Our guest presenter on Episode 3 of the Wandering But Not Lost Podcast is Loreen O’Brien who is a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Tampa Florida. She specializes in working with people who are experiencing severe anxiety, including panic attacks and PTSD. Loreen has also been trained in some of the best techniques to calm the mind and bring overall balance; these include Accelerated Resolution Therapy, EFT Tapping, Yoga Nidra, and various Mindfulness approaches. She teaches most of these to the people she works with so they can feel empowered to bring about their own sense of balance and calm. Loreen holds a Master level degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Florida, a Master of Divinity from The General Seminary in New York, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Georgia.
Mindfulness Resources with Loreen O’Brien
- Visit Loreen’s website for videos and downloads on EFT Tapping, Breathing Techniques https://wesleychapelcounseling.com/wellness-tools/
- Jon Kabat-Zinn https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/
- Daniel Goleman interview https://lifehacker.com/how-to-change-your-brain-with-mindfulness-with-daniel-1819284184
- Sharon Salzberg Ted Talk https://youtu.be/-jn1ZkwOZ-g
- Daniel J Siegel http://m.drdansiegel.com
- Calm https://www.calm.com/
- Andrew Johnson Apps https://www.withandrewjohnson.com/
- Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com/
What Mindfulness IS: Jon Kabat-Zinn: “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.” What is Non Judgment? It is being open regardless of whether the present moment experiences are good or bad; also not judging yourself in the moment. Being aware of the present moment : your environment, your emotions, sensations, thoughts, or lack thereof. … without judgment of those things. What Mindfulness is NOT:
- Not an add-on. Not another thing to do and add into your day; instead, it’s a mindset, to integrate into your existing daily activities.
- Not a Religion – although almost every culture and religion does have practices or rituals like meditation and prayer that help people to develop an awareness of the present moment and inner self, including meditation and prayer. Directing your attention to the “now,” the present moment, is a fundamental part of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Taoist teachings. But in and of itself Mindfulness is not a religion.
- Not about spacing out, escaping, or emptying our mind. Mindfulness is about instead tuning in and connecting to the present moment. It’s about being where we are right now, and balancing what’s going on inside of us and around us. Our Minds produce thoughts, it’s what they’re built for but Mindfulness helps you relate in a different way to the thoughts that come.
- Not Meditation– although there is a form of meditation called Mindful Meditation. Importantly, those who Do meditate reinforce the ability of the mind to be more mindful throughout the day.
- Not complicated…so don’t make it complicated, just ““paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.”
The difference between Mindfulness and Meditation: Meditation is “an add on,” meaning you do carve out time in your day or week to sit in silence and cultivate more stillness in the mind. There are many forms of meditation. To cultivate mindfulness in your daily life, Try these:
- A few times per day, take a few calm breaths in awareness. Simply bring your attention to your breath, the sound in and out, the movement it makes in your abdomen. This takes you out of the mind-wandering state that so many of us get lost in. When you realize you’ve drifted off into rumination (going over and over negative stuff in your mind) bring your attention back into the present moment and to what’s going on around you.
- Choose a routine action to do in full awareness: while chopping vegetables, drinking tea or coffee, showering, brushing your teeth, sitting in traffic in your car; there are endless opportunities to practice mindfulness.
- Go for a mindful walk. While walking, bring your awareness to the fact that you are walking, to the sensation of walking, to what you see and hear. You don’t need a park or a forest for this (most of us don’t have one handy). You can be mindful when walking at work, in your home, or down the street.
- Do short practices on an app such as Calm (App of the Year) or Insight Timer, another very popular mindfulness app. These build up pathways in the brain so it becomes easier to stay mindful (neuroplasticity of the brain).
** In all these mindful activities, don’t judge yourself when your mind does wander off into over thinking, just bring it back to the present moment, best way to do that is to focus on your breath).
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
- There is a huge mental health benefit to practicing Mindfulness: less anxiety and depression, panic. Once we start observing our mind, paying attention to it with present moment awareness, we notice how quickly thoughts come and go. It is key to mental health to learn “I am not my thoughts!” No need to dwell on them, fight with them, act on them or try to avoid them with drugs or other distractions.
- More likely to stay calmer under stress, (if more mindful of the moment, this awareness creates a gap from which to respond vs being mindless and reactive to situations).
- Better memory
- Enhanced job performances
- Improved connection with other; improved relationships
- Major Health benefits. Important to know that chronic, unmanaged stress can lead to shortening of our Telomeres! Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. When these shorten, it can set the conditions for physical illness.
- Reduced chance of burnout
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