Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
May, 2015


The Stop, Breathe & Think app is a free mindfulness, meditation and compassion building tool. Research has shown that you can develop kindness and compassion and feel less stressed and happier by focusing on these attitudes through the practice of mindfulness and meditation.

With Stop, Breath & Think, you can check-in daily, track your progress, and feel the calm. A different meditation will be recommended each time you check in, based off how you're feeling in the present moment.

Stop, Breathe & Think is available for free in the app store for iPhone and Android.


Sleep Corner

Mindfulness Meditation for Better Sleep

Turn off all the lights, and make yourself comfortable in your bed. Start by taking deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the breath in as you pay attention to your lungs filling with air and your chest expanding. As you breathe out, continue to focus on this air leaving the body while releasing any tension in the body.

Continue breathing slowly and deeply, as you shift your focus to your feet. Tense your toes and feet. Hold the tension for the count of three and then let go. Carry on with this process all the way up your body, tensing and releasing the tightness you may experience.

While paying attention to the breath, it is normal for your mind to wander, so when you realize you have been distracted, return your focus back to the sensations of the breath.

Finally, you can allow your mind to fall asleep as you let your thoughts flow one to the next as your body and mind are in a state of relaxation.


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Additional Mindfulness Resources

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program. Sharon Salzberg. 2010

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Dell.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are. New York: Hyperion.

Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy related research. Psychotherapy, 48 (2), 198-208.
What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be described as “a process of bringing one’s complete attention to the present moment”. As you begin to practice mindfulness, you will incorporate unbiased observation and acceptance into the process. This will allow you to see your thoughts, behaviors, and environment in a new way.

I want to try mindfulness, but I'm not sure where to start
How we see ourselves and the world around us can play a big role in our mental and physical well-being. What we think can affect our behaviors, habits, and individual reality. The first step in mindfulness is to simply become aware of our thoughts, experiences, and surroundings. Awareness is an effort to take a step back and see something for what it is in that moment. Awareness in the moment uses all senses...pay attention to sights, sounds, scents, and feelings. This awareness practice lends itself to observation and description of what is going on in that moment. A crucial part of mindfulness comes into play at this time...the ability to observe and describe the moment/thing/thought/feeling WITHOUT judgement. To do this, your observation and description should be without summaries or labels. It should simply be a descriptive account of your present experience in the moment.

A term often used to help understand mindfulness is “beginner’s mind”. This term helps to explain the awareness-observation-non-judgement process. Beginner’s mind is the idea of seeing something for the first time. Think of a child seeing or experiencing something for the first time. The child is seeing/experiencing it simply for what it is...there is no bias or judgement placed. This “beginner’s mind” starts to disappear as we grow older and become influenced by our own experiences and the outside world. The practice of mindfulness allows you to fully be in the moment without all of the bias or influence.

So, with that said, to begin to practice mindfulness...practice being present in each moment. Be aware of your surroundings and attuned to your senses. Observe and describe using “beginner’s mind”...no labelling or judging allowed! See the situation simply for what it is. These are the first steps in mindfulness.

      

How to start improving mindfulness
Mindfulness is about practice, the more you practice, the easier it will become. No one is mindful 100% of the time, so that is not the goal. The goal is to ‘practice’ mindfulness as much as you can. Work on replacing multi-tasking with mindfulness, as the two simply do not work well together. Be present in each moment. If you are driving, then drive...refrain from texting, talking on the phone, etc. Become aware of the act/process of driving. So many people will say that they often don’t recall the drive home from work, that they accomplish this on “auto-pilot”. That is the exact opposite of being mindful. The next time you drive home from work, pay attention, you may be amazed at the things you may have missed. Try this with other activities such as cooking, exercising, etc. Being in the moment as much as possible can have many benefits, with the simplest being that it can provide a break for the busy, multitasking mind and a host of biological and psychological returns.

Reason why I should practice mindfulness
Mindfulness can help empower yourself with the mindset needed to succeed in taking on life’s many challenges. Some of the many benefits of mindfulness include:
  1. Stress Reduction
  2. Increased Focus and Attention Span
  3. Greater Life Satisfaction
  4. Greater Ability to Regulate Emotions
  5. Increase in Working Memory
The benefits of mindfulness come with practice. The more you practice the greater the benefits. Our next newsletter will take this topic one step further and discuss mindful meditation in more detail. Until then...practice, practice, practice!



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FAQ

Q.
Is mindfulness a religion?


A.
Although the ancient origins of mindfulness are religion based, today’s mindfulness practices are not a part of any religious practice. In the 1970s, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed a technique called mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) which stripped the religious element from mindfulness by removing the spiritual and metaphysical components.

Many of today’s mindfulness techniques that are used for stress reduction, pain relief, and depression treatment are backed by science and based off of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s non-religion based mindfulness techniques. There is abundant research which demonstrates the mental and physical benefits benefits of practicing mindfulness.

For the latest research studies using mindfulness techniques, check out the American Mindfulness Research Association website.

Mindful Moment

"Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?"

-Jon Kabat-Zinn


Bottom Line

Mindfulness is neither a religion nor a cure all, it is a practice. Developed as a tool for clinicians to help treat both mental and physical ailments, the current way that we practice mindfulness is based off of years of research and the results are backed by science.

It takes years to “master” mindfulness, and no one is perfect at it. Try to practice as often as you can and remember that when your mind starts to drift, bring your attention back to the present moment. After you gain some experience in practicing, you will be able to hold your attention longer.



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Featured Recipe:
Baked Parmesan Zucchini


These baked zucchini are as healthy as they are delicious. Boasting 8 grams of protein and only 7 carbs, they are a well balanced addition to any meal or as a snack.

  • 4 zucchini, quartered length wise
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.

    In a small bowl, combine parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 4      Calories: 151      Carbs: 7g      Fiber: 2g      Sugar: 5g      Fat: 11g Protein: 8g       Sodium: 219mg     


    Featured Exercise:
    Plank (Alternating Knee-to-Elbow)


    Planks are a simple and low impact exercise that works your entire body, while focusing on your abdominal muscles. Planks help improve strength as well as balance.

    Start in the plank position with your arms and legs fully extended. Bring your left arm and right leg diagonally across your body so that your left elbow touches your right knee. Return to starting position. Repeat with other side.

    Sources:
    Featured Recipe source.
    Sleep Corner source.