By Miranda Massie on September 13, 2016
My two-week personal meditation challenge got off to a great start last month: on day 1, I forgot to meditate.
I know that no one’s perfect, but I can’t say that I was feeling particularly confident about my prospects when I couldn’t even remember to start.
This summer was a difficult one for me. I lost a very dear loved one after a year-long battle with cancer. The grief I felt, not only in grappling with the diagnosis but after his passing, was suffocating. I came face to face with aspects of myself that I never knew existed, and my normally joyful heart was filled with anger and pain. After the difficult realization that denial was not going to get me through, I looked for other (positive) coping mechanisms, one of which was meditation.
So here I was, embarking on a two-week challenge with the goal of meditating for 5-10 minutes each day, hoping that it would help me.
I picked a free app called Stop, Breathe & Think. It’s very simple and offers meditation lessons, a variety of meditations to choose from, and a progress tracker. I like it because you can chose the theme of your guided meditation (falling asleep, engaging your senses, change, kindness) and each one ranges between 4 and 7 minutes. Easy, right?
Day 2…I forgot again.
At this point, I could see the humour in my situation: I was not even mindful enough to remember to complete my daily meditation. But then, most mindfulness and meditation practices encourage you to accept your faults and foibles and to try again. So I did.
I managed to complete 6 out of the 14 days of formal meditation, which is not even a passing grade, but I learned to laugh at myself without judging, for which I give myself an A+.
I know that meditation is not a cure-all, but it had the ability to help soften the hard edges that life threw at me, if by no other way than strengthening my resolve while softening the soul.
It was challenging to get into a habit of daily meditation, particularly because my schedule varies so much each day. After week 1, I started to set reminders in my calendar, which helped.
I also noticed that once I was doing it, though sporadically, that I started to incorporate more informal ways of meditation and mindfulness into my day such as deep breathing, taking five, and being more present in my surroundings.
This month, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and your colleagues. September can be a busy and stressful time on campus and we can sometimes forget to be patient, kind, and forgiving.
And if meditation and mindfulness isn’t for you, I hope that you discover coping strategies that will bring you strength throughout the year. Feel free to share some of your favourite strategies below.
All my best,
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2016
How can some people bounce back from hardship or remain in challenging situations while others get disconcerted and remain affected for a longer period of time? Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, and other significant sources of stress. Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary and people regularly demonstrate resilience. Having strong resiliency skills doesn’t remove challenging or distressed feelings, but rather can help reduce the time it takes to return to “normal” functioning. Luckily, resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Several achievable factors are associated with resilience, including:
- Having caring and supportive relationships
- The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
- A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
- Skills in communication and problem solving
- The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses
Developing or enhancing resilience is a completely personal journey. Here are a few general tips to consider when developing your personal resiliency:
Make connections. Having a good support systems involving positive relationships is crucial as is accepting help from those who care about you and your wellbeing. Read more about improving the quality of your relationships.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You may not be able to control or avoid stressful events from happening, but you can change your outlook and how you respond to these events. Find out how you can maintain your inner strength amidst life’s daily challenges.
Accept change. It is part of living. This may change your course of action or make certain goals no longer attainable. Learn how to deal with the stress resulting from change and how to adapt and respond effectively to changes.
Move towards your goals. Learn the SMART guide to goal setting.
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as possible rather than passively ignoring problems and stresses. Check out some tips for great decision making.
Seize opportunities for self-discovery. Learn to meditate or try a new team sport or hobby.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Read more on constructing confidence and building self-belief.
Maintain a perspective view on things. Avoid making difficult situations a bigger deal than they actually are. View stressful events in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. Being optimistic about the future allows you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Instead of worrying and fearing for the worst, visualize a hopeful outcome. Learn ways to nourish your inner optimist.
Take care of yourself. Read more on how to improve your relationship with yourself.
Explore Mindfulness and Meditation at UBC and consider enrolling in the upcoming programs!
30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
Learn the core skills of mindfulness through evidence-based online training. The 30-day Challenge does not involve a formal meditation practice but rather, teaches mindfulness-in-cation for everyday life.
How it works
- 5-10 minutes per day
- Online, anytime, any device
- 30 consecutive days
- Get to invite a buddy to join you for only $25
Key impact areas
- Health and wellbeing
- Increased performance
- Teamwork and conflict resolution
For those looking for a deeper understanding of mindfulness and developing a meditation practice. An in-person educational program modelling off Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
How it works
- Six-week, in-person training
- Meet for 1.5 hours once a week in a small supportive group led by Dr. Geoff Soloway
- Half day weekend retreat
- Daily home assignments for 15-30 minutes a day
Key impact areas
- Stress reduction
- Physical and mental wellbeing
- Effectiveness, teamwork, communication skills
- Focuses on integrating mindfulness in the workplace
Additional resources on building resiliency:
- More steps to building resiliency in your life
- Tips for balance and talking about resiliency
- Workplace and career resiliency
By Miranda Massie on August 5, 2015
Fitting in Fitness is a series for staff and faculty that shares tips and hints on how to increase physical activity levels. This series is brought to us by Courtney Chan, a third-year student in UBC’s School of Kinesiology.
Here are Courtney’s tips for August!
Courtney Chan is a third-year kinesiology student at the University of British Columbia. When not studying or working at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Courtney enjoys running and curling, and has a secret passion for line dancing. To her, the most important part of fitness is feeling good about yourself and having fun!