Thursday, January 07, 2010

Life's Small Pleasures

By Kristen Boyesen, Life Learning and Creativity Coach
Published in The Bedford Standard, Jan. 7 ,2010

Winter has arrived in Bedford. As I began my morning walk this morning, I marveled at the mildness of the temperature even though the world was bathed in white. Small nuggets of snow graced the brown stalks of September’s blooms, now gone to seed and providing food for neighborhood birds singing and chirping in the trees and bushes near City Hall. It is the enjoyment of such small pleasures that creates connections to the inner goodness that is in us all, connections to friends and family, the community, and beyond. Appreciation for the small things grows like a vital seed sown into warm spring earth.

How does this relate to you as you plan your day knowing you will run out of time or energy before accomplishing everything on your list? How does it relate to everyone around you going through the same must-do way of life? You protest, “I do not have time for a walk in the snow!”

Do you have time for a free immune boost? Do you have time for creating new brain cells? Do you have time to awaken your creativity and energize your excitement for life?

Yes!

In your busy day there are plenty of opportunities for all this and more. Every time you are in a waiting situation (stop light, grocery line, on “hold”) is an opportunity for: 1) bringing feelings of appreciation into your heart for things in your life that are special, 2) immersing into the colors, shapes, and sounds of your environment … wherever you are, and 3) feeling empathy for someone in need, known to you or in the news.

Stress is a reaction to being over-booked with “good” or “bad” emotions or obligations. The physical manifestations to chronic stress are a lowered immune system and illness. Taking time to appreciate the small things every chance you get helps release the stress and boost immunity. Research by the Institute of HeartMath finds that, “Five minutes of sincerely feeling care or compassion” boosts immunity for six hours. Utilizing four five-minute breaks throughout the day to delve into appreciation (combined with the recommended hand-washing techniques, good nutrition and plenty of sleep) will be of great protective benefit during this flu season.

A new brain cell is created each time you engage in a new activity. According to Daniel Goleman in Social Intelligence, 10,000 connections to that newly formed neuron are added over the course of a month with the continuation of that new activity. Meditative practices such as the 5-minute appreciation exercise actually change how your brain is wired. You have the power to choose how you interact with the world. Stress or inner peace? Plant the seed you want to grow. Stress causes reaction. Inner peace allows for choice of action.

Once you begin to re-train your mind-body organism towards action rather than reaction, creative thought blossoms. A stressed mind/body is focused only on survival. Creativity is blocked because the brain is used up with coping strategies. Just as a slow computer is restored to fast functioning with a “clear and reinstall”, so do meditative practices help to clear the brain for improved functioning and access to global thinking and creativity.

Two months after one of my Imagination Arts workshops at a VA Medical Center a veteran ran up to me saying, “It works! It really works!” What worked,” I asked? “The Imagination Arts exercises! I used them to lose weight!” That was a creative use on her part for the meditative exercises that I offer people for emotional and behavioral change. I had never said that one could use them to lose weight!

The human body is an amazing collection of neurological connections. By focusing on the more powerful neurological energy of the heart and connecting it to the brain, one is truly able to re-direct one’s life. A daily meditative practice to clear brain-cobwebs opens the life experience to the wonder of the small things that are all around us at all times. The side effect? Boosted immunity!

Congratulations to Doug Smith and the City of Bedford for our new community newspaper, “The Bedford Standard”. It is indeed one of Life’s Small Pleasures. When all the small pleasures of life are experienced to the fullest, one feels true contentment.

Kristen Boyesen is a resident of Bedford offering art and meditation-based classes and workshops for core creativity training and empowerment for change. She belongs to the American Holistic Medical Association Speakers Bureau, the Bedford Senior Network, and Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio. She gives rehabilitation workshops at the Brecksville VA Medical Center and is a graduate student in Art Therapy and Counseling at Ursuline College. Contact her at Kboyesen(at)thebedfordstandard.com
Visit her at www.Art-Experiences.blogspot.com. HeartMath quote: “From Chaos to Coherence (the power to change performance)” by Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer, ©2008.

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