Can Mindfulness Help You to Stop Drinking?

Regain Freedom with Mindfulness Practice 

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction or are just wondering if you have a drinking problem, consider mindfulness practice as a way to free yourself from dependence on alcohol.

I’ve long believed and taught my clients that it’s possible to develop and bring mindfulness into all activities of daily life, both internal and external. Keri Wiginton’s recent article in The Washington Post reveals how she learned to focus more on the present moment and was able to break her unwanted drinking habit.

Keri credits mindfulness techniques with identifying what triggered her cravings. By observing those behaviors in a non-judging way and being in the moment with those cravings, she was able to stop “pairing stress-relief with Shiraz” and felt fewer urges to use alcohol.

Benefits she experienced from mindfulness practice include

  • fewer urges to use alcohol
  • feeling more present in the evenings
  • uninterrupted sleep
  • no morning mood swings

Her results are not unique, but have been duplicated in controlled studies. As she notes,

Practicing just 11 minutes of mindfulness — like paying attention to your breath — helped heavy drinkers cut back, according to a study out of University College London. Brewer showed that using awareness techniques were more effective than the gold-standard behavioral treatment at getting people to quit smoking.

Drinking too much isn’t the only habit that can be relieved with these techniques. Any behavior that gets in the way of your happiest life could benefit from mindfulness practice.

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm

Lifetime Achievement Award for Dr. Pamm

The Marquis Who’s Who has presented Pamela Cappetta, Ed.D., with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Dr. Cappetta celebrates many years’ experience in her professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her field. Read more about Dr. Pamm’s achievements and recent honor.

When Teachers Learn Mindfulness, Students Win

UVA Study: Mindfulness Improves Classroom Climate

It’s no secret that many teachers suffer stress from being overworked, devalued, and underpaid. And teachers aren’t the only ones feeling stressed-out in the classroom today: When teachers feel pressured, students can easily become stressed themselves, impacting their well-being and their academic achievement, as well. 

New evidence strongly indicates, however, that mindfulness training for teachers can create a classroom environment that’s more emotionally positive, says a new study from University of Virginia researchers. The study was reported in “Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” from the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

“If you’re a teacher, you can’t walk out while you’re teaching; and if you’re a student, you can’t walk out, either—it puts a level of pressure on teachers that I don’t think many people recognize,” said Patricia Jennings, the lead author of the study, which involved 224 teachers from 36 elementary schools.

Teachers in the study were given instruction through CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education), a mindfulness-based program designed to teach awareness, stress reduction, and emotional skills. And results indicate that the training improved teachers’ mindfulness, increased their ability to manage difficult emotions, and lowered their psychological distress.

“I had a very strong suspicion that emotional reactivity was interfering with  teachers’ ability to be their best, and that the solution wasn’t just a matter of teaching more skills,” Jennings said. “It was really a matter of teaching them to self-regulate so they could be their best.” 

This latest study is just one in a growing body of research strongly suggesting that mindfulness training increases teacher well-being and improves the emotional climate of their classrooms—an important link with students’ academic achievement. I encourage you to read more about this study, be aware of what’s going on in your children’s classrooms, and do whatever you can to support the well-being of teachers, in whose care our children spend most of their young lives. 

As Jennings says, “If we don’t turn the corner on how we’re helping our teachers, we’re not going to have enough teachers to do the job.”

View the article at Greater Good

 

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm

Good Relationships Make a Good Life

Long-Term Studies Reveal Keys to Happiness

Want to be happy? Develop and maintain close relationships with people you can count on. Be your true self with them. Those are the keys according to two long-term studies conducted by Harvard University.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship. It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

So says Robert Waldinger, current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest longitudinal studies ever conducted on our physical and emotional well-being.

As author Melanie Curtin points out in her summary[1] of this study, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at … or how much power you wielded … No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.”[2]

Note that “love” doesn’t necessarily mean a romantic relationship. It’s more about having someone to rely on.

In quality relationships we

  • feel more relaxed
  • enjoy better brain health
  • feel less emotional and physical pain
  • avoid loneliness, which keeps us healthier longer[3]

What makes quality relationships?

  • how much vulnerability and depth exists within them
  • how safe we feel sharing with one another
  • the extent to which we can relax and be seen for who we truly are, and truly see another
  • being able to cope with trauma in ways that don’t push love away

I encourage you to read more of the author’s tips to prioritize your connections and your capacity to process emotions and stress. As she so aptly states, “… the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.”[4]

Peace and happiness,

 

Dr. Pamm


[1] Melanie Curtin, “This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life,” Inc., Feb. 27, 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

A 10 Minute Guided Meditation to Foster Forgiveness

Forgiveness Helps Us Let Go of Whatever Holds Us Back

I often work with clients who are weighed down by feelings of anger and resentment over old hurts. Sometimes they’re burdened by guilt caused by their own actions. Either way, peace comes through forgiving others and ourselves.

If there’s someone you’d like to forgive, but don’t know how to do it, I encourage you to listen Dr. Mark Bertin’s guided meditation below. Through the simple story of two monks who encounter a rude woman, he gently illustrates the way that we add to our negative experiences by fostering anger and resentment. Then, he leads us through a mindful release into a state of forgiveness. A transcript of the meditation is available on Mindful.org as well.

Peace,

 

Dr. Pamm

Stuck in Therapy? 3 Ways to Make the Progress You Want

How to Make Progress in Therapy

Therapy has the power to transform our lives. So why does research shows that it’s effective only 50 percent of the time? Author Jon Frederickson explains in his article “Stuck in Therapy?”[1] that although therapist effectiveness varies, the main variable in successful therapy is the patient. That’s right, if you’re feeling stuck in therapy, it might be time to consider these ideas:

First, decide on a clear internal problem to resolve in therapy.

If you want to fix a problem, it helps to be clear with yourself and your therapist about the nature of the problem you want to resolve. It’s crucial to make sure that it’s a problem you have and not someone else. No therapist can fix a problem for someone she’s not seen … besides, blaming others doesn’t help you to grow.

Second, face what you usually avoid.

Talking alone doesn’t resolve problems. Facing the truths we’ve avoided and discussing them with a skilled therapist does. When your therapist points out something that’s painful, try not to argue or dismiss the concept. Be present to the idea and consider that the therapist may be helping you face what’s difficult. That’s where change and healing begin.

Finally, go toward what makes you anxious.

It can be hard, but therapy is the best place to face the things that make us anxious so they can stop taking control of our lives. By facing them, we take charge. As Mr. Frederickson so aptly states,

“If we avoid what makes us anxious, we don’t become stronger; we just get better at avoiding. Meanwhile, life goes by and our therapy money goes down the drain. If you are not somewhat anxious in therapy, chances are you are not facing what you need to face.”[2]

I’ve seen these truths with so many patients over the years. I agree that you’ll reach your goals and get the most out of therapy if you’re clear about the problem you want to resolve, you’re willing to face what you usually avoid, and you move toward what makes you anxious. Trust the process – it works!

Peace,

 

Dr. Pamm


[1] Jon Frederickson, “Stuck in Therapy?”, LinkedIn, Jan. 11, 2017

[2] Ibid.

Self Love Is Key to Getting the Love We Want

Lack of Self Love Sabotages Relationships

Many relationship problems come from our subconscious belief that we aren’t worthy of love. If self-love is a problem for us, we’ll seek love, respect, and acceptance from others, but feel disappointed when they don’t provide the kind we want. Even more frustrating, we’ll sabotage a potentially loving relationship because our inner voice tells us we don’t deserve love and happiness.

Marriage counselors Katie and Gay Hendricks have analyzed this common problem and share excellent advice on their Hearts in Harmony website. I encourage you to learn the telltale behaviors caused by this subconscious problem. They also explain that

Loving yourself isn’t about being conceited. It’s about accepting yourself and your feelings and not needing to look to outside sources to feel like you’re worthy of love and consideration.[1]

What Does Self-Love Feel Like?

Once we understand where this lack of self love comes from, we can begin to heal and welcome love into our lives. How do we know what self love feels like if we’ve never had it? The Hendricks offer this helpful list:

  • Loving yourself means you don’t hide who you really are. You share your feelings – even the messy ones – and own up the truth of your life and your mistakes.
  • You don’t need to prove anything to anyone, because you know the only opinion that matters about your self-worth is your own.
  • You don’t accept bad treatment, or social pressure, or feel compelled to do things you don’t want to do just because you are “supposed to.”
  • You can fully accept and enjoy being loved by someone else. You aren’t doubtful of their feelings. You never worry if their love will end, or if you aren’t good enough, or unworthy.
  • You aren’t afraid of getting hurt. You don’t push love away, or run away, or subconsciously create reasons why your relationship will let you down.
  • You are at peace with yourself, and can channel your energy into CREATING what you want, not PROTECTING what you don’t want to lose.
  • You feel giddy, light… free.[2]

Peace,

 

Dr. Pamm

[1] Katie and Gay Hendricks, “Why Constantly Complaining About How Others Treat You Could Be A Sign Of A Much Deeper Truth… About Yourself,” Hearts in Harmony,

[2] Ibid.

Four Ways to Overcome Negative Feelings and Self-Defeating Thoughts

Feelings Affect Our Thoughts and Behaviors

In a recent article in Mindful magazine, Tchiki Davis describes how self-criticism and low self-worth can hold us back. Her well-being survey revealed that feelings of positive self-worth were the best predictor of happiness–even more so than feelings of gratitude or having strong personal relationships.[1]

Simply put, feelings affect our thoughts and behaviors. When we feel bad about ourselves, we unconsciously act in ways that end up confirming our beliefs and can end up in a negative cycle.

I encourage you to read the full article, because Ms. Davis explains in detail why these four things will help you to start to promote positive self-views and begin to change the patterns of your life. Meanwhile, I hope my summary will pique your interest:

1. Figure out your needs

People tend to feel badly about themselves when they feel powerless to get their needs met—so you can start this process by figuring out what your needs are. If you’re having a hard time figuring out your needs, just reflect on times in your life when you weren’t thriving. What was missing?

2. Live authentically

If your needs are being met, this step is easy. Just keep them in mind, and don’t stray too far from living a life that is authentically yours. You’ll find that you now have more positive views of yourself because you decided what matters to you and are willing to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive yourself

Almost everyone has said something hurtful, forgotten an important event, or betrayed someone they love. It helps to remember that our mistakes do not define us. Forgive yourself, and give yourself credit for trying not to make the same mistakes again.

4. Celebrate your quirks

When we cherish our eccentricities and celebrate our flaws, we begin to develop a deep love for ourselves just as we are. Don’t forget to keep growing, though! Keep your eyes and ears open to the people you trust. Listen when they tell you that you have work to do on yourself. Feeling positively about ourselves takes effort. But by changing our views, we can change our lives.[2]

 


[1] Tchiki Davis, “Four Ways to Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts, Mindful, Oct. 24, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

Manage Stress by Listening to Your Body

As Mark Bertin says in his excellent Mindful article, “Stress—it’s not all in your head. The body acts as an early warning system, and people who pick up on its signals are more resilient.”[1]

It’s true that people with better body awareness tend to feel less stressed. One way to have more body awareness is to practice mindfulness. The concept is simple, really: mindfulness practice develops our attention. For example, if we do a body scan, observing sensations from our toes and gradually moving up to our head, we take time and become focused on subtle physical shifts that occur in our bodies. We notice the beginning sensations of stress and can choose to step out of the cycle of anxious thoughts and emotions before they escalate.

I encourage you to read Mr. Bertin’s article and to consider beginning a mindfulness practice. As the author notes, “catching the cycle of stress early, we can more easily adapt and redirect it.”[2]

Peace,

Dr. Pamm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Mark Bertin, “Manage Stress by Listening to Your Body,” Mindful, Jan. 20, 2016

[2] Ibid.

Speaking Up Is Good Medicine

In her women’s health blog, Dr. Christiane Northrup focuses on some women’s hesitancy to speak up for themselves. She calls this a “silent disease,” because it can have serious consequences—intensifying symptoms or manifesting new ones. As she notes, “If you don’t speak up for yourself, your body needs to speak louder to you so that you will!”[1]

Reasons Why Women Keep Quiet about Health Concerns

  • being shamed by doctors who don’t want to hear how the standard protocols don’t help them
  • being referred to a psychiatrist instead of having their physical symptoms validated
  • being labeled “difficult” because they spoke up to their doctor
  • having a lack of role models to demonstrate healthy communication
  • being raised to keep silent, never voicing opinions or feelings
  • being told to stay quiet because of a family secret, such as alcoholism or sexual abuse [2]

As Dr. Northrup explains, “There may be many reasons that contribute to your code of silence. An important step in relieving any symptoms in your body is to shift the pattern of being a silent victim and speak your truth.”[3] She goes on to suggest 8 tips for learning to speak your truth and I urge you to read them in further detail on her blog:

8 Tips for How YOU Can Learn to Speak Up

  1. Find a doctor you can partner with.
  2. Surround yourself with friends who want you to be healthy.
  3. Speak kindly about your body.
  4. Know that the act of speaking up is enough.
  5. Practice having your say.
  6. Know that the act of speaking up is enough.
  7. Write a truth letter.
  8. Re-establish the link between your head and your heart.[4]

 

Wishing You Peace and Good Health,

 

Dr. Pamm


 

[1] Dr. Christiane Northrup, 8 Tips for How YOU Can Learn to Speak Up

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Eight Keys to Forgiveness

When we’ve been deeply hurt, forgiveness may seem like an impossible goal, but it’s essential to our healing process. How do we move from that place of all-consuming hurt to the freedom and peace that forgiveness gives?  Robert Enright’s Eight Keys of Forgiveness explains how we can find a way to open our hearts, shed the bitterness from the hurt, and put love in its place. Doing this process even once makes us more “forgivingly fit,” so that we can repeat it as needed. Then, when life hits us hard, we can be more resilient. By forgiving, we become free to love more widely and deeply.

Peace,

Dr. Pamm

How Not to Flip Your Lid Over College Applications

How to Manage Anxiety while Applying for College

This article in the Washington Post has good advice for keeping anxiety at manageable levels while you apply for college admission.

Dan Harris Explains Why “Meditation is not Baloney!”

Dan Harris reveals the top 3 misconceptions about meditation and explains why anyone – even you! – can benefit from it.

Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in “Just Breathe” Short Film

Mindfulness Practice is Beneficial for All Ages

Steep Your Soul: Oprah Interviews Jon Kabat-Zinn about His Morning Ritual

Mindfulness Practice

Oprah Winfrey interviews Jon Kabat-Zinn about his morning mindfulness routine.