Inside or Outside? Where to Put Your Focus

Inside or Outside? Where to Put Your Focus

We need an inside/outside strategy in our back pocket, ready to employ whenever our stress level is too high, or potentially headed that way. An inside strategy would involve turning inward to a large, small or moderate degree, and then doing something there.  It could be doing visualization of a calming place, person, object, pet, song, etc. It could involve watching our breathing, or doing a body scan to see how we are feeling emotionally and bodily (and both). Frequently,…

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Finding and Following En-Trancing Found Sounds

Finding and Following En-Trancing Found Sounds

Most people have some sound, natural or man-made, that they know can grab their minds and en-trance it. Gentle rainfall, a fan, crickets chirping, a train passing, a rocking chair. The common features of these en-trancing found sounds is a fairly steady rhythm that is seduces our mind and emotions into following it. Just following. No need to be critical of anything. How can you be critical of ocean waves, hmm of a hair dryer, or a car moving down…

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The Three Buckets of Sanity

The Three Buckets of Sanity

Just as boxes can be helpful in time of stress, buckets are important, too. Most stressors just won’t go away. We can wish that they would disappear, but they won’t. We can demand that they stop (“Damn it, traffic jam, go away right now because I say so!!!”) but most won’t go running.  We can keep up our raging, demanding, and striving to change all things to fit our wishes, or we can take a few moments to look at stressors…

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The Three Boxes of Stress Control

The Three Boxes of Stress Control

I use three boxes to keep myself sane. When I’m alert enough to catch myself in loop of anger, worry, regret, or facing a major change that I don’t know how to handle,  I drop my problem in one of the three boxes. It took a long time for me to be open to using these boxes but they help when I’m stuck repeating the same thoughts and same feelings. The boxes represent the toning down of my drive to…

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The Three Fires of Stress

The Three Fires of Stress

Stress is like fire. Our attitudes, thinking, feeling, and the sensations in our body, can  feel like a fire out of control.  The analogy gets more solid when we think about what is happening under stress: our fight or flight system gets cooking; our emotions crank up; our body dumps stress-related hormones into our blood and our brain releases alerting neurochemicals. Everything feels sped up or at least tense. We know from experience that fires range in intensity, size, and…

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“Why I Don’t Relax” Myth: All Relaxation Techniques Cause Dullness and Sleepiness

“Why I Don’t Relax” Myth: All Relaxation Techniques Cause Dullness and Sleepiness

The media and relaxation experts get the blame for this one. In the media we see images of people asleep, in hamocks, beaches, and blissed out alongside articles on relaxation methods. So there it is: if you do this, you will get that. Experts play up the most dramatic effects of relaxation. Truth: Relaxation comes in many mind/body effects and levels In reality, relaxation covers a broad territory of bodily and mental effects. It can: calm the body but cause…

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Quieting Inner Chatter and Dimming Inner Visions – Which Muscles to Relax

Quieting Inner Chatter and Dimming Inner Visions – Which Muscles to Relax

Edmund Jacobson gave us Progressive Relaxation to calm our minds through quieting our muscles. In his life-long process of refining Progressive Relaxation he found a profound, rapid, and easy way for getting control of two disturbing activities that we all have: inner chatter and troubling inner visions.  These two processes keep us up at night, locks us in negative ruminations, and blasting ourselves with visions of past events or worries about the future. If we can get free or at least…

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Muscle Man, Edmund Jacobson

Muscle Man, Edmund Jacobson

Edmund Jacobson devoted his life to muscles. This journey started when he was in a fire at the age of 10. He made it through the fire unscathed but he was marked deeply by it anyway. He observed previously calm adults switch into full emergency mode in seconds.  How was this possible, he wondered.  What was panic, anxiety, and courageous decisiveness in the midst of crisis? As Jacobson moved through his schooling, eventually ending up as a professor, he didn’t…

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Put Your Mask On First – How to Truly Help Others and Your Self

Put Your Mask On First – How to Truly Help Others and Your Self

For decades we have been instructed: In the event the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop down.  Put your mask on first before trying to help children or others who need assistance with their masks. Makes sense: stay conscious, stay helpful. Outside of planes, we do the opposite of the mask yourself first policy. We put and keep ourselves in moderate to extreme lack of awareness and limited helpfulness by driving ourselves, way, way too much. Besides driving ourselves…

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Easy Starts: How to Jump Into Meditation

Easy Starts: How to Jump Into Meditation

I’m frequently asked what are the best books for starting meditation. I have settled on a short list of resources. Two of them are listed here: The Calm Technique: Meditation Without Magic or Mysticism – Australian Paul Wilson came out with this book some time ago but it remains one of my favorites because it is so clear, simple, and precise in its introduction to breathing and mantra meditation. You will find this highly valuable book priced from 1 cent…

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