Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mindfulness Monday: Resources

Here we go! It's kind of exciting to be starting a new blogging journey. The thing is, I don't really have a plan. This is going to be blogging by the seat of my pants...blantsing? (You know, blogging and pantsing would equal blantsing.)

I should probably mention that I'm not a mindfulness guru. What I am is a stressed out social worker--mother--writer who has found learning about and practicing mindfulness has seriously helped my emotional equilibrium. Back in May I had one post regarding what mindfulness is and where I was at that moment, so if you're not sure what mindfulness is, I'd suggest going here and reading at least the first part of the post.

Arches National Park taken by me!
It seems to me that people talking about mindfulness practices are everywhere. There were even two articles in the Huffington post over the weekend (How Mindfulness Is Revolutionizing Mental Health Care and What Mindfulness Actually Means, And Why We All Have Time For It) One main reason for that, I believe, is because of the incredible advances they have made in neuroscience in the last ten years. The efficacy of meditation on self-control and emotional well-being has been researched for over the last fifty years. However, it's only in the recent past that well-known universities and researchers have joined in and, with the different methods of imaging the brain and tracking brain-function showing scientific proof of such efficacy, brought meditative practices to the mainstream.

There are several books that have come recommended to me, either from workshops I've attended or from like-minded friends. I have started most of them, but I've mentioned before how hard it is to find time to read, so I haven't finished any of them! However, part of having the Mindfulness Monday blog posts should encourage me to get more into the books, so I'll share the ones I have with you, in case you might want to check them out.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson, PhD - This book is more about the neuroscience of emotions and how we can change how we "think, feel, and live." Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist who has studied neuroscience for thirty years and the effects of meditation on the brain since around 1992. I haven't yet read this book (I started it and then returned to work), but it is one I am very interested in.

The Happiness Animal by Will Jelbert - This book doesn't appear to be specifically related to mindfulness, but a friend of mine recommended it, and from what I've seen it has similar thoughts to mindfulness. It also seems similar to Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage. I haven't bought the Happiness Advantage, but I have used this video of Shawn Achor's in my Mindfulness Parent Group. It's worth the twelve minutes.

Mindfulness Yoga by Frank Jude Boccio - I think this book might be very helpful for someone who is interested in including yoga into their mindfulness practice. I can't say it was particularly helpful for me, but it did reinforce for me that the reason I enjoy yoga is because of the inherent connection "of body, breath and mind." My experience with yoga will be a topic some day in the future.

The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore - No, I have no idea if that is the author's real name. But, this book has been very inspiring, and spot on with what I know about mindfulness practice so far. The author uses some really wonderful quotes which have been inspiring on their own, even without reading the author's interpretation of the quotes. I'll talk more about this book in the future, as well.

I'll end with this video set to a portion of a commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave in (I think) 2008. The nine-minute video captures what my understanding of mindfulness is - being aware to make a choice for how we are going to experience our lives. I really love the video.


  1. Gotta admit, the blantsing made me laugh.

    I'd like to hear your experience with yoga. I tried it, but didn't get anything out of it. Maybe it's a matter of finding the right instructor. I don't know. It seems like it'd fit in with the whole mindfullness thing.

    1. Since you have expressed interest, I'll be happy to make that the next post. There are lots of different versions (? - types?) of yoga, and maybe if you were able to try out the different variations, you might find one that felt better? I'll admit, though, not every day I do yoga do I feel deep peace or at one with the world. There are plenty of times where it feels like I'm just throwing my body around. I think that's when it becomes a matter of working through whatever is distracting me or negative thoughts I might be having (even about the yoga practice!) and trying again next time. But, who knows. No one thing is for everyone. :)

  2. Gosh that's a good little video! I've sent it to Chloe. It's funny how going thru this thing that we will never mention again has brought mindfulness right out into the foreground. I must say though, thru my meditation practice and my yoga practice (particularly hatha and flow), and, actually thru the majority of my life with competitive figure skating, yoga, ballet, and wonderful alone sports like kayaking, I'm pretty used to being in the moment. I think the trick is, like with meditation, if I start thinking about the grocery list, the outstanding work, deadlines or the last client instead of being there, breathing, focusing on the breath, I generally give those thoughts a name, like "mind clutter", say, "Oh, that's interesting" to myself, and refocus on my breath. Sometimes I have to do that over and over and after the 30 minutes it doesn't seem like I've meditated at all. It seems like it's all been rewriting the latest conversation with a client, or thinking up possible scenarios to deal with problems which haven't even happened yet!!! But that's the way life goes. I just let it go, forgive myself and remember that's it's always useful to notice the mind clutter, step away and refocus. Even if it's over and over again. Then, I usually manage to stay in the moment for the majority of my days. Oh, also, for over a dozen years that Robert has been in my life, I've been getting to know Zen Buddhism, (his father was a master). It's bloody hard! But I'm getting somewhere. May I suggest an old but brilliant book called The Zen Way by Irmgard Schloegl? It might be very useful to understand the wilful, Western "I", which conceives of gratitude only as something short lived, usually for something received and all too quickly turns to resentment, as that which is completely separate from its surroundings and the world at large, and teaches practical ways back to mindfulness and the small "i" which is love and compassion and the living spirit connecting everything together.

    1. I will certainly look into the book, and also wonder if you might want to guest post sometime? You sound more qualified to write posts than I am! :D

      That's awesomely cool that Robert's father was a master. I bet you can learn all kinds of wonderful things from them.

      The workshop I went to last spring was given by a psychologist who has also studied Buddhism for most of his life, and he melded the two together. He talked some about the big I/little i and "grasping" and about something I can't remember exactly what it was called but it was related to the mind states maybe - the positive and negative states? I'm going to have to get out my stuff and write a post about it, because it was incredible with how accurate it was. It was one of the most exciting continuing education workshops I've been to. :D

    2. Oh gosh Lara, I might try to write a guest post, but I'm sooo not qualified. I'm just the most beginninest beginner. :D (I know, that was English goodly spoken)


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