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From the April

2016 issue of


5 simple practices
for daily life
Your day-to-day activities offer ample
opportunities to call up mindfulness in any
moment. These simple practices will breathe
space into your daily routines.

start with a 1 On waking, sit in your

bed or a chair in a
What do I need to take better
care of myself?

purpose relaxed posture. Close your

eyes and connect with the During difficult moments,
sensations of your seated how might I be more compas-
By Parneet Pal body. Make sure your spine is sionate to others and myself?
straight, but not rigid.
How might I feel more con-
How often have you rushed out the door and 2 Take three long, nected and fulfilled?
into your day without even thinking about deep, nourishing
how youd like things to go? Before you know breathsbreathing in 4 Set your intention for
it, something or someone has rubbed you the through your nose and out the day. For example,
wrong way, and youve reacted automatically through your mouth. Then let Today, I will be kind to myself;
with frustration, impatience, or ragein other your breath settle into its own be patient with others; give
words, youve found yourself acting in a way you rhythm, as you simply follow it generously; stay grounded;
never intended. in and out, noticing the rise persevere; have fun; eat well,
Intention refers to the underlying motivation and fall of your chest and belly or anything else you feel is
for everything we think, say, or do. From the as you breathe. important.
brains perspective, when we act in unintended
ways, theres a disconnect between the faster, 3 Ask yourself: What 5 Throughout the day,
unconscious impulses of the lower brain centers is my intention for check in with yourself.
and the slower, conscious, wiser abilities of the today? Use these prompts Pause, take a breath, and
higher centers like the pre-frontal cortex. to help answer that question, revisit your intention. Notice,
Given that the unconscious brain is in charge as you think about the people as you become more and
of most of our decision-making and behaviors, and activities you will face. more conscious of your
this practice can help you align your conscious Ask yourself: intentions for each day, how
thinking with a primal emotional drive that the the quality of your communi-
lower centers care about. Beyond safety, these How might I show up today to cations, relationships, and
include motivations like reward, connection, have the best impact? mood shifts.
purpose, self-identity and core values.
Setting an intentionkeeping those primal What quality of mind do I want
motivations in mindhelps strengthen this con- to strengthen and develop?
nection between the lower and higher centers.
Doing so can change your day, making it more
likely that your words, actions and responses
especially during moments of difficultywill be
more mindful and compassionate.

This practice is best done first thing in the

morning, before checking phones or email.

Parneet Pal, M.B.B.S., M.S., is

a consultant and coach training
individuals and groups in lifestyle
as medicine, using evidence-based
approaches and innovative behavior
change models. She is chief science
officer of Wisdom Labs. See her profile
in Meet the Meditator, page 30.

enjoy every mouthful

By Carley Hauck

Its easy enough to reduce eating to a sensation of bite,

chew, and swallow. Who hasnt eaten a plateful of food
without noticing what theyre doing? Yet eating is one
of the most pleasurable experiences we engage in as
human beings, and doing it mindfully can turn eating
into a far richer experience, satisfying not just the need
for nutrition, but more subtle senses and needs. When
we bring our full attention to our bodies and what
we are truly hungry for, we can nourish all our
hungers. Try this:

1 Breathe before
eating. We often move
from one task right to the
other without pausing or
taking a breath. By pausing,
we slow down and allow for a 3 Eat according to your
more calm transition to our hunger. Now that you
meals. Bring your attention are more in touch with how
inward by closing your eyes, hungry you are, you can more
and begin to breathe slowly in mindfully choose what to eat,
and out of your belly for eight when to eat, and how much
to 10 deep breaths before you to eat. This simple practice
start your meal. can help you tune in to your
real needs.
2 Listen to your body.
After breathing, bring 4 Practice peaceful
your awareness to the physical eating. At your next
sensations in your belly. On a meal, slow down and continue
scale of 1 to 10, 1 being that to breathe deeply as you eat.
you dont feel any physical Its not easy to digest or savor

sensation of hunger and 10 your food if you arent relaxed.

being that you feel very hungry,
ask yourself How hungry am 5 If you dont love it,
I? What physical sensations dont eat it. Take your
tell you that you are hungry or first three bites mindfully,
not hungry (emptiness in experience the taste, flavors,
stomach, shakiness, no desire textures, and how much
to eat, stomach growling, etc.)? enjoyment you are receiving
Try not to think about when from a certain food.Make Carley Hauck, MA, is the founder
of Intuitive Wellness and works as
you last ate or what time it is, a mindful choice about what
an integrative life coach and wellness
and really listen to your body, to eat based on what you consultant with individuals and
not your thoughts. really enjoy. organizations. newsletter
46 mindful April 2016 subscribe

get your brain out 1 Trip over what you

want to do. If you
3 Create new patterns.
You could try a series of

of the fast lane intend to do some yoga or to

meditate, put your yoga mat
If this, then that messages
to create easy reminders to
or your meditation cushion in shift into slow brain. For
By Kyra Bobinet the middle of your floor so you instance, you might come up
cant miss it as you walk by. with, If office door, then deep
breath, as a way to shift into
Its estimated that 95% of our behavior runs on 2 Refresh your triggers mindfulness as you are about
autopilotsomething I call fast brain. Thats regularly. Say you to start your workday. Or, If
because neural networks underlie all of our decide to use sticky notes to phone rings, take a breath
habits, reducing our millions of sensory inputs remind yourself of a new before answering. Each
per second into manageable shortcuts so we can intention. That might work for intentional action to shift into
function in this crazy world. These default brain about a week, but then your mindfulness will strengthen
signals are like signaling superhighways, so effi- fast brain and old habits take your slow brain.
cient that they often cause us to relapse into old over again. Try writing new
behaviors before we remember what we meant notes to yourself; add variety
to do instead. or make them funny so they
Mindfulness is the exact opposite of these stick with you longer.
processes; its slow brain. Its executive control
rather than autopilot, and enables intentional
actions, willpower, and decisions. But that takes
Kyra Bobinet, MD MPH, is author of
some practice. The more we activate the slow Well Designed Life: 10 Lessons in Brain
brain, the stronger it gets. Every time we do Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful,
something deliberate and new, we stimulate Healthy, & Purposeful Life.

neuroplasticity, activating our grey matter,

which is full of newly sprouted neurons that
have not yet been groomed for the fast brain.
But heres the problem. While my slow brain
knows what is best for me, my fast brain is
causing me to shortcut my way through life.
So how can we trigger ourselves to be mindful
when we need it most? This is where the notion
of behavior design comes in. Its a way to put

your slow brain in the drivers seat. There are

two ways to do thatfirst, slowing down the fast
brain by putting obstacles in its way, and second,
removing obstacles in the path of the slow brain,
so it can gain control.
Shifting the balance to give your slow brain
more power takes some work, though. Here are
some ways to get started.

activate your 2 Warm up (5 minutes).

Try any simple moves

mind and jumping jacks, stretching

and concentrate on matching

your muscles the rhythm of your breath to

your movement. By moving
rhythmically, your brain
By Cara Bradley activity, heart rate, and
nervous system begin to align
and stabilize.
Riding a bike, lifting weights, sweat-
ing it out on a treadmillwhat do such 3 Settle into a rhythm
exercises have in common? For one thing, (10 to 15 minutes). Pick
each can be a mindfulness practice. What- up the intensity, but continue
ever the physical activitydancing the to coordinate your breath and
Tango, taking a swiminstead of simply movement. If you have trouble
working out to burn calories, master a doing this, then simply focus
skill, or improve condition, you can move on your breathing for a few
and breathe in a way that not only gets minutes. Eventually youll find
your blood pumping and invigorates every your groove.
cell in your body, but also shifts you from
feeling busy and distracted to feeling 4 Challenge yourself (10
strong and capable. to 15 minutes). Try faster
Ready? The following steps, speed, more repetitions, or
good for any activity, will help heavier weights, depending on
you synchronize body, mind, and what you are doing. Notice
nervous system. As you do, you how alert and alive you feel
will strengthen your capacity when pushing yourself.
to bring all of your energy to
the task at hand. 5 Cool down (5 minutes).
Steadily slow down your
pace until you come to a
1 Be clear about your standstill. Notice the way your
aim. As you tie your body feels. Drink in your
laces or pull on your garden- surroundings.
ing gloves, bring purpose to
your activity by consciously 6 Rest (5 minutes). Quietly
envisioning how you want recognize the symphony
your guide your session. As of sensations flowing in and

you climb on your bike you around you. Practice naming

might say, I am going to what you feel and sense.
breathe deeply and notice the Chances are youll feel awake
sensation of the breeze and and alive from head to toe.
the sun and the passing
scenery. As you enter the Cara Bradley is founder of Verge Yoga
pool, you might say, Im and Mindfulness Through Movement,
going to pay attention to each which offers programs in urban
Philadelphia schools. She also coaches
stroke, and the sound and feel
athletes in mental fitness. Caras first
of the water surrounding me. book, On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up,
and Shine, is available April 2016.

drive yourself 1 First, take a deep

breath. This simple, yet
4 Look around and
recognize that all the

calm, not crazy profound advice helps bring

more oxygen into your body
other drivers are just like
you. Everyone on the road
and widens the space wants the same thing you
By Elisha Goldstein between the stimulus of the doto feel safe, have a sense
traffic and your heightened of ease, and to be happy.
stress reaction. In this space Chances are youll see a
Theres nothing like heavy traffic and impatient lies perspective and choice. number of fellow drivers who
drivers to trigger the fight or flight response. look a bit agitated, but you
Thats why road rage erupts and stress levels 2 Ask yourself what you might also catch that one who
soar, while reason is overrun. The worse the need. It may be in that is singing or actually smiling,
traffic, the worse the stress. Los Angeles, where moment that you need to feel and this will dissipate some of
I live, has some of the worst traffic around, and safe, at ease or you just need your own stress immediately.
some of the most unserene drivers. Emotions some relief. Understanding You can apply to all of them
run high, tempers flare, tires squeal. what you need will bring what you just offered to
But it doesnt have to be like that. In fact, the balance. yourself, saying, May you be
snarliest traffic jam can provide an excellent at ease, may you feel safe,
opportunity to build your mindfulness muscle, 3 Give yourself what may you be happy.
increase your sense of connection to others, and you need. If ease is what
restore some balance and perspective. you need, you can scan your 5 Take another deep
Here are the steps to a simple behind-the- body for any tension (not a bad breath. In 15 seconds
wheel practice Ive been doing for a while. thing to do while driving in any or less, you can turn around
Ive found it can work wonders. case) and soften any tension or your mood by applying these
adjust your body as needed. simple tips. When you feel the
You can sprinkle in some frustration of traffic rising,
phrases of self-compassion, choose whatever you need to
Elisha Goldstein is a psychologist, author, and speaker
who appliestraditional psychotherapy methods with an such as, May I be at ease, may work on, and offer that
integration of mindfulness.He is currently a licensed I feel safe, may I be happy. condition to others. If you
psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles need to feel safe, say, May I
and also teaches mindfulness-based programs through
be safe, may you be safe, may
we all be safe. Breathe in,
breathe out, youve sowed a
seed of happiness.

2016 The Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved.

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