Tag Archives: Focus

M & M: Its not just Candy

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How Are You?

How Are You?

We hear it practically every single day of our lives and sometimes more often than once or twice during the day. When we see each other in person, when we call each other on the phone, maybe even when we text each other, one of the most common types of questions involves how we are feeling.

I’m not looking to be controversial, but I have to wonder, how many of us really knows the answer. It seems, in my experience at least, I find myself on ‘automatic pilot’ as I go through my day unless I made a very conscious effort to show up to my own life. I not only go through the physical activities such as waking up, shutting the alarm clock, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, kissing my spouse, reaching for my morning coffee (you get the picture,) but there are even more internal things going on within me that I hardly am present at.

Sometimes it feels as if my brain is just keeps on going and going, like the Ever Ready Bunny, never slowing down at all, just whirring on, like the processor in my computer. The only thing is that my computer always lets me know when it is overheating and needs some time to cool down. Not so with my brain and my emotions. It is such a natural thing for me to just keep going non-stop, without coming up for air. I have to consciously remind myself to get up and move around and reacquaint myself with the moment of life I am in.

Multi-Tasking

Multi-Tasking

If you asked me, I would tell you that I’m doing quite well, I’m okay…I’m fine and more than okay because I am not “feeling” the stress that is piling up all around me. I’m dealing with it, from multi-tasking moment to multi-tasking moment. I am deluding myself into believing I am being highly productive because I am getting ‘all this stuff’ done.

Not really. It may seem as if I am doing more, but actually, I’m not focused and truly accomplishing and producing less. I’m focusing on external distractions (and believe me, there is no end to them). So when the time comes for me to reign myself in and focus on the one thing I really need to do, it is harder and harder all the time.

Meditation

Meditation

What’s a gal to do? Enter the double “M” solution. The combination of mindfulness and meditation is something quite remarkable. It helps me isolate the times when I need to focus on what is going on with me internally, my emotions or my thoughts, giving them a time and a place in which I pay particular and intensive attention to them. I acknowledge and accept them by tuning into what is going on with me internally. I become extremely aware of how it feels to breathe and take a deep breath. I become focused on how it feels when I tighten and then release muscles in my arms or legs. I allow myself to devote my energy to myself without having my attention pulled in countless directions.

This 1:1 is just what I need to refresh, rejuvenate and keep my ‘stuff’ in the right place, leaving me with the ability to dedicate all I have to give to the tasks I have to face. I am able to apply myself to what needs to be done and still honor the parts of me that get ignored when I falsely convince myself I am getting so much done. Not only am I freeing myself up to be all I can be, but I’m also teaching myself a new way to honor who I need to be. . . no judgment, just making at least as much time for caring about me as I do for all the things I feel I need to care about.

Such a different way to treat myself than what I’ve known! And it appears to be working out for me because the more I practice this, the more alive I feel and the more I find I am able to check off on my “to do” list each and every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Double Your Ability with Mindfulness

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Dance with Sensations

Dance with Sensations

I heard an expression today in which a woman referred to there being a “dance of sensations.” That is something I have never heard of before but it provided me with an image that I absolutely loved.

It leads back to mindfulness and how wonderful it feels to connect to the moment with an awareness and a focus that I don’t get until I call on it. Along with it comes an amazing sense of peace and serenity that restores me and fills me with a renewed emotional energy.

For those of you who have practiced this type of self-care, you will know what I am speaking about immediately, but for those of you who have not, I encourage you to wipe away your doubts and predispositions and just try it. There is so much happening in our lives, the intensity of which ranges from small, insignificant moment to moment things, to major issues that are extremely important. And if we do not become actively involved in where we devote our focus and energy; we are subject to being pulled and shoved in countless directions and winding up feelings bruised and battered.

It is not anybody’s fault because nobody is trying to drain us of our resources and energy; it just happens because we allow ourselves to drift from issue to issue throughout the day, without setting aside a few moments of time for ourselves where we can tap into our own energy source and recharge.

Not only do the people in my life benefit from me being more fully present for the times they need me when I care for myself this way, but they are actually beginning to realize that my personal care time is where I get the energy from and they are respecting it. I heard one of our boys tell his brother “shhhh, she’s doing that quiet stuff she does so she has the energy she needs to deal with us later on.”

Energy Zapping

Energy Zapping

One of my hugest resistances to going along with the self-care regiment for so long was because I viewed it as taking my energy and time away from the things and people I needed to devote myself to. Now I realize it is the total opposite. It is the way I obtain that energy, not lose it.

The level of attention and focus I have because of this regime, is so superior to what I regularly have, is so amazing. Because I have restored myself and cleared away all the unnecessary emotions blocking my efforts, I can provide so much more of myself to handle the situation, it feels as if there are two of me, with twice the amount of energy. I am no longer burdened with other ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of me being a more productive person.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

What Color Is Your Flower?

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Unable to Focus

Unable to Focus

The other day, I read something that spoke about neuro scientific research reporting that the average person spends 13 per cent of their time in a frame of mind that is best described as “zoned out.”

At first I felt upset with this information, considering all the wasted time that this indicated my mind wandered. But as I read on, the tone of the article remained upbeat and optimistic. Why? Because these periods where we zone out and don’t have the cognitive awareness we feel we should possess are actually good for us. Yep, it seems they are vital to our being able to stay imaginative and creative. This is the place where our brains free float through what seems like insignificant streams of consciousness.

The reality is that these places of spontaneous thinking are the birth places of creativity and imagination. They are places where our judgmental selves don’t have a chance of surviving so we are free to just let ourselves go. These zone out times permit us to unleash restrictive, rational thought and just allow whatever comes to come.

I have nothing against rational and logical thinking. Far from it. Thinking logically is totally necessary and a good thing. But giving our brains the ability to zone out and just free-flow is equally necessary and provides us with a healthy compliment to routine, structured and rational thoughts.

Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin

One of my favorite songsters of all time is Harry Chapin. I hope most of you have heard of him and remember him, not only for the songs that were the most popular like “Taxi” or “Cats in the Cradle” although they were good songs with a message or story to tell too. But the song that comes to mind is called “Flowers are Red,” a song with a wonderful message about society’s traditional response to thinking differently and seeing things through a lens that is different than the one most of us see through.

There is a degree of comfort in knowing we are all alike and zeroing in on all the similarities we share with our fellow human beings, but there is also something extremely worthwhile when we celebrate our differences and our being unique. There is so much we can learn from these differences. We can complement each other because of these differences if we learn how to embrace them and value them.

This is still something I am learning how to do better. Sometimes my knee-jerk reaction is to expect other people to think the way I think or feel the way I feel and I get upset if they don’t. I want to feel more connected to them and I mistakenly think if they are more like me then we are more connected.

Embrace Diversity

Embrace Diversity

Relationships take a lot of work because of the differences. We need to learn how to accept and respect people despite them. Even if we are similar to another person in our beliefs, the times when we have our zone out moments may not be the same. We may be experiencing something quite crucial to us when our most trusted and closest confidant is going through a zone out moment and is unable to be there to understand.

We may be zoned out when our co-worker asks us for our utmost attention or when our son or daughter is facing potential danger.

Nobody said relationships were easy, and with some of the newer finding about human behavior, we are able to better understand ourselves and each other; and hopefully help us deal with each other with more understanding and kindness.

And what better time to start than right now as this holiday season begins?

Interior Vs. Exterior

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Internal Image

Internal Image

There is so much more to be said for the topic of mindfulness. One image that continues to come back to me each time I start to write about it, is that of shadow boxing. When we are in a situation in which we are not able to see or understand whatever it is we have to undertake, there is no way we can be very effective with it.

The more we understand the task we are faced with, the better we can accomplish it. That seems like it would be such an indisputable fact that it boggles my mind when it comes to issues like anxiety, depression or emotional struggles we may have.

That is not to say that we all need to obtain a PhD is psychology or biology, but it does speak clearly to emotional awareness and mindfulness. Nobody knows better how we are feeling that we do. And nothing helps us get more in touch with how we feel than learning how to zero in on the moment and experience it more fully by focusing on it more intently.

By shifting our focus from the external to the internal and then back again brings a new level of awareness and depth to the way we experience life.

How Much Time

Balance

Balance

Finding a balance is key. It doesn’t help us to dwell on our feelings or sensations for too long; in fact, it could actually become counter-productive if we do. And, conversely, it isn’t effective if we don’t spend enough time and attention to our inner feelings, because we can’t truly get in touch with what is going on unless we experience it.

A good springboard is approximately 20-30 minutes a day. And, as with developing any habit, it takes our brain 30 days to learn a new routine. Devoting more time than that is not helpful and as I mentioned, it can be counter productive. The idea is to experience sensations, not to think about them too much or to focus on them beyond the allotted time.

Internal Benefits

When something goes wrong inside our bodies, if it is not easy to detect outwardly like symptoms of a cold or flu, a physician will call for testing that delves deeper like blood work, x-rays, scans or even an MRI.

I see mindfulness as the emotional equivalent of that. And the great news is that it is much less expensive! It does, however, require a lot more courage and commitment. For most of us, it is coming face to face with fear, anxiety, rage, sadness and emptiness. These are not the types of things we look forward to experiencing and yet, becoming mindful means we are voluntarily opting to experience them.

Meditatinon  and Yoga

However, by allocating a time and a place to let them come up, we become free of the fear they hold over us.

Very rarely are emotions released in a crazed rush that overwhelms or overtakes us. It is much more like time released vitamins or medication. The process is a gradual, slow and steady one. Our emotional ‘wounds’ can take days, weeks or even months to release and heal.

But if you stay devoted and committed to the practice of mindfulness, you will find that you truly hold the key to making your life better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Mindfulness – help for children in class…

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Interesting study – suggests improvement for children, for those with ADHD….Mindfulness…Perhaps we should consider this more often?  

http://www.bps.org.uk/news/mindfulness-training-aids-kids-attention

Coming Face To Face With Stress

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Balance

Balance

Learn to Recognize Stress.
As hard as this may be to believe, there are many of us who are so used to being stressed out much of the time, that it actually begins to feel normal. Another way to explain this is that many of us have completely forgotten what it feels like to be totally relaxed and alert and if that situation should happen to occur, we are uncomfortable with it and seek to get ourselves back into a state of stress and what we perceive to be ‘normal’ once again.
We actually feel out of balance when we are experiencing a healthy, balanced state.

How crazy is that?

Calmness is not only feeling relaxed, it is also just as important that we are fully alert. We need both to be able to withstand harmful effects of stress. Being in a balanced emotional state means maintaining a calm state in three areas:

* Energy
* Alertness
* Focus

If you find that you do not feel calm, alert, productive and focused much of the time, then you may be experiencing problems managing your levels of stress.

My Life Experience Example

Stress Ball

Stress Ball

Today presented exceptional situations in my personal life that threw me into a level of stress that I have not experienced in a very long time. It absolutely stemmed from events out of my control and it involved people I love and care about, including my own reputation.

All is calm right now, the reality of the day’s events before me, whether I like them or not. It is evening here as I sit at my desk to write this post, and things are quiet enough for me to get in touch with my body’s reaction to the stress.

* Changes in breathing – without a doubt, I am sighing more and feeling something akin to a ‘need’ to take in huge breaths through my nose.
* Tightness in muscles – there is a noticeable tightness in my neck, back and shoulder muscles. They are rigid and flexed rather than feeling relaxed and at ease.
* Heavy Eyes – I had enough sleep last night, but my eye lids feel as if they weigh a ton and need to shut. It is a struggle for me to keep them open.
* Throbbing Head – I am experiencing a pulsating sensation in my head, especially around both my temples. The pounding is constant, persistent.
* Stomach Ache – My stomach feels extremely tight and sore. My eating habits today were not ‘typical’ for me. I ‘forgot’ to eat breakfast entirely and although it is dinner time and I “should” be hungry, I feel as if eating will only further upset my stomach.

Quick Tension Review

In order to get in touch with your body’s response to tension and stress, try the following:

* Pay close attention to your muscles and ‘inside feelings.’ Do your muscles feel tight or sore? How about your stomach, do you sense a tightness or soreness there? What position are you hands in? Are they clenched?

* Pay close attention to your breathing. Are your breaths shallow? Try watching the rise and fall of your hands with each breath, while placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Observe when you breathe fully or when and if you “forget” to breathe. Also observe sighing, a need for deep breaths or hiccoughs.

Get in touch with your own body’s response to stress.

There are some stress responses we all share internally as humans. Our heart pumps faster, our muscles constrict and our blood pressure rises. Our bodies work extra hard and pull from our immune system when we are stressed. For more information on this and other information about emotional awareness, visit Help Guide..

Stress Plus

Stress Plus

On the outside, however, there are three different ways we can respond to stress:

* Overexcited Stress Response
– Anger and agitation – we can show this by yelling or acting out in ways that demonstrate this such as throwing things, hitting things or other people, almost always resulting in our feeling regret and remorse for saying or doing something we shouldn’t have. We will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
* Under-excited Stress Response – Spacing out or withdrawing – we disconnect ourselves, allow ourselves to become distracted in other things around us, lose our focus and attention and pull further and further away in attempts to avoid the source of our stress. We will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system
* Both Under-excited and Overexcited Stress Response – Freezing up – we become immobile, numb or paralyzed. This is because we are experiencing both a speeding up in some areas and a slowing down in others. The result is an inability to move in any direction at all We will need to work with stress relief activities that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system.

By understanding your body’s specific stress response, you can more quickly relieve it.

The next post will go through the reason, understanding and techniques for quick stress relief.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!