Why mindfulness matters to your daily life

If you notice you have unease, anxiety, tension, stress or worry in your life – start to notice that your mind is not in the present moment in such moments.

When I describe mindfulness to people, I start by giving the common definition, as per Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is this:

Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose,
in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to things as they are.

But then I see a sea of confused faces looking at me, so I then say:

“And why would you care to learn and practice mindfulness?  Because when you are present, that means you’re not thinking about the future or the past, so you learn to create a better experience of life.”

Here is a wonderful reminder from Eckhart Tolle:

Not enough presence

This is one big benefit of practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation are called a ‘practices’ because they take practice, you may not think you’re getting it right, and they do take some effort. Definitely worthwhile.

Have a wonderful day,

~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey



Stop, Breathe, then Reframe to get through stressful times

Stop Breathe Reframe

Dealing with stressful times

Here’s an important skill to practice when you are going through a stressful time.  Whether the stress is dealing with an undesirable situation, or you just feel anxiety even when things are going well, this simple practice can lower your stress level significantly.

#1: Stop yourself and become self-aware.  To become self-aware, ask yourself questions about how you are feeling in that exact moment. Questions like:  “How am I feeling right now?”  “What am I thinking right now?”  “Do I need to be thinking about this right now?”  “Are my thoughts factual or am I creating stories or scenarios in my head?” Our thoughts can cause the stress.  This important practice pauses your busy ‘monkey mind’ and lets you objectively see what your thoughts are doing.

#2:  Breathe Although this may sound a little silly, it is quite amazing how taking some mindful, deeper breaths can settle you down pretty quickly.  Even if you are dealing with a stressful situation for days or weeks, take as many opportunities as you can remember to just breathe.  Breathe deeply, rhythmically, and let your torso and abdomen relax so you can really feel the expansion and contraction of your lungs and muscles fully – try to do this for a few minutes, but even if you can only manage a few breaths here and there, do it. This important practice invokes the relaxation response in your body.

#3:  Reframe.  Now here’s the more challenging part, but it’s worth doing.  Can you see the situation with a different perspective?  Don’t dismiss this challenge flippantly.  For example, if you are spending hours driving your parent around to doctor’s appointments, instead of being irritated by this, can you reframe this and realize that what you are doing is honorable and you can be glad that you are able to do this for your parent?  Most people are naturally wired to see the negative, so this practice takes effort to see things in a different light.  This important practice lets you change how you see and experience a situation.

I was inspired to write this post because I am faced with something in my life that’s unexpected and disruptive, and when I called upon this practice, it reminded me how powerful it is. I hope that this post has come to you at a time that is most helpful.  If you need it, please take the time to cultivate this and really make it work for you.


~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.



When change is imposed on you

lotus flower held by buddha

Find your own sense of self through difficult change

I don’t know about you, but I despise the phrase ’embrace change’. To me, it sounds like you’re supposed to give an unwanted change a big hug. While the change may eventually turn out OK or even for the better, while I’m going through it the last thing I want to do is be told to hug the change.

As an organizational change manager, I know all too well how people react and behave through change.  As a cancer survivor, I also know what it’s like to be faced with a serious disease and have your world turned upside down.

As tomorrow is my 6th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis day, I reflect on what it was like to deal with an unwanted change. Summing it up within a ‘change management model’, I offer to you my own experience. Text book explanations show transitions in at least 3 phases which can have many iterations within these phases. Every change is unique, and every person and how they react is unique.

Looking back, here is how my cancer journey went:

First phase:  When the unwanted change hits

Multiple feelings included shock, disbelief, ‘why me?’, tremendous fear, even a bit of numbness where life was happening but I didn’t feel like me. I felt almost like I was an actor in a movie and I had to my part, like the necessity of simple day-to-day things but it felt like I was given someone else’s life.

Second phase:  During the personal transition

After living with the news for awhile, I was able to center myself enough to make decisions, seek as much information as I could, and take charge.  I didn’t want to feel like a victim and became very self-aware of my thoughts, emotions and the intention I set for how I was going to move forward.  Mindfulness and meditation became a reliable friend for me, something I could meet every day and to find some peace. Healing emotionally and physically was my number one project.

Third phase:  Creating a new normal

Learning how to reintegrate into regular working life, focus on maintaining my health, regaining self-confidence and discovering my new identity was a major phase for me.  Again mindfulness and meditation were the cornerstones of my arrival for a new normal.

Yes, I am one of those people who can look back now and say that my diagnosis turned out to be one of the best things that happened in my life.  I have found and am living my purpose, have tremendous respect and gratitude for life itself, and love associating with like-minded people.  I’m grateful I was able to find my inner sense of self which made a world of difference to my experience.

If you are going through a big change right now, I hope this may help you in some little way. When you are in the transition state of a change, it absolutely can be daunting and unsettling, but such is life, and the choice is really ours as to how we show up in such times.

Wishing you love and light, and if you wish to discover meditation, I offer some free guided meditation recordings on www.TheCalmMonkey.com.

~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.


How meditation helps me through cancer

Only the people who have cancer can truly understand what it’s like to live through it. It’s got to be one of the scariest things in human life to deal with.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Once I learned how to deal with my journey through mindfulness and meditation, my experience with cancer changed dramatically.

One of the lovely people who has taken my workplace Mindfulness Meditation Facilitator Training course and is now becoming certified, named Debby from Kentucky, asked me to create this video for a cancer support group.  I thought I would put this out there in the hope that it may help other people going through this.

How meditation helps me:

  • Calms my mind and body, so my body can heal.
  • Gives me the strength to deal with this, and helps me feel connected to something bigger than myself.
  • Gives me perspective in life.
  • Helps me deal with stress so much better these days.
  • Allows me to be at peace with the decisions I make to heal and stay healthy.  Cuts out all the ‘noise’.
  • Cultivates inner joy.  It’s not a constant woo-woo joy, it’s more like a contentment that is with me most of the time.  On bad days, I am able to pull myself out of a funk in a reasonable timeframe.
  • …and much, much more.

I hope this helps someone out there.  Please know that meditation and mindfulness can change your experience through cancer, or any other rough things you go through in life.


~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.


It’s a day for all kinds of love

Feeling the love?  There’s love around you if you have a look.

Sending out love, peace and light to everyone, today on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Monkey with hearts

Spread more love in this world!

Sit for a mindful moment in gratitude for all the good things in your life.

~Wendy Quan, The Calm Monkey