Mindfulness

The Hidden Power of Words (Why Being Aware of What We Say Is Important)

(“bad” apple on left and “good” apple on right)

A few years ago, my family conducted an experiment to see how words might physically effect our bodies. Our 7 year old son had started developing a habit of saying mean things to himself when feeling down – like, “I’m stupid.” And “I’m the worst.” My partner and I had been trying to get through to him that saying unkind things to ourselves (as well as to others) leaves a damaging impact. But, he just wasn’t “getting it.”

And then I remembered having seen the amazing results of a fascinating experiment Danielle LaPorte conducted with her family—where they talked smack to one half of an apple for a certain period of days, and loved up the other half. Admittedly, I felt somewhat skeptical about whether or not we could achieve the same results. But we decided to go ahead and give it a try.

To start the experiment, we took a fresh apple, cut it in half, and placed each half in a separate, airtight jar. We labeled one of the halves “Good Apple” and the other “Bad Apple,” and we left both sealed jars on a dark shelf in the corner of the kitchen.

Every day we said kind, loving, encouraging things to Good Apple—and mean, nasty, discouraging things to Bad Apple.

And 20 days later…

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Coming Out of the Spiritual Closet

It’s time for me to admit something. I’ve been in the closet. I’ve been ignoring a huge aspect of myself, and I just can’t do it any longer. Maybe it won’t seem like such a big deal to you. But here it is…

I’m <cough> spiritual.

(this is a cartoon version of me wearing a black wig after coming out of the spiritual closet, in case you were wondering)

And I’m not just declaring that I’m now an “SBNR” (spiritual but not religious) person just because I live in Los Angeles and it’s the hipster thing to say.

Nope.

I’m talking about dedicating myself to creating a uniquely personal spiritual path rooted in mindfulness; I’m talking about opening up to learning about different spiritual traditions to see which practices might feel like a good fit to explore—and which ones don’t; I’m talking about deepening my meditation practice with the intention of connecting not only with myself and others—but also with the giant Mystery. Love. The Universe. Spirit. Whatever I decide to call that thing (or no-thing). And, although this is hard for me to believe—my staunchly secular mindfulness meditation practice brought me to this place.

Weird… Right?

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I Want! I Don’t Want!

They say finding a new home is one of life’s top stressors.

They’re right.

My partner, Kate, and I were recently told we need to move (our landlady’s selling the house we’ve been renting). And, the moment I heard the news, my mind started grappling with trying to find some semblance of solid ground. My immediate reaction was, “but I don’t want to move!…” And then all the reasons why came rushing into the courtroom of my mind—building the case for why we should stay…

YOUR HONOR, KATE AND JENNIFER HAVE LIVED IN THAT HOUSE FOR OVER TWO YEARS—HAVING ONLY RECENTLY TRAINED THEMSELVES TO TUNE-OUT THE NEIGHBORS’ BARKING DOGS AT ALL HOURS OF THE DAY AND NIGHT. THEIR POWERS OF SONIC SOMNAMBULANCE TOOK YEARS TO HONE… SO, I ASK YOU, IS THEIR BEING TOLD THEY NEED TO MOVE FAIR?….

I THINK NOT!

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The Mosaic of Life

MosaicWork-Trencadis-Gaudi-

A while back, when I was in the midst of the certification in mindfulness facilitation program at UCLA, I was asked to write a paper on the topic of diversity, and I noticed an immediate sense of dread when the topic came up—followed by some major resistance.

It’s a sticky subject for me—one I’d much rather sweep under the rug than examine. And, because of this, I’m going to share what I wrote…

When I think about the topic of diversity, I flash to my “sheltered” childhood—which was utterly devoid of it. I grew up in a predominantly-Caucasian, upper middle class, quaint, rural town in New Hampshire. Monochromatic white saltbox Colonials lined the center of town, offset by swaths of apple orchards and strawberry fields.

Every harvest season, a line of rickety, lime-green painted school buses would roll into town. And I remember staring at those buses, feeling this weird fascination with their “otherness” back then. I later found out they were packed with Jamaican migrant workers hired to work the orchards and fields.

Reflecting back on this now, I feel a sharp knot in my left side, just below my ribs. My breathing is shallow. My brow furrowed. I feel ashamed. Sad.

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Tight Spots

I recently had my first MRI (due to an infection in my arm from a kitten bite)… And the MRI wasn’t a fun experience. But, wow—what a great opportunity to observe my mind! It’s interesting how things that trigger me often prove to be my biggest teachers.

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The Courage to Be Gentle

THE COURAGE TO BE GENTLE

It takes a lot of courage to be gentle in the face of things I find challenging.

Embarrassing…

Humiliating…

I want to harden

When I’ve made a mistake…

All I want to do is ROAR.

It takes a lot of courage to be gentle.

Now I soften.

I often find myself wanting to harden when life feels difficult, or when I’ve made a mistake or feel embarrassed in some way…. My body automatically tenses in these situations—and so do my emotions.

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Being Mindful of “Good” Judgment

EncouragingWords

One of the biggest things I’ve recognized on this path of mindfulness is how judgmental my mind tends to be. It judges people, things, experiences…. Whatever it encounters (especially if it’s something new), my mind tends to slap a label on it. And I’m not talking about objective labeling here…. I’m talking about the reactive deeming of whatever the object of my mind’s attention is as “bad” or “good.” “Wrong” or “right.” “The worst” or “the best.” Or some variation in between.

Basically, I’m talking about labels that judge.

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Mental Noting

thinking

One mindfulness technique I often use when meditating is called “mental noting” or “labeling.” Science has proven that noting or labeling a thought as it arises regulates the emotional circuitry in the brain, creating a calming effect in the body and giving separation from the thought. I find the technique quite helpful. Perhaps you will, too! 🙂

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Personal Space

space

(image from http://www.toonpool.com)

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “personal space” lately… How it’s not just a physical thing—how we can also experience personal space in an emotional and mental way, too…. I’ve come to realize how important it is to my well being that I get hefty doses of all three varieties. When I’m getting “enough personal space,” I feel comfortable and at ease.

And when I don’t get enough of it—I feel edgy. Suffocated. Compressed. Panicky.

I’m a tall woman (6’0 to be precise). So, I’ve always been acutely aware of my personal space in the physical sense—especially not having enough of it….My pants and shirts are often too short, and the beds I sleep in—never long enough; cars rarely have enough leg room for me; tables are often too short to cross my legs underneath…. And the list goes on.

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