. Like many busy people, he found excuses not to complete the practise: he was too busy, too tired, too hungry, too stressed. Practising along with his wife and incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as having coffee, worked with a hectic lifestyle.

After six weeks of mindfulness practice, an Oxford University Professor re-tested Dr Mosley to find his brain showed an improved balance between the right and left hemispheres, accompanied by a sharp reduction in negative thoughts and emotions.

Beneficial Effects of Mindfulness on Physical and Mental Health

Overwhelmed with insomnia and an incurable autoimmune disease, Australian journalist Shannon Harvey spent a year practising mindful meditation as a way to assist her own mental health and improve an auto-immune illness.

emotion, despair, sad, worry, anxiety

[Shannon] looked for the equivalent of a 30-minute workout for her mental wellbeing, [and] there was nothing. Worried for the future mental health of her kids who were growing up amidst epidemics of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, in a world-first experiment, Shannon recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test. 

My Year of Living Mindfully

Shannon Harvey documented how she experienced astounding changes over the course of the year practising mindfulness, despite having some serious misgivings and scepticism about its techniques.

Why Does Mindfulness have a Calming Effect?

Dr Michael Mosley believes that mindfulness works to calm the mind and body because it helps to strengthen your sense of control over your own thoughts and feelings.

Not only does mindfulness assist in learning to distance ourselves and let go of repetitive troubling thoughts; it also encourages a mind that remains focused in the ‘present moment’, thereby reducing anxiety and overwhelming emotions that stem from reflecting on the past or stressing over the future.

Mindfulness Techniques Improving Mental Health

In a study published by the journal, “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” 15 volunteers completed four sets of 20-minute classes of mindfulness. Brain scans have found that mindfulness reduced anxiety ratings by 39%. They also found that it increased activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying, [….]which supports the claim that mindfulness strengthens our ability to ignore negative thoughts and feelings.

Dr Michael Mosley

Feel Calmer in Ten Minutes of Meditation

Do you have ten minutes? Try it for yourself now!

Mindful Meditation Practice

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Chronic Stress

One thing to remember about chronic stress is that it’s only because our thoughts deem something to be stressful that we can actually feel the sensation of stress. 

“Viewed mindfully, no situation is truly chronic. There are always calm moments to notice and be present for,” [amidst the chaos.] “Moments that can be lived in with ease.” (Stacy Young)

Do you Agree?

Can you ever totally eliminate stress from your life?

Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Challenging Thoughts and Reality

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

Marcus Aurelius
Banksia

If you think of yourself as the best thing since sliced bread, that will become your reality.

Likewise, if you think you are broken, or a failure, then in all likelihood, you will feel broken and miserable.

If you feel you have some faults but are working hard to improve them, you might also feel differently.

Individual thoughts become your reality.

If you feel the future is hopeless, it is extremely hard to find a solution.

Even if your reality is realistic and accurate, intrusive thoughts have a way of sneaking into our mental vocabulary. Ann Koplow had some great pointers to remedy those. Perhaps it is useful strategies for all of us?

Challenge Labels.  If you label yourself negatively, such as “a fool” or “a loser,” remind yourself that such absolute terms are subjective and meaningless, and that human beings are too complex to be reduced that simplistically. Also, consider the possibility that somebody else may have given you that idea about yourself, and that they were wrong.

Reality testing.  Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.

Thought stopping.  If you notice an unhelpful thought, cut it off immediately. Typical techniques include visualizing a big stop sign, saying “STOP!” to yourself, and giving yourself a sensory cue (e.g. snapping a rubber band you wear around your wrist). A “gentler” version of this is to notice an unhelpful thought and tell yourself, “That’s just a thought.”

https://annkoplow.wordpress.com

Something to Ponder About this Sunday

Cedar Creek, Australia
Community

Sunday Sayings – Meditation

snow cottage sweden sverige skellefteaa
A Cottage in sweden

Weekly Saying

Man kan sola sig en hel dag i en varm tanke

One can lie in the sun a whole day with just warm thoughts

Swedish proverb

Thoughts and Meditation

pensive thoughful looking upward

One of the benefits of incorporating a regular meditation practice into your life is in helping to settle the mind.

With the constant expectations and intense stimuli around us in the modern world, thoughts may easily race out of control and threaten to consume us. Or, when all is quiet and we’re alone for too long, our mind and thoughts can worry us and give us no rest.

Relief may be found in relaxing the mind. Recurring or troubling thoughts may elevate our mental state and encourage the release of adrenaline and stress hormones in our bodies. Clearing the mind, or stilling those thoughts, especially the recurrent ones, may give the emotional self attached to those thoughts, a much needed break.

Sometimes it is impossible to ‘clear’ the mind; to just think more positively.

That’s when it may help to step back from one’s thoughts and see them as separate to your own self. Because they are!

You are not your ‘thoughts,’ alone! There is a person and a body in there too.

Looking at your thoughts as if you are an observer, as a silent witness can help quieten a tumultuous mind.

When I felt like the emotions deriving from troubling thoughts, especially negative ones, were consuming my thinking, I found the following analogy helpful, in promoting mental stillness and calm.

Meditation Exercise – Be an observer

Find a quiet place and:

Imagine that you are sitting on a riverbank and that you see a leaf or branch, stick or even a flower, (if that suits you), floating along with the stream’ s current.

That leaf/twig/flower is floating down the stream towards you. You see it approach, floating on that gentle current, and you continue watching it, in your mind. It continues to float by and eventually you see it pass in front of you, the current then taking it further downstream and then finally out of your sight.

stream

Each branch/leaf/petal, is a single one of your thoughts.

Sometimes that floating stick or branch might get stuck on a rock, or the riverbank itself for a while, before the current again catches it and it floats away out of sight.

Each thought is a different leaf or stick that will pass by on its way. You remain calm, staying out of the way, a silent observer on the riverbank but watching this from a distance.

In this way, you see yourself as separate to your thoughts, a silent observer.

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

-Mahatma Gandhi

The emptying or observing of emotions is like pressing a reset button on all the stress hormones and neurotic needs caused by daily life situations and experiences.

We can all use a Reset button at times!

There are many other methods of meditation that are useful to still the mind. I found mindfulness and bead meditation to be most useful for me.

meditation
Bead meditation and mantras

You have to find the method that suits you best.

Happy Sunday

Community

Sunday Sayings – Feelings of Enlightenment

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog, which morphed into Sunday Sayings.

I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

Mostly anonymous, proverbs are a portal through time to generations past and echo a diverse range of cultures.

They speak of the experiences of many lessons learned and the wisdom from thousands of lives already lived.

They offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way relay runners might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.

viking horse

“A donkey carrying a pile of holy books is still a donkey.”

Zen Proverb

There are many paths to enlightenment.

Be sure to take the one with a heart.

Lao Tzu


What we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.

Mark Manson

Do you agree with the words shared today? Do they resonate for you?

What is your opinion of them?

Join in on the discussion. Everyone’s opinion is valid.