When we dream of summer vacations, we imagine the good things: warm days, cool breezes, lots of laughter and good vibes. And free time AND it is certainly good for our health, but not everything is always peaceful.
The gap between our expectations and « reality » can be confusing, especially when unpredictable circumstances and wayward personalities collide to throw us off course.
Perhaps your kayaking trip is interrupted by storms, or perhaps mealtimes become chaotic with different preferences or lack of cooperation. With large groups or families, this may be to be expected. During my recent week off, we had five straight days of bad weather, my husband had a sore throat, and we had an emergency room visit due to a health issue with my dad. She’s fine, thankfully, but it’s not what I expected, and I found myself feeling a little peeved.
« Holidays and holidays are busy, she says Dr AS Michele Irwinof the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. « I have first-hand knowledge, » as do many of us, she says. Whether it’s tensions over where to go, what to do, or who’s cooking, personalities and schedules can collide to create conflict.
“Mindfulness has helped incredibly,” Irwin says of his own experiences. You can start the day with certain expectations, but when it doesn’t go your way, « it’s like, oh, well, this is what’s going on, and okay, I’m going to give up on my expectations, » she says.
« A meditation practice brings you back to being aware of the moment, » Irwin explains. When someone irritates you or says something out of place, « instead of responding reactively, it can allow you to go with the flow, which is just being present to what’s happening around you, » she says.
You can notice your thoughts and feelings, but you don’t have to blurt them out or lose your temper. There is a toolkit of meditation practices and techniques that can help you stay calm and prevent conflict. Many online resources and meditation apps offer tips, tools, teachings, and guided practices. Here are five ways to get started.
1. Start simple with meditation ‘micro-hits’.
The moment something provokes or annoys us, we have a choice. We can react with emotion — which can manifest as anger, sarcasm, or just a slight touch to our tone — or we can learn to repress our responses through the practice of meditation. The easiest way to get started is to focus on your breath, says UCLA’s Michael Irwin.
« Sit down for a moment and take a deep breath, » focusing on the inhale, the breath going into your mouth, nose and belly, then exhale. “This is an opportunity for you to be present in that moment,” she says.
You can do it anywhere, anytime, whether you’re stuck in traffic, standing in line at the grocery store, or feeling annoyed by the conversation around you. « We all have to breathe all the time, and just being aware of our breath is a perfect anchor, » says Irwin.
« You can just stop and take the opportunity to breathe for a minute or two, » Irwin explains. He calls these short breaks « micro-strokes » of meditation. Indicate the UCLA aware appwhich is free, to know how to get started.
2. Rise and Shine. Try a morning meditation on self-kindness.
Start your day by saying « I love you » to yourself. Yes, I know it sounds awkward. The first time I tried it, it looked silly. But a video as a psychologist and mindfulness expert Shauna Shapiro he encouraged me to keep trying. « What you practice becomes stronger, » says Shapiro, who explains how she learned to cultivate a self-love practice.
« A Path of Kindness Has Been Established, » which begins by offering you a gesture of kindness each morning. It seems trivial, but i love this videoand it’s a reminder that if you can’t feel love for yourself, you might want to explore it.
3. Let it RAIN. A 4-step approach to centering your soul.
Today is likely to be different than you imagined, in some way, big or small. And for some of us, uncertainty — or unexpected changes — can fuel anxiety.
If you feel stuck, you can use a practice developed by the world-renowned psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brachcalled RAIN, to identify what’s got you stuck and find a way out.
The acronym, RAIN, flows, recognizes, allows, investigates and nourishes. In 2020, I told her about the science behind the approach:
R is about acknowledging, that it is sensing the predominant feeling you are having right now.
A – allow, it takes a moment to say, okay, I’m taking a break to work on this.
I – inquire, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions about what you’re feeling. AND,
N – nurture, « it’s about learning to be kind to yourself, » says Brach. It often requires working through feelings of anxiety, shame, or feeling « less than. »
« After RAIN, we can sense a change in how we feel. We sense the quality of the presence that has opened up, » she says.
4. Sweet dreams, meditation to promote sleep.
Good sleep is the key to overall good health and can also help us regulate our mood and maintain a balanced temperament. « When people are sleep deprived, that actually leads to emotional dysregulation, » says UCLA’s Irwin. His research has shown that a mindful awareness practice may help improve sleep among older adults who have had moderate sleep disturbances. There are a number of options, including the body scan for sleep meditation which can help you feel grounded and ready for a good night’s sleep.
« We’ve found that even practicing meditation for 10 minutes before bedtime actually helps you improve sleep, » says Irwin. « So we know that even very short periods of meditation can have beneficial effects. »
5. This meditation helps cultivate good vibes and memories
Don’t be put off the name wu wuwhy the meditation on loving kindness it can also be useful in times of stress or anxiety. It starts with you repeating this line: « Can I be happy? Can I be healthy? Can I be filled with loving kindness and peace, » explains Amanda Lathan, a meditation teacher and psychology and neuroscience doctoral candidate at St. Andrews. University.
The practice goes on to ask you to extend the compassion outward to different people, including someone you love, a simple acquaintance, and even someone you may not like or have problems with. « May You be happy and healthy and may You be filled with loving-kindness and peace,” you say.
One of the biggest obstacles to meditation is that it’s really hard to be still, says Lathan. So having this phrase or mantra to repeat gives you something to think about and visualize. « So it actually keeps you quite busy. »
Lathan is the author of a new study who finds that practicing this type of meditation every day for a month can help you bring back good memories.
It may be that loving-kindness meditation can help shift our memories, to see things in a more positive light, she says.
This brings me back to my vacation last month. Despite the weather and sickness, we had some delicious dinners, lots of laughs and walks on the beach. Lathan’s research suggests that by adding this daily mediation, she can help me remember the good stuff and leave the bad parts behind.