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Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Lesson 6 of 9

Use Mindful Awareness to Beat Stress

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

Manage Stress Through Mindfulness

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.

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Lesson Info

6. Use Mindful Awareness to Beat Stress

Lesson Info

Use Mindful Awareness to Beat Stress

So let's talk about another mindfulness practice that will help with stress on dh this is mindful awareness how do we use the tools of awareness? Okay, we use the tool of focus previously now we're going to use the tool of awareness to beat stress eso what is mindful awareness now this is really the quality of non judgmental attention to our thoughts to our emotions to sensations we may feel he discomfort, pain um and two perceptions the ideas we have about things people circumstances, those air perceptions, the narrative mind right? But how do we become aware of that in this nonjudgmental way and become as the ceo of linkedin jeff weiner he likes to talk about this as being a spectator tow our own thoughts um this is the way to use mindful awareness tio understand our own experience and then to manage stress simply put it's the internal and external conditions that we experience. So the first aspect of mindful awareness that I want to share with you is this idea of labeling eso labeli...

ng ah thought or feeling a sensation or perception. So for example, I feel excited because I'm sharing this with you I feel a little warm because I'm pretty active up here and the lights are hot so that's a way of labeling my experience as it's happening in the moment so give it a name but here's the critical thing identify the emotion, the thought, the feeling without identifying it with it or even telling a story about it right? So I feel warm I feel hot now I could get to a story about what what does that look like in front of a room? Me being hot me feeling a little a little bit of sweat right? Or I could just go I'm feeling feeling hot I'm feeling warm all right? So that's what I want to encourage you to do is use that tool of awareness to become familiar with what thought feeling or sensation you have and just observe it without labeling it observe it without judging it that makes sense. Okay, so let's, try this again. This is a mindfulness practice like I said, mindfulness is a skill and it's really necessary to practice the skill on dso here we're going to exercise mindful awareness through a different type of mindfulness practice called open monitoring open monitoring s o for this one I want you to again exercise neutral observation I want you to notice thoughts, emotions, sensations, perceptions as they arise and just let your attention be there and if your attention shifts someplace else, then let it go there, but unlike focused attention training here, you're just letting your attention move wherever it moves ok? The key thing here is to do this in a choice lis effortless way okay and have it be easy. This isn't like a big strain this is just kind of entering this observation all mode all right, so let's give that a try as well so again finding yourself in a comfortable position relaxed but alert upright but not rigid close your eyes if you'd like and we're only do this for a few moment for a few minutes, so allowing yourself just this space too monitor your experience as it arises, becoming aware first of your body where you're seated or standing becoming aware of your breathing and now exercising open monitoring so letting your attention go wherever it chooses to go now, wherever your attention is right now in this moment notice where it isthe so notice what you notice so where is your attention now? What are you noticing in this moment? And now what are you noticing in this moment? Bringing in this quality of neutral observation this skill of observing without judging simply the movement of your attention? Now see if you might also begin to label your experience label a thought or feeling label a sensation you might have or perception can you give it a name? We're not telling a story about it and allowing your attention to move in this way monitoring your own attention in this choice lis effortless ease full way and as we begin to end this exercise again. Just checking in with yourself. Where is your attention in this very moment? What are you noticing? And can you even give a name to it? And as we like to end with three last breath, so just taking three slightly deeper breaths at your own pace and when you're ready, rejoining the group. Okay, so that's open monitoring of attention. It's ah specific type of mindfulness practice. It's very different from some of the other ones that we've tried, but I'm curious to hear what was your experience of that activity? What was your experience of that open monitoring? Yeah, pretty difficult, actually. Tio yeah. Remove choice and judgment. Has my mind kind of immediately went to, like a planning phase of all my to do list and I just like, I want to not be thinking about that. So but then I was inferring a judgment upon it. Yeah, we realize that. Yeah. So he's. Interesting. Interesting, right? Yeah, so, really good. Thank you for sharing that that's that's. A really key inside it's very hard, tio. Not tell a story about our own experience and the activity in our in our minds and it's often important to tell a story right there's value in sort of thinking about clicking off through the do list but what this is is an opportunity to do something very different this is an opportunity to just exercise and kind of pull out right into that observer moment going okay so well I'm kind of caught in this story about this and why that's useful for stress is sometimes we pressure ourselves so much but we convince ourselves of the pressure that we put ourselves into right and it's just the story yes there's deliverables yes there's a to do list yes there's things that need to happen clients that need to be responded to but the judgment about it doesn't necessarily have to be there right on dh so this is a way to just for a few moments just kind of go ok am I how's this going you know how my approaching this and by the way do you know how long we did that exercise for how long did that feel to you three minutes exactly yeah so that was a three minute exercise samar rhonda yeah what you felt longer it felt a lot long I felt longer than the last exercise that we did for some reason yeah yeah yeah interesting right now live yeah right, right. Um people experiencing some different ways. Yeah. We have some questions that are coming in this one comes from jim and he wants to know if you have any suggestions for how did he exercises like this in a hectic or busy space now right now it's kind of funny we're all in a studio here but totally what if you're in a busy office and people are moving around? Is this something where you should get out on your own or can you do it when there are other people a great question the answer is both right? So go out on your own and do this if you go out for a walk or even you know, get up from your desk or wherever you are go outside open monitoring is a great activity to do all of a sudden I often hear people say, well, when I do this I sort of realized the birds are singing you know, like they've been singing all along I just had really to do that because now I'm allowing myself my attention to monitor for that so going away from a busy spaces often it's useful to do this jim that's a great question but it's also useful to do it in an office environment in fact I would say or at work whatever your work isthe right? I would say that it's especially useful when things are especially busy or for example in meetings when things are especially heated right again rather than being triggered and kind of being in that kind of like stream of activity and noise and all the things they're going on this is the way just kind of pull up and go ok what I'm noticing you know I'm noticing like it's super noisy and here I'm going to seeing that you know, people are just running around with their heads on fire or you know, people really have low energy here you know it's always there's always an opportunity to do this and you don't have to necessarily sit there with your eyes closed and ok I'm going to open manner you can just do this kind of in stealth mode and the benefit again is it gets you in fact let me just forward to that slide it gets you into this neutral observation mode it allows you to kind of have some insight right because you're kind of taking this spectator to your own experience view um and at times it can actually extinguish if you do this enough as a form of practice and skill development it can actually extinguish a difficult feeling you might be having I gave the example my son I was just slightly frustrated him going on why did you forget that and then I was like why does it matter that he forgot it? I can just like help him out here so you could have fun with his friends right and all of a sudden that frustration disappeared, right? So being able to just kind of ok, well, what's going on can often allow you to take action, actually. And so this is the part of mindfulness that is about not being passive, but rather being responsive, but nor to be responsive, you have to have the skill to kind of go ok, let me just observe what's going on and then act. So great question, jim, thank you. Okay, any anything else? Any any reflection on this? I've got another coming here from some of the chat room who says that I suddenly realized how quiet it is in my room, and the little tiny noises is that I hadn't noticed before doing this exercise, and then they also say even forgot how hungry I am. Yes, oh, that's interesting, right? Right? Because sometimes we're just so connected into this one experience that we're having, right? So this again allows in many ways, this kind of expands your capacity for experience, tohave, broader experiences, and so this is something I really invite you to do, both formally and informally. So sit down and do this for three minutes like we did, but then also just do it in stealth mode as you're out there doing what you're doing, ok?

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.



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!


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!