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Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Lesson 5 of 9

Decenter Stress with Mindfulness

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

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Lesson Info

5. Decenter Stress with Mindfulness

Lesson Info

Decenter Stress with Mindfulness

So what I'd like to do is talk about how we can d center stress using I'm sorry, how weaken d center stress and the state of being triggered how we d center stress with mindfulness because mindfulness is the tool than to cause that pivot from being triggered and from experiencing stress to then entering a two different state doesn't mean or condone doesn't mean that the person was right or condone their actions, but it means that you're relate to it in a different way and that's the critical skill of mindfulness as it relates to stress. As I said, we can't eliminate stress, but what we can do is help ourselves relate to it in a different way, navigated in a different way and respond to it rather than react to it, because this isn't about just letting things completely being being passive but it's about being responsive. So there's this key mindfulness skill called de centering, where you essentially pivot the focus of your attention, pivot the focus of your attention from a stressful t...

hought or feeling right to an object of attention, your body or your breath, or even just in awareness of what thought you're having, right? Um and, for example, my son, he was nine years old, he brought this wonderful remote control toy out. Last night that he want to show the neighbors but he forgot really really important part of it which was kind of the battery pack right and you know, it was just he just didn't realize that that it wasn't there on dh at first he really didn't wantto kind of go get that because he was busy playing and I was starting to get a little frustrated with him I wasn't proud of it I was talking about what why don't you just go get it you know but he was having fun with his friends so I realized what what am I getting on him for this for it doesn't cost me anything to go upstairs and go get it and I kind of d centered my frustration feeling but then just say hey, you know what? It's ok you hang with your buddies and I'm going to go get it for you so in some ways it's to do this last bullet point is to enter into this mode of neutral observation this is what d centering is and enter into neutral observation mode you know pull yourself out of when you get when it cut got cut off there right? Can you pull yourself out perhaps like you did and enter into this neutral observation mode but let's practice this because the key thing about mindfulness is it's a skill like I said right? And so uh the skill of mindfulness as relates to de centering is the focused attention practice so two d center and teo exercise that capacity, you exercise the capacity of focused attention, and this is actually a formal mindfulness practice that takes the form also of of meditation, if you like on died like to just lead you through this exercise for the next few minutes, so the focus attention practicing, we have some if you're more comfortable sitting on a cushion or blocks or whatever, we have them right there as well in the room, but what I would say is that at home, find yourself in a comfortable position. You could also stand while you do this if sitting down is uncomfortable, but what I'd like you to do is find a comfortable seated position. We're going to practice focused attention, which is a skill that allows you to pivot the focus of your attention to a single single point, and we'll talk about what the benefits to de centering and to entering the observation mood are in this practice. But the first thing to do is just find yourself in a comfortable seated position in a way that is alert but relaxed at the same time, upright but not rigid, okay, so just find yourself in that comfortable position if you like, you can close your eyes or just director eyes downward, gently. To a single point um and we're going toe pivot our attention to a single point of focus and that will be our brief so begin to notice just your body where you're sitting the sensation of your feet against the floor the sensations of your posture because you sit in this way that's alert relaxed and now begin to notice your breathing again noticing the in breaths and the out breaths no need to count during this exercise just noticing the sensation of the breath coming in and out of your body the feeling of that full cycle of breath as it moves in and out of your body now for focused attention see if you can direct your full undivided attention to this experience of breathing full undivided attention one hundred percent attention to this experience of breathing the in breaths and the out breaths even the spaces in between whatever that means to you full focused attention on the breathing and it's very natural two notice that your mind may wander very natural that your attention may go to thoughts future past may go to feelings emotions we even go to sensations and perceptions like sound if your mind is wondered gently but firmly again bringing your full attention back to your breeding, focusing your attention on the breathing for a few more moments here and you have a very natural cycle of the mind wandering and then gently but firmly bringing back the attention to the breathing thean breaths and the out breaths focused attention on the breath the mind can be active and wander doesn't change your capacity at any moment to bring it back again to that sensation of breathing over and over noticing where your attention is in this moment and bringing the attention back to the breathing and then finally at your own pace taking three slightly deeper breaths with full attention and when you're ready you can open your eyes rejoined the group ok got really quiet in here really nice well, how was that for you share a little bit about your experience and again online I would invite you if you're tuning in online to please also through the chat room share a little bit a little bit about your experience through that guided uh mindfulness practice of focused attention so I'll come back to you all in the chat room in a minute but in the room how is the that for you anything to share about that experience? Yeah, that cut in general it almost seems like tio focus on relaxation like focusing on your breath is really the best way to shut everything out but it almost seems like you have to have something to focus on yes not focus great great really, really well said actually so you know there's many, many ways to practice mindfulness actually, but mindful attention to breath or focused attention as we like to call it is a really, really easy well is a really simple and practical thing to do I almost said easy but it's actually not easy it's simple but not easy because some of you might have noticed the attention you know very often goes and we know from research that out of harvard there's this great study that suggests that our attention wanders forty seven percent of the time it's just natural but this is a form of training where we're training the focus and what's simple and practical about focused attention to breathing is that you can do it at any time right? So I do this when I'm on the metro the bart here where I live in the california bay area andi I use it when the train is really crowded at rush hour and I'm feeling a little bit frustrated and anti or claustrophobic or whatever it might be I can always find the breath right and so this is a form of d centering that stress or and experiencing the breath on dh then the second thing you said was that it's always really useful tohave something to direct your attention to by way of practicing and that's true too we remember the root of mindfulness is to remember you know, to use our mind to direct our attention and so in this practice it's simply the breath very simply the breath later in this course, we're going to do some other exercises that focus on things like the body or things like broader perception, but for now this is a wonderful place to begin because it is simple practical and I assume you're all breathing any other, any other comments or reflections? Yeah, chris, when you said to think about the moments in between your breasts, all I noticed was my heartbeat and then I started like, uh, kind of involuntarily timing my breast with every four heartbeats. Yeah, you know what? And actually your point to fatima and chris, the key thing about the mindfulness practice is that it's not even as important exactly what you're focusing your attention on uh as that you're focusing your attention the way that this has often been described. My my teacher is a man named john kevin's in and he he often says the object of attention isn't as important as the process of attending right? So find a way to attend to your experience an anchor your attention anchor your awareness on that and the previous breathing exercises one way to do that to just counting sometimes simply that counting act can achieve a cz you experience the state of calm and mindful sort of a mindful state of calmness and focus do we have any comments or questions from from online yeah, daisy says that when she was doing the exercise it felt like she was sitting in a dark room in her head and she says in a good way okay, good, good. Sanders said that she seems to have a phd and it can be hard for her to focus on his breathing exercises. So this this really did help. Okay, great, great, great and it's very common for our minds to be very, very active that's part of what we notice and common myth and mindfulness is it shuts all activity and thought down in our mind, that's not how a lot of people think about mindfulness. There are some schools that think that way, but what I'm sharing with you today, this kind of more secular approach it's not about deactivating thoughts or the brain it's about noticing them with clarity, but then also being able to redirect the attention. Okay, great. Thank you. So, uh, what is useful about this is that it does quiet the mind doesn't deactivate it, but it quiets it, and some of you might experience calm when you do this. Um, we know what happens in our neurophysiology when that happens, which is that either limbic system they're reactive part of our brain tends to quiet down there's actually a study that shows that the amidala is down regulated. It quiets down when we're able to harness this capacity of our prefrontal cortex. This capacity to focus with mindfulness, as we have been on dso, stress has less way.

Class Description

Your job doesn’t have to overwhelm you! Learn how to skillfully navigate daily challenges and invite more peace into your daily life in Manage Stress Through Mindfulness with Wisdom Labs.

In this class, you’ll learn science-based techniques designed to help busy professionals manage stress amidst the chaos of work. 

You’ll learn: 

  • Breathing and relaxation techniques 
  • Mindful communication practices 
  • How to have difficult conversations 
  • Strategies for labeling and reframing stress 
 All professionals face deadlines, competing priorities, and challenging personalities at work. Manage Stress Through Mindfulness will help you develop the skills and resiliency to manage them.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Mindfulness Toolkit

Bonus Material

Resource Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Rich is a fantastic instructor. Organized, realistic, and relatable. I love it that he draws on scientific research, including that done by John Gottman (of the Gottman Institute). I tend to avoid attending lectures on mindfulnes and meditation because often it is presented in such a "new age" type of way - it isn't something I can relate to very well or find truly helpful. But Rich does a great job in this class in keeping it real and giving truly helpful and information and advice. Excellent course!

Swimming Ink

Rich shares powerful tools that I can see myself seamlessly applying to empower me through a variety of stressful situations. Thank you Rich!

Fati genese

I appreciated the way that Rich made Mindfulness approachable. I knew what Mindfulness was, but I needed ways of applying it into my life. Thanks for helping me bridge that gap Rich!