Wednesday
Jun242015

Essentials to remember when trying to tame the monkey mind.

 

 

The biggest challenge for meditators is the racing mind. New and seasoned meditators share the same "challenge" with their own mind. But, meditation is not to be looked at as a feat to overcome. It's a life practice. Becoming aware of your thoughts, observing them, allowing them, is part of the practice itself. Meditation is about creating awareness. So, don't let your mind deter your meditation practice. Instead, let your mind become your practice. Your thoughts can teach you a lot. Here’s some advice on how to address the monkey in your mind.

You're in the present moment when you notice you're thinking. That's Great!

Pema Chodron was one of my first and favorite meditation teachers. She suggests acknowledging your racing mind by saying "thinking”. Sometimes we can think for long stretches before we realize we’re not focusing on our breath. The beauty of meditation is that it can teach us to be present in any moment. When you realize your thoughts and say “thinking” be happy because you are in the moment right then. We can use this technique as we do anything outside of meditating to be more present.

Remember that meditation is a gentle practice.

She suggests paying attention to how you feel when you say “thinking”. Are you frustrated and annoyed with yourself? Do you feel defeated? Remember, that meditation is practice and part of it is to learn to become more patient, loving, and compassionate with ourselves! Use your monkey mind as a way to achieve inner kindness.

Meditation is about creating awareness.

Becoming aware of your thoughts can help you learn about their nature. Remember, energy follows thought. Notice if your mind tends to follow a negative or positive pattern. Does a certain person or relationship occupy too much time in your mind? Are you fixated on something that disrupts your own happiness or contentment? Are you being too hard on yourself? Thoughts are invisible. They aren’t real in a physical sense. Like stress, negative thought patterns can accumulate and eventually cause imbalance. Your thoughts then provide an opportunity to learn from that thought pattern. You have the power to transform your thoughts into something worth thinking about. Forgiveness, letting go, self love, etc.. These are the things that heal us and help us improve.

Lighten up! Don't take your thoughts or yourself for that matter too too seriously.

Laughing at the randomness or simplicity of your thoughts helps to keep things light. Just as you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, you shouldn’t take yourself so seriously. 

One time I was giving a meditation instruction to a group that was running the Chicago marathon (at Lively in Oak Park). The point was to help remove race time jitters. As we settled into the meditation one of the gals fell asleep. This is pretty typical in a group setting. But, this gal was sawing some serious logs! Everyone was trying so hard to remain focused. When I told everyone how well they were doing staying focused, I busted out laughing and the room broke out in a rumpus. In the end, the runners didn't need to relax as much as they needed a good laugh.

You're not the only one who has trouble taming the monkey.

This is a challenge for everyone. We need to meditate because we think too much. The more we practice, we create a muscle memory that helps us get into the zone more quickly. But, even then you may have a day where the effort was hopeless. Remember that it wasn’t. Any time you give yourself time to sit still, it’s worth something. Whether it’s 1 minute or 60, the time is not wasted. If you’re particularly tense or upset it’s helpful to stretch or do some yoga. Or stop and take a few more deep breaths. With your exhale, open your mouth wide to let go of these heavy thoughts. Or maybe you need to write some things down to clear your mind a little. Either way, it’s all good. 

There may be some other things going on. There's still hope.

It’s true that people with ADD may have a more difficult time quieting the mind. In this case, focusing on something other then your breath could be helpful. Using your senses as the object of meditation can be helpful in this case. There could also be imbalances in your energy that are making it more difficult to quiet your mind. Obsessive and pensive thought patterns could be a sign of a spleen weakness. In this instance, acupuncture and dietary changes could be helpful.

The most important thing to remember is that meditation is called a practice for a reason. We’re supposed to learn as we go. Our thoughts are a part of the learning experience. So, B easy on yourself.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions about taming the mind, I’d love to hear them!

 

Friday
Jun052015

Ten Ways to Help You Forgive.

"I know I need to forgive I just don't know HOW" is something I hear all the time. Forgiveness is one of those intentional acts with enormous healing potential. Holding on to resentment, anger, hurt, has potential to create physical and mental health problems only for you. There are a few things to remember when it comes to forgiving.

 

  • Forgiveness is for your own good. It's not about them but you. 
  • It's just as important to forgive yourself as it is to forgive others. 
  • Forgiveness is a process. It takes time and effort. 
  • The amount of pain is proportionate to the challenge of forgiveness. 
  • The reward of forgiveness is proportionate to the challenge.

 

Try these techniques when your working on forgiveness:

1. When you are walking, biking, or running, use your breath to let go. Try to feel the energy that holding on to pain creates. Feel the tension and try to let go with your breath. When you exercise, your breath is engaged more deeply then resting position. You are also moving your entire body, blood is pumping and flowing, and you may be sweating. Consciously breathing in new energy- letting go through your breath and pores releases toxins- even emotional ones.

2. Participate in a bridge meditation and break the bonds you have with this person. This is a mental exercise to let go of that person you feel has a hold on you. We all have invisible bonds, some are stronger then others. Some bonds are worthwhile some are meant to be broken.

3. Nurture the child within you. Just because you're grown up, doesn't mean that child is gone. When we're young we can't process pain. Instead we store these negative experiences within us. They are in our cellular makeup and make a dent in our auric energy. Eventually, they reveal themselves in our adult experience through anxiety or discontent. This can lead to relationship problems or even health problems. Visualize the chid in you and nurture that child like you would your own. Really feel your own love and comfort. Visualize nurturing a hurt child. Stay with the child for as long as it takes. Revisit them often. 

4. Treat yourself as your own best friend. Remember we're human and we make mistakes. That's why we're here! We can behave and act in ways that create feelings of shame and guilt. We can hang on to regret and think too often about "what if". It's important to own the behavior but forgive yourself. Visualize yourself as your own best friend. How would you act if someone was beating themself up for whatever reason. You'd help them rationaize the regret. You'd tell them to let it go. You'd want that for them because you can see their vitue when they can't. See that for yourself. 

5. Ask for help - It really doesn't matter if you're talking to God or angels or Source, Jesus, Buddha,- they all love unconditionally and it doesn't matter what your belief system is. Ask for the strength to let go and forgive. In your silent space say Please show me the way to forgiveness. Help me find the strength to let go. Help me feel the relief. Help me to be more loving. 

6. Write a letter- not to send. Write a letter to the person or people who wronged you and tell them why you must find it in your heart to forgive them. Tell them how they hurt you and how they make you feel. Explain that you're taking charge of your own emotions, and you're finding it in your heart to forgive. Your heart is the home to your spirit. Your spirit is strong and can forgive.

7. Take your power back- When we hang on to the anger and resentment- we're letting go of our power. Try to palpate the feeling of powerlessness. Go within and tune in to your inner power. Visualize yourself at your full capacity. Give yourself permission to reach it!

8. Visualize yourself letting go of a balloon. In your mind, watch the balloon as it soars high into the sky. Try to stay with this meditation for awhile. Imagining watching the balloon rise up into the infinite sky. When you can't see the balloon check in with your feelings. Forgiveness is a transformative process. When you really forgive you feel better. 

9. Try to feel exactly where in your body lies the pain. If you recreate the feeling or memory of the pain, pay attention to your body and try to recognize where your body stores the pain without getting attached to it. Just notice. Laserbeam your minds eye to that location and use your exhale to release that pain and tension. Repeat.

10. See the innocence of humanness. The most challenging kind of letting go is when the person we're challneged by is in constant contact with us. When this is the case, try to see their innocence. People are narrow minded and sometimes shallow. They are operating from their ego and don't even realize it. This is sad and they will at one time or another face their reality. This is not your problem. Realizing their human innocence can help you let go of angry tension, or even help you feel compassion for them. 

You owe it to yoursef to forgive. The act of forgiveness is what you need to takeaway from the experience you endured. 

Do you have a strategy that helps you forgive? I'd love to hear about it. Please feel free to reach out in a private message or share in the comments. Remember you are not alone. We all need to forgive.

 

Friday
May292015

Looking for a new home? Consider these feng shui guidelines...

House hunting is an exciting but often stressful process. We usually start with a wish list, but in the end you make compromises. You didn't get the fireplace, but you love the front porch.

Feng shui can help guide the home buying process by knowing what features are negative and which are auspicious. Here too, you might need to make compromises. 

The good thing with feng shui is that there's often a "cure" for negative features. When there are auspicious features, you can enhance those things to heighten the positive effects. 

To get started you want to understand the bagua map. This map is used to lay out the entire property, the house itself, and then individual rooms. It's easy to use and covers all of the important areas that make for a good life. The idea is when all of these "area's" are met, we have positive flow in our life, and feel content and happy.

The map is easy to use. Always hold the map so the career area is on the bottom. You hold the map with the door behind you. The wealth area is always in the Northwest corner. The love and relationships in the Northeast corner of the room.

When looking at individual rooms, there may be two doorways. Choose the door closest to the main door in the house. 

Below is a list of things to keep in mind when you're buying a new home. In addition to a strong foundation, good flow, and nice light, you may want to keep these additional feng shui tips in mind.

Here are several things to keep in mind when looking for a home.

1. You don't want a home that is at the end of the street or cul-de-sac. In other words, you don't want to be able to drive straight into your house. If you can, then too much energy goes straight into this home. It's even worse if there's a road that leads to the back of the house. This is a negative feature that I would not compromise. The intense circular energy in a cul-de-sac is not ideal either as it creates an energy vortex.

 

2. Look for Poison arrows directed at the house. Poison arrows are hard edges pointing towards your home. Look around the home and be reluctant to purchase if there are large apartment buildings, office buildings, or neighboring homes that overpower the home. In other words, you want friendly, soft surroundings. This is typically more of a problem when looking for a home in the city. Also, keep in mind police stations, fire houses, and cemeteries are also less then ideal.

3. Houses are generally square in shape. Square shape represents the Earth element and represents stability and security. The square shape makes it easy to apply the ba gua. If there are irregularities in the shape, these may denote a missing or expanded area. Again, you have to use the map to apply. The area is missing if it's more then 1/3 removed. Here you'll need to adjust with a mirror or plant to square off or ground the space. It's considered extra space (auspicious), if it's enhanced by 1/3.

4. Watch out for beams in the bedroom. They can disrupt the flow of energy and create too much of a disturbance in a place for resting. If there are beams, this can be cured with drapery or flowing fabric to soften the forces.

5. A room with a pointed or sloping roof is not ideal for the bedroom as the energy bounces around, creating random fluctuation of energetic forces. This kind of room is better suited as a play room.

6. Entry way is everything! Does this home have a good first impression? Is there a way to make the entry friendly and inviting. A curved path to the house is ideal. Even better if the house has a few steps that rise up to the door. Watch out for overwhelming bushes at the entry. In other words, you don't want the house to feel like a tomb. Even though, you can change the landscaping the prior owners may have had this negative energy effect the overall Qi of the house. 

7. A foyer in the home is ideal because it offers a place for the energy to situate itself vs. opening the front door straight into the living room.  Stairs immediately going straight up is not ideal either. If there are stairs, placing a mirror at the top of the stairs can help to slow down the energy.

8. When you look at the front of the house through the window or door, can you see right through the back yard? You don't want a clear path from the front to the back door. Your money will go straight out the back door. 

9. The kitchen, living room, and master bedroom are the most important rooms for love and money. You can always enhance "relationships" with color and symbolism (pink= romance, pairs of anything). Wealth is often enhanced with lighting, greenery, etc). If there is an area that's missing because the shape is irregular, you can use color, mirrors, plants to "square off" the area so the space is in tact. 

10. The layout of the kitchen is not good if the stove and sink are back to back. This is particularly bad for marriage because it creates overcrowding and conflict.  

11. Where is the money space in the house? You don't want a toilet or garbage in the main money area in the house. If this is the case, you'll need to find the other money spaces and enhance them. 

12. In the bedroom - look at the position of the bed. It's not ideal for the bed to be located in front of a window, but it's much better then a bed that  faces the doorway. A bed in front of the door has you "on guard". Not ideal for your place of rest. Speaking of rest…is there a place in the home you can go to escape for solitude. It's ideal to have a couple spaces for you to create cozy corners-  locations could be found in the bedroom, a sun room, or area in the family/ living room. 

13. The previous owners have left their energetic stamp within the house. Beware of sickness, financial, or marital problems and be sure to look at the health, wealth, and relationship areas in these homes. Again, this is nothing that can't be cleared within reason. Always clear the house before moving in with sage or incense. 

14. Follow your gut. Stand in the house and try to feel the overall energy of the space. Do you feel like you want to hang out here? Or do you feel anxious to leave? Try and overlook bad taste in decor by envisioning the potential. What does the center of the home feel like? This is the core space and represents health. 

15. Home is where the heart is. It's that simple. Your home is a place for your spirit to feel safe and secure. It's where you go to rejuvenate your soul so you can handle everything around you. Don't settle for anything less and remember that there's an overall force that will ultimately dictate your best surroundings. So, try not to get attached to any one home, but be open for this force to place you in the perfect position for life opportunities. One home might be breathtaking, but another home may have neighbors that could shape your future for the better.

Simply trust in the process!!

 

 

Monday
Sep292014

B Still: 12 Stages of Healing Meditation

When it comes to "mind over matter", visual meditation using healing energies of light, warmth, and joy, you engages every cell of your being to absorb these energies to empower self-healing. 

As human beings, we are narrow minded.This process allows our mind to expand and engage positive energies to create a healing shift. This healing meditation is from Boundless Healing: Meditation Exercises to Enlighten the Mind and Heal the Body by Tulku Thondup.

1. Bring Calmness to your body

Relax your body to calm your mind. Take 3-5 deep breaths and release tension with your exhalation. Bring your mind to individual parts of your body and release tension using your exhale to soften and relax. Ground yourself in your seat by feeling the seat beneath you and the roots from the bottom of your feet. You can breathe in a white cleansing mist, collect any tension, and exhale gray turbid matter. Your true nature is one where your mind and body are at peace.

2. Scan your body's anatomical details.

Gain a visual sense of the details of your body. Look at systems individually, the skeletal, circulatory, nervous system. Examine individual organs, and tissues. This helps to intimately connect your mind and body and to become aware of the living nature of your body. When you have a strong visual picture the healing meditation will have a more powerful effect. 

3. See your body as infinite individual cells.


Break down your organ systems down to their cellular make-up. Try to expand your mind by seeing the trillions of individual cells that make up your being as a whole. This helps to gain an appreciation for the infinite and amazing nature of our being. Examine an individual cell to appreciate that it has it's own intricate and detailed make-up that gives it life. Realize that every facet of our body is alive. Our breath is the force behind that life.

4. See individual cells as cells of light. 

Light can be white, rainbow colored, or specific colors. The nature of light is boundless, translucent, radiant, and liberating. Imagine this light to have divine qualities of love and joy. Allow light to penetrate your entire being, and visualize this light illuminating all of your individual cells. Use your breath to distribute the light throughout your entire being to ease tension and open the mind.

5. See each cell as vast as the Universe

This helps to give us an appreciation for "perfectness" of nature. That each cell is as perfect as nature at it's best. Take some time to examine just one cell. You can focus on the cell in between your eyes, your third eye. Enter into one cell and imagine each cell as a majestic place. Enter into another cell and visualize another "perfect" place. Recognize that each cell has it's own individual nature. Take as much time to move from cell to cell, gaining a sense for the perfect quality of nature to expand the scope of healing properties. 

6. Feel healing energies 

Here is where you begin to empower self-healing within your cellular nature to make positive changes. Feel the healing energies of warmth and joy. Associate the coziness of a warm bed, or the comfort of warm sun to feel the nature of warmth. Feel your cells absorbing the sensation of warmth.

Imagine someone or an animal you instantly love to sense the feeling of joy. Cultivate these feelings so your mind and body recognize them. Feel your cells absorb this hiealing energy to generate health and healing.

7. Breathe to create waves of light and Energy.

Begin to move and distribute these energies throughout your cells by using your breath as the healing force. This is the part of the meditation that allows your cells to absorb (inhale) and distribute (exhale) the healing energies of warmth and joy. Here the healing energies gain momentum to remove blockages, repair structures, and reinvigorate tired or sick cells.

You can focus on particular areas that need healing. Visualize your cells plumping up, regenerating, clearing and removing sick cells, generating new and healthy cells. If you like you can create an imaginary border, like an egg shell around cancerous cells- this can serve to protect healthy cells from being effected, and disintegrates sick cells. Really watch this happening- the dissolution of sick cells and regeneration of healthy cells. 

8. Hear the healing sound of AH!

To really strengthen the healing properties of warmth and bliss, move the energy with vibration by singing and hearing the sound "AH". As you inhale hear the sound "Ah". As you exhale sing the sound "Ah". Sing it loudly, normally, and then whisper the sound "Ah" with your inhalation and exhalation. Visualize this sound brightening the light, and distributing the warmth and bliss. This feels great!

9. Open to healing with the Blossoming Lotus Movement.

To reinforce the healing motion, engage your hands in an opening and closing manner. Slowly move your hands open as you inhale to take in healing energy, and close your hands to distribute the energy. This movement allows every part of your body to be a part of the healing process. It can help speed up the healing process. You can apply this to any movement (walking, stretching etc.).

10. Share the healing waves with each other.

So far, we've only been concerned about the healing energies for ourselves, but sharing them with others maximizes the healing potential. Visualize the bright, radiant, beautiful light filled with warm and loving energy in your mind's eye, absorb this light as you inhale and spread this light as you exhale. Imagine a person or groups of people. Visualize your friends and loved ones. Enjoy seeing them immersed in feelings of joy and peace. 

11. Share the healing waves with the Whole Universe.

Apply the same process but this time, spread this loving-healing light to the whole Universe. This process helps us realize the boundlessness of healing energies and expands our perspectives. The world needs healing and we can contribute by sending out our healing energies. It won't take long before you can think about the pain, suffering, and sorrow in the world. Visualize, as you exhale and hear the sound "Ah" that the world is taking in these positive forces. Imagine the whole Universe immersed in feelings of peace, and joy.

12. Rest in oneness with the healing experience.

At the end of your meditation, take some time to become aware of the feelings you possess. Take note of how you feel and rest in this feeling without analyzing it. Just sit for as long as you like and notice. Continue to notice your breath and enjoy the healing waves. Rest and enjoy.

Slowly rise and come back to these energies when you simply focus on your breath.

Monday
Mar052012

B the Boss and Take a No Nonsense Approach With Your Picky Eater

One child of mine could be a judge on the Iron Chef.  He thoroughly enjoys food.  He loves kid food, but is happy to have salad or anything we put on his plate.  He recognizes how he feels when he eats something that's not healthy. My other child, on the other hand is picky and challenges my mental state of mind.

I've learned a no-nonsense approach is the only option with our picky eater.  I consider it my duty as a parent to teach and demonstrate how to make healthy choices.  It hasn't been easy.  

Here are my no-nonsense food rules:

  • I'm not a short order chef.  We'll eat what I make and that's it.
  • One bite rule: You can't say you don't like it if you don't try it.  
  • No crying at the table.  You cry, Good bye!  We've let her cry and cry and tried to ignore her.  But, if we remove her instantly she almost always comes back ready to eat.  It's the band-aid effect
  • No toys at the table.  I really don't like toys in the kitchen at all.  But, toys at the table is a distraction and has served us well in public restaurants as well.  (Crayons and placemats is the exception)
  • We eat at the table.  Eating at the table is a way to practice mindful eating and good for the whole family.  Walking around with food or eating in front of the t.v. is mindless eating and creates bad habits.
  • The husband and I are a team.  If he threatens dinner for breakfast. Dinner must be for breakfast.  One bite.  As challenging as this one can be, I'm strong and steadfast.  When she does take the measly bite, it's over and we can move on.  
  • It's my job as a Mom to feed my kids what's best for their growing minds and bodies. I won't compromise or back down from this commitment.  
  • I Choose my battles.  She won't eat fruit, but she'll drink fruit "shakes".  I can blend it up, no problem. 
  • It's not about fat vs. skinny.  Instead I use the "green light, yellow light, red light" approach and find this makes the most sense.  We can have it all, in the right amounts.
  • Good habits start with me.  I'm the example for moderation. I eat well and I choose fruit and vegetables for snacks.  But I enjoy cake too.  The kids see me bake, enjoy baked goods, and watch me give them away.  
  • I'm the example.  I exercise.   
  • Food shouldn't be a reward.  I've done this and internally cringed knowing I'm making a mistake.  It happens and will probably happen again.  There's a learning curve here.   
  • Come to the table hungry.  Absolutely no dry snacks in between meals. Crackers, pretzels, goldfish etc. suppress the appetite and basically ruin any opportunity for a good meal.  It's best to not have them in the house.  

 

Building a healthy relationship with food is like any other relationship.  There's give and take.  Some relationships are better than others, and some should be avoided entirely.  We can't survive without food and the more we know what serves us right, the better off we'll be.