John Kaweske

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Tag: Stress Management

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.

While the benefits of meditation are numerous, well-known, and widespread, there is still an incredible reluctance across society to partake. Personally, I think this is largely due to several pervasive myths that unfortunately but effectively modify general belief regarding meditation. In light of these misconceptions, I have elected to put together a list of the most prominent myths so that I can debunk them with evidence, examples, and substantiation.

You must sit cross-legged.

Ridiculous but widely held as a seeming tenet of meditation, sitting cross-legged is not, in fact, required for meditation. An abundance of Hollywood films misrepresenting oriental culture is likely the culprit for this discouraging perception, and by no means should sitting cross-legged continue to be upheld as a dogma of meditation. You need to be comfortable, and if sitting criss-cross apple sauce is comfortable for you, then do so; but if not, then don’t!

You could be lying down, sitting in a chair, standing, or even walking and meditating at the same time.

You must have a blank mind.

While, yes, this may be the ultimate goal, it is not, in the slightest, expected for newcomers to meditation. To achieve a perfectly blank mental slate takes time, effort, and practice. It is not something where you can just close your eyes and miraculously be taken away to a place of pure tranquility. That’s unrealistic, to say the least.

Actually, a fantastic place to start for beginners is to participate in what’s called guided meditation. As the name might imply, you have a mental ‘guide’ who keeps you and your potentially easily-distracted mind from getting off track. In fact, you don’t even necessarily need a guide in-person. If you want, it could just be a recording.

Just so you have an idea, guided meditation generally involves a lot of visualization exercises like full body relaxation. One such exercise is referred to as “earth breathing,” which is essentially when you imagine your body is sinking into the ground beneath you. Ideally, ‘Earth breathing’ is supposed to induce a grounded body sensation and lightness of mind feeling.

You can only meditate alone.

Absolutely not. While it’s certainly an option, and favored by many at that, that in no way means it’s the only way to find some peace of mind, especially if you’re just starting out and are slightly unsure of how to proceed. By joining a meditation group, you are providing yourself with the resources and knowledge of people who have been successfully meditating for many, many years. There is no reason to not take advantage, regardless of what some silly notion about meditation may claim.

While these are only three, there is a whole slew of false beliefs out there about meditation just waiting to be disproved. You can see some more here.

How to Incorporate More Mindfulness Into Your Work Day

We know that mindfulness helps decrease stress, increase focus, and fuel productivity, so what better place to utilize such a helpful tool than in the work place?

While you may not want to sit cross-legged in the middle of your cubicle letting out long “oooommmmm” sounds for 20 minutes every day, there are easier (and less eye-turning) ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day. Here are 5 simple ways to be more mindful as you work.

Practice the one-minute meditation.

Everyone, no matter what your job, can find 1 minutes each day for themselves. Next time you take a break to do something less mindful (like checking your text messages, personal email, or making a quick call), consider instead giving that minute entirely to yourself. Find a quiet place, relax, and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, the sensations going through your body in that very moment, how each limb feels to be resting or supporting one another. As you notice different sensations in each part of yourself, consciously calm the area you’re focusing on. When you feel like you’ve reconnected with your body and the present moment, open your eyes. You’ll be amazed at how just a few seconds of internal focus can make the rest of your day more manageable and fulfilling.

Be present in every personal interaction.

It’s easy to answer your coworkers question without even looking up from your computer or fill your water cup without engaging in the small talk going on around you. Instead of brushing by the people around, engage fully in every in-person interaction you come across. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and have an existential, heart-to-heart with every person who asks if you have a stapler at your desk. It just means that when they do, you engage in the action completely. Separate yourself from what you were previously doing. Acknowledge the person fully, and say “you’re welcome” with a smile and eye contact when they thank you. By giving your full attention to the people you’re speaking to, you will foster better interpersonal relationships, better understand what those around you need and how you can help, and you’ll have the opportunity to get back into the present moment if you lost track of it working at your desk the past few hours.

Stop rushing through your lunch break.

First of all, stop eating at your desk. It’s sad, unnecessary, and you should never do it again (okay, maybe not never.) Second, find a calm place to eat, and savor each bite of food from beginning to end. Not only is eating quickly bad for digestion, but sitting at your desk from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave is bad for your health and stress levels. Worried that you’ll look less dedicated or miss something crucial while you’re away from your desk? Be the person to spark this change in your office. Invite the people around you to join you for lunch in the break room or cafeteria. You’ll help everyone feel more refreshed and focused, which is good for the whole team.

walk better.

When you’re walking to a meeting or to take a bathroom break, don’t multitask on your phone. Don’t rush. Don’t go over your meeting prep notes one last time. Don’t do anything but focus on the exact steps you are taking in that very moment. Haven’t had a reason to stand up from your desk in an hour or two? Take a lap around the office just because. Chances are no one is going to question where you’re walking, and if they do, you can say you’re stretching you’re legs. We often see walking to and from things as a hassle or something stopping us from those few extra moments of productivity. Stop it. Walking is good for you. We should all be enjoying every moment of movement we get in our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Walk mindfully by focusing on the sensation of the ground beneath your feet and the cadence of your breath. Greet other around the office as you go and engage in their responses to you. You’ll feel more energized and refreshed each time you walk.

Mindfulness has it’s limitations. Figure out the root of your stress.

Today’s workplace is often a fast-paced, output-oriented battleground that pushes us to and past our mental limits. Mindfulness can help you manage your stress, but working 50+ hours every week, being part of a toxic team, or being held to unrealistic expectations will lead to exhaustion, poor morale, and depleted productivity. Managing your emotional response to stress is only part of taking care of yourself. It’s also important to manage the causes of your stress as well. Take time to figure out the underlying factors that are causing your stress and possible solutions to fix them. Then enact those solutions. If you come across an inherent problem that can’t be fixed, it might be time to move onto a new job. Your wellness is the most important consideration, and no promotion, salary increase, or level of power is worth sacrificing your happiness every day for. Hopefully bringing more mindfulness into your life will help you tell the difference between the things you can and cannot control.

Your positivity and engagement around the office will not only make you more happy and engaged, but it will most likely be appreciated by everyone who interacts with you. Never be afraid to be the change you want to see, in your workplace or otherwise.

John Kaweske has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for nearly two decades. For more information about his life and experience, please visit John Kaweske’s 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.

Steps To Know Before Meditating

For many meditation is a form of relaxation and a great way to unwind. Unfortunately many feel the pressure that they are not meditating correctly. Meditation is something that calms your body and is supposed to be simple. People are straying away from this idea and are complicating this simple form of relaxation. Here are few tips which could help everyone get back to the simplicity that meditating once provided.

Many believe that you must sit cross legged, with your pointer finger and thumb touching mumbling ‘ohm’ under your breath. That is not the case, meditation should take place in whichever form you find comfortable. Comfort is key, it is expected to be relaxing, one form may differ from another’s form, that does not make it wrong.

Meditation is known for also known for improving health concerns and helps boost the immune system. For example according to the Huffington Post, “Meditation can help boost the immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, decrease blood pressure, improve your sleep, increase your happiness, and has even helped people deal with alcohol or smoking addictions.” The long term gains from meditation are evident and many have lived a healthier life from long term mediation.

It is also very important to take a step back from meditating and reflect to see if any changes have been made in attitude, sleeping habits, etc. It is important because if no changes are noticed, it might be smart to change up tactics and find a new method which helps you while keeping you calm.

 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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