Cosmic Scene with Jill Jardine

Exploring Mindfulness with Christine O'Shaughnessy

July 28, 2021 Jill Jardine/Christine O'Shaugnessy Season 4 Episode 75
Cosmic Scene with Jill Jardine
Exploring Mindfulness with Christine O'Shaughnessy
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Jill's guest is Christine O'Shaunessy, Mindfulness Meditation Trainer, and creator of the Mindfulness App, "Present. "  

Christine will share her wisdom on the practice of Mindfulness and answer questions such as "What is Mindfulness Meditation, What is the difference between Mindfulness and Meditation, and what is the brain science behind meditation." Stay tuned to the end of the episode when Christine leads us in a "Loving Kindness Meditation."

Christine O'Shaughnessy is the founder of Mindful Presence (www.mindfulpresence.net) which offers mindfulness meditation training to corporations, groups or individuals.  Knowing the effects that stress can play in people's health has inspired her to focus on incorporating mindfulness meditation into daily life. It is an integral tool for supporting transitional periods in one's professional life,  and helping with stress management, relaxation response, addiction recovery, anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain and long term illness. Christine has practiced Insight Meditation for 20 years, teaching for 18 years and is RYT200 (registered yoga teacher 200 hours) certified.

Christine brings the depth and knowledge of her previous career as a corporate executive into her mindfulness trainings, guiding individuals to become more mindful in the workplace.  She has worked as the Managing Director of a search and consulting firm, Director of Sales for a software company, and as a Vice President and Senior Credit Analyst at Loomis, Sayles & Co., an investment management firm in Boston.  She holds and BA in Finance and an MBA from Babson College. Christine offers Yin Yoga Intensive Teacher Training programs, and is the co-creator of Harvard Pilgrim's online instructional yoga videos.

In this episode, Christine discusses Mindfulness benefits including:  reducing stress and anxiety, strengthening the immune system, increasing one's ability to concentrate, yielding improved decision making, throughtful speech, and greater effectiveness of action, and enhancing overall sense of well-being and cultivating resiliency.   

Mindfulness will give practitioners: the ability to develop a regular and consistent meditation practice, social and emotional self regulation and control, stress tolerance and impulse control and practical skills to handle stressful situations.

Contact Christine O'Shaughnessy at:  www.mindfulpresence.net 

Contact Jill Jardine at:  www.jilljardineastrology.com

Unknown:

Welcome to Cosmic scene with Jill Jardine. I'm your host Jill Jardine, Masters in counseling psychology longtime astrologer, psychic, healer and Yogi. In today's episode my guest is Christine O'Shaughnessy, the founder of Mindful Presence, and she's going to teach us the benefits of training the mind. Make sure you stay tuned until the end of the episode when Christine will lead us in a Mindfulness process. Welcome to this episode of Cosmic Scene with Jill Jardine. My guest today is Christine O'Shaughnessy, who is the founder of Mindful Presence, which offers executive coaching and mindfulness training to corporations, groups and individuals, helping people thrive in emotional intelligence, leadership, and creativity. Christine's passion is on helping clients cultivate better responses to life's challenges instead of reacting in automatic habitual ways. Christine's areas of focus when working with clients is enhancing the emotional intelligence, helping people think strategically and motivate others to develop self awareness, self regulation and emotional self control to increase empathy, understanding and the ability to manage relationships. That's a big one everybody can use, right? Especially during this time of the pandemic. Christine can also help you increase your creativity and ability to innovate beyond self imposing limits and enhance your quality of life and overall well-being. One of Christine's strengths is understanding the effects that stress can play in people's health as they progress in their careers. And this has inspired her to focus her interest in incorporating mindfulness into daily life as an integral tool for stress management, self awareness, emotional regulation, addiction, anxiety, depression, pain, and long term illness. Christine works with a broad spectrum of executives and corporations, including nonprofits, investment and financial management firms, technology firms healthcare and education. Her focus is on helping individuals create work /life balance, while improving performance, communication, and fostering more behavioral flexibility. Christine brings the depth of knowledge from her previous career as a corporate executive, into her mindfulness trainings, guiding individuals to become more mindful teachers in the workplace. She has worked as the managing director of a search and consulting firm, the director of sales for a software company, and as Vice President and Senior Credit Analyst at Loomis, Sayles and ompany, an investment management firm in Boston. On a spiritual side, she has practice Insight Meditation and yoga for 20 years, teaching yoga for 15 years, and is a RYT yoga teacher 200 hour certified. Christine is also a senior mindfulness instructor for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the co- creator of Harvard Pilgrim's online instructional yoga videos, and the co-creator of the meditation app called "Presence," guided meditation. As well as being an executive coach for Landon. Christine has taught in the past at firms like Google and Harvard Business School. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome this very accomplished, individual, mindfulness instructor and my friend Christine O'Shaughnessy. Welcome, Christine! Thank you, Jill. Happy to be here. I'm so happy to have you on the show, because you have so much to share with our listeners. And I'm thinking they don't even know what mindfulness is. So maybe we should start with talking about what is mindfulness meditation? Yes. So what I like to start with is what it is not because there's so many misconceptions out there. So people usually think it's a relaxation technique. It's creating a special state, it's solving difficult problems. And it's not that any of those things won't happen, you will become deeply relaxed, you may solve a problem that's been eluding you. But the most important thing to point out is it's not trying to stop your thoughts. If you tried to stop your thoughts, you will go crazy, literally. The practice is actually just that, it's a practice. Just like learning a new language, learning how to ride a bike, learning a new job. It requires discipline and it is simple but not easy. And what it does is it creates the ability to see clearly where our habits and patterns no longer serve us and where they're actually getting in our way of creating a healthy, sustainable life. So Mindfulness is the ability to see what's happening in any given moment. Meditation is the actual formal training. Oh, interesting. So it almost sounds like it could be even easier than meditation to some people who can't you know, many Westerners, can't stop the thoughts or the mind. But with Mindfulness, it feels like you kind of observe the mind and see where it takes you. Is that correct? Yes, that is. And what might be some benefit?. So my listeners out there are like, Okay, that sounds like an interesting practice. They may want to know how you do it. But let's talk first of all about the benefits so we can really hook people in on this practice. What are some of the benefits of Mindfulness? So really, I look at it as a two pronged approach. So one benefit is, is the body the health of the body. We now know through scientific literature, from studying the shape of the brain, and how it changes shape when we practice, that we create a stronger immune system, we reduce inflammation in the body, we can reduce pain in the body, it actually slows the aging process. And we create overall well being. And then through studying the mind, we've now found that it helps in our daily life, when we have a consistent practice. We are more productive. We are more creative. We are more pro- social. We're better able to regulate our emotions. And we're better able to see other people's viewpoints and perspectives and not be so rigid in our own way of thinking about things. That's a very important attribute at this time, when everybody's trying to get their point across. Yes. So it also must help with the, as you said, the immune system. But it goes without saying it helps with stress and anxiety as well. Yes, because it's targeting a specific part of the brain, our amygdala, which is our fight or flight, our alarm bell. And what we now know, again, from imaging the brain, when people meditate is that the amygdala actually shrinks or becomes more dense when you meditate. And so it de-activates your stress response. And then other parts of your brain come on track. So you're better able to focus, because your pre-frontal cortex is activated. That's where we do and plan and execute our whole day. So it would help with your ability to concentrate, hold thoughts, say effective things, and obviously, do very well in whatever your work life is. Yes. That's excellent. The other thing I wanted to ask you here in this first segment, can you tell people a little bit of like, what, what how you would do it, how to -how to do mindfulness. And, also we're going to talk about in this program about how it's not like ah, you know, taking control of you or it's anything that's religious or that it has any connotation of being Voodoo as we, as we said earlier. That's correct. Anybody can do it, regardless of faith, belief. I love skeptics. You know, a lot of people say, Oh, I don't believe in this, and then they try it and realize they actually feel better. So when we practice, there's, it's really finding about what works for you and the way that your mind is. So I think apps are great, because people can try different things. But sometimes they try one style, and it doesn't work for them. So when I teach, I like to introduce people to many different styles. So practice can be done standing, sitting, walking, repeating a word. You can do it focusing on the breath. You can do it focusing on the body. You can practice by using phrases like loving kindness, meditation: "May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be at peace." So there's many ways to practice. There's other ways to practice where we process what's actually happening in the mind. So when we have a real difficult problem, or circumstance in our lives, a health issue, anything that's really taking up mind space, there are certain techniques, like something called "RAIN," which was developed by Michelle McDonald but made really popular by Tara Brach, who is the psychologist who wrote the book, "True Refuge." And RAIN is a way of actually processing some of these deeper conditions in in a meditative state. So there's many, many ways to practice. That's beautiful. My guest today is Christine O'Shaughnessy, and if you want to connect with her, find out more, maybe book a session. You can reach her at her email: [email protected] presence.net. Or go onto her website: www.mindfulpresence.net. Stay tuned for more. Welcome back. My guest today is Christine O'Shaughnessy, and we're talking about Mindfulness. Christine, I have a question for you. How can you apply mindfulness practice to something like eating? Is there such a thing as mindful eating? Yes, great question. So Mindfulness is used to be aware of everything in our lives. And eating. You know, there's so many diets out there and fads that we try, but they don't really stick. And it's really because we're not working with the underlying emotion that's triggering the habit of what you're choosing to eat. So for instance, you know, when you're stressed, if you find that you eat a bag of chocolates, or you drink a bottle of wine, or you smoke a pack of cigarettes, or whatever it is, you know, there's some emotion underlying that. And so what meditation does is it allows us to look at what is motivating us to make that choice. And it's, again, targeting the posterior singular cortex part of our brain. This is the part of our brain that regulates our impulses. Yes, so I've actually had clients who have extreme road rage, and they can't control it. And this is one of the things we're targeting is this part of the brain. But it's the same with eating. So if we notice that every time we eat, there's actually this underlying feeling of sadness or worry or anger, then we want to look at the emotions, and then what are the thoughts and your beliefs around those thoughts. And we work with them and allow the mind to process them in a way that we can see clearly, what is happening. So that that way, next time you're feeling really stressed and overwhelmed, you'll actually have the tool to put a pause in before you go and reach for that piece of chocolate cake, or that bottle of wine. And be able to just recognize, oh, this is fear, or Oh, this is sadness. So instead of identifying with something as like, I'm an anxious person, I am a depressed person. No, it's just anxiety, depression. It's an emotion. It's not who we are. So when we can stop identifying with these habits, and just recognize them for what they are. A deeply ingrained mental programming that we can undo. Then we find freedom from these cravings, and we make different choices. Excellent. So it sounds like it's making those unconscious impulses conscious through basically calling them out of the shadow, right? Yes, that's a great way to explain it. That's very powerful stuff. And so how many sessions would somebody need to let's say, they do have impulsivity with sugar, or alcohol or carbs. And they're, they're trying to get rid of it, but their conscious mind just, you know, beats them up. And it's like, oh, you know, just, you want to feel good, this is the way to feel good. So you would do session work with them when they're not engaging in the habit? And then that translates to, like you said, right before they're going to partake in their indulgence. Their mind says, Wait a minute, what am I doing? So So how many sessions would something like that take? So it really isn't a quick fix, right? So what we say is, it's a cumulative effect, the more that you practice, five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes a day, when we're really trying to overcome addictions, we want to really practice longer periods of time to train the brain, but it really would be consistent weekly work for at least a few months. You know, I always say to people start with eight sessions and and see where you're at. But there's been studies that show, Dr. Sarah Lazard at Mass General has done a lot of these studies when people meditate and do long practices like 40 minutes, twice a day. And they do this for like six months, they can make huge progress with with anxiety, depression, eating, bipolar, all of it. But the moment they stop meditating, within six months, some of those habits come back. So really, what we say is we want to look at these practices to be a practice that we take on to maintain our health the same way that we wouldn't think about going to work without brushing our teeth every day, we want to start thinking about maintaining the health of our mind as a daily habitual practice. So that it's something we do every day. Because what's going to happen then, when you're in the moment and you're really stressed out, you have to be able to call upon the tools that you've been training your brain to use in the moment and make that different choice. But if you're only practicing once a week or once every couple weeks, you're gonna have a hard time really cultivating and gathering that response in the brain. Right? It's like what a spiritual teacher I studied with back in the day when there were cassette tapes. They used to say you have to change the tape, you have to, you have to stop that habitual cassette tape in your mind that keeps having you repeating the practices in your life that you don't want. the things that are sabotaging you. So it's going to take some time practicing the mindfulness to undo and rewind, and in this day and age, really just step on that because that tape and get rid of it. exactly. And then sometimes, you know, I'll add in other techniques, things like tapping for people are familiar with tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique, because sometimes the emotions are so strong, we have to fast track to let the body and the cortisol levels come down so that we can access the mind. So I incorporate a lot of different techniques, not just mindfulness based techniques when I work with clients. That's great. That sounds like a very comprehensive. I'm sure you also bring in your background as a yoga teacher as well. And you also studied Buddhism, and so you have so many tools to pull on. But I would think that the yogic training and the Buddhist understanding. How would that, the spiritual piece, that also comes into play for those who want that right? Yes, for those who want it. So if you would like to find out more about Christine O'Shaughnessy, and her session, work with mindful meditation, contact her at www.mindfulpresence.net. So, Christine, when we're retraining the brain through the mindfulness practice, what do we need to do to make sure that it sticks? Is it sort of like when you work out at the gym, if you stop, the benefit of your muscle tone will go away? It is similar. So what happens is, when we meditate, the neurons in the brain fire together differently and wire together differently. And so this is essentially neuroplasticity, right? We change the structural shape of our brain. And so the same as when we go to the gym, say we do three sets of eight of bicep curls, and your bicep muscle gets bigger, and you work out three times a week for six months, and your body gets super strong. But then you stop going to the gym, eventually, that muscle fades away over time. Yes. And when we meditate, it's the same thing. It's this conditioning, of practicing every day that keeps those neurons firing, and keeps the brain stable, and even-minded. For some of our listeners who don't know that term "neuroplasticity," let's give them definition or understanding of how that what that is. It's basically brain fluidity, right? Like the brain is able to ... The brain is able to shift and change it. We used to, you know, 40-50 years ago, we thought the brain you were born with what you had, right? But we now know, the brain keeps changing. The same way that every seven years your body is all new cells. So it's the brain too. It's constantly changing. So you could start meditating at 80, and still have benefit. Hear that everybody? It's never too late to start rewiring your brain. Christine, I'm sure you've get people who are not understanding the whole concept of mindfulness, and they may ask you some questions. What are some of those questions that people tend to ask when they're exploring this process?

A lot of people ask:

Ss there, you know, a certain time of day that I have to do it, and there isn't, it's whatever time works best for you. I meditate. And I always have for 20 years. And it really helped me overcome really bad insomnia I had at the time when I started. The other common question is, you know: "Do I have to have a complete quiet space?" No, it's meant to be done in the midst of your life incorporating everything, sound sensations, smells. It's about being aware of what's happening, without letting the mind get caught in liking, not liking, wanting, not wanting, judging, right and judging, right. So really, it's whatever works for you, type of thing. And then a lot of people say, "Oh, do you have to have your eyes open or closed?" It's different. Everybody has different traditions and different ways that they practice. So really, it's whatever works best for you. Some people like to have their eyes open. Some people like to have them closed. Those are really the most common. What about like, can you sit and do it or do you go deeper if you lie down? It really, again, it's based on your condition, right? We all have different conditions. I work with people who have fused spines and can't sit and have to stand. There are people that are paralyzed. So really, it's meant to be accessible to anybody sitting, lying, standing down or walking. A lot of the teachers really guide people towards sitting. Because you're upright, you can kind of feel what's happening in the body, and they feel that you're less likely to fall asleep. But again, it really is based on your physical condition, you know, so if you're, if you're suffering from an illness right now, and you really have deep fatigue, and you need to be lying down, then you practice lying down. But the trick is not to fall asleep, if you think so yeah, stay mindful, stay, stay awake. If you fall asleep, you're not changing the shape of your brain, you're just sleeping, although that's beneficial. It's very different from sleep. So when we fall asleep, we're not practicing. So we have to wake up and train ourselves to come back to our object of focus. Beautiful. Can you share with our listeners, perhaps any testimonies of people? Any results, or any people who you've seen, you know, what are some of the outcomes that for some of your clients, anything, maybe something that jumps out at you that help somebody change their situation and maybe ultimately their life? You know, it's funny, lots of funny, antidotal stories through the years of teaching, I had one CEO come up to me, at the end of a multi week training course, at a corporation. He said, "You know, I've had this pain in my foot for two years. And because I'm a CEO, and I'm just, I have no time, I just keep ignoring it. And now you're asking me to sit all the time and pay attention to everything" And he said, it finally motivated me to make an appointment, go to an orthopedic surgeon, get it looked at and now do what I have to do have surgery to get done. And I've just been suffering for two years. So he's like, the practice finally gave me the space to see what I was avoiding. And I think I didn't have time for. And I hear that a lot from people. Meditation gives them a space in their mind to either deal with a relationship issue that's been hanging over their head for a long time or a war conflict. You're trying to decide, do I change careers do I stay where I am, but they can never get clarity in their mind. So meditation gives you that space. I've also have other people come up to me and say, you know, I never thought this would have happened. But for 30 years, I would get up every morning, go to work, get my giant cup of coffee, and drink it. And now that I'm doing all these practices, I get down at my desk, I sit, I drink my coffee and go, God, this tastes awful. Why am I drinking this? And I gave up coffee after 30 years, and I never in a million years thought I would do that. And that was another executive. So what we like to say to people is when you come to start these practices, and you come to a teacher, you may have certain expectations, but we always ask that you kind of put those expectation. Keep them at bay. Because sometimes you will be completely surprised some of the outcomes that ended up happening. Right? Your your mind might think, well, I'm doing it so I can get this or obtain this benefit or do this differently in my life. But yet, your mind or higher self or soul may say no, this is going to help you in this way because this is what's more important for your overall health and well being. Absolutely. My guest is Christine O'Shaughnessy, you can find out more about her and her services at www.mindfulpresence.net. When we come back, Christine is going to lead us in a mindfulness practice. So stay tuned. So let's begin with the practice getting comfortable in your seat. You can choose to be standing sitting or lying down. And we're going to begin just by feeling your feet connecting to the floor and feeling your whole body sitting here. And begin to just take a gentle breath in and as you breathe out, begin to allow your shoulders to soften. Taking another gentle breath in and as you breathe out, to allow your eyes to soften. Releasing any tension or straining held around your eyes. We are so forward-looking in life, our practices is an opportunity to look back and in towards our body with kindness and great care. Breathing in and as you breathe out, begin to allow your cheekbones to soften and fill your jaw gently release. And then directing your attention into the chest just feeling the gentle rhythm of your breath here. You may notice the chest rising and falling with each inhale and exhale. See if you can encourage a sense of widening and softening in the heart and chest space. As you gently breathe in and out. It may be helpful to imagine something that warms your heart as we begin these practices today. And then feeling the breath coming in and going out. And today we're going to focus on loving kindness meditation. Silently repeating the following phrases to yourself, as you imagine an image of yourself in your mind's eye. "May I be well and happy? May I be peaceful and at ease? May I be kind to myself in this moment?" Even if the words sound mechanical in nature, it's our intention to open and awaken the heart that matters most. Silently repeating to yourself, "May I be well and happy? May I be peaceful and at ease, ease of mind and ease of heart. May I be kind to myself in this moment." Allowing the body to be at ease. Allowing the breath to be at ease. "May I be well and happy? May I be peaceful and at ease? May I be kind to myself in this moment". If your mind wanders, gently return it to the phrases May I be well and happy? May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be kind to myself in this moment. Notice if you feel lighter within the body or the mind. These practices are like wishing yourself well. Wishing yourself a happy birthday. May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and at ease in my mind and in my heart. May I be kind to myself in this moment. And each and every moment. "May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be kind to myself in this moment." And then gently releasing the phrases resting in an awakened heart. Feeling the gentle rhythm of your breath coming in and going out. And then gently feeling your feet connecting to the floor. Feeling your whole body sitting here and letting your attention expand to sound. Noticing sounds inside or outside of the room that you're in. In meditation, a sound is just a sound. Now begin to gently track the sound of bells all the way to the end. If your mind wanders, gently return to the sound of the bells. And when you're ready, gently opening your eyes if they were closed. Coming back into this space, and notice how you feel. Notice what's happening. Making a soft mental note in your mind of one word to describe how you feel right now. And think if that would be the same word you would have chosen before you began the practice today. And that's our practice for today. I hope you enjoy it. Christine, thanks for being on the show today. It was very informative. Thanks, Jill. I enjoyed being here. I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Cosmic Sce e with my guest Christine O'Shaughnessy, teaching us about mindfulness and giving us an amazing mindfulness practice. Remember to download, share this episode, subscribe and give us a five star review. This is Cosmic S ene with Jill Jardine, signing out sending you healing min ful vibrations through the qua tum fi