Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: June 2024

The Most Important 12 Minutes of Your Day ... The Science Behind Mindfulness

Did you know you have the ability to time travel? Not only that, you do it all the time. As humans, we tend to get hijacked by mental time travel, constantly ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Most of the time, we don't even realize it's happening. When our minds are in the past or future, we are missing out on life. That is, the present moment - what is happening right here, right now, right in front of us. Not only that, our time traveling minds tend to accumulate negative thoughts and feelings that can ultimately spiral us into anxiety or depression.

Amishi Jha, ground breaking mindfulness researcher and author of Peak Mind, noticed that wandering minds and external distractions steal our attention away from what is actually occurring in the present moment. This robs us of happiness, meaningful relationships, resilience, and the ability to self-regulate.

Mind-wandering not only negatively impacts our mental health, but can also be devastating for those whose jobs depend upon their ability to keep focussed attention, respond appropriately, and make important choices. Think of military officials, firefighters, pilots, and parents.

Through extensive research, Jha discovered that practicing mindfulness was the ultimate tool for training our attention. She also found that it's not enough to have the intention to live mindfully, since we too easily default back into our mind-wandering habits. Dedicated time must be set aside to practice paying attention. When we practice mindfulness, we train our minds not only to maintain present awareness, but to observe what is occurring without judgment or reactivity.

But who in today's overdemanding world has time for a mindfulness meditation practice? We all do! Not only because it will make every aspect of your life richer and more fulfilling, help you make clear-headed decisions, and cultivate deep connections, but also because everyone of us can find 12 minutes a day. After numerous studies, Jha's research concluded that the minimum amount of time spent practicing mindfulness daily that will reliably produce positive results is a mere 12 minutes. Of course, if you can do more, even better!

I won't lie, mindfulness meditation is not easy. We normally use an "anchor" to focus on, like the breath, sensations in the body, or sounds we can hear. We can generally focus the mind for a few seconds before it finds somewhere else to go. But that is okay! It's part of the practice. Every time we catch our minds wandering, we simply guide our attention back to the anchor. We do this over and over and over again. Each time we notice the mind has gone astray and we refocus our attention, it's like a mental pushup for the mind.

If you are brand new to mindfulness meditation, you may want to begin with a five-minute practice, or even less, and work your way up to twelve minutes. Taking it slow increases the chances you'll stick with it. Practice 12 minutes a day for 30 days, and you will experience benefits that might surprise you.

There are many apps and websites that offer guided mindfulness meditations which can be very helpful, especially if you're a beginner. Try to practice at the same time every day, so it becomes a habit. I like to do my mindfulness meditation practice first thing in the morning.

Current research shows 12 minutes of mindfulness meditation is the minimum effective dose. There's an old Zen saying, "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour." I know you can find 12 minutes. If you stick with it, it will become the most important 12 minutes of your day.

Recommended reading:
Peak Mind by Amishi P. Jha
The Happiness Plan by Dr Elise Bialylew

Ankle Pain Relief with Self-Massage

Do you have stiff or achy ankles? Are you still experiencing symptoms of an old ankle sprain or strain? Is that new pair of shoes compromising your ankle alignment and causing pain? Are you a runner whose ankles need some extra attention? Do you have Achilles tendinitis or tendinosis? How about heel spurs? Calf cramps?

If you answered yes to any of these, you're in luck. Follow along with this simple and great-feeling ankle self-massage, designed to alleviate ankle pain and stiffness, and restore your range of motion.

What's new with me ...

I am so excited to announce that Unknown New York, written and illustrated by my exceptionally brilliant and talented husband Jesse Richards, is available for preorder today!

Jesse's breathtaking illustrations reveal more than 100 of New York City's secret places, such as a disguised rowhome subway exit, a park on top of an office building, an apartment filled with dirt, and a superhero supply store. Part guidebook and part art book, it's got surprises for tourists, history buffs, and native New Yorkers alike. Preorder Unknown New York now and be the first to discover its quirky and delightful secrets!

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Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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