Jan. 9, 2014, Vol. 12, Issue 1
Happy New Year! The holiday decorations are put away, and I am at my desk trying to catch up and take care of clients; and I’m noticing some residual holiday fog in this re-entry phase. I could blame it on the weather, but fortunately for us here in Portland, it’s been just hovering around or barely below freezing which I’m sure sounds balmy for those of you experiencing the bitter cold temps.
One thing I will admit to is being in a cleaning, organizing and purging mood. I hope I get a lot accomplished before the urge fizzles — because I know it will . . .
Between Christmas and New Year’s, my husband went to town on cleaning out the garage (a Christmas promise) while my girlfriend and I created our own girlfriend retreat at the Oregon Coast (we know who got the better end of that deal!). Our retreat was all about renewal, relaxation and play (more about that at the end of this post).
In the new year, while the masses are challenging themselves to diet, exercise, and other worthy goals, I’m more interested in peace of mind — a retreat at the Oregon Coast will do that for you… but for you who can’t make it to Oregon, consider this speaker, Diane Sieg, and her mindfulness challenge.
Diane Sieg’s Mindfulness Challenge
Several years ago Diane Sieg, RN, transformed her career from an emergency room nurse to a yoga instructor and proponent for mindfulness, and she has been sharing the message ever since, primarily with healthcare organizations. She recently worked with a hospital in Colorado, with a “Mindfulness Challenge.” It was a 30-day challenge to reduce stress, taking 5 minutes out of a day to make other people feel better and to enhance their abilities to handle the situations they encounter.
“Hospital nurses, emergency room doctors, etc., take care of people when they’re sick and scared,” Diane said. “These challenges can lead everyone involved to a lot of uncertainty and confusion and chaos.”
The Mindfulness Challenge is designed to reduce that, Diane says, simply by being mindful. “By that — mindfulness — I mean being in the present moment, awake and aware.”
She shows audiences how to turn chaos into calm by staying focused in the present, via deep breathing and meditation.
“Just 5 minutes a day of a mindfulness practice is enough to change the neural pathways in your brain,” she says.
At the heart of the practice is compassion — the desire to alleviate suffering by expressing fundamental loving kindness toward yourself and others. “We need compassion,” Diane says, “because life is hard, unfair, and impermanent — for all of us.”
“There are now studies confirming that practicing compassion improves health, well-being, and relationships,” she continues.
“Compassion makes us feel good by activating pleasure circuits in the brain. It can reduce heart disease by boosting the positive effects on the vagus nerve and slowing heart rate, and it helps make people more resilient to stress. Employees who receive compassion at work see themselves, their coworkers and their organizations in a more positive light, feel more joy and contentment, and are more committed to their jobs.
She backed her claims with her own research into the results. “I did a pre and post stress scale,” she reported, “and the result were impressive! The average drop in points on the stress test was 5.1, which was a 21% decrease in their stress level scores in just 30 days! Some people had incredible improvements.“
Examples she gives of “Compassion in action” include situations most of us face regularly: “When you see someone holding up the security line at the airport because of their lack of travel experience or a driver obviously lost and going very slow, instead of getting frustrated, say to yourself, just like me. We have all been there.
“Compassion can be practiced everywhere and it is contagious,” Diane says. “Use it in traffic jams, difficult conversations, family gatherings, and projects at work. Being compassionate not only calms your mind and keeps you connected to your kind and loving heart, it helps us all be more grateful and compassionate in everything we do.”
To learn more about bringing Diane’s mindfulness and peace to your employees, members, clients or guests, call me at 503-699-5031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . We’re now booking Nurses Week events and Diane is a perfect — and mindful — fit.
Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun
. . . and Peace of Mind
One of the goals on our girlfriend retreat was to re-commit to meditation practice. And so we did, every day. It’s so interesting how doing something that sounds so serious leads to having more fun. One of the ways I get my giggles is when I recognize that the Universe is supporting me. We had several experiences like this, but the one I’m going to tell you about was on the beach, Dec. 30. We usually trekked down to the beach in the late afternoon, when the tide was out, for sunset vibes. And by down there, I mean, down, down, down, about 50 yards of steep steps from the house down the cliff to Netarts Bay.
We had talked about drawing a labyrinth on the beach. I remembered that it started with a basic cross, and 4 dots, and that connecting dots to lines somehow completed the pattern. When I drew it with a big stick, though, I could tell immediately that something was missing. Of course, I had my iPhone with me, and so I pulled it out to Google ‘labyrinth patterns.’
I hadn’t even located Safari on my phone when a woman walked up to us and said, “Oh, you’re trying to make a labyrinth,” and we replied, “Yes, but we can’t quite remember the directions.”
She took the stick we gave her, and she immediately showed us the missing links, walking us through it. Now, mind you, there were at the most, a dozen people on the beach, and most of them were clamming.
I felt like she was an angel — an instant Google HUMAN BEING. What a gift. We giggled and laughed, completed our labyrinth, walked it, took pictures of it as the sun set and bowed our heads in gratitude.
My new year’s wish for you is that your year be filled with Google answers in the form of real live human beings who show up in miraculous ways just when you need them.
Take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!
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