Brain and Behavior

Building a Guilt-Free Relationship with Food through Mindful Eating

The primary role of food in young children’s lives is one of sustenance. Young children tend to eat when they’re hungry and push away food when they’re full. Food is a source of nourishment and joy, one of the many joyful things life has to offer.

This role can change as children grow, depending on the messages received. Some children may be told to finish everything on their plate even if they’re full, a lesson telling them they can’t waste food. Parents may restrict eating due to what they perceive is a weight problem for their children. These children may grow up feeling shame for eating, resulting in binge behaviors or eating in secret. Children may witness unhealthy habits, eating only processed foods or having a lack of structure around eating. This can result in making poor food choices throughout their lives or a lack of moderation with eating.

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Brain and Behavior

Awareness: A Hardwired Gift and the Science Behind It

Awareness is a hardwired gift. It may cause us to frown when we see another frown, find food when our stomach growls, smile at a baby, or hold the door open for another. You may or may not remember telling yourself to do these things. You just did it, because on some level you were aware, which led to your response.

Intentionally practicing mindfulness allows us to tune into varying depths of our awareness, beyond those that are on automatic pilot. This deeper level of awareness gives us the flexibility and buoyancy to self-correct, helping us to better serve and navigate ourselves and our community.

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Brain and Behavior

The Daily Grind

Rise and grind. 5:58 a.m. You jolt up; the blaring alarm clock interrupts the morning stillness. Rousing yourself from your morning stupor, the ritual begins: a glance outside, dry toast with jelly, and a quick part of your thinning hair. Lingering in front of the mirror, your sunken eyes and ashen face stare back. Middle age looms; those carefree university days are receding like your hairline.

Before turning down Reminiscence Road, you remember that you have a 6:45 a.m. bus to catch. Boarding the bus, you nod at the driver and exchange glances with your dreary-eyed workaholics; most are staring into space or mumbling into their phones.

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Anxiety and Panic

Three Tips to Muscle Through Social Anxiety

Something strange happens when I have to talk to a new person or someone I don’t feel comfortable with. My heart rate increases, my hands shake a little and I can feel a tightening in my chest.

It happens to everyone to some extent when they socialize, especially in instances where you're taking a risk (, asking for a raise, asking someone for a date). But for me the anxiety happens every time, from...
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Addiction

The Physical and Emotional Parallels of Hoarding

In the newly-released indie film "Hello, My Name Is Doris," sweet and eccentric Doris (played by Sally Field) is an older woman who lives in her deceased mother’s immensely cluttered house. Needless to say, Doris grapples with hoarding issues, tightly clinging to all kinds of items from her past. Her home’s disarray is a barrier of sorts, physically creating entrapment to what was - and not what could be.

Doris blossoms through a new relationship with a younger man (played by Max Greenfield). Though the outcome of their relationship may not be the one she unequivocally pines for, their time together symbolizes hope for what is very well possible in her next life chapter. She’s merely grateful for the friendship they share -- for its impact.

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Brain and Behavior

The Long and the Short of It: Answering Questions in a Complex World

Last week, I was driving home from work at a local university, where I teach freshman writing. As usual, I was listening to NPR. A story came on about how Alaska Airlines had struck a deal to buy Virgin America. I wasn’t really paying attention to the details until someone asked the reporter a question about the takeover. The reporter said “The short answer is -- ” and then proceeded to answer the question.

At that phrase, my ears perked up. “What a wonderful way to frame information!” I thought. Life is complicated. There are short answers, and there are long answers. It struck me as very smart to begin explanations by saying either “the short answer is” or “the long answer is.”

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Brain and Behavior

19 Ways You are Emotionally Abusing Yourself

He is a multimillionaire client of mine. Handsome. Accomplished. Respected. Gentle. Reflective. Kind.

And I was examining every angle of why he was allowing a clearly destructive woman (borderline personality disorder) out of his life. He agreed over and over again that she was bad for him, that she felt no remorse, that suddenly abandoning partners was her longtime modus operandi, and yet, he couldn’t let go.

With enough digging, a story emerged.

“I was small as a kid. I was the last guy picked for all the teams. I guess I’m afraid nobody will pick me again if I can’t get her back.”
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Brain and Behavior

Understanding the Fascinating World of Dreams

“I was walking down a dark street, whistling and enjoying the darkness. Suddenly, I heard footsteps. Somebody was following me. I tried to run but my legs were cement. I couldn’t budge. I screamed. Nobody heard me. My heart was beating so fast. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do.”

Maria continued: “I woke up in a cold sweat, shaken by the dream and wondered what it meant. I couldn’t figure it out. I have no enemies. There’s nothing that’s scaring me in real life. So, I kind of just tried to get it out of my mind by telling myself it’s just a dream.”

Dreams are mysterious. We’re both fascinated and perplexed by them. When they frighten us, we try to push them aside, saying “it’s just a dream.” Too bad. We can learn a lot from our dreams once we learn to speak their language.
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Brain and Behavior

The Making of a Happy Mind

The mind, just like any other entity in nature, follows some specific laws. The mastery of these laws can be immensely helpful in improving mental health and generating happiness.

Long before the discipline of psychology was established, philosophers started providing answers to the question of how to reach happiness. Tested by science, some their claims have been refuted, while others were confirmed, such as the following statement made by Epictetus in The Art of Living:
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility become possible.
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Anxiety and Panic

Mindfulness for Children

My youngest daughter has been having trouble getting to sleep in the last couple of weeks. The bedtime gratitude bodyscan I wrote really helps. It allows her to interrupt her now-habitual thoughts and place her attention on something more soothing and calming -- her body and a feeling of gratitude. It captures her imagination and provides almost instant relief and release. Many parents have told me the gratitude bodyscan is providing transformative relief for their children, too.

Tonight, I started to describe a practice my girls could use during the day, whenever they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, worried, scared or overwhelmed. It worked well for my youngest at night, too. In fact, as I was speaking, she politely asked me if it would be OK to go to sleep. I said it would be a lovely way to go to sleep, and she promptly did so!

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Addiction

Addicted to Distraction

Is there something you really need to do, yet somehow you just can’t seem to get to it? You tell yourself you’re going to do it, but then something else always gets in the way. If so, it’s likely that you are addicted to distraction.

Here are four questions I want you to ask yourself:

How many times a day do you check or initiate emails and text messages?
How often do you check out compelling headlines on your digital devices?
How much time do you spend game playing?
How much time do you spend on social media?

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