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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tiny Resolutions January 11: Take Ten (Guest Blogger Shelly Svoboda, MD)

Ed. note:  Today's guest blog is by none other than my sister, Shelly Svoboda.  Shelly is a neurologist, artist, traveler, gardener and overall swell human being. Thanks for guesting, sis.
Take 10
(or, Breathe in Through The Nose and Get Out of Your Head)
making room to breathe
We all need to take a breather once in a while, (right Jana?).  The problem is, when?  I hear you.   You are so busy that even the thought of taking time out is overwhelming.  Thus, Tiny Resolutions.  Little bite sized promises to yourself.  Make a mountain small enough and it’s easy to take the first step.

practice is portable
Which brings us to today’s topic.  Sitting still.  Breathing.  Or, to get all fancy-schmacy about it, meditating.  (Though you don’t have to sit still to meditate, this post is about the sitting kind, so sit down for a sec, ok?)

Anyone who has access to any form of media from Facebook to Fashion Magazines knows about Meditation.  It seems its touted to be the cure for all ills - it’s gonna Save the World!, Clear up Your Complexion!, Help you Lose Weight!  Meditation is so hyped anymore it’s difficult to take seriously, much less want to try and make room for it in your already packed day.  The thing is, there is good science behind many of the claims:  improving  brain health, cardiovascular health, helping with chronic pain. Easing depression and anxiety ( see below for links if you are interested and don’t have a good fashion magazine lying around).  But mostly, at least for me, meditation clears out my head a bit.  Leaves a little space between thoughts and actions, helping  intention rather than reaction to be my driving force.
yet more sisters getting mindful
I know that the Tiny Resolutions are supposed to be a one day thing and I know that I have already expressed understanding and solidarity about the scarcity of free time.  But. How about ten minutes a day for ten days?  And someone to hold your hand and gently lead you though it?  And, there are cartoons! Oh, and it’s free! 

Yep, there’s an App for that.  

it's good to have a teacher
Headspace  is a free meditation training app that takes about ten minutes a day to take you through the basics of mindfulness meditation.  Andy Puddicombe ( see his great TED talk hereis a buddhist monk/with a degree in Circus Arts (!).  His Headspace application ( for iOS and Android) leads you though 10 separate sessions of teaching and brief meditation.  And if you like it and want to learn more, well, you can pay for further lessons through a membership.  And/or listen to the (free) Headspace podcasts.  They are great.

the doc, chilling in Patagonia
I have had a moderately regular practice of meditation for about a year now ( and a much more sporadic practice for several years).  I was looking for a teaching program on meditation to share with my patients and friends when I found this application.  I did the ten days.  Even after some years of reading-- in the first few years, I spent far more time reading about meditation than doing it!  Still working on righting that balance--- I found this instruction really helpful.  So even if you already have tried meditation but aren't regularly practicing, you may enjoy this.  

And if smart phone apps aren’t your cup of tea, Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and author, has a terrific set of instructions here:  http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-meditate/

And hey, maybe it will save the world.  Couldn’t hurt it.  
Favorite links re: Mindfulness - 
Building Better Brain:
Building better brain function and FAST! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20363650?dopt=Citation

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