Inhale. Exhale. Notice.

Breathe in.

Breathe out. 

Inhale. 

Exhale. 

Bring your awareness to your breath. 

Notice your breath. 

Notice your thoughts.

*My thoughts are all over the place. 

*I don’t want to notice some thoughts. 

Notice thoughts without judgment.

*How do I not notice thoughts? What does that even mean?   

As you notice your thoughts bring your attention back to your breath. 

Inhale. 

Exhale. 

Impossible. My monkey brain can’t slow down. This is a waste of time. I can’t stop my mind from constantly spinning out of control. Oh wait – I just went 30 seconds thinking about my breath. Interesting. Maybe I’ll try this again. 

Like many, this was my first meditation. It, at times, can feel like a recent meditation. I, however, am grateful for my yoga and meditation practice. 

Only a few years ago, I thought yoga was only exercise and meditation was impossible. I casually practiced both with no real commitment. I returned to both yoga and meditation after learning that it could help with some previous traumatic experiences. (Yoga is meditation, btw). It helps. 

Yoga/Meditation/Mindfulness, with patience and commitment, work. As many great teachers have said, “You have to feel to heal.” So true. Refreshingly true. I spent so many years numbing myself and withdrawing from basic emotions. A mindfulness practice of simply noticing my breath, paying attention to my movement, and letting my brain take a rest has significantly helped. I now notice certain patterns of thinking and allow myself to be with and process emotions. 

I’m fortunate to have found this practice and even more fortunate that I get to teach and share it with others. 

What is compassion fatigue?

Have you heard of the term compassion fatigue? Secondary trauma? 

I've been working with criminal defense lawyers and Veterans on how to recognize symptoms of compassion fatigue. I suffered for many years and continue to be a work in progress. Once we begin to recognize the symptoms, we can grow resiliency so we can help others and ourselves. . 

"Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper." 

Dr. Charles Figley
Professor, Paul Henry Kurzweg Distinguished Chair  
Director, Tulane Traumatology Institute
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

Check out the link for more information: http://compassionfatigue.org

Our pets heads are falling off!!

Our pets heads are falling off!!

Do you get to this moment? I’ve been here a time or two… or maybe 15.

I spoke to a group today about the importance of developing a mediation practice. It helps with reactivity and perspective. I use breathing techniques throughout my day in addition to my set meditation times. I’ve seen an drastic improvement in my patience and my efficiency.

I take few breaths before preparing for court, a challenging task, or simply when I get a few free moments. Combining a daily meditation practice with learning a few short breathing techniques during stressful moments will certainly help in those moments where our pets’ heads start falling off.

Want to learn more?

Mindfulness, Wellness, and Yoga(ness?) on Military Law Matters (Ep 41)

Hey Folks - I had a fantastic oppurtunity to speak with fellow Veteran and podcast host, Ferah Ozbek. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mlm-41-how-mindfulness-helps-military-members-veterans/id1292680966?i=1000412128170&mt=2

I love talking wellness with the legal and military communities. This community tends to be composed of problem solvers who don't like asking for help. Guess what? We all need help from time to time and we need to change the culture. Let's cultivate the attitude of collaboration and healing. 

I also enjoyed talking about this community that we are growing here and the awesome work that the Veterans Yoga Project is doing. Veteransyogaproject.org 

Hope you enjoy... 

What is mindfulness?

I keep seeing mindfulness everywhere. All these people are holding themselves out as coaches, trainers, teachers, etc. I'm a skeptic. I assume this is all bunch of mumbo jumbo ... right?  Let us take a closer look. 

Mindfulness:  

Mindfulness is key to our wellness as an individual and community. The best definition that I found is from Dr. Ryan Niemiec:  

"Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance." 

This doesn't mean we simply chill out and let life pass by. Quite the contrary. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to enable compassionate action and engagement.  Mindfulness causes one to be awake in his or her own life.

We us mindfulness tools to control our mind's reactive nature. It helps our mind and bodies process our life and work. It helps us not get as spun up and allows us to see life as it is versus how we expect it to be. How much suffering do our minds create? 

It is certainly not about puppies and rainbows! This is not some sort of spa type bliss. We are not avoiding or escaping the unpleasant. Mindfulness tools help us be with those challenging times and thoughts. Mindfulness tools help shape our perspective and change our lives. 

Breathing, yoga, meditation, etc - These are all tools to train our brains so that we can go out and do what you need to do in the world. It helps sustain the compassionate action (Karuna). It helps us arrive and be present for our loved ones. 

Mindfulness weaves with the service, authentic connection, and self-care components of our life. They are all interrelated, as is everything in life.   

The following article gives you a deeper dive... enjoy.  

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201502/what-is-mindfulness-and-how-does-it-work