A mindfulness student recently experienced her body as beautiful during a body scan in class. You may already have a positive self-
Your compassionate human desire to take good care of others is critical to the well-
You and I have two primary modes of mental activity: the doing mode and the being mode. Although we are called human beings, we spend the majority of our time in the doing mode rather than the being mode. Your “doing” mode is highly prized in our culture for schooling, work and career. It demonstrates your mastery and command of detail, data, thinking, intellect and your goal-
Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging. B One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled.
The holiday season is filled with emotion for most people. While this emotion is often happy, positive and loving, for many people it can be very unhappy and even depressing. Holiday music can trigger emotional associations with the absence of a loved one or unhappy memories from the past. The gap between the smiling faces of holiday ads and one’s unhappy emotional experience can actually lead to a deepening of the emotional darkness that often accompanies this season of lights.
As you approach the new year, you may be making resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Birthdays and other anniversaries also prompt us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Two of the most common promises we make to ourselves are to increase our physical activity level and our stress management skills. Research is now showing that combining mindfulness meditation and physical activity can dramatically improve physical and emotional health.
Anger can be a healthy emotional response or a serious health risk. Managing anger appropriately does not require that we deny it, repress it or get completely rid of it. Brief, mild-
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is the world’s premier nutrition education resource. Harvard Medical School and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH developed the Healthy Eating Plate to provide the general public with up-
Both my parents experienced the sudden change in life’s priorities associated with the diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Suddenly, things that have occupied our mind, time and energy are reappraised in light of a stark reminder of life’s uncertainty and our mortality. Hope is kept alive by modern medicine’s remarkable results with conventional treatments and the fact that some individuals do much better than expected, even with serious and advanced cancer.
Yoga can be fun and healthy for you and your kids – physically, mentally and emotionally.What is yoga? The word “yoga” means to yoke, unite, connect or join together. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, heart and emotions. It can also help connect you to other people, animals, trees and all of nature. We tend to think of physical movements and body postures when we think of yoga. Yoga looks like exercise, but its intent is very different. Physical hatha yoga is traditionally performed as a means of .....
Where is your attention when you eat? Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
Being disconnected from or being self-
For many people, there is a relationship between stress and oral health. The presence of oral disease and dental disorders can cause stress from low self-
The three primary domains of your overall fitness are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-
Surely one of the best things about modern science is the discovery that chocolate can actually be good medicine! Chocolate As Preventive Medicine? Cocoa contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavanols that may help protect you against coronary heart disease (heart attacks). Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains two to three times the amount of these beneficial plant chemicals. A possible mechanism by which flavanols protect the heart may be enhancing.....
A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Modern medical, radiation and surgical treatments have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, who now number over 12 million, or one in 25 Americans. Lifestyle choices such as health-
Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness? This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
I will never forget my patient who developed Type 1, insulin-
What to Eat? The world’s leading nutrition researchers are sending a very clear public health message based on the best scientific evidence available: To promote health, prevent disease and extend life, half your food servings should come from fruits and vegetables. For more than 70 years, the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has conducted rigorous scientific research on the relationship between food and health.
In addition to cold weather, winter sometimes brings sadness and depression. Some people experience depression only during the winter. Others with year-
The fast pace of modern life is taking its toll on our mental and physical health. Multiple surveys in the past year have documented an alarming increase in perceived stress, anxiety, depression and suicide. Our health – our very lives – depend on our ability to manage stress in healthy ways at home, at work, in traffic, in relationships – and simply inside our own skin. We need simple tools to bring some calm to the chaos – some peace to the frenzy – some kindness to the aggression and competition.
A recent American Psychiatric Association poll found anxiety in Americans has increased sharply over the past year, up five points since 2017. Also in the past year, a Blue Cross Blue Shield report found major depression has risen by 33 percent since 2013. This rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls).
Are you a victim of the epidemic of stress we are experiencing as a nation? We have a serious public health epidemic. Public health officials are increasingly alarmed by the growing epidemic of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide in America. The American Psychological Association recently found more than half of Americans said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history they can remember.(1) An American Psychiatric Association poll found anxiety levels in…
Human beings are social creatures by our very nature. We depend on each other. We need each other. Even though we may feel self-
Hearing and listening are often confused. Hearing is one of the five major sense perceptions, along with seeing, tasting, smelling and touching. We use the sense of hearing when we are in conversation with another person and we may refer to that elemental sense of hearing as listening. But listening also has a much deeper meaning. In the corporate world and the medical and psychological sciences, the quality of active listening or deep listening is recognized as a critical element in interpersonal….
As our annual holiday of giving comes to an end, we often begin a new year full of hopes, intentions and resolutions to take better care of ourselves. Many of us also vow to take better care of others. We want to be more kind. But it’s hard to be more kind to others when we feel our own cup of kindness is running low or is completely empty. It is difficult or impossible to relieve the suffering of others without first wisely managing our own suffering. Self-
You may have recently made 2019 resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Each new birthday and each new year often prompts us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits of mind and body. Two of the most common promises I hear are to increase exercise/physical activity and learn to manage stress in a healthy way.
Recent surveys describe an alarming level of stress in the United States. Anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide are increasing – not just in adults, but also in children and youth. Public health officials and educators are looking for ways to limit the harm caused by the fast pace of modern life and the endless stream of disturbing news. Mindfulness practice has emerged as an important tool that can benefit children, teachers and parents.
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The fast pace of modern life is taking its toll on our mental and physical health. Multiple surveys in the past year have documented an alarming increase in perceived stress, anxiety, depression and suicide.
Our health – our very lives – depend on our ability to manage stress in healthy ways at home, at work, in traffic, in relationships – and simply inside our own skin. We need simple tools to bring some calm to the chaos – some peace to the frenzy – some kindness to the aggression and competition. The S.T.O.P. mindfulness practice is one such tool. This practice can take as little time as one breath or as long as you like.
“S” is for “Stop” and take Stock
Aren’t there times when you just need a break, even for a minute? Make yourself a promise to recognize several times each day when you need some self-
Even if you don’t remember this entire sequence, just remember the word stop. Have the intention to truly inquire into the three primary domains of your experience: 1) Body – sense perceptions and physical sensations; 2) Mind – thoughts, images, plans, memories; and 3) Emotions and feelings. Bring some well-
Ask yourself, “What is my experience right now?” Simply notice what’s going on around you and inside of you. Take stock of the situation. Take your foot off the accelerator and slow down, grounding yourself with some conscious, natural breaths. In the process, your pleasant experiences may be more fully nurtured and your unpleasant experiences may be less onerous.
Alternatively, you may ask, “What is absent from my experience right now? What have I forgotten about myself, my work, my colleagues, my family?” Allow experiences of kindness, compassion, generosity, awe and beauty and smell the roses along the way.
“T” is for “Take” a Breath
Take a normal, natural breath, directing your full attention to breathing. Even one breath experienced with your full, unhurried attention can counteract the stress response. Feel the physical sensations of each inbreath and each outbreath – sensations in the nostrils as the air moves in and out – sensations as the air moves back and forth across the upper lip – sensations as the air moves in and out of the back of the throat – sensations as the chest expands and contracts – and sensations as the belly expands and contracts.
You may find it helpful to say to yourself “in” on the inbreath and “out” on the outbreath. Use your breath as an anchor to bring you into the present moment and help you tune intentionally into your natural state of calm awareness and restful alertness.
“O” is for “Open” and “Observe”
Expand the field of your awareness beyond your breathing, including a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, your facial expression and the sensations on your skin. Notice all your sense perceptions – touch, sight, sounds, smells and tastes. Expanding your awareness beyond your body, connect to the trees
and all the green growing things you depend on for oxygen. Notice your thoughts and their fleeting, impermanent nature. Notice that thoughts are not always facts and not necessarily true. Notice that you can intentionally choose to think your thoughts or let them go. Allow your emotions to surface, recognizing and naming them without judgment: “This is anger” – “This is joy” – “This is grief” – “This is happiness” – “This is anxiety” – “This is depression” – “I know you. I am experiencing you but you do not define me.”
Naming your emotions without self-
“P” is for “Proceed”/new “Possibilities”
After this intentional slowing down, stepping off the treadmill and out of the rat race, take the benefits of this practice into the next moment, the next task, the next meeting, the next conversation, the next relationship, informing ordinary daily activity with the physiological benefits of mindful self-
Notice the world around you, experiencing how things really are, tapping into your intuitive inner wisdom for what you need right now – a call or text to a friend, a quiet moment alone, a bite of chocolate, a cup of tea. Then proceed with more clarity, from a place of choice and skillful responding rather than reactive, habitual autopilot.
Proceed without any expectation of how others will act or speak or behave. Be realistic about your inability to control the pace at which other people are moving. Know with increasing confidence you can consciously choose the pace of your own mind and body, where you place your attention and whether you perceive your cup as half empty or half full. Feel your inner relaxation response naturally balancing your stress response. With an open, curious mind, experiment with the S.T.O.P. practice several times a day, anywhere, anytime, before each meal, before starting the car, turning on the computer, bathing, brushing your teeth, taking out the trash, during conversation, going to bed, waking up in the morning – anytime, anywhere.
As you take control of where you place your attention, you will understand why mindfulness is also translated as heartfulness. Refining your ability to slow down and S.T.O.P. can help you promote resilience, manage stress, prevent burnout and cultivate compassion. Keeping a log of your practice can be extremely helpful. The following questions are taken from the S.T.O.P. practice log (2) below.
Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations