Always Well Within

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You Can Beat Stress with Mindfulness

Living with Ease E-Course

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means being aware in the present moment, disentangled from thoughts or emotions about the past or future.

Everyone has the capacity to be mindful.  But, due to habit, we lose ourselves in thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the whirl of life around us.  Often, our thoughts and emotions lead to stress as we respond to internal triggers or external circumstances.

For example, you can probably remember moments when one of these torrents dominated your mind:

  • Anger when passed over for a promotion at work.
  • Anxiety about performance in any area of life.
  • Doubts about your personal value as a human being.
  • Need for validation from others.
  • Worry about finances.
  • Confusion about what to do next.
  • Obsessing about whether he or she really loves you.
  • Fear about the future.

Mindfulness helps you let go of troublesome thoughts and negative emotions.  In the process, stress begins to naturally dissipate.

Mindfulness and the Physical Triggers of Stress

There are many physical triggers that can set off the stress response too like a loud, unexpected noise, commuting in dense traffic, or chronic pain.  Mindfulness can help you build your resilience to physical stressors like these.  It can also enable you to change your perception of them so you feel less stress.

In essence, mindfulness can help you interrupt and turn around the biochemical cascade of stress that’s triggered all too frequently in modern life.

And, that means more joy, peace and freedom.

Mindfulness Is Not…

Since “mindfulness” became a buzz word after being featured in Time Magazine, there’s confusion floating about as to what mindfulness really is.  People use the word “mindful” in a generic sense, but the most effective approach to mindfulness is more precise.

So let’s be clear that mindfulness is not:

A static state of peace.

Many of us long for a moment of quiet relief and thus may mistake a silent mind as the goal of mindfulness.  With time and practice, you’ll experience more moments of calm for sure.  But, mindfulness is not a continual state of peace devoid of thoughts or emotions.

True peace occurs when your mind is no longer perturbed by whatever arises.  The feeling of peace is nice, of course, but you won’t cling to it.  Nor will you feed aversion when a thought or difficult circumstance arises.

The blocking or suppressing of emotions.

Mindfulness will enable you to be aware of emotions as they occur and learn to release them like clouds passing in the sky.  Gradually, the practice of mindfulness allows old hurts, confusion, and stuck patterns to move up to the surface where they can be liberated and thus no longer confine your life.

Over concentration. 

Mindfulness is not concentrating so hard on one object that you lose touch with everything else around you.  Some people promote being in the “zone,” but this is not necessarily mindfulness.

When you formally practice mindfulness, you place your bare awareness on an object like the breath or a form, but you can still hear the leaves rustling in the wind and the house creaking.  You can feel your heart beating or a trickle of sweat meandering down your face on an especially hot day.  Your senses remain open and alive, not shut down like a corpse.

The absence of thoughts

You may experience the absence of thoughts for short periods of time, but mindfulness is not the permanent absence of thoughts.  That again mistakes mindfulness for being like a cadaver.

Thoughts and emotions will continue to arise, but you will no longer engage in elaborate conversations with them.  So the mind gradually becomes more serene.

The Link Between Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

These are some of the ways that simple awareness can help you relieve stress.  The practice of mindfulness can:

  • Make you more aware of internal and external stressors as they occur.
  • Empower you to recognize your own stress response before it gets out of control.
  • Help you to intervene and regain control when stress has gotten out of hand.
  • Allow you to see your automatic reactions that keep you stuck in stress reactivity
  • Give you the awareness and choice to respond differently when stress occurs.
  • Help you slow down so you can see more options.
  • Give you the opportunity to change the way you perceive a stressor so it will have less impact upon you.
  • Provide a firmer foundation to help you face maladaptive coping mechanisms like overworking, hyperactivity, overeating, and addictions.
  • Settle the mind so peacefulness becomes the new baseline.
  • Defuse negative emotions.
  • Improve your health and well-being.

Mindfulness Effectively Beats Stress

Orange FlowerMore than 30 years of medical research has shown that the regular use of mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques is an effective way to diminish stress.

In addition, their use as a complement to medical treatment can positively influence a range of conditions such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, skin disorders, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, depression, and others.

Mindfulness is also a powerful catalyst for rewiring the brain.

Mindfulness has been shown to strengthen the functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, in short our executive and cognitive functions, which improves our capacity to rewire old habits and build resilience to adversity.  The regular practice of mindfulness leads to a more integrated functioning of the brain as well.

Break the Cycle of Stress

I’ve lived a very high stress life as an Executive Director of non-profits and a Fundraising Consultant.  I know it’s not easy to break away from stress because you can literally become stuck in a biochemical pattern.  But, it’s possible and life is so much more easy and fun when you do.

I’ve brought together my training in mindfulness with my knowledge of stress reduction to create Living with Ease, the Mindful Way to Less Stress, a self-study e-course especially for you.

People have said the course has been life-changing for them.  If stress is your nemesis, there’s a good chance my course will help you too.  Because it’s now offered in a self-study format, you can start anytime.

The Living with Ease course will help you to:

  • Gather the courage you need to change the way you respond to stress.
  • Learn to confidently avert and dissolve stress.
  • Cultivate your capacity for relaxed attention.
  • Develop a simple stress strategy tailored to your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.
  • Grow clearer, stronger, and more spacious.

30 carefully crafted and thoughtfully paced lessons include:

  • 4 self-assessments
  • Detailed instructions for 3 main mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques
  • Links to guided practices
  • 3 sessions of essential practice tips
  • 15 simple and fun supportive practices
  • more than 60 self-reflection and journaling prompts
  • 6 inspiring mini-lessons to add ease into your learning process

At the end of the course, you’ll have a personalized stress reduction program tailored to your own needs, preferences, and lifestyle. The course can be completed in 30 days, but you also have the option of going at your own pace because this is a stress-free zone!

All this (100+ pages of guidance) comes in one easy to open PDF – $19.99.  Get started now by clicking the button below:

Buy Living with Ease

If you would like to know more, read the full information page and testimonials: Living with Ease:  The Mindful Way to Less Stress.

Don’t let stress damage your health, destroy your relationships or deflate your joy.  Make a commitment now to live with greater ease.

Do you practice mindfulness?  How does it help you?


Thank you for the gift of your time and attention.  If you liked this post, please share it with others. Thank you!  And, if you’re new, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

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19 Comments

  1. Hi Sandra,

    I have always been quite hazy about the truth of mindfulness…never really tried to understand it. This article lays bare, in a very translucent manner what is real mindfulness. Thanks for making me understand that the thoughts need not be eliminated, which is always a herculean task, but stop engaging in elaborate conversations with them.

    I know it is also quite challenging but lately I have been trying that, practicing not to enter into any conversation with the negative thoughts and situations in the past or present which are upsetting. The inspiration for such experiments come from your spiritual articles, which have the potential of entering into my blood stream. Thanks a TON for that.

    Thanks for all these lovely reminders.

    • This is such a key point, Balroop! I’m so glad you brought it to the forefront because people feel such frustration when they think meditation is a battle against thoughts. When we realize we don’t have to block thoughts, we can relax and through simply being present in the moment, thoughts will gradually settle on their own.

      It takes practice! I’m delighted to hear that you have made such a good start on learning to remain in the present moment. It gets easier with time and practice. Thanks for your appreciative words.

  2. Hi Sandra,

    This is the best explanation of what mindfulness is I’ve ever seen – and over the last 18 months it’s a topic I’ve been studying in depth!

    I’ve probably read all the books by the world’s most famous mindfulness experts but your Living With Ease helped me practice mindfulness daily and stay on track with it. It’s not easy starting new habits and overcoming the habits of a lifetime but I’m convinced that mindfulness is the way and you’ve helped me keep on the path.

    Mindfulness has made a big difference to my way of thinking and being which is why I recommend it to all and sundry now! I’m so glad I’ll be able to recommend your book to them now 🙂

    • Dear Annabel,

      This is a huge compliment! Thank you so much. I’m fortunate that I’ve trained with some of the most exceptional teachers in mindfulness and meditation.

      So true! It’s not easy to change a habit. I’m delighted my course helped you practice daily and stay on track. I think having a structure and system makes a big difference.

      I so agree that the most important element of mindfulness is the way it can change our view of everything and thus the practice has the potential to greatly enrich our lives and help us see the true purpose of life.

  3. Hi Sandra
    Mindfulness essentially implies being mindful of the workings of the mind;instead of the commonly accepted connotation of being full of our minds!
    That being said,I agree with you there;it’s not very easy to alter our conditioned and capricious mind.I guess Thich Nat Han expresses it best when he urges us to find mindfulness even in an ordinary walk down the street.The secret is to observe -with detachment.
    Thanks for the insight
    Mona

    • Well said, Mona! Like anything else, it’s a matter of training, isn’t it? Love your example of Thich Nhat Hanh, which shows us that every moment can be an opportunity to practice mindfulness.

  4. Jean Sampson

    What a wonderful article, Sandra. This is something I work on and try to be aware of all of the time. I am always “tuning in” to my mind and asking it, ” What are you doing now? What are you thinking? Feeling? ” I am always reminding myself that I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings and I can change them if I can become aware of them. I practice this in my life and use it to keep myself in a state balance. I sometimes see my mind as a child who needs guidance as to how to be in certain situations, and treat it as a good and nurturing parent would.

    • Dear Jean,

      This is exactly the kind of relaxed vigilance we need to be more mindful and be the director of our thoughts and emotions instead of their victim. I love how you approach your mind and willingness to be a keen observer and good nurturing parent.

  5. Sandra,
    I can’t think of a better teacher for mindfulness than you! You live this stuff! I’ve witnessed you walk your talk over the past several years. The world is blessed because of the work you do! xo

    • That’s so kind of you to say, Tess! Thank you. I honestly love this course, and I’m always delighted when others are able to break through their barriers to effectively working with stress.

  6. Wonderful Sandra! We can become at peace, permanently, without passing on lol…mindfulness is the answer, and devout prayer, and meditation, can cultivate this state of mind. Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan,

      Thanks Ryan for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that we can find greater peace from mindfulness and meditation, but we need to be a little cautious here. It’s not necessarily a permanent “state” so to speak. We need to be careful about clinging to an experience of peace. There’s a danger of just sinking into the feeling of peace or bliss and losing our awareness. Awareness is the key factor as to whether we’re in the present moment or not. The kind of peace that meditation brings comes from not being attached to peace or anything else. We’re probably on the same page, but thought I would add that in case anyone is confused.

  7. You say it so well Sandra. We so tend to make simple things complicated don’t we and here you are bringing everything back to it’s simplest form for everyone to understand and most of all being to practice.
    Like all things, I learned not to wait until my mind was a raging stream to begin my practice, but to practice little by little daily so that when I began to feel out of sorts in any way, greater mindfulness came into play.
    I’m not perfect at this yet, but getting better at reminding myself I can direct my thoughts in any direction I choose.
    You’re mindfulness course sounds perfect. 🙂

    • Hi Elle,

      That’s so smart to not wait until your mind is a raging storm! The kind of regular practice you suggest creates the foundation so the storms rage less and if they do, they have less power over us.

      I’m not perfect at it either, but slowly slowly we can become – as you have to a greater degree – the master of our thoughts instead of their victim.

      Thanks for your kind words!

  8. I learned mindfulness through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It is one of the core tenets to it. I find it to be extremely beneficial. It allows you as you stated, to feel your emotions and think your thoughts but not to get caught up in them.

    It allows me to catch myself whenever I get stuck in negative thought patterns. I highly recommend it to all people.

    • Hi Sebastian,

      Isn’t it wonderful that mindfulness is now so integrated with some forms of therapy? I’m happy to hear you’ve had such a positive experience and that you recommend mindfulness so fully. You’re right, who wants to get caught up in negative emotions! Thank you.

      • It is awesome. It helps spread it to people who really need it and then hopefully when people see how much it helps the person in therapy then they will be inspired to try it too.

  9. What a great article – especially explaining the emotional component. That is always the sticking point for me – to realize how it helps me emotionally to be mindful in the present.

    Thanks for writing it!
    Sue

    • I’m so glad you liked the article, Sue. Yes, mindfulness has a powerful effect on our ability to not be captured by our emotions!

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