Meditation Monday: Deepening You

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Research shows that those in supportive healthy relationships that are nurtured (especially in the rough times) tend to be happier. The same is true for our most personal relationship, the relationship with ourselves. 

Many people I know are uncomfortable being alone for any length of time. Many also go quickly from one relationship to another so that they are not alone. They ignore their primary relationship — the one with themselves.

There will be those times when we find ourselves alone whether by choice or in between relationships. Our relationships will be healthier when we offer ourselves self-compassion. And, our choice to be alone will be richer when we commit to be in a healthy and supportive relationship with ourselves.

Meditation is the perfect place to begin to nurture the self — in meditation we practice self-care, self-compassion, and self-love. This weeks meditation is focused on being in a healthy relationship with yourself. I hope you find some settling within yourself and embracing your self in the quiet of meditation. I also wish you joy in a deeper connection with yourself.

Meditation Monday & More on Mindfulness

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Take a mindful moment and appreciate these two baby chipmunks!

Mindfulness is a quietly active process of noticing, of heightened awareness.

Through mindfulness we learn how connected we are to the world around us. Through mindfulness we become more present in the moment. Through mindfulness we learn to let go of stress and tension in our body and mind.

This weeks meditation is continuing with the theme of mindfulness. Taking a few minutes to follow our attention in and around our body. We follow the breath. We explore the sensations both inside and around our body. Through actively noticing we expand our subtle awareness and become more present in the process.

I am glad you are here. Enjoy your meditation.

Winter to Spring: A Metaphor for Change

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The season change from Winter to Spring can be the most dramatic in the northeast US. This year is no exception besides it being later than last year with more starts and stops. With every season change there is the longing and waiting while looking for change.

Like changing a habit from one we wish to let go of to the new, positive habit we want to nourish, the change of season from Winter to Spring ebbs and flows. Each day there are changes. The signs begin small — melting snow, warmer sun, early light, daffodils and crocuses poke through dead leaves and, sometimes, snow cover. Excitement grows. Then retreat into snow again. Stops and starts. A slow change. Some habits are also slow to change with stops and starts. With each, acceptance is key.

Then one day there is a tipping point, a definitive arrival. The Spring peepers announce the change with their deafening peeps in the wetlands. The grass becomes green. Buds are on the ends of branches of forsythia, blueberries and lilacs. Coats are forgotten on our way outdoors. The newer arrivals, the Trillium, poke through. It is then I know that Spring has arrived even if there are snowflakes in the forecast (like tonight).

This season change is the most dramatic because we go from sparse, brown (colorless) cold hibernation into birth, regrowth, color, and a warming sun. The drama unfolds into splendor — the Winter blues fade into expansion, newness, and joy.

At the end of each winter, I find myself needing to change a few habits I’ve entertained over the dark winter. Habit changes are like season changes, they sometimes take time. Introducing a new behavior to replace the old requires patience. The brain takes time to carve a new neural pathway. Each day (and sometimes each moment) is making the choice to begin again — stops and starts until the new takes hold in a new pathway in my brain. Slowly the old pathway (or unwanted behavior) lets go, losing its grip on automatic pilot. There is a day where a tipping point is reached — the new becomes automatic while the old requires effort.

I find that changing habits — whether with food, exercise, addictive behaviors, or simply change — works best by introducing a new, positive behavior while preparing to let go of the old. Over time the new behavior takes up residence in a new brain pathway leaving little to no room for the old. The old is kicked out. I know it sounds easy. Not necessarily so especially with those habits that involve serious addiction and then physical detox.

Each Spring I change behavior from Winters hibernation. I feel the longing for my nature hikes as the light grows. I find that preparation is key in helping me make the choice to go into the woods instead of rolling over for ten more minutes curled up in my bed. I know I will need to transition from inactivity to stretching and moving my body through the trails. I prepare by placing my shoes by the bed or front door — creating a visible reminder to make a different choice. I get to let go of one routine for another. Gradually, I wake and put my feet into my hiking boots without an inner dialogue (sometimes an argument) and head out the door. I know I’ve reached the tipping point when I feel excitement to head outdoors and my legs have adjusted to climbing the hills I love to climb. This one is easier because the neural pathway already exists from last summer. I am simply waking it up to take over the Winter pathway.

Is there a habit or behavior you would like to change? Giving up comfort foods for lighter, healthier fare? Perhaps letting go of gluten or dairy for salads and coconut milk? Perhaps turning off the TV (or Netflix) for being outdoors or reading a good book? Maybe letting go of the extra glass of wine in the evening for lengthening your yoga practice or going for a walk outdoors?

Consider what new and positive behavior you wish to bring into your daily life. Then focus on letting go of your unwanted habit. Begin the new behavior now. Prepare to let go of the old — set a date or clear the space. Allow the new habit to take hold in a new neural pathway in your brain through practice.

You can also consider priming your environment for success. Priming your environment means clearing out the old and bringing in the new. Priming my environment involves bringing out my hiking boots, putting away my winter boots, and choosing again and again. If I wish to change food choices, priming my environment involves cleaning my kitchen — removing what I wish to let go of and bringing in my healthier choices. Sometimes I post reminders in a visible place (like a cabinet door). Priming makes my choosing easier.

Sometimes beginning again is necessary when a behavior sneaks back in (sometimes habits are stealthy and come rushing back in). Acknowledging failure is an essential part of change. I see it most in changing addictive behaviors. Sometimes I see people try again and again to change an addiction. I celebrate with them when the new habit is solidly in place.

I, also, celebrate when I recognize that my own changes have been successful. When the tipping point is reached I express my gratitude for success. What will your celebration be as we change the season fully into Spring?

Meditation Monday: Healthy Body. Healthy Mind

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Welcome to Meditation Monday!

I work with people every day who want to regain balance and healing. I often encourage clients to do regular meditation for assisting their journey back to balance. There is a growing body of research on the benefits of meditation for balance and for healing.

At work, I let my clients know what I am detecting in their pulses, their tongue diagnosis, and what I am focusing on as I design their acupuncture treatment. Even if they aren’t familiar with some of the terminology in Oriental Medicine, I try to make my explanations simple. What I know is that the person on the table then has an image to focus on for their health. My informing them of my treatment focus engages them to participate in their return to balance and health.

Today’s meditation is focused on balance and healing both body and mind. There seems to always be an area in need of healing energy that will bring us into balance. We will use the breath to direct our energy towards healing. Focusing your attention does assist your desired outcome. There is an adage I love, “Where your attention goes, your energy goes.” By focusing our attention on areas of our body and/or mind that are calling for healing we, indeed, assist in the healing process.

Though some diseases won’t be erased with focused attention (for any variety of reasons), our body will find balance and healing where it can to assist in our journey. I’ve been privileged to work with many people who found healing even though their disease eventually took over.

I hope you enjoy this meditation as much as I’ve enjoyed recording and experiencing it.

Have a great week and I hope you will return next Monday!

Meditation Monday & Appreciation

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Welcome to meditation Monday. I am so glad you are here — the more who join in meditation together, the stronger the ripples of relaxed calm and peace, even for these few minutes.

Today’s meditation is on appreciation. When was the last time you paused to appreciate? Your home. Your surroundings. Your friends and family. Yourself?

Whatever we appreciate, appreciates or grows in value. In this meditation we will move through the body to appreciate each and every part. Like gratitude, a close cousin, appreciation is an uplifting and empowering practice that leads to greater happiness.

I hope you will gain more appreciation of your body and all that it does for you.

See you next week!

Ten Minutes For Me ~ Meditation Monday

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I am so glad you are here. This meditation is a break for you — ten minutes to step away from the busy-ness of your life. Meditation helps overcome stress, worry, and overthinking, then leading us to a calm center. There is no magic although it can feel very magical to unplug, be quiet, and to take a few minutes to simply follow your breath.

Over time, meditation does calm our minds so that our thinking slows down. Too much thinking leads to unhappiness. Meditation allows us to be more mindful and settle into the present moment where there is no thought, only presence. Meditation is the practice of cultivating a relaxed and focused mind.

Let’s sit together and step back for another perspective by simply following our breath, then see what happens.

“Even This…” A Practice in Reframing

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Most of us meet with overwhelm, fatigue, and not enough hours in a day to pause to take a quiet moment for down time and recovery. Many of us have changes in our lifestyle we wish to make — food, exercise, obsession with the news, more sleep, etc. Change is often seen through the lens of “What to get rid of” or “What needs fixing” which often lead to failed attempts at change.

When I was actively mothering and working full-time to keep up with my financial responsibilities, overwhelm was a familiar companion. I remember times I wished to ‘stop the train’ and get off. What a helpless feeling! I wanted change and found myself looking through the lens of ‘what needs fixing or changing” in my day so that I could have a quiet moment for me.

One day as I rose from my morning meditation, I had an aha moment. Instead of looking at what to get rid of, I realized that another approach would be reframing my experience and creating a new story. I placed my hands in front of my heart creating a container with my hands. As I gazed at my hands I imagined my container filled with whatever I felt was a source of overwhelm — such as lack of time for quiet, children’s schedules, a busy workday, meal preparation, etc. I would then say (either out loud or silently depending on where I was), “Even this is time for me.” or “Even this is my time”. I’d repeat the phrase several times from a heartfelt place while breathing deeply.

When finished, I felt (sometimes, only a bit) lighter and more positively focused. I could take a deep breath and smile. I was less focused on what I should fix. This simple practice was – and continues to be – a lifesaver for me during some of the most intense times of my life. Over the years I’ve continued the practice of ‘Even this…’ completing the sentence in reference to what I was feeling in the moment — ‘Even this hopelessness, helplessness, or overwhelm contributes to my well-being.’

“Even this….”, is a positive way to reframe an experience, especially when I may not be able to change the situation or I feel stuck and unable to make change. I have recommended this practice to friends, family, and clients over the years with successful results and more openness to change. When I do this, I feel a new agency to my life. I find myself enjoying life more in a positive and empowering way. I enjoy more of my day because I take the time to own my life circumstances without judgement, social comparison, or the need to change anything (especially the things I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to change).

I love when I can share this practice with others and it helps. Most recently, I recommended a client use this practice to begin changing his lifestyle away from an unhealthy addictive behavior and toward healthier choices. Instead of focusing on stopping the behavior, “Even this…” practice reframed the behavior and his feelings of judgement. After doing this for several days, he saw his feelings shift from negative resistance to an opening toward positivity and hope. The behavior he struggled with naturally diminished with little effort and he is confident that the behavior is on its way gone.

In my work, I see folks who wish to change addictive behaviors (from quitting smoking, food addictions, to alcohol). I’ve noticed that, for most people, directly going for getting rid of the behavior is met with any number of failed attempts that may or may not end in success. By adding an empowering practice that reframes their experience allows for more successful change with fewer failures.

Try using, “Even this….” by adding your personal ending to this prompt for reframing your story. I look forward to hearing about your experience.

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Meditation Monday on Peace

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This weekend has been focused on change through the inspiration of youth marching in Washington DC and over 800 marches around the world. Watching the youth of our country step into leadership around gun control has filled me with hope. Listening to their passion through their speeches – many survivors of useless shootings – has inspired me to continue working for peace.

What these students have organized and carried out in a little over a month is more than impressive. They have begun a movement in our country that I am certain will continue. The youth of the world are becoming politically involved and are using social media as their tool to spread their message worldwide. I do believe they will be a force for positive change in the coming elections.

I am reminded of the marches for change that happened in the 1960’s — it was a time of rippling transformations and a major wave of change. It is time again for change and our youth are leading the way. I am grateful!

This weeks meditation is my offering for cultivating peace, love, and hope within us and around us. Remember, the more people who meditate together the stronger our collective energy becomes. My lifelong quest has been for peace, even if global peace seems impossible. Today, I feel hopeful that more peace within might be possible.

My hope is that you will consider sharing this meditation with others so that a wave can be created of more and more people joining in meditation.

 

It’s Meditation Monday

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Welcome! It’s Meditation Monday and I am so glad you are joining me.

This weeks meditation is focused on Mindful Awareness. As with all meditation, the breath is always a way to return focus to the present moment. Mindful awareness is a practice of noticing what you feel; what sensation, emotion, or thought captures your attention; or how your body is positioned in space. Mindful awareness also means simply noticing without needing to do anything about what we are aware of in any moment. Mindfulness invites you to actively notice without judgement, no action, and no response beyond noticing.

I am glad you have joined Meditation Monday. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned meditator being guided in meditation creates a ripple of many meditating together.

Have a mindful week!

Yes, It’s Meditation Monday

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Welcome to Meditation Monday!

Here in Massachusetts we changed our clocks last night into Daylight Savings time. What this means today is that it is still light outside and I am a bit disoriented. I don’t really understand why we continue to change our clocks both in the Spring and Fall. I see it as going into jet lag without the vacation or memories! I know that in a few days my body will adjust and I will enjoy more light in the evenings so I can spend more time outdoors.

Now it is time for meditation. This weeks meditation continues with a focus on the breath and adding a visualization of light with the breath. I find adding a mental focus helps me to let go of my thinking mind more easily. This week we’ll also meditate a few minutes longer.

I hope you are enjoying joining me in meditation. There is strength in numbers. I remember how powerful meditations were when living at Kripalu Center and meditating with many people on a daily basis. I found it much easier to dip deeply into my inner experience while feeling supported by the energy of the group meditating together. As you settle into this guided meditation imagine that you are meditating with a group and feel supported on your inner journey.

Of course, passing it along to friends and family who might join you will widen your tribe of weekly meditators. The more ripples of relaxed calm, the more light and peace we can send out into the world.