Dealing with Other People – Excerpt from Peace with Pain

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Dealing with Other People – Excerpt from Peace with Pain

A friend of mine often recommends my book, Peace with Pain: Your Guide to Life in a Malfunctioning Body, to clients in her counseling practice. It’s helped those with physical pain, as well as those who suffer from mental and emotional pain. There’s one chapter in particular that she points out: Dealing with Other People.

To make it easier for people to access, I’ve created a video reading of this chapter. You’re welcome to listen and share this page with anyone who may benefit. If you watch it, the cats provide a little entertainment about halfway through the video. 😀

At the end of most chapters, there’s a Take Action section. Here’s the Take Actions steps for Dealing with Other People:



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Improve Your Brain in 2 Weeks

The benefits of meditation are best discovered through personal experience. When done correctly, meditation brings clarity, joy, and peace. Through consistent practice, the mind becomes stronger and we are able to handle the constant changes life brings with greater ease and grace.

man-meditating-481796_1280The studies have shown these positive effects can be experienced in just two weeks with a small investment of as little as five minutes a day. Western science is proving what practitioners have known since ancient times: Meditation reduces the cognitive decline that occurs with aging, it decreases stress, and it helps us process information at a faster rate. The daily practice of meditation also activates the parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, and emotional regulation. In essence meditation helps us become smarter and happier, and keeps both our brain and our relationships with ourselves and others healthy.woman-meditating-596415_1280

While I would suggest you explore meditation and find the truth of these claims through your own practice, sometimes it inspires us to read about others. If you’re still on the fence about investing time into meditation, or perhaps you’re simply having a rough day, these 8 articles and studies can help remind you of the power behind sitting in silent mind.

Although the research is still in its infancy, there are thousands of studies being done about how meditation affects the brain and our sense of well-being. Here are just a few samples of what’s been published.

Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation

Pagnoni G., Cekic M.

These findings suggest that the regular practice of meditation may have neuroprotective effects and reduce the cognitive decline associated with normal aging. Read the study:


Eight weeks to a better brain

By Sue McGreevey

The Harvard Gazette reports on a meditation study that shows meditation appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress after only eight weeks. Read the article:


Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, UCLA researchers say

By Mark Wheeler

Research suggests that meditation strengthens the connections between brain cells, allows the brain to process information faster and increases the ability to adapt to environmental changes. Read the article:


Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering

Michael D. Mrazek, Michael S. Franklin, Dawa Tarchin Phillips, Benjamin Baird, Jonathan W. Schooler

After a two week study, results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences. Read the study:


The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter

Eileen Luders, Arthur W. Toga, Natasha Lepore, and Christian Gaser

Although the systematic study of meditation is still in its infancy, research has provided evidence for meditation-induced improvements in psychological and physiological well-being. Moreover, meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity. Read the study:


Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density

Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazara

The results suggest that participation in meditation is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. Read the study:


Change in Brainstem Gray Matter Concentration Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention is Correlated with Improvement in Psychological Well-Being

Omar Singleton, Britta K. Hölzel, Mark Vangel, Narayan Brach, James Carmody, and Sara W. Lazar

A follow up of the above study, showed individuals can improve their levels of psychological well-being (PWB) through utilization of psychological interventions, including the practice of mindfulness meditation, which is defined as the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.  Read the study:


Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy

Eileen Luders, Nicolas Cherbuin and Florian Kurth

The findings of this study seem to suggest less age-related gray matter atrophy in long-term meditation practitioners. Read the study:

RetrainYourBrain mindset-743167_1280


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My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.




30 Second Change

ice-hockey-659809_1280During an NHL hockey game, the average ice time for a player per shift is 30 seconds. When a player hits the ice, he gives all of his strength and his full focus, because in 30 seconds, multiple goals can be scored and games can be won or lost. Then he sits for a few minutes and gets up to do it again.

While most of us won’t be strapping on a pair or ice skates anytime soon, we can power up our lives with a 30 second change. We have the ability to accomplish a multitude of tasks in just 30 seconds.

Here are 9 things that can be done in just 30 seconds:

  • Walk around the room to get your blood flowing
  • Catch your breath after vigorous exercise
  • File the papers on your desk
  • Stretch your neck, shoulders and touch your toes
  • Write an email
  • Tell a joke and laugh
  • Create clarity so you can see your next step
  • Center your awareness in gratitude
  • Meditate and dissolve in Samadhi

In our fast-paced world, on a planet that’s literally rotating at 1000 miles per hour, we can feel like we don’t have time to do anything. We attempt to multi-task, but what really happens is we rush through our to-do list without focusing on any one task and then we often have to fix the mistakes caused by our lack of attention to what we’re doing.

What we don’t realize in our mission to get it all done fast is we are most efficient when we do one task at a time. Even a computer’s CPU, which gives the illusion of multi-tasking, really does only one function at a time; it just does it very quickly and switches between programs seamlessly.

The next time you feel frazzled and moving in great haste, stop for just 30 seconds. Time yourself, because 30 seconds is much longer than you may think. Take deep breaths and allow yourself to feel the air fill and empty from your lungs. Focus on all the little things that bring you joy. Give thanks for all that you have right now.

After 30 seconds, look at your to-do list and pick just one task. (Don’t have a to-do list written down? Make that your first task.) Like a hockey player, give that activity your full focus and strength for 30 seconds. You might be surprised that after 30 seconds, you can keep going. Maintain this same intensity of focus for 10 minutes, and notice how much you get done.

Perhaps after 10 or 15 minutes you’ll need to check your messages or email. Give the task of checking messages your full attention. Then switch to the next item on the list, again giving your entire focus to whatever it is that you need to do.

When you get lost in the hustle and your focus begins to waver, then stop for 30 seconds to make a change.

What can you accomplish in 30 second bursts?


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My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.



Why Meditate?

Things rarely go the way we plan. Last week the weather forecast called for a calm, wind-free day. So a friend of mine and I went to beautiful Coronado beach to make a short video called “Why Meditate” for you.JennaonBeach

Once we started filming, the wind kicked up. Although the background is gorgeous, all you can hear on the soundtrack is the wind racing across the microphone. The next day, we tried again at Dharma Center. In two takes, it seemed like we had a great video. I uploaded it to the computer and discovered at some point the camera tilted, so viewers have a wonderful shot of my nostrils. So rather than post a video of me talking down my nose while you look up it, I’m writing instead. Don’t worry, we’ll try the video again, because as you know, three times is a charm!

Let me get right into it: Why Meditate?

If you’re like most people, you’re very busy. You have a huge pile of things you need to do just to maintain your life. And then you have another long list, perhaps tucked away, of fun things you want to explore in this big magnificent world. Between the two, who has time to sit and do nothing?

The truth is, most people don’t have time to meditate. However, the successful people, those who are at the top of their field, have made time to do some type of meditation. They may not call it that, but at some point each and every day, they stop and let their mind rest in silence.

Meditation allows us to access the eternal part of our being, completely changing our perspective. Sitting in silence lets us experience unreasonable joy and a peace deeper than anything we can imagine. This time spent with our true self recharges and refreshes us and lets us find the play of existence.

Besides these ephemeral and difficult to describe states, even just the practice of learning how to meditate brings wonderful benefits to our lives. Our ability to focus and concentrate improves, along with our memory and ability to learn new things. There is an increase in our sense of well-being, self-esteem, and our overall awareness. And it gives us what every extremely busy person needs most: meditation decreases anxiety and stress.

Ancient yogis and yoginis have known about all of the benefits of meditation for thousands of years. In our modern world, we don’t want to take someone’s word for it; we want scientific studies. If you’re not ready to devote time each day to sit in meditation, then peruse a few of the articles below and perhaps that will inspire you to give this most excellent gift of meditation to yourself.

When you’re ready to learn more, come find me or another teacher at Dharma Center.

Here’s just a few of the articles that point to the studies that have been done:

Forbes: 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain by Alice G. Walton

Harvard Gazette: Eight Weeks to a Better Brain by Sue McGreevey

Huffington Post: The Daily Habit of these Outrageously Successful People by Carolyn Gregoire

Body Mind Soul Spirit: This Buddhist Monk Shows Unheard of Brain Activity During Meditation by Rachel Nuwer

If you are not in San Diego, you can learn how to start your own meditation and mindfulness practice from my book, “Peace with Pain: Your Guide to Life in a Malfunctioning Body,” available in paperback and Kindle.



To be notified of new blog posts, please join my Happy News Mailing List.

My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.