Mindfulness Mode
Erase Your Anxiety

Erase Your Anxiety

May 16, 2021

Everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another and most of us would love to be able to erase it as soon as it appears. Although we don't often think of this, some anxiety is positive because it can motivate us to make necessary changes, or help us to push through our fears. Everybody knows that too much anxiety can cause health issues and irritability. In extreme circumstances, extended periods of anxiety can result in death, with heart issues or stroke being the most comment culprits.

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The title of this episode, Erase Your Anxiety, suggests that you should know how to remove anxiety from your life. If you’re like me, you’ll realize that sometimes you just notice the anxiety, realize it’s there for a reason, and you show gratitude. You thank it. Without you, “Anxiety”, I wouldn’t be pushing through to this next challenge in my life.

Just because you know and understand how to erase anxiety, that doesn’t mean you’re always going to do it. You’ll just feel confident and assured, because you know that you can erase anxiety if you want to. Mindfulness can help us with anxiety in several ways.

Four Ways To Erase Anxiety

1/ Notice & Identify
2/ Consider What To Change
3/ Take Action
4/ Re-evaluate

Identifying Our Issues

Identifying our own issues can be one of the hardest things to do. Usually it’s way easier to see and form opinions about what’s going on with other people, we just can’t view ourselves in the same way. Our ego is constantly trying to protect us, and sometimes even though our subconscious mind believes it is protecting us, the truth is that a lot of the time, it’s not protecting, it actually keeping us from moving forward.

Anxiety Is Widespread

Thinking back to some of my past clients, and I’ll only talk in general terms unless they have specifically given me a thumbs up to share details, when I look back, practically every one had some kinds of problems with anxiety. I remember a client who felt like everything at work was great, she was a natural at tackling projects and coordinating teams and working with her staff towards goals. Her problems came in her personal life, with her children, her ex husbands, and her current partner.

Deep Listening

Her non-work life was a constant turmoil. Through hypnosis, we came across some events that had happened during childhood that were actually pretty traumatic, but she had tucked them away in her memory and her conscious mind had no memory of this. After some sessions about letting go, forgiveness, and delving into issues in a comfortable and meaningful way for her, she said she felt ‘lighter'. She felt like her problems with her kids were like a helium balloon. Before our sessions, she had no idea how to let go of that balloon. After the sessions, she realized she could let go with ease.

I talked to her about a month ago, and she said her relationships with her ex’s had settled down, her kids were much more content and doing online schooling from home. She said it was like a dark cloud had been lifted off her life. And she added, “it felt like that dark cloud has been following me for a decade or more”.

Searching For Remedies

We experience anxiety and our brain searches for a remedy. A lot of people, think, “I just need to talk to a friend about all this”. They find their remedy socially. I think more woman than men move in this direction. After teaching in schools for more than 20 years, I’ve noticed that the women I’ve met are very quick to form social circles and they seem to socialize way more than a lot of the men. I think that’s true for me too.

There was a time when I was a kid, it was music that was my remedy. I practiced the piano every day, later, the accordion and the saxophone. I absolutely loved creating music, performing music, and entertaining people. I loved playing when people were around me, not so much when I was by myself. For me, that music turned into a career and I got a music degree, learned to play all the band instruments, and became a music teacher. Looking back, I think all that music helped lessen the anxiety that might have otherwise controlled my life. Music helped anxiety take a back seat.

Substances

A lot of people turn to a substance of some kind to deal with anxiety. That substance might be food, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. Unfortunately, a lot of these substance solutions only work for a while, or there are negative aspects to them. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. 

My inner bully often reminded me that I wasn’t good enough, or wasn’t smart enough, but I kept pushing it into the back seat without even realizing it consciously. I just kept focusing on what I loved, the music, my students, the concerts, plays, and musical skits, and all the other fun things I was doing. I was also a church music director and loved doing that too.

Anyway, maybe there’s a clue for you there! Find something you love and focus on it. Make it a part of your life if you can. If it’s something that can also be your career, that can be a positive way to go about it.

Have you ever noticed that once you get really into doing something you love, you forget all your troubles? That means you’re in the flow.

If you don’t remember anything from today’s episode, I hope you remember the four steps to learning how to erase your anxiety.

1/ Notice & Identify

Become aware of your anxiety as soon is it begins to happen. Ways to help you quickly identify your anxiety can include meditation, quiet time, spending time in nature, swimming, running, or some other physical activity. Journaling is another way that helps many people identify their emotions quickly and more effectively.

2/ Consider What To Change

Make some conscious choices of what you can do. Maybe do Wim Hof exercises. Wim Hof has helped thousands of people with anxiety and also with depression. How about starting a new hobby or project? Maybe you should entertain the idea of changing jobs, or moving to a different home. Open up your mind and some ideas will come to you while you are doing the activities I mentioned above in in bullet point one.

3/ Take Action

Taking action is the most important of my four steps. The reason I say this is because so many people, me included at times, we read books, talk to friends, think about solutions, figure things out, and then we’re so close to success and we don’t take that step where you actually have to take action. It’s usually fear that’s holding us back. You know what they say about FEAR – Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise – those acronyms are from Zig Zigler. I strongly urge you to take my advice, Face everything and rise. You will rise up and meet your goals if you’re willing to push through and take action.

4/ Re-evaluate

Has your action started to move you in the direction you’re looking to go? If you journal, you’ll be able to look back at your writing and see if this person you’re reading about is making sense. Are his actions working? Are you noticing that the writer, (and I mean you), is learning to identify anxiety? Are you methodically deciding what to change and then taking action? As humans, it's important to observe and re-evaluate our actions.

My First Coach

The first coach I ever hired was awesome. She was incredibly inspirational and she helped me deal head-on with some of the anxiety I was experiencing. She said, “Bruce, create habits that work for you. Habits that will help you feel empowered every day.” I started journaling daily, I started becoming more consistent with meditation, and I checked in with myself.

I learned to face my inner bully head-on. Now my coach didn’t call it my inner bully. She talked about my self-talk. I call it my inner bully, but it’s the same thing. She said, listen to what that voice is saying and when you need to, tell it to ‘take a hike’.

The Back Seat

I like to imagine that I’m driving my car and my inner bully is trying to take over and I have to tell him to stay in the back seat, in no uncertain terms. Give your inner bully a name. Get to know him. Take charge and tell him or her how things are going to be from now on.

You CAN learn to erase your anxiety. Use mindfulness along with the four points I've shared today, and with those tools my dream for you is that you will reach new heights of calm, focus, and happiness. Stay in the mode!

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Attain Limitless Potential; Kirsten Beske

Attain Limitless Potential; Kirsten Beske

May 12, 2021

Kirsten Beske is a clinical psychotherapist and mindset coach having spent over a decade learning about human experience and fostering personal growth. She willingly shares the professional knowledge, wisdom, and skills that she has acquired throughout her career with those ready for the next level of change and transformation. However, Kirsten's personal transformation story is truly moving – from lawyer to psychotherapist, straight-identified to gay-identified, and drinking to sobriety provides lessons in inspiration, hope, and real-life resilience.

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Effect on Emotions

  • The emotion of anger is the one that gets the most interesting when you can take a little bit of separation from it and can understand what's going on underneath it.
  • I always find the most information if I feel the flash of anger it's always like a note to be curious, and [ask myself], what's going on here and try to figure out more.
  • Having that ability to get the space to be reflective in those moments is really important for learning about yourself.

Thoughts on Breathing

  • Breathing as an anchor, I wish it wasn't as important as it is because it seems so basic. I use it all the time because it's one of those things that you can use and no one knows you're doing it.
  • When I find myself in a high stress situation and I need to relax, (but I can't run up and down stairs or do pushups, which is another way of releasing some energy), breathing is absolutely my go-to secret weapon to help me start to settle down.

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Bullying Story

  • I always have been the fighter of bullies and when I went into law I wanted to be the protector of anyone who was being bullied. I've never felt that I've been the victim of bullying and I don't think that I've been a bully.
  • However, I absolutely have stood up for more than a few people who I felt were being bullied. The mindfulness piece was the centeredness of my conviction of what was right.
  • Even at a young age I had what it took to step in and tell people to knock it off, especially when the victims did not have the resources available to them [to look out for themselves]
  • For me, it comes from the bystander intervention standpoint, the courage to step in when you needed to because things weren't right. It took some centering to do what I needed to do, even if there was going to be some pushback.

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See Everyone With Compassion

See Everyone With Compassion

May 9, 2021

Compassion is the topic today. It's easy to be compassionate to those we love and who are kind and loving to us. Being compassionate to every living thing is a whole different challenge. If you can truly show compassion to everyone and everything, you will experience a life that largely includes peace and contentment.

My aunt Vesta was a person in my life that seemed to show compassion to everyone. She absolutely loved children and was a teacher for many years. She lived near the gates of Western University, here in London, Ontario and she took in university students year after year and kept in touch with many of them who became authors, scientists, doctors and professors. She worked in First Nations communities and always loved talking about the people in her life.

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When Aunt Vesta came to visit, one of the first things she would say is, ‘Tell me about you?’. I would ask her questions and hope that she would play the piano … she would always turn the conversation back on the person she was talking to. She had a lot to share, but she wanted to know what was happening in the lives of others.

Someone else who seemed to live a beautiful and selfless life, showing a huge amount of compassion to others, is Thich Nhat Hahn, author of over 130 books.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Thich Nhat Hahn has written many poems and offered much advice on how to show compassion to others. Here’s a quote by Thich Nhat Hahn: “To love, we need to open our heart and release our preconceived notions about other people. We cannot judge by appearances or assumptions of what they might do.”

Thich Nhat Hahn's words ring true because compassion can be a difficult thing to cultivate when you have few in your life who are kind and loving. It's easy to show compassion for those we love, but it takes more effort to show compassion for everyone. Today, I’m going to talk about how Thich Nhat Hahn has shown compassion for others and how you can apply his teachings in your own life.

In case you don’t know who Thich Nhat Hahn is, he’s is a world renowned Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.

Apostle Of Peace And Nonviolence

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called him “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence” when nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Exiled from his native Vietnam for almost four decades, Thich Nhat Hanh has been a pioneer bringing Buddhism and mindfulness to the West, and establishing an engaged Buddhist community for the 21st Century.

In 1982, Thich Nhat Hahn moved to a site in the south west of France, that became known as “Plum Village.”

Under Thich Nhat Hanh’s spiritual leadership, Plum Village grew from a small rural farmstead to what is now a large and active Buddhist monastery, with over 200 resident monastics and over 10,000 visitors every year, who come from around the world to learn “the art of mindful living.”

In the last twenty years over 100,000 people have made a commitment to follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s modernized code of universal global ethics in their daily life, known as “The Five Mindfulness Trainings.”

Wake Up

Thich Nhat Hanh also founded the “Wake Up” website, a worldwide movement of thousands of young people training in the practices of mindful living, and through this program, thousands of teachers have been taught to teach mindfulness in schools in Europe, America, and Asia.

In 2014, just after his 88th birthday, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a severe stroke. Four years later, in November 2018, he returned to Vietnam to live out his remaining days. Nhất Hạnh has published over 130 books, including more than 100 in English, which have sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Thich Nhat Hanh is often referenced by guests on Mindfulness Mode and his wisdom is cherished by most of the people I know who practice mindfulness.

Deep Listening

Nhat Hanh refers to “Deep Listening”, which is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. It’s often called compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. … You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less.

I’m going to share these words by Thich Nhat Hahn on compassion: In the eyes of Great Compassion, there is no separation between subject and object, no separate self. If a cruel and violent person disembowels you, you can smile and look at him with love. It is his upbringing, his situation, and his ignorance that cause him to act so mindlessly. Look at him—the one who is bent on your destruction and heaps injustice upon you—with the eyes of love and compassion. Let compassion pour from your eyes, and don’t let a ripple of blame or anger rise up in your heart. He commits senseless crimes against you and makes you suffer because he cannot see the way to peace, joy, or understanding.

If someday you receive news that I have died because of someone’s cruel actions, know that I died with my heart at peace. Know that in my last moments I did not succumb to anger. We must never hate another being. If you can give rise to this awareness, you will be able to smile. Remembering me, you will continue on your path. You will have a refuge that no one can take from you. No one will be able to disturb your faith, because that faith does not rely on anything in the phenomenal world. Faith and love are one and can only emerge when you penetrate deeply the empty nature of the phenomenal world, when you can see that you are in everything and everything is In you.

Long ago I read a story about a monk who felt no anger toward the cruel king who had chopped off the monk’s ear and pierced his skin with a knife. When I read that, I thought the monk must be some kind of god. That was because I did not yet know the nature of Great Compassion. The monk had no anger to hold back. All he had was a heart of love. There is nothing to prevent us from being like that monk. Love teaches that we can all live like the Buddha.

I encourage you to read some material by Thich Nhat Hahn. He believed that we are all one. Understanding that we, as living beings are all one, can help us feel and show compassion for everything and everyone.

I hope you’re experiencing feelings of peace, love, and true compassion.

Compassion For Essential Workers

There are hundreds of thousands of essential workers out there helping people struck down with COVID19. I know some of them, because of my wife, Darlene, working in the ICU, and so many of her colleagues. They’re overburdened and yet pushing through, doing whatever they can and doing it with compassion.

Here in our part of the world, COVID19 is still central in the lives of many. I believe that striving to live every day by showing compassion is one of the things we’re called to do.     

Thanks for listening, Mindful Tribe. Bye now.

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Use Mindfulness To Reach Mompreneurship; Vidya Ravi

Use Mindfulness To Reach Mompreneurship; Vidya Ravi

May 5, 2021

Vidya Ravi is a mompreneur who became a highly sought after Facebook advertising expert, making her way in the competitive marketing field by being a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, results driven power house. She has scaled multiple businesses to 6 and 7 figures with amazing ads strategy and customer-first marketing. With close rates of up to 80% on cold audiences and ROIs up to 42x for clients, their Facebook ads agency is one of the best in the industry. Vidya is not only passionate geeking out on all things Facebook ads and marketing, in her spare time she’s an avid reader, a die hard Harry Potter and Avengers fan, enjoys exploring new and exotic places with her husband and son, and spending time with her extended family.

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  • My son

Effect on Emotions

  • I know when I'm going to be so sad. There are times when I cry like a big release on automatic mode. That's how I express my emotions. Nobody knows why I'm crying, I don't even know why I'm crying. It's just too much stress. But after I became a vat, I handle it differently. I know why I'm crying. I know why I feel like crying. I can actually go into the depths more easily now.

Thoughts on Breathing

  • I've tried different forms of meditations. The best kind of meditation for me is to just sit in silence and let everything flow. That's the only thing that has worked for me so far.

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  • Book: I don't read things in a book about mindfulness.
  • App: I have tried apps but I always go to pen and paper. I just stay in a play where I can let my thoughts flow.

What Has Your Son Taught You About Mindfulness

  • My son has taught us how to live. Even if I offer him the best thing in the world, he will say, that is enough for me. That's something that I first saw in him as a child.
  • If I said, do you want another ice-cream, he would say, no, I think I've had enough. That's not something a child says. When I say, I don't think ice-cream is good for you at this time, he would say, that's ok, mom. He's six years old.
  • Even when he was 3 or 4 years old, if I said you have to eat carrots, he would say, don't give me a raw carrot and ask me to eat that, give me a carrot that I can actually enjoy. He will say, I don't like that vegetable, so make it differently and then I will eat it.

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Nurture Your Soul With Creativity

Nurture Your Soul With Creativity

May 2, 2021

Nurture Your Soul With Creativity is the topic of today’s show. Think back to the happiest times of your life. Does there seem to be any connection for you between your most creative times and your happiest times? For me, as a musician, I’ve had some of the happiest times of my life creating music, or teaching music to others and helping them learn to be creative.

I personally think that meditation can help you become more creative. I recently interviewed Tom Cronin – he’s passionate about reducing stress and chaos in people’s lives. We didn’t talk specifically about creativity, but I know Tom is high on the creative scale.

Tom Cronin is the founder of The Stillness Project, a global movement to inspire one billion people to sit in stillness, daily. Tom has written a number of books, including his recent publication, The Portal: How Meditation Can Save The World. Saving the world requires us as humans to be more creative than we’ve been in the past. I published Tom's episode a few days ago and you can hear it at www.mindfulnessmode.com/653. It’s called, “How Meditation Can Save The World”.

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I’ve done some research on this topic of creativity and I’ve come up with five conclusions I’d like to talk about today. I’m curious to hear what you think about creativity. Send me an email at bruce@mindfulnessmode.com
Here are five ways creativity can improve our lives:

1/ Creativity Helps You Solve Problems

Creativity is a skill that can be learned. You don't need to be an artist or musician to be creative, you can use your creativity in everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, gardening, or organizing.

Use Osborn’s Creative Problem Solving technique with brainstorming in between the steps as follows:

  1. Clarify and identify the problem – Pretend that the problem is not that important
  2. Research the problem
  3. Formulate creative challenges
  4. Generate ideas
  5. Combine and evaluate the ideas
  6. Draw up an action plan
  7. Do it! (implement the ideas)

Complex problem solving requires some step-by-step action. You have to think about it and use your knowledge and experience to come up with solutions.

Your work experience can help you a lot and the knowledge you have gained in your education. From there, bring your emotion into play by allowing your mind to go to a story or incident that happened in your life where your emotions were triggered. Allow yourself to use empathy and imagination as you relax and let your mind go wherever it chooses.

A formula you might want to use would be: imagination + creativity + empathy + innovation = Problem Solving

2/ Creative People Are More Successful

Look around you. Think of the people you know. Do the more creative people seem to be more successful in your circles? Well, in my opinion, creative peioke tend to be more passionate about their work and I think that leads to more discoveries, more advancement, and more great relationships at work.

Creative ppl tend to ask the question ‘What if” frequently, allowing their mind to explore possibilities. From what I’ve read about Elon Musk, I think he used his ‘what if’ mentality to ask himself what would happen if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His companies are built around what could happen if creativity was the key factor.

Creativity reminds me of a quote by Pablo Picasso. He’s known for saying, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”.

It’s important for adults to continue to massage their creativity so we don’t become too left brain dependent and forget about the thrill we get from life when we allow our creativity to play an active role.

3/ Creative People Have Better Relationships

Creative people have better relationships for several reasons. For one, they are often more motivated compared to less creative people. Creative people tend to be more relaxed and easy-going and that quality means they are drawn to people looking for a comfortable, relaxed, non-threatening relationship 

Optimists tend to be creative. Being positive and up-beat is something that you'll frequently see in creative men and women. This up-beat nature, especially at it's most comfortable state, is another reason that you'll see these creatives with lots of friends and casual relationships. 

Noticing emotions and being able to express those emotions is another quality common in creative people. People with this quality will be more sensitive to your feelings and needs than a person who is not considered to be creative. 

Those specifically seeking out people to develop relationships with are often looking for some of the above traits. 

4/ Creative People are Healthier and Live Longer

Does it make sense to you that creative people live longer? I think creative people are happier, and I believe it makes sense that happier people live longer.

I know in my case, I’m a lot happier when I’m doing creative activities compared to when I’m spending my time on what I would consider non-creative activities.

The topic of creativity has come up a lot in my interviews on Mindfulness Mode, and just as an observation, I’ve noticed that health and creativity seem to be aligned.

There are studies about this topic and a study from 2012 researched veteran men. The researchers, Turiano, Spiro and Mroczek, followed 1,349 veterans for over 10 years . They looked at their intellect and creativity. They rated their creativity based on these five words: creative, imaginative, artistic, innovative, and uncreative.

The researchers identified creativity with the following phrase; “a facet of openness”. They concluded that creativity was related to a reduced risk of mortality. Specifically, each standard deviation increase in creativity was associated with a 12 percent decrease in mortality risk over the 18-year follow-up period.

The study’s authors concluded, “creativity predicted mortality risk above and beyond other details like age, education, smoking, and health status.” (p.666)

Turiano, one of the researchers, concluded that, creativity may reduce the risk of dying because it would enable the veterans to, “better confront the problems associated with increasing age and declining health and may have important effects on slowing cognitive aging.” (p. 666).

Turiano also suggested in his conclusion, “that promoting creativity throughout the life course, and especially at older ages, may delay the cognitive and physical health declines associated with normative aging.” (p. 669).

Turiano wanted to warn readers to be cautious in how you draw your conclusions from the study. He explained that the results only suggest that self-ratings on select adjectives predict mortality risk. That means that the people in the study rated themselves based on the creative words from the study.

I found the study interesting. Maybe you’ve read some books or read some studies on this topic. If you have, I’d love to hear from you. I realize that more studies would need to be done for the science to absolutely conclude that more creative people live longer.
Turiano, N. A., Spiro III, A., & Mroczek, D. K. (2012). Openness to experience and mortality in men:    Analysis of traits and facets. Journal of Aging and Health, 25, 654-672

5/ Creativity Will Boost Your Happiness Factor

As a kid, I would spend hours with my accordion strapped to my chest, playing songs, some of which I made up myself. When I thought the song was ready for a performance, I’d play it for my father, who was always eager to hear me play. He was crazy about the accordion. Although he was a man of few words, I could tell by the proud look on his face that he was impressed and amazed at the songs I made up.

He would smile, look over at my mom, and say, “Bruce has always been the creative one”.

The definition of creativity varies, but most experts agree it has to do with the ability to come up with new ideas, new connections between ideas, and novel solutions to problems, with or without hours of experimental accordion playing. Here’s the thing, forget the image of a moody Beethoven, sitting alone in an apartment in Vienna. Research suggests that creative people are actually happier than everyone else.

So you might be thinking, I’m not a musician, a dancer, a poet – no problem. Experts say creativity lives within all of us, it’s just a matter of allowing it to come forward.

In the book called, “The Creativity Cure”, author Dr. Carrie Barron says, “It really has to do with open-mindedness.” She says creativity applies to everything from making a meal to generating a business plan.

But whether creativity means coming up with your version of a delicious stuffed chicken breast, or a tasty crepe of some kind, or maybe singing operatic choruses for your friends, experts say there’s a strong connection between how much you exercise your creativity and your overall wellbeing.

In other words, creativity is good for you.

I interviewed the CEO of BrambleBerry.com. Her company offers soap making supplies and a lot more. Her name is Anne-Marie Faiola, and one of the things she said was, “Joy for me is creativity, because creativity is essential.” In our discussion on her episode, www.MindfulnessMode.com/243, Anne-Marie makes it clear how vital her creative side is in both her professional and personal life.

Another person who talks about creativity is Dr. Shelley Carson. She has researched creativity and she talks about using creativity to solve problems. Dr. Carson says that, “increases in positive mood broaden attention and allow us to see more possible solutions to creative problems.”

Dr. Carson wrote a book on creativity called, “Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life

I want to share with you one of the most meaningful books related to creativity that I’ve read in a long time. The book is called, Squircle – that word came from combining the word Circle, which represents creativity or right brain thinking, and the word Square, which represents left brain thinking. The author of this book is Francis Cholle, and I interviewed him in February of this year. I highly recommend his book and the interview as well. It’s called, A New Way To Think For A New World, by Francis Cholle . It’s episode 639, so go to www.Mindfulness Mode.com/639.

Here are some things Francis recommends in his book to help develop your creative side. He says, change your routine in the morning, explore new foods for breakfast or other meals. Search for a new route to travel to work or school. Listen to different radio shows, podcasts, or audio books.

He also suggests you talk to other creative friends and ask them what they do to spark and express their creativity. In short, invite change and new ideas into your life.

One of the things I’ve concluded from what I’ve read and the people I’ve interviewed is that people who have creative personalities tend to have a lot of perseverance and they actually look for things in their life that will create interest and make their lives more fun. Individuals with these traits are more satisfied with their lives than less creative people.

It’s important to note that people are the most creative when they’re in a good mood, possibly because they don’t fixate on individual pieces of information and they are able to think more broadly and more positively.

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How Meditation Can Save The World; Tom Cronin

How Meditation Can Save The World; Tom Cronin

April 28, 2021

Tom Cronin is passionate about reducing stress and chaos in people’s lives. A former finance expert with a longstanding successful track record in business as well as meditation, Tom is the founder of The Stillness Project, a global movement to inspire one billion people to sit in stillness, daily. Tom has written a number of books, including his recent publication, The Portal: How Meditation Can Save The World. Tom Cronin’s ongoing work in transformational leadership and cultivating inner peace through meditation takes him around the world presenting keynote talks in such countries as Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Mexico and the USA.

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Effect on Emotions

  •  Regarding my emotions, being able to watch them and ask me, is this the vibration I want to be emanating out into the world, and then to work on transcending that emotion and being in peace.

Thoughts on Breathing

  • Breathing is like this song, Chariots of Breath, that friends of mine wrote. Breathing becomes this supporting device to instil calmness.

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Bullying Story

  • I think we're all bullies or being bullied sometime in our life in some way. Maybe as a dad at some point I may have been a bully. Maybe as a husband I may have been a bully.
  • I remember when I was in High School, I was quite an insecure kid at times and then very brash and confident at other times. I've certainly been on the receiving end of old boys school type of criticism.
  • One thing about bullying I've learned from a mindfulness perspective is that it's always from a lack of identity and a lack of connection to oneself.
  • It's always coming from an egoic structure that is afraid, but also needing to be seen in a way that is superior. These days I have the ability to see through that veneer of what's driving the bullying and to look at the underlying true nature of that person and not see the bully but see the beauty of that being.

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Mindfulness, Memory, and Moodiness

Mindfulness, Memory, and Moodiness

April 25, 2021

Mindfulness, Memory, and Moodiness is the topic of today’s show. Have you noticed that people you interact with lately are more moody than you remember? Does it seem like there are more people you’re exposed to who are experiencing depression, discouragement, a lot of feelings of negativity? How about you? Do you seem to be 
having more down days – you know, days when you just feel like your inner bully is winning?

Well, I talk about that inner bully quite a bit and the reason is because those negative self-voices play a big role in a lot of peoples’ lives. Mine included.

This is the perfect day to talk about moodiness, your inner bully, and how that self-talk is related to mindfulness.

Well, it is. Mindfulness is all about how we think. Yes, thinking in the present is mindfulness, but there’s so much more to it than that..

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Many of our thoughts are connected to our memory. Every time we decide to do something, we depend on our memory to know how to do it. We depend on our memory to know whether we’ve just brushed our teeth, or whether we were about to start.

You might not have thought about it before, but our memory has a lot to do with how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves as a person.

A lot of the ideas I’m sharing with you today are from Lisa Genova who is a neuroscientist and has written a book called, “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting”.

A lot of the time, we tie our well-being to memory. We think our brain is healthy and thriving if our memory is sharp and the opposite is true. If we feel like we’re forgetting things, we start to wonder about our brain health and even our mental health.

Yesterday morning I got dressed, came downstairs and was about to get in my car to drive to my studio and I realized I didn’t have my wallet. “Where on earth could it be”, I wondered. The crazy think was, I knew I’d had it a few minutes before that because I remembered dropping it on the floor. Some credit cards and id fell out on the carpet and my memory was crystal clear … I knew I bent over and picked them up and put them back in my wallet.

But now my wallet was missing and I’d already searched the kitchen, all my pockets, I’d gone back upstairs twice, and still no wallet.

There are times when I would have thought to myself, “I must be brain–dead, or am I losing my memory? This time I just kept looking. I went back upstairs with my son and we both looked. Suddenly I spotted it sitting on a brown footstool where I absolutely never leave my wallet. I realized I must have set it there without thinking as I grabbed some books to carry downstairs.

That’s when I started to wonder if the pandemic is affecting my brain. According to Lisa Genova, the answer is definitely yes.

There are two main reasons why the pandemic is messing with our memory. The first reason has to do with the way our brains are wired and the second reason is related to stress and how our brains deal with stress.

1/ How Our Brains Are Designed

The first reason has to do with how our brains are designed to remember things. When we remember what is meaningful, our brains go to “what is new? What is emotional? We don't remember the same old habitual routines. So this is why you might remember your first date, but not your 10th.

I don't remember the details of brushing my teeth this morning or taking a shower. It's the routine things we don't remember. And so here we are in a pandemic, and many of us are confined to our homes, we’re going out way less. We’re not able to go to concerts and plays and movies and dinners and parties like we did pre-pandemic. Those are the sorts of things that make memories and that, for many of us, give us a ZEST for life.

We get excited as we look forward to these more exciting events, we enjoy them as they happen, and of course, that’s mindfulness. Enjoying the moment and just taking it in, feeling the emotions and being there. And then we enjoy the after buzz, the feeling of elation of having recently enjoyed something different, something we were looking forward to.

And so now that many of our lives are more mundane, our brains are forgetting. A lot of us don't know what day it is anymore, because every day is the same. So that's the first part of this.

2/ Stress And The Brain

So the second reason, like I mentioned, has to do with stress. The way we’ve evolved as a species is that we are designed to deal with short, quick examples of stress. Like suddenly you’re being chased by a lion, we instantly move into a fight or flight response.

We’re designed to deal with that like any other emergency, a quick reaction. Our brains and bodies to react INSTANTLY to this kind of emergency, this kind of threat. So your brain and body go into sudden, immediate, action. Adrenaline and cortisol kick in. The body’s response mobilizes glucose, and your muscles immediately have extra power, more strength.

Your brain actually stops thinking because it’s not a time to weigh the pros and cons of what's going on before you run away or face the predator. You just instantly act. And then once the threat is over, assuming you've survived, the cortisol, which got turned on by this event, then acts on receptors in your brain to shut the whole sequence off.

So what happens when we experience chronic stress? Well Lisa Genova explains what happens. And this is what we've been dealing with this past year. For many, the threat of Corona Virus, the need to be constantly wearing masks, keeping socially distant, hearing regular news reports about new threats of COVID19 and of people dying. For a lot of people, all that adds up to stress.

In fact, without realizing it, a lot of us are experiencing chronic stress. So it's not suddenly a predator chasing us, it’s a constant threat of danger. It's in our thoughts and we become so used to it, that we don’t even realize it. The top three major psychological stressors are:

1/ Uncertainty

2/ Lack of Control

3/ Social Isolation

I know, for me, I’ve been experiencing all three of these. The effect is cumulative. We can handle it for a while, but now it’s been over a year and according to Lisa, the feedback loop can “break the receptors of your brain that normally cortisol acts on to shut off.”

We get a hit of cortisol and normally the stress is gone and we go back to being a relaxed human again. Instead of that, your body just keeps dumping adrenaline and cortisol, adrenaline and cortisol.

A little bit of stress can help you rise to the challenge of whatever you’re doing – like if you have a meeting with a big client, or you have an exam. In those cases you need to be a little bit stressed so that you’re on your game, you’re ready for action. You’re focused. And if you’re driving and a deer or a moose suddenly runs across the road in front of you, you get a hit of cortisol.

Illusions of Time

So, during fight and flight, the adrenal glands produce catecholamines. They’re created in the brainstem and the brain.

So in the morning we need a certain amount of alertness and what you might call stress to meet your day. But chronic stress is bad for your memory all the time. So this is why you might feel super foggy – you aren’t able to retrieve information that you know is there, information you’ve learned and you know is in your brain.

So continued STRESS will actually shrink your hippocampus. And you might know that your hippocampus is part of your brain. And your hippocampus is where new memories are formed. Continued stress will make it smaller.

Now here’s where mindfulness take a role. Things like exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, being in nature – all those things we’re talking about on Mindfulness Mode – they all have been shown to increase the size of your hippocampus. They stimulate neurogenesis. All of the above mindfulness-related activities cause the birth of new neurons.

We can take control and do things to combat the fact that we can't get rid of the pandemic, but we can individually change our brain. We can change our brain's response and our resilience to what’s going on in the world. We can save our brains and our memories from being vulnerable to the stress that the pandemic creates.

I talked to my son Ben, about memory and he reminded me of an episode on Youtube by Vsauce – The episode is called Illusions of Time

Anyway, Vsauce talks about how we remember the times of our life that are eventful, things we enjoy, places where we’re having a good time. Then when we look back, it seems like those times passed slowly. He brings up a lot of interesting ideas about memory and a lot of this is linked to mindfulness, even though at first you might not realize it.

Now let’s talk about sleep. Not only are a lot of people experiencing stress, so many people are having sleep issues as well during this pandemic. It’s all related.

Here are two things that happen while you sleep.

1/ Your Brain is binding your thoughts into long-term memory.

So a lot of people think of sleep as just an unconscious state of doing nothing, but your brain is actually very busy while you sleep. And so here's, what's going on in your brain – all of the events that happened today, everything you learned and experienced today that you want to keep, that you paid attention to, that was meaningful and emotional, – all of those things are what your hippocampus is going to bind into a long term memory. Your hippocampus does that job while you sleep primarily. And so if you don't get a full night's sleep, you'll wake up the next day and your hippocampus won't have had enough time to finish its job. And so your memories either won't be fully formed or they might not be formed at all.

And so you won't really remember very clearly what happened yesterday. If you're exhausted today, because you didn't get a full night's sleep, you'll also be feeling low and lacking energy and you won't be able to pay attention. You’ll notice when someone's talking to you, you’re hearing the words, but you don't know what they’re actually saying. You’re having an attention issue. You’re feeling like you’re not able to focus on what's going on. You’re not going to remember it later because it’s not possible for your brain to form a memory of it.

2/ While you sleep, the glial cells are cleaning up.

Lisa Genova explains that the glial cells are like janitors. She says they're the sewage and gestation department. They are busy clearing away all the metabolic debris that accumulated during the business of being awake.

One of the things the glial cells clear away is a protein called amyloid beta. And if the Amyloid beta is not cleared away, here’s the problem. It's sticky and it will bind into itself and form plaque. And if you accumulate enough amyloid plaque, you will trigger Alzheimer's disease.

So a good night's sleep is helping you prevent getting Alzheimer's. She emphasized that this point is not to freak people out. This does not happen overnight. It takes 15 to 20 years of amyloid plaque accumulation to trigger Alzheimer's. So the science tells us that if we’re getting on average, seven to nine hours of sleep, we’re doing great. That's what we need.

My mother-in-law's brain was always sharp. She had an unbelievable memory and she didn’t miss anything it seemed. She did puzzles and word games, she exercised most days, she was always interested in new ideas and concepts.

Even though she was in her 80’s it was like she had the brain of a 30-something. She always would ask me lots of questions about a new on-line project I was doing, or a conference I was speaking at.

I know that some people do puzzles and word games to exercise their brain and hopefully avoid dementia or Alzheimer’s. Lisa Genova says this doesn’t help avoid Alzheimers. This isn’t the way the brain works. Doing those kinds of activities gives your brain practice at retrieving information, which is good.

Lisa explains that what really helps keep our brains vibrant and help us potentially avoid memory problems is when we are constantly learning new information. That’s completely different from retrieving information.

You can continue to learn anything in your whole life. You could learn to speak Spanish, learn to play a new musical instrument. Learning new skills and gaining new information is what really benefits our brain in a huge way.

When the Pandemic ends, you can go on a vacation, visit a new city, and meet new people. And all that will help keep your brain active and fresh and filled with new memories. But don’t be surprised if you still forget some of the simplest things, like the reason why you walked upstairs.

Back in 2017, I interviewed a memory expert. His system is called the Magnetic Memory Method. His name is Anthony Metivier, and his interview is available at www.MindfulnessMode.com/248. He talked about our memory and stress and he explained that “it all begins with recognizing and then overriding overwhelm”. He teaches how to learn new languages and memorize poetry and basically supercharge our memories. Check out his episode. He’s a fascinating man with great ideas about mindfulness and memory.

So just remember that your brain isn’t perfect and it’s not intended to be. It’s designed to forget lots of things and we need to mindfully remember the important things, like where I left my wallet, or glasses.

Let's be mindful, and not judge and shame ourselves over forgetting things that our brain is not wired to remember in the first place. Don’t panic and be so fearful if you forget things because forgetting is a normal part of being human.

Now that you know how mindfulness and memory are connected and how we can help avoid moodiness, depression, and stress by using exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and being in nature. All those things will boost the size of your hippocampus. Wow, that gives us control. 

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Discover Your Self-Worth With Chelsea Austin

Discover Your Self-Worth With Chelsea Austin

April 21, 2021

Chelsea Austin is a writer, speaker and advocate from Malibu, California raised by two of the most incredible parents, her dads. Chelsea has used her expertise in theatre and dance and used her story of being raised by two gay men, using it as a platform to spread love, tolerance and acceptance. Chelsea has advocated for the LGBTQ+ community since she was in high school and in 2010 was voted one of the Top Fifteen LGBT Activists in the Los Angeles area. Chelsea shares her message with the world on her blog, “The Girl With Five Names,” her podcast, “Worthiness Warriors,” and through speaking engagements.

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  • Gabby Bernstein Bestselling author, motivational speaker, spiritual leader, and podcast host

Effect on Emotions

  • Mindfulness has allowed me emotional literacy. It has allowed me the time it has taken to recognize that I feel an emotion and that there's something in there.
  • Mindfulness has also given me a place to help process that. Allowing myself to feel emotions as they come up and not squashing them down till a later date or time. 

Thoughts on Breathing

  • Breathing is huge. As someone who has been short of breath many times in life, a thirty second breath is something that saved me.
  • Inhaling for ten seconds, holding for ten and then releasing for ten, and then doing that for about five minutes is simple, but has literally saved my life when I thought I wasn't going to be able to take another breath. 

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Bullying Story

  • I was bullied, but never because I had two dads. I grew up in Las Angeles, born and raised in Malibu. I was known as the girl with two gay dads and that was my selling point. It was something I wore like a badge.
  • I'm also biologically related to both of my parents so that is something that was very uncommon. My dad Kevin, is my biological dad and my daddy, Dennis is my biological uncles, meaning his sister donated the egg so that my parents could have me.
  • It certainly did more to my internal state of mind that it did causing a lot of bullying externally. I was an example for a bunch of different human rights organizations (LGBTQ) to say here is the girl who was raised by two dads and she's well adjusted, well-spoken.
  • On the other hand I was a perfectionist and wanted to do all things the right way because I had in my mind, if I don't do things the right way, then they're going to see me as a reason why people shouldn't have kids.
  • I recognize now that's kind of a self-centered view of the world, but as a little kid, that was what I knew and that was my place I felt I had in the world. 

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Strengthen Your Hope Muscle

Strengthen Your Hope Muscle

April 18, 2021

Strengthen Your Hope Muscle, is the name of today’s episode. What is hope anyway? What does that word mean to you? Hope can be defined as a feeling, state of mind or belief that something good will happen. Whether it's in the future or right now, hope has many benefits for your mental health.

On this episode, I'll explore some of these benefits and then talk about some specific ways you can train your brain to operate with hope!

Hope is a powerful emotion; it’s a feeling that can inspire and motivate you to get up, keep going and not give up. Hope is what keeps us alive when we’re fighting a battle that may seem senseless. But where does hope come from? Is it something we create for ourselves or is it something that exists in the world independent of us? Hope can have different meanings depending on who you are. Hope can definitely affect your mental health.

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There’s a phrase you might have heard, especially if you’re in business or you’re an entrepreneur. It’s Hope marketing is when you see what others are doing in your marketplace or in another marketplace and you try and repeat it. You try to take what you see others applying successfully and copy it with the hope that it will work for you.

This is an example of where the word hope has a negative connotation. Hope marketing is a concept that’s frowned upon and I think it has given the word hope a bad rap.
So what does hope mean in your world? This is a question that we all should ask ourselves.
Here are some of my favorite quotes about hope: “The soul cannot live without hope” (Thomas Aquinas), and “Hope sees best in the dark” (Robert Burns).

Although the word hope isn’t in the quote, I think this quote by Thich Nhat Hahn is relevant: “In order for one to have true peace of mind, he or she must be able to let go of everything—to give up any attachment whatsoever.”

Jon Kabat Zinn says that “hope is not an emotion but rather something more active and engaged-a way of being present in life.”

Science has shown that hope helps with mental health, and there are statistics on how hopeful people live longer lives than those without any hope at all!

In a 2017 study, psychologists found out that hope protects the brain against anxiety and expanded our understanding of how that may be happening. Because hope is considered a stable personality trait, they reasoned, they might be able to figure out where in the brain they can find hope functioning. They were able not only to pinpoint where hope might potentially reside within the brain, but realized how hope may be shielding the brain from the effects of anxiety.

The scientists defined hope as an important topic in positive psychology, referring to an individual's “goal-oriented expectations” that include both agency (desire to achieve goals) and pathways (finding ways to achieve them).
The researchers used fMRI imaging on 231 high school students [from Chengdu, China] who were tested according to questionnaires using the DHS hope scale and the Stait-Trait Anxiety test.

So sit with the word hope for a minute. What does hope mean to you? Is it a feeling, a state of mind, or something else? How do you know when someone is hopeful? The word “hope” comes from the old English word for ‘to desire' which means that hope could be seen as a longing for what might happen in the future. It's important to find out how people define this abstract idea because how you define the word is crucial as to whether it carries a strong, positive connotation, or a more negative connotation.

I think back to when I read the book, Man’s Search For Meaning, by Victor Frankl. He was a prisoner in a Natzi concentration camp during WW II, and he decided to remain hopeful, even though most people would agree, he was not in a very hopeful place. A lot of people around him had given up hope. He didn’t. He stuck to his theory that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful.

To me, this book is largely about hope and clinging to the belief that inspiration can come from within.

This is a ‘must-read’ book – there are over 30,000 reviews on Amazon. Anderson Cooper says: “This is a book I reread a lot . . . it gives me hope . . . it gives me a sense of strength.”

Personally, I belief in hope. The word is powerful to me and it inspires me to keep going, to continue to help spread the idea of mindfulness to the world, to help encourage those who are bullied. If you’re being bullied, or you’re hearing bullying self-talk in your mind, it’s even more important to belief in hope and make the decision to confidently grab onto hope and move forward.

On Friday, I interviewed a Hopeologist. She is also the person who was responsible for having the month of April Declared The National Month of Hope, first back in 2018. She also wrote a book called: As Long As There is Breath In Your Body, There is Still Hope.

Her name is Dr. Rosalind Tompkins and it was an absolute honor to spend close to an hour talking with this inspirational woman.

She spent 12 years, from age 12 to 24, addicted to substances, and then she was able to pull herself up and carve a positive life out where she was helping and inspiring hundreds and thousands of other people. She had HOPE. She thought it, she acted on it, and she lived it. Then she founded the non-profit organization, Mothers in Crisis, Inc., an organization committed to linking families and communities together to provide networks of support and encouragement for families to live productively, empowered, hope-filled lives. She wanted to help mothers who were addicted like she had been. She wanted to give them hope and a new lease on life.

I plan to publish Dr. Tompkin’s interview in mid June, but I’m going to share a clip from the interview now. Here are 5 Ways Dr. Rosalind Tompkin suggests you Train Your Brain For Hope.

1/ Take Hope Breaks

Make it a habit to consistently take breaks that focus on hope. Do this everyday and it will become natural and easy.

2/ Go To A Quiet Place

Breathe and relax. Take five to ten deep deaths and enjoy the peace, being quiet and alone. Once you breathe and get the rhythm flowing, enjoy the space.

3/ Think of the Best Case Scenario

Begin to think, I'm going to make it. The doors are going to open. Think of the most positive outcome that could possibly happen. See it in your mind's eye.

4/ Speak It Out

Make affirmations and say it out so your ears can hear what you're saying.

5/ Repeat

Continue to repeat this process as often as needed. Once you begin to do this, it's amazing how much easier it becomes. 

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Music In Mindfulness and Everyday Life; Michael Defern

Music In Mindfulness and Everyday Life; Michael Defern

April 14, 2021

Michael Defern is a singer/songwriter, author, and video producer. He first became interested in mindfulness and awakening through the Twelve Steps, a tool he used to help maintain sobriety. Fifteen years later, Michael has sought to expand mindfulness into all parts of his life, including business, performing, writing, and raising kids. He owns a video production company with his wife, Heather, where they help business owners create content that digs deeper to connect with their audience, which is the subject of his recent book, How To Connect: A guide to creating content that resonates with your ideal client.

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Effect on Emotions

  • Mindfulness has been a life-changer in terms of communicating with my wife. There were so many things, especially financial things, where I would come at it in such a passive-aggressive way.
  • I would stand there in the moment with her. What I've learned to do now is get anchored, try not to think at all, and just let it come out. The ability of being mindful has allowed me to respond instead of react.

Thoughts on Breathing

  • I need to plug my amazing vocal teacher, Breck Alan. One of his breathing exercises is something I use all the time in mindfulness and meditation.
  • If you sit up straight or stand up straight and you pull yourself up from the back of your neck, and you almost tilt your hips back as if you were to put your hands in your back pockets and pull down slightly. You kind of have this reverse arch.
  • You experiment and you get your body into the right position. It's called, ‘The Art of Body Singing‘, that's his brand. It's about getting into this position where the breath just comes in without any effort.

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Bullying Story

  • I definitely was bullied. And I bullied. My whole school experience from grade school to high school was one of being completely disconnected in my own head.
  • Looking back, there were so many situations, had I had any kind of mindfulness or presence, I would have realized that I took things the wrong way or I would have seen things from the other person's perspective.
  • If I could go back to fifth grade and someone did something that upset me, if I had been able to use mindfulness I would have wondered what they were going through to cause them to lash out at me.

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Have you been trying to lose weight? Are you discouraged? It’s not hopeless. YOU CAN DO IT. I coach people just like you. I’m Bruce Langford, a practicing hypnotist, and you will get results with my help! I personally lost 35 pounds and I’ve kept it off thanks to hypnosis. Feel good and look good. Believe it. Watch my short video and get 5 Tips on How To Lose Weight For Good. Then book a Free Consultation to get you on the road to permanent weight loss. Go to www.MindfulnessMode.com/weightloss
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