DAILY STRESS RELIEF

Looking for peace in your life and relief from the daily stress we all encounter? Try this short list of changes in your routine. It may not be comfortable at first but the more you do it the more comfortable it will become.

Add to your daily routine the following: If you miss a day or one of the steps don’t worry its OK, get back in stride the next day.

• Set aside 5-10 minutes each night before sleep to meditate, no digital devices and not TV. Let your mind unwind and be at peace before you fall asleep.
1) Sit comfortably, finding a stable position you can maintain for a while, either on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes if you like or leave them open and gaze downward toward the floor.
2) Draw attention to the physical sensation of breathing, perhaps noticing the always-present rising and falling of your abdomen or chest, or perhaps the air moving in and out through your nose or mouth. With each breath, bring attention to these sensations. If you like, mentally note, “Breathing in… Breathing out.”
3) Many times, over, thoughts or feelings will distract you. You may feel distracted more often than not. That’s normal. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking or anything else. Without giving yourself a hard time or expecting anything different, when you discover that your attention has wandered, notice whatever has distracted you and then come back to the breath.
4) Practice pausing before making any physical adjustments, such as moving your body or scratching an itch. With intention, shift at a moment you choose, allowing space between what you experience and what you choose to do.
5) You may find your mind wandering constantly, caught up in a whirlwind—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with or engaging with those thoughts as much, practice observing, noting wherever your attention has been, and then returning to the physical sensation of breathing.
6) Let go of any sense of trying to make something happen. For these few minutes, create an opportunity to not plan or fix or whatever else is your habit. Exert enough effort to sustain this practice, but without causing yourself mental strain. Seek balance in this way; if you find yourself mostly daydreaming and off in fantasy, devote a little extra effort to maintaining your focus.
7) Breathing in and breathing out, return your attention to the breath each time it wanders elsewhere.
8) Continue to practice observing without needing to react. Just sit and pay attention as best as you are able. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all that there is. Come back over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
9) When you’re ready, gently open your eyes. Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Pausing for a moment, decide how you’d like to continue on with your day.
• Avoid red and processed meats and sugar. Chew your food deliberately and completely before you swallow, take your time. Meals are to be enjoyed not hurried like a race. Eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible.
• Do 15-30 minutes of exercise each day, even if it’s just a walk.
• Chew gum it stimulates the frontal cortex in a calming way, without creating craving, and relaxes the body. Make sure it is sugar free.

You can expand the timeframe, as you get more comfortable with your routine. Make time for your mind and body to grow in a healthy way.

Marc J Dunn Professional Profile

Marc J Dunn is a Certified Lifestyle Mindfulness Meditation and SUD Recovery Coach & Trainer, Writer and Advocate.

For 30+ years of his professional career he has been an entrepreneur and business owner or held a senior management position.

Marc is a golfer with 50 years of experience, maintains a 10-12 handicap and has an excellent putting stroke with good feel and rhythm. He has developed it through Think Breathe Act. And is now bringing his other coaching skills to the Mindful Sports Experience.

Over the last 5 years his experience has included certification as a SUD Recovery Coach, Mindfulness Trainer, Behavioral Health Specialist, Trainer of Specialists and Continuing Education.

He has written for Reach Out Recovery, The Toast, I Love Recovery Cafe and others. He has appeared as a guest on The Jewish Network TV Show “To Life” and the Take12Radio Podcast.

He Directed and spoke at Addiction Recovery Forum last year, which is now on YouTube: The Rest Of Your Life

Marc Dunn is the Publisher and Editor  – The Rest Of Your Life by Allen Reid McGinnis

Mindful Meditation

This practice of Mindful Meditation is a breathing meditation. We focus on breathing not because there’s anything special about it but because that physical sensation of breathing is always there. Throughout the practice, you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, and sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. If you’re distracted the entire time and come back just once, that’s perfect.

1) Sit comfortably, finding a stable place you can support for a while, either on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes if you like, or leave them open and gaze down toward the floor.

2) Draw attention to the physical sensation of breathing, perhaps noticing the always-present rising and falling of your abdomen or chest, or perhaps the air moving in and out through your nose or mouth. With each breath, bring attention to these sensations. If you like, mentally note, “Breathing in… Breathing out”, or any mantra that suits you.

3) Many times over, you’ll get distracted by thoughts or feelings. You may feel distracted more often than not. That’s normal. There’s no need to block or end thinking or anything else. Without giving yourself a hard time or expecting anything different, when you discover that your attention has wandered, notice whatever has distracted you and then come back to the breath.

4) Practice pausing before making any physical adjustments, such as moving your body or scratching an itch. With intention, shift at a moment you choose, allowing space between what you experience and what you choose to do.

5) You may find your mind wandering constantly, caught up in a whirlwind—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with or engaging with those thoughts as much, practice observing, noting wherever your attention has been, and then returning to the physical sensation of breathing.

6) Let go of any sense of trying to make something happen. For these few minutes, create an opportunity to not plan or fix or whatever else is your habit. Exert enough effort to sustain this practice, but without causing yourself mental strain. Seek balance in this way; if you find yourself mostly daydreaming and off in fantasy, devote a little extra effort to maintaining your focus.

7) Breathing in and breathing out, return your attention to the breath each time it wanders elsewhere.

8) Continue to practice observing without needing to react. Just sit and pay attention as best you are able. As hard as it is to keep up, that’s all that there is to it. Come back over and over, without judgement or expectation.

9) When you’re ready, gently open your eyes. Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Pausing for a moment, decide how you’d like to continue on with your day.

Meditation – Mind, Body, Health And Mindfulness

By Dr. Scott Alpert
Clinical Director at The Clearing Residential Treatment Center

Do you categorize meditation as one of those tasks you really should get around to, but never actually do? Do you see it as something that only “ultra-spiritual” people pursue? If so, you’re not alone.Mindfulness meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2500-year-old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.
Many people have heard about the tremendous mind,body, health and wellness benefits of meditation, but they don’t take the plunge and practice. Why? Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation.
For some, it’s simply difficult to slow down. Our hurry-up culture trains us to be more and more “productive,” and thus, some feel that things like rest and meditation are wasting time.
Additionally, many people give up before realizing the benefits of meditation, which build with time and practice. For others, the silence requires getting deep with their thoughts and feelings… and that can feel threatening.
When you give yourself the opportunity to meditate, internal struggles can give way to a profound peace. However, when you first slow down and tune in to yourself, you may experience a lot of chaotic chatter. That’s completely normal; so don’t let it deter you.
With time and practice, you can learn to calm your mind and emotions. In fact, getting into the rhythm of your breathing can bring you back to Source. If you return to meditation and silence often enough, you will learn some profound truths about your own life. Mindfulness
In meditation, you often come face-to-face with yourself, and what happens next is telling. Do you like yourself? Do you know who you really are? Do you have a sense of purpose?
Are you able to simply be and appreciate the life you were given? Do your thoughts wander to projects left undone? Are you focused on the past or future? As thoughts emerge, you receive valuable information about yourself.
If you haven’t worked through your day-to-day issues, partially processed thoughts will bubble up from your subconscious. This is an invitation to clear up your own “unfinished business” and free your mind from clutter.
You may have difficulty making the decision to “do nothing” and meditate in the first place. Cultural conditioning tells you that hard work is the only way to succeed, and as such, you resist the idea of sitting still.
Even devoting 15 minutes or 5 minutes to start} a day to meditation may seem overwhelming for you.
If it helps, you can reframe meditation as a personal development challenge.Mindfulness meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2500-year-old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion
Silence is a powerful healing tool. When you meditate, material from your past will present itself and give you an opportunity to heal.
Whether the thoughts are based on regrets, people who have harmed you, or people whom you’ve harmed, working through the turmoil take commitment.
Fortunately, in the silence we are safe. Mindfulness

There is no past and no future; it is simply a slice of the present. The past is history, the future a mystery, but now is the gift and that is why it is called ‘the present.’

Try This: Mindfulness 
• For the next few minutes, take an opportunity to sit in silence and focus on everything that brings you joy.
• To start, turn off any electronics, sit in a comfortable seat, and simply focus on your breath.
• Once you have calmed yourself, bring to mind people, experiences, or things that make you happy one by one. You might think about a child, a pet, a flower, or hiking in the woods.
• Surround yourself with feelings of joy and allow them to build within.
• If you continually face turmoil while sitting in the silence, free-form writing can help. Free-form writing is simply putting pen to paper and writing whatever comes to mind.
• When you do this, stay with the flow. Don’t judge what is coming out. Just write whatever you want and purge it out.
• When you’re done, shred and / or burn what you’ve written.
• Do not re-read or evaluate your words.
• Instead, appreciate the way that writing helps you to release that which is just beneath the level of your conscious awareness.
• In silence, time seems to slow down.

With no distractions, you can hear your breath, your heartbeat, and even guidance. When you allow yourself to slow down, you connect with who you are; you return home.
If you have a hectic schedule and juggle the demands of work and family, silence can be a key to sanity and a balm for relationships. After all, how you are with yourself is how you are with others too!
You are at peace, your body is healthier, and you find happiness. And as you share that energy with others, you give them permission to do the same. Mindfulness

Introspection The Rest of Your Life

It is the time of year before the beginning of the Jewish New Year to reflect on our choices as a person and member of a community. What has transpired in our relationships and how have we behaved. It is a time for introspection before we atone for our transgressions.
As we end the Jewish Year we are asked to do one thing: Choose Life, after accepting a Power greater than ourselves in creation and life we are asked to love the Almighty and live by the commandments, always keeping God in our lives, then we and our offspring shall live a life of joy and freedom.
We begin to ready ourselves for the Days of Awe (the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement) with a fearless and moral inventory of our actions and thoughts. We are instructed to look at ourselves from the inside, to ask God for forgiveness and ready ourselves for repentance. The intent is to renew our God Consciousness and by words of prayer seek a Divine will for us. If we are to have a relationship with God, similar to Abraham’s (turning our life and our will over to God), and then we must be rigorously honest in all our affairs. When we have separated ourselves from our Higher Power by our bad choices, whether in thought or deed, we have prolonged our returning to that Higher Power. This is the time to examine that relationship with this Power and to either repair it or build a new one. We are given this opportunity at least yearly because we have a loving and kind God who only wants good for us. If we will only accept The Almighty’s will for us and be willing to put our relationship with The Power of the Universe above all else.
In the Book of Psalms there are daily reminders of our seeking God in our lives, and of the embrace constantly waiting for us. The covenant that is made with each of us before we are born is that “We shall be a light unto the nations.” This is both a burden and a blessing. We are chosen, to carry this message to others who are suffering and give away what has been freely given to us. As Uncle Ben channeling Voltaire says to Spidey, “with great power comes great responsibility”
The Rabbis say, “ One must repeatedly confide in another person, a spiritual counselor or trusted friend, all improper thoughts and actions which have come to one’s heart or mind. In this way, with God’s will, we can rid ourselves of our defects of character.” Just as we are told to Study Torah with someone else or in a group, never alone.
Once we have processed our limitations and asked God for help, we are prepared for reconciliation and forgiveness from those we have wronged. Even if we feel others have wronged us, it is our “side of the street” we are concerned with. We must examine what part we played in creating the resentment and seek forgiveness of our self from God and be forgiving of others.
Throughout this time of year we approach God and others with humility, we seek to understand rather than be understood, to comfort rather than to be comforted and to love without expecting to be loved. We want to bring peace and the spirit of forgiveness to all who we encounter.
The act of turning to a life of Spirit is a continual process, one that you work for The Rest of Your LIFE. We are given the opportunity for a fresh start every day. We cannot be concerned about how long it will take or where the end of this journey is, or we will never get there. The important thing is to find the road, get on it and stay there.
We seek spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Spirituality by definition is imperfect, as are human beings.

11th Step Prayer-My Version

God may it be your will that I be a messenger of your peace

May I bring love and the spirit of forgiveness to my fellows, may I know my truth and have faith

May I bring hope to others and live in harmony with all
May I share your joy and live in your Divine Light

Let me be of comfort to others without asking to be comforted
Let me be understanding of others without asking to be understood
Let me be loving of all without asking to be loved

It is by pardoning that we are pardoned, it is by giving freely of ourselves that we receive

Humble PrayMay the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you my Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer

Regaining Self

By Rabbi Kerry Olitzky

Melodies I weave, songs I sweetly sing; longing for your presence, to you I learn to cling. – Anim Zemirot

This is what I try to do in prayer. I take the words that have been given to me by those who came before and weave them into my own, hoping that the melody I weave in my heart-this love song with the Divine-brings me closer to the Power of the Universe. Prayer books are filled with such melodies. I need only sing them and claim them as my own. In singing them, they become mine.

I long for God’s presence in my life. Whether I am willing or comfortable enough to admit it, I really do. Don’t we all? Such recognition for me adds meaning and purpose to my life. This is a difficult step in spiritual renewal. I wasn’t always comfortable with such talk. I got used to it by doing it and accepting the Sunlight of the Spirit. Sometimes I am afraid by accepting that Power in my life I may lose self. The truth was that when I accepted the Spirit, I regained my life.

How splendid is your light, which worlds do reflect.
My soul is worn for Your love’s delight.
Please good God, do heal her, and show to her Your face.
So my soul can see You and bathe in Your Peace.
There she will find strength and healing in this sight; Her joy will be complete, then Eternal her delight.
A Prayer-Yedid Nefesh

Coasting Into Complacency

Written in 2015 by Marc Dunn

COMPLACENCY!!! Until recently I didn’t realize how much that word or thought scared me. I had heard many people share about the trap I could become ensnared in by not going to meetings, not staying connected to other recovering alcoholics in my support group and not practicing the principles in all my affairs. The message wasn’t that I had to do any of the above perfectly, but that if I didn’t stay close to my recovery, if I started to believe that I could go it alone and/or abandoned my spiritual routine then complacency would lead to relapse.

None of the signs caught my attention, maybe because they didn’t all happen at once. We deal with a “cunning, baffling and powerful” force that is patient and will creep back into our lives if we are not diligent about our recovery. At first, it was not attending meeting as often as I had for the previous 8+ years. I made excuses for myself: the messages were repetitive; the speakers were boring or less meetings worked for me. Then I stopped calling my sponsor regularly and thought I could solve all my own problems without input from anyone else. It was the classic mistake of sponsoring myself and not seeking my Higher Power’s will for me. It didn’t take long until I was skipping my morning meditation occasionally and not doing a 10th step before retiring for the evening. Never did I entertain the thought that I could drink again, but it probably wasn’t far away.

It wasn’t like a freight train, but my emotional sobriety was tortoise-like moving away, and when I saw what was happening it scared the hell out of me (pun intended). I was coasting. The thought of drinking was not in my conscious thoughts, but who can tell when it will be. I realized that my alcoholism was patiently waiting for the weakness of my character to let it back in. The behavior was familiar and the memory of my last relapse was fresh.

Sobriety the first time around was not about recovery; it was based entirely on stubborn abstinence. My repeated attempts to drink less, change what I was drinking or sneak and lie about my excessive drinking had failed. Numerous appeals by my wife had fallen on deaf ears. Similar requests or pitiful looks of contempt by friends and family had not made a difference to me. Reluctantly in order to quiet the noise I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The meetings were escapes from what I perceived as the harangue of others who didn’t understand. I was the one who didn’t understand. My self-centered absorption with myself was blocking me from any learning about alcoholism or any chance of finding a solution. Truth be told, I didn’t want another solution. It didn’t concern me yet.

For 30 months I attended meetings, burglarized the conversation of others, pretended to be in recovery and did all the superficial things you are supposed to do as a member of AA. Then it happened, I announced at dinner that it was OK for me to drink again. I ordered a glass of wine with dinner, beginning a 6-month relapse that almost ended in death.

My return was different, I was ready to surrender and willing to do whatever it took. I worked the steps, attended meetings several times a week, spoke with others about my recovery and theirs. And then I didn’t. The coasting began with giving up my service commitment, cutting back on my interaction with others, slacking on my prayer and meditation ritual. The biggest change was that I was sponsoring myself and not regularly doing a 10th Step.

It’s an interesting thing, this willingness, because willingness really is the key.  We come in here beaten and scared as only “the dying” can be, and we are willing as hell.  Then something happens.  We forget the pain, get a little arrogant, and then decide to follow the thought process that results in, “I’ve got this!”

There is conversation that two cowboys have from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty that sums my lack of self-awareness, my thinking that I knew it all and that recovery can be had without constantly working it:

Augustus says, “You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all. I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”

“Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?”

Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”

“You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said. “If you come face to face with your own mis­takes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day-that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”

More so than honesty, more so than open-mindedness, if I can remain willing to do the things that have been suggested in this “design for living.” If I “practice the principles in all my affairs” and walk toward sobriety the solution,, then I have a chance one day at a time to lead a sober, somewhat sane, life. And most importantly NOT become complacent.

Daily Stress Relief

Looking for peace in your life and relief from the daily stress we all encounter? Try this short list of changes in your routine. It’s not comfortable at first but the more you do it the more comfortable it will become.

Add to your daily routine the following: If you miss a day or one of the steps don’t worry its OK, get back in stride the next day.

  1. Set aside 5-10 minutes each night before sleep to meditate, no digital devices and not TV. Let your mind unwind and be at peace before you fall asleep.
  2. Avoid red and processed meats and sugar. Chew your food deliberately and completely before you swallow, take your time. Meals are to be enjoyed not hurried like a race. Eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible.
  3. Do 15-30 minutes of exercise each day, even if it’s just a walk.

You can expand the timeframe, as you get more comfortable with your routine. Make time for your mind and body to grow in a healthy way.