Happy Spring! A Good Time to Start Over
As we embark on the new season of Spring, now is a wonderful time for "starting over."
That was actually the name of a syndicated TV show that I was a producer for back in the day. It featured a rotating cast of 6 women of different ages & backgrounds living together in a house, working with two life coaches to achieve personal and/or professional goals, i.e. a 62-year-old grandmother trying to become a stand-up comic, or a young widow trying to find love again. One of the mantras of the coaches was "reframe" - the idea that a thought - any thought - is perceived through our own prism and perceptions, which we have the ability to change. We have the power to respond to those thoughts in a curious, non-judgmental way, or in a way that does not serve us (i.e. swirling in imaginary, future-based scenarios). This ability to notice my thoughts and not always react, but instead respond, by taking a breath and creating space, is one of the many reasons I love meditation and am eager to share it with as many people as possible.
A way to get started is through the 5-3-1 practice, developed by our friends at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is how to start: Meditate for 5 minutes (setting a designated time to meditate - first thing in the morning, before the day starts - is the best approach for me). Set a timer. Sit in a comfortable position, on a cushion or on a chair, with your arms resting on your lap. Gently focus your attention (that's what meditation is - focused attention) on the in-and-out of your breath, a mantra, or an image (I like visualizing a white light above me, or being enveloped in white light). If you have thoughts, that's okay. Gently release them like a balloon floating into the sky and return to your meditation. Remember, there is no such thing as a "good" meditation or a "bad" meditation. The point is to dedicate time to your practice, and you'll see the benefits. It may happen quickly or develop over time. If you stick with it, I think you'll find your happiness levels and general sense of well-being increases.
We are so grateful to host the Center's Founder, Richard J. Davidson, at breathe bar on March 30 for a talk over tea & cookies to learn about their latest research. Davidson popularized the idea that we can learn happiness and compassion as skills, just as we can learn to play a musical instrument, or train in a sport. Happiness, like any skill, requires practice and time but because we know that the brain is built to change in response to mental training, and is capable of a high degree of plasticity, it is possible to train our mind to be happy. Davidson has been influenced in his work by his friendship with the Dalai Lama. Good stuff! Members of breathe bar's Founders' Club are invited to attend this intimate gathering with one of the most respected and inspiring leaders in the field of neuroscience, meditation and well-being. Join us!