COVID-19 Update: Our office remains closed to the public. The MHRB team remains available by phone and email.     Contact Us

Mindful Mondays

Mindful Mondays are brought to you by Joie Schmitz of YOGA\VIVRE. These quick one minute exercises are sure to help you start your week off on a positive note! Check back here each week for a new Monday message!

Feeling up to digging a bit deeper into mindfulness? Don't miss our guided Mindfulness Sessions!


It is a wonderful feeling to experience gratitude.  When we feel grateful, we feel good inside.  The better we feel inside, the friendlier we are with others.  In turn, they may feel gratitude for the kindness we shared, and pass it on.  This ever-broadening spiral can start with you!
Spend one minute today meditating on one thing for which you are grateful.  Imagine that tiny seed of gratitude planting in your heart.  As you focus your mind on it, you are nurturing it.  Envision the seed growing, sprouting and blooming.  Tend to it as you would your garden, but instead of water and sunlight, shower it with your mental energy.  Picture its brilliant green color and budding flowers.  Allow the vines to wind through the entire body, so you are filled with gratitude.  Smile and admire the image of this vibrant creation in your mind’s eye.
Gratitude will grow and bloom just like the plant in the meditation, if you tend to it with your mental energy.

This really is as easy as it sounds… Sing!
Pick any song you like.  Sing along with some music or go solo.  Sing in your car, in the shower, or for an audience.  However you approach it, the key is to sing out loud and let your voice be heard (even if it is only heard by you.)
Studies have shown that when you sing, the vibrations created by the sound you make can help relieve stress and anxiety.  Reap extra benefits by singing an upbeat song that elevates your mood!

This week, when you go to work, or the grocery store, or school, or the gym, or the coffee shop – anywhere you go on a regular basis – take a different route.  Drive on different roads.  Find another way to end up at your destination.  It might not be as quick or as direct as the route you are used to, but that is ok.  As a matter of fact, that’s the point!
When we switch up our routines, we open ourselves to new experiences.  Literally, life becomes more about the journey than the destination!  And sometimes these tiny shifts in our daily lives can make big impacts.  We slow down and take notice of what’s around us.  We gain fresh perspectives from our new place of observance.  We approach every-day events with more open-mindedness and mindFULLness, acceptance, patience and zeal.
Even if you don’t feel like life needs a boost right now, try it.  Especially if you are a creature of habit, try it.

This simple breathing exercise is invigorating!  Try it when you are feeling a little sluggish or in need of a shot of energy in the middle of the day.
To start:

Find an open area where you have room to swing your arms.
Stand upright with your feet 8-12 inches apart and bend your knees.
Interlace your hands in front of you and let your arms hang down.

As you inhale:

Swing your arms up overhead, like an elephant’s trunk.
Feel the arms, chest and belly stretch as you breathe in fresh air.

As you exhale:

Fold at your hips and let your upper body, arms and head swing down between your legs.
Feel your back, neck and legs stretch as you forcefully breathe out the stale air.

Repeat the swinging motions up and down for one minute.  Keep your knees bent the entire time, and relax your body so that you aren’t holding tension.  Allow your body movements and your breath to synchronize.  As you find a rhythm, make the swings and the breaths bigger and bigger!  To end, take a few moments standing upright and breathing slowly in and out through your nose — notice how you feel!

Yogic philosophy says that we all have a set of samskaras, or mental and emotional patterns (read: habits).  Our habits can have significant effects (positive or negative) on our health, happiness and well-being.  And, our habits are only habits as long as we fuel them with energy.
This week, choose one of your own habits/samskaras that effects you negatively.  Spend a little time acknowledging why it has become a habit of yours and how it makes you feel.  Then, spin it 180 degrees!  Turn that one negative samskara into a positive one.
Note that completely re-wiring your thought or heart patterns around that habit will take time.  Use your one minute mental workout to set the stage for this shift, and you will immediately start to feel changes.  A few examples:

Negative Samskara: You have a sweet tooth that can only be satisfied by dessert after every meal, so you indulge in unhealthy treats frequently.  You feel weighed-down by this negative habit.  //  Positive Samskara Spin: Rather than depriving yourself of sweets, you find healthier sweet foods to snack on, such as fruit.  Over time, you will find your sweet tooth satisfied by this simple substitution and you will have created a new, more positive mental and emotional pattern.
Negative Samskara: At the end of the day, you often find yourself exhausted, so you unwind by zoning out in front of the TV, rather than interacting with your family.  This leaves you feeling disconnected and unfulfilled.  //  Positive Samskara Spin: Find a TV show that the whole family can enjoy together, watch a single episode, then spend time talking about the show with one another, with the TV off.  By sharing the TV experience with each other, you can enjoy a little downtime, and foster more personal interactions, which can be very comforting and nourishing at the end of a long day.
Negative Samskara: You constantly compare yourself to others — your looks, your weight, your clothes, your wealth, your personality.  As a result, you feel shamed and inferior.  //  Positive Samskara Spin: Whenever you catch yourself sizing someone else up and creating stories in your head around why he or she appears so thin/happy/better-than-you, stop and acknowledge that you are, in fact, creating a story.  What you are experiencing is your own fabrication.  Instead of letting someone’s positive features and attributes affect you negatively, delight in them.  Chances are, those around you will delight in your ability to do this!

“The first and foremost question is: ‘Who am I?’  Everything else comes later.  Self-discovery is the root of all actions, all duties.  First, know your own inner self.”
-From The Splendor of Recognition by Swami Shantananda
Spend one minute today getting to know your own inner self a little better.  You can ask yourself:

Who am I, at the core of my being?
What is my true nature?
What is my calling in life?

Think through these questions one at a time, and take your time with each. Really try to break through the surface of your own being.  Look past your personality traits and genetics, and drop all ideas of who you think you should be and forget about any perceptions others may have of you.  Behind all of that is where authentic Self-Discovery happens.
You may choose to write down the thoughts that come up, and give yourself the opportunity to revisit them later.  You may not get very far or come up with any answers in one minute, and that’s ok.  These are big questions and Self-Discovery is a huge task.  But, when we take things minute-by-minute and give ourselves the freedom to explore internally, we’ve already achieved a state of mindfulness that will support us on the path of Self-Discovery.

I was reminded of this one [very significant] action when I visited Wadsworth Middle School today.  There, the words “Be Respectful” are posted all over bulletin boards and classroom walls.  It is clearly something they want to promote; encourage.
It’s working.  Everyone I came in contact with today – teachers, janitors, administrators, cafeteria staff, and hundreds of students, all showed respect for one another, and [very thankfully] for me, a guest teacher.  I witnessed students encouraging each other, teachers interacting with kids without a heavy sense of authority, and administrators challenging the school to a “pay it forward” exercise.
I was blown away to see and feel such a rich [and un-staged] display of RESPECT at a middle school, and I’m ecstatic that schools are teaching such an important life skill!  With the utmost respect for Wadsworth Middle School, I give to you this week’s 1-Minute Mental Workout:

BE RESPECTFUL: Make a point to actively show respect to someone today.  Make sure he/she feels respected.  Devote one entire minute to expressing your respect for this person, directly.  It will be appreciated more than you’ll ever know!

Try this tonight, right before bed. You can even do it in the comfort of your bed!

Lay on your back. Bend your knees, so they point up to the ceiling. Then, allow the bent knees to gently open outward as the soles of your feet come together. You will have a diamond-shape in the legs. Bring the palm of your right hand to your belly and the palm of your left hand to your heart.Close your eyes, or fix your gaze on one point. Relax your neck, shoulders and facial muscles. Breathe slowly and deeply.

Feel the breath in your belly and your chest, as it makes the hands subtly rise and fall. Melt away tension in your low back and hips. Try to relax a little more with each breath you take.

This restorative yoga posture not only stretches the legs and takes pressure off of the back, but it also stimulates the abdominal organs, aiding digestion and elimination. It can also improve circulation and help to alleviate some symptoms of mild depression and menstruation. It’s a great way to release both mental and physical stress and tension at the end of the day – or any time you’re feeling tightly wound!

If the stretch in the hips or knees is too intense or causes discomfort, place pillows under the outer edges of your knees/thighs, or place a pillow under your head and upper back.

For a moment, forget about multi-tasking, increasing efficiency, and optimizing output. Today’s exercise is about streamlining the mind and exploring real, acute awareness in everything that you do.

Try it: Brush your teeth and be fully aware of the entire experience. How does the water feel in your mouth? What subtle flavors do you detect in the toothpaste? Which hand are you using? Does it change? Brush each tooth individually, front and back. Do you default to certain habits when you are doing a routine task like this? What thoughts come up while you are brushing your teeth? Does brushing your teeth change how your mouth feels? Does it change how you feel in any other way? Does it increase your overall energy? What do you feel like doing after you brush your teeth?

Note that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions above. The exercise is just about noticing what you notice. That is awareness. We can practice awareness during mundane tasks like brushing our teeth, and our minds will start to apply this type of mental focus to other things as well.

Some other times when acute awareness can be particularly beneficial:
During a workout – being in tune with how your body is feeling.
When you are feeling ill – digging deep into what ails you, so that you can unroot the cause, not just treat the symptoms.
While driving – not only for safety, but to be more courteous to other drivers, as well.
Anytime you are with a friend or loved one – Especially as we enter a season of giving, try to give everyone you spend time with the gift of your awareness. Be aware of how they are feeling, the conversation you are sharing, and all of the subtle currents of energy that flow between you. Use that awareness to engage more deeply in each moment and strengthen your inter-personal connections. Everyone will feel more fulfilled.

The practice of picturing perfection is used frequently in sports: athletes visualize themselves in competition, performing at their best and succeeding. Studies have shown that this mental exercise – when done with intense concentration – can actually improve game-time outcomes.

Let’s apply this method to a task or goal you are facing. Before you begin: step away from the computer/phone/TV/all distractions, and sit-up in a chair with a straight back.

For one full minute:
Think of one task or goal you are trying to tackle.
Create a movie in your mind and watch the movie through to the happy ending:
Set the stage, or the location, where this will all pan out.
Include supporting characters, who cooperate to help your land at your goal.
Recruit your senses to fully immerse yourself in the storyline: listen for the sounds, imagine the tastes, detect the smells, and notice the sensations that come up.
Feel the emotions that come up when you visualize yourself working toward the goal, and then conquering the goal.

Try this whenever you are facing a big project, task or issue. Concentrate your mental energy on a positive outcome, then go out and make success your reality.