There are so many reasons to invite more mindfulness into one’s life. The reasons are as plentiful as the practices themselves. One of the subjects regarding mindfulness that I enjoy teaching most is, “Indulging the little things.” The implications of enjoying the subtle and simple are far reaching in ways that can surprise and inspire.
Pranayama is the Yogic art of breathing. Prana = vital energy, ayama = extension. The practice of pranayama helps bring awareness to the breath bringing the mind to the present moment. The exercise of refining the inhale and exhale can have an extraordinary effect on mood, promoting relaxation, focus, clarity. In the Yogic tradition, the breath is often referred to as a communication with the soul or the vehicle of the soul. Developing a greater understanding and awareness of our breath helps develop a greater awareness of the soul as well. Through the years I’ve been teaching Yoga, the most surprising thing I’ve learned is how profoundly the breath can relieve stress and anxiety with just the simplest practices. Here is one pranayama technique we practiced this week at the Oasis. Try it for yourself!
Self-care means so many things. It’s not just about adequate sleep or good hygiene. It’s about allowing gifts into your life no matter how small or large, no matter if you think you ‘deserve’ them or not. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s about knowing how to give those gifts to yourself. Taking a moment on a hot afternoon to prepare yourself a sweet treat like this melon salad may be just what the doctor ordered. Even though this recipe is brimming with sweetness and flavor, you are also nourishing your body with healthy alternatives to empty calories and processed junk food. Let this simple dish be a day at the spa for the taste buds – enjoy!
It can be a difficult decision to have your daughter or son leave home to participate in a therapeutic wilderness program. There can be elements of the unknown, thoughts that “my child is not that sick” or overwhelming feelings of uncertainty, shame or guilt. Frequently your child doesn’t want to go, they think they don’t need help, don’t want help, or believe they can get the help they need at home. While home treatment can absolutely work for some, others can be so lost they need to create some physical separation, so the child can truly focus on their own personal well-being. In a recent blog article, a previous student of a wilderness therapy program, referring to herself as a “treatment-kid”, expressed her feelings before leaving home:
Thich Nhat Hanh, the well-known Zen Buddhist monk, tells a story about the Buddha being asked what he and his students practice. His reply was, “We sit, we eat, and we sleep.” The inquistitor, perplexed, replied, “but we all do that.” The Buddha, in his perfect wisdom and grace asserted, “Yes but when we sit we know we are sitting. When we sleep, we know we are sleeping, and when we eat, we know we are eating.”
The yoga mat teaches you something about yourself every time you get on it. We can use these lessons toward any personal journey we undertake. In the case of addiction and recovery, the mat is an excellent place to challenge the addict brain. It reveals our knee-jerk reactions to discomfort and our over-indulgent behaviors toward pleasure. Like a mirror, the mat shows us our strengths and weaknesses not just in our physicality but also in our character. The lesson does not stop with a casual glance at our short-comings. Oh no! At this point, we have only taken out our notebooks and pencils.
If the word mantra draws up an image of bald Hare Krishna chanting men in orange robes asking for money in airports… you’re not alone. That said, we’ve come a long way, baby!
Clients and parents tell us how things are going 1.5 years after graduating
At Second Nature we have been conducting research to evaluate our programs for more than six years, and we recently completed an 18-month follow-up. While we use sophisticated standardized and validated questionnaires to measure change in functioning; for this 18-month follow up, we also wanted to hear from clients in a more simple and personal way.
The practice of loving kindness is most often associated with the Theraveda Buddhist tradition. This meditation practice, referred to as Metta, can be found in the Pali Cannon that dates back 2,500 years and is the traditional scriptures for Theraveda Buddhism. Although this practice has roots in Buddhist discipline, its practice has spread to the mainstream. Compassion meditations are often used with the 12 Step program, have been highly studied in the Western sciences particularly neuroscience and psychology, and being taught in our schools!
Walking into school, when I was seven years old,
My mind was blank and innocent, ready to fit the mold.
Tabula rasa, blank slate, my life waiting to unfold.
And when I sat down, this, this was what I was told: