Mind Body WellBeing

Stacked rocks on beach

This section of our website is designed to help you explore various resources for improving emotional and physical health. You will find relaxing guided meditations, a list of helpful smartphone apps, and a series of links to useful self-help materials aimed at helping you thrive both academically and personally. Enjoy!

Mind Body Guided Exercises

When practiced on a regular basis, these mindful meditations can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall stress as well as improve concentration and self-awareness.

Meditation

Loving Kindness to Oneself

Transcript of Loving Kindness to Oneself

Speaker 1:

Offering Loving Kindness to Oneself.

Like concentration and open monitoring, loving kindness is a skill that can be learned and cultivated. By developing this quality of mind and heart, we can transform the way we treat ourselves and everyone around us. Loving kindness is traditionally practiced by silently repeating a set of phrases that express kind wishes for ourselves and others.

Begin by sitting comfortably on the meditation cushion, bench, or chair. When practicing loving kindness, it's helpful to make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you like, and if you don't think you'll drift off into sleep, you can also try this practice lying down.

Let yourself settle, noting any tension or discomfort in the body. Invite it to soften. Then settle the mind by spending a few minutes with an anchor, either listening to the sounds all around you, sensing the touchpoints where the body comes in contact with the chair, the cushion, the floor, and itself. Or, simply feeling the breath as it flows in and flows out of your body. (silence)

Take your time and stop the recording here if you'd like to spend more time with the anchor. It won't be time wasted.

If you're ready to move on, bring to mind an image, or a felt sense of yourself as you sit or lie there, and begin sending loving kindness to yourself by repeating one of the following sets of traditional phrases: May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. Or perhaps, May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.

Choose whichever of these sets of phrases, or use others of your own that speak to you and evoke feelings of loving kindness and care. (silence) May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. Or, May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.

Remember that the 'May I' is said not in the spirit of begging or asking permission, but it's expressing a deep wish for ourselves and others. (silence)

Continue repeating the phrases now silently to yourself, finding a rhythm that feels pleasing to you. (silence) May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. Or, May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering. Or, whatever phrases work for you. (silence)

Instead of repeating the phrases mechanically, see if you can open to the meaning of the words. If one phrase feels especially meaningful to you, it's fine to stay with just that one for a while. Or, you can even reduce the phrases to keywords: safe, healthy, ease. Or, happy, peaceful, free from suffering. (silence)

Of course, just as in concentration and open monitoring, the mind will wander and get lost. This is completely normal. Again, just as in concentration and open monitoring practices, as soon as you notice the mind has wandered, simply let go of whatever took it away and bring it back, this time to the phrases and begin again: May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. Or, May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering. (silence)

Perhaps you're not feeling any loving kindness as you repeat these phrases. That's perfectly okay. What we're doing in this practice is expressing an intention. Think of it as planting seeds, or imagine the phrases as a gentle rain falling on parched soil. Or, feel that each phrase contains an essential vitamin you need to grow in loving kindness. (silence) May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. (silence)

At the same time, remember that this is not necessarily about reaching loving kindness at some future time, but feeling it right here, right now, in the midst of whatever difficulties or troubles you might be dealing with. (silence)

If you like, especially if you are a visual person, you can try conjuring an image that evokes safety, health, peace, and ease. It could be a place or a person or some other being, like a pet. If it seems to enrich your sense of loving kindness, continue visualizing the image. (silence) May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering. (silence)

Again, whenever the mind wanders or gets confused, no problem. Just come back to the phrases and/or the image, and let them become your anchor. (silence)

This guided meditation will be coming to an end in just a few moments, so please finish whatever set of phrases you're currently on. Then, when you're ready, take a deep breath, stretch, and open your eyes if they've been closed. See if you can carry an attitude of loving kindness into the next activity of your day.

Mountain Meditation

Transcript of Mountain Meditation

Speaker 1:

Information about when and how to use the following meditation, along with a written transcript of the practice, can be found in the book, The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems by Dr. Ronald Siegel. Please feel free to tell others how to access this recording at www.Mindfulness-Solution.com, but please do not independently reproduce or distribute this copyrighted recording without permission. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

In this meditation, which will only last about 10 minutes, you're going to imagine being a mountain going through changes with the seasons. So begin by finding a comfortable posture, sitting erect and solid, like a mountain. Feel yourself firmly planted on the ground, whether on a chair or on a meditation cushion.

And now imagine that you're a mountain and you're very large and very solid and you've been sitting in the same spot for a long, long time. Of course, like all things you change, but you change very slowly, in geologic time. At this particular moment it is springtime, there is life everywhere. The trees all have new leaves, flowers are in bloom, and insects are flying all about. Animals are taking care of their young, the birds are back from their migrations. Every day is different. Sometimes it's cloudy, cool and raining, other times it's sunny and warm. Sometimes fierce storms pass through with lightning and thunder, other times the air is completely still and peaceful. Night turns to day, day turns to night. You sit there, experiencing life unfolding everywhere.

As night turns to day and day turns to night you begin to notice that the days are getting longer and the nights are becoming shorter. Each one is different. And you notice that it's beginning to get warmer in the days and the nights don't cool off so much. And now you begin to notice that it stays light until quite late. Sometimes it's quite warm and the animals seek shade. You notice that insects are now everywhere, buzzing about, crawling, flying. Young animals now are venturing out on their own. You realize that it's become summer. Sometimes it's hot and humid, other times violent thunderstorms rumble through, lightning strikes, rain falls in buckets. Sometimes the streams gush and tumble down your sides, other times they're nearly dry.

All this activity day after day, and you sit there quite solid, experiencing it all. Night turns to day and day turns to night and you begin to notice that the days are starting to get shorter again. They stay quite warm, but night falls sooner. And now the sun is setting noticeably earlier and the nights are beginning to have a little bit of a cool crisp in the air. Leaves are starting to change color a bit, and animals are preparing for the winter to come. You notice that birds are starting to leave. Now, too, every day is different. Some are sunny and warm, but some are really cool and crisp. Days to night, night turns to day, the leaves continue to change, each day they're different, some days they're brilliant in color. Sometimes is rains gently, other times it's stormy. Other times it's quiet and peaceful.

The days continue to shorten until now it's really getting dark early and the nights are really feeling cold. Many of the trees have dropped their leaves and plants have turned from green to brown. And you begin to notice occasionally that instead of rain, snow falls. Just a few flakes here and there at first. Until one day you notice that all has turned white, everything has transformed. The streams are frozen. Now it's winter and you see animals only occasionally, mostly you notice just their tracks. There are relatively few birds around and the insects seem to have disappeared completely. Some days are still sunny and warmer, but others are really quite cold. Fierce storms come through with blinding snow and biting wind. Sometimes the snow blows so violently that all that can be seen is white everywhere.

But you sit there as a mountain, solid, fearless, experiencing it all. Night turns to day and days turns to night, and you notice that the days are getting longer again. Some days it's actually warm enough that the snow begins to melt from the trees. Droplets appear, little icicles form. Occasionally even there's some flow of the streams, they begin to thaw. But then other days it all freezes solid again. But as night turns to day and day turns to night, more of the warm periods appear. And eventually melting starts and you see bare ground. At first everything is kind of muddy and brown, but then the first green shoots begin to appear. And then more young plants arrive and birds start to come back. And soon the last of the white is gone, and now everything is green and there's life everywhere and animals starting their new families. And you realize that a full year has passed and another cycle is beginning.

And now as a mountain you begin to find your way back into the place that you are sitting. And notice your breath and see how it feels to breathe as a mountain on this spot. And listen as I ring the bell and allow the sound of the bell to bring you back into the room as you follow the sound until it trails off into space.

Thought Labeling

Transcript of Thought Labeling

Speaker 1:

Information about when and how to use the following meditation along with a written transcript of the practice can be found in the book, The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems, by Dr. Ronald Siegal. Please feel free to tell others how to access this recording at www.mindfulness-solution.com but please do not independently reproduce or distribute this copyrighted recording without permission. Thank you.


Speaker 2:

This can be done as a variation of any other meditation practice and it's a way to work with the thoughts that inevitably arise. So we'll do it for about 10 minutes now as part of a breath awareness practice. Find a comfortable posture where you're sitting more or less erect. Settle into your chair or your meditation cushion or bench and begin to bring your attention to the breath. Notice either the sensations of rising and falling in the belly or perhaps the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and try to follow through complete cycles. Before long you'll probably notice some thoughts beginning to arise, and as soon as you notice the thought, silently and gently in the background, give it a label.

You don't need too many categories here, but you might label a thought as planning, doubting, judging, fantasizing, obsessing, criticizing. Just pick a few categories that seem to apply to the kinds of thoughts that arise in your mind, and let the practice be a breath focused practice as you've done before, but each time the mind wanders onto a thought. As soon as you notice that you think that you're in the process of thinking, just silently and quietly label it, and bring your attention back to the breath. An alternative if this starts to feel too complicated is simply to make a mental note, thinking, each time a thought arises without necessarily labeling the type of thought. You can experiment and see which method seems to help you pay the most attention to what's happening.

Do this with a light tough, so that whenever you notice a thought beginning to arise, just very lightly note what it is and bring your attention back to the breath. Should you notice that a particular thought pattern repeats and comes back over and over, you can make up a funny label for these greatest hits. Give them your own names such as the I blew it again thought or I can't get no respect tape. I never get what I want thought. And so on. The idea isn't so much to stop your mind from generating thoughts because that's impossible, but rather to notice where it goes, and the quality of the thoughts that arise, and then gently bring your attention back to the breath.

The particular labels you use aren't critical. The idea is just to be aware of your present experience with acceptance and to use the thought labeling to be more aware of what's happening in your thinking process and how it brings you away from the breath. While I'll stop these instructions now, you can continue sitting and doing thought labeling as long as you wish.

Page last updated 2:19 PM, July 5, 2018