Continuing Education

Stressed out? Mari Frank's Extended Education mindfulness seminar offers solutions

Mari Frank

Mari Frank says mindfulness techniques help her deal with people who are angry or in crisis.

Let’s face it. This can be a high-stress time of year. Too many last-minute projects to wrap up before the holidays, too many work-home time commitments, too much windy, dry, fire-prone weather (at least for those in California).

Mindfulness can go a long way toward easing that stress, especially stress brought on by conflict, said Mari Frank recently in a webinar sponsored by Brandman University School of Extended Education.

She should know. She deals with conflict nearly every day as an attorney and mediator. “Staying mindful in the midst of a crisis or when someone is angry, isn’t easy,” she said. “If we’re calm, we won’t be put off by the conflict of others.” Mindfulness or mindful self-awareness, she said, is “being in the moment, not frustrated about the past or worrying about the future.”

Quoting a variety of scientific and medical school sources, she said research shows, that besides reducing stress, mindfulness:

  • Boosts creativity
  • Improves your sex life and increases your libido
  • Builds happy and healthy habits that can lead to weight loss
  • Improves digestion and lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases anxiety, depression and anger
  • Decreases pain and improves cognitive processing
  • Increases focus and attention

Her ability as a mediator to focus on the issues behind the obvious disagreement helps those she’s working with come to terms with their options.

“If you’re calm, energy will surround you. People in lawsuits have a lot of anger. How do I deal with that? I listen to them. I repeat back what they have to say. I hear them and I speak slowly and calmly. It brings down that energy; it shifts the energy,” she said in response to a question about dealing with negative people. “Be ready to listen first.”

Yawning cat
Cats, and dogs, know that yawning helps them recover from stressful events.

She offered suggestions for working mindfulness into busy schedules – short exercises that can prevent overreacting to difficult situations or people.

  • Scan yourself mentally for those places where your body gets tense when you’re dealing with a difficult situation. Take three deep, slow breaths and focus on that area. “That’s where you need to pay attention.”
  • Take one-minute serenity breaths. “Breathe in peace, breathe out stress.”
  • Take 10 seconds to focus and enjoy your coffee, water or snack.
  • Take 15 seconds and rub your palms together.
  • Take 15 seconds to massage your arms.
  • Take 20 seconds to yawn and stretch. “When you yawn, you reset your brain. Yawn a couple of times before you go into a meeting,” she recommended, noting that dogs and cats are experts at yawning after a stressful event.
  • Take 60 seconds to pay attention to your slow breathing.
  • Listen to soothing music for 5 minutes.
  • Listen to a guided meditation. “There are plenty on YouTube.”
  • Take 10 minutes to meditate, read, pray or write in a journal.

Multitasking and focusing on the negative can get in the way of mindfulness, so it’s important to “be grateful for anything positive.” It’s also important to accept what’s beyond your control and problem-solve to make it better.

“If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you can remain perfectly calm, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate, if you can love everyone around you unconditionally … you’re probably a dog,” said Frank. “I wish I was more like my golden retriever!”

Humans have it harder. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you’re not mindful all the time. It’s a process, an evolutionary process.”

Listen to the entire webinar here: http://brandman.adobeconnect.com/pczt7bvcmy18/

More information is available at conflicthealing.com.

Brandman University’s School of Extended Education offers mindfulness workshops as part of its corporate training and business services. The workshop is available as a one-day session or two half-day sessions and can be held at any Brandman campus or on-site at companies. It provides a deep-dive into the topic.

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