The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

from Elmo Shade

The most common reasons people come to a Mindfulness Practice are

  1. Physical pain or chronic pain
  2. Emotional pain due to loss, death, or serious or potentially fatal diagnosis
  3. Inability to manage the day to day stressors of life

The benefits of mindfulness are known and well-documented. It reduces levels of stress, meaning the autonomic nervous system is not in fight, flight, or freeze mode. This then reduces both anxiety and depression, reduces fatigue and burnout, and reduces periods of restlessness. This leads to an increased ability to pay attention and concentrate and higher cognitive performance, particularly while learning. It enhances hormonal balance for women, and enhances the immune system of men and women.

Chronic pain, many of our physical ailments, and even diseases that we are experiencing are not actually illnesses or diseases. They are a result of the body system storing stress and pain that has never actually been released in a healthy manner. Mindfulness helps to reduce the discomfort of pain, both emotional and physical, and increases our capacity for compassion for ourselves and others.

Because Mindfulness Practice is about paying attention to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies, it often leads to increased levels of energy. It can decrease fatigue and increase stamina. This higher energy level then brings increased movement. The American Psychiatric Association shows we spend 6-12 hours a day not moving, and this does not count the time we spend sleeping. Having the energy to move is a tremendous benefit.

Mindfulness Practice is evidence-based and proven to benefit quality of life through the reduction of physical pain, emotional pain, and chronic stress. Our collective stress levels are higher than they have ever been, especially for women, and that takes a toll on our health. We can bring ourselves back into balance through mindfulness.

“Life has no Opposite”: On Conscious Dying and Sacred Passage Doulas

Consciousdyinghands

 

“The opposite of Life is not Death. The opposite of Death is Birth. Life has no Opposite.”  Unknown

Death and Birth are Bookends of Life.

Death is a Rite of Passage that brings a family of initiatory emotions: grief, anger, terror, rage, disappointment, sadness.

But of all these, Grandmother Grief leads the way. She calls forth an Initiation that renews, heals and cleanses our souls.

“Dealing with “the things we cannot escape” (but want to or try to) is best accomplished within the sacred space of ritual. Ritual facilitates and provides us with a unique channel to access higher power. Certain issues don’t want to be resolved mechanistically. We don’t have to know how the power works; we just have to show up and let the higher forces deal with the issues. Ritual provides a safe place for the soul and body to affirm life over death, to affirm continuity over discontinuity.” Maladoma Some’

In our last Sacred Doula program, our graduating class designed and experienced a very powerful grief ritual so that all of our incomplete losses and their stories could be shared and released. We prepared ourselves for this ritual in many ways.

The night before, we wrote about a powerful loss and how it had affected us. We created a healing space in the room to honor these loses. We invited a wonderful musician to sing and play guitar.

We asked elders from our community to attend and support us. We wore beautiful white, blue or black clothes. Before we entered the space we were cleansed with special smoke and marked our faces with charcoal tears. We entered this space with sacred intent.

We placed beautiful scarves, fabric, flowers, candles, and photos of our loved ones on the table. And as each individual shared their story of love and loss, we listened with compassion and tears. We ended many hours later filled with awe and love. Our spirits and bodies were refreshed and renewed.
This grief ritual transformed us individually and created a strong caring healing community that we can trust in and rely on. It gives us reference for how to show up for others who will be in our care.

Here are some of my thoughts from my studies on grief and death and from my personal experience from this day.

  • I came to see that Death and Birth are bookends of Life. Both are markers of our earthly existence.
  • Like Birth, Death is not an end. It is an initiation into a yet unseen, mysterious passage that all human beings enter and through which life is renewed.
  • Death’s initiation into new life is lead by its family of emotions, its spiritual journey, and its turn toward meaning and completions for all involved.
  • The emotional family surrounding death: grief, rage, fear, terror, anger, disappointment, loss call us to these powerful rites of passage that no other time offers.
  • When these feelings are honored as a right of passage, when we are appropriately supported, seen and held to experience these powerful feelings, to stay with them, not run away, in our own time and in our own way, we are transformed. Whether we are the one leaving or the ones left behind, we need support to travel in these rivers of feelings that come to claim us. We need people who know how to keep us safe to navigate the journey.
  • If we are held, seen, and supported in a good way, we can enter this emotional landscape and can stay there as long as it takes for the healing forces of grief to wash over us. We can experience grief as an initiation into new life that has the power to cleanse our soul, re-set our energetic field, and ground us in the vulnerability that is the flowering of our connection with our own hearts, our family, and humanity.

Grandmother Grief gives us a way back into our own heart. It is precisely because we love so much that we have the opportunity for a greater human experience…. an opportunity to be initiated into greater inner harmony, unity with our own heart, memory of our innate healing gifts and ancient wisdom, and to be re-affirmed in love with all our relations.

Because we love so deeply, even if that love and care may be temporarily covered over in resentments or conflicts, it can still give rise to new life.  It can provide opportunity to re-fine, re-kindle, re-move, re-store, shake us free of locked and held feelings.  It can rejoin us with the truth of love and the memory of who we are.

Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula supports everyone to live fully and completely through end of life. Ha.Le’ is hosting a 2 day Introduction to Sacred Passage Doula Training on Aug 28 & 29.

-Tarron Estes                  July 2015

Founder, Conscious Dying Institute

 

Learn more about the Sacred Passage workshop on our Events Page

Enroll in the Workshop ($150, early registration price $135 ends Aug 7th)

Mindfulness: 10 Insights to make your mind a good friend

Zen stones

 

How would you answer this question, “What is the most important question you have ever been asked?” (and your answer CANNOT be “Will you marry me?”). Over 8 years ago, as I sat as a student in a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I was asked such a question.  The Instructor (now Mentor) asked, “Is your mind a good friend or does it take you into bad neighborhoods?”  Needless to say, my mind was screaming, “NO I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND AND NEVER WILL BE”.  Now, 8 years later, I can say with certainty that my mind was only giving me bad advice. Below are ten (10) insights that have emerged since making mindfulness a daily practice.  Read them and ask yourself, “Is your mind a good friend?”:

 

  1. Know Yourself

This is more than just self-awareness or knowing you like dark chocolate more than you like milk chocolate. It is about knowing your DNA, i.e. knowing your purpose, what you value, and what is never compromised.

 

  1. Choose wisely

Someone once said the most important choice we ever make in this life for personal happiness is who or if to marry. And it is less about finding the right person than it is about being the right person.

 

  1. Let go of resentment & regret

Resentment is like eating rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Regret is holding on to a hope of having a better past. Letting go is not shooting a second arrow after you have been stung with the first one.

 

  1. We see what we seek

If we are looking for faults, we will see faults. If we are looking for the good in someone, we will see only the good. What we seek, we will surely find.

 

  1. Spend time alone

Yes, even all of you extroverts. You don’t have to be like Thoreau at Walden Pond to take periodic refuge without the presence of others. When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.

 

  1. Show up, tell the truth, & respond with compassion

Showing up means being present with others, i.e. being HERE NOW not somewhere else in your head.

 

  1. Slow down

I was once told that when you get in a hurry, you run off and leave more than you ever catch up to. I never quite understood what that meant, but I have run off and left many precious gifts that were only waiting for my patience to arrive.

 

  1. Be open to everything and attached to nothing

Nothing also meaning “no one”. Clinging, craving and attachment are the core elements of 99% of all human suffering. The heart and mind function like a parachute…they only work when open.

 

  1. The pain now is part of the happiness then…that’s the deal

Rilke said it best when writing, “Let everything happen to you, the beauty and the terror. Just keep going. No thought or feeling is final.”  This is the Law of Impermanence.

 

  1. Smile more, complain less, never give up

Smile more, complain less, & never give up.

 

-by Elmo Shade

Elmo offers meditation and qigong classes, mindfulness workshops for adults and teens, and individualized mindfulness coaching. 

Nashville Massage for PTSD

Massage for PTSD creates space for healing

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is commonly associated with soldiers and other people in war-torn areas but it doesn’t take a war to manifest. Massage for PTSD is a powerful treatment form.

Any sort of prolonged chronic stress, from the loss of a loved one to an undiagnosed or misunderstood health condition, from marital discord to caring for a loved one, can result in PTSD.

I’ve seen it following knee replacement surgery, after replacement of a natural body part with a mechanical substitute. The surgery itself causes stress of many kinds – physical and emotional. But anxiety, grief and confusion often accompany the loss of an original part of the body in subtle but profound ways patients don’t expect.

PTSD also is caused by childhood trauma, including diseases and abuse, that carries forward.

PTSD is tricky. Unknown triggers set it off. The disorder comes and goes. It can manifest as depression, addiction of any kind, high anxiety levels, neuromuscular ticks, restless leg syndrome and balance problems.

Massage for PTSD has two important components. Massage with a trusted therapist creates and strengthens a trust bond that allows the client both physical and emotional comfort. That comfort and trust, in turn, create a space for coping with the stress the body is under.

Of course manipulation of tissue fibers is important, too. Massage for PTSD and generally increases relaxation, boosts mood and improves the quantity and quality of sleep. We have an amazing and innate ability to heal ourselves, and massage increases awareness of both physical and psychological stress. Massage for PTSD is empowering.

PTSD can be illusive, frustrating and at times debilitating. It doesn’t have to be.

Yoga therapy and ear acupuncture, like massage therapy, are effective in treating PTSD. Please contact us to learn more.

Mindful breathing energizes our minds as well as our bodies

Babies are better at breathing than almost all of us. They instinctually breathe with their whole bodies, flooding every cell with oxygen.

As adults, most of us have forgotten what a full breath feels like. But breathing is crucial not only our respiratory system, but our cardiac, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychological systems, too.

How we breathe affects our sleep, energy level, memory and concentration. Because breathing is automatic and not an intellectual activity, we at times take it for granted. Cultivating or “practicing” a better way to breathe seems strange.

Yet mindful breathing is one of the best things we can do for our health. This 8-minute audio podcast, also part of the Self-Help for Health Care series, offers guided breathing exercises to help energize our bodies and our minds.