Why I meditate & you should too!
Hello all! So, I am asked often by some to offer more meditations and by others to explain what meditation is and why I feel it is so necessary. Let me begin with why we don’t offer a guided meditation weekly as asked. Between running our online shoppe and keeping up with the different services we offer it has been a little tough making time but for now making sure you can all continue to find time to meditate is very important to me. So, here is a little guide and guidance to be able to understand it a little better and hopefully be able to do it wherever you are (except working heavy machinery) 🚂🚃🚜✈ That would not good. Let us begin with what Meditation is. Meditation is a way to quiet your conscious mind. Stopping or slowing down those constant thoughts from filling your brain. There are scientific studies showing that we have an average of 70,000 thoughts per day. That is about 3000 an hour or 50 thoughts per minute, which is about just under one per second. Now although your minds thoughts are whizzing by there are little spaces in between called stillness. This space is the path to the infinite mind and that incredible sense of divine connection. The issue here in connecting to this stillness and lengthening that time is YOU! You must clear the mind from the chattering monkey. Once you can control the monkey you then have control of your mind. Sounds easy? For some it is. I began this path of silencing my mind began October 31, 2003 the day I buried my mother. My mind could not take the realization that the connection to the human that brought me here was gone. I don't drink... I don't smoke... I didn't have an outlet, so it was through prayer and so many spiritual people that came into my life that I was introduced to the concept of going inward. I immediately began looking into meditation and here I am today. Was it instant?? Absolutely not!! My mind races, my thought and dreams constantly fill my mind and stress, YES stress and life’s problems always have that way of invading and taking over my brain so I knew it wouldn’t be easy. For 17 years I have been asked to teach what I knew of meditation but I never felt I was ready but a very good friend recently passed and during his last few weeks on earth I helped him through his battle with meditation and he made me promise to continue on this path and he felt I was ready. So here I am finally sharing my belief in the practice of meditation. In teaching meditation, it seems so many are interested but make excuses. Meditation is not a religion but a way of quieting the mind. Which in today's world is a great superpower to have. Why superpower? For those that can do it, it saves their lives from unnecessary stress, heart ache and sickness. For those that can’t, or won't it leave them open to unnecessary stress, unnecessary heart ache, and sickness. Before I offer a few ways to quiet the mind let me share the excuses hopefully none of you will use to not try. #1 “I don’t have time.” If you want anything enough in life YOU WILL make the time. So it is safe to admit if you use this excuse it may not just be your thing. Which is fine. Learning meditation begins slowly for most, a minute here and there...then it will slowly build. This is not a magic pill you take, and you instantly lose the weight. Even pharmaceuticals take time to work and at least Meditation can’t harm you or has no side effects (well you may fall asleep) Simply, start with a few minutes, and as you practice and feel comfortable, you’ll start adding more time to your meditations. It is easy to become hooked to the feeling of shutting it all out. Here is another popular excuse that people tell me why they can’t meditate, #2 “I can’t sit still.” (I will be Introducing walking meditations below) #3 “My mind never stops.” Understand you are not a machine that can be shut off. This will take time. For now, be aware of the thought at hand and once you realize that at this time, this minute, this second there is nothing you can do about it, it will become very easy to release the thought. Know that there is no right or wrong way to meditate since there are different techniques or styles of meditation. Here are a few of my favorites: -Breathing meditation: This technique of focusing on your breath can calm your mind quite a bit. It is breath that gives us life and simply listening, hearing, and feeling your breath can change your mindset instantly. -Mantra meditation: This technique can be great not only for relaxing the mind but in instilling positive affirmations that can help us through life. Repeat a phrase for a minute, think of it as retraining your brain. For example: " I am a good human being, I am a great friend, I am an amazing mother/father, I will accomplish...." Keeping them short, or long does not matter as long as you can repeat the mantra clearly and it makes sense to you. Record yourself on your phone saying it. Play it back in the shower, in the car, while sleeping. It does not have to be blasting in your face. It can be quiet and subtle in the background. Change them as often as you like. I have a few and will be adding more and more. But let me forewarn you. A guided meditation should be a good match. So, feel free to shop around. I want you to be 100% happy. My voice may annoy you!!! My meditations may just not work for you. This is about YOU not me pushing my stuff. Just google “guided meditation” and you’ll find tons of links. Walking meditation –YES!!! This style was introduced to me at a center in New Haven and I thought it was odd but after being open to it I enjoy it in certain situations. While walking you focus on your breath, the sensations of air or wind on your skin, what you can hear, and what you can see. This can be done inside or out. Find an area that allows you to walk back and forth for 10-15 paces—a place that is relatively peaceful, where you won’t be disturbed. Begin by walking 10-15 steps in a straight line but don’t stress too much. When you’re ready, turn and walk back in the opposite direction to where you started continually focused on your breath. Once you get back turn and keep going. This can be done around in a circle; it does not have to be a straight line. Now for the foot placement. Walking meditation involves thinking about and doing a series of actions that you normally do automatically which may feel ridiculous. The four basic components of each step are as follows, Lift one foot; then move it a bit forward then place the foot on the floor, HEAL FIRST. Then shift the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back-heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground. Then the cycle continues: Lift your back foot totally off the ground, observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers; observe the back foot as it makes contact with the ground, HEEL FIRST. You may find this somewhat difficult but understand focusing so much on an act we do every day effortlessly becomes the meditation. Walking meditation is great especially to do out in the park or by the ocean. Speed doesn’t matter as long as it feels natural. Hands can be clasped behind your back or in front of you, or you can just let them hang at your side—again, whatever feels most comfortable and natural. As you walk, focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted, such as your breath coming in and out of your body; the movement of your feet and legs, or their contact with the ground or floor; your head should be balanced and always look forward to the world in front of you. Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness meditation offers a very different approach to relaxing the mind. Instead, it’s simply about noticing and accepting experiences in the present moment. These experiences can be an intense emotion, a sensation in the body, or focusing on the rhythm of your breath or floating thoughts. Instead of thinking of mindfulness as the end goal, it’s helpful to think of mindful meditation as a muscle that you’re exercising. Which just like working out on equipment it takes time and practice to build. Just like any other meditation, start off with a few minutes then as you feel more confident extend your meditations. Research has shown that mindfulness has a positive effect on anxiety, depression and pain. It can also improve sleep. In general, our natural response is to push away negative experiences but pushing these thoughts away does not help us feel better or ease our anxiety. An alternative is to “make space” for negative sensations and accept them at any moment. Anxiety: Anxiety focuses on thoughts and emotions that can cause your distress. When we feel anxious, our mind becomes consumed with many thoughts but there is only one thought, one now of what is really here in the moment. Most of our fears are memories that are not happening in the moment. In Mindfulness you allow the thought that causes your anxiety to come to the forefront of thought. You understand there is nothing at this time that can be done and with practice and dedication the severity of the thoughts will soften and lessen the worry. Depression, As with anxiety, it’s helpful to notice these thoughts and then let them go and return to the present. Easier said then done? Yes! But like most things it takes faith and trust in the process and believing in yourself and being ready to let it go. What is the difference between anxiety and depression. Well, I saw it written as Anxiety is to worry about issues that may come and Depression is to harp on things that have happened. Pain. We often do not realize how much pain we add with our thoughts. Think of this, when you are suffering from a migraine or let’s say back pain and you continue to focus and direct all of your attention on your pain it will never end. You are now adding to the physical pain mental pain of worry. Using mindfulness meditation can help manage pain by focusing on the sensation of pain, allow it to exist, and even explore what is happening and possibly why it is happening. Then once you truly are able to grasp the what, why, and where you can begin to shift your attention to other thoughts like a song, the smell of a candle or the comfort of a soft couch as you relax and focus more on the relaxation of your body and not the pain. Basically, you have understood pain is happening but there are also other things to focus on. The pain does not have to be the center of your universe. Just please remember that the more you do the better control you WILL have of your mind.