BRAIN POWER — Deciphering the Subconscious  

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Our thoughts have the power to determine our reality.

To understand the working of the mind, we interviewed Dr. Bruce Lipton, the stem cell biologist known for promoting the idea that genes and DNA can be manipulated by a person’s beliefs. He talks about the connection between the conscious and the subconscious mind –and its significance in our daily lives.

Explaining the Difference Between the Conscious and the Subconscious Mind

The two minds exist as interdependent elements. Each is a separate mind but they work and collaborate together. Some people think the conscious mind and the subconscious mind are directly connected with each other, so if I change the conscious mind I will change the subconscious program. This is totally incorrect and actually causes a lot of problems in people because the conscious mind learns differently than the subconscious.

The conscious mind is the latest evolution of the brain, located in the pre-frontal cortex. It represents you as a unique individual entity.

The Subconscious has programs in it, but it’s not much of a creative mind. Its creativity is a bit like that of a 5-year old child. The subconscious learns in two fundamental ways. In the first 7 years of our life the brain is predominantly in a EEG frequency called Theta. A mind in Theta is not in a level of consciousness. It’s their imaginative mind and that’s why children below 7 have great creative power (Theta is also the frequency needed in hypnosis). During the first 7 years of a child’s brain development the subconscious is downloading behavior, but it doesn’t download from itself.  It acquires behavioral programs by observing other people like the mother, father, family or community. Those observations are essentially recorded just as on a videotape.

The conscious mind is not working at this time so whatever recordings are coming in during the first 7 years of life are not being critically reviewed by the conscious mind. When a child passes age 7, s/he can add new programs to the subconscious mind, but it does it through the process of habituation.

Conscious mind changes easily, and is where the mind holds your personal wishes, desires, and aspirations for life. If I ask, “what do you want out of your life”, the answer will come from the creative conscious mind.

Lower forms of life are just reactive or reflexive, meaning input/output, stimulus/response. The conscious mind can do one amazing special thing and that is: To think. It can pay attention to what’s going on in the world, but if the conscious mind is thinking, the behavior is automatically switched to subconscious programs. For example, you are driving the car and you are imagining something, you don’t stop driving or miss out on what’s going on the road. The moment you have a thought the driving is taken over by the subconscious mind.

Interview with Dr. Bruce Lipton –

Questions and Answers

  1.  How can you use the power of your subconscious mind?

First thing is recognizing this: I am running my life 95% of the time with the subconscious mind, which means that 95% of the time you are operating through the subconscious programs. The conscious mind being you and your wishes and desires work only 5% of the time.

If you can rewrite the negative programs in your life and change it to positive behaviors, then  95% of the day you will not be sabotaging yourself with negative programs.

Reprogramming the subconscious mind is a long process because the conscious and the subconscious mind is a separate entity, not one. The assumptions used to be that, if I can make you aware of something or bring consciousness back into your life then, this new awareness or understanding will automatically change the programs in your subconscious mind. This is not true at all. You have to repeat the new behavior all the time as an exercise, and then it will ultimately work.

By having the belief that you want to change your childhood (subconscious) program does not change the program. It’s the conscious mind’s thoughts about that, and this does not translate into subconscious programming.

Some believe that if you repeat a behavior for a long period of time, it might change, but in most cases, it doesn’t change unless you do the proper exercises to make it change.

The 3 ways of changing the subconscious mind to give you the power back is:

1) Reprogram it using hypnosis

2) Reprogram it using a repetition of a behavior so you get a new habit, and

3) You can use Energy Psychology modalities to rapidly change existing programs.

If you understand how to create changes in the programs then it will take relatively short period of time. If I use hypnosis I can rewrite programs directly in the subconscious mind through a hypnotherapy session. If I want to learn something or change the programming then I make a new behavior and I have to repeat that new behavior everyday, and the significance is that every time I repeat the same behavior, the subconscious mind learns.

And there is a new psychology program called Energy Psychology or belief change modifications. These processes are like pushing the record button on a recording device – if you engage in these processes by creating a new script, these processes allow individuals to download a new behavior within minutes that will last forever.

  1.  Is the Subconscious mind a link between the finite mind and the collective consciousness?

Simply put, the subconscious mind is a database of programs and the conscious mind is connected to the collective consciousness of the world. The conscious mind can create but it creates through the filter of subconscious programming. Subconscious is a link, a resource of behavior, a program to facilitate life – once you learn how to walk, it’s a habit and you don’t need to learn it again. If there was no subconscious mind, you’d have to relearn everything evry time you woke up in the morning No other individuals have access to your subconscious mind. It is directly connected to the conscious mind and the conscious mind is you selecting the programs and creating behaviors.

  1. What is the power of intuition, or listening to your inner-self? 

People might be aware of that intuitive voice or listening to their inner-self, but they discount it as not being valuable. They discount it because we are programmed to follow programs. We are taught to do this and this & if the person listens to their inner self, their conscious mind and information coming into them from the source, they don’t give it much value as compared to the programs.

Personally, I think the inner self is fascinating. For example, you get a wonderful thought and you can feel it in your heart or head, that I want to do this or don’t want to do this. People ignore that because we have been programmed not to pay attention to these wandering thoughts. This is because of our childhood development. We give more power to the programs that we learned than to our own beliefs about those programs.

This is why so many people have problems in their lives, because their inner selves gives them answers to issues they are dealing with that would help them, but the belief of the individual is they shouldn’t listen to that inner voice.

Most people ignore it and one of the reasons is as children we are never really given a program or told by teachers that listening to your inner voice is very valuable. If we had learned that as children then we would be much more effective in our lives today and we would pay more attention. If we change that and listen to it then lives will change for the positive.

  1. How can thoughts heal you physically?

When I put embryonic cells in a culture and I change the composition in a culture medium, I can change the fate of the cell. This was one of my experiments – I had genetically identical cells in 3 petri dishes and I change the composition, the chemistry of the culture medium, in each of the dishes. In one dish the cells formed bone, in another dish the cells formed muscle and in the third dish they formed fat cells.

What’s the point of this research? The answer is that all the cells were genetically identical, so the fate of the cells couldn’t have been controlled by the genes, because they all have the same genes. Rather, fate of the cells was determined by the chemistry of the culture. In the human body the cells are like skin-covered culture dishes, with 50 trillion cells, the culture medium is called the blood. If I change the composition of the blood, how I changed the composition of the culture medium, then I affect the fate of the cells.

The brain is what controls the chemistry of the blood, but the mind(unconscious) determines what chemistry is going to be released. For example – if you have feeling of being in love, your thoughts are” I am in love”, the chemistry released by a brain in love includes hormones like dopamine for pleasure. This causes you to become healthy and happy. The chemistry also releases growth hormone, which supports the growth of the cells.

This is why when people are in love have a glow, and this is because the brain is creating culture medium, blood with elements that affect the genetics and activity of the cells.

What’s interesting is if I change my thoughts then I change my cells. So if you are in love and all of a sudden you become afraid that something is going to happen, then love is replaced by fear. The thought of fear releases different chemicals, which are stress chemicals or inflammatory chemicals that affect the immune system of a healthy body.

If I have negative thoughts such as fear and stress, I am releasing chemicals from my brain that will shut down the growth of the cells. However, if I maintain thoughts of health, harmony and love, it will lead to growth of the cells. Thoughts can heal you physically because thoughts can change the chemistry of the culture medium and the culture medium, blood, is what feeds and organizes the behavior of the cells.

Thoughts can heal you physically because thoughts can change the chemistry

that organizes your behavior on a cellular level

  1.  How do you convey the idea of perfect health or ‘everything will be ok’ to your subconscious?

You have to see the world as being ok and healthy, because when you see the world that way, then the subconscious behavioral programs will complement those behaviors. The cells will see oh life is beautiful and remember if we believe that, the idea of oh I see perfect health, the brain translates the idea into chemistry.

“Love is an idea translated into one chemistry  

and fear as an idea translated into another chemistry”

Therefore when you are visualizing or thinking that everything will be ok, you are sending signals via the brain of harmony, happiness to the cells. This is how simply you can convey the idea to the subconscious.

Now if you repeat this behavior consistently, remember repetition is creating new habits, then without even thinking about it you will end up seeing the world as everything is ok, and seeing yourself in perfect health and that will make the brain continually release the chemistry of that vision.

  1. In your book ‘The Honeymoon Effect”, what are the important aspects for a couple to sustain it?

In the movie, Matrix, most likely everyone has seen that, everyone is programmed and if they take a blue pill, everyone stays the same way and if they take a red pill they get out of the program. The interesting thing about it is this, as I said in the beginning, most of our life, 95% of the day is controlled by the subconscious programs which are other people’s behaviors, and these behaviors are often dis-empowering and self destructive. But then you would say, if I saw these behavior I wouldn’t do them.

This is the problem that people have to understand, when you are thinking you are not paying attention; you default to the programs in the subconscious, so you are not seeing the behavior.  In fact the ones that do see the behavior are other people who are watching us. Every now and then does a behavior get observed and we are like, “Oh my gosh, I was just behaving like my father, or I was behaving like my mother.” This is where we got the programs from, and this is what’s going on 95% of the day, whether you see it or not.

So the Honeymoon effect is just like the movie The Matrix – its when we unconsciously took the red pill and got out of the programs of the subconscious, and how did that happen? The answer is this – when you fall in love, what were your life’s wishes, your ambitions and desires. When you fall in love and you find that wish being answered and the person in your life being what you desire, you don’t let your conscious mind wander – what you wanted to have is now in front of you and therefore, you keep your conscious mind paying attention.

Remember, on a regular day we only run our lives 5% with our conscious mind’s wishes and desires and we run it 95% from the programs we got from other people. When you fall in love we stay in what’s called ‘mindfulness’ – its a way of life where you keep your conscious mind in the present moment and don’t let it run off into thought. When you stay conscious, you create behaviors that in line with your wishes and desires, that’s the honeymoon. The honeymoon is this period where people’s life is like heaven on earth and they are so excited and healthy.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon ends because at some point life gets very busy and the conscious mind has to start thinking and the moment the conscious mind starts thinking we are no longer behaving from the behaviors of wishes, but controlled by the subconscious.

Now the relationship is based on 4 minds – the two conscious minds of wishes and desires and the two subconscious minds with programs. As the subconscious mind program starts to take more power, the more thinking we are doing and running the subconscious with programs that belong to someone else. They are someone else’s judgements, expectations, and values.

Communication problems can cause the breakdown of the harmony of the honeymoon effect. To sustain harmony, both should recognize that the ‘honeymoon’ was created from their wishes and desires; their personal source, their spirit, their identity because it’s the conscious mind. But when dysfunctional behaviors show up, it doesn’t really represent them They come from the programs they got from other people.

It’s not the person in a relationship that is bad but the program that’s bad. If they are both aware that the bad behavior is not coming from their wishes and desires, they can consciously change these behaviors. If they change the negative ones and replace them with positive behaviors every time they default to the subconscious, they start playing the positive programs and this way you will keep the honeymoon alive.

  1. How can one ‘sabotage’ beliefs of the conditioned mind and realize its true power?

Beliefs or the conditions of the subconscious mind are programs and if you want to get back into its powers then basically, you have to see them and rewrite the programs. People wonder what are my programs especially because if I was being programmed even before I was born in the last trimester and the first 7 years, pregnancy is when programming starts.

Do you remember the program when you were one year old? Obviously not.  How will I know what the programs are, because I wasn’t conscious when the programs were being created?

The answer is simple, 95% of our lives comes from the subconscious mind, because the conscious mind is thinking that means your life is like a print out of your subconscious programs. All you have to do is look at your life and see that the things come into your life easily are there because of the programs in the subconscious that encourage them.

But the things you want or create are difficult and you have to work hard to make them happen. The reason you have to put so much effort in is because you have programs that do not support your wish, and therefore you are trying to overcome a program that is operating 95% of the day that doesn’t support you. You don’t have to go through psychoanalysis, all you have to do is look at your life – what ever comes easy comes easy because you have programs, and whatever you have to work hard at and put a lot of effort into, those issues aren’t supported by the program.

Through the processes of the subconscious reprogramming mentioned before once you know what the negative programs are, you can work specifically to rewrite them and make them positive programs, and your life will be empowered.

  1. Most people ask for scientific evidence to back theories such as the power of your thoughts. What would you like to say to them?

Its a 100 years of research on something called the placebo effect. It is simply the fact that a positive thought can reverse the illness or genetic problem just because of the belief of that positive thought. Placebo by definition is the expression of the positive thought and in fact research reveals that from one-third to two-thirds of all medical healing is actually the result of the placebo and not due to drugs or surgery.

…”People who change their thoughts, change their genes”.

The placebo effect is a very powerful, scientifically understood process that reveals how the power of thought affects your biology and health. But now through Epigenetic research, we can see that people who change their thoughts, change their genes. For example, just being in meditation for 8 hours can change two very important genes that control the immune system and help create health. This becomes very important, even taking placebo pills, has been shown to be the result of a thought and those thoughts in turn change the behavior and genetic activity of the cells involved.

Here’s an amazing study to look at: Dean Ornish, a scientist in San Francisco, has revealed that taking prostate cancer patients and helping them change their stresses by teaching them meditation techniques and stress reduction techniques led to the patients change 500 genes in 90 days and most of them were associated with prostate cancer.

I wanted to add one last conclusion about the power of thought. Negative thoughts are equally powerful to changing the behavior in the genes, but in the opposite direction. While positive thoughts can lead to healing, negative thoughts actually lead to disease and death.

Thoughts are powerful whether they are positive or negative, we’ve only been focusing on the nature of positive thinking but we must emphasize that negative thinking will cause illness and disease and it becomes very important in our world because the predominant thoughts that people have are negative thoughts. They don’t realize that just having negative thoughts alone is inducing an illness or diseases in them. So this becomes important for people to know that both – positive and negative – are powerful.

Original Source: https://fractalenlightenment.com/32650/life/understanding-the-conscious-subconscious-mind-with-bruce-lipton | FractalEnlightenment

Edited for readability

Mindfulness And Day to Day Life

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Serenity
Serenity

When we hear about the importance of being in the present moment, the “now”, and hear that it is the only truth, newbies can feel quite inadequate!

This makes a great deal of sense to me. Oftentimes, I find myself distracted by thought about the future. Or, I replay past experiences in my mind, often unproductively.Being in the moment frees us to experience life more fully, which is a good thing. But might this edict have a shadow side? Like any rule or declaration, it has limitations and is prone to misunderstanding.

Discursive thinking — going around in circles with our thoughts — does not get us far. We often haphazardly stray from one thought to another; the chain of association may keep us spinning our wheels without gaining traction.

Self-critical thoughts are also common ways that we stray from the present moment. We may be operating from core beliefs that we’re not good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough. We may notice self-talk such as, “What’s wrong with me?” or “That comment was dumb,” or “When will I ever find a good relationship?”

Meditation and mindfulness practices may offers instructions to simply notice our thoughts. The practice of “mental noting,” perhaps saying quietly to ourselves, “thinking, thinking,” may guide our attention away from unhelpful thoughts and back to the breath, our body, and the present moment.

Rather than being plagued by self-critical thoughts, we might labor under a pall of shame — a sense of feeling defective or unworthy. Unhealed shame keeps us lost in a haze, preventing us from being present with people and life.

Honoring Our Thoughts and Feelings

Being distracted by our thoughts doesn’t mean they’re always unproductive. There may be times when we need to think something through — perhaps a business decision, retirement planning, or how to communicate our feelings and desires to our partner. Meditation teacher Jason Siff offers this refreshing take on meditation:

I see clinging to experiences and elaborating on them, or thinking about them, as being quite natural and nothing to be alarmed about. . . . I have heard many reports of meditation sittings where someone has written an article, composed a piece of music, planned an art project, or redecorated her house, and it was actually very productive and efficient to be doing this in meditation.

Sometimes we need to allow some spaciousness around our feelings so that they have a chance to settle. Rather than hurl an angry or blaming remark and thinking we are living in the moment, we benefit from reflecting on our deeper, truer feelings. There may be sadness, fear, or shame beneath our initial anger. Can we allow ourselves to be in the moment in a way where we allow our deeper feelings to emerge? Noticing and sharing our authentic feelings connects us with ourselves in a way that can connect more intimately with others.

Spiritually-inclined people often overlook the importance of being with feelings that are arising in the moment. If we think that being in the moment means regarding feelings as distractions, then we’re no longer in the moment. Trying to be somewhere we’re not takes us away from the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of being present with what is, not trying to be in a different moment.

For some people, the edict to be in the present moment may be a subtle way to avoid uncomfortable feelings. As soon as an unpleasant emotion arises, they may try to yank their attention back to their breath in an attempt to be in the moment. But then they never get to the root of their feelings, which will keep recurring.

Just as a hurting child will clamor for attention until heard, our feelings need attention. When welcomed and listened to in a gentle, caring way, they tend to pass. We are then freed to be in a new moment, now freed of the subtle pull of unattended and troubling emotions.

“Being in the moment” can be a helpful reminder if we understand it in a more expansive way. It can remind us to be more mindful of wherever we happen to be. When emotions, thoughts, or desires are arising within, we can notice them, be gentle with them, and allow them to be just as they are. We live with more inner peace as we make room for the full range of our human experience.

What do you think?🤔

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MINFULNESS…

… but we’re afraid to ask

TaoMindfulness

So what’s the big hoopla about “Mindfulness”??

In its simplest form, it’s nothing more than focused-attention on the here and NOW — Using information from our senses: What we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.

But in the fields of mental health, it can be tweaked to reduce anxiety, depression, and PTSD to name a few. Below you will find several brief definitions. Hopefully this will give you a better feel of the otherwise vague term, MINDFULNESS.
(What is Mindfulness? Explained. (20 Definitions That Clarify Mindfulness)

Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley:

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”

Daniel J. Siege, Mindfulness practitioner and expert:

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“Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences.  With mindful awareness the flow of energy and information (that is our mind) enters our conscious attention and we can come to regulate its flow in a new way.  Mindful awareness, as we will see, actually involves more than just simply being aware: It involves being aware of aspects of the mind itself.“

Sharon Salzberg, another leader in mindfulness, says:

“Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us by reflecting on the mind’s activities which enables us to make different choices.

It’s about doing so in a certain way – with balance and equanimity, and without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight.”

Research has shown that mindfulness helps us reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment rather than simply acting instinctively, unaware of what emotions or motivations are working in the background, driving our decisions. By teaching awareness for one’s physical and mental state in the moment, mindfulness allows for more adaptive reactions to difficult situations.

Anxiety.org asks, Can Mindfulness Really Help Reduce Anxiety?

“A mindful person is reflective rather than reactive. They focus on the present moment.

Mindfulness is a process that leads to a mental state characterized by nonjudgmental awareness of the present experiences, such as sensations, thoughts, bodily states, and the environment. It enables us to distance ourselves from our thoughts and feelings without labeling them as good or bad.”

How Does Mindfulness Work?

By focusing our attention on the present moment, mindfulness counteracts rumination and worrying. Worrying about the future (e.g. I better remember to pay those bills and clean my house this weekend) and ruminating about the past (e.g., I should have done this rather than that) are generally maladaptive thinking processes. Of course, it is important to learn from our past and plan ahead for the future; however, when we spend too much time outside of the present moment, we can get depressed and anxious. In such cases, mindfulness can be an important tool for helping us to better focus on the present moment.

Mindfulness works through a number of ways. It encourages us to open up and accept our emotions. As a result we are better able to identify, experience, and process our emotions. Mindfulness also encourages us to see things from different perspectives. For example, if your spouse snaps at you, you might blame yourself and worry that you’ve done something to upset them. If you are able to distance yourself from your immediate response of being hurt, you might remember that your spouse mentioned a hard day at work, and perhaps they snapped at you because they’re tired and stressed out. The point is, we are actually lousy mind-readers! But here’s a piece of wisdom I’d like to share — Most people respond or act from a place that speaks more about them than you… This new interpretation could alleviate some of your worry and negative feelings.

The practice of mindfulness has been shown to benefit in multiple ways:

Body awareness: Body awareness is the ability to notice subtle sensations in the body and self-report findings indicate that mindfulness leads to greater perceptions of body awareness. Being aware of your internal emotional state is necessary to being able to better regulate those emotions.

Focused attention: Mindfulness practice improves one’s ability to focus attentionon a present task rather than being distracted by worry. Neuroimaging studies have shown that mindfulness increases activation of the brain involved in attention, executive functioning and emotional self-regulation skills. These skills depend on three sub skills: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other.

Self-perception: Mindfulness also changes one’s perspective of self. Buddhist psychology teaches that the self is not permanent and static, but rather made up of ongoing mental events. Two months of mindfulness meditation practices have been shown to increase self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Physical health: Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to produce other health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and cortisol levels (a stress hormone).

Mindfulness in Practice

There is no big secret behind mindfulness practices. Any activity can become mindful by focusing on the experience of the present moment. For example, you can either mindlessly gobble down your meal or take a little bit of time and practice mindful eating by looking at the food, smelling the food, noticing the different flavors and the texture of the food while slowly eating it. Not surprisingly, it is much more enjoyable and satisfying when you eat mindfully than when you eat mindlessly. Interestingly, you will also notice that you will consume less when you start eating mindfully.

There are many practices that include mindfulness trainings, such as tai chi, yoga, and zen. There are many styles for each of these activities, so it is worthwhile to experiment with different practices until you find one that suits you. As you become more mindful, you will also notice that you will become more centered, happier, and less depressed and this in turn has a direct positive effect on your anxiety.

How to be Mindful Right Now

Focus on your breath for a few minutes. Feel your chest rise and fall, notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits your nose. When your mind wanders, simply return your attention to the breath. Focus on the present moment: the here and now. Notice this very moment; it feels good to be alive, right now.

If you don’t immediately feel a complete release of anxiety, remember: most of the benefits of mindfulness require consistent practice. While some changes bolster against anxiety even after one single yoga class, most benefits require practice.  And, like any skill, you will need to continue to practice mindfulness after you start to maintain the improvements.

 

Although more research is needed to illuminate the mechanisms at work, it’s clear that mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry.

By bringing mindfulness to our actual experience in the moment, we can increase the likelihood of exerting more conscious control over our behaviors and attitudes. In so doing we learn to work with our intention, wise effort, will, discipline, and capacity to be kind to ourselves. These are all resources that can be harnessed and cultivated.

Beginner’s mind is an aspect of mind that’s open to seeing from a fresh perspective. Meeting anxiety in this way, with curiosity, can play an extremely important role in transforming your experience. When you’re willing to adopt another point of view, new possibilities arise, and this can help you challenge habitual anxious thoughts and feelings.

You can acknowledge that anxiety is present and how much you don’t like it, even as you apply patience and see anxiety as your current weather system, knowing it will pass.

Nonjudgment means experiencing the present moment without the filters of evaluation. In the midst of anxiety, it can be all too easy to experience a secondary layer of judgment on top of the already uncomfortable anxious feelings. Stepping out of a judgmental mind-set allows you to see more clearly. When you let go of evaluations, many sources of anxiety simply fade away. When you feel anxiety, adopting a nonjudgmental stance can reset your mind into a more balanced state.

Nonstriving is the quality of being willing to meet any experience as it is, without trying to change it. With nonstriving, you understand the importance of being with things as they are—being with your experience without clinging to or rejecting what’s there. (Note that nonstriving relates to your present-moment experiences during meditation and doesn’t in any way negate the value of setting a wise intention to grow, learn, and change your relationship to anxiety.)
In the midst of strong anxiety, the first response is often to flee or get out of the situation. If you can pause and really be with your experience without exerting any force against it, you gain the opportunity to know your experience more clearly and choose your response. You can also become less fearful of the physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany anxiety.

Excerpts from:
10 Mindful Attitudes That Decrease Anxiety

Creating Order in an Upside-Down World

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By Debra Kessler, Psy.D.

In the past, staying at home was a privilege, a day off, a stay-cation or just an opportunity to relax. However, we are now in a truly strange time. It is mandatory that we stay home and it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. Kids who have complained about getting up in the morning to go to school are now missing it. Technology, which before offered a joyful escape, is now being used for EVERTHING (meaning school work). The opportunity for time together doesn’t resemble the anticipation that would come normally come from a vacation. With the rest of “normal life” has been put on hold, staying at home has never been filled with such dread. Going to school, work and other activities have been removed from our schedules and we are confined in terms of physical and social breadth. Some call it chaotic, disturbing, frightening and depressing.

As we are faced with the challenges inherent to such a new world order, I have become aware that what set structure and order has now has faded away. Now there is no difference between days. Monday is no different than any other day of the week. On a more granular level, there is no demand to go bed at night at a certain time as there is nowhere to go in the morning. It is as if time stands still while we wait, looking for when this uncertainty will end. In the meanwhile we do everything we can to not be part of the story as the virus sweeps across our country and the nature of our social fabric.

So, in this unique time, we are called on to approach our lives in a new way. While we may feel disorientated, this is the moment for us to shift from the demands imposed by the outside world to setting our own rhythms. With the dawning of this awareness, a world of opportunities opens. First, we want to keep the broad architecture of our days consistent. Even when we don’t need to be anywhere in the morning, consider keeping your wakeup time the same day to day. Once up, follow the morning routine as if you were going to be out in the world. Similarly, keep a bedtime routine to avoid disrupting your sleep rhythm and set an outline for your days. Next, consider how you can set one day apart from the next. For example, you might assign chores to particular days- laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, and grocery shopping each on their own day. Larger family tasks like cleaning out the garage, closets or paper stashes can be saved for the weekends, as you would do in normal times. You could also consider making specific meals on designated days of the week to further differentiate one day from the next.

This upheaval also opens the door for new things to emerge. Like the rays of sun that can peak through the clouds, there are unexpected moments of light. We can take the opportunity to reach out to friends we have lost touch with because of the hectic pace of our lives. Consider building a new habit of mindfulness, noticing the present moment. Use your newfound time to be deliberate about noticing the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and touch you experience. While we often brush past these aspects of experience, slowing down to notice these things becomes a resource to rely on. Practicing mindfulness can keep us grounded in the present, rather than getting lost in memories or being carried away by fears about the future.

We now notice that what we formerly thought was essential drops away. Our priorities are now reshuffled. No longer rushed to get dinner on the table between scheduling demands, we have time to explore new recipes. Now is also a good time to add self-care into your routine. Exercise is known to help with management of stress, invaluable in such a challenging time. Consider scheduling a daily 30-minute walk. With time to stroll the neighborhood, we have an opportunity to make new connections and build a sense of community. Plan a daily appointed time to meet in the street, standing six feet apart, to share ideas, a laugh or to find out what each other may need.  This time of crisis drives a resetting of priorities where disagreements that may have separated us in the past can now melt away as there is more that unites us as we all face the same enemy. Practice appreciation for those who provide essential services, doctors, nurses, maintenance, mail, trash, delivery, grocery store employees. Even missed celebrations, birthdays, graduations or anniversaries can be honored in a new way by reaching out. Homemade signs and cakes can lead to new traditions.

Finally, finding new ventures can build a sense of control in this upset world. Consider what you can do for others. From sewing masks to reaching out to those in your community who may not be able to get groceries on their own, doing for others is uplifting. This can also be a time to take on a new goal or challenge to build your confidence. Learn a new language, take an online class, teach yourself how to knit, work with wood, or build something new. Rather than stagnation, this unexpected pause in the flow of life can open the door to opportunities to discover and grow new skills building confidence and resilience. It is when our metal is tested, that we grow our character, turning fear to confidence, vulnerability to taking control, and our upside down topsy-turvy world to one that is ordered, nurturant and remarkably growthful