Category Archives: First Line Therapy

Holiday Mindfulness

Well can you believe it? Where does time go? Summer is gone, the kids are back in school, the holidays and the upcoming 2012 around the corner. Already stocking stuffers are displayed in store fronts and the marketing frenzy begins.

Traditionally, Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, Christmas is now being celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians worldwide. The holiday has become a significant event, an economic activity and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. Many of the traditional customs have taken on a secular theme. Popular modern customs of the holiday include exchange of gifts, cards, various decorations, music and of course, FOOD.

The holidays are a time of sharing food, memories, and time together. Many times, food becomes the central point of a celebration, rather than the people and relationships involved. A celebration is a time where people come together to share their lives and stories around a meal. This is a time where traditions are carried on and new memories created. Many times the holiday becomes a two month celebration with the focus being mindless spending and endless eating. This holiday season can be a great time to begin the practice of mindfulness.

Remember, mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment. Jon- Kabat-Zinn states “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way.” It requires being purposely aware of what you are doing in the moment. For example, realizing you are eating is not the same as eating mindfully.

Let’s look at eating and mindfulness. Granted, most of us eat automatically or mechanically, really not aware of the sensations or textures of the food we are consuming. This act of mindless eating; while driving, working or watching TV, distracts from the actual experience. It many times leads to overeating, and the uncomfortable feeling associated with overeating. It can also lead to overconsumption of the wrong types of foods, especially during the holiDAY season.

These foods are everywhere and give temporary pleasure, with little long-term-gain. Eating with mindfulness, or purpose, especially during the holiDAY will allow us to be conscious of our eating. Mindful eating places the focus on the actual consumption and enjoyment of the food, aware of the physical sensations and the thoughts and emotions associated with the process of eating. We will be aware of what we are eating, why we are eating, and how much we are eating. Eating a holiDAY sweet mindfully will actually give both short and long term pleasure. The short term pleasure is obvious, but the long term pleasure associated with control and absence of the need to shrug those extra HOLIDAY pounds is a great BENEFIT of mindful eating. This purposefulness is a very important part of mindfulness. Having the purpose of staying with our eating experience, and not letting the mind wander in an unrestricted way, means that we are actively shaping the mind to stay present in something as simple as eating.

Left to itself the mind may wander through all kinds of thoughts, including: thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, self-pity, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. This can happen very easily during the holiday season. So many activities, gifts to obtain, cards to write, celebrations to attend and the list goes on. This, for many, is a time associated with loss. So, if we allow ourselves to take in these thoughts, get lost in all the “things to do”, or lost in the “way life was before,” we reinforce many of the above emotions in our hearts. This leads to loss of joy in the PRESENT moment.

Left to itself the mind may wander through all kinds of thoughts, including: thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, self-pity, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. This can happen very easily during the holiday season. So many activities, gifts to obtain, cards to write, celebrations to attend and the list goes on. This, for many, is a time associated with loss. So, if we allow ourselves to take in these thoughts, get lost in all the “things to do”, or lost in the “way life was before,” we reinforce many of the above emotions in our hearts. This leads to loss of joy in the PRESENT moment.

By purposefully directing our awareness away from such thoughts and towards some “anchor” of the PRESENT MOMENT we decrease their effect on our lives and we create, instead, a space of freedom where calmness and contentment can grow.

So, here are a few suggestions to ponder during this SEASON:

  • Mindful eating, shopping, and say “no” with freedom!
  • Consider gifts that will give others life, such as homemade delicious healthy holiday treats, exercise classes, or a free night out.
  • Take time to do for others. Visit the elderly in nursing homes and bring your children with you! Give a gift anonymously to someone you know is in need. Buy one less gift and donate to a charity of your choice.
  • Take time to sit and reflect on what you have and be grateful.

Most of all, truly remember the reason for the season and extend goodwill, peace and love to yourself and others!

Mind-Body Skills Group

Introductory Mind-Body Skills Group

Mind- body medicine focuses on the interactions between the mind and the body, focusing on the powerful ways an individual can participate in their own healing and health. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can effect and shape every aspect of our biological functioning. How we care for our bodies may affect how we think and feel. There are a variety of ways to provide self- care, which include ancient and modern techniques that one can use to have an impact on overall health and well-being.

Mind Body skill groups provide a way for an individual to learn skills for taking care of one’s self and to practice them in a supportive environment. You will be introduced to a variety of specific skills that will help you change the way you deal with stress, illness and your life. Some of these techniques are meditation, guided imagery, writing and drawing. These groups are designed to assist you in coming to know yourself better and in learning and using the tools that will help you to experience greater self-awareness, as well as a more positive perception about your life. Self-care, or the heart of health care, and active engagement in helping oneself is powerfully therapeutic.

    • Place: Stone Oak Women’s Center waiting room Cost- $20 per session (per couple or single).
    • Materials: None,other than an open mind and a desire for greater self awareness

The part can never be well unless the whole is well
- Plato