Dr. Marin and Jane Lodato invite you to insert a Pause into your busy day. Each week our surgeons and staff receive a short mindfulness practice designed to help relieve stress, increase focus, reset, and let go.
These mindfulness practices are proven to reduce burnout and stress. When we pause, we become aware of what is driving us at any particular moment, we gain insight into our own reactivity. This awareness provides us with a choice as to how we want to respond to what is happening in and around us, as opposed to walking around on auto pilot.
While we cannot control all that happens any given day we do have a choice about how we respond to it. With practice we are able to train our brain to come into the present moment in order to gain perspective and ease.
We all benefit when we come from a place of feeling steady and being centered. When there is chaos swirling around - whether in our minds, our day, or in the world- becoming grounded provides a sense of calm and direction. This Pause will guide you through a practice to help you find terra firma.
With all that is stressful in the world and in life, finding contentment is challenging. Though there is much we cannot control, we can compound our postponement of happiness by deciding "if this happens, if I have this, then my life will be happy". Letting go of the “if only’s…" and tuning in to the present moment is rewarding. This reflection focuses on an age old story about "letting go of your cows”.
This Pause teaches a peaceful breathing series borrowed from renowned mindfulness teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. It is easy to learn, easy to practice, and effective.
A foundational practice of Mindfulness is becoming aware of our thoughts, emotions and reactivity. When something happens that triggers anger, anxiety or any emotionally loaded auto-pilot response, we react. If, instead of reacting, we can insert a pause, we have an opportunity to use that moment to choose how we want to respond. Our chosen response in turn creates the opportunity to free ourselves from the auto-pilot reactions that can cause us more problems. This Pause gives you the tools to practice witnessing your thoughts instead of being caught up in them.
In a world where we often feel we can never get everything done, we try to do more and more by constantly multitasking. Peter Drucker, a business and leadership scholar and teacher, wrote a book titled "The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done". In that book he points out that those who are most effective at getting things done do one thing at a time. This principle is aligned with mindfulness which cultivates our ability to be fully present. Letting go of multitasking will not only help to get more done, but will diminish the accompanying feelings of overwhelm and the underlying anxiety that accompanies it.
Anxiety is at all-time high in our culture and seemingly everywhere in the world. We are living in challenging times. Anxiety can create fear. This Pause presents three practices that we can use to temporarily calm ourselves. Practice when you are not feeling anxious or fearful, as well as well as when fear does arise. Discover one or more that will help you to find ease.
We each have the power to shift our mindset. This reflection and practice on cultivating gratitude makes a difference if practiced daily and it is really easy to do. The more we focus on the little things that are good in any given day the more we will focus on what feels good. Try it, commit to 30 days and see for yourself.
Our natural tendencies are to get away from or get rid of what is uncomfortable and to grasp for more of what feels good. The uncomfortable inevitably returns to eat at us, and grasping for more of the good can lead to habits that do not serve us. It can be challenging to simply experience how we feel and to simply let it be. Practicing noticing our experiences helps us to simply be with whatever it is, which ultimately liberates us from being tossed around by our experiences.
Need to reset? Pause, breathe consciously, and invite ease into your body and mind. This simple guided breath practice is a good one to use every day.
Do you find yourself feeling less tolerant these days? Often our anger comes back at us to create ongoing difficulties that compound. We alienate someone we care about, we may beat up on ourselves for losing it, we may still feel angry that we couldn't change somebody or a certain situation. Anger is destructive, most often we are the ones who suffer as a result. This practice provides pointers as to how we can get out of our own way when we tune into our anger.
We cannot take back our words. Life is easier if we pay close attention to our choice of words, the tone in our voice, and the volume with which we speak. When caught in reactivity we can easily lose sight of all three. Speaking with awareness, being thoughtful in choosing our words, tone, and volume will facilitate being heard, being listened to. “Think Before You Speak” is an age old adage, here's a practice to remind you of how to do exactly that.
We often focus on our IQ: we measure how smart we are using test scores and grades. Our Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, has been shown to be absolutely essential achieving greater success and happiness. Knowing one's emotions, Self Awareness, is a keystone of developing Emotional Intelligence. This reflection and practice will help you to become aware of your own thoughts and feelings, to develop your EQ.
We often have a very narrow "window of tolerance" for emotions that are strong, including anger, fear, feeling overwhelmed. When we cannot tolerate these feelings we may say or do something that in hindsight we wish we hadn't. This practice will help to expand your window of tolerance when challenging circumstances arise, and in turn reduce the stress that comes as a result of being caught in our own inability to tolerate our feelings.
Most people experience varying degrees of anxiety. The world, the news, our own challenges over the past few years have increased anxiety levels are at an all-time high. If this is something you relate to, you are not alone. This Pause provides you with a few things to try when feeling anxious.
Becoming aware in the present moment is a mental skill that takes us off autopilot. The benefits of honing awareness include reducing stress, gaining perspective, making more informed decisions and so much more. With practice we bring ourselves into the present and live life consciously.
This simple breathing exercise is a good one to reset the nervous system. It’s easy to learn and comes in handy.
We often get caught up in our own habits, strong emotions take over and rule us. How can we stop our own fear, anger, agitation? We start stopping by practicing becoming aware of our thoughts and storylines. Mindful awareness gives us the opportunity to be present as opposed to lost in our own stressful habit.
When we assume people or situations are something that they are not it can cause us to carry the suffering for a long time. This reflection on "wrong perceptions" from Zen master Thicht Nhat Hanh is worth thinking about. To free ourselves from misperceptions, try the simple practice included in this reflection.
Strong emotions, like anger or anxiety, can take over like a forceful storm. This practice can help one be prepared for those storms. Learn to become grounded and deeply rooted.
Setting an intention in mindfulness practice involves tuning in to what really matters to you. Is it connection? Letting go? Compassion? An open mind? Look for that quality that reflects who you are and want to be in the world. We each can remind ourselves of what matters most when we find ourselves in challenging situations.
What can you let go of? With reflection and insight we can recognize and choose to leave behind whatever causes us to suffer, or no longer serves us.
The holidays bring up a range of emotions and expectations for all of us. Take a few moments to gain perspective, say yes to life as it is, and find ease.
It can be really hard to be patient. Life can be frustrating, expectations are not met, we feel we fall short, or that others fail us, circumstances are out of our control. Cultivating patience ultimately makes our lives less stressful. With patience, we learn to become more tolerant, to let go of what we cannot impact. Try this practice to get started.
Invite ease into your body and mind with this simple practice focused on breath and the idea of a smile.
Practicing being grateful, for little or big things in daily life helps us to see that every day has some good. We don't want to miss out on these day to day moments that comprise our lifetimes. There are Mindfulness reflections one can do daily which boosts positivity and appreciation, learn how here.
Mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn has many words of wisdom, amongst them: "Often our lives become so driven that we are moving through our moments to get to better ones at some later point. We live to check things off our to-do list, then fall into bed exhausted..." We do this again and again don't we? We can shift from doing mode to being mode by simply applying our attention and honing our awareness. When our "doing" comes out of our simply "being", we are more effective, less exhausted and can enjoy the only moments we have: the present moment. This reflection is food for thought.
Our minds can be relentless, there are some thoughts that we cannot let go of. Our thoughts can take us away, create a mood, influence behavior and wear us out. One of the most liberating realizations in a Mindfulness Practice is that while thoughts are very real (we are having them), they may or may not be true. When we can notice we are having a thought, we can intercept it, insert a pause and ask if this thought is really a fact. Becoming aware of thoughts gives us a choice: choose to let this thought go-noting it is just a thought, or we can get caught up and lost in them. The thought itself doesn't have power, it is what we do with it that gives it a charge, or not. Try this practice to get to know the landscape of your mind.
"Beginner's Mind" is a Mindfulness practice that can help us to see things anew. Often, by practicing this, we can reframe something that is upsetting us to see it, or another person, differently, with an open mind. This practice can reveal "auto pilot preconceived notions" that do not serve us. Give it a try.
Each time we get angry, anxious or cocky, we get better at becoming angry, anxious or cocky. These become mental habits, like roads we drive down again and again. We can look for these "ruts in the road" and choose to create a new road, a new neural pathway, freeing ourselves from these habits. The first step is simply noticing what is on your mental "playlist" each day.
Do you limit yourself by becoming attached to a certain way of thinking about yourself? We can all get caught up in altering our authentic selves to try to be what we think we should be. It is a gift to live authentically, to simply be.
We miss out on our own lives when we are constantly mindlessly on autopilot. We are not present when lost in thought, rehashing the past, worrying about the future. The benefit of being mindful is that we are present for each moment in our lives. Don't miss out on the precious little or big moments that add up to a lifetime. You can develop the mental skills to be present, start here!
We all feel the need to be in control, there are times we must take responsibility and oversee the situation. However, there are also times we take control sometimes because of what we assume will happen if we do not. Loosening your grip might surprise you- the outcome can present new possibilities that turn out even better than what we'd planned or thought must happen.
How can you stand steady and grounded through all the weather fronts that come at you daily? This reflection will provide you with perspective and imagery to help get through the day, the week.
Reset your mind and body, give yourself a healthy break, preventing the stress from compounding. Some days we go go go, running like rats on those spinning wheels. That takes a toll mentally, physically and emotionally. Choose to insert a few minutes into your day to reset, you will thank yourself.
When was the last time someone did something nice for you or said something kind to you? Perhaps this person wanted to make your life easier or to make you feel good. How did it feel? Notice what a big difference a small gesture makes. This is a practice that we can all develop, doing one nice thing for another, once a day. Try it, kindness has a boomerang effect.
Resilience requires being rooted and grounded. When we are centered, we can stretch, reach, bend and persist. How does grass always manage to push up through the cracks in the sidewalk? This reflection is one you can conjure up again and again.
We all get stuck at times. We can beat ourselves up, judge ourselves harshly and get hooked on a story about what is wrong that becomes a repetitive loop in our brain. Notice when you have one of those stories going through your mind, and try this practice. Self compassion is essential to rebounding and building resilience. With practice, you can rewire your brain and help yourself.
What one thing is key to your well-being? Can you commit to doing that, to nourishing the thing that fuels you? Take a moment to reflect, asking yourself a few key questions in this guided practice. Your will blossom if you tend to your "garden."
Negative thoughts can simply be a habit. There are steps one can take to start to free oneself from the mental patterns we develop. The first and biggest step in this intervention is simply recognizing you are having a negative thought, noticing that it is there. Over time, by noticing and naming them, we see them for what they really are: a habit. You can choose shift your mental playing field with practice.
Are you tough on yourself? If you are like the rest of us, self-judgment can become a limiting habit. The grip of feeling we need to be more than we are, in control, or need to be perfect is a burden, after all we are all human. Self compassion is key to resilience. Try kindness: start with yourself.
We are living in very challenging times. Focusing on developing comfort and what makes us feel good is a skill that can keep us balanced. Try this practice to insert the positive into your day and your heart.
Let frustrations, worries, the "shoulds", thoughts, and situations that are challenging, come and go, like waves in a much bigger ocean. You are not defined by any one of these things unless you choose to be. Practice letting life come and letting it go, ride the waves instead of becoming toppled over by them.
Feeling overwhelmed, like things are out of control or just too much? This practice is designed to bring you to a place of feeling steady, deeply rooted and grounded. The branches of a tree can bend and sway with the weather and seasons because their roots go deep, keeping the tree trunk steady. We too can bend with the weather fronts if we are deeply rooted.
Neuroscientists describe the brain's "negativity bias": we cannot let go of what we perceive as negative, like self-judgment or perceived criticism, it sticks to the brain like Velcro, we are wired that way. The positive flies right out of our brains, it doesn’t stick, like Teflon. Thus, it behooves us to make a practice of taking in the good, noting what is going well. Make a point of taking in the moments of gratitude, accomplishment and joy. By focusing on the "good" for 20 seconds we can imprint some positivity and begin to shift our mental playing field.
What we resist, persists, or so it goes. When we wrestle to control or become frustrated by circumstances or people we cannot necessarily impact, we are the ones who suffer. This practice helps us to acknowledge what is happening and works with trying to allow it, to tolerate it without becoming reactive and increasing our own stress. Saying "yes, and this too, this is part of life" doesn't mean we condone what is going on, it simply helps us to see things for what they are.
When we can relax our body we relax the mind. Becoming familiar with where you habitually carry tension and learning to create space there will prevent the tension from compounding. This practice is foundational to well-being and can be done daily.
There is a wise being inside of you. When life throws you for a loop accessing this wisdom reminds you of who you are. This practice can help to build resilience and strength during challenging times.
Has it been one of those days or weeks? Is your mind churning? This 14 minute practice will help you to find ease, to rest, to come out of a mind that is working overtime and into a place of rest. If you cannot sleep in the middle of the night, it is one to try.
Do you feel like one of those mice on the wheel treadmill? Spinning, running? Taking a short break, getting off the treadmill, has been shown to decrease compounding stress and increase the ability to focus. This practice can be done anytime.
Is your mind racing? Is your body tense, contracted? What feelings might be in the driver's seat? The practice of checking in with yourself, noting how you are feeling, what mood you are in and what you are thinking, can help you become familiar with the landscape that is you.
We can be tenacious when it comes to needing something to be a certain way, believing someone or a situation needs to change, or perhaps feeling we "should" be or do something in particular. The "shoulds" can be a signal that we might be swimming upstream, resisting.
This is an introduction to Mindfulness. 10 Deep Breaths is a great basic practice that you can do anytime. It can be helpful when the mind is racing, when feeling anxious or frustrated.
We all have times when something gets to us, be it a person, a situation, something we are rehashing, or times we judge ourselves. Try this when you feel frustrated, anxious, angry or judgmental. This practice will help not only to gain perspective but also to loosen the grip of whatever emotion has hold, or even help you to let go.
Where are you holding your tension? Our emotions and our day show up in our bodies, We all contract and armor up throughout each day. This 10 minute body scan will systematically let you open up and let go. Try it before going to sleep or any time you need a break. Practice listening to what your body is telling you about when something is impacting you.
When our minds are running at full speed we can feel overwhelmed. This practice will help you to take a step back, regroup and reset. When we are not so caught up in our heads we can find respite within and then proceed with a renewed focus.
A four minute pause to check in with yourself, come out of your head, into your body, giving yourself encouragement and a reset.