Category Archives: Mindful Living

Real Ways Meditation Can Help You

A sample meditation to improve your workday.

improving work productivity, how meditation can help reduce stress , anxiety and depression

I believe that helping busy, warm-hearted, individuals, couples, parents, teens to live mindfully is the most effective way to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, loss, and really, to make the world a better place, one heart at a time. And there are many ways to live mindfully that contribute to having more harmonious relationships, navigating the challenges of family life, and managing your own emotional life with grace.

A regular meditation practice is just one way to expand your practice of living mindfully. For many, it is a core practice.

I hope the idea of a regular meditation practice doesn’t scare you. Please know, you can start it with just a few minutes a day, and still experience some benefits.

I have been meditating regularly for over ten months now. Mostly for 30 minutes at a time. A handful of days for 5 to 15 minutes only. But every day some formal meditation since March 12, 2017, when daylight savings time changed. The biggest impact for me is experiencing a kind quieting of my internal whirring of the mind. And appreciating all the related experiences that come with that.

I’ve noticed many benefits to this, like:

  • Paying even better attention to my clients
  • I have a more harmonious home and family life
  • The typical annoyance or upset coming up with my partner and being truly embroiled in it – for a moment – and then noticing it has passed – like a fire that doesn’t take
  • More focus as I do my writing and work projects
  • More moments of being awestruck by nature or my surroundings
  • I’m remembering things better
  • Less personal sense of inadequacy
  • More calm and more confidence that I can become calm, or get to it, or help others get to it
  • Less irritation with those things that get to me
  • When I notice my reflection in the mirror, I like it
  • I can directly feel when my heart is closing and notice it before acting on it
  • I can be with a hot flash or other painful feelings (like jealousy, resentment, loneliness, rejection) for the whole course that they take, as they arise and eventually pass
  • I breathe better and pay more attention to my breath
  • I am endlessly aware of simple things I feel gratitude about
  • I am more competent
  • I am less afraid
  • I navigate sticky or conflictual interactions better
  • I feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lonely less often, and for less length of time
  • I have deeper empathy
  • When I get panicky I can slow my breathing down more easily
  • I feel generally less defensive, and more open when I hear criticism
  • I feel better about myself, and listen less to negative self-talk
  • I have more capacity to learn
  • I can tell better, what’s true to my heart and right for me

Many of these things are subtle, nuanced, not necessarily noticed on the outside, but felt and profound on the inside.

There are many ways to do formal meditation. I might vary the focus of my daily meditations, depending on what I need or where I’m at – physically or internally. Sometimes during my meditations, I listen to sounds or use the time to think through all my projects, or I focus on the feelings I’m having about a particular experience. Sometimes I count breaths, sometimes I count the waves I hear, or let my feelings conjure up beautiful colorful abstract paintings. Sometimes I practice loving kindness, wishing well for someone who is suffering. Sometimes that someone is me. Sometimes I sit at that tender place of tenderness and vulnerability and poignancy and just bring forth compassion. Sometimes I do a body scan. Sometimes I just am aware of my breath. Sometimes I’m just aware of my awareness; or my humanity. Sometimes I feel connected to the whole world. Sometimes I just amplify the feelings of love. Sometimes I do special breaths (a 7–11 Breath, or a 4-7-8 Breath, or four short breaths in and one long exhale…). Sometimes I listen to a guided meditation. Almost always I have chimes and waves.

When I have a day dedicated to some work projects I want to complete, I might meditate on that, asking for things that will help me be productive.

This morning it went something like this:

May I be present to the work in front of me…May I be clearheaded and ready… May I integrate what I’ve been learning… May I share information that’s helpful to others… May I write freely and with wisdom…May I take regular breaks… May I get up and move several times an hour… May I not be distracted when I feel dis-ease… May I stay with my moments of discomfort a moment longer… May I be responsive to influences outside of me that require my consideration and care… May I be attuned to the influences inside of me that bring forth character, courage and compassion… May I keep coming back to the work at hand… May I give thanks before each meal… May I do breathing exercises throughout the day… May I be honest and true… May I be more proactive than passive (write more than I watch/listen to)… May I trust that I already have everything I need to know for this day’s work… May I stay present… May I be grateful for being able to work with a clear head… May I appreciate all of my teachers who have given me guidance… May I be able to check some things off my list… May I not multitask…May I be creative and strong. ..May I work well… May I not fritter my time away with procrastination, self-doubt, resentment or negative thinking… May I appreciate the preciousness of this time before me, and be with it to the best of my ability… May I work in a flow that doesn’t overthink or overlook anything…

The work time that followed was indeed productive and came from a place of clarity and depth. I credit the precious time I had spent, being present with myself in morning meditation. All of my wishes for myself were stated as intentions that would favorably impact my work day.

You might try to build some quiet moments of meditation into your daily life, and notice more focus in your work life, better sleep, more harmony in your relationships, being better able to manage your emotions, more ease in parenting, conflicts that get resolved a little easier, decreased depression, anxiety and worry.

If you or someone you care about needs some help to develop some constructive self-soothing tools, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments – January 2018

Wise words for uplift and keeping your heart open

wisdom for living mindfully; living in the moment with kindness; simple everyday mindfulness practice to ease stress.A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

Happy New Year to you! I hope this first month of 2018 has had the right combination of energy and calm for you, and that you have been blessed with peace in your relationships and gratitude in your heart.

These are the most impactful things I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. I am happy to share them with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
  • Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl
  • Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.” – Sir Francis Bacon
  • When you speak, speak. When you listen, listen. When you drive your car, drive your carDo something until you are done. After you are done, then you can move onto the next thing.“ – Rob Brandsma
  • Celebrate the little things.
  • Thoughts aren’t facts so don’t take them seriously.” -Ruby Wax
  • And while the news often features the worst of humanity, there are a billion acts of human kindness every hour of every day. Take another breath and sense this truth.– Jack Kornfield
  • You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” – Pablo Neruda
  • Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” – Golda Meir
  • Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” ~James Baraz
  • When given the choice to be right or kind – choose kind.” – precept from Wonder movie
  • Compassion is the capacity to feel love and pain at the same time.“ – Susan Piver
  • Think more about how to give love rather than how to get love.“ – Susan Piver
  • It really is a shame, this feeling of shame, that keeps us from being there for each other, and feels isolating.” – Parent at San Quentin
  • We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Carlos Castaneda
  • We all have needs, and we all want those needs to be met. But we also need to learn how to achieve that and how to manage the time between having the need and having the need met.” – Mercedes Samudio
  • People have said, “Don’t cryto other people for years and years, and all its ever meant is, ‘I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.’ I’d rather have them say, ‘Go ahead and cry. Im here to be with you.’ – Fred Rogers
  • Yoga helps to get the issues out of the tissues.” – Nicky Myers
  • We believe that people of all genders and ages should live free of violence against us. And, we believe that women of color, and women who have faced generations of exclusion indigenous, Black, Brown and Asian women, farmworkers and domestic workers, disabled women, undocumented and queer and trans women — should be at the center of our solutions….We look forward to partnering with them and others to organize, support all survivors, and find solutions that ensure a future where all women and all people can live and work with dignity.” – #TIMESUP initiative
  • “Failing at a task is not failing as a person.” – Jenny Anderson
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • In a real sense, all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.  – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – Attributed to the Talmud
  • All addiction comes from a sense of lack, a core feeling that something is missing. And when we feel this lack subconsciously or consciously, we tend to breathe poorly.” – Tommy Rosen
  • May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.” – John O’Donohue
  • You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can decide how you’re going to live. Now.” – Joan Baez
  • The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.” – Bell Hooks
  • Courage is facing your fear and doing it anyways. Confidence is a slightly over rated mask for insecurity.” – Dani Shapiro
  • The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama
  • Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” – The Dalai Lama
  • I think 99 times and I find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” –Albert Einstein
  • What’s past is past, nothing can change that. But the future can be different if we choose to make it so. We have to cultivate a vision of a happier, more peaceful future and make the effort now to bring it about. This is no time for complacency, hope lies in the action we take.” – Dalai Lama
  • “I don’t want to be somebody that I’m not. I like me, and I’ve been pretty successful so far being me and I was raised in a really big family. And, you know, my mom liked me, my friends liked me … I don’t care about a title or a position. You know I have to wake up with me every morning, and I want to be the best version of myself. I don’t want to be this person you’re trying to make me, so I’m really sorry but I have to go. So, I left, and literally a month later got the call to become the CEO of Burberry.” – Borrowing from Shakespeare, Ahrendts then sums up the lesson in a single, beautiful sentence:
    So, I just think that to thyself be true.” –Angela Ahrendts

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Heart Full Moments, and that you have read or seen or heard things, in your own life too, that made you pause and breathe in, the wisdom or wonder of that experience.

You might keep your own list of Heart-full or mind-full gems, and re-read them when you need an uplift. Simply to be on the lookout for gems that speak to you is a mindful practice that helps to keep your heart open to all that’s good in the world. To deepen your experience even more, you might use any one of these as a journal prompt, where you add whatever comes to mind about how this applies in your life, and how it makes you feel.

If you or someone you care about needs help to overcome some of life’s struggles, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
(510) 482-4445