This 20-min restorative yoga practice is designed to help you relax, unwind, and experience self-compassion. Practice led by Kelly McGonigal, featuring Hattie Bluestone.

This video was created as part of the Boost Your Willpower program, a free 30-day online program to help you reach your goals while cultivating mindfulness, motivation, and self-compassion. Access the full program here.

boostwillpower

This 12-min flow yoga practice uses postures and hand gestures (mudras) to cultivate courage, compassion, wisdom, and acceptance. Practice led by Kelly McGonigal, featuring Hattie Bluestone.

This video was created as part of the Boost Your Willpower program, a free 30-day online program to help you reach your goals while cultivating mindfulness, motivation, and self-compassion. Access the full program here.

boostwillpower

This 21-min gentle flow yoga practice is designed to help you cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion through breath awareness. Practice led by Kelly McGonigal, featuring Hattie Bluestone.

This video was created as part of the Boost Your Willpower program, a free 30-day online program to help you reach your goals while cultivating mindfulness, motivation, and self-compassion. Access the full program here.

boostwillpower

This 23-min flow yoga practice is designed to awaken motivation and help you connect intention and action. Practice led by Kelly McGonigal, featuring Hattie Bluestone.

This video was created as part of the Boost Your Willpower program, a free 30-day online program to help you reach your goals while cultivating mindfulness, motivation, and self-compassion. Access the full program here.

boostwillpower

KellySpeakingHoping to wake up as some new, ideal you in 2013?

Most New Year’s resolutions are based on the assumption that who you really are is inadequate, and must be improved through self-discipline, joyless striving, and maybe a leftover Christmas miracle.

I invite you to take a different approach this year, one that starts from the recognition that whatever it is you want to be, do, or have, you already have the seeds inside yourself to make it happen. With a bit of focused energy and self-compassion, you can reach your goals. I call this approach “New Year, TRUE You.”

Instead of vowing to makeover your personality, why not commit to honoring your strengths and values? Give yourself permission to dream big, even if you’re more used to self-doubt. Take positive steps toward change even if you feel overwhelmed or unsure where you’re headed.

To help you with whatever your 2013 goals are, I’ve put together a guide to the various programs and resources I’ve created to support the process of change. Pick the one that seems like right fit for you; though they differ in content, the spirit is the same.

Happy New Year!

Best,

Kelly

“Boost Your Willpower: 28 Days to Create the Change You Want A Free 4-Week Online Program through YogaJournal.com

Through this exclusive Yoga Journal program, created by Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal, you will learn to identify what you really want and gain the tools and skills needed to reach those goals. You can do this program anytime, at your own pace. After you sign up, you’ll receive daily emails with links to asana practices, meditations, and self-reflection exercises to tap your inner guidance, focus your energy, and strengthen your willpower muscles. Plus, you’ll enjoy great information and tips about how willpower works and how to create a life that supports all of your goals. The program also includes invitations to live online chats with Dr. McGonigal.

Note: I’m especially excited about this program because it provides participants with free access to professionally produced yoga videos and guided meditations. The program includes four different yoga videos: a gentle flow practice emphasizing breathing stretches; a more energetic flow practice accessible to all levels; a restorative yoga practice; and my favorite, a simple flow practice integrating mudras (hand gestures). Sign up now!

Choose to Change” On-Demand 6-Week Video/Audio course from SoundsTrue.com

Do you feel stuck in old habits that no longer serve you? Have you been struggling to make a change that you know will bring greater health and happiness into your life? In Choose to Change, Dr. Kelly McGonigal presents a six-week online video course on the process of intentional change that blends lecture, experiential exercises and guided meditations, Q&A with participants, and more. CE credits available to a range of healthcare professionals. This series includes videos of previously live sessions, as well as downloadable MP3s of all meditation/self-reflection practices in the program. Get immediate access online at Sounds True.

The Neuroscience of Change” 6-Session Audio Program from SoundsTrue.com

The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Guide to Personal Transformation presents six live (unscripted) talks and twelve guided self-reflection and mediation practices to support the process of change. This audio series integrates the most exciting scientific findings about how the mind works with the wisdom of mind-body traditions like yoga and Buddhism. It deepens some of the most important ideas from The Willpower Instinct, including the importance of mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance for change. The program also provides practical support to help you explore and embody these qualities through breathing, meditation, and relaxation practices.

You can order the 6-CD set OR download the program in MP3 format at Sounds True. CE Credits available for the downloadable version.

Or order the 6-CD set from any major bookseller, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Chapters (Canada), and Indie Bound.

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats everywhere. Also available in Chinese, Dutch, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and other translations — check your regional booksellers to see if it is available. Published as “Maximum Willpower” in the UK.

I’m frequently asked questions about how to get started meditating, what is the best meditation for beginners, what is the best meditation for reducing stress (or training willpower, or cultivating self-compassion, or developing focus, etc.). Below is my favorite meditation for all these intentions.

You can listen to (or download) a version of these instructions and a 15-min guided practice here.

Mindfulness of Breathing

The intention of this practice is to turn your attention to the breath, notice when the mind wanders, and bring your attention back to the breath.

This meditation cultivates self-awareness, mindfulness, and the ability to make conscious choices about what you are doing. It also is good practice in not following every impulse or habit.

There are a few different ways to focus on the breath; choose the one that feels right to you.

The first involves labeling the breath. As you inhale, say in your own mind inhale, say in your own mind “Inhale.” As you exhale, say in your own mind “Exhale.”

The second approach is to focus your attention on the sensations of your breath. For example, you might notice the flow of the breath in and out of your nostrils. Or you could focus on feeling your belly expand when you breathe in, and release when your breath out. Let yourself notice whatever sensations of breathing are present.

The last approach is to count your breathing cycles. Each time you exhale, that counts as one cycle. So with your next exhalation, you would mentally count “one.” With the second exhalation, “two.” With the third exhalation, “three.” Continue counting until you reach 10; then begin again at 1. If your mind wanders and you lose count, simply begin again at one.

When you practice, you can use any of the techniques, but it’s good to find one you like and stick with it.

Your mind will inevitably wander. That’s not a problem; it’s part of the process. When you notice your mind wandering, let it point you back to the breath. Each time you notice the mind daydreaming, or planning, or worrying, or whatever the mind does – that is an opportunity to cultivate awareness, and bring your focus back to the present moment experience of breathing in and breathing out.

Have an attitude of compassion toward mental distractions. These are simply habits of the mind that contribute to our daily stress. When you find your mind wandering, gently but resolutely guide your focus back to the breath as an act of self-compassion — without self-judgment or preoccupation with the content of the distractions.

How to Practice:

Begin by practicing for 5 min, 1-3x day; build up to 15-20 min at a time, 1-2x day.

Meditate in a comfortable, upright position. You can sit in a chair, or on the floor with a pillow, cushion, or stacked blanket under your hips or. Sit with your back comfortably straight. If you are sitting in a chair, place your feet flat on the floor.

If sitting is painful, you can practice in any position that allows you to feel physically supported while also staying alert and awake.

Your eyes can be closed or open. If you leave them open, drop your gaze, and let the eyes rest, without wandering or focusing on anything specific.

As you practice, keep the body as still as possible. Make a commitment to holding the posture you have chosen, without fidgeting or moving around. This is an important part of training the mind to make conscious choices. See if you can feel the impulse to move before you mindlessly follow it; when you feel the urge, pause, and see if you can calmly observe the impulse without acting on it. Most of the time, the impulse will recede on its own.

Always end a session by appreciating and acknowledging your own practice. The success of focus meditation is your own willingness to sit, attend to the breath, notice when the mind wanders, and bring it back to the breath. Some days it may be easier to focus than others, but trust that as long as you are coming back, again and again, to the breath, you are cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, and the ability to make conscious choices.

My fall 2011 Stanford University course “How to Think Like a Psychologist” is now available as a series of free, downloadable videos through iTunes university.

In this fun course, I invited my favorite psychology and neuroscience researchers at Stanford to talk about their work and what it means for everyday life and real-world problems. Each class starts with a 45-min lecture by the guest speaker, followed by about 30 minutes of Q&A from myself and course participants. I had a great time grilling these amazing scientists about everything from politics to education, parenting, shopping, and the scientific process. You’ll even hear a few personal stories they’ve never shared in public before!

Featured speakers include: Chris Bryan, Philippe Goldin, James Gross, Bridgette Martin Hard, Brian Knutson, and Greg Walton. My special thanks to these psychologists for agreeing to let us share their talks with the world. (Several speakers declined, citing a “bad hair day” and other concerns. Oh well.)

Check out the full course at iTunes.

And for more details about my psychology classes that are open to the general public, visit Stanford Continuing Studies.

Enjoy!