by Nita Sweeney | Jul 14, 2021 | Blog
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR: “No Time to Meditate? Try a “Micro-hit” of Mindfulness”
These are the sources referenced in my post “No Time to Meditate? Try a ‘Microhit’ of Mindfulness.”
Basso, Julia C., et al. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behav Brain Res. 2019 Jan 1;356:208-220.
Bellosta-Batalla, Miguel, et al. Brief mindfulness session improves mood and increases salivary oxytocin in psychology students. Stress Health. 2020 Oct;36(4):469-477.
Bent, Tan Seng, et al. Distress Reduction for Palliative Care Patients and Families With 5-Minute Mindful Breathing: A Pilot Study. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2016 Jul;33(6):555-60.
Fazia, Teresa, et al. Short-Term Meditation Training Fosters Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation: A Pilot Study. Front Psychol. 2020 Oct 26;11:558803. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33192816/
Garland, Eric L., et al. Randomized Controlled Trial of Brief Mindfulness Training and Hypnotic Suggestion for Acute Pain Relief in the Hospital Setting J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Oct;32(10):1106-1113.
Garrison Institute. Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE)®
Gauthier, Tina, et al. An on-the-job mindfulness-based intervention for pediatric ICU nurses: a pilot. J Pediatr Nurs. Mar-Apr 2015;30(2):402-9.
Goleman, Daniel & Davidson, Richard J. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (Penguin Random House: 2018)
Harris, A. R., Jennings, P. A., Katz, D. A., Abenavoli, R. M., & Greenberg, M. T. (2015). Promoting Stress Management and Well-Being in Educators: Outcomes of the CALM Intervention. Mindfulness, 7,143-154. DOI 10.1007/s12671-015-0451-2
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by Nita Sweeney | Jul 9, 2021 | Author Interviews, Blog
Author Interview: Kim Colegrove
I interview wellness authors to find out what makes them tick, and why they write the books they do. Kim Colegrove, another Mango author, and I met when she invited me to endorse her book, Mindfulness for Warriors: Empowering First Responders to Reduce Stress and Build Resilience. She’s also a frequent guest on the Mango Heart Wisdom panels. Given my own meditation practice, and my husband Ed’s membership in our local citizens police academy, her book was a great fit. Kim shares a powerful story of tragedy turned to good purpose. I knew you folks would want to get to know her.
Nita Sweeney (NS): I know your story, and I’m going to dive right in. What prompted you to write this book?
Kim Colegrove (KC): In the fall of 2014, I lost my husband to suicide, less than three months after he retired from a 30-year law enforcement career. David’s death led me on a journey of discovery about how chronic stress and accumulated trauma impact our first responders.
Kim and her late husband, David
I was shocked to learn that we lose more police officers and firefighters to suicide than line of duty deaths, and that approximately 22 military veterans take their own life every day.
I felt compelled to do something to help.
So, I started an organization to help first responders cope with stress and trauma, and I wrote the book to share my story and reach people in these professions who are struggling with mental and emotional issues.
NS: Please tell us more about that work.
KC: My organization, Pause First Academy, offers resilience training to first responders. We focus on holistic wellness and work-life balance. Most of our trainers are military veterans and first responders, and have experience speaking or teaching on wellness topics in their own professions. We offer online courses and in-person training for individuals and organizations.
NS: You’re probably heard it all, But what’s the worst mental health advice you’ve ever heard?
KC: In my line of work, “suck it up, buttercup,” has been the traditional mental health advice given to first responders. Thankfully, that is beginning to change.
NS: I’m very grateful to hear of that change. What is one thing about well-being you wish you’d learned earlier?
KC: I wish I’d known then what I know now, and that I could have saved my husband.
NS: Given what you know now, do you have a go-to wellness practice you would like to share?
KC: Meditation. I’m a 45-year practitioner of meditation, an enthusiastic proponent, and I’ve been teaching professionally for a decade. I know a lot of people shy away from meditation for various reasons, not the least of which is that it can be difficult to practice and commit to. However, the benefits far outweigh the sometimes-challenging learning curve.
NS: Has your life turned out differently than you expected? If so, how?
KC: 1 million per cent. However, I’ve accepted that the loss in my life created a new, important path for me, and I just keep taking the next step.
NS: What wellness book could you not put down?
KC: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I believe I read it for the first time in the late 90s or very early 2000s, at a pivotal point in my personal development and evolution.
NS: What’s next for you writing wise?
KS: I’d like to write a follow-up book for spouses and family members of first responders.
NS: Mermaids or Goddesses? (Superheroes or Gods?)
KC: Goddesses. But it’s nearly a tie.
NS: Toast or bagels?
NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?
KC: Ocean, ocean, ocean.
NS: Leggings or jeans?
KC: Sweatpants and pajama pants.
NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?
KC: Oh my goodness, dogs! I want all the dogs! Dogs are my favorite people!
ABOUT KIM COLEGROVE
Kim Colegrove, author of Mindfulness for Warriors, is a 45-year veteran of meditation, the creator of Pause First: Mindfulness for First Responders and the founder of Pause First Academy – Resilience Training for Frontline Workers.
Colegrove is the widow of a first responder who died by suicide. She previously taught mindfulness in corporate settings such as Garmin International, United Way, Department of Veterans Affairs, and The National Court Reporters Association. After her husband’s death, Kim turned her full attention to helping first responders cope with stress and trauma through mindfulness training.
By pulling from her own life experience and applying her relatable, mainstream style, Kim developed curriculum first responders could trust. She now leads a team of instructors who offer resilience training, holistic wellness, and work-life balance courses in-person and through Kim’s online platform: Pause First Academy.
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by Nita Sweeney | Sep 16, 2020 | Blog
Don’t Just Write. Sit! Meditation Improves Creative Thinking and Focus
I sometimes surprise my students when I ask them to try meditation during my adult writing classes. “What’s meditation have to do with writing?” more than one has asked over the twenty years I’ve taught. When I first began to teach, meditation was seen as a hippie, woo woo, new age thing. Some students even feared it might interfere with their religion.
But things have changed.
Now, most students are at least familiar with some meditation technique and many have a regular practice. I find that encouraging, especially as evidence through scientific study continues to show temporary and lasting physical, emotional, and creative benefits.
In the article “30 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Meditation” Patrick Zeis organizes his list into those categories. I read the piece as part of the 200-Hour Meditation Leader training I’m taking through Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness. I joined this intensive training so I might offer a more thorough meditative experience to all types of creative people, not just writers.
While the benefits listed in the article inspired me to deepen my own practice, two stood out as especially helpful to writers and other creative people.
First, meditation improves creative thinking skills.
People seek me out when stuck. They want to tell their stories but can’t find the deep well of creativity inside. I offer meditation as part of the solution. Zeis writes, “Science has shown how untapped creative resources can undoubtedly be found within us all.” It builds creative thinking skills needed to do this work.
The article cites a study from Leiden University in the Netherlands. The research found that “practicing open monitoring meditation techniques resulted in higher divergent thinking test scores.” And practicing “focused attention meditation techniques resulted in higher convergent thinking scores.”
I offer different meditation practices to boost the mind’s natural ability. These same methods enable me to complete projects and helped me find a publisher.
Second, meditation increases focus and productivity.
A vast majority of my clients lament their lack of focus. Some can’t finish projects or get started at all. Zeis explains that a University of Washington study showed the effectiveness of meditation. Participants who meditated as part of the study could concentrate longer without being distracted. Meditation improves the skills needed for doing this work.
Since meditation improves creative thinking and focus, I will continue to use it in my classes. If you haven’t considered meditation, add it to your writing toolkit. The results might amaze you!
The original version of this article appeared in The Innovation.
by Nita Sweeney | Aug 20, 2020 | Blog
Inertia. Apathy. Terror.
Was I alone in my delusion that becoming a published author would cure this ill, drive it from my mind? Having books out in the world with my name on them hasn’t fixed it. Rather, the critical internal voice has grown stronger and more bold.
“Who do you think you are?”
Imposter syndrome. Low self-esteem. Personality quirks. Sloth. Insecurity. Anxiety. Chronic depression (recurrent, severe).
This is what I face nearly every time I sit down to write. Call it what you want, but one term fits better than any other:
“According to Buddhist principles, the ‘monkey mind’ is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, or confused.”—Psychology Today
Monkey mind can take many forms. It might be a voice in your head or mild (or extreme) agitation. It could send you to the refrigerator (or the drug dealer) and is probably why you’re unloading the dishwasher (or going for yet another dog walk) instead of writing that piece you promised your editor months ago. Monkey mind transforms itself and reformulates as quickly as you find a solution.
Monkey mind is the great chameleon.
Best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones, Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home) explains one theory about the tenacity of monkey mind. In Thunder and Lightning, Natalie calls monkey mind “The guardian at the gate.”
Monkey mind, she explains, is like those enormous and somewhat terrifying statues that “guard” the gates to a monastery. They’re put there to challenge entrants. The guardians ask if you are willing to face these demons (and your own). Are you worthy of the teachings? Are you up to the challenge?
Sensei Sean Murphy of Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness recently discussed something similar with our 200-hour meditation leader training cohort. As he traveled across the country interviewing Zen teachers for his book One Bird, One Stone, many of the teachers did their best to evade him, refusing to answer his questions. They only wanted to teach the serious, the persistent, the rigorous. Sensei Murphy continued to show up and, ironically, their antics, playing guardian at the gate, gave him great stories to tell.
What do grotesque statues and reluctant Zen masters have in common with your unrelenting desire to play just one more game of computer solitaire?
Inertia. Apathy. Terror.
They are protecting the jewels.
The part of us trying to write terrifies the part of the mind that thinks we need to be protected. Monkey mind believes it is doing you a favor. But this guardian at the gate of your heart and mind also knows you’re getting close. The story that needs to be told, the mystery only you can solve, the message you must tell the world awaits just behind the temple door.
The guardian asks, “How bad to you want it?”
And how do you prove you want it?
Simple, but true. In another piece I’ll talk about how the only cure for writing is writing.
Is that it? Just write? Yes, and no. Other techniques can help you still that chattering monkey which will, in turn, allow you to face the page.
For me, it’s meditation both on the cushion and out in the world.
Sitting meditation, writing practice, and moving meditation (usually running) have brought my own monkey mind out of hiding. It’s stealthy, slippery, persistent, but not invincible. When you sit through terror, run through inertia, and write about (and through) apathy, monkey mind realizes you’re not fooling around.
But why bother if writing is so difficult? Why not take up plumbing or mathematics or binge-eating instead?
Because the rewards are huge. Not much beats the feeling of pushing a pen across a page. And when you’re done, you have the victory of having made a thing, first a raw, often ugly, rarely sensical, thing, and later, a more lovely, shaped, and formed creation.
You’re at the temple gate. Will you walk through?
For more writing wisdom, please check out You Should Be Writing, the new writing journal from Mango Publishing by Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney.
by Nita Sweeney | Jul 15, 2020 | Blog
Follow the teachings, not the teacher.
Recently, another public figure many thought was beyond reproach proved herself to be human. This happened to be a well-respected, best-selling author. I admit to being stunned myself.
But why are we surprised?
If you put something (or someone) on a pedestal, rest assured it will eventually fall. It will either be knocked off, pulled down, or take a tremendous swan dive off on its own.
Eventually, gravity always wins.
In her memoir, The Great Failure, Natalie Goldberg wrote about the sexual misconduct of her beloved Zen teacher, Katagiri Roshi. While she lamented his shortcomings and lost followers for making it public, she did not lose faith in the Zen he taught. In fact, she went on to become a Zen priest herself.
People may disappoint you. They may break your heart.
But you know what won’t fail you? The teachings.
And you know what won’t fall? Principles.
We can love our teachers, see them as human, admire their wisdom and effort.
And when one of them crosses a line, we don’t need to throw out all the principles because of their wrong step. What they have taught is not lost even though they may be.
Trust the principles.
Follow the teachings, not the teacher.
People may fail you. Principles will not.