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Judgements Judge Mints – Mindfulness Exercise
We have all been upset when someone’s says to us, “Don’t let it affect you.” It sounds like good advice but it ignores a very real experience inside! We think, “I can’t not let it affect me. It already is!” On the other hand, if we give in to the feeling we will be unhappy longer.
What gives? What’s going on? Cognitive scientists have studied this contradiction and they noticed something. There is a distinction between the experience and how we understand or judge it. There are real physiological changes that occur when we are upset. O heart rate increases, our muscles tense, our amygdala (the seat of our fear response) ramps up.
We notice these processes happening in our body and we make the judgment: “I am upset and need to stay so!”
Let’s return to the palliative: “Don’t let it affect you.” A better approach would be to focus on noticing we are upset rather than making the judgment, “I’m upset and need to stay so!” Easier said than done, right? How do we just notice?
Let’s practice together. We will need a mint. Or any candy. Or any food really. But the title wouldn’t be as cute if it weren’t a mint.
Place the mint in front of you. Notice the texture of the mint. Notice its coating. Does it shine? Notice the mints size.
Now, notice what your brain is telling you. Notice the thoughts that are coming. Notice any urges to eat the mint. Are you imagining its flavor? Notice how your mind and body might be anticipating.
Now. Pick up the mint with your fingers. Notice what it feels like between your fingers. Feel the texture and its temperature.
Place the mint in your mouth. Don’t swish it around like one normally does with mints. Let it linger in one place. Notice its flavor. Notice the urges to move the mouth.
Move it to another spot. What does it taste like now? What is different? What is similar?
Now, enjoy the mint as you would. But do so slow, mindfully. Notice the mint’s flavor and texture as it disintegrates.
This is called mindful eating and though it helps us find transcendent what we normal find trivial, I’ve included this practice here because it really helps us notice our experience.
We enjoyed the process here but we focused on noticing the experience. Not judging it. Instead of giving in to urges, instead concluding “I need to roll the mint around like a shoe in a dryer” we didn’t give into this judgment, we just noticed. No judgments judged the mints.
We can do this where ever and with anything. Even when we are upset. Next time when you get upset, ask, what urges am I experiencing, what is my body telling me to do, what is my mind telling me? This is better than just “not letting it affect us” because we aren’t giving into the experience. We aren’t denying it either. We are right inside it, making no decision either way.
Making no judgments, just being there.
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