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Five Ways that Mindfulness Strengthens Relationships

Five Ways that Mindfulness Strengthens Relationships

If you haven't noticed, mindfulness has hit the mainstream!

Although different versions of the practice have been around for centuries, it is a relative newcomer to the western world. Mindful awareness might have been viewed with some suspicion in its early days, but over time research has proven its physical, mental, and emotional benefits. 

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Cultivating the Art of the Tweak

Cultivating the Art of the Tweak

Change is necessary, but often uncomfortable and unpredictable. Even on journeys of intentional change, it is best to expect the unexpected.

For many of us, the problem is that we have a really hard time with ambiguity and lack of control. We set up our lives to give ourselves predictability and security - or at least the illusion of them.

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How to Build a Better Conversation

How to Build a Better Conversation

This high-tech age that we're living in allows incredible ease in communication. Sometimes too easy.

We are probably more effective when we pause and are mindful of our communications. Perhaps we shouldn't overindulge in so much upsetting or useless information. Maybe we shouldn't fire off the first text or email response that comes to mind.

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Four Ways to Listen Powerfully

Four Ways to Listen Powerfully

Are you a good listener?

Many people would say that they are, but in today's busy world, new communication patterns are giving us fewer opportunities to maintain good listening skills.

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Three Ways to Cultivate Beginner's Mind

Three Ways to Cultivate Beginner's Mind

Some of the most popular videos shared on social media are of babies. What is it about these young beings that make them so endearing to us? There are many characteristics about them that we find appealing, but one of the most touching, perhaps, is their sense of wonder. They live in the present moment, often delighted and astonished by their unfolding experience. Isn't that something that we wish we all could do?

The good news is that we can actually cultivate this experience of open-hearted wonder. In mindfulness, this quality is known as "beginner's mind" and it is considered to be a core attitude of mindful awareness. Beginner's mind is the ability to observe our experience with fresh eyes, uncluttered by preconceived notions.

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Self-Care Lessons from my Dog

Self-Care Lessons from my Dog
If you’ve ever spent any time on social media, you know how much people love their pets. We view and share photos and videos of our four-legged friends with enthusiasm, and the images are sure to bring us smiles of affection and enjoyment. What is it about our animal companions that is so heart-warming? Of course, it feels good to be connected to other creatures, and the health benefits of having a pet are well-established. A number of studies have explored the ways that pets improve our cardiovascular and emotional health. Pets can also be good teachers of self-care, if we pay attention. They are naturally vulnerable and authentic - characteristics that experts like Brené Brown associate with “whole-hearted living”. Here are a few of the self-care lessons that I’ve learned from my dog, Princess:Be Curious — Even if you’re in the same place with the same people, stay present and engaged. If you want to keep growing, don’t assume you know everything about anything. Allow yourself to ask questions and take in new information. Curiosity is a key ingredient of mindfulness and a critical tool for creating breakthroughs in thinking and behavior. When I take a walk with Princess, she models a vivid experience of living in the moment.Relax — You probably remember from science class that the automatic part of our neurological system is designed with two complementary parts — one which helps us respond to challenges and emergencies (i.e. the sympathetic system which activates the stress response) and the other which promotes rest and repair (i.e. the parasympathetic system which activates the relaxation response). To maintain optimal health, we need a balance of stimulation between the two. Our busy culture often promotes overstimulation of the stress response. Our pets are great reminders to slow down and balance things out.Cuddle —Dogs have obvious physical needs like food, shelter, water and exercise. They want more though. They want to be petted and cuddled. It’s not just that we help them scratch in places that they can’t easily reach. It is also apparent that they enjoy our company and our touch. Research demonstrates that cuddling helps meet important physical and emotional needs. In this age of electronic interaction, we need to make sure we’re getting some cuddle-time too! Ask for What you Want and Need — When our pets sidle up to us for some love and attention, who can resist? They aren’t shy about asking, and even if we can’t accommodate them at the moment, they’ll try again later. They don’t seem to worry about what we think or whether we’ll reject them. Did you ever notice how good it feels to be able to make them happy? People like to be of service. Next time you get stopped from making a request, consider this: When you don’t ask, you are denying someone an opportunity for kindness and generosity.Show Appreciation —  The sight of our dogs bounding to meet us, tails wagging, brings us joy. It embodies a warm sense of welcome, love and belonging that never gets old to us. To our delight, it never gets old to our companions, either! We know what makes them happy — seeing us come home, scratching them in their favorite place, taking them on a walk, feeding them - because they show us. Fortunately for both of us, their expressions of appreciation help reinforce our desire to do more of what they like...which is good for us too (see #4).What about you? What self-care lessons have you learned from your pet? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Six Key Questions when Re-Inventing Yourself

Six Key Questions when Re-Inventing Yourself

It's spring and there's lots of movement in the air. Change, which is ever-constant, is highlighted with the end of school and all that it entails. New graduates. New phases of life. New decisions.

We all experience moments in life where we are called upon to make big choices. We come to a crossroads and an opportunity to invent or re-invent ourselves and we must ask the big question: What is next for me?

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20 Success Quotes to Inspire your Happy New Year

20 Success Quotes to Inspire your Happy New Year

"Happy New Year!"

In this first week of the new year, many of us have been giving and receiving New Year wishes. As we celebrate a collective beginning, we hope for good things in the coming year — health, happiness, prosperity, and success - for ourselves and the people around us.

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5 Keys to Self-Care Mastery

5 Keys to Self-Care Mastery

There is often a certain mystique that surrounds the concept of mastery. We speak in awe of famous masters — people who attained a superior command of a field or subject, and who advanced human understanding of what is possible in that domain because they redefined or transformed it in some important way. We have respect for these individuals because their contributions made an impact on human civilization. They made a difference.

So, why is self-care mastery important? Surely it is not as significant as mastering noble fields like art, music, or science! What difference does it make to master ourselves?

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Thinking "Outside the Cube"

Thinking "Outside the Cube"

I have been working on a problem. I found a really cool resource for health-seekers that are changing their eating habits. AND...it's not perfect. So, I've found myself feeling a bit stuck about what to do.

The gist of it is that an enterprising company has created a selection of very healthy meals that are just what some folks are looking for. They are organic, without additives, or preservatives, free of GMOs, free of common allergens, rich in phytonutrients, and a number of other things that can be important if you're trying to create a healthy metabolism. They are also very convenient - ordered online, shipped to your home, and priced comparably to what folks might pay if they were eating out at a convenience restaurant. What's not to like? It's a great solution for busy people who are learning new ways of cooking and eating -- and who could use some convenient, healthy back-up meals on hand.

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