Yoga: No Pain, No Gain? No Way!

The article in the Atlanta Journal-constitution February 22, 2012 was titled:  "In yoga class, play it safe."

The focus was on paying attention to your body as the way to avoid injuries and for yoga instructors not to push students. 

Yoga is a spiritual discipline that has become an exercise regimen. Classes are too large with little personal attention.  That is when injuries occur.

The student that was described injured himself because his approach was force and his teacher pushed him to go further.   After his injury, his focus is on mindful yoga practice and listening to his body.  It took a snap of his knee for him to really understand yoga and to pay attention to what the body is telling him.

Those who could benefit greatly from a yoga practice are scared to try.  I hear “I’m not flexible enough”, “I’ll make a fool out of myself”, or “I can’t get into those contortions”, and they stay away.    

“When you match the postural practice to the person’s need, then you’re being true to the intention of yoga."

I find that the body tells us the truth and the mind judges.  The problem arises when we listen to our mind, negating the wisdom of the body.

When you practice yoga or any other physical activity, do you listen to your body?  Let me know you experience in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

Leave a Comment (0) →

Mindfulness Practices Improves Stress Symptoms

Article:  Annals of Behavioral Medicine- 2010

Authors:  Branstrom, Kvillemo, Brandberg & Moskowitz

Background:  Increasing recognition of mindfulness and mindfulness training as a way to decrease stress and increase psychological functioning.

Objectives:  Examine the effects of mindfulness stress reduction training on perceived stress and psychological well-being.   

Methods:  Seventy one with previous cancer diagnosis were randomized into a control group and an intervention group that participated in an 8-week mindfulness training course.

Results:  Those who participated in the intervention reported significant positive effects on perceived stress, posttraumatic avoidance symptoms, and positive states of mind.

Conclusions:  Improvements in psychological well-being resulting from mindfulness stress reduction training are measurable, which is important for future research.

Custom Calm employs the same practices as researched in this and other studies.  The ease of implementation into daily life makes the integration of techniques manageable, directly improving daily living.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Psychological Benefits: Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers

Study:  Psychological benefits for Cancer Patients and their partners of Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).   Authors: Birnie, K.,Garland, S.N. & Carlson, L.E. (2010)

Cancer patients experience many negative psychological symptoms including stress, anxiety and depression.   The patients loved ones also experience these challenges.

Objective:  To measure the impact of and 8-week MBSR program for 21 couples.

Results:  Significant reductions for both patients and partners in mood disturbance and the Calgary Symptoms of Stress Inventory sub-scales of muscle tension, neurological and upper respiratory symptoms were observed after program participation.

Conclusions: Significant increases in mindfulness were reported in both groups.  

Overall, the MBSR program was helpful for improving psychological functioning and mindfulness for both members of the couples.

Custom Calm founder, Ellen Sichel has trained with the originators of Mindful Based Stress Reduction and incorporates many of the techniques used into Custom Calm programs.  The practices are non-invasive and easy to learn, offering lifelong support for both patients and their loved ones. 

Posted in: This Stuff Works

Leave a Comment (0) →

Worry or Grace: Which is it Today?

In his book, The sacred art of Lovingkindness, Rabbi Rami Shapiro explores worry and grace.

He says that all that matters is this moment and how you engage it.  There are two ways to engage this moment: with grace or with worry.  He goes on to say that the opposite of grace is your own anxiety.

  • Grace is defined as:  Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
  • Anxiety is defined as:  A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.

You experience anxiety when your mind is worried about the future or regret over the past.

When you are in the present moment, you open the door for grace.

Living in grace is effortless, having movement and form.  The struggle is not there and an ease and calm replaces it.  That is an exquisite way to live.

Breath, meditation, and other mindfulness practices bring you back to the present moment and they are accessible and easy to do.

Let me know in the comments below how you feel when you are in the moment and what happens to your state when you are in worry.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrate Freedom on the 4th of July

Independence Day is a celebration of our nation’s freedom.

It is also an opportunity to celebrate your personal freedom and think about where in your life your are independent and where you are dependent.

Freedom is the ability to choose, and there are areas in our lives where we are not free.

We will always have needs, and that is natural.  We lose our freedom when our needs stem from “reaction” or “craving”.  When this occurs, our mind has bound us.

The practices of Mindfulness will set you free.   When you are in the moment, you are grounded in yourself and your actions are from a place of choice.  

This way of life gives us Independence from our own self imposed bondage- The ultimate freedom.

Where in your life are you independent?  Where are you stuck?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

Leave a Comment (0) →

5 Ways to Spice up Mundane Tasks

Many times the items on our to-do list are done mindlessly on auto-pilot.  We try to get our errands out of the way so we can enjoy the rest of the day.

We rush away part of our day and we weren’t even present for it.  How much time do we spend on a daily basis getting our errands or tasks over with?

When we live this way we close the door on opportunities to enjoy ourselves.

The mundane day to day living is just as much as a part of life as the sports, luncheon or vacation you are participating in.   

Try this the next time you are in the supermarket:

  1. Go to the produce isle.
  2. Stand and look around taking in the total scope of what is in front of you.
  3. Walk around and focus on the colors, textures, shapes and smells.
  4. While going down the other aisles, continue to focus on the displays, colors, shapes, people you pass and whatever else comes into view. 
  5. When checking out, look at your items as you put them on the counter.

Notice your state of mind after you finish.

Let me know in the comments below what your experience of shopping was.   Was it different from usual?  Did you notice anything new?  If it was a challenge, tell me what happened.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

Leave a Comment (0) →

5 Steps to Live Life More Fully

Throughout the day we encounter both challenging and joyful situations.  Usually our focus gets locked on a specific aspect of  our experience and we miss out on the range of what is in front of us.

There is more happening in each moment than we imagine and we have the capacity to embrace our experiences more fully. 

Try this:

1.  Go outside (or look through a window), standing or sitting comfortably and look straight ahead at nature.

2.  Focus on one thing that is in your line of sight.

3. Without turning your head, expand your awareness to the entire scope of what is in front of you.

4.  Notice whatever subtle changes come about without getting caught up in thought.  It could be a slight   breeze, a shadow, an insect or bird, a small movement of a leaf or some other shift.

5.  Take a few breaths as you continue to notice.

Everything in front of you was happening at the same time. 

You can experience more joy and clarity in life when you live mindfully.


Try this and let me know in the comments below what happened.  Did you see more that you first thought was there?  Were you able to stay in the moment?  How do you feel now? 

Posted in: Technique of the Week

Leave a Comment (0) →

Walking Lessons in 5 Steps

Walking is something we do to get from one place to the other without much thought.  For most of us we walk with ease, at the speed we choose. 

Have you ever been walking and the next moment you are stumbling?  There is no need to pay attention to the mechanics of walking because we walk automatically.   When you trip it is because your mind is not where your feet are planted.

When you learn something new, you pay careful attention to detail and do it mindfully.

Take a few minutes and experience walking as if you were first learning to do it.  Practice paying attention to each and every step.

Try this slow motion walking:

 Try to notice each and every movement with no particular destination. You can keep your hands by your sides, or behind your back. You can do this indoors or outside.  Keep your focus straight ahead.

 There are 5 steps:

  1. Lifting
  2. Moving Forward
  3. Placing Heel first
  4. Shifting you weight
  5. Push off with your toes


Keep totally focused  on this slow motion walking and see what you notice.

Was it difficult?  Easy?  What did you learn from this experience?  Let me know in the comments below.  You are welcome to ask any questions.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

Leave a Comment (0) →