Untangling Ourselves Through Tangling

 At our recent Stress Resources' Meditation Maintenance Session, I was enthralled by a meditative form of drawing or "tangling", which Meditation Maintenance regular, Ann S. generously demonstrated and taught our small group of meditators. A whole process has evolved around the use of drawing repetitive interlocking or tangling lines on paper, called Zentangle.  As each of us focused, created repetitive patterns, and anchored ourselves to the paper and pen, a sense of calm centerdness fell over the room and I was reminded of the common denominators of meditative practice: focus, awareness and bringing oneself into the present moment. How wonderful to find ourselves untangling through the tangling of lines on a small piece of paper.

Here are the finished "tangles" we made at the June Meditation Maintenance Session.

Grow Your Brain

It appears that the western world has just discovered the benefits of mindfulness!  For the last several of weeks my email inbox has been happily flooded with links to various articles singing the praises of mindfulness meditation training...I love this!!!  But what, you may ask, has fueled this sudden interest in mindfulness, and its ancient roots in eastern meditation practices?  Neuroimaging.  Yes, evidence-based biomedical research has finally caught up to our observational, and albeit anecdotal, research that has long suggested a positive psychosocial and physical benefit to mindfulness training. 

A new study, based on MRI scans of participants' brains pre and post an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) revealed structural changes, an increase of 1-3%, in the grey matter of the brain.  These changes were most significant in the areas responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation.  Earlier studies have suggested an increase in brain activity/function in areas of the brain associated with positive emotion, optimism and focus.  Very powerful evidence that we have much more control than we imagine in growing and changing our brain and emotions.  Here is a link to an article which appeared this week, "Brain Gain" by Deborah Kotz in the Boston Globe

What are your experiences with mindfulness?  Do you need a refresher or are you interested in learning mindfulness skills?  I invite you to take a look at my website, Stress Resources, for ways to grow your brain and integrate mindfulness into your life.  I look forward to hearing from you and growing our brains together.

Happy Wabi-Sabi Thanksgiving

In the November Stress Resources Newsletter, I contrasted the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, the beauty of imperfection, to our westernized view of perfection (think Hallmark card, Norman Rockwell illustration, Martha Stewart anything) continually fueling our stress levels during the holiday season. I asked readers to send in their version of what a wabi-sabi holiday in their home looks like. Thanks to my sister, Hilary Katz Gould, from Huntsville, Alabama, for sending along her thoughts....have a wabi-sabi day, little sis.

Wabi-sabi Thanksgiving table at the Gould's

The pumpkin pie will have a crack in the middle, and the crust will not be flaky or gourmet. It will be made by Sam, and her middle school recipe from 7th grade. Store bought crust and easy canned ingredients. It will be tasty though, and we will only have a few more years of Sam's pumpkin pie to enjoy before college sweeps her away.

Daniela's cranberry sauce will consist of a bag of berries, and a cup of sugar, maybe some orange zest... if we happen to have oranges around. It will end up cooling in what ever bowl is around at the time. May even end up in a plastic cup, if that is the easiest for her 11 year old hands to work with.

Derrick's turkey will be stuffed with a loaf of ripped up white bread with paprika, mushrooms and some chopped onions. His mother's recipe from her Hungarian mother.

None of these dishes will be beautiful, or gourmet, or color coordinated. But, years from now, the picture of the imperfection, or wabi-sabi table will bring back wonderful memories of our family Thanksgiving.

Wishing you all a wabi-sabi Thanksgiving...filled with mindful moments and gratitude.