Friday, April 29, 2011

"Now the Ears of My Ears are Open"

I mentioned in my last post Lend Me Your Ear that I would talk about my experience practicing mindful listening. My fiance' kindly agreed to give it a try with me. We started by facing each other. I was the listener the first time around. Being mindful while listening without interrupting the other person or saying anything at all for five minutes was a new experience. It was different than I expected and it made me feel more connected with what he was saying. When he was the listener, he also felt like it was a different sort of experience. I have found that practicing it (when I remember to) has yielded interesting results, particularly when dealing with people who are angry and stressed. I have found that mindfully listening to agitated people allows them to get it all out and they eventually lose the energy of the emotion and end the conversation either apologizing or at least being more rational. It is definitely a tool I will continue to use!  Let me know how it has worked for you.

(The title is taken from one of my favorite poets, e.e.cummings.  I highly recommend his collected works for the poet enthusiasts out there!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lend me your Ear: The Power of Mindful Listening

One of my favorite quotes is from Plato: "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." I love this quote because kindness is often under rated and we often dehumanize each other (by we, I mean humans in general).

The other night, I was watching SNL (because Paul McCartney was the musical guest and he is one of my favorites!) and they had a skit that made fun of the fact that we sometimes don't know the names of people we see and interact with every day. We see them as their function instead of a full human being with depth and a story.

For me, this highlights another great feature of mindfulness in that it can be applied to relationships. So, I have a challenge for anyone reading this post. I challenge you to take notice of someone in your life and really pay attention to them for at least one conversation. Practice really listening to what they are saying, how they are saying it, and their motivation for saying it. While doing that, check in with yourself, attend to your own reactions to it and body sensations, really strive to be in that moment. If you do that, I'd love to know your experience! I will talk about my experience with it in another post soon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tune In, Turn On, Pay Attention: What is your Media Diet Doing to You

What are you filling your mind with? Buttery delicious movies with lots of explosions, sugary sweet reality shows with lots of romance and intrigue, or meaty, bloody crime dramas and medical shows?   Or do you prefer news shows that pretend to be objective and make you nod your head in agreement or make you want to throw your shoe at the television screen?  Or do you like listening to the radio?  You can find a range of song types and radio shows as varied as television shows.  Have you ever considered, though, what the ultimate impact these things are having on your perception of the world and your overall outlook? 

The effect of my media diet became clear to me after
I started having nightmares from watching too many episodes of Law and Order (SVU, Crime Unit, the original, etc.).   I was addicted to Law and Order shows for a long time, watching new episodes and reruns practically every day until I really saw how it was affecting me.  When I had a dream about someone breaking into my apartment and attacking me, I knew it was time to really pay attention to how watching this much of the show was affecting me.   

The idea of media diet is another place where mindfulness can help. By paying attention to what media we are "consuming" we may decide we do not want to consume it anymore or consume less of it or keep it the same. Just like mindlessly eating, we can sometimes
get pulled into the trap of mindlessly watching or listening. It's
like liking a song until you listen to the lyrics and realize they
contradict all your basic values.  At first, you liked the music a lot until one day, you really took the time to listen to the lyrics to see what it was about.  You may be surprised by what you hear. 

Take one day and just pay attention to your "media diet".  See if it is working for you or working against you.  If you do it, I'd love to hear about your experience!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My First Award

I received my first blogging award!  I am extremely excited!  Thanks for the award goes to Doreen from the blog reflections.  I love her blog and her eye for photography.  I am honored that she thought of me for one of the recipients.

There are four steps to follow that come along with this award.

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Seven things about myself:
1. I am interested in mindfulness hence this blog.
2.  I love poetry which can be seen on my other blog.
3. I am engaged and getting married in June.
4. I have two cats: Magnum and Winston.
5. I live in South Jersey.
6. I love taking pictures.
7. I just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I am now reading The Good Earth.

Now, I must admit I cannot come up with fifteen blogs to share this award so I will have to just do five.

1.  This blog is also about mindfulness as well as meditation and spiritual growth.  Janice Lynne Lundy does this blog.  She includes book reviews as well as guided meditations.  It is well worth visiting!  Janice also does a course on spiritual growth.

2.  Cottage Garden Studios I like this blog because Sara who does this blog has a great energy in her writing and does some unique art work that I like.  She also does excellent photography.

3. I like this blogger because she does some excellent poetry.

4. writeplacewritechick This blog is by Jarielyn who lives in Las Vegas.  I find her blog to be fun.

5. Writing in Faith I love this blog. The blogger is Sandy Carlson. It is a combo photo and poetry blog.  The poems are uplifting and the photos are beautiful.  I always feel good after visiting this blog.

Well, I hope you like my recommendations!  If you check them out, I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mindfulness: It's Not Just for Buddhists Anymore

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."  --Viktor Frankl

There is a rampant preconception that mindfulness is only a spiritual
tool. Due to this belief, many people who would benefit from
mindfulness reject it. Like many others, I do use mindfulness for
spiritual reasons; however, it does not have to be used that way. The
technique itself can benefit the most staunch of atheists. The act of
mindfulness is simply being in the moment with all of ones' senses
focused on where one is. It is a way of grounding oneself and becoming
centered. Benefits for those of us not interested in pursuing a
spiritual path include many things, but three major ones that I can
identify are:

1. Increased self awareness. When locating oneself in the moment, it
makes you more aware of yourself. This awareness is empowering and
like my favorite Viktor Frankl quote above, gives us the power to
change direction.

2. Greater self control. As I alluded to above, when we bring our
awareness to the moment, it helps us act with our authentic selves and
not act mindlessly in habitual ways. For example, when in the moment
and really paying attention to what you are doing, you may be more
likely to choose a piece of fruit for breakfast than a donut. Now, if
you are like me, you may grab the donut anyway sometimes, but
mindfulness will help you enjoy that donut much more fully than just
scarfing it down.  I talk about being more mindful about eating here:
3. The Several Physiological benefits. There are many benefits to
mindful meditation that research has supported. In fact, UCLA has a
mindfulness department (MARC) where you can read more about it, take
classes about mindfulness, and even have access to free mindfulness

I'd love to hear from others who have more ideas on the benefits!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why Not Today, This Second

Why wait to wake up?  Every second gives us an opportunity to start again, to start moving our lives in a new direction.  Even if it feels like an impossible task, even the minutest change can have a ripple effect.  Just think where you would be right now if you had started moving in the direction you want to go a month ago, a year ago, ten years ago?