Mindfulness Health Presents...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Ripple Effect of Mindfulness

Have you ever noticed yourself feeling fine and then walking into a house or office or classroom and fairly quickly for no apparent reason you begin to feel agitated, anxious, angry, sad or stressed? This can result from many different scenarios but one possibility I would like to acknowledge is the notion of Second Hand Stress. Our brains are wired for connectivity, that is, we all have embedded technology designed to pick up and respond to the emotional states of others. This is related to mirror neurons produced in various areas of the human brain. Neuroscientists such as Marco Iacoboni (UCLA) suggest these neurons form the basis for our human capacity for empathy. We are literally able to feel the emotional states of another.

I have noticed that we often pick up the emotion at a sense or body-level and then our narrative mind or "thinking mind" can begin creating a story to explain that emotion. This is how we can "take on" another person's feeling state. You can see how this amazing instrument of empathy when not understood can lead us to undue suffering.

This mechanism can fuel compassion fatigue and burnout. For Mental health professionals involved in one-on-one work this can wreak havoc on your own mental health. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to improve positive affect, immune function, stress reduction, symptoms of anxiety, depression and substance use disorders and relapse prevention....essentially our clients. A randomized controlled trial in Germany explored the impact of mindfulness training for psychotherapists on the quality of treatment. The results suggest the promotion of mindfulness in this population positively affects the course of therapy and
the treatment results in their patients. The journal article is available at Evidence-Based Mindfulness Research section of the University of Wisconsin website. CLICK HERE

If we have trouble committing to a mindfulness practice for our own benefit, how about for those who spend time in our space; our children, loved ones, clients??

All the Best,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mindfulness Myth: "I Can't Meditate, My Mind is Always Racing"

Welcome to life as a human being. There are many misunderstandings when it comes to meditation but one of the ones I seem to hear a lot is, "I can't meditate...my mind is always racing!" It is the nature of the mind to race, to judge, to compare, to reflect, to bounce from one thought to another with every new sensory input. That said we all have the special ability to observe that racing, comparing, judging mind. It is in the simple witnessing of the race that we begin to harness the mind power of meditation.
If you can't get out of the rat race than start to become a keen witness of it, starting with your own mind. A busy mind is not a barrier to mindfulness, it is the why you need the practice in your life. With practice we can begin to shift our perception to become a little more connected with that witness and a little more detached from that monkey mind. Don't expect the mind to stop...in fact, don't expect anything and you are on your way with mindfulness.
One simple and profound meditation practice that I learned and would share with you is to observe your breath and each time you notice you are indulging in thought simply say, "Not Now" and come back to your breath. The truth is that each time we are following the fantasy of the mind we have slipped out of this present moment and it really is Not Now. Familiarize yourself with your own mind and body and you will take a major step in your health. Practice watching that racing mind and you may just discover a deep sense of peace awaits.

Be Mindful of Health,


Friday, April 9, 2010

Buddha's Gift of Mindfulness

Yesterday was celebrated by many as Buddha's birthday and in honor of the Awakened One I thought we could reflect on a verse of the Dhammapada.

"The mind is very hard to perceive, extremely subtle and wanders at will.
Let the wise person guard it; a guarded mind is conducive to happiness."

The mind is hard to perceive because it is the instrument of perception, it is extremely subtle in the face of the denseness of our attention and focus and it wanders faster than we are able to witness. How then, can we guard it? A guard is attentive, watchful, single-pointed. The guard holds the needs of another as supreme to their own. Be the guard of the mind today. Watch it closely. Notice the thoughts arising in reaction to the events you are perceiving throughout the day. Notice the effect of thoughts on your emotional nature. Sometimes you will not be present to the thought that triggers the emotional response, these are opportunities to root out the source which lie in our own pain and attachment.

I try to hesitate before blaming another for these reactions. This can be harder at some times than others and harder with some people than others. Usually we do not want to see the pain that lies at the heart of our reactions and the ego will do almost anything to scramble out of the way of that awareness. We practice being present on the yoga mat and on the meditation cushion so that we may cultivate the strength of presence that will allow us to remain steadfast in that trigger moment when our buttons get pushed. We practice being the guard so that we are protected from ourselves as are those around us protected from our reactive tendencies.

Be mindful this day, do one thing at a time and take it to completion. It is Friday and the end of the week so let us work with awareness and intention. I think of my desk which carries the residue of a busy week and will be mindful as I resolve things that have been left unresolved. Resolution is an effect of mindfulness and mindfulness may have never been articulated as beautifully and passionately by anyone as it was by the Awakened One, the Buddha. Thank You!

All the Best,


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Look for the Hook: Build Strength and Stability

Hello All,

As the new season unfolds itself and the earth's creative potential transforms into new green growth it is a perfect time to bring our attention down to the earth. Too often we spend our days moving from the neck up as though our entirety is contained in the head. By bringing our attention down to the feet, legs and core we access a strength and stability that flows to every part of our life. One way to do this in our yoga practice is through something my Teacher called hooking. This is where we actively hook one part of the body into the earth exerting a force that is directed into the floor and towards the core.

A simple way to understand hooking is to place your hands on your knees or thighs while sitting in a chair and press the palms downward and simultaneously pull back towards the center of the body. You will feel your core muscles engage and even some heat generated. For me, this is a central practice of yoga postures and can be applied to any yoga style. You may remind yourself from time to time during the day to "hook-in" to the earth gripping the ground with your feet and legs. No show need be made but your attention will be brought to the earth and the qualities of strength and stability will be realized.

We will practice hooking in our postures this evening at the Milo Boathouse in Yarmouth and then we will work on the mental equivalent in our meditation practice afterwards. Bring this powerful concept into your yoga practice wherever you may be and observe the deepening that occurs. Let me know how it goes.


Yogi Jayanta

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Posture from the Ground Up

Being a "yoga teacher" is tricky business because when your role is to help guide people into a more intimate relationship with their bodies you quickly realize that your own process is one that never ends. In my own practice I am getting back to some basics in terms of alignment and structure. We often forget as we move into a posture trying to replicate what we see the teacher doing to begin with our feet. As a student you tend to watch the posture from the top down but as practitioners we must build the posture FEET FIRST. During your day today and during yoga try to pay special attention to your foot placement. Engage with the earth through the souls of your feet.

As I was playing with my son I noticed some tension in my lower back. I adjusted my posture and began applying force through my feet so that my leg muscles (start with thighs then add calves and hamstrings) were strong and active. I immediately noticed two things happen; my abdominal muscles became active and the tension in my lower back disappeared. Whether walking to the water cooler or chasing a toddler try to do it FEET FIRST and notice the difference.

Walk with gratitude today and be aware of the earth beneath you feet.


Yogi Jayanta

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Mad Rush in the Morning

I can't help but wonder where Mindfulness plays into the "Mad Rush" in the morning that is the norm across our culture and so many places in the world. It is interesting to note that we associate the word 'mad' with the word rush. How many people start their day rushing to work, to the daycare, to school, to a meeting, to the gym, to a yoga class to wherever? RUSH, RUSH, RUSH. My son is the first to call it like he sees it, "I don't like to rush, Daddy. I don't like to rush through lunch to get to the playground and I don't like to rush to school in the morning."

It occurs to me that noone likes to rush and yet we all do it so somehow we do like the rush. That rush of adrenaline when you are late is not unlike the rush we get from a thrilling adventure. We, as a culture, are addicted to the rush. Whether rushing for a meeting or the emotional rush from a recreational activity or the rush of a fight or argument. Something about the RUSH makes us feel alive. So much so, in fact, that when we are not rushing we are typically talking about our last rush or planning for our next rush. Weekends are a rush, vacations are a rush, entertainment is a rush and everything else is....blah.

Our lives are characterized by the peaks and valleys, by the rush and the blah. Mindfulness is the practice of awareness of life itself. As we practice being aware of life happening things tend to slow down a bit. The gap between the rush and the blah gets smaller. The rush still happens but we notice it from the inside out and the blah still happens but we get to experience that as it happens. CBC has a great title with "As it Happens" how about we try atleast amidst the rush and the blah to be aware AS IT HAPPENS.

Life will always have its ups and downs, its rushes and its blahs. Perhaps in the simple act of noticing the peaks and the valleys of life we will come closer to understanding the great essence that is continuously rising and falling.


Yogi Jayanta