Mindfulness, Myths, and More!

I will admit that seeing the title of Mindful Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Barry Boyce, recent email blast: 5 things people get wrong about mindfulness, an immediate thought came to mind, “Yeah, I can think of more than 5.”

Noticing my immediate thought, I made the decision to take a mindful pause from my day and read the article. No expectations; just to see what he says.  See, I have a trigger about mindfulness which is: mindfulness in recent years has become so popular, that it’s also become very distorted.  This distortion increased confusion and does harm to the good that mindfulness practice provides. Also, the distortion and perpetuated myths trigger me.

Mindfulness has become perceived as this “practice” this “thing” that we “do,” and schedule time to “do,” where we sit cross-legged on some fluffy cushion in silence for hours, even a full day, and then go brag about it to the rest of the world.  The sitting on the cushion practice especially irritates me.  As a mindfulness and stress consultant, I practice and teach with the value of inclusion; Mindfulness is for everyone and not dependent on form such as sitting on a cushion cross-legged.  And frankly, images of mindful practice sitting on a cushion excludes people with physical disabilities such as neuropathy from diabetes to paralysis, Parkinson’s, and other physical limitations.  Heck, after the birth of my kids, sitting for too long, my hips start barking and I gladly reach for a high-density foam roller. And yet, I “practice” mindfulness every day. Wherever I am.  In any moment. Cushion-free.  🙂

I was a subscriber to Mindful.  But then with each issue, came again an image of a person sitting on a cushion; Which is an image often associated with practicing meditation.  Well, until I saw Vinny Ferraro, from Mindful Schools. I was thrilled to see Vinny’s head-shot on the cover of Mindful.  No cushion.  Just Vinny.  Just being. Taking classes with Mindful Schools and interacting with their educators and fellow mindful peers, I gave Mindful magazine a second chance.  After all, don’t we all deserve a second chance? Yeah. I believe so.

And in the moment of seeing Barry’s email, all of these thoughts that you’ve just read came flooding into my awareness.

So, I took a mindful pause and purposefully read.  And you know what? He’s spot on. Barry brings to our awareness common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness. He details each myth, calls out why it’s a myth, and then adds his (or Mindful Magazine’s) version of truth and reality. My only recommendation is to be mindful when using the terms “meditation” and “mindfulness” with the phrase “mindful meditation.” Clear and concise writing is essential when addressing myths to illustrate the intent because it’s not clear if he intends to use mediation and mindfulness as interchangeable terms. It looks that way, but I am not sure.  Perhaps Barry will address this in his next post.

I applaud Barry and Mindful for their public efforts to bring clarity to a mucky situation. With great wisdom comes great responsibility.  Sometimes that responsibility includes setting things straight.  Bravo! And yeah, I look forward to tomorrow and Myth 3.

A Child’s Wisdom

Kids. We can learn a lot from kids.  Sometimes kids are our teachers.  As adults, if we listen…truly listen, talk, ask questions…we find that yes, indeed they are the ones who are wise.

This pix is a summary of a conversation with my 9 y.o. son.  It happened tonight.  He’s an amazing kid. No bias, of course. When I told him of my plan to post as an unedited blog, he calmly said, “That’s great, Mom. I hope it helps a thousand people.  Yeah, a thousand.  That would be nice.”

So, if reading our conversation helps you, moves you, does something positive for you (and I hope it does)…please leave a comment. I’ll be sure to show him.

All my best, Dr. Deb

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Survivor 2 Warrior: Part 3


Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

I know today is tough for a lot of people and as the day goes on it’ll get tougher. I’m living proof that yes, you can get your life back, start feeling normal and amazing. Relationships can get better, stronger, and the journey can be without being controlled by the triggers, hooks, pain, frustration, and anger (see attached info-graphic below).

Keep your questions and comments coming – I’m totally jazzed at the excitement and outreach of people connecting; completely honored and blessed to serve everyone – post your comments and questions at the end of this video, blog, twitter feed and again, I’ll be answering all questions in the next email and video and sharing with everyone – thanks a bunch!

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Survivor to Warrior: Why


1 of 3 Video Series: Survivor to Warrior (including the Why Game Questions…which is located at the end of the blog)

Dr. Deb Lindh Transform Stress into Something Valuable – Post-Stress Growth, Grow Resilience, Happiness and Peace from the Pain, Hurt, Fear, Disappointment, Frustrations, Being and Feeling Stuck, and Effects of Stress.  Series Includes First Step of the “Why Game.”

A favor to ask…yes, I’m asking for another favor (which really helps us help you) – post your comments and questions at the end of this video, blog, twitter feed and I will answer all questions in the second part of this series. Any questions you have, I’ll answer. We’ll be answering these questions and the questions from the stress survey – and sharing those with everyone –  thanks a bunch!

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Practical Mindfulness Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving!

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The holidays.  Just the thought brings up a lot of feelings and emotions. As I write this post, I’m thinking about the person and people who are getting ready for today’s family gathering.  You know, the big family Thanksgiving feast that offers more than just food.  It’s the “dance” of relationships, interactions, the memories of past that haunt, and even can plague a person’s mind.  Yup. I’m thinking of you.  Maybe you’re already experiencing stress just thinking of today’s family gathering which is hours away.  Will sister Sue tease you about your weight/job/etc., or will Uncle Joe make “that” comment which causes your stomach to cramp because his comments are so incompatible with your values and beliefs…but that’s Uncle Joe, right?

Some people say these types of family dynamics are what makes family – family.  I disagree.  These types of dynamics lack responsibility, accountability, and perpetuate a continuation of inherited patterns of dysfunction all which lead to stress and unhappiness.

So, what can we do?  How can people prepare for today’s family gathering and still have a Happy Thanksgiving?

Some practical mindfulness (that means real-time awareness…stuff you can use/do anywhere, anytime…no need to “schedule” to breathe..btw, you’re breathing right now) tips for a Happy Thanksgiving.

1. Be Mindful – Being mindful begins with being aware; knowing your hooks and triggers (aka buttons pushed – what are they? Who knows them?  Who’s really good at pushing them?). Also, be 100% responsible for you and make the best decisions for yourself. Know that the word “best” varies from person to person and here I’m talking to you, not mom, dad, Sue, Uncle Joe – but you.  Being mindful starts with the self; meaning yourself.  It’s internal and then extended outwardly.  So, be mindful, 100% responsible for your thoughts/actions, and make the best decisions for yourself.

2. Decisions – Decisions, decisions, decisions. How do we make the right decision? What if we make the wrong decision? First, not making a decision is really making a decision; it’s a decision of denial. So, make a decision; any decision…just make one. Secondly, fear is our worst enemy.  Fear causes people to worry and paralyzes people into an infinite loop of “what if” and “should.” Find comfort in realizing that making a decision is a first step in being responsible – which is one of the best gifts to yourself and your family.  Arm yourself with making a commitment to yourself before the family gathering. Yes, a commitment to yourself.  For example, how much time are you willing stay at the event – 3 hours, 4 hours?  Make a commitment, set a limit, and stick to it! The sticking to it is a huge part of the decision of a commitment to yourself. Lastly, prepare for decisions during the event – decide now (not when you get there) how you want to respond to Sister Sue and Uncle Joe. Keep in mind that a response does not necessarily mean a verbal response, what it means is what do you want to do and how do you want to behave in situations that can for example push your buttons.  Know now.  Prepare now. Do then.

3. Choices – Choices come in two basic forms: Negative and Positive. For family gatherings, negative choices would include doing the dance with Uncle Joe and Sister Sue by returning the fuel and pushing their buttons, or participating in gossip and drama.  Engaging in these types of choices is fairly obvious as they’ll often be stressful, draining, and toxic.  On the other hand, positive choices such as hanging out with people who you truly enjoy their company and playing with the kids are uplifting and reduce stress.

4. Happiness – Isn’t this what we are try to achieve, feel, and be when getting together with family; especially during Thanksgiving? While gratitude brings joy and thankfulness brings appreciation, we often need to remind ourselves – to be mindful –  to be aware – and to allow ourselves (yes, allow ourselves) to be happy. We can do this by reflecting on what we are grateful for, who we are thankful for in our lives, and by counting our blessings.  We all have blessings. Be mindful, aware, thankful, and grateful for those blessings.  These will lead to joy and happiness!

Thank you for reading my blog.  Thank you for allowing me to serve you.  I’m humbled to do this work and grateful for the many people who’ve shared what this work had done for them.  Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Share your comments, postings, let me know how this worked for you!

Mindful Change

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Change.  Change is constant yet people resist change.  There are many reasons why people resist change; everything from it’s too different from what is ‘normal’ to being forced to change.

Though this is true reality, so are the advantages to change.  I find that many people already know benefits of change.  Heck, I’ve feel the same way myself and can write a laundry list of benefits.  What I’ve found is that in the sea of reasons and benefits, people seek questions to help them with the process of first, deciding on to make the plunge (or not), and second, people are looking for help with knowing what to ask themselves.

I’ve listed a few questions to help with these needs.  These questions are mindful questions; they address surface problems and uncover root causes.  Read them over.  Sit with them for a while.  Write down the first 10 answers that come to mind.  Review the responses later that day, a day later, and then 1 week later; make changes and adjustments to your responses.  After a week has passed ask yourself and answer the question: What do I want to do? Then you’ll have an answer.  For now.  For this moment in time.

  • Mindful Questions to the Advantages to Change
  • What are the advantages? To me, personally?
  • What are the results? What will they be? How would I describe/communicate them to others?  **If the details are unclear, revise to the point where they are clear and you could explain to someone else.
  • How do the advantages fit with my values and beliefs, the stuff I know to be “true” from experience and with my needs?
  • How will this work for me? What is my overall sense or “test” to know that it’s working?

How did this work for you?  Share with me your comments and questions!

Mindful Eating – You are what you eat

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We know a lot about what to eat (fresh fruits and vegetables) and what not to eat (yeah, the whole bag of potato chips).  But what about the how, what, and why of eating mindfully?

Combining the how we eat, what we eat, why we eat with mindfulness means that we eat with awareness.  It’s not that people don’t already know that eating potato chips or fast and processed foods are not the best sources of nutrition.  People already know these food sources are not good for them.

So, why do we eat this stuff?  Why are we still grabbing the fast, quick, to-go foods?

This is where mindful eating brings “awareness” to what we are eating, why we are eating, and how we can develop a new relationship with food.

For example, when grabbing a handful of candy at the office ask yourself the question “Is this really what I want to eat? Why am I eating this…for a sugar rush because I’m tired?”  People might just find themselves understanding their real reasons and triggers for eating something.  For some, this awareness can be a big “ah ha” moment to make changes with eating habits.

Another example, when eating any meal, become aware of the foods on your plate, how fast you eat, and how the food tastes.  Often, people are in such a rush, eating a pile of food on the plate in record time becomes an automatic way of eating.  Instead, try sitting down at a meal and make the experience different by eating new foods, slowly enjoying a meal and savoring the flavors, or changing the dining environment.  While doing these new things become aware of the changes. You may experience feeling full earlier, notice the food tastes better, decide you no longer like a particular food, or the new surroundings may put you in a better mood.

By becoming aware and practicing mindful eating, people will begin to notice subtle changes emotionally, physically, and energetically; your mood, your body, and overall sense of self.  To further the practice of mindful eating, try keeping notes of your experiences in a journal or electronic tablet.  Review and use your notes of foods that make you feel better as part of foods to include on shopping trips.

Mindful eating is about taking time to enjoy eating, to be aware of what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat that ultimately cares for us in the best way emotionally, physically and energetically.

Please share additional tips in the Comments section or on our twitter feed.

 

Some Facts About Stress

Everyone experiences stress and yet there is a lot of information floating around about stress.  Some of the information is correct while some information is incorrect.  Just yesterday I read an article from a Twitter link that was clearly incorrect.  I thought about responding to the Twitter feed and including a source that would have invalidated the article.  However, I decided to post a blog that shares accurate information.  Also, the situation reaffirmed my commitment to producing sound scientific research in an applied environment, adhering to the ethics and practice of “do no harm,” and to share this information for the betterment and legacy of people, organizations, societies and our planet.

So, here are some facts about stress:

  •  For over 9 decades, studies of stress have been gaining popularity within the behavioral, social, and health sciences. The term stress originated from the field of physics to denote how manmade structures must resist deformation caused by external forces. In physics, stress referred to the external pressure or force applied to a structure, while strain denoted the resulting internal distortion of the structure (Hinkle, 1974). Borrowing the term from physics to apply it to the behavioral sciences, Hans Selye (1974) adopted the term stress and changed its usage to mean circumstances that place physical or psychological demands on an individual. Historically, the three main theorists of stress are physiologist Walter Cannon, endocrinologist Hans Selye, and psychologist Richard Lazarus.
  • Stress means different things to different people; therefore, there are several definitions of the term.  Stress researcher Hans Selye (1974) defined stress as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it” (p. 14).  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defined job stress as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 1999, p. 7).
  • Stress at work leads to a variety of consequences for both the employee and the organization.  In a 2011 study conducted by The American Psychological Association, 70% of Americans indicated that work was a significant source of their stress: a consistent finding of the past 5 years (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011). Another study conducted by NIOSH (1999) showed that 40% of employees indicated their jobs were very or extremely stressful.
  • Just as in the United States, workplace stress is a common problem worldwide. In a 2011 study conducted by The American Psychological Association, 70% of Americans indicated that work was a significant source of their stress: a consistent finding of the past 5 years (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011). Another study conducted by NIOSH (1999) showed that 40% of employees indicated their jobs were very or extremely stressful. While the United States and the Netherlands place more work demands on employees requiring longer working hours (Kenny & Cooper, 2003), countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom are finding that stress is a major contributor to employee disease, depression, and injury, and lowered company productivity (Price, 2004; Ryan & Watson, 2004).
  • The financial impact of workplace stress also affects businesses all around the globe. Workplace stress is estimated to cost United States organizations more than $300 billion dollars every year in lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and medical, legal, and insurance costs (Rosch, 2001). In Canada, the issue of workplace stress costs 6 billion Canadian dollars annually (Price, 2004). Further, the United Kingdom reports that an estimated 200 million working days each year are lost due to illnesses caused by workplace stress (Ryan & Watson, 2004). Additional financial effects include employee lawsuits for workplace stress with monetary awards (Rosch, 2001), an increase in workers’ compensation, and an increase in disability claims (NIOSH, 1999). These and other reports suggest that workplace stress is a growing global epidemic.
  • To address workplace stress, many organizations have responded by integrating stress management interventions (SMIs) such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs (Kabat-Zinn, 1990) and relaxation techniques such as breathing practices, meditation, guided imagery, and yoga (Feldman, Greeson & Senville, 2010; Schure, Christopher & Christopher, 2008). The purpose of these programs is to improve the workplace environment and reduce employee stress. Although they have been proven effective and continue to gain interest, these programs are not part of current standard business practices. One proposed reason for this is that executives require interventions to be effective and inexpensive, and require low time investment with an immediate change (Applebaum, 1975; Burke, 2008; Kotter, 1996). Secondly, in order to measure effectiveness, today’s researchers, clinicians, human resource professionals, and OD consultants use traditional quantitative surveys and questionnaires that were developed and validated 15-25 years ago (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961; Brantley, Waggoner, Jones & Rappaport, 1987; Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983; Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Rosenberg, 1965; Vitaliano, 1985). While they are practical to use within business environments, these survey measurements are outdated and do not represent today’s workforce, organization, and global economy.

So, what can we do about this? Well, for starters this is one of the reasons why I built a company founded from my doctoral research.  Our continued applied research is scientifically sound, practical, and uses an innovative device for stress measurement.  Our proprietary processes are proven to reduce employee stress and increase employee well-being as well as increase performance and productivity. To find out more or request a complementary consultation, contact us at info@debralindh.com.

References:

American Psychological Association. (2011). Stress in America: Our health at risk. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/final-2011.pdf

Applebaum, S. (1975). Management development and organizational development: An integrative approach, Business and Society, 16(1), 25-30. doi:10.1177/ 000765037501600104

Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561-571. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710120031004

Brantley, P. J., Waggoner, C. D., Jones, G. N., & Rappaport, N. B. (1987). A daily stress inventory: Development, reliability, and validity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 10(1), 61-73.

Burke, W. (2008). Organization change: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385-396.

Feldman, G., Greenson, J., & Senville, J. (2010). Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts, Behavior Research and Therapy, 48, 1002-1011. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2010.06.006

Hinkle, L. E. (1974). The concept of “stress” in the biological and social sciences. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 5(4), 335-357. doi:10.2190/91DK-NKAD-1XP0-Y4RG

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Review Press.

Kenny, D. T., & Cooper, C. L. (2003). Introduction: Occupational stress and its management. International Journal of Stress Management, 4, 275-279. doi:10.1037/1072-5245.10.4.275

Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). Maslach Burnout Inventory: MBI.–. Consulting psychologists press.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (1999). Stress at work. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf

Price, C. (2004). Workplace stress costs billions. Benefits Canada, 28(12), 83.

Rosch, P. J. (Ed.). (2001, March). The quandary of job stress compensation. Health and Stress, 3, 1-4.

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSE). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Measures Package, 61.

Ryan, D., & Watson, R. (2004). A healthier future. Occupational Health, 56, 20-21.

Schure, M., Christopher, J., & Christopher, S. (2008). Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counseling students through yoga, meditation, and qigong, Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 47-56. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2008.tb00625.x

Selye, H. (1974). Stress without distress. London, England: Transworld.

Vitaliano, P. P., Russo, J., Carr, J. E., Maiuro, R. D., & Becker, J. (1985). The ways of coping checklist: Revision and psychometric properties. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 20(1), 3-26.

 

 

Change…

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Change.  Looking up the word ‘change’ generated over 2 million search hits on Google.  It’s time for change.  Over the next few weeks and even months, the Dr. Debra Lindh website will be going through, well, change.  Yes, this is true.  Change is often difficult to embrace.  Some people do embrace change, while others shy away and even some completely avoid change.  I’m fully embracing this change.  Thinking of change, these quotes came to mind, “when one door closes, another opens,” “a chapter ends, and another begins,” and “things do not change, we change.”   At the same time, thinking of change has brought these songs to mind:  Don’t Go Changing by Billy Joel, Roll With the Changes by REO Speedwagon, and Changes by David Bowie.

I found it interesting that as I planned for change, I noticed that change was already happening.  Everything from planning out the changes, the details, meeting with people to discuss ideas, and putting into place some of the ‘doing’ items.  So, what exactly is changing with the website, what does it look like, and what does it mean for you?  Here are some of the answers:

  1. Stress.  The Dr. Debra Lindh website is a resource for stress research and consulting; particularly in the areas of occupational stress and employee wellness at the individual, group, and organization levels. This means that sharing of current research, case studies, and publications as well as other resources.
  2. AIR.  This is an acronym for the process known as AIRwhich means: Assess, Integrate, Results.  This is the type of work I provide: to assess stress, integrate a stress reduction intervention, and measure results.  Why integrate and not implement? I recently said to someone, “Implement means to do.  Integrate means to become.” Thus, people learn a new still that becomes part of them which then reduces stress.
  3. Quantum OD.  Quantum ODinvolves the application of integrating energy-based practices rooted in quantum physics and cultural traditions from Asia, Europe, and the United States to promote transformation and development for individuals, groups, and organizations.  Quantum ODworks with subtle energies associated with intuition, consciousness, and energetic levels.  These energy-based practices are recognized and practiced by colleagues in organization development as well as psychology and recognized by professional associations such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.

Other changes and additions are part of the planning. The above list is a few details with more to come.  Of course, on Twitter I continue to share “Mindfulness Monday” and “Mindfulness Tip” postings as well as supporting images on Pinterest.

Commitment

During this time of flux, commitment is in the forefront. The question to ponder, reflect, and ultimately answer is: Are we willing to do whatever it takes?

This is different than hooking on details, history, past decisions, mistakes, goals, etc. When making this decision, we can no longer hold on to what prevents us from moving forward. It doesn’t mean we forget, it means we keep the memory without being bound and stuck in the emotion.

It is about the present. Right now. This moment.

The choice is the answer. And the answer will manifest the future.