By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2016
The spectrum of reasons why people become interested in meditation is vast. Choosing to meditate is a personal choice, and depends on many factors. If you are considering trying meditation, maybe you don’t know why you should meditate, other than the fact that mindfulness and meditation articles are everywhere in the popular media, encouraging you to do it.
After teaching over 1,000 people to meditate, the most popular reason people want to learn to meditate has become clear to me: stress management. For those who stick with the practice, what they soon realize is that the benefits are many and often wonderfully surprising.
It is challenging to succinctly define the benefits of meditation, because everyone is different and will benefit in their own unique way. Different types of meditation can produce different results. However, one thing is clear to me: if you cultivate the practice of meditation and make it part of your lifestyle toolkit, the more benefit you will see.
Simply put, here is why people meditate:
- To better deal with busy and stressful lives.
- To create more joy in life.
- For spiritual growth. Meditation does not need to be a religious or spiritual practice, but can be a beautiful practice to cultivate a connection with something bigger than yourself, whatever your belief system may be.
- To improve their health. When the mind is calm, the body is calm, and it creates an environment for the body to heal. The multitude of health benefits has been demonstrated in recent years, and continues to be actively researched. In fact, The Harvard Business Review is now recommending that health insurers cover wellness and prevention-oriented therapies that are both low-cost and evidence-based, as both yoga and meditation. See: “Now and Zen: How mindfulness can change your brain and improve your health”
If you are already a meditator, keep observing your experiences in meditation and how it affects your daily life. If you are new to meditation, be open and curious, and learn to observe how it benefits you.
Wendy Quan, founder of The Calm Monkey, is the industry leader helping organizations implement mindfulness meditation programs and combining change management techniques to create personal and organizational change resiliency. She trains passionate meditators to become workplace facilitators through workshops and online training.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Her client list includes individuals from around the world and organizations such as Google. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2016
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! November marks the start of UBC Thrive on campus (the eighth year to be exact) and the culmination of six months of planning for our small-but-mighty Thrive Committee.
The goal of Thrive is to encourage staff, faculty and students to find small and manageable ways to build positive mental health skills every day. It can be challenging to stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges but we all have the ability to improve our mental health. Thrive’s events and activities aim to help everyone build skills and learn about resources that promote mental health.
You can find a full list of the week’s events here but I wanted to highlight some key ways that you can get involved:
Attend the Thrive Kick-Off Celebration: Drop by the square outside the bookstore on October 31 from 8:30am-11:30am for free drinks, stress balls, snacks, live music and more.
*Special highlight* Join Professor Ono at 9:45am as UBC becomes one of the first universities in the world to formally commit to university-wide health and wellbeing by signing the Okanagan Charter.
UBC’s Largest Zumba Class: Join us on Nov. 4 for this free lunch-hour fitness class hosted by UBC Recreation. Short Zumba sessions will be running every 15 minutes along with other activities, snacks and more!
Take the #Thrive365 Photo Challenge: Unable to make one of the events? Participate in the #Thrive365 Photo Challenge from anywhere by posting the ways that you thrive each day of the week. Click here for full challenge details.
Ultimately, building positive mental health is about supporting those around us in making small changes, working to reduce stigma around mental illness and by trying something new for your mental health today.
Here are some other ideas that you can try right now!
5 Ways To Beat Stress This Week
1) Watch this 3 minute TED talk: “Try something new for 30 days”
2) Take 5: Take a deep breath in through your nose as you count to five. Release the breath through your mouth as you count to five. Repeat this exercise five times to re-focus, calm nerves or for a short mental break.
3) Make a quick gratitude list: Grab a post it and make a list of 4-6 things or people for which you are grateful. Expressing gratitude and thanks can produce a wealth of health benefits.
4) Take a free online resilience course: com has a wealth of online learning modules, including topics like managing stress, mindfulness and resilience. Try watching one lesson each day and you will be done in no time!
5) Get up and stretch: Take a 30 second stretch break or try one of the following stretches to get your blood flowing and to give your eyes a rest.
This month I encourage you to try one new thing to beat stress and boost your ability to take on new challenges.
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged breath, challenge, events, gratitude, Happiness, mental health, stress management, stretching, thrive, Thrive week, UBC | 1 Response
By Guest Contributor on April 5, 2016
Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Here is a very easy and feel-good breath meditation you can do anytime during your day when you can capture a quiet moment for yourself.
- First, set your intention to sit quietly for a moment. Turn your attention inwards to your body and give yourself permission to ‘be on your own’ for a few moments.
- Gently close your eyes and lips. Relax the muscles in your face, including your jaw muscles.
- Now, observe your breathing. Notice your breath. Just observe, but don’t judge your breath (ie: Don’t think ‘my breathing is so shallow or jumpy’. Instead, just notice it without the internal dialogue).
- Now, ask yourself: ‘What type of breathing would feel really good right now?’.
- Long, slow deep inhalations will invigorate.
- Long, slow deep exhalations will relax.
- Select one of these, based on what your mind and body need in this particular moment. Or, pick your own type of breathing.
- Do this for a minute or two, or as long as your time permits. You can even change your breathing and play with different breaths moment to moment.
- When you’re done, just take a few natural breaths before completing this mindful moment of breathing.
This is a beautiful breath meditation that allows the freedom to provide what your mind and body need in the moment.
Enjoy this special break in your day.
Wendy Quan is a certified organizational change manager who has created an innovative way to build personal and organizational change resiliency through meditation and mindfulness. Wendy has two published papers on this subject with the worldwide Association of Change Management Professionals, speaks at conferences, and has taught at UC Berkeley. Wendy is a leader in the change management community and founded the Vancouver Change Management Practitioner’s community of practice. Her career has also included management in human resources, organizational development, coaching and information technology.
By Guest Contributor on October 29, 2014
Guest Contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
Stress is an inevitable part of our day-to-day life. Many of us pay a lot of attention to the types of stressors we are dealing with at any given time. What can be more important than the particular stressors is the manner in which we cope with those stressors. We all engage in a range of short- and long-term coping strategies, many of which we may not even be aware. Sometimes, these coping strategies can be helpful (e.g., giving yourself permission to not have your home immaculately clean; calling a friend to vent after a stressful day at work).
Other times, our coping strategies can be unhelpful (e.g., ingesting alcohol or drugs to help yourself sleep; procrastinating on a difficult assignment). Sometimes, we can only determine in hindsight which strategies work best for us. They may seem to make sense at the time, but eventually it becomes clear that they can lead to unsatisfactory results. It can be helpful to increase your awareness of your various coping strategies, and then actively work to implement the most effective strategies during particularly stressful times.
My MOST EFFECTIVE Coping Strategies Include…
My LEAST EFFECTIVE Coping Strategies Include…
Make a plan for knowing when you are engaging in ineffective coping strategies, and find a way to remind yourself to increase the use of effective coping strategies, especially during times of increased stress.
Reminder: UBC staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist. Click here for further information.
This article is adapted in part from resources Dr. Samra has created for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace (http://www.gwlcentreformentalhealth.com/mmhm/emotion.html).
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra