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.

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

Running Into Clarity

By William Pullen
http://dynamicrunningtherapy.co.uk/running-clarity/

Recently The BBC news website ran a piece based on an article in Neurology magazine about how “running may keep thinking skills”. I’ve included it below as I think it illustrates another benefit of exercise. Although the research concerns younger people I believe the benefits of movement whether it be walking, tai chi, or running, are available to everyone. I need to include my usual addendum that DRT is not about getting fit nor about colluding in fantasies of perfection. Instead DRT aims to promote what Dr Jacobs refers to below as “total fitness” which incorporates social, physical and mental aspects of health. And for those that just want to talk/walk/sit and not run it’s very much there for you too. DRT is talk therapy first. By doing that in outside spaces with “mother nature” we already begin to break up rigid thinking.
As mentioned before, we don’t aim for perfection so “total fitness” is a concept we hold lightly for those who subscribe to a more holistic understanding of health. Sometimes, for some people, it’s better to just sit down on a park bench. For others, the info is below:
• Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a US study.
• Activities that support cardio fitness – such as running, swimming and cycling – led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
• Scientists say the research, reported in Neurology, adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health.
• Cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles.
• Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes” They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.
People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to do better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences. “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr. Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,” he told BBC News.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may cut the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age.

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.