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4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

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4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.

Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.

  1. You’re NOT “bad” at meditation

When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.

It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”

The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.

Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.

  1. The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation

Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.

Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.

When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.

  1. Don’t criticize your mind

We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.

Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.

Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.

  1. Let go of the outcome of your meditation

Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.

In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.

Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.

Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.

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Fl. Voters Notice Medical Marijuana Vote Missing On Their Absentee Ballot

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Fl. Voters Notice Medical Marijuana Vote Missing On Their Absentee Ballot

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

One of the most heavily debated topics on the Florida ballot is Amendment 2. Amendment 2 poses the question as to whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.  However, several Florida residents have come forward stating their absentee ballots were mysteriously missing amendment 2.

For example, resident Karen Goldstein received an absentee ballot earlier this month in Broward County.  When she looked for the spot to vote for Amendment 2, it was mysteriously missing.  Multiple Florida voters have now reported receiving absentee ballots without the medical marijuana initiative on it.

Filing Suit

Now, a lawyer has filed suit against Broward County officials stating the ballots could cause “irreparable harm” and deny residents their constitutional rights.

“The end result of this error is catastrophic and cataclysmic,” Norm Kent, a lawyer for marijuana reform group NORML, wrote in a filing obtained by the Miami Herald.

Kent is trying to get an emergency court hearing on Monday. It is uncertain whether or not a handful of absentee ballots were affected, or thousands of them. At the time of publication, Kent had received six calls about the matter.

A pro-marijuana campaign manager said election officials told him the ballots, without the question, were likely test ballots. Still, an error like this could be huge.

Florida, with its infamous reputation for polling problems, starts early voting on Monday.

The Amendment 2 issue is only now gaining media attention. Since last week, Former Oakland Park Commissioner, Anne Sallee, says she was trying unsuccessfully to get someone at the Broward elections office to pay attention to her complaint. She noticed on her absentee ballot that amendment 2 for medical marijuana was missing.

“They said, ‘Oh, no, you’re mistaken. It’s there,’ “Sallee recounted.

The ballot, which Sallee sent to the Sun Sentinel, jumps from Amendment 1 to Amendment 3. Somehow, the ballot was missing Amendment 2.  Last Wednesday, Broward Elections Supervisor Dr. Brenda Snipes said that her team found no evidence of these faulty ballots sent to voters.

“We have a check-and-balance system. We can go back and see what we did send to the printer,” Snipes said. “When you’re dealing with this much paper and this many people, we may have made a mistake. But I haven’t heard a lot of people saying, ‘I don’t have it, either.’ We’ve already sent [Sallee] another ballot.”

One of Many Ballot Mistakes

If there is an error in the ballots, it would not be the first this election season. Snipes and her team were just cleared on Wednesday for a major election mistake. Her office received criticism after sending inaccurate voter ID cards and for printing ballots for November that included the word “no” in the “yes” line on the county’s transportation sales surtax question.

Despite, the ongoing mistakes, Snipes said she has not seen any ballots missing amendment 2.

“We can’t find a copy of a ballot that does not have the marijuana issue on it,” she said.

Still, Sallee says both her and her husband’s ballots were missing the important question.  To warn others, she sent emails to neighbors to double check their ballots. Many of them found that their ballots were in fact also missing Amendment 2.

Assistant State Attorney Tim Donnelly said in a closeout memo Wednesday that the results were “negligently posted, for a brief period of time, prior to the closing of the polls. However, there is insufficient evidence that anyone purposely intended to post any election results prior to the closing of the polls, in violation of the criminal statutes.”

Ensure Your Ballot Contains Amendment 2!

Ultimately, a mistake like this could delay election results across the state.  Vote-by-mail ballots open on Monday.  If you are utilizing this option, please ensure your Florida ballot contains all the amendments that are in this election.

What do you think happened? How will you be voting? Medical marijuana is a serious topic of debate this year. Allowing residents of Florida the opportunity to vote on this topic is crucial. Overall, whether you agree with medical marijuana or not, you should at least be able to vote on it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free today.

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Saturday, October 22nd: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

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Saturday, October 22nd: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Author: Shernide Delva

The Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 22, 2016. Hosted nationwide, the DEA will use the day to provide a responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. Another focus will be educating the public about the potential for misuse and abuse of these medications.

“Eighty percent of new heroin users started by using opioid prescription drugs,” explains DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. “DEA’s National Prescription Pill Take-Back Initiative is a way for families to prevent drug use, abuse, and overdoses by ridding their medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted and expired medication.”

Released last month, the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that approximately 6.4 million Americans age 12 and over abuse prescription drugs. The same survey showed that each and every day, 2,500 teens take a prescription drug to get high for the first time.

Reason for Take-Back Day

Prescription drug abuse exceeds the total drug abuse of cocaine, heroin, magic mushrooms, LSD, mescaline, and methamphetamine combined.  Since drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, it is more crucial than ever to have a drug-take-back day in this country. Drug overdoses kill more people than car accidents.

Furthermore, at the last semi-annual event in April, more than 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines were collected at 5,400 sites spread across 50 states. Together, this totals an incredible 447 tons of medications, exceeding the previous record of 390 tons back in spring 2014.

According to the DEA press release, the top five states with the largest collections were:

  1. Texas (almost 40 tons)
  2. California (32 tons)
  3. Wisconsin (31 tons)
  4. Illinois (24 tons)
  5. Massachusetts (24 tons)

Over the past six years, the DEA has collected and destroyed about 6.4 million pounds of unused prescription drugs in total. More than 3,800 members of local law enforcement agencies and community partners participate in the program. National Drug Take-Back Day is not going anywhere and will continue to be an unqualified success. It clearly is needed more than ever before.

DEA Special Agent in Charge, Stephen G. Azzam, points out,

“Prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, destroying countless lives. The DEA’s Take-Back initiative provides another way to address this epidemic and a safe way for our citizens to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs and reduce the threat they pose to public health and safety.”

If you would like to locate a National Prescription Drug Take-Back collection site near you, please check out this helpful link.

Drug addiction is an epidemic spreading worldwide. Drug overdoses are taking away lives at tragic numbers. Prevent the drugs in your home from abuse by disposing of them correctly. Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back day. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Instagram App Offering Mental Health Intervention

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Instagram App Offering Mental Health Intervention

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Social media and online networking are such a relevant aspect of our world today. With entire enterprises rising from online marketing, and children carrying smartphones, technology continues to be integrated into all areas of life by leaps and bounds. So with social media being utilized for basically every purpose, from personal to business, it is no surprise that some forward thinkers continue to find ways to put these all-encompassing outlets to good use.

Though stunning selfies full of filters, scenes of nature with inspiring quotes, and aesthetically perfect pictures of food dominate the Instagram app, the social media site isn’t void of some damaging content. Instagram is still used as a platform for some questionable photos, like pro-anorexia and pro-self-harm posts.

To fight back Instagram is now launching a new tool that allows users to issues. But they don’t stop there. The Instagram app also steps in to offer intervention options.

Instagram App VS Eating Disorders

The Instagram app already actively takes a stand on promoting positive mental health in some areas. It tried in 2012 to put a stop to pro-eating disorder posts. Often hashtags like #thinspiration and #ana are attached to these posts, so to prevent these tags from attracting admiration, the Instagram app tried to make these tags unsearchable. They also disabled accounts and added content advisories.

Some hashtags are banned completely, such as:

  • #thinspo, short for the pro-anorexia phrase “thinspiration”
  • #proana, another pro-anorexia phrase

Still, other potentially problematic tags fall into a gray area and are still allowed. The Instagram app had to witness the issue head-on when researchers examined 2.5 million posts between 2011 and 2014, also analyzing 15 pro-eating disorder hashtags that were banned or moderated. What they found was truly disheartening. For each banned/moderated hashtag, there was an average of 40 spin-off hashtags.

For example:

  • #anorexia, as banned, there were 99 variations of the hashtag, such as- #anorexique or #anoexica
  • #thighgap had variations of #thygap and #thigh gap
  • #bulimia would be transformed into #bulimiah

According to the study, these variations even boasted more comments and more “likes” than the originals. So when the Instagram app tried to shut down the pro-eating disorder exploitation of their forum, users found loop-holes. Spin-off hashtags are also noted to exhibit a higher focus of self-harm related posts.

The Instagram app was trying to make a difference, but the fight evolved with their efforts. It is time to implement new strategies.

Instagram’s #Intervention

Now the Instagram app is putting some of the power to act in the hands of other users. Users can now anonymously flag posts about self-harm or other mental health issues, and Instagram will step in.

But Instagram isn’t militantly and automatically shutting down every post that gets flagged. Instead, the Instagram app is taking a compassionate and proactive approach. Once a picture is flagged, the user who put up the image will see a message offering help:

“Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”

Then, the app will offer to connect them with a helpline, assistance in talking to a friend or getting tips. If Instagram app users search any of those questionable tags, they’ll also be directed to the same support page.


Instagram developed the new tool in dexterity by uniting with a variety of resources, including:

  • National Eating Disorders Association
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

They even reached out to real people who have struggled with eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal thoughts personally to come up with the most effective and compassionate message. Instagram COO Marne Levine said in a recent interview that,

“We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress. At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don’t know how best to reach out,”

“These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder.”

In this writer’s opinion, this is an awesome innovation. This doesn’t attack the individual making the post, but instead offers support and displays concern in a positive light. Not to say there is anything wrong with banning hashtags or other methods of regulating social media. This just seems like it does not isolate the individual as much, and instead shows someone who may be suffering care and kindness. Instead of silencing a cry for help or sweeping it under the rug, it puts a solution on the table.

This kind of intervention by the Instagram app not only tries to protect those who may be susceptible to the negative impact of these images, it also promotes mental health solutions through positive outreach.

Well done Instagram.

Eating disorders and other mental health disorders are often co-occurring with addiction or substance abuse. Understanding dual diagnosis and providing holistic treatment can be very essential for effective and lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling, please don’t wait. Call toll-free and find out how to get help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

$50,000 Jackpot Winner Denied Funds Due To Drug Money Connection

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$50,000 Jackpot Winner Denied Due To Drug Money Connection

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Imagine winning a $50,000 jackpot only to be told you cannot keep the money…

Dreadful, right?

Well, that scenario just happened.

In Illinois, $50,000 lottery winner Tykisha Lofton will no longer be able to cash in her winnings. The state forfeited her jackpot because they determined the lottery ticket was bought with drug money. Illinois strictly bans winners from collecting lottery earnings if the ticket was purchased using money earned illegally.

A Sudden Change of Heart

At first, a judge ruled Lofton would be allowed to claim her winnings. The judge felt honoring the forfeiture clause would have been too harsh. However, the government of Illinois overruled that decision and ultimately the state will keep the winnings instead.

If Lofton had cashed in her ticket, she would have received a lump-sum payment worth more than $35,000. Unfortunately for her, she will not be taking home a dime.

Conflicting Stories: Who Bought the Ticket?

Authorities became suspicious when the stories behind who had bought the lottery ticket were constantly changing. Initially, Lofton told authorities she bought the lottery ticket with babysitting money.

However, in 2014, police raided the home she lived in with boyfriend Terrance Norwood. Norwood was sentenced last October on charges of drug dealing, drug possession, and armed violence. Lofton was present when the raid took place, but she insisted she was unaware her boyfriend dealt drugs.

The stories between the couple continued to conflict.  Norwood said he had purchased the lottery ticket hoping it would be a way out of buying and selling drugs. Lofton then told authorities her boyfriend bought the ticket, but she was the one who scratched off the winning numbers. She also continued to state she bought the tickets with babysitting money. Authorities soon realized the stories were not adding up and were likely fabricated.

The case made it to a Macon County judge who ruled the ticket was probably bought with drug money; however, the judge decided to reward the lottery earnings anyway. The judge felt using the forfeiture laws to take the sum away from the couple would be too harsh.

State Courts Overrule County Decision

When the state appeals court found out about the ruling, they overruled the decision.

“Because of the direct link between the lottery winnings and the funds used to purchase the original ticket, the winnings can reasonably be considered ‘proceeds traceable’ to Norwood’s illegal drug sales,” wrote the appeals court.

Ultimately the state appeals court felt it would not send a good message to let Lofton and her boyfriend continue to gain from winning earned from the selling of drugs.

Other Crazy Drug-Related Lottery Stories

This is far from the first time lottery winnings and drugs have been mixed. In 2015, Ronnie Music Jr., 44, won a $3 million Georgia Lottery jackpot but didn’t give up his day job of trafficking meth. Instead, he invested the money into his meth business. Music Jr. pleaded guilty in July to federal drug trafficking and firearms charges. He is yet to be sentenced but could face up to 10 years behind bars.

Furthermore, a 2002 British lottery winner, told The Sun in 2013 that he blew all of his £9.7 million ($14.4 million USD at the time) jackpot winnings on cocaine, prostitutes, and a lavish lifestyle. The man was Michael Caroll, and he now makes about $300 a week in a cookie factory. Despite his change in earnings, he admits he lives a much happier life these days. He stated he would have been “dead in six months” if he would have continued the lifestyle of drinking and drug taking.

All of these crazy lottery stories confirm that problems do not always disappear with money. In fact, they often become worse. Addiction and mental health affect all walks of life, and an increasing paycheck does not make the problem go away. You have to make the decision to change. We are here to help you on that journey. We have the tools to guide you to a healthy sober life. Do not wait. Call toll-free now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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