Week 36/Mindful Media Consumption: Tools to Hone Our Inner Wisdom

Melting Arctic ice, hurricanes, bailouts, unemployment, presidential elections, inflation, deflation, recession, depression! We are surrounded by an endless stream of anxiety inducing information – through TV, the Internet, newspapers, radio, and conversation. It is important to be aware and informed citizens, but what is “news” really, and when does another story become something other than news? We turn to various sources for insight to help us deal with uncertainty, and to calm our fears, but rather than clarifying or keeping us well informed, is this media information instead cultivating fear and anxiety? Is our habitual looking or reading simply making us more anxious rather than keeping us informed or educated?

As yoga practitioners and citizens of our society, what can we do about fears that arise in our lives and how can we use the many ideas and tools of yoga to help us cope in these stressful times? Below are some suggestions, both through action and with thought. Choose one or two to begin, but eventually you might find them all slowly working their way into your life. If you benefit, we ALL benefit.

  • Be clear about why you are listening to/reading the news. What are you trying to gain from it? What is your intention and are you achieving this intention? The yogis say that what you put in your field of awareness is food for the senses.
  • Consider limiting your access to the deluge of information. Perhaps even consider taking a “fast” from the news. This will give your nervous system time to settle down.
  • If your life has been affected by difficulty, try to use it, as much as possible, for positive growth and as an opportunity for change.
  • To transform your fear, be present with your feelings, shine the light of awareness on them and have self-compassion for your challenging feelings. Know you are experiencing fear, but you are not your fear.
  • Be mindful of your choices of actions and thoughts, and how each choice affects your state of mind.
  • What nourishes you? Do more of it.
  • Restore yourself through rest or relaxation.
  • Think thoughts and do actions that help you feel connectedness, both inside and outside yourself.
  • Meditate and/or breathe every day. Allow this to be a time to simultaneously connect and to let go.
  • Volunteer your time to those who have less – called Seva (a form of karma yoga, self-less service).
  • How much is enough? Perhaps you really have everything you need?
  • Every day, list three things for which you a grateful.

Yours, in service,


Kathy Ornish, c-IAYT

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  For more information, please visit her website at www.goodspaceyoga.com

Week 35/Hurricane Edition: Calm in the Storm

Dorothy Hunt’s quote brings me great solace and comfort as I sit down to prepare this week’s mindfulness post, which will reach many readers that are busy preparing for Hurricane Dorian. The ability to receive warnings and track major storms brings both the ability to prepare in advance, as well as many days of potential angst and panic. It is in times like this that I draw upon mindfulness practices to help me weather the internal storm brewing in both my mind and body, as worry thoughts of the potential storm impact start creeping in. The most effective tools for me all start with AWARENESS of my thoughts, followed by a willingness to accept the thought as just a thought, and then a great big deep breath, followed by a slow steady exhale.

The pre-storm hysteria can bring out the worst in people. We see a lot of irritability and anxious energy released through the fight response and this is often projected onto those in close proximity, like our loved ones. The anxiety brought on by a storm warming or any other warning functions as an adaptive mechanism in humans to energize and activate us for preparation (the flight response). In these moments, it is important to recognize the common humanity of people your encounter – rushing through stores, getting gas, and trying to secure their homes. At times the intensity of the anxiety in an individual is excessive (because of multiple stressors and/ or a preexisting anxiety disorder) and may lead to immobilization, best known as the freeze response. The fight, flight, freeze responses are all responses to signals of danger and it is helpful to recognize the presence of these states.  If you are anything like me you may find yourself moving through all of these states over the next week. Ideally, with the use of tools we are able to move through them and restore some equanimity.

The fight/flight responses both respond to similar tools; they are both responses to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system that releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, preparing the body for action. The amount of these neurochemicals are in excess of what is needed and can fuel some serious aggressive behaviors, such as road rage or vulnerability of losing your temper. If you feel yourself loosing control, try out the DBT skills that follow.  And don’t forget to bring awareness to your actions and BREATHE.

STOP Skills

Stop, literally stop what you are doing or saying (if driving slow down)

Take a deep breath, inhaling slowly through the nose, hold 1-2 seconds, release slowly through the mouth…repeat several times.

Observe what you ae sensing in the body (heart racing, tension, stomach churning, etc), observe your thoughts and look for all or nothing, catastrophic, or overgeneralization in your thinking. Catch the exaggeration and name it without judgment or invalidating the feelings. Name the emotions and notice the thoughts that are feeding the emotions. Continue to use your breathe until it is regulated.

Make a list of things needed and then take action steps one at a. time

Freeze Mode

If you find yourself in a freeze mode, running in circles, clouded thoughts or even immobilized you can employ the 5,4,3,2,1 technique

Name 5 things you see: A tree, dog, grass, cars, a sign

Name 4 things you hear: cars buzzing by, bids, phone ringing, clock ticking

Name 3 things you feel: softness of your shirt, a/c blowing on you, feet on the ground (if they are not on the ground place them on the ground and gently press to sense your feet grounded).

Name 2 things you smell: the grass, perfume/oil

Name 1 thing you can taste: Perhaps keeping candy, gum, flavored water nearby to sip

After the STOP and 5,4,3,2,1 skills you can take a moment to bring awareness back to the present moment. Assess do I feel calmer, clearer, and more emotionally regulated? If so, proceed with your preparations or engage in an activity that is soothing or distracting. Look for more ideas and tips on Sacred Treehouse and Therapeutic Oasis Facebook pages.

For our local readers, we will be cancelling Tuesday evening meditation. However, I will be practicing at 6 pm so join me from your homes and will be sending Metta to all!

Proceed mindfully with greater perspective, wisdom, and self-control….and please be safe! Peace in this moment….even in the storm…look toward your center.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 32/The Most Important Thing…

In a recent mindfulness coaching session, a client shared with me her new awareness of what is most important in her life. She expressed finding fulfillment each day and a greater sense of purpose, especially when spending her money in meaningful ways.  She uses her dollars toward something that matters, and the very idea of attending to what matters most to her has started to be the idea that matters the most.

This client shared with me her latest purchase from a website called “Who Gives A Crap”, which sells environmentally-friendly toilet paper and other paper products, and even uses recyclable packaging.  This company gives 40% of their profits to help provide toilets for people around the world.  It may seem like a minor detail, but the idea of being a conscious consumer is one way in which this client remembers what is most important.  And as for providing toilets for other people?  It may sound like a “crappy” job to some, but when you do any task with the intention of improving the lives of other people, it feels like a bonus.

As a psychologist treating complex trauma, I work daily with people who are suffering.  Other people often wonder how I can do this type of difficult work.  In fact, some people see it as a terrible occupation. It doesn’t feel this way to me.  I get to wake up every day and live my purpose – which is to reduce suffering and emotional pain.  It feels like a labor of love.  My second love is to teach mindfulness.  By sharing mindfulness with others, I teach someone “to fish rather than simply feeding them a fish”.  In teaching mindfulness through MBSR and MSC, I help other learn the tools to reduce their own discomfort.  This is what matters most to me.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 31/Body Awareness is an Anchor

What exactly is body awareness?  Tolle discusses body awareness as a way to the “inner body” or our life energy.  Yogis call this life energy “Prana”; Buddhists use the word “Chi.” Our minds are often so busy we confuse thinking about and judging our bodies and as being “body aware,” but this is the antithesis of body attunement and awareness. 

Right now take a moment to sense your fingers from the inside out. You can do this with eyes open or closed– it’s not looking at your fingers, but sensing the energy or aliveness that is within each finger and giving your focus to that. If you quiet yourself enough you can actually feel your own essential energy–starting with one small body part and eventually, if the mind doesn’t get in the way, connecting to it throughout your entire body.  
The purpose of this is to connect with a more peaceful, aware state.  If you are agitated with a current circumstance, taking a few breaths and practicing some inner bodyawareness will help you get grounded and clear. This can prevent reactions with others and/or a way to catch negative impulses going on in your own mind; because IT IS beyond the mind. It also helps you be more in tune with your body’s natural desires for food, water, exercise, sleep, play, rest, etc. 

It is amazing how much people push and punish their bodies, demanding  from them more and more, and then become surprised when they crash- physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Accessing body awareness is not just a way to become more present for the bodies’ needs, it’s a way to simply become more aware.  As a practice in itself it creates an inner atmosphere of increased tolerance, kindness, patience, and calm—a surefire way to enhance every circumstance.

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Week 29/Return to Breath: The Five-Minute Breathing Space

Returning attention to the breath offers us a path home when our thoughts and emotions have carried us into the depth of the past or the unknown forest of the future. Sometimes it can simply be a way to bring what Tara Brach has coined, “a sacred pause”, stepping out of autopilot and reconnecting to what is, in this very moment. 
As human beings walking the path of life, we wish for things to be known and predictable.  If we are honest with ourselves, our deepest desires are for things to be ALL GOOD, yet this is not the nature of life. Rather, we are in a web of interconnected forces of positive and negative energies.  These energies will invariably result in all kinds of experiences, including pain and pleasure; joy and depression; love and fear.
Mindfulness training can help us discover equanimity -the ability to be centered and stable despite the changing landscape of experiences. Training in equanimity is similar to preparing for an Iron Man competition rather than a 5K. It requires years of practice, teachings, and an abundance of patience and non-judgment during difficult moments that will test your composure. Developing an anchor to help steady you during the storms of life is one essential tool for building equanimity. Daily formal practice helps to strengthen this connection and paves a short cut that makes returning to it in difficult times much swifter, lending a hand to rebalancing when life side swipes us. 

Another helpful tool to carry with you on the journey of life is the Five-Minute Breathing Space , which can be utilized either at the beginning of formal meditation, as a brief midday meditation, or in a moment of distress.
The Five-Minute Breathing Space (adapted from the Three-Minute Breathing Space found in The Mindful Way Through Depression) is simple 3-step exercise to help you return to your center.
Begin by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture, whether you are sitting or standing.  If possible, close your eyes.  Then, brining your awareness to your inner experience, ask: What is my experience right now?

  • What thoughts are going through the mind?  As best you can, acknowledging thoughts as mental events, perhaps putting them into words.
  • What feelings are here? Turning toward any sense of emotional discomfort or unpleasant feelings, acknowledging their presence.
  • What body sensations are here right now? Perhaps quickly scanning the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing.

Then redirect your attention to focus on the physical sensations of the breath breathing itself.
Move in close to the sense of the breath in the belly…feeling the sensations of the belly wall expanding as the breath comes in…and falling back as the breath goes out.
Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out, using the breathing to anchor yourself in the present.
Now expand the field of your awareness around your breathing so that, in addition to the sensations of the breath, it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression.
If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort, tension, or resistance, zero in on them by breathing into them on each in-breath and breathing out from them on each out-breath as you soften and open.  If you want to, you might say to yourself on the out-breath, “It’s okay…whatever it is, it’s already here: let me feel it.”
As best you can, bring this expanded awareness into the next moments of your day.
You can learn more about mindfulness training in the upcoming orientations at the Sacred Treehouse.  I am also including some suggested reading and a recording to help you on your path:

The Mindful Way Through Depression
The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion 
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
Five-Minute Breath Recording:

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 23: Up, Up, & Away! Mindful Travel & Sightseeing

Summer has arrived and for many readers, this means travel plans, day trips, and sightseeing adventures are planned for the near future.  Traveling can bring out both the best and worst in all of us.  It’s always enriching to experience a new culture or destination, but it takes a lot of advanced preparation.  And once we have arrived, we may have to contend with language barriers, cultural differences, and navigating a new place. Putting all of the pieces together is simultaneously exciting and stressful. 
How can we ensure that we are a part of our journey rather than apart from it?

Before the Trip

Our minds are always planning and we may notice that we create “mind destinations” to go along with our itineraries.  We anticipate how our vacation will unfold and with this anticipation comes expectation.  Attachment to particular activities or timelines creates rigidity.  Mindfulness encourages open awareness, but once we develop attachment, we run the risk of disappointment.
Every step in your experience is important.  Flexibility and openness will allow for a fuller experience.  Don’t over plan activities.  Make sure to leave room in your itinerary for reflection, free time, or even impromptu activity changes. 

During the Trip

Between airports and long commutes to our destination, we may find ourselves grumpy and exhausted.  Mindfulness means listening to what your body really needs and practicing self-care.  Prepare in advance by packing self-care items important to you and make sure to stick to healthy routines:

  • Avoid heavy meals before big travel days
  • Pack your favorite snacks
  • Stay hydrated
  • Bring comfortable clothing and shoes

Once you have arrived at your destination, practice mindfulness in the moment during exploration. After all, it took a lot of work to get to this point!  Smartphones allow us to capture special moments, but also serve as distractions.  Make it a point to experience the environment and culture through your own eyes, instead of through the lens of your phone.  Tips for remaining present and still bring home moments to share with friends include:

  • Allow yourself to snap in the beginning of the activity and learn to refrain from pulling out your phone for every single monkey, bird, or meal.
  • Look out the window – not down at your screen! Edit and upload your photos when you return to the hotel, or better yet, when you return home.
  • Engage in conversations with fellow travelers.  On long commutes, listen to feel-good music or mind-expanding podcasts.
  • Journal about your travels.
  • Bring a book and consider gifting it to another on your journey.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you aren’t fully present, do you think you could achieve that word count?
Even if you plan to explore locally this summer, I recommend incorporating mindfulness into your experience.  We all need vacations and breaks from the norm.  Our brains grow from exposure to novelty.  Whatever your plans are this summer, take time to mindfully step away from the daily grind.
Happy travels!

Photo credit: Lizzie Shutt

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.

Week 22/ What Holds Your Attention?

Take a moment and contemplate the last time you just stopped.  You weren’t checking email, texts, watching TV, doing bills or errands… you were just resting.  Our culture is concerned with “what we do (for a living),” “what we did (on the weekend),” or “what was done (at work).”  But this constant striving, outputting of energy is costing us all. We are tense with our children and spouses, we are short with co-workers, or unable to appreciate our friendships because our “to do” lists seem to be constantly knocking on our inner doors.  This keeps us out of balance.
The masculine energy of action (both men and women have this) is a wonderful driver, but the feminine energy (yes men have this too) of being and receiving is an essential counterpoint to all the doing.  When I’m on silent retreat, sometimes for 10 or more days, I find in the first few days my mind and nervous system seem to be unspooling from daily life- despite daily yoga and meditation. Not everyone is inclined or able to do long retreats, but everyone can take a day for rest.  The tradition of the Sabbath was to pull us away from our constant doing, to rest and contemplate those things beyond daily life.  A day of rest, even if not done weekly can refresh your Soul and help to put things in perspective. As the old saying goes, “no one wishes on their death bed they’d put more hours in at the job.“ 
What we wish for is we’d taken more opportunities to explore, attended to the little moments of sweetness along the way, and had given and received more love.  On a Soul level we know this to be true but our mind is always pushing.  Try on a few hours of just resting.  Completely unplug and either alone or with someone dear to you just stop, listen and notice what is right in front of you.  As William Blake says:

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour.”

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Week 21/Ride the Wave

How many times have you felt battered by the waves?  We often find ourselves struggling in that metaphorical sea of waves – strong emotions, unexpected events, illness, and difficult relationships.  They ebb and flow just like the waves of the sea.  And just like a surfer in the ocean, we try to navigate them skillfully.  We try to keep our heads above water.

In our minds, we expect to be expert navigators right from the beginning.  What many of us fail to realize is that it takes years of practice to build the skills needed to manage our emotions and the external events that life throws at us. As a Mindfulness-based psychotherapist trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I wholeheartedly embrace this quote, yet at times it seems impossible to achieve.

Just as a surf instructor would not send a beginner out into a 10-foot swell, I would also not expect a novice mindfulness student to stay centered in the midst of an emotional storm. Even the most expert teachers lose their balance and get torn up by the coral reef of real life. There is real risk involved in surfing the waves of emotion, including the significant risk of feeling pain and discomfort. No one pops up on a monster wave, staying upright and focused, without significant training. And sadly, this is where the metaphor ends. We can opt out of the ocean if surfing doesn’t appeal to us, but we cannot opt out of our emotions without serious consequences. 

Do you want to learn how to surf the emotional waves of life? If yes, start small and experiment with the following WAVE:

Welcome: Welcome feelings and reactions; allow yourself to open to sensations, thoughts, and urges without acting.

Attend: By giving full attention to this experience moment to moment, not reliving the past or fortune telling the future. Stay present with the full experience by naming and describing what is happening inside the body and mind.

Validate: Identify the truth in your experience (not the absolute truth!) by understanding the thoughts, beliefs, and physiological prompts that resulted in the emotion arising.

Exhale: Let go of the energy created by the emotion, or any resistance of feeling the emotion. Allow the body to soften and settle with exactly what is happening in the present moment.

To become a skillful surfer of emotions, repeat the WAVE over and over. With practice, you will grow stronger and more skillful, enjoying some of the grace and freedom that comes from surfing the big waves.

WARNING: START SMALL. If you find that you are struggling, seek out an instructor (therapist, mindfulness teacher, sponsor, or loved one) to help you conquer the monster waves.  Expect to wipe out, but also be sure to pop back up.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 20/Interconnectedness: My Soul Recognizes Your Soul

Jack Kornfield, a teacher and author in the Vipassana movement, acknowledges in the above-mentioned quote a phenomenon called “limbic resonance”, a state in which two mammals become attuned to each other’s emotional states.  Modern neuroscience and the neurobiology of attachment are beginning to uncover the importance of interconnectedness. Combined with psychology, we now know the ancient practice of mindfulness combined with loving awareness has the ability to enhance not only our wellbeing, but also that of our fellow human.

We all have a need to be seen and cared about without threat or judgment. In fact, this need is critical to developing a sense of safety in relationships, as well as a sense of belonging and being loved. We are seeing record numbers of individuals suffering from depression and anxiety. As a therapist and mindfulness practitioner, I feel both deeply concerned and committed to understanding the causes of this profound sadness. A sense of separateness or alienation from other living beings is often at the root of this deepest form of human suffering. Despite the wisdom of unity, that all beings are connected, (even modern quantum physics is confirming this as truth), many people carry a felt sense of disconnection and loneliness.

For those that do not struggle with this particular issue, I invite you to acknowledge that others do feel this way.  Using our compassion and understanding, we can validate the experience of another that is suffering.  We can actually see their suffering, acknowledge that we see it and sense how it is the same suffering that all humans feel if they are abandoned, chronically lonely, or feel unloved and unseen.  When we take time to see others completely, just as they are, we are offering our love and compassion. This offering vibrates in the hearts of others (similar to the violin in the quote) and creates a sense connection. This offers a glimpse of hope.

For those who do feel profoundly disconnected, lonely, or unloved, there is a path of freedom from this suffering. Although it may not be visible from your current vantage point, if you begin to take small mindful steps in your daily life, you will begin to feel some hope. This felt sense of hope is not freedom, but encouragement to take up the path of daily practice.

A teacher once taught that our paths are all littered with the debris of being human. Some piles are enormous and obscure the truth, also known as the path. These piles take great effort and help to clear.  This initial clearing can come in many forms, including psychotherapy, spiritual devotion, and meditation training. Sadly, one can live a lifetime under piles of rubbish, blinded from seeing the signs all around them pointing to this perennial truth:

We are all connected. If the pile feels too big, too much, or impossible, just take the first step and get help and support.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 19/SAVOR: Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

After maintaining a consistent mindfulness practice,  you may begin to notice what feels like a slowing-down of time. Yes! Like time is actually moving slower! This, in fact, was the first and maybe even the most precious gift I received in my early days of practicing meditation regularly.  What a joy to have more time for things … imagine how much more I could accomplish!
What accompanied this sense of slowing-down, though, were an insatiable curiosity, a desire for stillness, and an overall sense of peace.  I found that while I felt time moving more slowly, I didn’t want to fold more laundry or organize more of my garage … rather, I wanted to see, hear, smell and feel the world around me in 3-D technicolor … I wanted to immerse myself in the beauty of others, nature and of all of life itself. I began to allow myself to drink in the freckled cheeks of my children and to linger in the scent of my lover’s freshly shaven face. Rather than devouring my meals in front of the TV, I began to deconstruct the complex flavors I’d spun together and reveled in the multi-sensory experience of my food. This desire to savor my daily experiences has led me to discovering so much extraordinary in the ordinary. And even more, I have begun to see opportunity where there seemed only roadblocks, connection where conflict might have been, and calm where there may once have been storm.
Savoring allows us to not just be fully present in the moment-to-moment experiences of life, but encourages us to lean into these experiences in order to encode memories for later retrieval. Additionally, research shows that humans tend to adapt to positive experiences really quickly, leading to the well-known “honeymoon” effect of intense joy about a joyful or positive event that quickly wears off.  When we attend intently and mindfully to these moments, science says we can extend these honeymoon phases of life, leading to more joy. It is the attention-grabbing nature of savoring what is pleasant that increases contentment and gratitude. And with our powerful tendency towards remembering and creating stories around negative experiences (aka the negativity bias) it is all the more valuable for us to take that extra few moments to wrap ourselves up in the beauty that is right now.
I encourage you to take the time to savor in your day-to-day life too, whether you practice mindfulness regularly or not.  Use this mnemonic to help you:


Slow Down — intentionally move more slowly through your day when you can, allowing for the opportunity to notice more of what you encounter.
Attend — bring your awareness and attention to whatever you are doing or observing.  Use your senses to explore the experience fully.
Value — acknowledge the extraordinary in the experience and how your being present for it brings value to your life.
Open — allow for a sense of openness and willingness to see things from a new perspective or vantage point.
Reflect — once the experience has passed or ended, take an opportunity to call to mind what you experienced and see if you notice similar emotions arise.

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.