Tag Archives: Blog 6

Mindfulness Matters

The past few weeks I’ve been feeling stressed from the demands of working full-time, going to school, volunteering, and staying connected with our four children (two live on the east coast). Adding to the mix is the need to clean the house, do laundry, and other obligations that pull my attention in too many directions. But, today I realized what was missing. I need to get back to practicing mindfulness meditation! When I practice mindfulness regularly, no matter what is going on in my life my stress level dissipates.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of being. When you’re mindful, you purposefully pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Instead of rushing from one thing to the next, being mindful means you’re living in the present and awakening to your experiences. The practice of mindfulness meditation teaches you how to cultivate awareness, which reduces stress.

My introduction to mindfulness was through my employer’s wellness program. At work, they offer a weekly mindfulness meditation class over the lunch hour. The mindfulness training is compatible with the aim of the wellness program—to enhance employees’ well-being.

A small group of people meets weekly for a one-hour session of guided meditations, compassion practices, and breathe awareness. The instructors provide examples of ways to integrate mindfulness into our daily lives—which trains our brains to live in the present moment. Because the class is not offered over the summer months, I’ve gotten out of my routine.

Principles to start your day off on a positive note
While I’ve abandon my mindfulness practice for the last month, I continue to use the tips from The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Dr. Amit Sood, MD, to start my day with good intentions.

Dr. Sood says, “Your attention is like a muscle; working it out makes it stronger” (53).  He recommends beginning each day by focusing on one of the Stress-Free Living principles. So, I added them to my google calendar. I receive a reminder every morning at 8:15 a.m. They help me to start the day off on a positive note. The following list includes the assigned principle for each day:

Day of the week Theme
Monday Gratitude
Tuesday Compassion
Wednesday Acceptance
Thursday Higher Meaning
Friday Forgiveness
Saturday Celebration
Sunday Reflection and Prayer

 Benefits of Mindfulness
There are both physical and emotional benefits from practicing Mindfulness. The techniques help to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Lower pressure
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve symptoms of anxiety

Practicing mindfulness has been a positive experience, and many of the group members agree. When I practice regularly I am able to focus on and enjoy everything that I’m involved in. I feel more like I’m living life, rather than rushing through it.

For the Writing and Designing for the Web I course I designed a “Mindfulness Matters” website. We needed to provide a handout for the class on presentation day, so I created this one-page Mindfulness Matters Tip Sheet.

When I meditate, I find the practice beneficial for juggling a busy schedule. Give it a try! You, too, can reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

What tips do you have for dealing with the stresses of a busy schedule?

Ever Been to Greece?

According to Business Insider, Greece is # 5 on the top 20 countries to travel to. If you’re thinking of going on a big vacation anytime soon, I could not recommend Greece more. From its food to its history, you will never get bored with exploring the country.

I went to Greece in the Fall of 2014 for a two month Bible school. We did a lot of traveling around the country and the Aegean Sea (by sailboat of course); every few days, we were in a new place. Greece’s character and beauty left an impression on me and I still dream of being back there to this day (hopefully I will get to go back after graduation).

Greece’s rich history is incredible to see with your own eyes. These places that you’ve read about in your history books are all real–it’s amazing to feel like you’re physically walking through your history book! I visited Ancient Philippi, Ancient Corinth (and the Corinth Canal), the Acropolis in Athens (and the Parthenon), and many other sites. I also visited the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos, which were much more touristy compared to many of the smaller “fishing villages” and islands we spent time at.

The difficult part about recommending Greece for travel is that I want to recommend everything because it’s an amazing country! If I had to narrow it down, I would tell others to be sure to visit Athens. This was my favorite big city because it mixed history with modernism so well. You can take a walk up to the Acropolis and the Parthenon during the day, then come down for some afternoon shopping at the stores and flea market (GREAT shopping in Athens), and cap it all off with a metro ride to Gazi for dinner/drinks/dancing. The locals will be puffing on their hookahs while lounging around on the couches outside each restaurant/club—feel free to follow suit.

One last word: whatever you do when/if you visit Greece, be sure to eat a gyro. I dare you to eat just one (most days, I consumed a copious amount—no shame). The gyros are not like the ones we have here. In Greece, it’s more like fast food, but not that bad for you because it’s not America and it’s much fresher. Plus, it’s much cheaper than the gyros here (roughly 2 euro or $2.25). You get a choice of chicken or pork, and yes, the fries come right inside the pita bread with everything else. You will find them everywhere in Greece and I guarantee that you will be in love.

Next time you want to take a big vacation and can’t decide on a destination, look no further than the country that essentially started it all in the Western world.

P.S. My mouth is watering at the thought of a gyro from Greece…

Building Bridges

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Close your eyes and imagine your first day of school.  Now imagine being told you have to go to a new school because you’re smart.  Imagine being excited and all dressed up for your first day of a new school but the police arrive to escort you to school instead of a school bus.  You walk into your new school but see crowds of people shouting at you and you feel hated.  Imagine sitting in a new classroom where no one looks like you and no one wants to be your friend.  This is not the typical experience most of us had on our first day of school but for Ruby Bridges this was reality.  

Ruby Bridges was the first African American girl to integrate into an all white public elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Around the time Ruby was born in 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education, issued no segregation in public schools in the south.  When Ruby was 5 years old she was given a test in order to get into public school.  The school system purposely made this academic test hard so that they could keep their schools segregated a little while longer  but Little Ruby Bridges passed with flying colors.

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What Ruby Bridges and her family didn’t expect was how changed their lives would be because they had such a smart daughter going to an all white school.  Ruby’s Father had worked at the same gas station for 8 years, but when Ruby started going to school and gaining attention and hatred from the community, he was fired.  Neighbors would refuse allowing their children to play with Ruby because she was bringing in too much negative attention on their neighborhood.  There was always police watching Ruby and her families house for protection.  The local grocery store Ruby and her family shopped at told them they were no longer welcome to shop in their store.  All of this happened because Ruby proved African Americans can learn in the same capacity to all other races.

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Imagine what the school system and the neighborhoods would look like today if we didn’t have the Ruby Bridges of the world.
Ruby Bridges (1954-).  Taken From Young and Brave :Girls Changing History. “National Women’s History Museum.” Education & Resources. National Women’s History Museum, n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.