Journal

Why Meditate? Some simple answers.

The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In the West, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer, but its benefits—sometimes mysteriously hidden—are far more bountiful.

The actual act of meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath or a mantra—a word or phrase. There are countless traditions and no singular “correct” way to practice meditation.

Find a practice you like and stick with it for a while.
Notice how you feel as you go about your days. If you find that you have more patience, feel grounded and better able to respond to stressful situations, and you are more in touch with your intuition or gut feelings then Meditation is working for you.

Because It’s Good for Our Bodies

Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.

The mind-body connection between stress and disease is abundantly apparent as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means meditators are better able to adapt to stress in their lives and its common physiologic responses, which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Skin conditions

Because It’s Good for Our Relationships

Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counselors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.

When we become aware of—and honor—our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.

Because it Can Change Our Lives

In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s great to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life and bring you joy and more energy (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a short time in each day.

Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating—even just a few minutes of deep breathing—relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate BUT the truth is we can’t afford not to.

How to Start Meditating

Getting started is simple, but it’s helpful to have a teacher or guide to coach, motivate, and encourage you along as you stat. Here are some options to help you get started in meditation:

  • Find a teacher near you: It doesn’t get better than having a real, live person teaching you how to meditate. Make sure you choose someone you really connect with and respect, so that it will be easier to see them consistently. My training at the Chopra Center offers instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation—a powerful meditation technique rooted in the Vedic tradition of India.
  • Try a Guided Meditation: If you don’t have the time or means to find a teacher near you, guided meditations can be a great way to learn. They walk you through the steps and help you find a calm and peaceful state—one step at a time. Try one of these guided meditations, each with a unique theme taken from the Chopra Center website.

Empowering quotes

Quotes are the human experience perfectly encapsulated in a few choice words. The wisdom captures your attention because it triggers something in your core. A quote read for the first time is new but at the same time it seems familiar and meant just for you. They can be a source of great encouragement and a way to uplift when you feel lost or confused. By changing your thoughts and providing motivation to overcome obstacles you will start to achieve your goals and feel positive about yourself.

How to Use 

Your mood and behavior are greatly influenced by what you see and hear on a daily basis, especially on a subconscious level. Quotes can be used as a way to insert little messages of motivation that may seem inconsequential but can effect positive influences when used purposefully. Here are some tips on how to benefit the most from inspirational quotes:

  • When you read a quote, take time to reflect on it; quotes can be a great catalyst for introspection, internal dialogue, self-awareness, and inner work.
  • Choose a quote that speaks to you at this time and write it down, print it, or draw it in a way that is meaningful to you.
  • Put quotes in places where you can easily see it such as on the dashboard of your car, mirror, computer, kitchen, or your wallet.
  • If you have a meditation practice have your quote on hand to read at the end (or beginning) of your meditation to help infuse the essence of the quote into your daily life.

The following quotes can help you stay motivated and feel empowered throughout the year.

Choose one or a few to work with and see what unfolds. If you have an inspirational quote you would like to share get in touch and I will add it to the list.

Enjoy!

Empowering Quotes

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

“When your desires are distilled, you will cast just two votes: to love more, and be happy.” – Hafiz

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” – Rumi

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” – Pema Chodron

“When I let go of who I am, I become who I might be.” – Lao Tzu

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” – Deepak Chopra

“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” – Mike Dooley

When you take a few minutes each day to read and reflect on these quotes, you will stimulate your mind and inspire yourself to overcome any obstacle thrown your way. Here’s to a new year filled with the motivation and encouragement you need to achieve your goals!

Why We Struggle to Make Time for Solitude

 

How often do you take time to go out for a walk?  To just sit out in nature doing nothing but contemplating and enjoying the silence?

I’m sure there are a few of you who indulge in this luxury regularly, but most of us don’t make time for solitude on a daily basis.

For some, it’s too much of a luxury: the struggle of daily existence is too close to survival level to even think about an hour alone in nature.

But for many of us, the main reason is that our brain rationalizes staying busy. We are filled with uncertainty all day long, and that drives us to try to do more, to get control of everything, to cram more into our lives, to stay addicted to technology and distraction.

The main driver of our busyness and distraction is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is woven into every hour of our lives. We are uncertain about what we should do, who we are, whether we’re good enough, what is going to happen, what’s going on in the world, and how to deal with the overwhelmingness of life. We don’t often acknowledge it, but we feel uncertainty all day long.

To deal with that feeling of uncertainty, of the groundlessness of not having stability in our lives … we cling to comforts and distractions, we procrastinate and put off the habits we want to form, we are constantly busy and messaging and more. And when we do relax, we will pick up our phones or watch Netflix. I think silence is uncomfortable for many of us and busyness is a distraction to keep us in the doing

The idea of being in solitude, of having quiet in our lives and time for contemplation, might seem nice to many of us. But when it comes time to actually do it, we cling to busyness because of our feeling of uncertainty. “I can’t because I have too much to do!” “Just one more email. Just one more thing”

And yet, this constant busyness and distraction is draining us. We are always on, always connected, always stimulated, always using energy.

What would it be like to disconnect every single day for an hour? To remove ourselves from TVs, books, devices, and just go out for a walk? Not be productive, but connected to nature? We are human beings not human doings 🙃

We could use the time to let ourselves recharge and be replenished by nature. We could use the movement, the quietude that gives our brains a chance to rest, the space for contemplation and nothingness.

To do this, we have to stop letting the uncertainty rule our lives. It can be with us, a constant companion, and we can learn to be comfortable with it and even love it as it is. But it doesn’t have to drive us.

The way to shift this is to create the space for solitude, even just half an hour … and then make it happen. Watch your mind try to rationalize why you shouldn’t do it, or have an urge to put the solitude off for just a little longer. Then don’t give in to that urge, but instead go to the solitude and be with your urges, your rationalizations, your stress.

See what happens when you give these things some space.  They calm down. And you get nourished by the space and life around you.

Meditation does just that. By making time to meditate we give ourselves permission to stop, slow down and replenish. No time spent in quiet is ever wasted. Walking meditation puts our brain into a trance like state, we begin to see things differently and slowly we change and connect to our true self

So lets slow down. Embrace silence and resist the urge to sent that email!

How to instantly live in the present

Taken from the Chopra centre newsletter, slightly adapted. I like it as it has some interesting ideas on ways to be Mindful day to day.

In your mind, you tend to live either in the past or future. You flip through the events of the past with or your mind can fast-forward to a potential future by scanning the to-do list or some future goal. Rare is the moment when you allow yourself to be fully immersed in the present.

Even as a yoga teacher, I have to constantly remind myself to stay rooted in the present moment. Follow these tips on how to bring yourself back to the now.

1. People Watch

People watching simply means sitting down in a place and getting into observation mode (without checking your phone’s text messages or emails).

You can also extend this activity beyond people, to include nature watching or any other type of environment watching. It’s an incredible experience to schedule in observation time to simply notice everything around you fully. In complete observation mode, you learn so much.

Every time I travel to a foreign country, I love sitting in a local café and putting on my people-watching hat. I learn more about a culture, mannerisms, and customs through simple observation. But you don’t have to travel to do this. You can observe anywhere. Schedule in your “people watching” time—you can even do it with friends and share observations when you’re done.

2. Listen Fully

Have you ever noticed that when your lips aren’t moving, you find your mind wandering to either the past or the future? Fully listening is a wonderful way to stay rooted in the present moment. When a person is talking to you, pretend you are hearing what they’re saying for the first time, even if you’ve heard it a million times before. Notice the tone of voice, inflection, and body language while they speak. Take note of your internal reactions to the words said. Observe your body language while listening. Catch yourself jumping into the future, in your mind, as you formulate an answer. Try to increase the amount of listening in your daily life, so you speak less and listen more. This can be an enriching experience that can lead you to feeling happier and start living in the present.

3. Savour Magic Moments

Tony Robbins says that life with others is made up of magic moments. You may have a tendency to think of the big moments such as weddings, birthday parties, and other big events as being the special times in life. However, most of life is made up of little moments. It’s your child rushing into the room just to give you a hug and say, “I love you.” It’s your husband buying toothpaste without you telling him. It’s your work colleague bringing you your favorite coffee in the morning. It’s catching a beautiful sunset on the way home from work.

4. Savor the Senses

Have you ever seen anyone have a genuine love affair with food? It’s an absolute joy to watch people fully immerse themselves in the flavors.

Take one sensory experience and allow it to halt time and quiet the mind. Enjoy a meal, savor an essential oil, spend time with a painting or sunset, feel the warmth and energy from a campfire, listen to enchanting music—this will not only bring you into the present moment, but it can even create a spiritual experience and can be a mindfulness practice. When you do this, other senses will be drawn in by habit, but try to keep your focus and pay attention to the sense you chose. The practice of creating focus can pump your present moment awareness muscles and calm the mind.

5. Appreciate the Absolute Ordinary

Have you ever walked through your own house during a quiet time and just enjoyed the moment and appreciated the seemingly menial things?

Try it:

  • Feel the carpet under your toes and feel so grateful for it.
  • Observe the sky and feel connected to the planet
  • Open your refrigerator or cupboards and appreciate the food and items at your fingertips.
  • Open the door slowly, offering gratitude for the key, the shelter, your address, and location.

Have you ever felt that you don’t have enough at times? While lack, in some respect, may certainly be present in your life, take stock of what you do have. You might have clean air to breath, water that flows from a tap, food in the fridge, and a place to sleep at night. If nothing else, appreciate the sun rising and setting each day, bringing the planet light and life. Something as simple as your fingers moving to grasp your coffee cup is a thing to celebrate. There are so many ordinary things to appreciate each day.

The more you practice mindfulness and living in the present moment, the more aware you will become. Practice one of these five things daily and watch your life transform into a more peaceful and joyful existence full of happiness.