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February 10, 2013
Last time we met here we discussed SECRET #3: Gratitude. I suggested playing with gratitude to enjoy it and to ensure your success. We are all fragile at times and it’s so important to succeed. Equally important is congratulating yourself when you do -- in even the smallest thing.
SECRET #4: Be conscious of your relationship with yourself.
This topic is fascinating. After all, who is more interesting than you? Having a fabulous relationship between you and yourself may be a new idea. But even if it isn’t, for this next two weeks I invite you to pay attention daily to how you speak to yourself in thoughts and words. And how you treat yourself, physically. Also, how you allow others to be with you verbally and/or physically.
As you watch how you are with yourself, keep this question in mind:
“Would I treat my best friend the way I'm treating myself right now?”
That’s an effective question for guaging whether you are neglecting your personal needs, or being kind, loving and respectful to yourself. The better your relationship is with yourself, the better your relationships will be with others.
For instance, although December is behind you, other celebrations are coming up. What might Valentine’s Day hold for you? If sadness or loneliness is triggered, will you be able to shift your focus?
I have been applying SECRET #3 all month, deliberately expressing my gratitude when I’m alone and with others. Recently I applied SECRETS #1 and 2. I had to admit that a man I was dating has different goals from me and it’s over. On Saturday afternoon when I would have been preparing for a date, sadness and disappointment came up. Once I noticed my down feelings I could take an honest look at my thoughts.
Remember? Thoughts determine feelings. Ah! I was thinking not-so-nice thoughts about the guy, trying to disguise blame in the nicest possible way. But negative thoughts will always feel bad and you just can’t feel happy doing negativity.
I remembered that my feelings are a choice, and I knew how I really wanted to feel. So I began expressing gratitude for what I have (rather than what I don’t have). Soon my energy was clear and I felt happy. I experimented with including the guy in my gratitude list at least a little.
Next action step:
This final step is little known, yet it’s vitally important in your relationship with yourself. Here it is. I acknowledged myself. I handled the break up fairly well. I had respected and honored myself and after a while, I also thought well of him. I celebrated this success with a couple of friends and a good movie.
This brings us to the end of 4 SECRETS.
Remember to use my free meditation download. Then visit the store for my Guided Nature meditations for variety to keep it interesting for you.
"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." Calvin Coolidge
My dear and wise brother-in-law, a fellow meditator, contributed this perfect quotation today. I wish you each a wonderful day to celebrate in your own way, whatever your spiritual path is. In the end, only love matters.
Life is for learning to perceive love in everyone and everything, to bathe in love, and offer only love to others in all our thoughts, words and actions.
As a holiday gift I am including a talk by one of my teachers, D.R. Butler:
Enjoy D.R. Butler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVTNg3t3y20
Season’s greetings to you!
This time of year can be challenging for many people. Our focus on happiness is timely and this begins the third of four parts.
At this season I want more than anything for you to be gentle with yourself and others. The action step associated with this is expressing gratitude.
First, be grateful to yourself for your daily efforts: walking the dog, playing with your child, sharing food, you name it.
Secondly, inwardly express gratitude to others – regardless of whether it’s a good relationship or not. This feels good and melts uncomfortable barriers. I suggest making it a habit.
Finally, express your gratitude outwardly where possible (e.g. cards, words, actions) so people know they are valued. Everyone is fragile at times. Your kindness is appreciated.
SECRET #3: Gratitude
You may think you’re not getting enough love, money, praise, or something else. Thinking this way, blaming, is toxic. You might honestly believe someone is holding something back that you need. They are not. When you feel you haven’t got enough there’s something going on in you that only you can shift. It takes willingness to shift your focus from “not enough” to “I’m grateful for everything I have”.
You’ve heard it before but you haven’t necessarily comprehended. I’m speaking of the immense power of gratitude: to heal, change, and increase your lot in life.
You must grow your own capacity to receive. This means making a certain type of effort. This is because happiness is an inside game. Remember Lesson #1? “Happiness doesn’t and never did depend on something ‘out there’… Anything out there is also temporary. Oh yes, it will change, grow old or be lost through time or nature. What kind of happiness is that? … I want independent happiness that doesn’t depend on something outside. That’s what meditation does for us.”
OK, so how can you grow your capacity to receive? I think of it as exercising my receiving muscles. Meditation helps. In my experience, meditation re-wires the brain’s emotional center, growing my capacity to (1) value myself and (2) receive love in all its infinite forms. The results are epic!
As you consciously develop gratitude you co-create with grace. Meditation happens through the grace of your perfect inner, higher self. On the other hand, the virtues (gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, etc.) require your personal participation. They involve choice, motivated by wanting to be the kind of person you aspire to. Needless to say, your choices must be constantly refreshed and your virtues must be cultivated. Otherwise, they both will get covered up by other more interesting but very temporary stuff.
Co-creating with your own meditation energy by practicing gratitude is truly a fast track to finding permanent happiness, as every great Being has taught throughout the ages.
As a holiday gift I am including a talk by one of my teachers, D.R. Butler:
Enjoy D.R. Butler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVTNg3t3y20
November 12, 2012
A lot has happened since last month so let’s check in.
Are you noticing the thoughts you’re having? And how your every thought creates a good, bad or neutral feeling? Doing this is incredibly cool! YOU create your happiness or the opposite. Just by thinking!
Noticing what you think will empower you to start choosing your thoughts deliberately. Exciting? This is the realm of science. I bet you never thought of meditation this way! By being more aware of your thoughts and words, you will have more control over the one thing you can control – yourself and how you want to be in the world. You don’t even have to believe it, just experiment and see for yourself.
Let’s apply SECRET #1 to a current example.
How do you feel about the US Presidential election outcome? Are you happy and relieved? Or angry and frustrated? Note your feeling/s.
OK, next tune into your thoughts about it. I mean the actual words you are speaking, either to yourself or out loud. Listen to yourself for a few moments.
Did you notice? There is an immediate response inside as you tell yourself and others your thoughts about the election. This is also true when you are listening or reading the media. This inner connection between thoughts and feelings can be shocking.
Mystics like Rumi and Hafiz knew the effect of words (sound). Scientists have proved the effect of sound and some musicians consciously work with sound to heal, like harpist Alix Weisz.
You can apply this brilliant technique to any example in your daily life. Doing these steps shines a laser light on the culprit; in this case, the words you think and speak that actually cause your pain. And with practice you will have the willpower and ability to change your words and thoughts for better ones, even as you hear yourself thinking or speaking them. This is rich! This is the inner work and yes, it takes repetition and commitment like anything worthwhile.
SECRET #2 is: Focus on what you want. Use your words to create good feelings.
Last week I encountered some technical and time obstacles. When Friday came, I could have said, “I’m glad this week is done!” but instead, I said out loud, “What a great week!” I was a little surprised by the words that came out. I was very pleased that what I teach others I do myself.
For this month, identify one feeling you want more of. Each day practice choosing the thoughts that you’ll have to think to create that feeling. Play with this. Discover what works. Jot down a few words in your notebook about the process and outcome.
To be continued . . .
September’s SECRET#1 is: strengthen your mind. It means managing how you think - thinking in a way that ensures a good outcome for all involved - not just for you and yours.
Life is too short to get serious about trying to change others. We have a cultural habit of making people wrong by arguing to prove we’re right. Then we keep talking about and reliving our pet complaints for the next 30 years.
We wonder why we aren’t happy. Hello... we did it to ourselves. By unkind, mean thoughts we miss the simple love and fun life is meant to be. Let’s stop doing that to ourselves and others in our life.
My friend and a great teacher, D.R. Butler, says in his Living in the Truth of the Present Moment blog, “People change. Don’t see them as they were in the past ... that's not flowing.”
Even if you don’t inwardly agree with them, and you don’t have to ever agree, you can still look at their perspective through their eyes. You can have that much patience and compassion for someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s your husband, wife, boss or neighbor. You can deepen your understanding of another by doing that.
Truth is, having mental strength is even more valuable than physical strength! And no one can do it for you. I think it’s especially important to gain mental and emotional strength as we age. Our maturity, spirituality and happiness depend on it. And we all age.
Everyone wants true happiness (you may call it serenity or inner peace). People spend a fortune and a lifetime searching in the wrong place. Happiness doesn’t and never did depend on something “out there”. It would be too easy if it could be bought, invented or discovered. Consider this. Anything that is out there is also temporary. Oh yes, it will change, grow old or be lost through time or nature. What kind of happiness is that? Obviously not the true kind! You want happiness that lasts into old age and beyond, don’t you? I do. I want independent happiness that doesn’t depend on something outside. That’s what meditation does for us.
In SECRET #1 your assignment was to begin noticing how your thoughts cause your feelings. Write a few words, as thoughts bring on good / bad feelings. Noticing this connection will develop awareness and self-esteem. You may find you have more choice about what to think and how to feel.
Would you like to know more?
... to be continued.
Years ago in a workshop a speaker said, ”This is the age of Kali Yuga (Sanskrit words meaning negative values) and is the reason for how the world is today.” He added, “Just read the front page of any newspaper”.
How can you create happiness in negative times? After trying everything else, you might find, as I did, the need to strengthen your mind. Strength of mind helps you get free from the core cause of disharmony and unhappiness -- the need to be right and make others wrong (family, government, employers).
When you stop making others wrong, even if you don’t agree with them inside, you begin growing your compassion. When you allow others to be right, just as you allow yourself to be right, mental and verbal arguments end. Relationships become harmonious.
In the 1980’s when I was 30 I met a true master of life whose teachings I have since applied to the best of my ability. It has helped tremendously to have some like-minded friends who are also doing the inner work to change themselves (rather than others). A strong mind is capable of courage, flexibility and patience.
The mind is indeed awesome but untrained can be stubborn. Perhaps you’ve noticed? It takes courage, perseverance, and motivation to make your mind an ocean of happiness. You need a reason, a why, that is bigger, stronger than your negativities.
There are four ancient secrets for strengthening your mind. Would you like to know them?
SECRET #1: Re-train your mind.
As you may recall, somebody else taught you how to think. Remember? Odds are they weren’t all that happy. So step #1 requires a decision to re-train your mind to think properly.
Now this is a bit controversial…”What does it mean to think properly?” “Who is she to tell me I don’t know how to think?” Honestly, there’s only one measure: If you’re happy, please don’t change. Stop reading now. But if you’re not content, not happy, not peaceful…do continue.
Thinking properly means thinking in a certain way that generates inner harmony. It means tuning in to your thoughts like a radio station, seeking harmonious feelings, good and pleasant feelings. Anyone who is happy has pleasant thoughts and will tell you: feelings are the fruit of the thoughts you think.
“Thoughts are things”. You may want to consider them like this. They were given to you along with toys and other things when you were little. No wonder we treasure our own thoughts! But few of us were given happy thought-things in childhood. Criticism, fear and worry are examples of negatives we received.
The great news is happy thinkers have applied this knowledge and become happy! Practicing this secret creates good feelings inside!
For now, notice what you think. Become aware that your thoughts are connected to how you feel. Jot down anything you notice.
... to be continued
Friends of mine recently named their baby girl Star, reminding me of certain teachings. Judaism says YOU are a spark of the Divine. Christianity says you are Christ Consciousness. And Eastern mystics say you are the Self, meaning the one Consciousness in all. How awesome that many great religions state the same truth despite their differences and dogmas.
As a young seeker of the truth it took some digging to find Christianity’s real heart beneath the dogma. By the time I’d found it, I’d already turned to a spiritual path. Spiritual paths often emphasize meditation, an experiential method leading to the inner Self and extraordinary peace.
One principle of spirituality is expressed beautifully by D.R. Butler who says:
“Be content in this present moment. It's the only actual life that we have. All else is memory or imagination. Right now is real, and our experience is determined by how we focus our attention. This sums up everything.”
You may want to visit his blog:Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.
We run into trouble when we forget who we are, our true identity, that divine Consciousness. In addition to meditation, we can glimpse it in nature, or holding a newborn, making love with our beloved, or enjoying a perfect meal. That deep contentment, love or serenity that arises when we are just being who we are, being Consciousness, is our deepest human need.
Everyone shares the same Consciousness. Imagine someone in the mountains of Nepal appreciating the starry sky while someone in France, Siberia, the USA and Argentina does the same. That inner sensation of wonder, peace, and happiness is identical in everyone. Only our thoughts and actions differ.
This is what we search for, trying to reconnect with it. We know it’s somewhere because we’ve experienced it occasionally. But we’ve forgotten – it’s inside. Although situations and people can trigger the experience they aren’t the source. We are.
When we look in the wrong places we feel disappointed. How often do we try to recapture that moment of bliss by recreating some outer stimulus? That’s what addictions are, whether it’s sex, substances, cookies, facebook or fast cars.
After meditating for a while, it occurred to me: happiness and contentment require that I wake up, realize the source is inside and constantly connect with it. I am still learning how to hold onto the contentment and peace of meditation for longer periods, taking it further into daily activities. That’s the true goal of meditation. It takes practice, meditating a little every day.
My teacher said meditation is similar to saving money. It builds so when you need it there is something to draw from. When life throws you a curve, if you have a reserve of meditation, you’ll have strength and peace to draw from. And it takes only a moment to reconnect with your happiness.
This month marks 100 years since Titanic made its calamitous maiden ocean voyage. I’ve been watching a very touching re-enactment on TV...
When passengers board they are shown to first class, second class or steerage according to the ticket they could afford. Steerage rooms are below decks. The only time the classes mingle is during church services or by personal invitation.
When disaster strikes what stands out for me is each one’s inner state. With only two hours until the ship sinks people panic, looking out for number one. This raises the million-dollar question: How would I behave? Would I fight for a life boat seat? Could I forget my wants and help others? What would I do?
It’s a good one to deeply ponder. I’m pretty certain that I’d help even while at some level there would be a desire to fling myself into a life boat. All I know for sure is: this is exactly why I meditate – to change myself from the inside.
Panic is a natural “fight or flight” response to a physical threat. Meditation helps you develop a new pattern, allowing you to go deeper within where stillness (and universal love) resides. Absolutely everyone has it. Most people aren’t in touch with it or even interested in it.
Some top athletes consistently go to their inner quiet place and visualize the outcome they desire. That is meditation. It’s going beyond the busy mind by choosing one focal point. In the free Meditation Escape audio the focal point is your own inner light and it feels good to focus on it.
Perhaps you’ve been trained in the military and have developed your inner state: alert, observant and ready to respond. You may not call it meditation but whenever there is mental discipline there is meditation.
There are all types of meditation. Some people meditate on success or beauty or other priorities. I meditate on love, the kind that is courageous, accepting and generous; it crosses all boundaries and seeks harmony in the present moment, despite the appearance of differences or conflict. An inner state where love and service are the priority is the outcome of daily meditation on universal love (often as light).
A peaceful inner state means aligning your priorities: doing what you say you’ll do, thinking of others’ needs, helping where you can, taking care of daily tasks promptly, doing your best, and being kind to yourself when you goof. And acknowledging yourself often for completing any of the above.
I often think of all this as re-parenting myself; healing wounds unintentionally inflicted by life. When it’s all too much and self pity creeps in I ask the question, “What can I take with me when I die?” I love this question because it sorts what’s temporary, and hardly important, from what’s permanent and extremely important. I remind myself that the inner state of love can’t be lost. I meditate each day to stay connected to it. That’s the true life-boat!
Where are you in your life? Are you sharing your gratitude with others? Or are you spreading your unhappiness?
People often tell me about their difficulties. We’ve been so thoroughly trained by the media to look to others for solutions and blame others for our pain. Let’s look at the blame thing today.
Blame doesn’t really make any sense. Here’s why. You don’t blame anyone when you feel happy, great, and amazing. You know your happy feelings come from inside yourself. No one ‘makes’ you happy. If you create your happy feelings, it follows that unhappy feelings also are your own creation. You can’t take credit for one (feeling happy) and not the other (feeling unhappy). Feelings are yours and yours alone. Knowing this is the secret to having a good life.
Only you can change how you feel inside. If you don’t feel happy, change it. Now I know this goes against the grain. Oh sure, people can tell you things you want to hear – “Hey Jan, you’re fun, nice and I love you.” Do you know how many people don’t believe the good things others say about them? It’s because unless you love yourself, what someone else says won’t count.
Learn to be your own best friend! Treating yourself kindly is part of maturing and is the pathway to loving yourself. You may not love yourself very much right now. I’m here to tell you, all it takes is the genuine desire to love yourself – and then behave as if you do. It’s definitely a spiritual quality to love and respect yourself.
Here are a few loving and kind behaviors that will change your life even if you apply them 50% of the time:
• Learn from bad decisions, don’t feel guilty about them
• Learn about healthy personal boundaries
• Make decisions with input from people who truly care for you
• Get counseling when you’re hurting
• Curb spending that is motivated by wants, not needs
• Watch uplifting TV to avoid scaring yourself
• Thank people for every little thing, make it a new habit
• Compliment people sincerely when you notice something you like about them
• Drive safely and courteously
• Do something kind for someone whenever you feel depressed
Remember, it’s a moment to moment choice from the time you wake up in the morning. Take time throughout the day to congratulate yourself when you do something that needed doing even though you didn’t feel like it. Just say, “Well done (your name)!” I continue to do this because it helps builds self-esteem and it feels good. And because no one else can or will do it for me.
Where are you in your life? Are you sharing your gratitude with others? Hopefully you are still remembering the best -- of last year, last month, the moment that just passed.
People often tell me about their difficulties and ask how they can change. We’ve been conditioned by our culture and media to blame others for our pain. Look deeper and you’ll see: this simply doesn’t make sense. Think about this. You don’t blame others when you feel happy, great, and amazing do you? You think you made it happen and too true! So why would you cast blame on others when you feel down? Feelings are yours and yours alone. It’s crucial to understand this universal truth.
The point is only you can change how you feel inside. If you don’t feel happy, change it. Yikes! I know this goes against the grain. Oh sure, people can tell you things you want to hear – “Hey Jan, you’re smart, beautiful, and I love you.” The truth is that unless you love yourself, their words won’t land on you.
You must become your own best friend! The more you are, the less you’ll depend on the good opinion of others. That’s the only true freedom there is in life. Can you feel how freeing that would be?
Treating yourself kindly is part of maturing and is the pathway to loving yourself. You may not love yourself very much right now. I’m here to tell you, all it takes is the genuine desire to love yourself -- then act as if you do already. It’s definitely a spiritual quality to love and respect yourself.
Here are a few loving and kind behaviors that will change your life even if you apply them 50% of the time:
• Learn from poor decisions
• Forgive yourself and others who have hurt you
• Form healthy boundaries
• Keep your word
• Make decisions with input from people who truly care for you
• Get counseling when you’re hurting
• Stay debt-free, curb spending motivated by wants, not needs
• Watch uplifting TV and movies, avoid scaring yourself
• Thank people for every little thing, make it a habit
• Compliment people sincerely and without any motive
• Drive safely and courteously
• Help someone when you’re feeling crummy
Add your own to this list ...
One lovely benefit of treating yourself and others kindly is your self confidence will grow. The people I admire most in life are respectful and kind to all; people, animals, plants and machinery included. No one admires someone who is rough with any of the above. Love yourself because you can!
Remember, it’s a moment to moment choice from the time you wake up in the morning and all through the day. Never mind when you miss. Every time you do make a loving decision or action, or have a loving thought or feeling, congratulate yourself. I just say, “Well done, Sukala”. It really builds self-esteem, self-love.
Happy New Year!
I love New Year’s Resolutions. They are beacons for the year, guiding and inspiring.
A true resolution requires preparation. First, know WHY you’re making the resolution. Sometimes it’s actually someone else’s resolution. A resolution is true for you when it feels alive and wonderful in your heart when you think about having accomplished it.
Resolutions require action steps. Say your resolution is to meditate daily. Your action steps may include:
• I choose 6:00 am (or best time of day or evening for you)
• I will sit quietly for 5 minutes of meditation Monday to Saturday
• I’ll post sticky note/s to remind myself
• I’ll choose an uplifting focus (spiritual reading, photograph, flower, incense)
• I’ll use one technique for a few weeks at a time
• I’ll give myself a minute after meditation to reflect on what I felt or experienced
• (Suggestion: jot down a few words in a meditation notebook)
A new year is a great opportunity to learn about or continue doing inner work. I mean the work each of us must do to enter that child-like state of simple happiness. No one else can do it for you, although others can give tips and guidance.
Would it shock you to know, intellect isn’t the source of happiness? Debates are often as dry as a dead leaf. If you want to be happy, you must go to the source of all good feelings, your heart (HEART: the energy center associated with mid-chest, although it rises higher; rather than the physical heart.)
Criticizing can steal happiness. This is partly why many working people feel unsatisfied, although there’s more to it (like attitude). Still, you need to find the KEY to your own heart. Keys let you change unhappy or dry feelings to juicy, happy, loving feelings. Yes it takes effort and it’s worth it!
If you’ve held a newborn you know how it feels to enter your heart. If you’ve watched a sunset; played a perfect round of tennis; completed a project; danced without caring how you look; sang a made-up song of love, written a poem, painted a picture, played with your dog, laughed with your friends or family. Know your keys and use them liberally.
Before 1939 Minnie Louise Haskins wrote these words, part of a poem called "At the Gate of the Year":
“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'.And he replied 'Go out into the Darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way'.”
As we venture hand-in-hand into the bright unknown of 2012, may we continue to see the highest in ourselves and others, may we bring out the best in one another, and may we always remember that we are never alone.
It’s been a very fast year for everyone I know. That’s one of the best reasons to meditate. Knowing how quickly life passes, I become more committed each year to self-knowledge. What I mean by that is: knowing God within (or your own chosen deity, Allah, Krishna, the One, the Truth or That which cannot be named).
All the great, enlightened beings tell us:
•Be gentle with yourself
•Welcome others including strangers with respect
•See God in nature
•Speak much less, listen way more
•Watch the news without getting angry or afraid.
OK, I added the last one. But they do say, Don’t be afraid, have faith in your spiritual path. (FAITH: a deep knowing that everything is all right, despite all outward appearances) Now this is really interesting because the only way faith is possible is to form a deep, close relationship with your chosen One.
Here’s how I look at it. Because we humans are a spark of the divine, and since we are made in the Creator’s image, then our capacity for having a relationship is already laid out for us, and it’s an awesome, very intimate invitation to come into active relationship with the Creator.
If you’re a parent, you’ll have seen divine bliss in your child’s eyes or angelic peace when they’re lost in imagination (actually, they are in meditation). What happened along the way to adulthood? Like every good relationship in your life, you must make a daily choice to participate fully. Otherwise, you won’t feeeeeel the love. It’s there all right, but you will be out of touch with it.
This is what attracts many people to learn meditation, myself included. My mind was so busy and noisy that by my teens, I couldn’t connect with the silent, holy heart space where meditation happens. I longed for inner peace until at last, 15 years later I found what I was searching for.
As you practice meditation now with the free audio download here on my website, you are actually practicing entering your own heart. You are adding a brick to the foundation of your relationship with your beloved form of the Creator. That’s something to celebrate!!
I thank and applaud you for having a genuine interest in this deeper part of yourself.
Many people will celebrate Christmas in another week. If you aren’t among them, I suggest you read this anyway, substituting the word Hanukkah or other special event that’s relevant to you. Because I grew up with Christmas, I’m writing about it from this perspective but really, this applies to any event humans celebrate together.
The important point is -- What do YOU bring to a special event?
Have you ever had the experience of anticipating a celebration, then feeling bitterly disappointed, rather than happy at the end? For many Christmas is like that, year after year.
Imagine how you’d feel if someone wrote you a prescription years ago and you forgot to update it and the pills were now having a toxic affect on your body and mind? Christmas TV commercials are a little like that. Unrealistic, flaunting diamonds, happy couples and jubilant turkey-centered families. Where is the reality? Where are the couples striving to be civil during break ups? Where are the families coping with cancer, Alzheimer’s and death? If the commercials don’t fit your life picture, you might feel like you don’t belong at Christmas.
For years, I measured December 25th against the previous year to compare how many goals I had not achieved. Silly, because I could have focused on the goals I had achieved and felt really good about myself. Maybe you can relate to my mistake. I grieved for two particular unmet goals:1) finding a marriage partner, and 2) losing 20 pounds. What a prescription for disappointment!
If you can relate, you know how painful this kind of thinking is. It’s like challenging the Gods. I wasn’t truly living because I was stuck in a trance, attached to the past. There was no reality, no present time, no space for love or integrity either. Changing this old prescription required deliberate, new steps to create a prescription for happiness.
So if you are doing that to yourself, turn it around. The easiest way is by giving love to yourself by treating yourself like your own best friend.
WRITE A NEW PRESCRIPTION
1. Jot down 5 accomplishments you’ve made this year. (Examples: getting along with a difficult person, writing a story, driving safely)
2. Add 10 things or relationships you enjoyed in 2011. (My list includes TVs Modern Family and The Good Wife.)
3. Now add 5-10 things you’re grateful for. (friends, pets, your vehicle, health, job and income, your spiritual path).
Notice how you feel after doing this.
If you like feeling good and honestly want to overcome the bad mental habits you've developed, watch Irena Tweedie’s excellent talk about the mind!
During the holidays tell me how you’re doing, share what keeps you focused on your goodness, the goodness in your life?
This month I received an email about another type of physical change and the emotional stress the person feels. As always, unless your inquiry is very personal, I’ll respond on the Meditation Escape blog so everyone can benefit.
I understand. Everyone encounters change. Although it’s perfectly human to evaluate attractiveness and success by outer appearances, it is also perfect to allow a major awakening to occur in us. A flexible perspective is your best friend as you age, regardless of how old you are. Unless you can change your paradigm you will not have the permanent kind of happiness to guide you gently into middle age and through old age. I remember how, until my 40’s, I actually believed it wouldn’t happen to me, it was for everyone else. Not a mature attitude, I admit.
Think about this. It’s how you respond to all these things. It’s all about whether you react or respond, remember? If you choose “respond”, you are equipped to psychologically and emotionally float upon the ocean rather than drown. You’re more able to accept your body rather than wish you were younger, slimmer, had more hair, or whatever.
Going through puberty we were supposed to have had models to teach that the inner self matters most. Most people had absentee parents. They were either physically or emotionally unavailable to help us mature, to go from reacting to responding. I recall seeing happy people and thinking, “I bet they’re faking it. What have they got to be happy about?”
What did I discover?
1. They slowed down their reactive thinking by questioning their knee-jerk reactions. You know; those yucky reactions that keep you stuck in a bad mood.
2. They learned that responding with a good thought and positive behavior felt better.
3. Healthier/ happier mental choices kept them connected to their heart, the source of love and happiness.
Your body will change over time. Your family will change. The economy will change, many times. It has been so and will continue to be so. Your jobs and even your career will change.
One of the greatest rewards of meditation is its power to grow your emotional intelligence (EI). EI is responsible for helping you respond in age-appropriate ways. For instance, I was a compulsive eater at age 10. As an adult, at one point I was 45 pounds above my healthy weight. Meditation was part of how I released the weight. There’s more...I’ll discuss that another time.
For this week, I suggest you google emotional intelligence. Try and find a free EI Quiz to find out more about yourself. After all, if facial/ body reconstruction doesn’t make our super stars happy, why follow in their footsteps? Instead, let’s learn to be joyful through self-questioning, meditation and reading.
Everyone and especially if you emailed me about the problem, tell me what you learn as you apply these suggestions
How do you handle feelings? In Part I we said feelings are “things”. They seem real at the time. When they control you, you may make decisions which you regret. This will continue -- until you make a conscious choice to manage feelings. Believe it is possible. Be encouraged. The rewards come, as you make the conscious decision to truly know yourself, keep what’s good and let go of the rest.
Most feelings are not worth keeping. It takes willingness, a tool kit of techniques, and repetition over time to let them go. In my early years of leading groups, I binged on sweets after my talks ended. Public speaking brought up feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. A few cookies later, I’d remember, “Oh, I can meditate for a while to calm myself.” If you want to feel peaceful and happy, make meditation your best friend!
We hear about actors who use drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances. They become free by:
(1) Identifying their feelings;
(2) Observing behaviors their feelings cause;
(3) Using a calming, centering technique.
This is how you can become free -- whatever your circumstances. True freedom is an inside game of managing your feelings, emotions and thoughts. When you do it, you are choosing to have the life and destiny, the peace and joy, you want.
In Part 1 you were given a Gratitude List. Use it to begin changing how you feel. Scroll down to Part I for guidance.
Survivors (wars, addictions, abusive relationships, disabilities) know that positive self-esteem comes from overcoming difficulties. Many survivors cannot change their circumstances, especially war captives, so they rise above their circumstances. Countless stories are told by survivors who had only themselves or God to speak to. (I use the word God generically and not limited to any particular religion or spiritual path.) They determined to think well of their own self. This built self-respect that no one could take away, even when threatened with death. They trusted their God-given worthiness as a human being based on inner (not external) proof.
Imagine or visualize bright, warm inner Light, as in the free meditation download here on the website. A few minutes of daily meditation reduces worry and negative feelings. It gives peace which you may recognize as 'coming home'. Do it each day for good results.
Share with a friend, family or co-worker you trust. Choose someone who listens and values happiness. Avoid complainers. You know them – no matter how many solutions they are given, they argue. Avoid those spiritual vampires who will suck your joy and leave you empty.
Since discovering happiness comes from inside, I know it’s true that every moment of every day contains joy. The challenge is: to get in on the joy. I recommend a film called The Peaceful Warrior. As you watch, ask yourself what two central teachings it contains?
Tell me what you discover.
A recent guest to the Meditation Escape blog emailed me. He sounded disillusioned and I wondered, what's he grateful for?
I've experimented with a gratitude list. By focusing each day on a few things I was grateful for, I felt happier. I briefly described 10 things. You might include your country, job, friends, birds, or anything that rings true. There’s something powerful about reading your gratitude list out loud each morning and evening. Once I did this for three months and it changed some of my life circumstances along with my inner feeling. It was one of the best exercises I’ve done.
In considering how my friends and I deal with life events like chronic pain or disability (all part of the package, especially after 40) I see how some of us were fortunate to grow up with role models who taught that inner strength and character develop out of challenges.
The sages have always referred to “the game of life” because they know happiness is a result of learning to play the game well. In the film, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Will Smith is a 20th century Krishna and Matt Damon is Junah, alcoholic war veteran and former golf champion. Bagger tells Junah, “The game of life cannot be won, only played.”
Like golf or any goal, inner happiness requires constant effort. Why would it be any different? You can’t take much time off when you’re training. Your mind needs to be watched and trained constantly, if it’s going to think in the way that will bring about happy feelings.
As a young child, my neck was damaged by a single incident of abuse. As an adult, forgiveness work has been as important as physiotherapy. In my 20’s when I broke my ankle hiking, it was the result of ignoring my intuition. I was competitive and wanted to keep pace with my boyfriend. That accident inspired me to learn to pay attention to intuition. One evening this year, the ankle was so painful that I crawled across the floor to the phone to order a quad cane. I felt anger at the pain.Next day I laughed. The image of myself crawling across the floor was humorous. Thanks to meditation I take myself less seriously each year.
How do you deal with feelings of frustration, sadness and anger? Do you blame others, or get mad at yourself? Blame doesn’t heal emotional pain. Anger is toxic to the body and prevents happiness.
If I took a poll, likely everyone would agree that your feelings and emotions are real things. Unless you train yourself to interpret them kindly with productive thoughts, they’ll lead you around like an untrained dog. An untrained dog is easy to spot. It walks two feet ahead of its owner. The owner is unaware of the disservice she’s doing to the dog. We do it too, when we don’t train our mind. Like a dog, it runs amuck ...
Solutions to follow.
How do you respond to the current world crises? Among them are Somalia’s famine; the US financial challenge; and Japan’s toxic spill.
I asked how you “respond” for a reason. Most people “react”. Reacting comes from the head, your automatic thoughts. Remember that thing called cultural conditioning? We all have been conditioned to think in culturally accepted ways -- and that includes what to be angry about, who to fear, and who or what to hate. Responding, on the other hand, requires that you go deeply into your heart. Not everyone wants to – if you do, you’re rare. You can go there by asking real questions, not just once, but every day for the rest of your life, creating a direct path of light to your heart.
Why am I here?
What was I born to learn, understand, and contribute?
What to I honestly feel about this issue?
What don’t I understand about it?
Who or what has influenced how I think and feel?
How do I limit myself?
How generous am I (my time and/or resources)?
And so on.
I remember being affected by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s lyrics: Don't you ever ask them why - (meaning our parents) - if they told you, you would cry, So just look at them and sigh and know they love you. (Song: Teach Your Children)
When I was 17 I brought my new boyfriend, Rick, home to meet my family. He was black and we danced well together. At that age, that’s what mattered most. I didn’t know that my father had racial prejudice until that day. Rather than talking with us and determining the lightheartedness of our relationship, he was afraid. Ignorance of another, whether an individual or a race, can cause fear. We often fear what we do not know.
Being exposed to music that promoted acceptance and self-discovery, I was able to understand. While it took time to forgive him for hurting Rick, it helped me learn how to step back and ask myself real questions.
There have always been crises on such a great scale that you might feel depressed, helpless, or frightened -- for your children and their children to come. A few practical things you can do are,
1 Talk with friends who are calm. Avoid the drama queens and kings, the doom and gloom newscasters.
2 Notice when you speak with drama, rather than calmness; aim to be a peaceful influence in the world.
3 If you are moved to donate, use a trusted source. I give exclusively through the PRASAD Foundation who I came across 30 years ago. I like being sure that my support reaches its goal. PRASAD is involved in situations when they are certain the support benefits the victims. You can find PRASAD at:
4. Remember that prayers and blessings are powerful. Speak them from the silence of your heart. Your God by whatever name hears what you feel deeply.
Quitting Depression, Part 2
In Part 1, I advised first consulting a doctor. If you don't have a medical condition, then explore it -- as a harmful habit.
We can include anxiety in Part 2.
…were formed when you were unknowingly trained how to think by your parents, teachers, the media. Your true life’s work is to develop the freedom to choose: cheerful, uplifting thoughts. That is using your mind in the highest way and is a centering technique, leading to a peaceful, good feeling.
Deliberately choosing pleasant thoughts, you access your “human” brain (scientists say we use only 7% of it) rather than your "reptilian" i.e. defensive, part of the brain.
My friend D.R. Butler says: if we want to change, we must choose, in advance of a situation, how we want to feel.
I’d like you to think of a situation that recently upset you, remembering the feeling.
Now IMAGINE how you’d like to feel in that situation. How might you choose to feel?
(Pause to do these two steps now)
You can anchor and strengthen your preferred, chosen feeling by meditating briefly on the feeling you want. Focus for 1-5 minutes, once or twice a day, to build your happy or peaceful feeling.
Always be gentle with your mind. Gentleness is important and it’s a prerequisite to change.
You may ask, If it’s this easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?
Often we are addicted – yup, addicted – to feeling bad. Like any other kind of addiction, it’s not intentional. It’s repeatedly modeled for us from our birth to our death. We accept it as normal and proper. Just watch any TV show… We see drama rather than inner peace, ego rather than higher human values, as a way of coping with life’s mean people, tough breaks, divorce and so on.
I was reflecting recently on a habit I have of reacting to my older sister. She is a strong character and when she asks me for help, it often sounds like a command. I often react inside by closing my heart for a moment. We have very different styles of communicating and it’s taken time to appreciate who she is. This habit of reacting is something I want to change. The time is right to make it a priority.
What will I do? I will meditate on the feeling I want to have when she asks me for help with something. I’ll share my results with one or two close friends. I’ll journal about it.
I offer counseling and meditation lessons by telephone. Having worked as a counselor for 30 years and having assisted thousands of people, I know one thing: You must genuinely want to change something in your life before you are able to commit to the action steps you must take.
Three people emailed recently about depression...
First, confirm whether you have a medical condition. If not, then what?
If you haven’t considered depression as a habit, let’s explore. Except for your good habits -- like meditating daily, eating healthy food, or phoning your partner if you’re late -- habits are negative, harming you and others.
Habits begin when you continually react in the same way to things that upset you. Watch your and other people’s reactions to things. We react to circumstances, people or situations, predictably in the same way. We all get triggered then react according to our patterns of thoughts and behaviours. These reactions become our habits. You can trace many back to childhood.
1 Desire for happiness (not the sense-pleasure type)
2 Self-knowledge through contemplation, meditation, reading and discussion
3 Making right effort – e.g. training your mind to avoid mindless violence; practicing gratitude
Most of us didn’t learn to be assertive with parents or siblings – we were scolded or worse for speaking up, so we ‘depressed’ our healthy need to communicate our feelings to avoid trouble. This created the seed of depression. Often we lost touch with our feelings, stuffing them deep inside.
The sages tell us, inner war creates outer war. Imagine life, if we all accepted personal responsibility for our emotions by learning how to talk about our feelings, calmly without blaming someone else for how we feel.We see the opposite on TV. Characters burst out in anger or retreat in depression rather than calmly discussing a situation. In fact, they demonstrate how addictive it is -- to feel the adrenaline rush of anger or the sorrow of depression.
How do you cope with upset or hurt feelings? It’s important to notice. I suggest a journal. Write a few words daily. Discover your patterns. Some people overeat, abuse drugs or alcohol, or create debt. I used to stuff down overwhelming feelings with food, especially sweets. When I was ready to change, I
1. Meditated daily
2. Practiced talking calmly or journalled about my feelings
3. Said what I was grateful for at the end of every day
Ram Butler says, “the way to change habitual thought patterns is by 'replacing' them with more positive, uplifting, expanded thoughts.” This overcomes depression – with constant practice.
He explains, “Each time there is a tendency to go to the old thought, immediately replace it with the new thought you have decided (in advance) to replace it with. This is an important point, and is gone over extensively in the lessons. You can't push the darkness out of the room. You only have to turn on the light, which 'replaces' the darkness. Two thoughts cannot exist in the mind at the same time any more than darkness and light can exist simultaneously. It's always either one or the other. The choice is ours.”
To read Ram’s blog or subscribe to his lessons:
Several months ago I adopted a small 1-year-old cat, Jaya. She won my heart, the way she played and interacted with the other cats in the shelter. She’d come from a hoarder which I learned is someone who keeps a lot of cats without tending to their needs like neutering. I doubt she’d ever been handled by a human which may be why she was so good with other cats.
It’s been surprising and fascinating how my 12-year-old male cat, Rama, has responded. Rama was adopted after being abandoned. Naturally, he’s had abandonment issues. If you have some of your own, you may still get crazy jealous from time to time.
The other morning I was looking to put the cats outside. They were together, Jaya curled up in Rama’s bed. Rama, on another blanket, looked up with contentment. In that moment I saw how much he has changed. He accepts Jaya, now and again smacking her with a paw, and sometimes growling if he’s focused and she wants to play.
I began thinking about what it takes for humans to change a negative behavior: like blowing up, criticizing, or over-indulging in sugar or other mood altering substances. It’s much harder for us because we have a mind. The mind, while great, also has the capacity to justify, make excuses, and stay stuck.
To make a change first you must be clear about why you want to change. Ask yourself, how is the habit or behavior a problem? Spell out clearly just how it hurts you or people you care about.
Next choose what to replace the behavior with. Ask yourself, how do I want to be? (think, feel, act). Take time to develop a clear image of yourself as you’d like to be. Imagine, then feel how you’d feel if you changed. Spend time in the feeling…
We’ll continue next time.
Meditation Escape offers free guided relaxation Teleclasses where you learn practical and lasting tools to release your stress. Register here now!
This week a website guest asked me: So does meditation really get rid of stress? He had downloaded the free meditation.
You can think of meditation as being like medicine. Medicine only works if you take it regularly. Isn’t it true? It's taken daily -- for a certain length of time. With meditation, it often turns into a lifetime because it feels good.
A few minutes of daily meditation can relieve your stress. Longer meditations, 20 minutes daily, relieve stress with longer lasting benefits.
If you're beginning, keep in mind the purpose of meditation. Stress relief is a side effect rather than the true reason for meditating. The real purpose is to know ourselves. Self-knowledge and self-mastery are why I have been doing meditation for 30 years. It’s a continuous journey and is exciting when old patterns like negative thinking dissolve.
You may wonder how it happens. How can meditation change your negative reactions like anger, frustration, or depression? Any effort you make, if it's sincere, attracts something. Christian, Jewish and Eastern mystics have called it grace. In meditation we touch our hidden inner power. Everyone has it.
But here and now, let’s deal with the stress you have. For a minute or two think of someone you love. What quality is it that relaxes or uplifts you when you think of that person?
Now imagine being with him...Feel your love or respect for this person in your heart...
Notice how you feel now...
For the last minute or so, your focus has been uplifting. You have created a good feeling inside.
When you did this what happened to your stress?
Shifting your focus to something uplifting takes will power, some effort. To the degree you focus on the meditation instruction, that is the degree to which you free yourself from stress.
Keep practicing. Choose a phrase, a picture, anything that evokes love in your heart. Meditate on love. Or use the meditation I give on this website.
Always begin with two or three full, relaxing breaths. As the mind calms it is easier to focus.
I would like to hear from you. Please email me what happens.
As 2011 unfolds we usually have some unpleasant emotions. It's normal at this time of year. Tiredness, sadness, disappointment, feeling overwhelmed, afraid or impatient.
What can help is something called self-inquiry. It means asking yourself questions. Self-inquiry is a time-tested way to break free of those circular thoughts that lead us nowhere, fast.
One thing I've learned by meditating is this: any time I feel stuck in negative emotions, it's time to ask myself some smart questions. Smart. Questions.
Try it for yourself. Choose one at a time, one that feels right for you at the time you need help.
You may want to work with that one question for a week. At least, work with it until you are in harmony or at peace again for the moment. The question you choose will change according to what you need to discover.
The 12 Questions for Change
1. What do I want to feel? What do I want?
2. What are my choices?
3. What assumptions am I making?
4. What am I responsible for?
5. How else can I think about this?
6. What is the other person thinking, feeling, needing and wanting?
7. What am I missing or avoiding?
8. What can I learn From this person or situation From this mistake or failure From this success?
9. What questions should I ask?
10. What action steps make the most sense?
11. How can I turn this into a win-win?
12. What is possible?
Source: QuestionThinking, p. 167.
Write, meditate on and share what you discover. This is the path to happiness.
Here is part 2 of our story in honor of 2011, you and all that you do in your life. Enjoy!
Here Rama would always pause, giving his listeners a chance to graciously excuse themselves. Many did for it was not a very interesting story. Rama was patient, knowing that most people prefer action stories that satisfy the mind’s cravings and distract from a quiet mind. Occasionally a curious listener would ask, “What happened next?” and Rama would cheerfully continue. He described how he’d stripped to his waist, lifted a shovel and put his back into the task. Meanwhile, Anand sat down and was soon asleep.
Rama told how, early in life, he learned to concentrate. When a task was repetitive he would whistle or softly hum. So before he knew it the task was completed. When one of Rama’s listeners asked if he felt proud or happy, Rama answered, “It was like a dream. I felt detached like an observer -- and contented.”
Rama explained that the next day the master brought some food and a clean blanket and cup. When Rama had finished his meal, sure enough, the master told Rama to move the earth back to its original place. When it was done, the master happened along and told Rama to move the earth “over there” which meant returning the earthy heap. “How many times did this happen? Weren’t you tired? Why didn’t you throw your shovel away and show him!?” Rama breathed deeply, as he had been taught in the second year with the wise man, and took his time explaining how each day he felt stronger and more peaceful. Best of all, he would say, his busy critical mind became quieter until the inner noise disappeared. “This is why I stayed 15 years.” Rama would anticipate the listener’s question.
The fact is that Rama moved the earth each and every day for 10 of the 15 years he stayed. That’s right. He moved earth back and forth, 10 hours every day. At day’s end the master would call to Rama and they would walk together before sitting in the master’s hut. But no-one knows what the master said for Rama only spoke about the earth.
If you are on the mountain gathering berries you might see someone following the goat trail widened by human feet. You may wonder if he’s going to meet a master to ask permission to move the earth.
Years ago, I heard a short anecdote and I have developed it into a story.
Whoever you are, whatever you are doing, there are tasks that must be repeated often. So in honor of our transition into 2011 and with loving wishes to all courageous souls in every type of relationship, here is a story about doing that task -- yet again. Enjoy!
I'VE ALREADY DONE THAT - PART i
There is a small village in India at a confluence where three great rivers meet. From ancient times people have come from near and far to bathe and be refreshed by the clear, fresh-flowing waters. In recent times, stories were told of a wise being who lived in a hut up the mountain. It was said that in the last 25 years over 300 passersby (some said 3,000) had climbed the mountain to hear what the master had to say. All except one had returned disappointed.
It was rumoured that Rama Hanuman had stayed with the master for 15 years after which he too returned to the sacred confluence (in India, three adjoining rivers is rare, auspicious and sacred), to live and share something of his experience with anyone who cared to listen.
When Rama first went up the mountain it was on a dare. For over two hours he followed a goat trail that had been widened by human feet. Beyond a wide-mouthed cave, he spotted a clearing and two old huts made from clay and grass. Rama saw a man who looked his own age, 26. Although there was no apparent construction the man was sweaty from working. Seeing Rama approach he burst into a flurry of words and gestures.
His name was Anand and he had been there a full day. All he’d been given was water and two dried chapattis! And all the master had said to him was “Move that pile of earth – take it over there”. No sooner had he successfully completed the task, rather than payment or even a “Thank you”, he was given another, opposite instruction: “Take the earth back where you found it”. Anand was hungry, humiliated, and did not understand why he was being treated so horribly.
(Continued, Part 2)
Living in the Now – Part 5
I appreciate emails from readers world-wide. A woman in Thailand recently emailed this question:: “How to end suffering?”
Living in the Now is the only sure way to end suffering, our mental and emotional pain.
We do have more control over our thoughts than we at first realize. As you begin observing them closely, you can choose what thoughts to pay attention to (positive ones) and which ones to completely and totally ignore (the neggies).
When you are stuck in memories (the past) or in imagining how it could be (the future), suffering happens.
One coach said: “Drop stinking thinking. You'll feel better." When you understand what happiness is (it’s only found in the Now) you'll want to think differently.
First, you need willingness to bring yourself back to the Now. Here’s how it goes. As soon as you notice, “Oops, I’ve slipped into the past (or future)” – you bring your attention back to the Now. Look at your hands, rub them together or clap. Develop some type of new habit, something that you can easily do, to help yourself return to and be more aware of the Now.
Right now everything is good, you have what you need in this moment. Your heart and mind can be peaceful and happy.
Is the time you spend in the Now increasing? Or do you wonder, what’s this all about?
Now situations you may recognize:
SNEEZING: A sneeze puts you in the Now for up to 10 seconds. Your thinking is temporarily suspended. Notice this when you sneeze and enjoy it!
ENCOUNTERS: Surprising news or unexpectedly seeing a friend after a long absence brings you into the Now -- as long as the surprise lasts.
YOGA: Postures focus your body and breathing in a specific way, bringing your attention to the present. Notice the sensations of the breath and how your body feels.
MEDITATION: Each time you sit for a guided audio meditation found here on my web site (or use your own technique) your mind experiences pure, delicious stillness. Try and describe these moments in your own words. Jot down your description in a notebook of Now experiences.
Noticing how these (and other ways you discover) give you a Now experience grows your awareness of Now moments.
You were born with that peace. How many thoughts do you think a baby has?
You'll be amazed at the fresh, young energy you have -- as you ignore 90% of your thoughts. Imagine. You can learn to ignore them – just as you’d ignore somebody else’s conversation at the next table in a restaurant. Why do we believe our inner conversation is so important and interesting...just because it’s ours?
This week choose one technique (you can use one from the list) and practice noticing your Now moments.
Living in the Now - Part 4
Q: What steals your peace and joy?
A: Some might say, January.
It’s mid-month and with the celebrations behind you, you may feel run down, let down, deep down. When deep feelings surface they need to be acknowledged. Try ignoring them and they will persist with a vengeance.
Acknowledging your feelings means allowing yourself to feel the energy that is tugging at your hem. There is no need to indulge in your feelings. Just giving them a few minutes of recognition and understanding is enough.
Most people were trained in early life to ignore their feelings. How sad. (Don’t be surprised if you do this.) The trouble with ignoring them is that you prolong the nya-nya or the painful feeling. This is when life becomes a struggle. Why? Because emotions are energy in motion. When you ignore your e-motions they morph into illness, depression or sudden eruptions. Like children, emotions create chaos when ignored. They insist you pay attention!
Learn your inner signals. In my first week at work after the holidays someone put a box of liqueur chocolates in the kitchen. When no one was watching I quickly scooped several into a napkin to eat later. I don’t even like this type of chocolate so this seizure was a clue that something was "off". Did I pay attention? I noticed, then chose (yes, chose) to ignore it. It happened twice again before I took time to pause, journal and meditate about it. I felt sad. I missed my mom and dad. 2009 was the first Christmas since they died. I didn’t prepare myself by considering how different the celebrations would feel without them.
We’re training our minds to stay focused in the Now where joy resides. Being in the Now makes you 100% more effective at work and in your relationships (including the one you have with yourself).
One way to stay in the Now is to take care of your feelings as they arise rather than being afraid or avoiding them. This is the inner work we humans are called on to do:
1. Recognize when a feeling needs your attention
2. Acknowledge the feeling (journaling helps clarify)
3. Meditate (let go at a deeper level; gain insights)
This is the pathway to happiness, inner peace and positive action in life.
Whenever your mind wants to visit the past or imagine the future, know that you are not in the Now. Kindly and firmly bring your mind back to Now. (We’ll discuss tips on how to do this later.)
Keep meditating five minutes daily and watch for the times when meditation seems to invite you in.
Living in the Now - Part 3
One way of understanding Christmas - regardless of your faith - is that it celebrates the birth of a Great Being. Every spiritual tradition has had Great Beings who deliver a message to people that goes something like this:
Find your Light through inner meditation.
Honor the Light - in everyone and in everything.
There is only One.
You may call it love, light, God, energy or by any name you are comfortable with according to your upbringing and present-day values.
What’s great is: you can experience the love and joy they experience/d, in meditation. You don’t have to do something big in your community or the world. Learning self love, calming your mind, and finding your inner light is huge enough! As it becomes a daily habit you spend more of your precious life living in the Now. Your feeling of coming home expands.
Feeling at home in the world, we are lighthearted, able to serve our families and at our workplace, even strangers, with love; free from expectations (like wanting people or situations to be different than they are).
What would Jesus say at Christmas? Maybe he’d bring us back to basics by reminding us that Christ Consciousness is within each of us all the time. We need to take time each day to connect with that I AM in meditation by relaxing our mind and intellect. (They will still be there when you get up from meditating.)
In I AM meditation you breathe more calmly, being aware of the breath for several rounds, then begin repeating “I AM” with each breath ... in and out.
Some people are afraid to be in the Now, to meditate, because they think they will find something in them that they don't like. Could that happen? Sure. But do you know what? When I was a scared, unfriendly person starting meditation almost 30 years ago, all I ever experienced in meditation were wonderful sounds like music, beautiful scenes like snow-peaked mountains, and lovely sensations. God waited until I was much stronger to show me the yucky stuff that I needed to just let go of.
Meditate … just a few minutes every day to know Christ, Buddha, the divine Self that is within and waiting to be known by you!
Living in the Now - Part 2-
We’ve been talking about living in the Now -- the secret to happiness. Meditation is an effective tool to bring you into the Now. Of course, if you live big time in the past, or in the future (fantasizing or worrying) it may take time to appreciate how truly great the Now is.
In my early years of meditation it was a lifeline for me. When I was drowning in life’s ocean of emotion, each time I sat for meditation it cut through the confusion and negativities like nothing else. Next day, they were back so I’d meditate again to get free. I wanted to be more comfortable and peaceful with myself and others. Meditation helped me change by reconnecting to my inner peace, goodness and love. (It’s not that I wasn’t these things, I just didn’t know it.)
Thanks to my meditation teacher I was motivated to meditate daily. After a year or two, on one of mom’s annual visits she said over breakfast “You’ve been transformed”. Her acknowledgment felt wonderful. Later I thought, “That isn’t a word I’ve ever heard her use!” It was amazing because it's the same word sages have used over the centuries to describe meditation.
As you meditate regularly it creates the feeling many meditators experience as coming home. The peace, love and stillness within you grow.
Coming home happens in the heart. We have been conditioned to look for this unparallelled happiness outside. But when we think we've found it outside it doesn’t last, because that isn’t the source of real joy; the heart is.
We especially look outside for happiness at certain times of the year like Christmas. Our habit is to look outside for love and joy. What’s strange is that although we’ve done it for 35 or 60 years and it ends up hurting, we continue doing it. At least, until we discover meditation ...
Happiness has always been inside. Some of us knew it when we were children but forgot. Young children live in the Now and find happiness easily because they are so strongly connected to their hearts.
As we grew up we focused more outside. No one said, “Honey, as you go into the world remember to keep one eye on your heart and only one eye on the world.” We focused ALL our attention on the outside world and none on our own heart, our source of wisdom and our spiritual Self. That connection was lost.
Have patience with yourself. Meditation is a pathway back.
Meditate a few minutes each day. Your mind needs meditation like your body needs food -- daily. It keeps us from getting cranky, feeling lonely, and doing/saying things we’d prefer not to. Remember, happiness is in the Now and at last, you’ve got a perfect tool for entering your own beautiful, divine heart.
Happiness is in the Now
Have you ever noticed, happiness only happens in the Now. A past happy event isn’t the same. In fact, memories often trigger sadness – like wishing something could have lasted forever. Neither is imagining the real Happy.
Happiness lives in a calm, clear mind – you are fully present, aware. This is how meditation gives you happiness, calmness and inner peace.
The purpose of meditation is to be present each moment in your life! Meditation and the Now are intimately related. Meditation opens the door to your love, joy, serenity and above all, the divine presence -- right inside you. It doesn't get happier than knowing you are part of the One, connected to the whole.
Your pure love (free from motive) spreads peace, inspires and uplifts you and everyone in your life. It even saves lives, although you may not know about it.
When you begin meditating you may not be able to describe the sensation of stillness or the velvety space within. It just feels natural, so soothing that you may not know what to call it except it’s like coming home. One master of meditation says it is our most natural state. We accomplish our tasks better, regardless of their complexity, when we have more awareness.
I remember a time when I felt separate from people and believed that if I could only find someone to love, I would be happy. These were my thoughts one evening as I left a friend’s. Riding the elevator to the ground floor, I fantasized going over to the local corner store to meet a potential partner. (How this might occur didn’t enter my fantasy.) As the cold, clear night greeted me, I paused to look at the moon. I entered the Now in all its glory. The recognition of an old pattern flashed loudly – longing for a different life in which I lived in marital bliss. (The bliss part wasn’t realistic, given my level of relationship ability at that time). I drove home, grateful for a meditation practice that saved me again and again from straying too far from the Now.
You might ask yourself:
How would my life be different if I was 100% present with (my child, partner, parent)?
How would my work improve if I listened with full attention to (my clients, co-workers, boss)?
This week, practice being in the Now. Notice whenever you are thinking about the past or fantasizing the future. Become aware of the feelings created by your thoughts. Anxiety is commonly associated with past or future.
Know with certainty: you are not obliged to hang out in either the past or the future. Gently return to the present.
Meditate five minutes daily to increase your ability to be 100% present.
Today in Canada we honor our soldiers in remembrance. In their talks, our leaders will speak of immense sacrifice and courage. Their words will comfort many and stir feelings in those hurting from recent losses.
Fighting has always been part of the human story. Sometimes spiritual growth and personal evolution arise from the ashes. Remembering the dead or tragic incidents encourages us to go inside our hearts and search for higher purpose. Remembrance can lead us into meditation by going beyond thought.
You may have noticed how strong emotions like grief can bring your mind to a still point? Of course, you only become still by first acknowledging your raw feelings like anger, sadness and fear which is usually fear of life without someone you love.
There is one feeling that can block spiritual growth, meditation and peace of mind. Guilt. We have all felt guilty … for not loving enough, withholding our goodness, or being absent when someone needed us. How can we break the chains of guilt? One eastern philosopher understands it this way:
“Like the body, the mind is not to be brutally beaten and broken. It is to be handled firmly but considerately, as a man handles a horse.” Interesting.
Western healers suggest asking ourselves questions. Now, you already know there are nasty, repetitive questions that circle the mind like a fly. These include, “why wasn’t I there for him?” or “why couldn’t I have done more?” Believe me, these leave you demotivated and depressed because they are the wrong questions. You can spot them a mile away. They begin with “Why?”
OK, what are good questions? Here are some. Notice what words they start with:
How would I have done it differently if I knew then what I know now?
What were my own needs then that affected what I did/didn’t do?
Aren’t I growing and maturing like everyone else?
A “good question” will evoke positive feelings. You can grow mentally/ spiritually when you feel good about yourself. “No pain, no gain” is true -- but only when you reach an understanding that brings you into harmony with yourself.
Guilt is basically designed to keep you stuck. So if you’re ready to be unstuck from your past, choose really good questions! And as you spend time with a question (try journalling or walking) notice how your feelings change to positive.
One benefit of releasing negative feelings is it’s easier to meditate. Gifts follow effort, there to discover in your heart.
If you haven’t tried the free meditation at Meditation Escape, I encourage you to download it now. See Meditation Types on menu at the left.
Stay tuned for the next complimentary Teleclass. For more information please see: Free Teleclass.
A Graceful Death - Part 2 (Part I below)
When you meditate daily, even for 5 minutes, you may notice changes in the way you think. For instance, you may stop blaming yourself, others, or circumstances. This is a true gift of meditation because blame destroys happiness. One sage said: destiny is the result of our daily thoughts, feelings and actions.
Giving up blame when things go wrong requires something stronger than your thoughts. That's why a little meditation every day will help you stay centered, relaxed and serene. Anytime you miss meditation for a day you are sure to feel the difference the next time you meditate!
Join me now...A Graceful Death - Part 2 - by Sukala
As my departure approached, I saw that mom would need a caregiver when I left. She needed someone to help, protect, advocate on her behalf. My sister Vicki phoned Gilda, an exceptional caregiver with 30 years’ experience. Gilda agreed to come. I returned home and to work feeling peaceful.
Mom had told Vicki – don’t cry when I die – have a party! The doctor told us that mom had another month and we planned a party on my birthday but more in mom's honor, although she was miles away. While setting up, the hospital called. She slipped into a coma that morning. A few hours later as our guests were about to arrive, the final call came. Mom died peacefully without waking.
Who hasn’t been through loss? Our guests were supportive as we gathered outside under a canopy around the food offerings where we placed a beautiful photo of mom. One glass of wine and it felt good to be with people.
A month or two earlier I’d said to Vicki, “God, I hope she doesn’t die on my birthday!” My relationship with mom was shaky at one period and it took a commitment and time to forgive and became close again. Still, I thought, “She did this to show me that she always loved me. I’ll always remember her and celebrate her on my birthday. What a blessing!”
It's August 28. I will journal about my feelings. It helps to know how ready she was to go. She will be with dad. He died suddenly in March. She'll see her father. He died in the 1970's and visited me in his subtle body several days before mom died. She'll see her sister Jenny who died at age 16, and her best friend Florence. She died recently at 94 and her memorial is the same day as mom's -- August 29th. That's amazing! And it's the same day a beloved Indian saint is remembered. Not to mention Teddy Kennedy. Well done Mom – you’re in truly blessed company! I hope you're having a party, too!!
It’s time once again to be with yourself, your thoughts, feelings and the higher Consciousness in you that the sages say is the true Self.
Have you noticed how happy, peaceful and serene you feel each time you make time to be with your Self? Whether it’s through meditation, joyfully walking the dog, being your best at work, or supporting someone who is dying, when you pay attention and/or really listen to others your mind becomes more calm, serene and centered.
Both my parents died this year. Meditation got me through, giving me peace, strength, patience and courage not to blame.
The following letter was sent to my friends. Really, it was to myself.
Perhaps you can relate...
A Graceful Death - Part I - by Sukala
Hello dear ones,
In the midst of new baby arrivals, mom died in August. My birthday was the day of her transition.
After dad’s death in March, she moved to a lovely retirement home near her her brother. I returned in July to help her move to a main floor suite. She was so frail.
Our days were spent in ordinary ways with extraordinary moments of sweetness and occasional bursts of annoyance. There was no time to process my feelings of loss, as I fulfilled her demands. And she was demanding.
She introduced me to her new acquaintances at meal times. Once she gave me a compliment, saying to the others at our table, “Can you believe my daughter hasn’t been married 3 or 4 times?”
The night before I was to go home there was a call. Mom was in Emergency. I postponed my flight and the doctor explained how the cancer had interfered with her heart's function. On her first night in Emergency, she fell and was badly bruised. It was four days before she was transferred to the heart ward and still it was noisy, busy, and hard to get her pain medications on time. There was little supervision and two more falls.
She needed palliative care – quiet, rest and timely pain medication. She might live another few months. All I wanted was her comfort. I told this to each nurse tending her.
We went through many stages in our communication with each other. I felt compelled to help her go beyond the complaining and demands, beyond the inconveniences of her situation and see the goodness – like the lovely views, and to appreciate the people who loved her and the staff serving her. She responded and I felt very grateful.
Meditation helped me overcome my aversion to hospitals. Placing her pillows and helping with just about everything became a service from the heart. Thank God for emotional growth and maturity. Thanks God for protecting her each time she fell.
(Continued in Part 2)
Enjoy today’s story:
A new pastor and his wife were assigned to reopen a run down church. Their goal was Christmas Eve. They repaired the pews and walls. On December 18th a fierce storm began, lasting two days. Alas, the roof had leaked and a large area of plaster had fallen from the front wall right behind the pulpit.
The pastor cleaned up but it seemed the opening would have to be postponed. Driving home, he noticed a charity sale. Inside was a large, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth hanging on the wall. It was exquisite, a cross embroidered in the center. Excitedly, the pastor bought it. It would be beautiful and cover the hole behind the pulpit!
Driving away, he observed an older woman running for a bus as it pulled away. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the 45 minutes until the next bus. She accepted and sat in a pew.
The pastor set about putting up the tablecloth. He was very happy at how beautiful it looked. Turning, he saw the woman walking toward the tablecloth. She asked, “Where did you find this? Are the initials EBG on the lower corner?” They were. These were the woman’s initials. She had made the tablecloth 35 years before in Austria.The woman was amazed as the pastor told her how he’d found it at the sale. She said: “Before the war my husband and I were somewhat wealthy, living in Austria. When the Nazis came, I was forced to leave. My husband was to follow the next week but I was captured and never saw my husband or our home again.” The woman would not accept the tablecloth but allowed the pastor to drive her home.
Christmas Eve came. What a wonderful celebration they had! When it ended, an older man from the neighborhood remained seated, staring at the pulpit. Finally, he asked the pastor, “Where did you get that tablecloth?” He explained it was identical to one his wife had made years ago in Austria before the war. “How could two tablecloths look so much alike?” He told the pastor how he’d forced his wife to flee to safety, planning to follow soon, but he was arrested and imprisoned. He never saw his wife or home again.
The pastor suggested they take a little ride together. At a certain apartment building, he helped the man climb three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment where he knocked on the door and experienced the greatest gift he could imagine!
Offered as a true story - Submitted by Rob Reid
Uplifting thoughts and speech maintain your mind-heart connection. Being overly emotional or intellectual can cause upsets or emptiness. Meditation creates space to reflect on who/how you are and want to be. It releases the thought patterns that keep you stuck.
Meditation helps you become unstuck. Have a free meditation consultation with me when you purchase Guided Nature Meditations (in the Store now).
Here we are once again. You can use this blog to be with yourself. After all, you are the most important person in your life -- when you are peaceful and happy, your joy spreads easily to everyone around you.
We have moments of greed, selfishness, envy and/or jealousy. Recall a recent incident as you read...
THE DOG AND THE BONE (From Aesop's Fables)
A dog to whom the village butcher had thrown a bone, was hurrying home with his prize as fast as he could go. As he crossed a small bridge, he happened to look down and saw himself reflected in the quiet water, just like in a mirror. But the greedy dog thought he saw another dog carrying a bone -- much bigger than his own.
If he had stopped to think he would have known better. But instead, he dropped his bone and sprang at the dog in the river, only to find himself swimming for dear life to reach the shore. At last he managed to scramble out. As he shook the water from his bushy coat, he sadly thought about the good bone he had lost. He realized what a stupid dog he had been.
Recall something that recently was upsetting or uncomfortable. Then meditate for a few minutes using one of the easy meditation techniques I've given you...or just focus on your breath. After a little time, ask yourself: What was my part (in the troublesome incident)? Jot down in your notebook a few words -- how you behaved, what you said, your feelings. When you do this often, you will recognize your patterns. When we know ourselves that clearly, our inner life gets exciting!
Through some daily meditation we change ourselves. We become flexible, peaceful and happy. Right now, when you purchase the Guided Nature Meditations you receive a one-on-one meditation consultation with me, free of charge. Get your questions answered and go deeper in your meditation.
Here we are together again for a short story. This is such an easy way to understand your own mind. This one uncovers a little-known truth. Enjoy ...
I Nearly Died Laughing -- by Sukala Boyd
Once there was a young lady named Marjorie who loved to laugh. She liked people very much. Marjorie particularly liked chatting with a friend over a glass of cherry soda, a nice cup of tea, or an occasional glass of beer after her work day.
The most important thing to Marjorie was the joy she felt, for instance when her cat and dog greeted her each evening. It relaxed Marjorie to tell her pets a story out loud about something that happened during the day. Then she would exclaim, “I nearly died laughing!” Her cat and dog would listen to Marjorie, who was kind hearted, patient and loving.
One night while sitting on the floor stroking her pets, Marjorie heard a voice. There was no one else present! She wasn’t afraid though she could not say why. The voice asked Marjorie, “Are you really ready to die? You say you ‘nearly died laughing’ and indeed, the time will come when you will die. Will you be ready?”
Marjorie knew the voice had spoken the truth. She remained awake all night considering this important question.
Next day, Marjorie laughed a lot. But something was different. You could say Marjorie knew there was a part of herself that was detached from life's ups and downs. As she worked, chatted and laughed there was a distinct sensation. It was like a warm, bright light was alive in her heart (though sometimes it moved up and danced between her eyebrows). And when she laughed, she heard a tiny, crystalline, tinkling sound within her own being.
It can be difficult to feel peace in the midst of a stressful life situation. The sages all tell us the same thing: within you is light, pure Awareness. It exists in all beings and all forms ... yes, even in cats and dogs and insects.
We meditate to know the inner light. There are pages of meditation tips here on the website. For more audio meditations, go to the online store. By the way, you will receive a complimentary telephone consultation with me with the purchase of the guided meditation package (after you meditate with them for at least 10 days).
In these short stories, we're exploring the mind.
Despite all your life circumstances (health, financial or marriage challenges), if your mind is under your own control you are happy. Isn't it true?
Today many people are afraid. When you dwell in your fear thoughts, you forget how resourceful, empowered and creative you are. Everyone is. You can see it best in children.
Fear thoughts breed greedy actions. Listen to this story from Aesops Fables ...
There was once a man who possessed the most wonderful goose you can imagine, for every day when he visited the nest, the goose had laid a beautiful, glittering, golden egg. The man took the eggs to market and soon became rich. But the man grew impatient with the goose because she gave him only a single golden egg a day. He was not getting rich enough, fast enough.
One day after counting his money, an idea came to him. He could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the goose and cutting it open. So this is what he did. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg was to be found, and his precious goose was dead.
Meditation gradually brings your mind under control. A peaceful mind is your golden goose.
So if you have fear, meditate. Also write a list of 10 things you are grateful for and read your list out loud every day.
Pay attention to what changes occur. Notice what you attract by having grateful thoughts.
Find more meditations in the store. Now, there is a second bonus -- A one-on-one telephone meditation consultation with me, after you listen daily to the in-store meditations for 1-2 weeks.
We've been exploring the mind and how to just let go of our baggage. Until we do, there will be stress, unhappiness and disappointment.
The sages and saints who have lived throughout the centuries all advise us to just drop it. This, they say, is the way to lasting happiness.
This is illustrated in the story of Nan-in, the Japanese Zen master. Enjoy...
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912) received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow with horror. When he could no longer restrain himself, he exclaimed, "Stop pouring, it's full. No more will go in!"
"Like this cup", Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen until you first empty your cup?"
What desires, grudges, sad or bitter memories, are crowding your mind? What chronic thoughts about yourself or others leave no space for inspiration to move you...guide you...uplift you.
Today and throughout this week, without judgment, simply notice. You may want to jot down your observations in a journal or notepad.
Listen guided meditation while simply sitting or laying comfortably, with your eyes closed. You’ll be completely relaxed and stress-free.
Experience increased flow, balance and wellness in your life with personalized coaching anti stress at Meditation Escape!
This story comes from China. Perhaps it was a household parable told to children and adolescents...enjoy!
The Lost Axe
A man whose axe was missing suspected his neighbor's son. The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. But the man found his axe while digging in his garden the following spring, preparing it for seed. The next time he saw his neighbor's son, the boy walked, looked, and spoke like any other child.
We meditate to cleanse our perception, to change our mind. You may think of your mind as being inside your brain. The sages have long considered the mind as residing within the heart. They mean the energy heart or chakra in the subtle, energy body, that's found in the center of your chest.
Meditating on your heart chakra for 2-3 minutes a day can help change your mind. A fresh mind brings more peace, insight and clarity into your daily life. Try the short meditations here at Meditation Escape.
Women’s health: how stress affects health, stress hormones, and how to reduce stress in 5 minutes a day.
Spring! Here at Meditation Escape I'm adding new blogs messages. Each week, you'll receive a short message for clearing the way. We're preparing the ground for our teleclasses.
If you were asked to describe the state of your own mind and how you think what would you say?
Most of us think that our minds think rational, consecutive thoughts. But one doctor of psychiatry says that, if we examine most people's minds, we'll likely find a jumble:
random imaginings, bodily sensations, old fears, flashes of memories, arbitrary sense impressions, phrases from the media, to name a few.
Occasionally we hear stories, like the man who went to a psychiatrist's office trailing a toothbrush on a string. He thought the toothbrush was his dog. The psychiatrist tried in vain to persuade him differently. Finally, after hundreds of sessions, the psychiatrist said with exasperation:
"Does your dog look like a toothbrush even a bit?"
"Yes," said the man, "There's a slight resemblance."
"Well, can you brush your teeth with a dog?"
"No," said the man.
"Aha, exactly," said the psychiatrist, "Not only can you not brush your teeth with a dog, you can't even put a dog in your mouth. Would you agree?"
"Of course," said the man.
The psychiatrist got very excited, sensing a breakthrough was near. He said, "Well, would you mind if we tried a little experiment? Would you try putting that thing in your mouth?"
"Okay," said the man, putting the toothbrush in his mouth.
"Oh my goodness!" the man said, "All these years and I never realized, you CAN brush your teeth with a dog!"
We meditate to change our limiting beliefs. What's one limiting belief you'd like to change?
Last month a friend who also teaches meditation asked her clients why they don’t meditate daily. They all struggle with a hectic lifestyle, daily stress and a mind like an Everready Bunny, and they all know at least one simple meditation technique. Well, they said:
• My mind won’t let me.
• I tried it once and fell asleep. I’m not any good at it.
• I’d have to become a vegetarian.
• My husband won’t let me.
• I need a toke when I get home from work.
• I tried it once and had a wonderful experience; I can do it whenever I want to.
• It’s ski season.
• My children’s schedule runs my life and then it’s bedtime.
• The television won’t let me.
• People who meditate are different, I don’t want to be different.
What’s your reason?
Everyone swears by one technique or another but it’s really your effort that counts. Last winter Oprah interviewed fans of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Elizabeth learned to meditate because despite a very “successful” life she was desperately unhappy. One wife and mother learned from the book that she has the right to take time for herself every day. The woman turned a large closet into her personal sanctuary. She goes inside with a glass of wine to be alone and meditate. (I recommend the wine come after meditation.) My father used our living room. He would lie spread-eagled on the floor, listening to opera after he’d had a few. I guess you have to start somewhere!
The secret to meditation is relaxing your body and breath. A quiet mind will follow, allowing you to enter a quieter space which may only last a few seconds. At other times it may continue for a while longer. Stretching for a few minutes and taking several deep, long, slow breaths in and out, like toking without the toke, relaxes the body. Then a simple meditation or visualization technique can help you glide into meditation.
All the saints and sages have said that meditation is required for real, unshakable happiness that doesn’t depend on something or someone. They warn us that it takes effort. While occasionally meditation might just happen, daily meditation only happens by your own choosing. It guides us through even the most difficult times.
People who pray sometimes say prayer is enough. It’s not. Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening. If you’re wondering how to divide your time between them, remember, there’s a reason we have only one mouth but two ears.
The Sufi saint Hafiz put it this way, “If you think that the Truth can be known from words, if you think that the Sun and Ocean can pass through that tiny opening called the mouth, O someone should start laughing! Someone should start wildly laughing – now!”
You may want to get the free meditation technique while you’re on Meditation Escape, and register for the upcoming complimentary teleclass.
Continued from previous Blog entry...
At Christmas people were stranded all over the country, delayed by canceled flights. Some spent days in airports, missing their families and wasting precious vacation time. One woman observed that so much suffering comes from poor decisions. I was reminded of India’s monsoon months, when relentlessly heavy rainfall makes traveling dangerous and nearly impossible. It’s considered a time for becoming quiet and turning within.
In the West, our monsoon equivalent is the wintry months when we are snowbound. In the 1950’s most families’ relatives lived within a short drive so we got together every Christmas. Would we have struggled with hazardous trips if we’d lived at a great distance? We likely would have agreed to summer visits when the days are long and traveling is easy and fun.
By traveling in winter, we put our lives at risk, fighting the elements rather than respecting them. We’re like the woman who learned from her mother to cut the ends off the roast. One day she asked, “Why do you cut the ends off the roast before cooking it?” Her mother couldn’t say, so she asked her own mother. Grandma explained, “Well dear, we had one pan that was too small for roasts so I had to cut the ends off to make it fit the pan.”
Meditation helps us be steadfast and calm when confronted by difficult emotions and fears. You can count on anxiety when you make a sound decision for you and your family, one that will upset the apple cart of someone else’s expectations. Swami Beyondananda advises in his Guilt Awareness course, “and never leave the comfort of your easy chair…Learn the mantra that has helped people feel guilty down through the ages: Oy.”
You might resolve to begin a daily meditation practice. Five to 10 minutes a day makes a difference when done consistently. One sage said that meditation is as natural as breathing and sleeping. If you have young children, notice when they “stare into space”. Their senses are withdrawn temporarily from the external world, one definition of meditation. This calms and refreshes the mind, body and spirit. It gives children access to an inner fountain of knowledge and explains the profound statements of Truth that very young children are renowned for. They lose their ability to meditate by being interrupted (we call it socialization and class time). We adults simply need to relearn what we automatically did as kids!
Download a complimentary 3-minute meditation today at Meditation Escape.
Each month I contribute an article on Stress Management for my local newspaper. It addresses your daily stress factors and gives practical solutions.
Here is this month's article for you.
A Montreal actor, shot during the Mumbai terrorist attack, crawled from a restaurant with three bullets in his body. When interviewed, he credited his training in meditation and relaxation with saving his life. He said that it allowed him to be calm under great pressure and escape alive. He’d been in Mumbai for a meditation retreat.
Diane Sawyer interviewed Rudrani, a woman attending the same retreat. She was shot and badly wounded in one leg. Her companion and his young teenaged daughter were killed. About her friends’ murders Rudrani said, "I've had a lot of time to contemplate and think about it. My friend Alan, I know he was prepared. It saddens my heart to see Alan and his daughter go. But Alan had been practicing for years meditation and prayer... I knew that even though his body was taken, that he was prepared to move forward."
Few of us will ever have to endure that type of stress. We’ll experience the death of loved ones, illnesses, and/or financial setbacks. How we handle ourselves in the midst of an upsetting, even devastating crisis will depend on our daily mental training.
Part 2, continued in next Blog entry.
PS Download a complimentary meditation here at Meditation Escape, if you haven't yet received it.
Happy New Year 2009!!
How many times have you tried to wish away your stress? How often have you wanted to just be relaxed in each task and conversation?
You’ve come to the right place at the right time. Isn’t January the best time for making a fresh start?
Every new beginning holds promises. You might expect things to improve and want life to give you more of what you want.
The secret to new beginnings is: Gratitude. Gratitude for what you already have and have become. Your children, partner, parents, friends; your livelihood, home, vehicle; your city, country, favourite places; movies, books, entertainment; your clothing, bed, computer; the list is endless.
What is stress? And what isn’t it?
As you trust yourself to love others openly through expressions of kindness and consideration, whether they are friends or strangers; and as you express your own needs more honestly (with kindness) 99% of your stress will dissolve.
Remember, stress isn’t what happens to you.
STRESS IS HOW YOU RESPOND
Stress is how you respond to what happens in your life. Your response was, is, and will continue to be, your choice.
Meditation is an effective, fast and easy way to strengthen your inner muscles, giving you the presence of mind, the willingness to choose peace vs. anger or frustration.
No matter how much you think you already love; no matter how well you think you can communicate, you can go higher, deeper in your own heart. Your heart is a doorway to steady contentment. The unshakable kind.
This step will attract more of what you want into your life. It will open your eyes, helping you become more aware of abundance.
Write down a list of 10 people or things you are genuinely grateful for and why, briefly.
Read the list out loud daily, or before sleep. Watch closely as miracles come into your life. They will come. Your task is: to notice and acknowledge them.
Acknowledge yourself: your own goodness, accomplishments, and inner strengths. This will build your self-esteem more than praise or acknowledgment from others.
Acknowledge yourself each time you complete a task, solve a challenge, help someone, or overcome a temptation.
FOUR BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
If you want long-lasting and immediate changes, meditate.
1) Meditation stops the stress cycle
2) It calms all your body's systems
3) It restores your sense of balance
4) It actually dissolves problems
There is a free 3-minute meditation here on my website.
A Complimentary Meditation Teleclass is coming soon; email me for more information.
Until then, wishing you a Happy New Year 2009!
A relaxation script will help tame your wild mind. Relaxation quickly restores your intuitive intelligence. Create your own relaxation script!
I recently heard a story about a man who works with people who are often described as difficult because of their extreme states of mind. He found a way to be free of agitation when he is around them.
Whenever an inner reaction, any agitation begins, he asks himself the question: "Where is love in this situation?"
This question has become a technique that calms and centers him. You, too, can use this in your daily interactions as an effective centering tool.
Here's how it works:
When you ask yourself, "Where is love?" you are really by-passing the verbal kind of answer, the kind of answer that comes from your mind. Instead, with this question you go to a much, much deeper and truer place. That's because you invite the natural love, the inner essence of everything, to show up.
What happens is that you connect with your own love, the love that permeates every cell and atom within you and in everyone else too; you can call it unconditional love.
Because you connect with your own unconditional love, there's nothing you have to do to 'get' this love. It's right there, beneath your thoughts.
Try it...when your anger or frustration is triggered by your boss, your husband, or your child who's throwing a tantrum, ask the question "Where is love?".
In my relaxation classes women frequently ask for fun ways to relieve stress. Take a look which three are the most popular with stressed out women!