Secure Client Area

Mindfulness

Right Here and Now

This may not sound like a typical blog post from me. Maybe that's a good thing.

I wanted to share with you an experience I had this afternoon. I was feeling pretty carefree, it's a beautiful hot summer day, and I had the music pumped up in the car as I drove to an appointment. As I was singing at the top of my lungs (probably looking totally ridiculous... and not caring), and suddenly I got the chills. Why? Because the song playing totally spoke to living in the present moment. The song? Van Halen- Right Now.

 
Right now, c'mon,it's everything. 
Right now, catch a magic moment. 
Do it right here and now...It means everything.

-Van Halen

Some times when I talk about mindfulness it's hard to capture the true meaning of it without sounding all "therapy like." But mindfulness is so much more. Its about being here, RIGHT NOW. Not reliving the past, not thinking ahead to the future. So often we are not truly present, not experiencing what is actually going on. Maybe we are thinking what we are going to make for dinner, or what we could have said differently in a meeting. All the while, missing what is going on right in front of us. 

My message today is to stop! Take a look around you. What is happening right here, right now. Play the song...Play it LOUD. Don't let this moment slip away.

5 Secrets to Help You Get to Sleep

Here’s the situation… You’re exhausted. You get into your comfy PJ’s, get ready for bed, and finally crawl in under the covers. But you don’t sleep… Instead your mind decides to replay the events of the day in your head. What went well? What didn’t? What did you forget to do? Did you return that phone call? “Ok, stop,” you tell yourself, “I must get to sleep!” But do you? No! Because now your mind starts thinking about what you need to do tomorrow. What do you need to do before that meeting? You can’t forget to schedule that doctor’s appointment. Maybe you even pick-up that phone that is sitting on your nightstand and “quickly” check what’s on your social media feeds.

Sound familiar?

If so, here are a few tips that will encourage a visit from the Sandman:

Pexels.com

Pexels.com

1) Practice mindfulness to help relax your body and quiet that overactive mind.  A good way to start a mindfulness practice is to simply focus on your breath. Start by telling yourself “I’m breathing in” as you take a deep breath, and “I’m breathing out” as you exhale. If you catch yourself thinking about something else, thank your mind for that thought and then let it go. If you have trouble doing this on your own, and find yourself getting distracted, there are several apps that can help. One of my favorites is Calm. There are a lot of them out there, look and find one that works for you.

2) Create a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed and get up the same time each day. Your body will get use to the routine. Need help with that? Set a reminder on your phone to let you know that it is time to start getting ready for bed each night.

3) Turn off the screens! Looking at your phone, watching TV, or fiddling with other gadgets are not helpful prior to sleep. Can you make your bedroom a technology-free zone? At minimum, remove that phone or remote from your nightstand.

4) Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and not too hot or cold.

5) Make sure you are getting some exercise each day. 

Hopefully, with these five quick tips you will be sleeping easier in no time! 

How to teach our kids mindfulness

The mindful child. It's not an oxymoron. In fact, many schools are teaching mindfulness as part of their curriculum and discipline strategy. Last week I attended a coffee chat for parents with the principal and staff at my son's preschool and the staff talked about how mindfulness is taught in the classroom. That evening I sat down with my son and he taught me all the different types of breaths he had learned at school to help him calm down. Our favorite is the balloon. He starts with his hands clasped together on top of his head. As he takes in sips of air, his clasped hands rise up and the balloon fills. One long exhale sends his hands back down to his head and he starts again. He was really excited to share this with me. He told me that he can even use his breaths to calm down when he is too excited, not just when he's angry or sad. So true!

I often teach mindfulness to my adult clients in my private practice, but I have to admit I was struggling to teach it to my son at home. But then I ran across the article 7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness, by Kaia Roman on the Mind Body Green website (which I love!). Kaia describes 7 child friendly and fun ways to teach mindfulness.

Here are two of my favorite exercises from the article:

Breathing Buddies: Your child lays down and places a stuffed animal on their belly. Have them breathe in silence for a minute and notice how the animal moves up and down. Afterwards, ask if they noticed any other sensations. For older children, you can also tell them to imagine that the thoughts that come into their minds turn into bubbles and float away. 

The Squish & Relax Meditation (I do the adult version of this with clients in therapy all the time): Have your child lie down with their eyes closed, have them squish and squeeze every muscle in their body as tightly as they can. Tell them to squish their toes and feet, tighten the muscles in their legs all the way up to their hips, suck in their bellies, squeeze their hands into fists and raise their shoulders up to their heads. Have them hold themselves in their squished up positions for a few seconds, and then fully release and relax. This is a great, fun activity for "loosening up" the body and mind, and is a totally accessible way to get the kids to understand the art of "being present."

Check out the article to see all seven techniques. And if you want some ideas of different types of breaths your child can practice, take a look at 5 Easy Breathing Techniques To Calm Your Kid (And Relax The Whole Family), by Kaia Roman