I first learned about Shenpa in Pema Chödrön’s book “Getting unstuck”. It is a Tibetan word that refers to our tendency to get “hooked” by certain thoughts and emotions, and our immediate urge to react or “scratch the itch”. By giving in to this temptation, we teach ourselves that we absolutely must react to our Shenpa. Often, this leads to reacting with behaviours that are harmful in the long term. We also forego the opportunity to observe the Shenpa and experience our emotions. Refraining from biting the hook is an important part of meditation—it paves the way towards observing, understanding, and being in charge of our experiences and actions.
Read more about Shenpa: Shenpa and getting hooked
Getting Unstuck by Pema Chödrön (book)
In this stop-motion animation, Karen Chan highlights the way our fear can limit the way we engage with our lives. Although anxiety and avoidance have been researched and written about extensively (see Machell et al., 2014, or Dymond, 2009), Chan simplifies the complexity of ‘fear conditioning’—the (very adaptive) way we teach ourselves to keep safe by avoiding danger. However, beyond that, she brings to light the tendency to hang on to fearing old fears, even when they no longer present a threat. The questions at the end of the video prime us to take a deeper look at the terror we create with our thoughts and with our actions, as we continue to avoid what may no longer be dangerous to us. There is evidence that by doing this, we condition ourselves to keep living in fear even when there is no danger. In doing so, we may be missing out on important and enriching life experiences!
Roughly 80% of Canadians report drinking alcohol (Taylor, 2016). For many, alcohol consumption is a source of pleasure—enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, a beer with friends, a cocktail on a terrace. However, many Canadians drink in a way that puts them at risk for harm (physical or other), sometimes without even realizing that their drinking is risky! If you are curious about where your drinking stands, there is a tool to help you learn more about your drinking patterns. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) makes this brief survey available to all, and includes personalized feedback about your drinking. You can learn about how your drinking compares to others’, how much it costs you (not just financially!), and how quickly you metabolize the alcohol such that it is no longer in your system after you’ve had a drink. Check it out here.
Practicing Mindfulness is the art of bringing one’s attention to the present moment with purpose and compassion. Mindfulness has been linked to improved physical health and psychological well-being (Brown et al., 2007), and is often a first step in the journey of self-exploration and wellness.
You can practice mindfulness throughout your day-to-day activities, or, you can set aside time dedicated to mindful meditation. If you are looking to explore your own mindfulness and meditation preferences, there is a (free) app to guide you.
The Insight Timer app is a great tool for beginners and more experienced meditators alike. You can browse through guided meditations or simply set a timer for your meditation and proceed without instruction. You can choose from a range of meditations, some lasting a single minute, to others lasting upwards of an hour!
All the wonderful benefits of practicing mindfulness also extend to the workplace. In this context, mindfulness has been linked to enhanced performance, smoother interpersonal interactions and improved relationships with clients (Good et al., 2016). Taking a moment to slow down is essential in the world of multitasking and information overload. In fact, just a few mindful moments a day can stimulate creativity and insight in the workplace.
Check out this article to learn more about mindfulness as a way to jumpstart creativity at work.