Health · motivation · Personal Success · relationships · Silence

Focal Point

 

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Taking a good picture with a manual camera requires forethought, patience and careful calibration. You choose what you take a picture of  – that is, you choose what you focus on.

You also choose what you focus to think about.  There is new scientific data that shows people who choose to meditate and/or think positively have increased plasticity of their brains. That is, they have strong external and internal networks in their brains. External networks light up when people think about external tasks and internal networks refer to matters that “involve themselves or emotions.”

Buddhist monks meditate and direct their minds to think compassionate thoughts and positive reflections. They purposely think this way.

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who ironically, suffered a brain hemorrhage. It (temporarily) disabled her ability for language and logic. With that, she was left with a dominant right hemisphere brain: creativity, intuition and imagination. She was happy. She was completely present and non-judgmental. All her thinking (and worrying) ceased. She had no negative thoughts! As her left brain recovered, she made up her mind (haha) to never go back. She chooses to think happy thoughts and to be blissful.

How do you do this?

Bolte Taylor says, “When you find yourself thinking negatively, it feels bad in your body. As soon as you feel it happening, think about something else!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

comic · Health · Personal Success · Silence · women

How I Got Back on Track

 

When my daughters were six and seven, I realized something shameful.

I had a tummy paunch and was telling myself it was post-pregnancy fat. Yep, six years after giving birth, I excused and denied my mottled middle.

My moment of reckoning occurred at a Cold Stone Creamery of all places. We were eating our favorites: Ava with her Chocolate Devotion, Josie with her Strawberry Blonde and me with my Coffee Lovers. Boy, were we having a great time!

ice-cream

Before I get further with this story, I want to make something clear: there is nothing wrong with love handles or a bit of pudge. As long as YOU’RE OK with it. I was not OK with my weight. I wore loose clothing and felt badly when I undressed. It’s just me….I feel best about myself when I am fit. I have a small frame and I feel uncomfortable with excess pounds. This is not a judgment about other people. It’s about me confronting something I was unhappy about and how I changed it.

Continuing…We got up from the table when a very fit woman walked past the window.

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She walked just like this…

“Wow, she’s fit,” I said, wistfully.

“Mommy, you look good too, everywhere except your tummy.” Josie said.

As with all children, her words rang true. I had let myself go a bit. I licked the final bits of Coffee Lovers off my upper lip. I fought tears. And I sighed.

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I was ready to change.

In the next year, I lost 7 lbs. and got fit again. I had more energy and I was in a better mood much of the time. How did I do this?

I simply changed my habits.

Instead of going out for ice cream, I took the girls out for walks. We didn’t stop going out for treats entirely, we just cut back.

Instead of eating when I felt bored or stressed, I started jogging and doing yoga again. BUT, I made it a habit and I rewarded myself each time. According to Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), this is THE key to success.  I woke up an hour early every day. I put on my workout clothes which I laid out the night before. After my workout, I had a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I reveled in feeling the endorphins run through my body and my coffee became my reward. I told myself, “No workout, no coffee.” I like coffee a LOT. That was enough to keep me going.

Honestly, I believe I am in better shape now than I was 25 years ago.

 

 

Is there something you want to change? How can you develop habits to make it happen? It’s easier than you think! I highly recommend Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit.” It’s very entertaining and informative.

 

*Photos from unsplash.com

 

education · Health · Silence

Walking Meditation

Opal baby

I read about the “Happiest Man in The World” Matthieu Riccard, a Buddhist monk.

I was intrigued both by his title and the advice he gives to “be happy.” His happiness measurement was taken by a “highly complex MRI scan” conducted by cognitive scientists. Basically, he’s off the charts with his happiness.

How does he attain such bliss?

According to Riccard, happiness is something you must cultivate by practice. You have to look in the right places and you have to be aware of your intention – your intention is to be happy. Happiness is not something that just happens to you.

Secondly, you must work to rid yourself of mental toxins. This is a very challenging task during this election year. Included in the definition of negativity are: greed, envy and pride. Again, this is an enormous obstacle for our “selfie” generation!

Learn to master your inner mental state. Be aware of anger and allow it to dissipate. You are not your anger. And contrary to popular belief, anger is not “natural.”

Meditate. Studies show the efficacy of this practice. Start with focusing on your breath as it goes in and out. When you do this, thoughts cannot enter your mind. This is meditation.

Riccard also recommends that you think only positive thoughts for 15 minutes straight. I tried this during my morning walk with Opal. Although it was nearing 90 degrees F. at 5:30am, I arrived home refreshed, energized and…happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

education · fears · Health · relationships · Silence · women · writers · writing

Listen

 

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever received was from my editor at a San Francisco paper.

I was freelancing as a writer and I was about to interview the oldest living person  in the United States at the time, a 107 year old woman in a nursing home. Bruce, the owner of the paper, said, “When you sit down for an interview, ask the question and wait. Wait longer than you want to because she might tell you something in that space you’d ask the next question.” And he was right.

Time and time again, this advice has been rewarding – in personal and professional – relationships.

Observe successful journalists, mentors and other “wise” people in your life. They listen.

Get comfortable with silence.  It could be full of meaning.