Tag: mindfulness

image of brain with text change negative thoughts


As I walked downstairs early one morning to fix tea, for no apparent reason one negative thought after another arouse in my mind in rapid fire succession. I had just woken up, slept well and with every step I took I was negative, critical and judgmental. “My kitchen is so ugly.  The cabinets are filthy.  My house is a mess.”  Negative thinking is what the mind does sometimes. Left unchecked, and allowed to run without constraint negative thoughts have a huge impact on our mental and emotional health

Step 1 – Recognize Negative Thoughts 

In order to change a negative thought, one must first be aware that she/he is having a negative thought. Mental awareness is the first essential step. If one’s mind is engaged in negative thinking one must recognize the negativity. Negative thought patterns may be obvious or inconspicuous. For example, thinking “I hate myself” is an obvious and strong example of a negative thought. “I never get what I want” is a negative thought, but more inconspicuous, and therefore harder to recognize. Negative thought patterns often organize around a particular subject, for example, self-worth.  As we practice mindfulness of the mind, we will notice the obvious and “loud” negative thoughts, but as awareness grows, we can notice inconspicuous thoughts, beliefs and perceptions as well. 

Step 2 – Pannatti Insight

The second step, pannatti insight, is a mindfulness practice. Pannatti mindfulness practice is simply naming your mental process. The mind can engage in many processes such as planning, day-dreaming, complaining, etc. Pannatti insight recognizes what the mind is doing and names the mental process. Gone unchecked, negative thinking patterns gain momentum. The thought “I hate myself” is followed by, “I never do anything right. I can’t even name one person who loves me” etc. On and on the negative thinking continues, with the negativity gaining intensity and becoming more irrational.  Pannatti insight puts the brakes on the mental process of negative thinking. 

To use pannatti insight, when one has a negative thought such as “I hate myself”, they would then say to them self, “negative thinking” “negative thinking”. When the next negative thought arises “I never do anything right” one might say, “wrong view, wrong view”. Maybe you have been making some mistakes lately, but it is not possible that you “Never” do anything right. Pannatti insight keeps us from believing the irrational nature of our negative thoughts, and objectively recognizes the thought as just another mental process that the mind is currently engaged in. 

Step 3 – See The Impermanent Nature Of Negative Thoughts

The final helpful tip for changing negative thoughts is to see that your thoughts are impermanent. Like a constantly flowing river, your thoughts change moment to moment. If you have a negative thought, it is helpful to know that in time, the negative thought will be replaced by a different thought. Just give it time. Moment to moment your beliefs, perceptions and mental processes are changing.  This is how the mind works. Knowing that thoughts are not stable and permanent helps us to not endorse or have buy-in to negative thinking.

I have used all these techniques to help control emotional eating. I have a sweet tooth and it seems once I start eating sweets it is hard to stop. My justification for having another piece of pie contains a subtle flavor of self-pity such as  “I never do anything nice for myself”.  I use pannatti insight to see this subtle form of self-pity. When the thought arises of “I want another piece of pie” I say internally “craving, craving”. The justification narrative will stop for a moment, and then it starts again. “I never do anything nice for myself” I recognize “wrong view” or “self-pity” .  

I have come to really enjoy seeing the impermanent nature of my thoughts which helps to turn off negativity. I recognize that as I have gotten older, my likes have become dislikes and my dislikes have become likes. With curiosity I watch my mind and think “Well, that was an interesting thought. I wonder what the mind is going to come up with next”. I don’t have as much buy-in or believe the negative thought because I know in a moment, the mind will come up with another new thought.   

Additional information related to mindfulness practices to improve mental and emotional health can be found in Zenergy Mindfulness available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Zenergy-Mindfulness-Intersection-Buddhist-Psychology/dp/1641112301.Book Cover Zenergy Mindfulness

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woman sitting in mindfulness

Mindfulness Is Much More Than Present Moment Awareness.

It is rather unfortunate that mindfulness has become trendy. The watered-down definition I hear most often is that mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness does indeed encompass present moment awareness as opposed to thinking about the past or worrying about the future. But by that definition, one could say that a shoplifter is mindful. I would imagine that a shoplifter does not want to be arrested and is very much in the present moment. However, because shop-lifting lacks integrity and morality, it would not be an accurate application of mindfulness to say you are a mindful shoplifter.  Mindfulness practice is much deeper than just present moment awareness. It has the qualities of peacefulness, morality, and integrity as well as insight and wisdom.

Got Peacefulness?

Mindfulness contains peacefulness and peacefulness contains mindfulness. Another reason the shoplifter is not mindful is that she is not peaceful. Avoiding arrest sounds like the antithesis to peacefulness.

There are many techniques to help establish mindfulness, but they all bring us to a place that establishes a sense of grounding and ease. For many people, the greatest sense of relief comes from the mind slowing down. Mindfulness  puts brakes on the racing mind. We relax as the body and mind are reunited in the here and now.

Morality & Integrity

When the energy of mindfulness begins to get stronger, our actions, thoughts, and words are moral. We don’t hurt one other. We don’t hurt ourselves. Mindful morality and integrity cultivate self-care and propels us to use the right actions and efforts to care for our precious human body. The gentleness that organically grows from our practice propels us to take care of others that are suffering. We become generous and give of ourselves and share our resources when we feel peaceful and relaxed. Fearfulness and anxiety, on the other hand, is conducive to rigidness and tightness.

Insight & Wisdom

When mindfulness is firmly established, and the mind has settled down we begin to have insight and understanding. Mindfulness is like a mirror. It reflects the image of our true nature.  We begin to understand ourselves very deeply. Subtle intentions, beliefs, and perceptions that are hidden in the deep crevices of our subconscious mind rise to the conscious mind. We can also begin to understand others with deeper insight and wisdom. Your suffering and my suffering begin to look more alike than different. We begin to understand the influence of this thing to that thing. We understand how what we consume, with our eyes, mouth, ears affect our self, others and the planet. We begin to see that your suffering has the same qualities as my suffering.

I hope this blog has helped to deepen the understanding of mindfulness. It is quite profound!

If you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!

In peace, diane

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Buddhist engaged in mindful consumption of meal

Mindful Consumption

I started my journey of mindful consumption almost 10 years ago after reading the following words by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

“When I drink my tea mindfully, I can see the universe in my tea.”

I had no understanding of what the words meant. At best, I was only able to sense a profoundly deep nature of such a practice. Although I did not understand the words, when I read them, something inside me woke up. I knew at a very deep level that I had found something I had been searching for.

The practice of mindful  consumption revolutionizes. It has the capacity to revolutionize you and it has the capacity to revolutionize our world. I drink my tea differently than I did 10 years ago. Before I practiced mindful consumption, I practiced mind-lessness and forgetfulness. I would drink my tea in the morning while checking my email, making a shopping list and watching the news all at the same time. I did not taste or enjoy my tea. In our fast-paced world, we proudly, call this “multi-tasking”.

Consume in a manner that grows your capacity for love and peace.

Being proud of multi-tasking is ignorant. It is the same as being proud of not showing up to live your own life.

Where is your attention when you are multi-tasking? Scattered. Nowhere. Everywhere. My tea is gone and I have no recollection of drinking it. I never tasted it and did not enjoy the experience. When we live mindlessly, we grow a sense of boredom or dissatisfaction with our lives because we are only giving it half of our attention.  The act of mindlessness and forgetfulness then becomes habituated. After beginning my practice of mindfulness, and my awareness grew, I realized most of my consuming was mindless. I would look down at an empty bag of potato chips, and not remember eating one bite. Everything thing we do with mindlessness has a karmic effect. If I eat potato chips mindlessly, the consequences are not so big. Only my cholesterol level and my mass. I don’t feel well afterwards and I gain weight.

Other types of consumption done mindlessly have big karmic effects. I began to have a deeper awareness of all types of consumption. I realized my ears, eyes, mouth, and mind all consumed mindlessly.  What we watch on TV or read is consumption. The images your children see on video games is eye and mind consumption. Consumption of trashy and violent movies or video games desensitizes us to the images of violence which go into our consciousness.

When we are listening, we are consuming. When you are listening to resolve a misunderstanding with another, be mindful of how you are listening. If your listening has the qualities of impatience, anger and judgement, there will be karmic effects to the outcome of your conversation. If you can listen with patience, peace, and openness, there will be a different outcome.

Man and woman arguing. Mindful consumption includes mindful listening
Mindful listening changes the outcome of difficult relationships. It has the qualities of patience and openness.

We can either choose to consume in a manner that supports or un-supports our mindfulness practice. We can consume material that makes us smarter and refreshed or more ignorant and unconscious.

be in peace – diane

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Mindful Christmas Shopping

Of all the clinical interventions that I might use, I find mindfulness to be one of the most effective for clients. Using Mindfulness vs. not, is akin to using a navigation system or not. Mindfulness is a constant gentle awareness of where we are and where we are going. It prevents us from getting lost. Even in situations like an overcrowded shopping mall.

While Christmas shopping is a buzz-kill for many of us, you can get transcend the manic energy of it all by practicing Mindful Christmas Shopping.

These tips are useful to strengthen a mindfulness practice during the holidays.

  • KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetie

The key to cultivating mindfulness is simply practice, practice, and more practice. When a person is learning mindfulness, they will often slip in and out of awareness frequently, especially in the beginning. The more they practice they longer they will stay in a state of mindfulness, and the deeper their practice will become.  It is that simple.

  • Practice mindfulness during daily activities such as eating, walking, or driving.

You do not have to be sitting in lotus position in an ashram to practice mindfulness. Try to practice regularly  throughout the day. And Yes, you can even practice Mindful Christmas shopping while you are at the mall

  • Come Back

Be present. The most valuable energy you can give to yourself, relationships, and your work, is your full presence. Multi-tasking does not bring right action or right effort to most situations. It does bring scattered-ness and impatience.

  • Follow your breath. Mindful Christmas Shopping Instruction

Unite your body with your mind. Through mindful breathing to return to the present moment.

  • Use a phone app.

Several mindfulness apps have been made available which can be quite helpful.  My favorite is a mindfulness bell which chimes at specified intervals  to remind me to come back to the present moment.

Mindfulness strategies could be useful to curb any compulsive or obsessive behavior. To apply mindfulness  to  curb compulsive spending an individual might find these strategies useful:

  • Know when you are in a trance.

Being unconsciousness or unaware lends itself to acting on urges in a trance-like state. To be fully in the present moment, one is aware of their actions, perceptions, and feelings.  Know when the energy of compulsive behaviors  rise up. A conscious awareness of the unwanted urges is a critical first step to change.

  • Are you a puppet and your emotions the puppeteer?

Identify the emotional levers manipulating the behavior. Compulsive behaviors often point to unpleasant feelings we are trying to deny or minimize. Feelings that could be a precursor to compulsive spending include boredom, anxiety, or sadness.

  • This too will pass

Realize the nature of Impermanence. Mindfulness points to the impermanent nature of all phenomena. For example, our likes become dislikes and our dislikes become likes. Realize the impermanent nature of desire and attachment. The next purchase that we think we have to have in just a matter of time will become the thing you no longer want.

  • Attaching ethical guidelines to your mindful life

Understand your consumption. Consumer spending is as much an expression of consumption as what you had for breakfast. Who or what are you supporting through your next purchase? Understand that our spending habits influence economics, the environment, and human rights. Consider passing on those purchases which have ridiculously wasteful packaging or limit spending with companies who have notoriously working conditions for their employees.

be in peace – diane

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Top 10 Suggestions for Good Mental Health

Top 10 Suggestions for Mental Health
Top 10 Suggestions for Mental Health

Top 10 Suggestions for Good Mental Health

Good mental health must be cultivated. There is a direct correlation between the time, effort and discipline one uses to cultivate good mental health and one’s actual mental health.

My top 10 list for cultivating good mental health falls into three basic categories : Behavior Modification, Skills Mastery, Self Mastery

Behavior Modification  –  Positive changes in the realm of physical health may also improve mental health.

10.  Exercise – Releases hormones and neurotransmitters associated with positive emotions.   

9  Healthy Diet  – Not only does a healthy body need good nutrition, so does a healthy mind. Our relationship with food is also significant and includes body-image, issues of control and emotional eating.  

8  Hobby  – Spending time engaged in activities which bring us joy fosters well-being.  

Skills Mastery  – A few basic skills can be of a tremendous help in relationships and self growth

7  Relationships Skills – Many skills such as assertive communication, active listening and attending to relationships cultivate the loving relationships where we find support, validation and a sense of belonging  

6  Take in the Good – According to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson we have a biological and evolutionary propensity to be negative. Our ancestors had to remember the location of the hostile tribes, not necessarily the location of the gorgeous waterfalls in order to stay alive.  To stay positive, notice the positive. Stay with them and try to enhance the experience.

5  Learn to Set Boundaries- Most of us have  a tendency of either passive or negative energy when we set boundaries.  Learning assertive behaviors and communication is empowering and fosters confidence and a sense of control.

Self Mastery – These skills allow us to master our thoughts, emotions and responses to our environment

4. Energy Hygiene – We are energetic beings. The intensity of negative emotions can be  diminished, and positive emotions can be easily instilled by learning and using simple energy hygiene exercises such as Emotional Freedom Tapping. 

3   Know thyself  – What have you packed away in your ego? We all have something. Is it an inflated (egotistical) or deflated (low self esteem) sense of self ? Discovering how you define self is a fascinating journey. Yet, the ego remains unconscious to many of us, even though it defines how we see and respond to the world.

2  Mindfulness – When we stay in the present moment, we touch life.  We become aware of the miracles around us. We begin to think more clearly and can subsequently respond to our environment in a more adaptive manner.

1  Meditation –   Is the deepest of mindfulness practices. As we focus on the breathe we observe our  thoughts as they arise. This is different from attaching to our thoughts. Meditation also generates  a sense of peace, improves concentration, and slows down racing thought patterns.  

with blessings – diane

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Emotional Health

A Mindful State of Mind

Emotional health can be greatly improved when we practice mindfulness skills. Earlier I discussed the art of staying in the present moment  to sustain mindfulness. Understanding the nature of impermanence also invites a mindful state of mind.  After all, all things are impermanent. The feeling you have right now will soon be changing. Sadness may give way to joy, which may give way to contentment, which may give way to sadness. The thought you are having right now will soon be replaced by another thought. Your body is also changing in this very moment. All of our material possessions are impermanent by nature.

Emotional Regulation

When we keep the idea of impermanence in our consciousness our emotional health becomes better regulated. We cease to feel disappointment when the things we want, crave and desire come to an end. We also realize that our suffering will eventually evolve, in some way. (Hopefully the evolution will result in growth, but this is dependent on how we cope, our resources,  our personality, impulses  etc.)

Cling Much?

A reflection on impermanence gives rise to an understanding of how clinging can be detrimental to our emotional health. An attempt, assumption, or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. Likewise an assumption or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. These delusions gives rise to emotions such as sadness, disappointment, resentment and anger.

The Merge

When we are present and aware of this particular moment we also realize that this moment is unique and special just as it is.  And when presence and the true nature of impermanence are merged together in our consciousness, moment to moment, our emotional health, I believe, will become infused with a greater sense of peace, understanding and contentment.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.


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Emotional Health

Mindfully in Control

Emotional health can be impacted by many factors. Some of these factors may be outside of our control. However, much of our emotional health is very much in our control. When we are feeling depressed, anxious, or angry our emotional health is suffering, and we feel out of control. We then react to our environment with irrational behaviors, thoughts and impulses. As I expressed in a previous blog post, attending to our emotional health need not be predicated on extravagant or expensive expenditures of money or time. Joy, playfulness, spontaneity and peace can be found in simple pleasures such as observing a beautiful sunset, taking a peaceful walk, playing with your pet, listening to music, or laughing with your partner.

As Sir Paul once said “Let it be”

Emotional health can be greatly enhanced by learning mindfulness skills. One important component of mindfulness skills includes learning to be in the present moment. Observing the wonder of a beautiful sunset is lost on us when we are constantly in our heads criticizing, analyzing and comparing.  A critique such as: “The sunset would be better with more pink, and less orange” is not allowing yourself to enjoy the sunset as it is. “The sunset is beautiful but not as pretty as the one last week” is comparing. How often does evaluative comparisons hinder our wellbeing? To enjoy the sunset, let it be, and allow yourself to be.  If we allow ourselves to just observe what is, without attaching a thought, analysis or critique of what is before us, our emotions, quite effortlessly are calmed and we feel more at peace.

Emotional Health In This moment

When we are engaged mindfully, we make space for emotional control and emotional health. The presence of mindfulness exist in a space by itself. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space with re-living the past. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space as worrying about the future. Being in the present moment is one of the core skills of mindfulness practice that lends itself to wellness and emotional health.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.


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