• You Don’t Need to Fight with Your Mind

    Now that mindfulness practice has drawn a lot of popular attention—which is good news, since it means more people are likely benefiting from the practice—it is often written about in the press in ways that misrepresent what actually happens in the practice. The New York Times recently published an op-ed by Ruth Whippman called “Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment.” A number of mindfulness teachers and readers have suggested we address some of the distortions i
  • The Healing Power of Being in Nature

    Recent research suggests that being in nature benefits mind and body: from reducing stress and anxiety to increasing our sense of awe—that feeling of being a part of something larger than ourselves.
    For veterans adjusting to civilian life, a four-day whitewater rafting trip provides another chance to find peace. In this video from the Sierra Club Military Outdoors, veterans and 9/11 first responders share their experiences through the Gates of Lodore in the Green River in Utah.“
  • 5 Ways to Shift Out of Autopilot

    Boredom is a sign that we’ve become habituated. We’re getting stuck on automatic pilot, and losing touch with actual experience, which can always be interesting if we bring our curiosity to it. By helping us shift modes of mind from thinking into sensing, this practice invites us to rediscover interest, beyond our expectations. Linger on each step for at least three minutes.
    By helping us shift modes of mind from thinking into sensing, this practice invites us to rediscover inte
  • Mindfulness is Not a Panacea

    Ruth Whippman’s article in The New York Times Sunday Review, “Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment,” on mindfulness as “opiate of the masses,” is a thoughtful piece on the tsunami of mindfulness in Western culture. As a practitioner and teacher of this modality for those who suffer from mental disorders I have worked with thousands of individuals—both training professionals to deliver mindfulness to clients and offering it as a service to those in n
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  • A Primer on Living in a Time of Fear

    Lately many of us have been living in fear of the future, which translates to a lot of anxiety.
    Fear is a powerful physiological response, orchestrated by a complex threat detection system in our brain, the amygdala being one player in that system. Our brain’s primary responses to fear are short-term: fight, flight, freeze and forget-it (okay maybe not always “forget-it.”) For some people a range of these emotions washed over them on election night, for many others they’v
  • 6 Mindful Books for Building Resilience

    The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World
    Nancy Colier (Sounds True)Having a universal communicator, satellite-driven locator, and encyclopedia of all knowledge everpresent at our fingertips is making us a little bit crazy, and—according Nancy Colier, one of the newest entrants in the tech-survival guide game—a little bit unkind. As a therapist she has a window onto how a “teched-out mind” can make you unhappy. Her stories are warm, sad, funny at
  • 5 Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience

    A mentor of mine recently passed away, and I was heartbroken—so I tried my best to avoid thinking about it. I didn’t even mention it to my family because I didn’t want those sad feelings to resurface.
    In other words, I took the very enlightened approach of pretend it didn’t happen—one that’s about as effective as other common responses such as get angry, push people away, blame yourself, or wallow in the pain.
    Even for the relatively self-aware and emotionally
  • How Your Attention Has Become the Biggest Commodity

    Between the many devices we carry each day, our attention is divided, with each gadget competing, each app buzzing and vying for our eyeballs.
    But it’s not just a matter of each media outlet hoping we’ll absorb the latest information, says scholar and author Tim Wu. It’s about getting your eyeballs on the screen in order to sell your attention to advertisers—that’s been the business model for newspapers since the 1830s. You sell the minds of the audience to advertis
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  • 3 Mindful Ways to Calm an Anxious Mind

    Stress and anxiety are a part of life, especially during these times of uncertainty. However, we don’t need to be enslaved by our anxiety and instead can strengthen our mindful skills to ease our anxious minds, come into our lives and grow in confidence.
    1. Release the critic. Not only is anxiety painful enough, but we often get hit with a second round of self-critical thoughts. A simple question: Do the judgments make you more or less anxious? The answer is almost always, more. When
  • A Simple Mindful Practice to Ground You in Gratitude

    Anxiety and I have had a complicated relationship. For most of my life we’ve been on and off, but now it wants to get serious. Just the threat of conflict makes me feel uncomfortable so imagine how jittery the divisive, provocative stories that have taken over newspapers, social media, and cable TV have made me feel. Meditation offers a refuge from anxiety because it creates enough space in my head for worry to settle. It didn’t come easily to me, though. The first time I gave it a t
  • How to Change Minds Without Ruining Thanksgiving

    Here’s the basic criteria for getting through any holiday dinner: act as if you genuinely care about whomever you’re talking to and believe that they themselves are able to think rationally. Because if all the debates, articles, commercials, and yelling didn’t change their minds, maybe acknowledging their thoughts and feelings with genuine interest might. So, be direct; make others feel cared for and maybe they’ll return the favor by opening up and thinking about what you
  • Be a Mindful Travel Warrior

    Finding the time to breathe, let alone be mindful of the breath, is challenge when you’re traveling. Heavy traffic, flight delays, and grumpy commuters can easily disrupt our mindfulness practice off the cushion. And yet, these moments can be our best opportunities to do more than just survive, but actually find some opportunities to truly practice when we need it most. Bringing more awareness to the literal ups and downs of travel, in terms of patience, mindfulness, and compassion, is som
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  • How to Have a Mindful Conversation

    Most of us would agree that honesty is not only a good policy, it’s what we most want and need in our relationships with others. Particularly in our closest relationships, a willingness to tell the truth is key to minimizing pain and maximizing understanding.
    And by truth, I’m not talking about some moralistic parting of clouds and downward-shining declarations from on high. I’m not even referring to what most people are focused on when talking about “honesty” in re
  • Mindfulness Supports “Wise” Indulgence

    Mindfulness has been positively linked with emotional regulation and self-control, leading many to tout it as the secret sauce for making behavioral changes and achieving goals, like losing weight. Indeed, brain scans have shown that regular meditation practice strengthens the brain’s “executive functions,” a set of cognitive processes that, among other things, helps us to control our behavior and to set and reach goals.
    But a new study found that when it comes to exerting self
  • How to Take a Mindful S.N.A.C.K. Moment

    I love snacks. They’re tasty, nourishing, and they don’t require time and energy that I might not otherwise have. Sometimes, though, I am tempted to reach for food when what I really need is a moment of calm awareness so I can make a thoughtful plan about what to do next. What I need is a mindfulness S.N.A.C.K. Here’s how to do it:
    Stop: Just stop whatever you’re doing. I have stopped mid-step, mid-bite, and even mid-yell (usually at my kids, who are generally so su
  • How to Be Mindful With a Cup of Tea

    Bringing mindfulness to simple activities like drinking tea trains us to direct attention consciously. We might think we choose what we’re paying attention to in life, but in reality most of us are driven by habit and impulse. By deliberately choosing to attend to an activity, we slow things down and let ourselves become aware of the process of attending and perhaps how little control we usually have over it. We might notice the repeated wandering of the mind as we attempt to stay with wha
  • 10 Steps to Finding Inner Strength

    The two universal laws of impermanence are uncertainty and unpredictability. When life changes unexpectedly, we can often feel off balance, insecure, and unclear of what really matters and/or what to do next. This is normal. What can support us to reclaim our life and tap into our internal wisdom is re-asserting our strength of mind and heart.
    Mindfulness and compassion are two important qualities that increase our resilience. At this pivotal time in our world, we need to cultivate both. Mindful
  • The Freedom of Letting Go

    My mind was feverish with revenge. He had me. He owned me. My every waking moment was consumed by thoughts of our ugly little entanglement. The situation was driving me mad, but I was calm, CALM I tell you!
    This is a story about what happens when other people have the gall to not follow through on the plans we make for them—and how to see that no one takes our power from us unless we give it away.
    Like so many others, our relationship started on the internet. I answered an ad…for ch
  • How to Practice the Art of Being Present

    I’ve often experimented with ways to weave mindfulness practice into the speed and hubbub of daily life. The premise is simple: mindfulness meets the moment, the result is being present, and that can’t be bad. It also has the benefit of undermining that recurring thought “shouldn’t I be setting aside some more time for my mindfulness practice?”
    Bringing mindfulness to the activities we already choose to include in our lives is a great way to start. Many of these ac
  • Now What?

    Here’s what I know from my practice.
    I know that:
    Things change. Emotions change, thoughts change, the breath changes. Nothing is static. And ideologies change; political movements come and go. And if I try to hold on to the way I think things are supposed to be, I will surely suffer.
    That doesn’t mean I can’t have opinions. It is not UN-mindful to deeply want the world to be a certain way.
    It’s normal to feel any emotion right now: despair, betrayal, outrage, loss&hellip
  • Breathe! Today and Every Day

    Presidential elections in the United States go on for years, and as the months mount up the intensity increases. The blizzard of words, and polarizing ideas and positions, becomes overwhelming. Emotions reach a fever pitch, culminating in one night and its long aftermath. This time around, these two years were filled with hateful and hate-filled speech, and the polarities were never more stark. In the wee hours of this morning, half the country found fulfillment of their wishes and half the coun
  • A Mindful Response to the Election Results

    Presidential elections in the United States go on for years, and as the months mount up the intensity increases. The blizzard of words, and polarizing ideas and positions, becomes overwhelming. Emotions reach a fever pitch, culminating in one night and its long aftermath. This time around, these two years were filled with hateful and hate-filled speech, and the polarities were never more stark. In the wee hours of this morning, half the country found fulfillment of their wishes and half the coun
  • 4 Ways to Mindfully Prevent Office Burnout

    In 2007 I collapsed from exhaustion at an event that I was producing. It was the culmination of far too many hours working, the lifestyle choices I was making (and not making), and the always-present stress of trying to be “perfect” at my job.
    My doctor said my body was in adrenal fatigue and that my career was killing me. His advice? Get a new job. I knew that wasn’t the “right” conversation—yet I didn’t know what was. I chose to stay on, but went deepe
  • “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert on Finding Focus and Embracing Stress

    Stephen Colbert took over CBS’ The Late Show about a year ago, dropping the guise of the hot-headed character he played on The Colbert Report and introducing the audience to himself.
    Last week, Colbert told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that he initially shied away from discussing political events on the show in order to distinguish himself from his old character, trading lengthy opening monologues about news and current affairs for high-kicks with bandleader Jon Batiste.
  • 3 Simple Remedies for a Stressed-Out Mind

    Most people I meet would like to be calmer and more focused on what matters in the moments of their lives. But the more stressed we are, the less open we are to creative ideas and the more prone we are to procrastination.
    Here are three simple remedies for a stressed-out mind that will give you the ability to come down from a busy mind and into your life.When you’re stressed:
    1. Slow down. Literally. Whatever you’re doing—walking, talking, typing, even driving—start doing
  • 4 Ways to Curb a Panic Attack 

    My relationship with anxiety began as I neared the end of law school. There was so much pressure to “succeed,” to find a good job and validate the investment of three years of my life.
    The panic attacks would come like waves. They would start slowly and then build momentum until I was completely overtaken. I would experience physical symptoms, like blurred or tunnel vision, and would feel like the ground had disappeared beneath my feet. I had a hard time catching my breath.
    At the ti
  • How to Be Mindful 24/7

    “Let’s play Ramona.” Those three words from my six-year-old inspire a deep internal cringe (that I attempt to be mindful of). “Ramona” is my daughter’s invented doll game, based on the beloved classic book Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary. Beezus is the “good” sister—the dutiful, polite, compliant daughter, while Ramona is the “bad” little sister who locks a dog in the bathroom, scribbles in library books, and cooks her doll in
  • What Happens When We Shield Kids from Boredom

    From books, arts, and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?
    I began to think about boredom and children when I was researching the influence of television on children’s storytelling in the 1990s. Surprised at the lack of imagination in many of the hundreds of stories I read by 10- to 12-ye
  • The Now Addiction

    You’ll become obese and possibly addicted to illegal drugs or painkillers, you’ll run out of money during retirement, you’ll become a compulsive gambler and an alcoholic. And all because you just couldn’t resist devouring the marshmallow right now, could you?
    For decades psychologists have dangled that grim future in front of people who choose immediate gratification rather than the postponement of same. The marshmallow reference is to the classic experiment in which rese
  • Could You Connect More?

    We are social beings by nature. Connecting with others is what provides richness in life, makes us feel safe, and has us recognize that we’re part of something greater than ourselves. Yet we sometimes choose to stay behind a wall of emotional (or physical) distance, even in our closest relationships. As a result, our world contracts and we’re robbed of living a fully dimensional life. Mindfulness helps us to wake up to the “choice points” in our relationships when we can
  • How Generous Are You?

    Is generosity overrated?
    • 3% YES• 97% NOCompared to others, how generous are you?
    52% Say they’re average, while 45% consider themselves more generous than others and just 4% report being less generous than others. We’re not mathematicians here at Mindful, but something about this doesn’t quite add up.
    What time of year are you most likely to be generous?
    88% Try to give throughout the year, while 8% tend to be more giving around the holidays, and less than 1% a
  • You Can Innovate While You Meditate

    I’m a business owner. I get some of my best ideas when I meditate. Should I feel bad about this?
    So let me get this straight. You are responsible for a growing and active concern and have taken the time to pause, sit down, and open up your awareness to contend with the torrent of information, demands, and distractions that you face in a typical day. You carve out precious time to simply be and find some balance and equanimity to help you be more effective, less reactive, and to take better
  • We All Have Something to Give

    Giving is hard. According to many evolutionary psychologists, including Dacher Keltner, of the Greater Good Science Center, we are born to be good. Altruism and sharing are part of our makeup. Nonetheless, giving to others is not a cinch. We struggle with it. Just look at all the angst that surrounds our annual “season of giving.”
    To be truly generous requires us to step beyond the self-protected bubble we create for ourselves. Just think about it. So many decisions we make during th
  • 3 Keys to Discovering Your Life’s Passion

    One morning in early May of 2006, I sat drinking strong coffee on the patio of the Maison Dupuy in New Orleans. Feeling the sun on my skin and listening to the sound of a nearby piano, I read from Andrei Codrescu, “This is the time when the part of you that is music overcomes the part of you that is silence.”
    Indeed. Sun and jazz and water falling from a fountain of stone dolphins ridden by small naked water children. Cupids with harps. Wrought iron balconies, like fine Indian filigr
  • What’s Going on Inside the Teen Brain?

    To get a copy of this graphic suitable for a poster, click here.
    Understanding the Teen Brain
    Some 36 million people in the US are between 12 and 24 years of age—a vital period of development many neuroscientists call the age of the adolescent brain, or the teenage brain. We’ve recently seen a profusion of books (see below) pointing out that many of us—and our institutions—have misapprehended the teenage brain and the human beings carrying one around. One high schoo
  • 7 Mindful Strategies to Ease Election Anxiety

    Presidential elections in the past have been negative and hard fought, but this is the first one in memory to have produced a recognized psychological condition. A therapist in suburban DC has even coined a name for it: Election Stress Disorder. A recent online survey the American Psychological Association found that more than half of all Americans report that this election is stressing them out. Are there ways of dealing with an anxious electorate short of putting Valium in the water suppl
  • The Amazing, Tumultuous, Wild, Wonderful, Teenage Brain

    Adolescence is as much a perplexing time of life as it is an amazing one. Running roughly between the ages of twelve and twenty- four (yes, into our mid-twenties!), adolescence is known across cultures as a time of great challenge for both adolescents and the adults who support them. Because it can be so challenging for everyone involved, I hope to offer support to both sides of the generational divide. If you are an adolescent, my hope is that the information I am offering will help you make yo
  • All in the Same Boat

    One July morning in the colorful fishing village of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, 10 teenagers gather on the dock to prepare for a voyage.
    The rain is pouring down, dampening the gear, if not the spirits, of the young people about to embark on the adventure of their young lifetimes.
    But first, in order to pack in their stuff—personal belongings, food, water, and sleeping bags—they have to pump the rainwater out of the bilge of the Elizabeth Hall, a 30-foot whaler-style traditional wooden s
  • A 7-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Shift out of “Doing” Mode

    The ability to recognize and disengage from self-perpetuating patterns of ruminative, negative thought is a core mindfulness skill. The basic tool to shift mental gears is the intentional use of attention and awareness. By choosing what we are going to attend to, and how we are going to attend to it, we place our hand on the lever that enables us to change mental gears.
    When can we find opportunities to cultivate “being mode”? In principle, this mode of mind can be practiced in all s
  • 1-Minute Grounding Meditation

    We’re in Valley Forge National Park, sitting on this amazing tree that’s still alive but lying on the ground, with these deep exposed roots. It’s a great place to practice meditation, a grounding meditation.
    There are days when we feel flustered and unrooted, there are times when we feel like we’re just living in our head. Well, it’s easy just a policy, even for a minute, and practice some deep breathing with your feet on the ground.1-Minute Grounding Meditation
  • Why We’re Hardwired to Armor Our Hearts

    Compassion: it feels like a real response to the world we live in particularly to those who have been through a lot. You’ve got two choices: Either we armor our hearts for fear of ever being hurt again, or we make a more courageous decision. We have those resources.
    The path to me seems like it’s about transforming obstacles into doorways, which is good for us who have had a lot of obstacles—lots of doorways. And I really do think those doorways lead us home.
    I think there&rsqu
  • The Difference Between “Being” and “Doing”

    The activities of the mind are related to patterns of brain activity. Different mental activities, such as reading a book, painting a picture, or talking to a loved one, each involve different patterns of interaction between networks of nerve cells in the brain. The networks involved in one activity are often different from those involved in another activity. Networks can also be linked together in different patterns. If we looked into the brain, we would see shifting patterns in the activity of
  • The Seventy-Ninth Organ

    I love my gadgets and my social media. But often I find myself checking my phone in the morning before I’ve even checked in with myself or my loved ones in person. How often have you taped the glowing screen of your iPhone before getting out of bed in the morning? Where is your phone right now? How do you feel when you don’t know where it is? Do you usually keep it in your pocket, your bag, your desk, another room?
    At the 2013 Wisdom 2.0 conference, a presenter from Google gave a sim
  • A Simple Mindful Cell Phone Practice

    I love my gadgets and my social media. But often I find myself checking my phone in the morning before I’ve even checked in with myself or my loved ones in person. How often have you tapped the glowing screen of your iPhone before getting out of bed in the morning? Where is your phone right now? How do you feel when you don’t know where it is? Do you usually keep it in your pocket, your bag, your desk, another room?
    At the 2013 Wisdom 2.0 conference, a presenter from Google gave a si
  • 9 Ways Mindfulness Reduces Stress

    You’ve probably heard that mindfulness helps reduce stress. But how does being mindful actually help you do that?
    Mounting scientific evidence from hundreds of universities—including dedicated centers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the United States and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom—strongly suggests that mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness
  • A Guided Breathing Meditation to Cultivate Awareness

    This practice is a breathing meditation. We focus on breathing not because there’s anything special about it but because that physical sensation of breathing is always there. Throughout the practice, you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. If you’re distracted the entire time and come back just once, that’s perfect.
    1) Sit comfortably, finding a stable position you can main
  • Four Ways to Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts

    What gives you a sense of self-worth?
    Data from my well-being survey recently revealed that positive self-views (or feeling good about oneself, a general belief that we are good, worthwhile human beings) were the best predictor of happiness—even more so than 19 other emotional processes including gratitude and strong personal relationships. Positive self-views emerge from self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-worth, among other things.
    When we feel bad about ourselves, we unconscious
  • How to Free Yourself from Your Personal Stories

    To feel unworthy is to suffer. It feels like you’re flawed and must conceal your faultiness from others or risk being shunned. But concealing, pretending, and holding yourself apart from others tends to make you feel alienated and then interpret these feelings as proof that you’re flawed. This is a vicious cycle of self-doubts and self-judgments that separates you from others and prevents you from feeling whole and complete. Though you may be stuck in this self-concept, it’s fa
  • A Basic Meditation to Train Awareness

    This mindfulness practice allows us to relate to instead of from our thoughts—we’re building awareness of how we think. When we engage in this practice, maybe starting out for five minutes a day, we can begin to notice the storylines we create in our minds around expectations or pressures, or maybe just how much noise circulates in any given moment. We can train our brain to notice our mental habits—some good, some bad—and in noticing these habits, we have more
  • 5 Ways to Increase Resilience, Wisdom, and Well-Being

    There I stood, surrounded by people from my neighborhood at a cocktail party—our common purpose to celebrate the pristine park that lines the shores of the Long Island Sound steps away from where we live. Typically, I’d look to connect with people I know, or perhaps have met through a friend—in other words, I take the comfortable and easy route. But this time, I opted for a different experience.
    Taking in the setting sun and a warm autumn breeze, I noticed an older couple

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