So long. Farewell. Stay mindful.

goodbye

Goodbye

It’s with mixed emotions I announce this is the last episode of the show.

I’m planning to launch a new podcast and it’s going to take all of my time and attention.

It’s my hope you’ve learned how to be more mindful by listening to the show. Learning to focus and avoiding distractions has changed my life. I hope it’s helped you, too.

You can still listen to the existing episodes online anytime you like. If you need a quick meditation or mindfulness boost, just give a show or two a listen.

If you’re interested in the new show, send me an email – [email protected] – and I’ll let you know when it goes live – probably in early January.

The new show is going to be a very different kind of experience. If you’re into science fiction and are optimistic about the future, it just might be your cup of tea.

I’m very excited about launching the new podcast. It’s something I’ve been working on for a few years. And it’s time.

And, now, for one last time, we’re going to meditate for five minutes.

Useful stuff

Mindful eating update

mindful eating and donuts

Falling off the mindful eating wagon

On a recent episode of the show, I talked about how I’ve been using mindful eating to lose weight. And what have I been doing since then?

Too much mindless eating.

It happens to a lot of us. We aren’t perfect and we slip up from time to time. And we don’t need to beat ourselves up over this.

This morning, while waiting for my car to get fixed at the dealership, I impulsively grabbed and devoured a donut.

Oops.

And it wasn’t my first slip-up.

Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and reset.

Mindful eating for me meant eating healthy, avoiding sugar, and having one really good cheat food each week.

Maybe it’s time to take a second look at what I’m doing or make a change.

I’m not upset about slipping up or freaking out about it. It’s like when you’re meditating and your mind wanders. You acknowledge it happened and get back to the meditating. Or, in this case, mindful eating.

On the way home from work, I stopped and bought some healthy and tasty prepackaged salads. I’m replacing my habit of going out for lunch with having healthy lunches with co-workers.

I’m going to continue to be mindful and take a fresh look at my routine to see what else I can change. It’s probably time for me to try some new healthy foods.

I’m looking forward to it.

Okay, that’s MY approach.

You have to find the approach that works for you.

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Have you found it challenging to eat mindfully?

Tell me about it – [email protected]

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It’s time to get out and explore

explore

Shake it up!

Okay, people, it’s time to shake things up around here. For the next several episodes, I’m going to ask you to do something guaranteed to change and improve your life: go out and explore.

There are so many ways we could be spending our time to create richer and better lives for ourselves. And there’s no reason you can’t start doing that right now.

Most of us get caught up in routines because it’s so easy to do. But many times, those routines aren’t good for us. Routines like coming home from work and sitting in front of the TV or wasting time scrolling through our social media feeds.

No one’s final words are “I wish I’d watched more television”.

The world out there is so big and so amazing. And too many of us are missing out on most of it.

So, that changes right now. Right now, I want you to commit to a life of exploration.

I want you to join my exploration party.

We’re going to have a great time. I can’t wait to start.

Oh, yeah, we aren’t going to wait. I want you to find something to do today.

Go online and start searching or check your local newspaper. I promise there is something interesting going on close to you right now.

Now, go out there and start exploring.

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Have you found something interesting or fun to explore?

Tell me about it – [email protected]

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Improvisation is a great path to mindfulness

improvisation

Do you think you’re funny?

Yesterday, I talked about using photography as a fun way to practice mindfulness. And, today, I’ve got another fun mindfulness practice you can try: improvisation.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a talented content marketer and friend – Dan Sturdivant.

Dan’s a great guy and a digital marketing rock star. He has also studied improvisation – or improv – at the Dallas Comedy House.

If you are looking for a really effective way to become more mindful and more creative – while having a lot of fun – you ought to try improv.

As Dan mentioned yesterday, improv requires you to be fully in the moment. It’s perfect mindfulness training.

You can find improv classes and programs in many cities. I’ve been dying to try it, but my schedule makes that pretty difficult.

But, don’t follow my example. Say “yes” to improv and jump in with both feet.

The world could use more funny, creative people.

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Could you do me a small favor? Could you leave me a rating or review?

Just go to the Apple Podcast app and search on Meditate with Mitch. Then, you can click on the show art and tap the Reviews tab.

I would sure appreciate it.

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The mindful boss myth

mindful boss

The horror! The horror!

If you Google “mindfulness” you’ll come across a lot of blog entries and articles about being a mindful boss.

Unfortunately, the person who needs this information the most, the horrible boss, is the person least likely to read it.

And if they do read it, they won’t see themselves in the stories. And, I’ll bet they know some horrible bosses THEY’D like to send it to.

You probably can’t train your boss to be more mindful and empathetic. And they aren’t going to fix themselves. So, what CAN you do?

You can meditate. You can be more mindful.

Rather than getting upset each time the boss does something “infuriating”, take a moment. Take a few slow, deep breaths and notice how you feel. Acknowledge that feeling, don’t judge it, and move on.

You probably can’t change your boss, but you can change how you react. You can decide not to get upset – getting upset never helps.

If you stick with it – and with a little luck – your boss may notice how you are handling their crises. You’re handling it calmly, right?

You can model mindful behavior for your boss. Sometimes, you can train your boss this way.

I said “sometimes”. Let’s be realistic.

Maybe you’ll be a boss someday. A mindful boss.

One less horrible boss making others miserable.

One boss at a time.

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I would sure appreciate it.

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What is mindfulness? A quick reminder

mindfulness

Back to basics

Mindfulness is so popular these days it’s a buzzword. You can find mindfulness magazines and books at your local book store. And whenever something becomes a buzzword, you can expect a backlash.

Luckily, scientific studies demonstrate a lot of benefits with mindfulness, such as reduced anxiety, depression, and pain.

I like to talk about how improving your attention using mindfulness gives you a productivity superpower.

Today, I’m going to step back and take a fresh look at what mindfulness is.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has a popular definition:

“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

I found this quote on the Forbes website.

This is something you can do at any time. Just stop and take the time to notice and pay attention.

For example, let’s say you’re standing in line at the store and getting impatient.

Take a minute to pay attention to what’s going on and how you feel about it.

  • Is this making you anxious? Angry? Impatient?
  • Don’t judge the situation as good or bad. It just is.
  • Start taking some slow, deep breaths. Get recentered and calm your mind.

Before you know it, you’ll get through that line. And it wasn’t the end of the world.

A little mindfulness practice can make you a happier and healthier person.

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Can you sing your way to mindfulness?

choral singing

Choral singing and mindfulness

According to research, mindfulness might be one reason choral singing can improve your mental health.

For years, researchers have documented the physical and psychological benefits of choral singing. Now, a new study points to mindfulness as a possible reason why.

I learned about this from an article on the Pacific Standard website. It appears that focused concentration on the music keeps the singers from focusing on other things, such as worry.

I’d be willing to bet that performing in a band works just as well as choral singing for improving mindfulness. I’ve played in a few rock and reggae bands and I can say from first-hand experience, you won’t play well if you’re distracted.

Years ago, I noticed many high-performing people were also musicians who enjoyed playing music in a group.

I wonder what other group activities might foster mindfulness? Certainly, dancing would do the trick.

So, if you’re looking for a fun way to improve your mindfulness – and mental health – why don’t you go out and find a fun group activity?

You’ll make new friends and have a blast while you improve your mindfulness superpower.

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Could you do me a small favor? Could you leave me a rating or review?

Just go to the Apple Podcast app and search on Meditate with Mitch. Then, you can click on the show art and tap the Reviews tab.

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You smartphone is the snooze button of your life

snooze

It’s time to wake up!

Are you one of those people who hit the snooze button once or twice (or more times) before you get up in the morning?

If you haven’t heard, using the snooze button to put off getting up isn’t a great idea. It creates a state of fuzzy-headedness called “sleep inertia” that can last up to four hours.

You’ve got maybe 16 hours each day to get everything done. Can you afford to lose one-fourth of your day to grogginess?

But wait, it gets worse.

How many of you are using your smartphone as a snooze button on your life?

Let me explain.

When you’re constantly distracted because you’re checking your phone for texts, emails, and kitten videos when you should have your attention focused on what you’re doing, you’re never fully awake.

Each time you tap your phone, it’s like hitting the snooze button on your life.

You don’t notice that you’re missing out on just about everything.

If you’re distracted by your smartphone, you’re never actually paying attention to what’s going on around you. You’re caught in a fuzzy, not-fully-awake state.

You aren’t engaged in conversations or anything else.

I know people who are never present and don’t fully participate in any of their interactions with other people. They’re trapped in this netherworld of drifting attention.

It’s like they’re high on drugs all the time.

Hello? Is anybody home?

Mindfulness to the rescue

When you practice mindfulness and learn to be fully “in the moment”, you’ll discover that you’re finally fully awake. Maybe for the first time in your life.

The first step for many of you is to put your smartphone in your back pocket, purse, or backpack. Learn to ignore it.

There’s no law requiring you to answer your calls or texts right away.

It. Can. Wait.

And, if you’re feeling brave, you might even try leaving your phone at home once in a while just to see what happens.

You may discover a world you never knew existed.

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Beware the mindfulness snake oil

snake oil

Mindfulness probably doesn’t cure cancer

Mindfulness is hot right now and, like any trend, lots of people are jumping onboard to make some money.

Many of these people, in an effort to cash in, are selling what I call mindfulness snake oil.

I recently tweeted about a class offered in New York where attendees had a couple of drinks. They were asked to be more present as they had those two drinks in 90 minutes.

I don’t know anything about the people offering the class – are they trained psychologists or therapists? Is there science behind what they’re teaching or are they just making it up as they go along?

Anyway, someone called me out for posting this and, in hindsight, I’m glad she did.

I need to be more careful about the content I’m curating and sharing with you about mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness is the buzzword of the day, so you should expect people to look for ways to profit from it. There are bound to be legitimate people in the mindfulness space as well as charlatans.

So, how can you tell the difference?

I think I found a good place to start. I came across an interesting article from Harvard Business Review. It’s titled Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn’t) Good For.

The researchers who wrote this piece did a literature review on meditation and mindfulness and found that most studies did not exactly meet even decent standards for medical research.

Good news for mindfulness

However, the studies that did meet good research standards revealed four genuine mindfulness benefits:

  • stronger focus
  • staying calmer under stress
  • better memory
  • good corporate citizenship.

I personally feel I have experienced the first three benefits. Maybe the fourth, good corporate citizenship, is me producing this podcast.

So, it’s good news/bad news for mindfulness.

There are some awesome mindfulness benefits. We just need to apply some healthy skepticism to all the mindfulness claims.

Let’s be careful out there.

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Mindful eating: You’ve got nothing left to lose but the weight

Does mindful eating work?

There must be thousands of diet schemes out there, so you have every right to be skeptical about mindful eating.

In my experience, mindful eating is easy to follow and very effective.

This is my simple plan for eating mindfully:

First, slow the freak down when you eat. Seriously, what is your hurry? Not only that, think about how disgusting it looks to wolf down your meal.

So, before that first bite, take a few seconds to think about what you are going to eat. Maybe a short prayer or meditation before you eat isn’t a bad idea.

Second, pay attention to what you’re eating. This means no distractions. Put your phone away. This is not the time for that. This is eating time. That means you should truly experience the food you’re eating.

Ask yourself how your food tastes. If it tastes good, savor it. Enjoy it. If what you’re eating doesn’t taste good, maybe this is a good time to stop eating it.

I suspect many of us get fat on food that we don’t even like that much. Which takes me to my next rule: only eat really good food.

Believe it or not, reasonably healthy food, when well-prepared, can taste amazing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re eating, you’re eating the wrong food or you’re eating it wrong. Either way, stop it.

Last rule

My last rule is to avoid sugar like it’s poison – because it is. This isn’t super-easy. You won’t be able to find much sugar-free food, but you can watch out for food with a lot of sugar.

I try to avoid eating anything with more than 3 or 4 grams of sugar. If you just use this rule to pick the food you eat, you’re probably on the right track.

With this simple eating plan, if you’re hungry, eat something. But do it mindfully.

And cheat strategically. As I said yesterday, I cheat once a week with some fantastic peach cobbler.

We all cheat. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Like I said, pretty simple. It’s been working wonders for me.

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Could you do me a small favor? Could you leave me a rating or review?

Just go to the Apple Podcast app and search on Meditate with Mitch. Then, you can click on the show art and tap the Reviews tab.

I would sure appreciate it.

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