A DYI to Feel better in 12 minutes

Maneuver Your Consciousness In 12 Minutes Or Less

by Christine Comaford*

Preparation, you’ll need:

  1. An Emotion Wheel (we’ve included two samples)
  2. A timer – you’ll be doing four segments of three minutes in a row.
  3. Ideally, do this exercise with a buddy who will sit silently with you and ensure that you use all three minutes for each step below:
  4. Think of something you are resisting. Pick something “meaty”, like:

  • A painful belief;

  • A belittling,

  • Anger at someone or something

  • An unpleasant person

  • A situation you don’t want in your life.

  • Circumstances out of your control

Step 1. Negative Evaluation State: Have your buddy set the timer for three minutes. During those three minutes, say out loud and don’t censor yourself or hold back. Really go all out:

  • All the things you don’t like about what you’re resisting.

  • What’s bad about it, what you can’t stand about it.

  • How painful it is.

  • How it makes you feel.

  • Why it’s wrong. 

As soon as the three minutes are up, look at the Emotion Wheel and identify the key emotions you experienced during this state of Negative Evaluation.

Then have your buddy break your state. He or she can invite you to shake your body out, ask you a non-sequitur question involving a number, such as “How many stripes does a zebra have?”, or even ask you to count backwards from 10 to 1.

Step 2. Curiosity State: Have your buddy set the timer for three minutes. Now get really curious about this situation.

  • How did it come to be?

  • What is interesting about it?

  • What is familiar about it?

  • What good things come from it?

As soon as the three minutes are up, look at the Emotion Wheel and identify your key emotions from this state of Curiosity. Then, have your buddy break your state by inviting you to shake your body out, asking you a non-sequitur question involving a number, such as “How many spots does a cheetah have?”, or asking you to count backwards from 10 to 1.

Step 3. Amazement State: Have your buddy set the timer for three minutes, and actively become amazed that this situation ever came to be.

  • This is fascinating because . . . !

  • What’s amazing about it?

  • How do you feel about it?

As soon as the three minutes are up, look at the Emotion Wheel and identify the key emotions you noticed in this state of Amazement. Then, have your buddy break your state. He or she might invite you to shake your body out, ask you a non-sequitur question involving a number, such as “How many grains of sand are on a perfect beach?”, or ask you to count backwards from 10 to 1.

Step 4. Full Appreciation State: Have your buddy set the timer for three minutes. Ahhhh…deep breath. Honor everything about this situation:

  • “Yes! This has been so very helpful in bringing me to the next level.

  • Wow.” So much gratitude and appreciation.

  • How do you feel about it as you’re honoring it?

As soon as the three minutes are up, look at the Emotion Wheel and identify key emotions you experienced while in this state of Full Appreciation. Then have your buddy break your state. He or she could invite you to shake your body out, ask you a non-sequitur question involving a number, such as “What’s your favorite number?”, or even ask you to count backwards from 10 to 1.

This process help release resistance, and also allows us to have choices and possibly increase our productivity. The quicker you can shift out of resistance and into consent, the faster you can focus on what really matters most.

Give this process a try and tell us if it worked for you.

Christine Comaford is a leadership and culture coach who helps businesses achieve growth. 


Meditation Reduces Anxiety & Changes Your BRAIN

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few years (meditating of course), you’ve been reading the huge number of articles touting the benefits of meditating from stress reduction to better concentration.

Here research areas – supporting what cave dwelling meditators have experienced but not read (cave dwellers don’t get good internet reception)– which found that meditation has very real effects on your brain and can be seen on a brain scans (which are not available in caves).

Cushy Cave by Peggy

Meditation measurably reduces anxiety.

The medial prefrontal cortex is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from our bodily sensation and fear centers in the brain to the prefrontal cortex are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong neuro-chemical reaction creating a “fear response” and you think you are “under attack”.

Meditation weakens this neural connection and consequently we don’t react as strongly to any sensations we might have . The more we meditate the better we weaken this connection and simultaneously strengthen the connection between the part of our brains known for reasoning. So when we experience frightening or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally.

Don’t Want to Meditate?

Try simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily life. 

  • Pay attention. It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.
  • Live in the moment. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
  • Accept yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
  • Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.

Want to learn meditation?  Check out  Joy on Demand, by Chade-Meng Tan, He makes meditation seem fun and easy.


Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain

Perhaps you haven’t heard that the hype about mindfulness is backed by hard science? Recent research provides strong evidence that practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness (a.k.a. mindfulness) changes the brain.

 Your anterior cingulate cortex

“The first is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a structure located deep inside your forehead, behind the brain’s frontal lobe. The ACC is associated with self-regulation, meaning the ability to purposefully direct attention and behavior, suppress inappropriate knee-jerk responses, and switch strategies flexibly.”

“People with damage to the ACC show impulsivity and unchecked aggression, and those with impaired connections between this and other brain regions perform poorly on tests of mental flexibility: they hold onto ineffective problem-solving strategies rather than adapting their behavior.”

Meditators, on the other hand, demonstrate superior performance on tests of self-regulation, resisting distractions and making correct answers more often than non-meditators. They also show more activity in the ACC than non-meditators. In addition to self-regulation, the ACC is associated with learning from past experience to support optimal decision-making. Scientists point out that the ACC may be particularly important in the face of uncertain and fast-changing conditions.”

Your hippocampus

“The hippocampus, a region that showed increased amounts of gray matter in the brains of a 2011 mindfulness program participants. This seahorse-shaped area is buried inside the temple on each side of the brain and is part of the limbic system, a set of inner structures associated with emotion and memory. It is covered in receptors for the stress hormone cortisol, and studies have shown that it can be damaged by chronic stress, contributing to a harmful spiral in the body. People with stress-related disorders like depresssion and PTSD tend to have a smaller hippocampus. All of this points to the importance of this brain area in resilience.”

Neuroscientists have also shown that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to

  • perception
  • body awareness
  • pain tolerance
  • emotion regulation
  • introspection
  • complex thinking
  • sense of self.

Mindfulness can be integrated into your religious or spiritual life, or practiced as a form of secular mental training.  When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful, particularly when we gather with others who are doing the same, we have the potential to be changed.

(A team of scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology were able to pool data from more than 20 studies to determine which areas of the brain are consistently affected. They identified at least eight different regions.)

Meditating can give you the brain of a 25-year-old

My meditation practice has always been sporadic and I’m not just talking about my “monkey mind” that leaps and roams . . . or falls asleep.  Needing a bit of discipline I joined a meditation group and in two months my brain will be younger and smarter.

Want proof?

There is an ever-increasing body of research evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression, and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia, and increases quality of life.

 One  study looked at long-term meditators (seven to nine years of experience) versus a control group. “The results showed that those with a strong meditation background had increased gray matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as insula and sensory regions.”

“This makes sense, since mindfulness meditation has you slow down and become aware of the present moment, including physical sensations such as your breathing and the sounds around you.”

Neuroscientists also found that the meditators had more gray matter in the brain region, linked to decision-making and working memory: the frontal cortex. In fact, while most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.


Just to make sure this wasn’t because the long-term meditators had more gray matter to begin with, a second study was conducted in which they put people with no experience with meditation into an eight-week mindfulness program.

The results?

“Even just eight weeks of meditation changed people’s brains for the better. There was thickening in several regions of the brain, including the left hippocampus (involved in learning, memory, and emotional regulation); the TPJ (involved in empathy and the ability to take multiple perspectives); and a part of the brainstem called the pons (where regulatory neurotransmitters are generated).”

“Plus, the brains of the new meditators saw shrinkage of the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression. This reduction in size of the amygdala correlated to reduced stress levels in those participants.”

How long do you have to meditate to see such results?

“The study participants were told to meditate for 40 minutes a day, but the average ended up being 27 minutes a day. Several other studies suggest that you can see significant positive changes in just 15 to 20 minutes a day”

In 8 weeks my brain will look and act half its age . . . .if only meditating could do the same for my body . . .


11 Simple Ways to Forgive, Heal, and Move on

“When you’ve been hurt by someone, it’s not always easy to let it go. But holding on to a grudge will only make you feel worse—and not just emotionally. Resentment can cause your blood pressure to spike and trigger the release of stress chemicals that can make you physically sick. And the truth is: It doesn’t really do any good anyway.”

“The paradox is, when you’ve been wronged, forgiveness is the only thing that provides relief from the pain. Sound like a bitter pill to swallow? Read on to learn how forgiving others (and yourself) can help you release the heavy burden of resentment and experience more freedom.”

forgive1 (1)

Forgiving by Peggy

1. Understand forgiveness

“Before you attempt to force forgiveness on your most tender hurts, consider what it is you’re asking of yourself:

  • Forgiving doesn’t mean that you condone what happened or that the perpetrator is blameless. It is making the conscious choice to release yourself from the burden, pain, and stress of holding on to resentment.
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean that you condone what happened or that the perpetrator is blameless. It is making the conscious choice to release yourself from the burden, pain, and stress of holding on to resentment.”

2. Feel your pain

“Hurts can run deep, even if at first glance they don’t seem to make a big impact. It’s important to give yourself permission to acknowledge and honor the pain that’s very real for you.”

“Notice where you feel it in your body and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Maybe you need to feel supported, take more time, or do something kind for yourself. Allowing space for the pain in this way can help you know whether you’re ready to release it from your heart and mind.”

3. Name it

“Whether you’ve hurt yourself or have been hurt by another, allow yourself to be honest and simply name the feelings that are there. They might include guilt, grief, shame, sorrow, confusion, or anger. As you consider the act of forgiveness, any of these feelings can arise. A study at UCLA found that when you name your emotional experience it turns the volume down on your amygdala, the emotion center of the brain, and brings resources back to your pre-frontal cortex, the rational part of your brain. So, by naming the feeling you can create space and not get overwhelmed.”

4. Let it out

“Keeping hurt feelings bottled up only causes additional stress to your mind and body. Even if the memory is difficult to confront, see if you can share how you’re feeling. You can write about it in a journal or talk about it with a friend or a professional counselor. Sharing helps you expand your perspective, and perhaps even see what happened through a different lens.”

5. Flip your focus

“If possible, see if you can flip your focus from being the victim to putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. For example, consider the life the person lived that led them to this hurtful action. This is difficult to do, but remember, you’re not condoning any action. This exercise is just about trying to see that, as humans, we are deeply impacted by our own traumas and life experiences, which greatly inform how we show up and act in the world. If you are able to do this, compassion naturally tends to flow from this more understanding perspective.

6. Take action (start small)

“Whether you are forgiving yourself or another person, taking action can help to facilitate healing and make you feel more empowered. It’s best to start with smaller misdeeds to get into practice and feel what’s possible. . . .  Having an uncomfortable conversation can be difficult and even scary, but often a sense of empowerment emerges from the self-compassionate action of listening to yourself and doing something that supports you.”

7. Remember, you’re not the first or last

“When you’ve been hurt, it’s common to feel like you’re the only one who has ever been wronged in this way. In fact, it’s likely that this transgression (or something similar to it) has been made many, maybe even millions of times before throughout human history. Making mistakes is part of our shared human experience. Remembering you are not alone in experiencing this kind of pain can help to loosen your grip on your resentment.”

8. Have patience; forgiveness is a practice

Forgiveness isn’t a quick-fix solution. It’s a process, so be patient with yourself. With smaller transgressions, forgiveness can happen pretty quickly, but with the larger ones, it can take years. As you begin with the smaller misdeeds and then move onto the harder ones, be kind to yourself, take deep breaths, and continue on.”

9. Stop blaming

“We all know it can feel good now and again to complain to a friend—misery loves company, right? Well, not exactly. Researcher Brené Brown, author of Rising Strong, says, “Blaming is a way to discharge pain and discomfort.” It gives us a false sense of control but inevitably keeps the negativity kicking around in our minds, increasing our stress and eroding our relationships.”

10. Practice more mindfulness

“A recent study surveyed 94 adults who had been cheated on by their partners, and found a correlation between traits of mindfulness and forgiveness. In other words, it can be said that the more you practice mindfulness, the more you strengthen your capacity for forgiveness.”

11. Find meaning and strength through your pain

“As you practice working with the pain that’s there, you grow key strengths of self-compassion, courage, and empathy that inevitably make you stronger in every way. As psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, even in the most horrific and painful circumstances, we have the freedom to create meaning in life, which is a powerful healing agent.”

forgive2 (1)

Forgiven by Peggy


Try this short practice once a day and feel your forgiveness muscles growing.

  1. Think of someone who has caused you pain (to start, maybe not the person who has hurt you most) and you’re holding a grudge against.
  2. Visualize the time you were hurt by this person and feel the pain you still carry.
  3. Hold tightly to your unwillingness to forgive.
  4. Observe what emotion is present. Is it anger, resentment, sadness?
  5. Use your body as a barometer and notice physically what you feel. Are you tense anywhere, or do you feel heavy?
  6. Next, bring awareness to your thoughts; are they hateful, spiteful, or something else?
  7. Really feel this burden associated with the hurt that lives inside you, and ask yourself: “Who is suffering? Have I carried this burden long enough?  Am I willing to forgive?”
  8. If the answer is no, that’s OK. Some wounds need more time than others to heal.
  9. If you are ready to let it go now, silently repeat: “Breathing in, I acknowledge the pain. Breathing out, I am forgiving and releasing this burden from my heart and mind.”

Continue this process for as long as it feels supportive to you.

“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

This article appeared in the April 2017 issue of Mindful magazine, http://www.mindful.org/let-go-11-ways-forgive/?utm_source=Mindful+Newsletter&utm_campaign=715b87004e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6d03e8c02c-715b87004e-22826229&mc_cid=715b87004e&mc_eid=70f58f1264.








Teaching Happiness is POWERFUL medicine

We’ve been posting about the benefits of developing “Happiness Habits”.  We all say sure, sure and then let those “habits” slide.  This recent research from Northwestern University study got our attention:

Teaching happiness to men with HIV boosts their health

“This is believed to be the first test of a positive emotion intervention in people newly diagnosed with HIV. Based on the study results, the intervention is promising for people in the initial stages of adjustment to any serious chronic illness.”

Learning skills for positive emotions result in less HIV in blood and less anti-depressant use.

“When individuals recently diagnosed with HIV were coached to practice skills to help them experience positive emotions, the result was less HIV in their blood and lower antidepressant use, reports a new study. Men using positive emotion skills learned to cope with their stress, while men in the control group increased their use of anti-depressants.”

The findings extend to dementia caregivers and women with metastatic breast cancer.”

Here are the “Happiness Habits”  taught.  We’ll give you how-to in posts to follow.

1) Recognizing a positive event each day

2) Savoring that positive event and logging it in a journal or telling someone about it

3) Starting a daily gratitude journal

Cat journaling

Cat ‘n Mouse journaling by Peggy

4) Listing a personal strength each day and noting how you used this strength recently

5) Setting an attainable goal each day and noting your progress

6) Reporting a relatively minor stressor each day, then listing ways in which the event can be positively reappraised. This can lead to increased positive affect in the face of stress

7) Understanding small acts of kindness can have a big impact on positive emotion and practicing a small act of kindness each day

Mouse rewarding cat

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

8) Practicing mindfulness with a daily 10-minute breathing exercise, concentrating on the breath

If you want to read the research study here’s the link:

Materials provided by Northwestern University. Original written by Marla Paul




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