Prompts and Resources

Dear Fellow Journalers,

quiet-the-mind-meditation

     When you write in a Mindfulness Journal you are already moving toward the practice of mindfulness. You observe your feelings in real-time, paying attention about your thoughts and not challenging them.

     As you become adept at practicing awareness and living in the moment, you’ll naturally want to write out your thoughts. Some people can start with a prompt to inspire them. The main thing is to begin with the same intention  that is a the crux of all mindfulness practice stay present and fully aware.

Some tips:

     a) Decide how much time you want to spend writing your entries.

     b) Write, don’t edit. “Stream of consciousness” writing allows you to access the part of you that lets you experience your life moment to moment.

     c) If you do re-read your journal posts, do so without criticism. If you write long enough, you’ll begin to see patterns in your life. You’ll see what emotions or distractions consume you while you meditate. You’ll be able to see how mindfulness has changed your relationship with stress, difficult people, problem solving and the balance of your life.

     d) When you write note the date, name of meditation practice you used that day and how long you meditated. Then write your comments on your experiences, what you used to re-focus and what you felt.

Questions to ask yourself:

     1. What did I notice and how am I feeling about my meditation?

     2. What am I feeling in this moment?

     3. What is bothering me?

     4. What are my strengths?

     5. I want to thank …..

     6. People always…..

     7. I would like to volunteer my time today doing….

     8. I remember….

     9. I’m really afraid of ….

    10. I don’t want to write today because…

~~~Resources~~~

     There are many books, web sites and videos for Mindfulness. Here are a few resources I would like to share:

Apps

www. headspace.com      turns your tablet/phone info into a guided meditation

www. mediationstudio.com  step by step course available to apple app store

http://www.balanced.com   app to track your life’s goals available to apple app store

Blogs

http://www.bayart.org/2016/09/16-meditation-quotes-that-will-change-the-way-meditation-vibrates-inside-you/

check out my blog post on 4/16/16

Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwkbm_vjc

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Oprah-and-Jon-Kabat-Zinn-practicing-mindfulness

Other sites

www.copperbeachinstitute.org

https://uniquelyyourscraftjournal.com/2016/04/15/labrynth/

Books

“Wherever you go, there you are. Mindfulness meditation in Everyday Life”

                                                                                    Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Journaling with Jesus”   Laurie Snyman

“Mindfulness made simple” Calistoga Press

“Mindfulness, Meditation and Mind Fitness” Joel and Michelle Levey

“Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and your life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Peace is every step. The Path of Mindfulness in everyday life” by Thichi Nhat Hanh

     May Peace and Joy fill your life.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

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Mindfulness and Mediation

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I first heard about this practice when I taught a fifth grade religion class at my church. I had a rather rambunctious group that year and it took a lot of energy and wasted time to settle them down each morning. Several weeks into that school year, I was invited to a teachers’ conference and was introduced to one of the books that would change my life. It was written primarily for teachers of Religious Middle Schoolers and featured scripture stories and meditations.

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. I read through the book and adapted one of the stories and meditations for my next class. The reaction was amazing. Several students didn’t want to stop and “come back to earth.” Even the most mischievous of the group was calmer. I decided to try the experiment once a month, but after the second month, the students asked if we could meditate every week! In time, I grew confident enough to script my own stories (based on the lesson) and meditations and found myself meditating as well. This practice continued throughout the rest of the school year until I “retired” some 10 years later.

Along the way, I was formally introduced to Mindfulness Meditation at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford CT. The workshop has become the highlight of my yearly retreat. I learned that this practice has no specific goal except awareness and acceptance in your life. There are many types of meditations – some focus on a word or a phrase, some on a particular image or visualization. You look at your thoughts and feelings as though you were looking at a different person, without analyzing those thoughts or feelings.

Some of the mediations are breath, common concerns, body scan, walking, emotions, night, smile, laughing, loving, difficult people, self-criticism, positive feelings, anxiety, stress, insomnia, gratitude, and peace.

The following is a brief synopsis of how to practice mediation. If you have a book or better yet, an audio of meditation, please refer to that resource.

  1. Find an environment where you can be free from distractions for a short period of time. A peaceful view of the ocean or a picture will help you create this space. Some people light candles or create an altar of found objects like shells or stones.

  2. Choose a chair where you can sit up straight with your feet touching the floor. You can close your eyes completely or just gaze downward.

  3. Pick a time for practice every day that will be non-evasive on your schedule. You can even make an appointment with yourself, if you wish. The duration is up to you. Some people start with 10 minutes a day and build from there.

  4. Pick an anchor. Those pesky thoughts may intrude and distracted thought is not constructive to meditation so it helps to re-focus from time to time. The anchor can be one of the objects in your room, part of your body (like a hand), or word or phrase. My practice has always included the breath as an anchor. There are many books, audio and even apps that can help you in your practice. Mindfulness meditation requires practice not perfection.

  5. Follow your breath. Begin by taking 3-4 breaths. Be aware that you are breathing. Feel your breath traveling from your mouth or nose to your lungs, chest and abdomen. If your mind wanders go back to the breath. After your timer goes off, reconnect to the world around you and process the meditation by writing in your journal.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

 

The mystery of mindfulness

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mindfulness has been described as paying attention, non-judgmentally, moment to moment. We observe our perceptions rather than react to them. Sounds radical, doesn’t it? Sir Francis Bacon said:

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in one hand, and melting like a snowflake.”

The practice of mindfulness has been around for a long time. Western thought focus on mindfulness came into being in the 19th century. Then along came Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970’s and when he founded the Center for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Massachusetts, people began to realize that the “theory” wasn’t as far-fetched as “they” thought. Mindfulness is now being taught in corporations, hospitals, schools, organizations and churches.

Can all this actually be done? Yes! It sounds radical (oops, said that already!) but stop and think for a moment – what if you could “see” your experiences with clarity that is untouched by judgement? If you could do that you’d be better able to make decisions based on what actually is, rather than what your fantasy might be.

I just came in from clearing out my car in preparation for its annual weatherization maintenance  at our local repair shop. While picking up stray napkins and directions for restaurants’/shops I had a fleeting thought that I should put directions in an envelope for my glove compartment. But before I started to stress out about what color envelope it should be (to stand out in the compartment), I stopped myself. I could only do one thing at a time. Getting an envelope was step 3 or 4 not now. THAT action, my fellow Journalers, is practicing mindfulness. I was actually in the car not at my desk searching for a colored envelope!

Last week I wrote about stress and all the things we react to in our lives that rob us of our joy. We are multi-tasking ourselves to death. We react to events and emotions. We react to fear and regret. I am sure your parents/teachers/mentors all told you that you couldn’t change your past and you had limited abilities to change your future. Why stress about it?

“Listen to your longing, you are your heart.”  Jon Kabat Zinn

The basic elements of mindfulness are our bodies, our breaths and our minds. In mindfulness they work together to keep us from living life on “auto pilot” to living in the moment. Next time you start stressing about something,  notice if your jaw is tensing, your hands are clenching or if your heart is racing.

Your breath, which we never think about, is essential to life itself. If we become aware of it we will realize that the breath is a bridge to our thoughts and emotions.

People think that mediation (a form of mindfulness) means clearing our minds of thought. But if we practice mindfulness we notice our thoughts and emotions – we don’t get caught up in them. (An action, that always leads to stress!)

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll share my experiences of mindfulness meditation, the various types of meditation, how to enhance your journal and some resources.

“Til next time,

~Sallie

Mindfulness journaling

Dear Fellow Journalers,

In the past, I have tried to write posts a month or so in advance so that if needed  to I could edit and share. This month, due to the nature of the topic, I am writing “in real time”. I went on my annual retreat this past weekend, and our theme this year is focusing on simplicity.

It really hits home with a lot of people. We are all stressed. Stressed about the political arena, things going on in our state’s, our communities, our homes. More and more people have forgotten how to communicate face to face. The internet has taken over our lives. While the search abilities are wonderful, we get stressed when we can’t e-mail or Facebook chat because we are driving! Or working! Or walking!  We have to schedule our computer time, and that makes us stressed! More and more people complain about how they have lost their focus. They want their lives to be happier, less stressful, more impactful. But even thinking about this is stressful.

The answer, I have come to believe, is to become more attuned to our bodies and our minds. Mindfulness is the current “fad”, although it is a practice of living that has been around for a long time. This month, we will delve into what mindfulness is and isn’t, what the different types of mindfulness are, how to incorporate our journals, what books are of value and if you want, your comments about trying to live a less stressful life – your hints etc.

So, put on your seat belt! We are off on an adventure!

~Sallie

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