John Kaweske

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Tag: Anxiety

In today’s day and age of interconnectedness, it seems we are always multitasking, forever emailing while talking on the phone, texting while eating, and perusing Facebook while waiting on anything and everything. We’re connected, but we’re distracted. Our mind is always in one place while our body is in another. We are paying more attention to the ten-inch screen in front of us than to the immense world surrounding us—and it’s not even necessarily a conscious decision.

It can be difficult to escape the nearly overwhelming hand of technology. It permeates almost every aspect of our everyday lives. Whereas twenty to thirty years ago the workday ended at the office, it now ends, well—never. We can always see our email and check our phones, so it is always present. It is a perpetual presence in our lives, which is why it’s so important to learn how to take a step back, inhale deeply, and remember where you are. Remember who you are.

That’s why it makes sense that mindfulness is becoming so popular. By practicing “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” we are able to pull our head from the clouds (literally?) and come back down to Earth. Instead of stressing over flustered clients and looming deals, there are a few things you can do to properly cope. I’ve listed them below:

Pause for a moment and actually recognize your thoughts. Acknowledge them.

“What are you thinking about?” It doesn’t have to just be a question from a soon-to-be-angry rom-com girlfriend. Sometimes, we are so entrenched in planning our day or week, or so caught up reflecting on the past, that we neglect the present.

There is no need to judge these thoughts as “good” or “bad.” Just notice them. If you want, pretend your thoughts are clouds floating through the sky—and you are just watching them. There is no need to chase them, just to see them. If you do end up chasing them, that’s okay as well. After all, it’s only natural.

Practice an easy breathing exercise.

A breathing exercise is an excellent way to anchor you to reality. It forces you to concentrate on the moment. For instance, count the time it takes you to inhale, and then make your exhale last slightly longer. Every time you breathe out, you are actually signaling the parasympathetic nervous system (which is what regulates your rest and relaxation response).

In fact, you should also try placing one hand on your heart and one on your stomach. When you inhale, you will feel your stomach inflate, and it will help further your draw your attention to the now.

Practice yoga.

As cliche as I’m sure it sounds, yoga is a fantastic complement to mindfulness and aid to cope with anxiety. By being forced to do something in the here and now,you are coming back into your own body. Moreover, there have actually been studies conducted that persuasively suggest that yoga helps regulate stress response by decreasing physiological arousal (as in lowering blood pressure).

These are just a few of the many mindfulness practices that can help anyone and everyone. The next time you feel the tide of anxiety welling up inside of you, breathe it out. Take a step back— and institute a few of these simple tips to help cope. The change will be noticeable, palpable, and immensely helpful.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely loud and incredibly close. The title of the 2011 Stephen Daldry film depicts our contemporary culture quite well. Sights, sounds, whirling colors, and pungent smells punctuate our presence on this planet on a daily basis. With our exponentially increasing global population, it seems this commotion is unlikely to stop, and rather will increase as time wears on. As a result, or rather, as a possible result, anxiety disorders have emerged in full force, afflicting both mature adults and less experienced, more vulnerable children. In fact, more than one in four adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 are diagnosed with such a mental disorder.  

Recognizing this issue, our well-intentioned doctors and pharmacists prescribe and refill various antidepressant medications to help these anxious children to cope, but the effects of such medicines are often not entirely understood, and at times can even have negative side effects. With this in mind, a team of researchers at The University of Cincinnati set out to discover new options for treatment. What rose to the top of the list? Mindfulness. Exercises like meditation techniques, yoga, and implementing a nonjudgemental outlook on life are all proving to reduce stress in afflicted children to an unprecedented extent.

This is fantastic for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is speculated that as many as 80% of children diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and 60% of adolescents diagnosed with depression do not receive the treatment they need. However, although the above evidence and research is in its early stages, it does appear that mindfulness can go a long way in alleviating the stress associated with said disorders. Without having to pay for medication, and instead teaching children to practice some form of meditation, adults may be able to solve their children’s problems without any expensive prescriptions.

In order to come to the above conclusion, the team of researchers in question recruited nine participants, each of whom was between nine and sixteen years of age and had been previously diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The conditions were not the exact same; some had a bipolar disorder while others had a social disorder while others had separation anxiety. Over the course of 12 weeks, each subject experienced functional magnetic resonance imaging (aka fMRI) while partaking in traditional mindfulness exercises like meditation or something of the sort.

Afterwards, each adolescent reported decreased levels of stress. Although this is not entirely conclusive, it is certainly indicative of the potential benefits mindfulness has to offer children as well as adults. Additionally, the researchers found that there was increased neural activity in the cingulate (the section of the brain that is known to help process cognitive and emotion information). Just as well, there was a surge of activity in the insula, which helps to monitor how the body feels from a psychological standpoint.

It would seem that while mindfulness may not outright cure such disorders, it could potentially go a long way in helping children and struggling adolescents to cope with the overwhelming world around them. Finally, science is catching up with the practice.

New Study Finds Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Chronic Pain

If you’re someone that suffers from chronic pain, there may be a highly effective, medication-free option you haven’t explored yet: mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) was founded back in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and recent studies have been demonstrating just how effective MBSR can be.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 342 patients who suffer from chronic low-back pain were divided into two groups. One group was treated with MBSR and the other was treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT patients focused on using strategies that incorporated thought and behavior modification, while MBSR used yoga and mindfulness meditation. All patients participated in weekly workshops for a total of eight weeks before continuing to practice the pain relieving strategies back home.

After all patients used their respective strategies for one year, MBSR proved to be more helpful. The CBT group results capped after 26 weeks, while the MBSR group results capped after 52 weeks.

Mindfulness is thought to be so effective on chronic pain for a number of reasons. First, mindfulness helps bring a different perspective to pain. Instead of having perpetual negative thoughts and anxiety over discomfort, mindfulness meditation allows people to study their pain with curiosity and without judgement.

It also brings a more realistic awareness to the situation, so for example, someone who may think they suffer from pain all day, may realize through mindful meditation that he or she actually feels pain only in certain circumstances, positions, or a predictable number of times a day. Being more aware of the highs and lows of pain can help people manage it.

Another way mindfulness might help with chronic pain is by helping us manage goals and expectations. When we expect pain to go away with a certain practice, exercise, or medication, and it doesn’t, our brain naturally becomes alarmed and frustrated. We start to think things like “nothing ever works,” “this pain is the worst,” “it’ll never go away.” This kind of attitude actually amplifies our subjective view of our pain. This is why mindfulness, which allows us to bring more objective observation to our pain, can be so effective in reducing our own perceptions of chronic pain.

Now that you have a better understanding of how mindful mediation can help you deal with chronic pain, give the following mindful-based strategies a try for yourself:

Body scan – A body scan is an essential part of the MBSR practice. In a seated position with closed eyes, slowly run through every part of your body in your own mind, paying attention to each different part, starting from your feet and moving up to the top of your head. As you check in with each body part, notice the sensations that are present in each part. This will allow you to better understand where your body feels unbalanced. It will also help you keep your pain in perspective: “this is what my pain feels like right now. It may not always feel this way.”

Focus on the breath – We often get so preoccupied with physical or even emotional pain that we neglect to give our minds and bodies a break from the experience. In a seated position with closed eyes, breath in until you fill up every part of your lungs from bottom to top. Hold for 5 seconds, and then breath out slowly until you have completely emptied your lunge. Do this 5 times, moving slowing and paying attention to each moment of the breath. This exercise will not only calm the body and mind, but it will help you escape the ruminating thoughts you may be suffering from about your pain.

Distractions – Distractions come in most handy when your pain is high, especially when breathing exercises aren’t working. Sometimes we need something more engaging that we can completely throw our minds into. Ideally your distraction of choice should get you into a “flow state” that allows you to forget about your own awareness entirely. Read a book, write a story, compose a song, etc. Do activities that require full attention of your thoughts and even make your forget about time itself as you’re doing them. Sometimes the best way to manage your pain is simply by getting your mind off of it.

There’s no medication that will eliminate chronic pain forever, so we need alternative ways to manage pain using our own minds and resources. Chronic pain can easily start to feel like it’s running our lives. Mindfulness meditation can help us re-capture control of our lives.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career and life, please visit his main website.

Mindfulness Meditation Found Effective in Treatment of Sleep Disorders

There’s nothing like a good nights sleep. But for many, this simple joy doesn’t come so easily. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders each year and an additional 20 million people experience occasional sleep problems.

Unfortunately, sleep disturbances are most prevalent among older adults and have been found to often go untreated due to limited treatment options and a lack of community-accessible programs.

The National Sleep Foundation first and foremost recommends what they call proper “sleep hygiene.” The NSF has found that good sleep hygiene routine helps to promote healthy sleep and daytime alertness, and adherence can prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders.

A proper sleep hygiene routine entails things like maintaining a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week, spending an appropriate amount of time in bed, avoiding naps, limiting stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime, and more. These simple changes in daytime/bedtime routines can vastly improve sleep quality for many. But for some, these recommendations just aren’t enough.

In a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information earlier this year, researchers discovered there may be a better intervention method out there.

Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles set out to determine the efficacy of mindfulness meditation to promote sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep disturbances.

Participants in the study had a mean age of 66.3 years and a history of moderate sleep disturbances. Two parallel groups received a randomized 6-week intervention (2 hours per week) with assigned homework, receiving either a standardized mindful awareness practices (MAPs) intervention or a sleep hygiene education (SHE) intervention. Then they measured between-group differences in moderate sleep disturbance, as well as insomnia symptoms, depression, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.

Participants in the MAPs group showed significant improvement relative to those in the SHE group.

While many elements of SHE training are effective and still worth practicing, mindfulness meditation is now thought to be especially helpful for insomnia sufferers.

Community-accessible MAPs intervention could consequently be an effective and cost efficient way to help the millions of people who suffer from sleep disturbance each year, greatly effecting their quality of life.

Practiced regularly, mindfulness meditation allows people to calm overactive thoughts, feelings, and emotions and promote a greater sense of overall well-being. It should be no surprise that this practice creates the ideal conditions for deep, quality rest without the use of medication, alcohol or drugs. Secondary benefits includes lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, and decreased risk of disease and illness.

Like any new skill, learning to practice mindfulness meditation takes time and practice. Start small, and don’t get discouraged if it’s tougher than you anticipated. Once you start reaping the emotional and physical benefits, you’ll see it’s worth the effort.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career and life, please visit his main website.

Ways Meditation Can Change Your Life

Meditation has been used for centuries to help regain self control, and also help clear the mind for relaxation. Some individuals have used meditation to change their lives to recover from addictions, injuries, and to recover from emotional distress. With so many great attributes, meditation also offers various ways it can benefit any individual looking to find themselves internally.

One benefit many see happen with meditation is they feel more self aware of themselves and surroundings. Being able to relax and see yourself from within gives individuals a sense of peace and a ‘place that has answers‘. These answers can lead individuals who suffer from anxiety lessen their issues and really grasp on to the potential solution for this issue.

Another major benefit that comes from meditation is it reduces stress and anxiety. Calming the mind, body, and senses can lead to reduced stress and anxiety due to the release of negative energy and tension which had been built up. For many individuals who meditate, energy plays a major role in their day to day lives. Filling your life with positive energy will lead to a happier, healthier life, which includes meditation. Negative energy can do the opposite, so remaining positive while meditating can lead to dismissing negative energy from the body.

Another great aspect which comes from meditation is it teaches you how to breathe correctly in a way that soothes the body and helps relieve stress. Stress is a mean reason people meditate, and one factor while is crucial is to breathe correctly. People have seen vast differences in their health, and attitude since mediation and have noticed greater lung capacity.

Little tricks and ways to meditate can go a long way in health, wealth, and lifestyle.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career in renewable energy, please visit his main website.

Meditation: Key To Stress Release

In today’s culture, the average work day does not consist of the 9-5 anymore. The constant flow of emails and messaging on smart phones and tablets is increasing stress and anxiety in more and more people. The 40-hour week is now beginning to stretch to 60-hours a week. This stress and anxiety has helped researchers at John Hopkins University develop new tactics for this stress relief. After extensive studies meditation was the answer for these new problems.

Many folks believe meditation is a complex method which takes years to master but the truth is, simple meditation can go a long way. Even five minutes a day or clearing the mind and focusing on deep breathing. Even short five minute stints a day can go a long way in terms of relieving stress and anxiety.

Here are a few tips you can follow which are basic but go a long way when looking to relax. To start, keeping everything simple is key. For example, sitting crosslegged where muscles are being strained is not ideal, sitting in a comfortable posture where you can focus on deep breathing and clearing the mind is most important.

Also, practicing meditation in the morning is a fantastic way to set the expectations of the day and clear your mind at the same time. Starting the day with a mind clearing meditation session can change the outcome of days and improve reduce stress.

Last tip is to understand that meditation is not about erasing thoughts but to rather disconnect from all thoughts for the time being in order to focus on the task at hand.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career in renewable energy, please visit his main website.

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