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Why Thank You! – Mindfulness Day 21

How do you respond to compliments? I find that I often dismiss a compliment. It’s not something I do consciously, the words “oh no, no” or some similar phrase just come whipping out of my mouth to minimize the acknowledgment that I have just received. In our society it can be considered bad taste to flaunt your skills, considered boasting. Perhaps this is why we can be so quick to deny or dismiss a compliment. Whether its a compliment about a nice shirt, or an acknowledgment of a job well done, pay attention to how your respond. Notice your internal response. Does your face flush? Does your heart rate elevate? Do you feel a rush? What thoughts do you have? Also notice your external response. Do you turn your body toward or away from the person giving the compliment? Do you thank them, or dismiss them, or even agree that you are in fact amazing! Sometimes I suspect that boosting confidence may not be a matter of generating more acknowledgment, but letting in the acknowledgment one already receives. Day 21: Today be mindful of compliments. Pay attention to your responses to compliments you receive. Note your internal and external responses to this acknowledgment. Do you notice a pattern? Does it matter who gives the compliment? Also notice your own inclination to pay a compliment. Are you plentiful with your praise or are you stingy. How do you decide a compliment is... read more

Body Language – Mindfulness Day 20

Making or avoiding eye contact. Turning away or turning toward. Shoulders hunched or pulled back. These are all ways in which we might posture our bodies to communicate non-verbally with the world. Have heard about the wonders of non-verbal communication? Do you ever think about this type of communication? Or to you just take it in or posture yourself without much thought? I believe most of us communicate non-verbally without much attention to the messages we are receiving or sending. I think it would be interesting today to pay some attention to non-verbal communication. How do you posture yourself in the world, what are you trying to communicate? Notice how your posture may change as you move through your day or into new environments. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel tired? How might others in your environment know? Day 20: Pay attention to your nonverbal communication. Notice how your own body language shifts throughout your day. Also note how you read the messages or information from other postures. If you are comfortable with someone, you might check out your mindful observations of their body language to see if you are reading it with accuracy. How often do you base your interactions based on another persons body language? Explore the world of non-verbals today as if you are a detective following a case. Be curious and try to reserve judgment as you hold open... read more

It’s A Bird – Mindfulness Day 19

As a kid, I would sometimes wish I could fly. I don’t think that is all that unusual for a kid. Kids have such great access to imagination. Their dreams and realities are much less constricted than our adult versions. Mindfulness often talks about a beginner’s mind. This is a way of experiencing something as if for the first time. It allows you to explore old and familiar things in a new way. Day 19: I am hoping you will try on a beginners mind today. Choose to experience something as though you have never seen it before. Perhaps your experience will be a sound, or a physical sensation, or it might be a sight. It could even be an internal reaction. If you are struggling to choose your experience for today, try looking to the sky. If you can find something that flies, look at it in a new way as though you have never seen it before. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super . . .... read more

Laugh And The World Laughs . . . Mindfulness Day 18

I like to refer to the idea that what you focus on grows bigger. When we worry, those things which cause us anxiety tend to grow. Mostly it grows because we are feeding it with our attention. Now this does not tend to be mindful attention. There is almost always some small piece of joy or kernel of happiness that we can also feed with our attention. Now this may need to be mindful attention. For some reason the drama of our worry can be more attractive than those small moments of peacefulness. Perhaps we think that if we let go of our worry that the terrible thing will sneak up on us. If we are not vigilant in our concern it will happen for sure. Unfortunately it is often our worry and anxiety that creates a strong foundation for those worries to come to life. And even if they don’t come to life they are already ruling our present moment. So today let’s take some time not to avoid the worry, but to make room for the joy and peaceful moments. Instead of worrying about the way we worry today . . . let’s just notice things that make us happy. In particular let’s pay attention to smiles and laughter, both witnessed in others and in ourselves. Day 18: Pay attention to smiles and laughter today. There are half smiles and smirks, there are full on grins. There are guffaws and trills. Pay attention to them all today. Fill you day with the sounds of laughter and the sights of smiles and be mindful of how you feel... read more

What Did You Say? – Mindfulness Day 17

My hackles went up . . . What did you just say? And a flood of heat rushes into my face. Defensiveness is a reaction with many components. We hear or see information, we interpret that information, we establish a meaning based the information perceived, and on past experience. Then we have a physical, emotional and mental reaction. As a counsellor I am often privy to this experience in others. If I am sitting with a couple or just conversing with an individual. I will often see clients take on a defensive posture, elevate their voice or become aggressive with their partner or with me. In sessions, I comment on this evidence and inquire about it. I may encourage the person to slow themselves down and to inquire as to the accuracy of their meaning making. As a human being I am also aware that I too have defensive reactions. I have noted that these defensive reactions will often escalate arguments and that they get in the way of me getting what I want. As a result, I like to try and note these reactions and try to choose my behavioural response with an increased awareness. Some of my most useful cues are physical. I will feel a rushing sensation in my legs and arms as my nervous system becomes activated. I may feel an increase of heat, especially in my face. Increasing awareness of your own defensive reactions allows your to be more mindful of your how your respond. Often a defensive reaction occurs because we feel threatened or hurt. This is the meaning making part of the... read more

Circles, Cycles and Patterns – Mindfulness Day 16

I have been thinking about circles and cycles. It started by explaining the concept of a wedding ring to my son, and the idea of the never ending circle or ring of love. Then I started noticing circular shapes and concepts. For instance the strength of a wheel, which we see everywhere. Then I began to think about seasons and that cycle of change, or the cycle of a day. This morning as I watched a robin pull a worm from the soil, I thought about the cycle of life. Circles, cycles and repeating patterns, as a counsellor I like to pay attention to these things. When I work with clients, I so often note that just by bringing a pattern or cycle into someone’s awareness, the pattern shifts. We can come up with homework that will attempt to change or shift the pattern if it is not healthy, but mindfulness around the pattern is one of the most effective agents of change. Patterns are persistent, but change is constant. Day 16: Today notice the circles and cycles in your life. Be mindful of all the variations of the circle and the way we use them in our society. There are many aspects to which you might direct your attention, purpose, metaphor, meaning, prevalence or size. Notice the ways that things in your life repeat. Be mindful of circles and cycles... read more

Why Wait? -Mindfulness Day 15

Sometime around the new year this year, I had a revelation of sorts. I don’t usually take on new years resolutions, but this one kind of seemed fitting for me and I decided to take the opportunity to make a commitment. I was struck by the phrase “I haven’t had a chance”. I would hear other people say this phrase and I would also hear it come out of my own mouth. When it came out of my mouth it felt like a bit of a ‘poor me’ excuse, and when I heard it from others I noticed that I felt a bit let down. I realized that it was about prioritizing. Whatever it was that I had not had a chance to do, I had not made it a priority. This is not to say that I didn’t put it in the correct order of priority, but it takes ownership for where I placed it among the demands of my life. We regularly make split second choices evaluating how we might best spend our time. I notice when I walk through my house I will notice things that need doing. Sometimes I look at these things many times before I choose to get them done. For instance that sock on the floor that needs to be put in the laundry. I might walk by it 5 plus times before I just pick it up and put it where it belongs. Many of the times I passed that sock, I probably again noted, “yup I should really pick up that sock!” This thought is ongoing clutter in my house... read more

Fear – Mindfulness Day 14

Fear is something that often guides our behaviour. Fear or the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt, fear of feeling foolish, fear of being misunderstood, or fear of hurting another, are all common fears that guide our everyday choices. An interesting aspect of fear is that as you turn and run away from it, it becomes bigger and more monstrous. When you turn and face your fear, it often shrinks and becomes more manageable. Imaginations can run wild when they are fed by fear. For instance when I took on this commitment to post a new mindful moment each day of June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month, I was fearful. Mostly because I don’t like to make commitments and let people down. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a new and impressive mindful moment each day. And my fear said, what if I forgot. My motivation came when I thought of the challenge I set before myself, and then that of living each day with a brain injury. I decided to face my fear! Some days I admit, I have struggled to come up with a new mindful moment the meets the criteria of my inner critic, and some days I have almost fogot, but I have also learned a lot about myself in the process. In thinking of mindful moments for you, I have played with them myself, which is always good learning. Day 14: Be aware of your fears. How do they guide your behaviour. What happens when you run from them? What happens when you face them? How do they... read more

Face to Face – Mindfulness Day 13

Our faces are by far the most expressive parts of our body. There are so many muscles and so many subtle changes that can communicate with the world. I am always amazed when I do a guided relaxation and the instructor talks about the muscles of the jaw or forehead, or the space between my eyes, at how much tension can be held by these tiny muscles. We read so much from each other with our facial expressions. Today I think it would be interesting to pay attention to the varied ways you use your face to communicate and to react. As well, it would be fascinating to watch these expressions in others today. Will you or do you have smile lines or frown lines? Day 13: Today be mindful of facial expressions, both your own and those of others. Pay attention to the subtle nuances and notice the meanings that you mean or that you make with these little changes. Do you make more meaning from a persons words or from their facial expressions? Which are your most dominant... read more

Speaking of the Seven Dwarves . . . Mindfulness Day 12

Mood can be described as a temporary state of mind or feeling. This definition suggests that we move through moods. I thought it might be interesting to be mindful of our ever changing moods today. I bet you even have some moods that are hard to identify. Unlike the moods of the seven dwarves, Happy, Grumpy and Dopey, our moods can be complicated and harder to define. There are so many ways to explore this topic, so allow yourself some freedom to get lost on one tangent or another, its all good information. This is a dymanic topic, but also one that is prone to patterns. Notice your own patterns. Some people get described as moody and others are maybe described as more consistent. Do your moods show? How do you think others describe you? Do you ride the waves of your emotions? Do you fight them? How do they transition? Do you use internal methods to shift your mood, such as self talk? Or do you rely on external measures such as a walk in nature or connecting with a good friend? Today we will be mindful of our moods. Enjoy the ride! Day 12: Be mindful of your mood today. How did you feel upon waking? When did you notice your first shift? Was it when you realized you don’t work today? Was it after your coffee? Was it in the shower? What are the elements that effect your mood? With which moods do you spend the most time? How do your moods effect the way that you connect with others? There is just so much to... read more