Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mindful Living Class Goffstown, NH

Mindful Living 7-Week Series in Goffstown, NH

February 14th thru April 4th
Thursdays 6:45PM to 8PM
No class week of February 24th 
More details about registration and fees can be found at:
http://goffstown.k12.nh.us/AED/
Class offered thru Adult Education Program at Goffstown High School





This 7-week class will introduce aspects of mindfulness, and explore meditation to help you perhaps feel more moments of calm, reduce stress/worry and enhance or bring about a greater sense of well being to everyday life.

Some specific topics we will explore/discuss are:

Mindfulness as it relates to eating, communication, relationships, parenting, and daily life as we know it.

Meditation as a means to both cultivate calm and gain greater awareness/focus.

Breaking down the barriers to meditation and dispelling some of the myths that exist concerning practice.
  
This program is based, in part, upon the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, MBSR, that was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Mindful Living class in Goffstown, NH is an exploration of that MBSR program, a “taste” if you will, of what the full 8-week program has to offer. 

It is also an opportunity to learn about mindfulness and meditation in a fun, informal manner that will give everyone a chance to develop some new skills to help tackle problems and feel more at ease with life.

In addition to teaching this Mindful Living class, I provide meditation instruction, both privately and in class settings. I have over 20 years of personal experience in mindfulness, meditation and yoga. In 2012, I completed the professional teacher-training practicum at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. My earlier corporate career was in the banking, manufacturing and computer industries  where, in addition to my management/sales/marketing responsibilities,  I taught and developed a myriad of training programs focused on team building and leadership skills.

Please Note: The Mindful Living class is not meant to take the place of the actual, consecutive 8-week MBSR program. It is, however, a great way to learn more about elements of the program, along with several meditation techniques that could enhance your current meditation or mindfulness practices. In addition, if you are or have been a participant of MBSR, this class may help you to refresh your knowledge of its benefits as well.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the DEEP Freeze!



Looks like temps might rise up to a balmy 23 degrees by Sunday here in the cold New England area! Can't wait. Woke to a thermometer that read -2 degrees this morning with windchill significantly lower! And it is not just here, in the snowy north, where it is expected, but the plunging temps cover a large portion of the country.

So here are just a few of my observations/reflections on the cold from someone who prefers summer. I can however still appreciate the unpredictable nature and stellar beauty of winter, from the warmth of my home, heated car and layered protective outer wear of course!

My body feels like the moisture has been air vacuumed out of me: prickly, itchy and tight. So dry in fact that I am uncannily drawn to any skin care product right now that uses the words "intense, deep or penetrating hydration" in its advertising. And it goes without saying that my lips crave moisture too! Just bought a great one yesterday by Berts Bees, in case you are interested, infused with Kokum butter and comes in a tube. It is divine and keeps my lips well lubricated for a long time. Pucker up!

My son has been so restless and rather crabby upon his return from school each day which I suspect is due in part to the fact that the kids cannot go out to play if the temps are below 20. Outdoor play is so important, for kids and adults alike, but frigid temps are not safe. I get that, but it is hard sometimes! Very hard.

I always chuckle at the people, men in particular,  spotted wearing shorts in weather like this. Is it a NH or New England phenomenon? I see more scruffy guys, in baggy shorts, wearing them with aplomb and looking at us like we are the crazy ones and daring us to challenge their manhood. It is like some "rite of passage" and makes me think if they could unstick their frozen lips they might utter "ugh, me strong as ox and tough as bison" as they beat their chest and climb into their heated vehicle. I don't see them driving around with their windows open, beards blowing in the wind. Apparently the flash of leg  and exposure to the elements is just a teensy bit for our benefit and not their own perhaps.

Then there is the ice that cakes around the windows each night, especially the ones that are directly over a heat duct. Which happens to be a lot in in this house! So I run around with towels wiping down window sills before the water hits the floor. I try raising all the blinds part way each night but still the ice forms. I lower the humidity, but within reason as the brutality of dry, blowing hot air wrecks havoc on the sinuses.

The deer came traipsing through my yard last week, prior to the deep freeze, eating everything in sight. They are a family of five that have been coming here since the 3 youngest were fawns, so I have grown accustomed to their gentle presence. I am fairly generous with my shrubs and let them imbibe until I saw one munching on some heather that I nursed back to life after last winter. I rapped on the window, as 5 sets of ears all perked up in their attempt to determine if it signaled danger. Typically, this would be enough to make them move on, but it only gave them pause as they moved slowly over to other shrubs, but thankfully left the heather alone. Food clearly trumped danger as their uncanny and highly developed animal instincts sensed the impending cold approaching. Beefing up vital fat stores for energy and warmth took precedent. I could not blame them one bit!

Even our cats have been acting rather odd lately. Running amok each night in a frenzied chase that typically only happens once a month or so. But in this cold, it has become a nightly ritual of hilarity for us to watch! They zoom and sail over furniture and up and down the stairs as though something were in fierce pursuit of them. The chaos lasts about 5 minutes and in the end, with heaving chests the tired cats all hunker down on the sofa to curl up against us for further warmth.

There are other less significant signs of the cold. Light bulbs burning out all over the house. In fact we have changed 8 so far in the last few weeks. Loud snaps and pops that startle are heard from the roof as it settles in for the night bracing itself till dawn arrives. Water turns colder in the tap much quicker then usual, but hot water seems to take forever to heat up. Layering clothes is a must. I have had on my "oh so soft" flannel lined jeans and fleece sweaters for days now. (Fashion can take a back seat, warmth is key in my book!)

So while we all hunker down waiting for the thaw, it is comforting to know we live in a place where the weather does indeed change in more noticeable ways then others. This is not Siberia or Antarctica,  so we pause and we wait and it will all pass soon enough. At the very least it gives us something to talk about, right?

Warmest thoughts to everyone!

NEWS FLASH! A beautiful BARRED OWL has been warming up in the tree just outside my back slider window! A never before seen site it my yard. I often hear them calling at night to one another but this cold, blustery day has indeed brought even the owls out of their hiding in search of warmth. How wonderful to see!






Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mindfulness Training for Teachers and Kids

There seems to be an abundance of information in the media these days about mindfulness, or perhaps I am just more acutely aware of it since deciding to focus my career within the field of mindfulness training and meditation. Not precisely sure, but one thing I do know is that there is a growing movement to bring mindfulness training into the classrooms for kids and teachers.

Ah yes, I know what you are thinking. Here is one more thing for teachers to add to their already overloaded day that is filled with district requirements, parental inquiries, meetings and trainings. Plus the fact that many teachers are parents too and need to be there for their own children as well as all of ours. So, it would seem finding time to add one more requirement for kids developmental needs can indeed be daunting. Rightfully so.

In light of all that I am hesitant to say that all teachers should be trained in mindfulness practices, or that it be required of them, but I can certainly attest to the benefits it can and does bring to not only their lives but that of their students. Plus, it bares mentioning that parents who are trained in mindfulness skills can also learn ways to work with their children. I am not advocating mindfulness training as one more thing that teachers need do in order to teach our children so that we, as parents, don't have to take responsibility. Quite the contrary. It is something that all of us can benefit from both in and out of the classroom, workplace or home environment.

Let me give you an example of how a very mindful reaction to a most stressful occurrence played out recently in my son's life. He had been playing at a friend's house when suddenly one slipped foot later his head rebounded off a wooden cross beam on a play structure causing him to strike a sharp blow that made him fall to the ground. A good deal of blood started to deepen the surrounding snow making it look in my sons words, like a strawberry slushie. He was incredibly frightened as he thought perhaps his skull was cracked. He laid down in the snow, as his friend left a snowball behind and ran to get his mother for help. My son then placed this snowball on his head, as he waited for help to arrive. I could not have asked for more loving attention to my son in what I know was a most frightening scenario for her as well. Ty appeared OK after the wound was cleared of all the free flowing blood that had matted his incredibly thick head of hair.  Luckily it seemed to not require stiches. My husband took him to an Urgent Care Center, just to make sure all was indeed OK, and it was, to all our great relief.

In bed that night, as my son and I were talking about the days events, I felt a sense of his security in knowing that all would be fine. It was at that moment and for the first time that day that I chose to bring up the question of fear. The timing felt right in that warm, safe environment of the bedroom. I asked him if he had been scared when it happened and if he could remember what he had been thinking about as it occurred. He said, without hesitation, that he had been very afraid and had even started to cry, but then he said to himself "I need to keep calm so I am going to think about my breath." Even writing this brings a waves of joyous wonder to my heart! To think that my son, who is 8, was able to take a most stressful situation that involved an injury at this point, unknown to him, and in that moment of of extreme fear, he had an inner resolve to keep calm and breathe! That was a truly sublime moment for me and a validation of all the mindfulness work that has gone into ensuring he has the ability to face the challenges of adulthood. After all, our primary job as parents is to get them prepared to face life. And not just academic or athletic preparedness, which I happen to think we often place far too much emphasis on as a benchmark for success in life,  but emotionally capable. So while the story of my son may not have transpired at school, his use of mindfulness skills in a particularly stressful situation came in quite handy that day and can be easily transferred to any setting.

The University of California, San Diego, UCSD Center for Mindfulness, has launched an introductory training program for teachers that enables them to learn how to bring mindfulness  into the classroom in a way that does not overburden or over extend their full day. Click on the link below for further information.

UCSD Mindfulness Training for Teachers

I know this is not the only place that is providing such training for teachers, in fact if you Google mindfulness teacher training for kids there are quite a number of resources that come up. Fact is, it is a movement that has taken more then a foot hold in this country, due to the tireless work of people like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli over at U Mass Medical School who have made it their life goal to provide information and worldwide exposure to mindfulness training so more and more people learn to implement these very simple and yet so meaningful methods into daily life. 

If you know of a teacher who may be interested please take a moment or two to pass this information and link along to them as well.I can attest to the fact that the earlier you learn these skills the more they become a part of your daily life and WILL give kids some solid, tangible ways to face, what I consider to be some of the hardest moments in developing their young minds and bodies.

I told my son, after he shared his fear with me in that safe and most intimate moment before sleep, that I was so very proud of him for having recognized and keenly made a decision about how to calm himself in that terrifying present moment. I further told him if he can bring this same skill into his life as he continues to grow up that he will be able to handle a lot of what life has in store for him. He hugged me and that said it all!

By the way, mindfulness sounds so easy to many, but it can be most challenging a process to engage in on a daily basis. The more you practice however, the more it can become second nature, which is why teaching children is so vital to consider.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mindful Living Class in Goffstown, NH

 
Mindful Living 7-Week Series in Goffstown, NH

February 14th thru April 4th
Thursdays 6:45PM to 8PM
No class week of February 24th

More details about registration and fees can be found at:
http://goffstown.k12.nh.us/AED/
Class offered thru Adult Education Program at Goffstown High School




This 7-week class will introduce aspects of mindfulness as well as explore meditation to help each of us find more moments of calm, reduce stress/worry and enhance or bring about a greater sense of well being to everyday life.

This program is based, in part, upon the wonderful 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, MBSR, that was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Introduced some 30 years ago, it has given rise to well over 700 programs offered worldwide in hospitals, schools, businesses and health care centers.

The Mindful Living class in Goffstown, NH is an exploration of that MBSR program, a “taste” if you will, of what the full 8-week program has to offer. It is an opportunity to learn about mindfulness and meditation in a fun, informal manner that will give everyone a chance to develop some new skills to help tackle problems and feel more at ease with life. 

In addition to teaching this Mindful Living class, I provide meditation instruction, both privately and in class settings. I have over 20 years of personal experience in mindfulness, meditation and yoga. In 2012, I completed the professional teacher-training practicum at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. My much earlier corporate career was in the banking, manufacturing and computer industries  where, in addition to my management/sales/marketing responsibilities,  I taught and developed a myriad of training programs focused on team building and leadership skills.

Please Note: The Mindful Living class is not meant to take the place of the actual, consecutive 8-week MBSR program. It is, however, a great way to learn more about elements of the program, along with several meditation techniques that could enhance your current meditation or mindfulness practices. In addition, if you are or have been a participant of MBSR, this class may help you to refresh your knowledge of its benefits as well. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Meditate? Me? Why?



Like many people of my generation, I first heard about meditation when I was quite young from the many well documented escapades of The Beatles. I think it was Beatle George Harrison who took so ardently to meditation and snaps of him with his white robes and flowing beard, lying on the ground, asleep, or so it seemed to me,  were in print everywhere.  At that time, it was considered to be an oddly mystical and strange concept, something most people simply did not do, least of all learn. It was not until much later when I was in my late twenties, and working in a career that left me longing for more calm, that I started to seriously consider meditation. It came to me at a time when there was a bit more information available about how to meditate but no places, close to where I lived,  to learn alongside others. Books were limited on the subject as well and hard to understand as many were interlaced with a lot of Eastern philosophy and terminology that was hard to pronounce, much less comprehend. Sadly, meditation, even years after the iconic images of the yogis and The Beatles, tended to be viewed by many as "new age drivel" and not worth a serious persons attention.

There were however some insightful innovators coming on the horizon. Dr. Herbert Benson, who at the time was at Harvard Medical School, pioneered a process and wrote a book about it called "The Relaxation Response. " Dr. Benson had studied the long term positive effects of meditation and recognized the value it inherently brought by providing people with a step by step process to cultivate calm. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn,  at the University of Massachusetts Medical School,  was about to launch a groundbreaking  program for patients at the hospital, called the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program that would forever change the way people viewed meditation and mindfulness. His subsequent book was/is called "Full Catastrophe Living" which details a well studied and carefully presented 8 week program that has to this date, given rise to well over 700 programs world wide and helped thousands of people to manage their own lives in ways too numerous to expound on here. Two highly regarded men, among the many others that followed,  who were in the forefront of providing people in the west with a practical approach to meditation that most anyone could relate to and understand. (NOTE: I completed the professional MBSR practicum teacher training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society.)

Today, there are literally thousands of books on the subject espousing the many benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices,  as well as a host of solid medical research studies that now prove what many eastern based philosophies and religions understood so well. Meditation works!

I meditate for a variety of reasons. One is to bring greater clarity to my thoughts and actions. As I age, my mind is not as adept at handling the stressors of daily life as it was when I was younger. I am literally more emotional as my hormones wane in my brain at this pre-menopausal time. The calming balance of estrogen and progesterone are becoming a thing of the past as my body seeks new ways to maintain equilibrium.  A period of time that can take years till it settles down. This entire process greatly affects my mood and my ability to find more calm moments.

Second, I do it for the increased ability to concentrate and focus. How many of us came up through the ranks of job seekers who were taught to use the words "ability to multi-task." I looked recently at an older copy of my resume and those words sat like a proud beacon to my super human powers to do multiple things at once. Who was I kidding? How can someone possibly focus on more then one thing at a time and master them all? Not many to be sure, in fact, in today's business world the ability to multi-task is not thought to be the asset that it was many years ago. Multi tasking could imply you are easily distracted or not able to hone in on what is most important or crucial.

Third, I meditate to bring about a greater sense of well being to my every day life. Like many of us, life does not get simpler as we grow older. I now have a host of medical doctors for the many age related issues that arise. While none of them are life threatening, they do present complications that can affect my ability to enjoy life as much as I did in my younger less doctor oriented days! Plus, I have an 8 year old son, who is my joy, but also being a parent presents its own set of challenges as my life ebbs and flows with his, and not always at the same time. Meditation and mindfulness opens me up more often to be fully present in this moment and not lost in the endless barrage of "what if" scenarios that can and do rear their head now and again!

The reasons why people meditate are varied. Not everyone decides to meditate because of pain, health concerns, stress, anxiety, depression or a need to relax more. Some people simply decide to meditate as a means to enhance further their already meaningful and full lives.

The beauty of meditation is that you don't have change your religious affiliation or alter your lifestyle by heading off to exotic locales to sit on a cushion, for weeks on end to find peace. That may sound great for some of you, but for most of us, we are looking for ways to bring about this greater sense of happiness and well-being, right here and right now, in the midst of life as we know it. Sounds good to me!