Mindfulness for anxiety

The growing body of evidence supporting mindfulness/meditation as an effective intverention in helping with anxiety is undoubtable. Research from Oxford shows significant improvementsreductions of 58% in anxiety (GAD-7), 40% in stress (PSS) and 57% in depression(PHQ-9). Take a look at this great set of guided meditationsThe use of these exercises is discussed in both of our books: Mindful Way Through Anxiety and Worry Less, Live More 

Click to play, right-click to download 

  1. Mindfulness of Breath
  2. Mindfulness of Sounds
  3. Mindfulness of Physical Sensations
  4. Mindfulness of Emotions
  5. Mindfulness of Emotions and Physical Sensations
  6. Mindfulness of Clouds and Sky
  7. Mountain Meditation
  8. Inviting a Difficulty in and Working it Through the Body
  9. Your Personal Experience with Self-Compassion
  10. Mindful Observation of Self-Critical Thoughts
  11. Mindfulness-based Progressive Muscle Relaxation
    1. Instructions
    2. 16 muscle group exercise
    3. 7 muscle group exercise
    4. 4 muscle group exercise

On gratitude

Gratitude is one of the 24 character strengths. It has its own holida in the US and Canada. It has a host of positive health benefits

Consider Louie Schwartzberg gorgeous 6 minute film on gratitude.

Here are some nice guided meditations and exercises to focus you on gratitude:

What’s the best mindful app?

With over 700 Apps in the sore it can be difficult to decide which one to choose. You could end up buying a fine timer, but it will not teach mindfulness. About a year ago, researchers published a study evaluating apps using the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) targeting
  • functionality,
  • look,
  • information quality,
  • engagement, and
  • subjective quality.
The top free ones?
Below is the list of the ones that fair best in the vaulation. 

Visual: The Effects of mindfulness

How good is mindfulness? Very good:

Book Review: Grit

Angela Lee Duckworth has released her long awaited book that follows up from her stunnng Ted Talk:


Angela has spent all of her academic career investigating what she believes is one of the defining characteristic of successful people.

The book opens with the drop outs of westpoint, which she spoke on her Ted talk. She expands on her research there and follows up with Spelling Bees. While familiar grounds, she goes in much deeper with a meander through human achievement research with the likes of GaltonEricssonCsikszentmihalyiWillinghamCox, and several others. Her pulling together, in one volume, proves the most useful part of the book. While her own anecdotes provide some insight, but lack weight. Her own research is only in its infancy. So the details she provides gives useful backdrop for the coversation, except the conversation is one sided. She really does not address can one have too much grit? The answer is Yes!

Having just completed the book, I have aimed to pull together the best strategies for building your grit (not all of which Angela discusses):

On Angela’s website she is asked about parenting and teaching for Grit and replies:

The entire book is about teaching grit. Before I became a psychologist, I was a classroom teacher. It was as a teacher that I discovered how important psychology was to a child’s achievement. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every chapter in this book has special relevance to teachers. Chapters Two and Three might be especially useful when explaining the importance of effort (versus talent) to students. Chapters Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine on interest, practice, purpose, and hope are where I define the four psychological assets that lead to grit. In Chapter Nine, I talk about parenting for grit—but the same dynamics play out in the classroom. In Chapter Ten, I explain why Harvard and other colleges are eager to see students cultivate their grit in extracurricular activities. Finally, a teacher who wants the classroom culture to support grit will find Chapter Twelve full of examples of how to do that.

 That is one significant problem with the book. Her research reveals little about how to cultivate grit in real, normal circumstances. Million dollar organizations like West Point and Seahawks are not the real world. Paul Tough did a far better job outlining and illustrating a plan in How Children Succeed

Ethan Ris takes her task in an important Op-Ed for the Washington Post:

There’s more to the story, however. In a recent peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Educational Controversy, I examined the history of the discourse surrounding this special trait. It far predates Duckworth’s research, of course. My investigation led me to two conclusions. The first is that the widespread assumption that grit is a salient concept for low-income students is a stark misconception. The second is that while grit theory offers little of value to those disadvantaged students, it can certainly harm them, by romanticizing hardship.

Still, this is an important book. Already number 13 on Amazon (Behind Dr Seuss, a Deit cookbook, a pre-teen story about Greek Gods, Harry Potter, Alexander Hamilton, Bill Clinton, and two adult colouring books–so clearly not as important as all those escapes from our Gritty world, but still important), this book will be a big seller this year.


Book Review: Grit

Angela Lee Duckworth has released her long awaited book that follows up from her stunnng Ted Talk:


Angela has spent all of her academic career investigating what she believes is one of the defining characteristic of successful people. Having just completed the book, I have aimed to pull together the best strategies for building your grit (not not all Angela discusses):

The book opens with the drop outs of westpoint, which she spoke on her Ted talk. She expands on her research there and follows up with Spelling Bees. While familiar grounds, she goes in much deeper with a meander through human achievement research with the likes of Galton, EricssonCsikszentmihalyi


Mindfulness strategies by personality type

According to personality theory, when an individual becomes stressed, they will find themselves in the grip of their shadow side of their persoanlity type, sort of a distorted view of the polar opposite of one’s normal personality. While much research ahs shown the benefits of mindfulness in handling stress. Now a couple of writers are advocating specific mindful practices to specific personality types to combat stress. 

The ideas below come directly from Gabriel Taylor and ring true to my thinking on both meditation and personality types. Read the whole ArticleBasically, for each type she suggests one or more of the following practices:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spiritual meditation
  • Zazen meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Movement meditation

Mindfulness meditation: This is the most commonly known meditation. By being present, allow whatever thoughts occur to rise then detach. Be aware of your breath patterns, deep breaths mean you’re slowing down and relaxing, shallow breaths means you’re tensing up. This quieting of the mind by letting thoughts come and go and being more of an observer will naturally allow the meditator to let go of any invading thoughts, the goals is not to empty the mind but to notice and let go. This is ideal for ISTJ, ISFJ, ISFP and INFJ.

Where to start?

Spiritual meditation: This is a good solution for those that are facing a problem and need a higher power for guidance to work through it. You can practice this anywhere quiet, just sit still, form your problem into a query and listen for your higher powers guidance. This meditation would be good for the types ESTP, ENTJ, ESFP and ESFJ.

Where to start?

Zazen meditation: This meditation is more traditional and takes disciple to practice due to long periods of stillness in one position. Its focus is on holding position, focusing on breath and being discipled to stay present with a clear mind for long periods of time. It is perfect for those that are unafraid of self-study and reflection. Types such as INTP, INFP, ISTPand ENFJ may find the challenge appealing.

Mantra meditation: Is simply repeating a word or words while meditating. You can look to tradition and use Om or bring your own like love or joy. Chanting helps keep the meditator focused and cuts down on distraction for deeper meditation practice. Types INTJ, ISTPand ISFP would benefit most from this style.

Where to start?

Movement meditation: For those that find it difficult to sit still and do nothing or be silent. To gain the multiple benefits of meditation, one doesn’t have to sit and be still. You can still clear your mind, slow your thoughts and let go of stress by slowing down your movements, and listening to relaxing music. Yoga, Qi gong, walking, are movement meditations. For example, in yoga, you can chose to meditate on one thing while you are going through the poses, like peace of mind. You can also take a nature walk, and mindfully let go of any stress-full thoughts. Some will even practice this while doing chores, it’s just a matter of being present. ENTJ, ESTJ, ENTP and ENFP personalities will find this exercise may suit them best.

Where to start?


Qi Gong —video instructions

Walking Meditation guide here and another more philosophical one here

Here is some more detailed options

For the Data Lovers

To see the full set of data, please click here 


SMILING MIND, the free Australian mindfulness website and app provides a simply jumpstart into mindfulness while aiming to raise funds for charity. Join the 7 day mindfulness challenge now.

Starting the path of Mindfulness part 2: For your students

Teachers, mindfulness is terrific for you. It has been shown to result in “significant improvements in stress, wellbeing, mindfulness, and self-compassion” of teachers who learn and practice it. And it has super benefits for students:

  • Increased emotional regulation
  • Increased social skills
  • Increased ability to orient attention
  • Increased working memory and planning and organization
  • Increased self esteem
  • Increased sense of calmness, relaxation, and self acceptance.
  • Increased quality of sleep
  • Decreased test anxiety
  • Decreased ADHD behaviors- specifically hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • Decreased negative affect/ emotions
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Fewer conduct and anger management problems

Sounds good, right? So how to get started? For those on a budget, I suggest starting with Smiling Minds from Australia. It is very well scoped and sequenced, comprehsnive and well laid out. 

Select your age group


Rate your mood before and after:


All the meditations can be streamed or downloaded to itunes

Super clean interface, nicely laid out. Learn more at their Youtube Channel

.B is a project of the Mindfulness in Schools project has a wonderful program but you must be trained in order to access the ten lessons:


They do offer training all over the world. Here is the founder talking about how it works. 

The other major player is John Kabat-Zinn with his Mindfulness Based Stress Reducation. They also require training:

Hear John speak about the project. 



See mindful in action with such documentaries as Room to Breath


And Healthy Habbits of Mind (complete movie Below):



Goldie Hawn Discusses Her Mind Up Program 


and with dan Siegal at TED MED


Move Into Learning is a hybre approach including mindfulness, yoga, movement etc. 

Starting the path of Mindfulness part 1: For yourself



Here is an EXCELLENT summary on many benefits of Mindfulness

Did you know… mindfulness meditation actually makes positive structural changes in your brains neurocircuitry? This physical “re-wiring” of your brain increases attention, focus, and concentration, as well as reduces stress and cortisol levels, improves sexuality and mood states, slows aging, enhances empathy, improves emotional intelligence, as well as treats addiction, anxiety, and depression.

and a wonderful video summary

Did you know that if you stay in the moment, you are happier…even if the task is not one you love?

So says Matt killingsworth of Track Your Happiness.  By downloading and using this free APP, it will not only help you be more mindful, but also help in further research. Here is what Matt has learned so far:


Getting started on your own meditation

There are several websites offering advice about the actual mechanics of meditating: GIAIM, Zen Habbits, Mindful, GoodlifeZen

  • Basically they all offer similiar tips:
  • Make it a routine
  • Get comfortable and create a space. 
  • Turn off phones and other distractions. 
  • Start small and work up to bigger meditations
  • Forgive yourself when you don’t quite get there. 

I think doing it with someone, taking a course or following a specific program is a very good idea. Some free options:

Smiling Mind

They have a special 7 Day Challenge Starts Feb 16th. 

Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience Starts March 16th. 

A really well laid out 8 week training of MBSR. No fees, no regsitraions. Just dive in. Not just the meditation, but reading and videos. Very nice. 

Insight meditation has a ack to basics 6 week course, complete with audio and written transcripts. 

Get yourself an iphone (or Android) App or two

App developers have done a truly wonderful job bringing mindfulness to our mobile world. Some are medtitation timers, others are simply reminders to take a moment, while others offer guided meditation and tracking programs. Lifehacker, Outside Magzaine, and Healthline have all recently done a “best of” roundup recently. Some common ones include:











More advanced options

UCLA offers up some great free guided meditations:

Title Length    
Breathing Meditation 5 mins Play iTunes
Breath, Sound, Body Meditation 12 mins Play iTunes
Complete Meditation Instructions 19 mins Play iTunes
Meditation for Working with Difficulties 7 mins Play iTunes
Loving Kindness Meditation 9 mins Play iTunes
Body and Sound Meditation 3 mins Play iTunes
Body Scan Meditation 3 mins Play iTunes
Body Scan for Sleep 12 mins Play


Not to be outdone, UCSD also offers more great meditations and Yoga lessons:


FreeMindfulness has done wonderful job compiling various free meditations.