Tag: Be Happy

Meditation: A Tool for Total Wellness

I ablesContemplate on this: Quieting your mind on a regular basis can result in both mental and physical well-being! How wonderful is that?

Meditation may, on a physical level:

  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce body pain caused by tension
  • Improve sleep, mood, behavior, and energy level

On an emotional/mental level, meditation may:

  • Promote feelings of calm and peace
  • Support clearer and more positive thinking
  • Expand awareness and perspective, which can lead to self-revelations and transformation
  • Encourage sharper thinking: New, creative, and productive ideas have the opportunity to arise in a quieted, focused mind

There are many kinds of meditations and ways to meditate. The best type and method of meditation is what appeals to and works for you…after all, if it doesn’t do those two things, you most likely won’t do it! The effects of meditation can be achieved in a few minutes a day, although many people find themselves engaging in longer sessions because of the positive results they experience. Also, keep in mind that the kind of meditation you are drawn to may change over time, as well as the effects you experience. Think of meditation as a personal trainer for your inner “fitness” program. As your inner fitness grows and changes, so will your “workout.”

Here are a few ways to meditate:

Focus your attention on a single thing. It can be a visualized object, a word, a mantra, or just the rhythm of your breath. When you notice your mind has wandered (which our minds are prone to do), gently bring it back to the original focus. Over time, you will experience less distractions and greater singular focus. Some examples of this type of meditation: Buddhist meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, Sound Meditation, Mantra Meditation.

Allow your mind to go as it may, without judgment or attachment. Tune in to all of your senses; be aware of sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Your thoughts and awareness will flow freely in and out, like the waves of the ocean. Some examples of this type of meditation: Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana.

Follow a guided meditation. Normally, you listen to a recording of a meditation that has a specific purpose, such as increasing energy, reducing anxiety, letting go of fear or anger, promoting restful sleep, raising levels of gratitude, etc. There are many different guided meditations available, which you can access online. I particularly enjoy Louise Hay.

Try making meditation a part of your daily ritual, and see what good can result!


Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?

Flu season is upon us, and we are all trying to be as proactive as possible to avoid getting sick. Coming down with the flu, a cold, or any kind of illness is not pleasant, nor convenient in our busy lives…especially with all the holidays approaching! So we might get a flu vaccine, try to eat right and exercise, get enough sleep, stock up on vitamin C and hand sanitizer, and stay away from people who look sick. We’ve done everything we can. Or have we?

One very important factor we might not have considered as contributing to sickness is…our thoughts! We know from numerous news reports that being in a constant state of stress has negative health consequences, but what about our thoughts in general? Can the way we think make us sick?

Studies show that our thoughts are so powerful they can affect our physical well-being. Try to recall the last time you came down with a cold. What was going on in your life? What was the gist of your inner dialogue the days leading up to your sickness? Were your thoughts focused on worry, fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, or resentment?

Our health can also be compromised when:

  • We keep our feelings locked inside, instead of dealing with or expressing them.
  • We don’t speak up for ourselves and then experience feelings of powerlessness or other energy-depleting emotions.
  • We can’t let go of past experiences that brought us pain, distress, or tension that continue to affect us as we relive the experience in our minds and through retelling the story to others.
  • We think negatively about others, and ourselves focusing on faults and mistakes instead of positive traits or actions.

While thinking negatively or in an unconstructive way will not necessarily make you sick, it can play a part in it. If that kind of thinking can make us sick, then thinking in a way that is positive, loving, and caring toward ourselves and the world around us can contribute to our well-being. So why not add, “wellness thinking” to our regimen of healthy living?

Here are ways to break the cycle of thoughts that can harm our health that you can incorporate into every day:

  • Be aware of the focus of your thoughts. When you bring awareness to what and how you think, you can change or redirect the inner chatter as needed.
  • Think about what the consequences might be to you by continuing to think or feel a certain way. Will they benefit or harm you?
  • Try laughter yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, or other methods to center you emotionally/ spiritually/mentally. Even a few minutes can act as a reset button.

Living in Abundance

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“Everything you are seeking is seeking you in return. Therefore, everything you want is already yours. It is simply a matter of becoming more aware of what you already possess.” ~ Bob Proctor

What is abundance? Abundance can mean different things to different people. Having more than enough of money, material things, happiness, success, friends, free time. It can be all these things, but a simpler way to look at abundance is…feeling satisfaction NOW.

Why is that so important? Like attracts like. If we are attempting to manifest abundance without first feeling abundant—if we are coming from a state of scarcity or lack—it is synonymous to trying to attract hummingbirds to your bird house with vinegar instead of nectar.

Enjoying abundance comes from first being in a state of gratitude. Enjoy what you have…right now. What is going well in your life? What are you grateful for? It could be gratitude for the relationship you have with your kids; your ability to love and receive love; the feeling you get when you open your eyes to a sunny day. It could be gratitude for your comfortable bed, the perfectly al dente pasta at lunch, the outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks. Whenever it’s difficult to get into a place of gratitude—we all have rough days—be even more basic: be thankful for clean water, electricity, the roof over your head…things we take for granted that are not universal givens.

Once we are in a state of gratitude, we realize our life is ALREADY abundant. Know it as a fact. Tell yourself daily that you enjoy a life of abundance that will always be abundant. How does that make you feel? Joyful? Peaceful? Excited? Honor that feeling.

If stepping into a state of gratitude is a challenge, or you don’t often do so, don’t worry. Gratitude is a habit we can learn by practicing it every day. Pick a time each day that you will be able to carry out your practice. Think of what is most reasonable and realistic for you. Perhaps you can awaken a few minutes earlier to sit quietly and think of all that you are grateful for in that moment. Or maybe you can use the commute to work as an opportunity to appreciate your abundance. Maybe a few minutes dedicated to writing down your gratitudes before bedtime works better for you. You could set reminders on your phone to prompt you throughout the day to think of one gratitude. Choose the method that’s right for you and make it a daily practice.

If you create abundance in your inner life, you will experience abundance in your outer life. Developing a constant awareness for the things that are good will lead to positive thinking, which has the power to attract more positivity. There is an unending supply of abundance for everyone. The first step toward an abundant life is knowing you already have one.


Maya Angelou on Giving

“That day, I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word, a vote of support is a charitable gift. I can move over and make another place for someone. I can turn my music up if it pleases, or down if it is annoying. I may never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.” Letters to My Daughter, Maya Angelou

Do we take enough time to really take a look at our life? The beauty in simplicity can be astounding, but in an increasingly complex world, it can be so easy to lose sight of the essence of joy.  We bind ourselves to what we believe we ‘ought to do’ in a way that distracts us from more intrinsic thoughts, from deeper contemplation.

Maya Angelou’s words themselves, are simple, yet too, hold so much power. The message is alive with a glow of love, of deep understanding of the universe and our place in it. There is appreciation, gratitude, and humility— within her words there is a recipe for a more enlightened life, if we’re ready to listen.

What’s most interesting? She immediately begins with ‘giving.’ Her thought, “I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person,” is so incredibly easy that it almost seems de facto, but when we’re so focused on making it through the day, that we don’t allow ourselves to radiate peace, and we likely share our discontent.

As Angelou points out, every interaction that we have with someone is an opportunity to do right by that individual, and when we do, it feels good. We feel good, they feel good, and the world shines a little brighter in that moment. We don’t have to give riches, just resources. A little dash of the abundance of good that lives inside of us that’s ready to be shared.

Imagine over the course of a lifetime, if we continually practiced these ‘free gestures’ of kindness and goodwill; not only do we inspire others, but we become more whole within ourselves, developing that essence of joy, that can only come from giving ourselves to others in a healthy and positive way.

The next time frustration sets in from any of the nuances of day-to-day life, try a smile, or a kind word or gesture. Start small, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but as it becomes second nature, it will be a proud achievement personally, and one that can, most wonderfully, create positive change in everyone else around you.


The Issue of Aging

How many times have we heard someone told to act his or her age? It has become such a common phrase in our society; we rarely stop to think what it really means.

This morning, while meditating, a thought came into my head; that I was 10 years younger than I am. Suddenly, I felt great! I once again felt young, as if my life was still ahead of me, rather than mostly behind me. My age is a dilemma that has been irritating me as of late. I thought about numbers and realized, as a society, we place such an enormous significance on the number of our age; but we don’t think about what those numbers really mean.

Imagine it like trying on a new coat, if you take it away and put another in its place you’ll feel totally different. If this is the case, that our age isn’t anything but a number, how do we live our best life? By enjoying each stage in its present form.

Firstly, it’s important to consider it from a perspective of experience. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Sometimes, we confuse it for wanting to be in a different stage of our earlier lives. We were thinner, younger, more beautiful or handsome; so many physical characteristics we hold so dear and lament when we grow and change over time.

Secondly, an inordinate focus on physical attractiveness is what creates a major dilemma in our society; ageism takes away from the power and beauty of growing older. Many are afraid that our ability to be as quick and spry as we once were mentally or physically will be noticed by colleagues, bosses and other people in our workplace and lives.

It’s one characteristic that the everyday person has in common with celebrities. How many times have we heard a story where a celebrity was no longer considered for a role because they were ‘past their prime’? They were no longer perceived as being a popular, ageless figure.  We begin to believe that if these powerful people can experience these problems why wouldn’t it happened to us?

Similarly, we then watch them strive, but rarely find, solace in changing their physical appearance to be more palatable to the public. The major problem with this is not the alteration of the way that they look. It’s the fear that growing older is something to stave off or be self-conscious about instead of something to celebrate.

Outside of the physical, we then find, that we miss experiences or relationships that we had in the past. Instead of focusing on what is now and a little bit of what’s ahead, we find ourselves holding onto things that only hold us back. To experience full joy is to live in the present moment. To cherish each breath, to make the most of your current wisdom and appreciate the wisdom of all of your years.

It’s easy to remember the good times we had in the past, what we tend to forget, is the challenges that changed us; the troubles that made us strong— the situations that turned us into the people that we are now.  Those characteristics can be seen on our outward appearance; every age line, every early gray, is a badge of our courage to have survived every day thus far. They’re a testament to our tenacity and our ability to grow.

Next time you meditate, or even look in the mirror, try a change of perspective on your perception of your current self. Allow yourself to feel whole in your soul instead of trapped in the age of your vessel. This life is short and precious, every bit counts, there isn’t one reason to waste our ability to truly experience every moment of our lives—especially in be sorrowful for growing older and wiser.  


Embracing Impermanence

“We are uncomfortable because everything in our life keeps changing — our inner moods, our bodies, our work, the people we love, the world we live in. We can’t hold on to anything — a beautiful sunset, a sweet taste, an intimate moment with a lover, our very existence as the body/mind we call self — because all things come and go. Lacking any permanent satisfaction, we continuously need another injection of fuel, stimulation, reassurance from loved ones, medicine, exercise, and meditation. We are continually driven to become something more, to experience something else.” ― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

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What makes you feel good? The answer is different for each one of us. For some, it’s a wonderful meal. For another, it’s accomplishing a big goal at work or finally reaching a new milestone in a weightless or wellness journey. These most sought-after moments are so very sweet, yet so fleeting. The unfortunate part of a glorious high is a looming low, and when we fall from our moment of magnitude, many times, we feel more powerless than ever.

How many times have you felt a sense of loneliness or emptiness after a big, much anticipated event is over? We spend much of our lives planning for moments in time that we believe will make us happy. We look forward to that particular date on the calendar, maybe we even circle it, put it in our planners—annotate it in a special way. The hours leading up to the event are flush with anticipation— the preparations are accomplished, the time has come and we’re ready to go! We enjoy the experience, soaking in each moment of it, feeling anxious about its impending end, and after its over, then what?

 We’re drift back into feeling ‘normal’— many times, bored, agitated, annoyed or otherwise. In those ‘in-between’ times, we are continually asked ‘what makes us happy?’ Sometimes internally and often times by others— family, friends and lovers alike— want to know what it is that will help cultivate our own joyful existence; especially when they sense that we are suffering. It’s wonderful to know that they care, but as much as they want to help, it’s just not up to them. We know deep down that we’re in charge of our own happiness, but we become disenchanted with our ‘normalcy’.

Instead of being able to ride the waves of high moments into our everyday existence we tend to look for substitutes for immediate satisfaction. As we know, those ‘quick fixes’ are undoubtedly less gratifying, but we feel they are necessary. Instead of allowing ourselves sudden, serendipitous bursts of joy, we seek it out in opportunity. Opportunities that are usually less than stellar options for our overall health and happiness.  

So what do we do? Beyond recognizing the difference between true bliss and quick-fix feel-goods, embrace the fact that you’re not always going to feel complete satisfaction in every moment. Need more of a reason to believe that? How would you know and appreciate joy without experiencing sadness too?

The path to embracing impermanence is cutting out those gratuitous, quick bursts of self-satisfaction by swapping them out for practicing being grateful. Finding beauty in the mundane, but fascinating moments that make up our unique existence.  On a day that you feel that you’ve accomplished nothing, remember, you’ve made it through every single second of every single day of your whole entire life. There are always things for us to be grateful for; the key is to recognize them.

Finding those truths, our own personal ‘pick me ups,’ will allow the opportunity for light to shine in on darker days. Happiness can then become a quiet reminder of peace within moments of pleasure, instead of a determined destination we’re striving for. When we allow ourselves the opportunity to experience every aspect of our journey, our appreciation for all moments can flourish through eyes, mind and body that embrace life as a whole, not by the sum of its parts.