Mindfulness Meditation Class Schedule (Mid Sun Community Centre)

Finally, the meditation class schedule for winter-spring 2020 is here! Children & families welcome! An opportunity to train attention, focus, equanimity, and emotional self-regulation.

Do you ever have regrets about how you react?

When you are frustrated, is it hard to pause before reacting?

Would you like to learn some simple strategies to calm your body?

Would you like to learn how you can improve your sleep quality?

Do your children need support understanding and expressing their emotions?

  • MID-SUN COMMUNITY CENTRE
    50 Midpark Rise SE (Sundance Studio)
  • Twice monthly on Saturdays 5pm – 8 sessions
  • Feb 1, 22; Mar 7, 21; Apr 4, 18; May 2, 23
  • Adults $8 drop in; $40 to pre-register for all 8 sessions; children no charge.

Email Rosanna at rdagnillo@yahoo.com to register or call/text 587.998.9926

This workshop is presented by Rosanna D’Agnillo, B.A., M.A., the founder of Calgary Mindfulness, which offers meditation training to children from pre-K to 12, as well as adults, athletes, teachers, nurses, girl guides, and companies. She has taught in many Calgary schools, the Women’s Centre, and at the Tsuu T’ina Reserve. Rosanna is dedicated to promoting the support of mental health from the inside-out: understanding the why and what within, and learning to sit with ourselves in faith compassionately, as the foundation for taking meaningful action and coping with our ever-busier world. For more information, visit CalgaryMindfulness.ca.

How to set and achieve SMART new year resolutions

New year resolutions got you down and out? Are you afraid to try? You’re not along. According to US News & World report, most people have given up by February, and most people start losing motivation in mid-January. Don’t give up hope; here’s how to get it right. This is called the S.M.A.R.T approach, and it’s used for business management goals, and also I learned it in the Royal Conservatory of Music as a way to teach children music!

SMART new years resolutions


So let’s apply it to our new year resolutions also! This method, importantly, promotes self-compassion in our goal-setting and achieving. Without this key ingredient of self-love, our goals can’t take flight! When our goals are only punitive, we are bound to lose motivation and create endless opportunity for self-sabotage.

S – SPECIFIC
M – MEASURABLE
A – ACHIEVABLE
R – RELEVANT
T – TIMED

Be SPECIFIC – That’s what the S stands for, is specific. It’s not enough to say, I’m going to lose weight. Be specific- I will lose 10 pounds. Or, I’m going to meditate–rather, I will set up a daily meditation practice. Your new year resolutions must be very precise or there isn’t any way to set up targets and measure them.

Set MEASURABLE goals Visible progress is very motivating. What are you going to do to achieve your goal in a way that you can manage? Perhaps it’s not eat after 6pm. Or to walk 20 minutes, four times a week. I’m going to sit in practice 10 minutes in the morning.

Create ACHIEVABLE goals – This is where you might need a sanity check from a friend or family member about your new year resolutions. Since we like to set impossible goals that are not compassionate. “I’m going to be a size 4 like I was before I had kids.” If you do not have a meditation practice already, it is unlikely that you will sit in practice for 30 minutes per day. A realistic goal would be to sit in practice for 5-10 minutes in the morning before getting out of bed, or dedicating one activity for active mindfulness, such as washing dishes or driving. If goals are not achievable, with complete certainty we will self-sabotage and lose motivation, and risk getting on to the wheel of suffering and self-punishment, thus reinforcing our hidden, usually very old–and false– beliefs in our unworthiness and failure. In achieving small goals, we develop self-respect, self-esteem, confidence in our competence and so on.

Chose RELEVANT goals. There are many things we want to do in life – I would really like to learn to speak Russian, play the accordion like a pro, do a lot of hard core mountain climbing – but it ain’t possible to get it all done, and I have my physical limitations of time, ability, genetics etc. But it is reasonable that I can improve my sight-reading at the piano, or keep my spine limber so that I can sleep well and keep moving. When our hearts aren’t really in it, we can’t get anywhere. New year resolutions we set to please others, or to gain external approval are not right for us, so we can’t get traction. Rather, plan relevant goals–that is, plan from the heart: “what matters most to me, apart from the needs of my peers & community–so that I can achieve the highest and best for myself and community?”

Realistic TIME limits – How long do you think you’ll need to achieve your new year resolutions? Then add an extra 50%. That’s because we always underestimate how long it takes to get something done. Work in some slack-time or lapse-time into your schedule also. Otherwise when we get too behind, we lose motivation and give up. Our goals must be realistically timed to make sense in our lives!

Would love to hear from you on how this goes! Send me your stories. Kindest regards for an excellent new year and good luck achieving your SMART new year resolutions!

Three secrets to happiness in 2020 –

Three secrets to happiness in 2020 – happy new year and welcome to the new decade! I am remembering how freaked out people were by Y2K concerns twenty years ago; and can’t believe where the last 20 years have gone! Has it taken me 20 years to learn these secrets to happiness in 2020? YES. Because sometimes the easiest, simplest things are the hardest to believe and practice, since our culture and mindset in North America are oriented toward struggle and suffering.

Secrets to happiness in 2020

What are these three secrets to happiness in 2020? Read on!

  1. Secret #1 – Count your simple blessings. Do you worry about where your next meal is coming from? Do you have clean water? Shelter from the cold–a home, whether simple or large, and clothes, whether thrift or fancy–they all serve the same purpose and bring the same happiness. When our needs are always met, sometimes we forget how important these are, and we start feeling over-entitled, like a cranky toddler who can’t ever be satisfied. Overcoming these important challenges–hunger, thirst, shelter, safety–gives our life purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. Ask someone who has suffered physically–in war, deprivation and poverty and you’ll see what I mean. You won’t ever again take for granted the simple blessings that are actually pretty darn important.

    For me as a single parent running my own business, and with no child support, and also previously there being mental illness and addiction in the picture when my ex was around: the ability to provide for my children, to keep a simple house, to keep them warm in winter and comfortable in summer: this is my second-greatest blessing ever, and even when I’m really tired and frazzled, I know great satisfaction from being able to provide. I don’t know if I would feel this gratitude had I not had a few years of great hardship getting on my feet again after divorce. I feel as though I will never take this for granted.

    Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, taught that it is the removal of pain that brings true pleasure–a hot shower when you’ve been cold; finally getting to the toilet after a long wait – treasure these moments for the blessings they really are! I’m not kidding. There’s no great Oz of happiness out there somewhere; you’re in it right now, so enjoy!

    What is my number one blessing? Well, that’s easy: connection to God, the eternal!
  2. Secret #2 – Take in the wonder of your daily life – For city dwellers, surrounded by concrete and pollution and traffic and people, get out to enjoy trees, sunsets, mountains, walks, quiet, good smells, solitariness. For country people, get into the city sometimes to enjoy culture, buzz, fine dining. Familiarity breeds contempt and indifference; it is our nature. Material and sensory abundance have a numbing effect on our psyche: when we don’t have to struggle, we lose motivation and joy–we need some hurdles to overcome to feel renewed and reward. Our funny psychology! Yet we were wired this way to overcome great physical struggle for survival, and so let’s be compassionate with our nature, and surprise ourselves occasionally by enjoying something new right where we are!

    I have lived all over the planet, and realize this after moving back to my native Calgary with my kids in my late 30s: where you go, there you are. Every place I’ve ever lived in is really beautiful, with many outstanding amenities–whether it’s desert silence or the bustle of an artsy city–and so place doesn’t matter; what matters is our attitude of seeking out and appreciating habits as something fresh.
  3. Secret #3 – Self-control and discipline. A little self control goes a long way to helping us take great pleasure from our daily routines. When was the last time you felt really hungry? Really well rested? Took great satisfaction from watching TV? Don’t eat until you’re hungry; challenge yourself physically during the day so you’re physically tired at night (not just mentally tired) and limit pleasures like binge-watching, drinking, smoking, recreational drugs so that when you actually partake, you’ll really enjoy it but not get sucked into a negative cycle. Keep things simple; moderation is actually the way to achieve maximum pleasure from simple things like eating, exercise, entertainment. How do you feel after a big binge? Staying up all night with a TV show? When you’re really hung over or in a weed fog? If you’ve really pigged out at an all-you-can-eat restaurant? Terrible, right? Over-indulging always brings suffering. Self-control and simplicity brings self-respect, confidence, and helps us recognize the truth, that simple things are what bring happiness.

    There’s my two cents about the three secrets to happiness in 2020! Enjoy. Kindest regards to you and your loved ones for ease, clarity, joy and wonder in 2020!

Mindful Listening podcast

Hi there, here is a mindful listening exercise you can try with your family. This is a beginner mindfulness exercise, where we learn about the mindful body and practice mindful listening.

In mindfulness meditation, we can use the senses as as anchor. Listening, seeing, body scan, body sensations, taste, smell can be anchors for our mindfulness meditation practice, that bring us into the present moment.

Endlessly in our practice the mind wanders–because that is what the mind does! I heard Ringo Starr, a longtime practitioner of meditation, refer to the mind as though when it wakes up, eg, in the morning, it races off like a Ferrari. Yes, that it is my mind! That is the nature of the mind. A creative, excited mind will fire off in many directions at one time. This is what we are wired for; to build, create, problem solve.

And yet, without a break, the constant spinning of the mind will be exhausting for us! We need rest. Mindful listening allows us this rest.

Please listen to this podcast and come back for more.

Kind regards, Rosanna D’Agnillo – CalgaryMindfulness.ca

Mental Health Programs Pay Off: Study

Deloitte has released a study that proves companies which invest in preventive programs to promote mental health among employees make more money. Now, this seems very obvious–happy, motivated people make better results than depressed, unmotivated people! But now there is a study from a big company to prove that mental health investment pays off. Yes, it’s about time.

The study states that about 500,000 Canadians are unable to work at some point due to poor mental health or mental illness, and the direct/indirect costs are about $56 billion!

The fabulous news about meditation is that it’s free, instantly available at any time, and produces excellent results in terms of self-knowledge, clarity and equanimity when practiced regularity. Like water, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Intention as a mindfulness oppportunity

More of my teaching is moving to mindfulness of intention. A recent Calgary Herald article comes to mind, which encouraged parents to “put the camera down and treasure the time you have with your children now.” An excellent opportunity to be “in the moment”!

The writer, previously obsessed with documenting her children’s infancy, noticed she was focused on creating and saving moments for future public presentation, and simultaneously mourning the passage of time and infancy. She noticed the motivators of fear and guilt behind her work, and recommended just taking a couple pix instead of dozens.

I’ve noticed that I find it harder to remember events unless I have a photo documenting it. Perhaps that’s part of aging, or just being a busy single mom—sometimes it feels rarely possible for me to think/do one thing at a time and get it all done. I’d say it is both of these, plus something else: operating without clear intention.

Let’s take a moment to find the intention of this scenario mentioned in the Calgary Herald. Definitely, as the writer acknowledged, even her documenting of an event had little to do with the intention of savouring the moment. When our intention is not aligned with our heart and actions, this creates incongruence and suffering in our lives.

I can’t stress how important it is to understand what actually motivates our actions. Even eating healthfully will backfire if there is fearfulness associated with it: “I’d better eat better or else I’ll get sick.” Then we don’t enjoy eating healthfully; it feels like punishment and prevention, rather than a joyful opportunity.

How can we understand our intentions? Without mindful practice often we live and act oblivious to our inner truth. It is in learning to pay attention to our thoughts and emotions, the undercurrent that constantly during our thoughts, actions, sleep. Our undercurrent intenion will certainly pattern itself through many scenarios—do you feel under attack? Limited? Not enough time? Opportunity to be creative? Constant survival mode?

Start paying attention to this voice, to understand your true intention. Simple actions, even routines like cleaning, can become an undue stress in our lives when tied to thoughts of self-attack and victimization. No kind of vacation can cure this dis-ease, since, as my sister says, “where you go, there you are!” We bring our thoughts of self-attack and victimization to our fun, also!

The result is that no action can actually be truly fun or restful.

When we align our intention with our thoughts and actions with deliberate mindfulness, most actions, even grunt work, benefit from greatly reduced stress levels! How to make this real in the moment, quickly and effectively?

Find a way to feel good before you take action, and if nothing feels good, it is time to explore what is really wrong. Take, for example, doing the dishes: our gut response to a messy kitchen can be quite stressful. Stop, drop & offer thanks for the food you were able to prepare, for the cutlery and dishware that your hard work paid for and thus allows for a nice meal, etc. Or if the root problem is that you are always stuck doing this work and you resent it, time to make a plan. How to allocate the labor in a way that is fair?

But if we never stop and address our thoughts and actions with mindful awareness, we just can’t get there. Even such beauty as savouring our children’s youth can be tainted with our inner painful story, needlessly!

UNICEF report ranks Canadian children low on well-being – how Mindfulness can help

In Sept 2019, UNICEF released a report on the well-being of children in richer countries, ranking Canadian children in 25th place out of 41 wealthy nations. Canada came in behind countries with much smaller economies like Poland, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. The report stated that only 55% of Canadian children were happy with their lives! Here are some other surprising and disturbing statistics coming out of the report:

 

  • less than one-half liked school;
  • one in three children indicated they feel symptoms of mental distress regularly;
  • one in four children stated they were bullied regularly
  • one in four children identified as lonely,
  • only half reported feeling a sense of belonging at home.

Here, the stressors aren’t war, famine, and severe poverty, so we must turn to the key issue of mental health and well-being. It is vital for parents to check-in with our children, so we can teach them to identify the what and why of well-being. If they don’t feel good, why? What is really going on?

This is where mindfulness training, where we develop the capacity to sit with our thoughts and emotions, to identify them, and to watch them without letting them consume us, is so helpful. It is a key long-term strategy for assisting children in getting to know themselves, apart from the needs and offerings of parents, teachers, friends, and media. Mindfulness is not just a trend; it is a cornerstone of emotional / social development, literacy and well-being.

Thanks, Rosanna D’Agnillo

Mindfulness of the Inner Critic & Healing / Growing

Listening to your inner critic

Is your inner critic too loud? Are you a chronic overachiever, or pushing yourself to being wonder woman, working full time, caring for a family and even for aging parents? Take a moment right now to sit still and take ten deep breaths. Notice where your thoughts wander, when they zone out. Are you stuck in your inner critic’s audience, unable to shut off the show or leave?

Inner critic is a nice name. I actually refer to this voice as my inner ghoul! Sometimes I will do a short practice, say ten minutes, where I interrupt my meditation to write down the negative thoughts that come to mind. I jot them down in a notebook and then return to the practice, noticing the breath and body. Sometimes I come up with three pages of “why I’m unworthy” and “why I’m unlovable.”

Stopping to write down the nasty thoughts is helpful, because it gets them out of your head, where they have much more nebulous potency, and on to paper, where they appear in their true form–ridiculous, illogical, and punitive. I would never tolerate any such nonsense from family members, friends or colleagues and yet I bombard myself with it 24/7.

Want a quick look-see?

  • “I am doomed” [to fail at a task, in love, in my profession, as a parent].
  • “I am a phony” [at everything! A parent, musician, meditation instructor, friend, girlfriend, daughter, gardener, recycler and really an endless list] “and everyone will see through me and sever all contact with me.”
  • “I’ll never have enough.” [love, security, abundance, companionship.]
  • “I have made many bad choices and completely wasted my potential.” [at everything–marriage, parenting, career, finances, in my spirit practice].

Does any of this sound familiar? How do we tolerate this? Simple answer: habit and lack of mindfulness about it. Our work is to start paying attention to the attack, to make conscious what is just under-the-conscious. Once it is conscious, we can bring our big mammal brains to the task of understanding & problem solving:

  • Is this true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Do I need to make some changes?
  • Am I happy?

When the inner ghoul’s poisonous sound waves remain unobserved, they continue to wound much more deeply. Only in our mindfulness of this self-criticism do we create the space for examination, growth, healing and recovery.

Thanks, Rosanna D’Agnillo