Meditation Monday: Let’s Go On A Journey

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This weeks meditation is a bit different from what we have been doing. I love to go on journeys and this meditation is a few minutes journeying to our personal and inner place of peace. Often we hear of people going to their happy place — this meditation is a simple journey to our inner place of peace, quiet, and rejuvenation which, for me, is similar to my happy place.

Every day we experience stresses, change, busy-ness, and activity. For many of us our days are quite full. I find that taking the time to sit and go to my quiet place of peace is healing and rejuvenating as well as stress reducing. Todays meditation is focused on going to our inner place of peace and quiet.

I hope you enjoy the meditation and the journey.

Books — Portals to The World and The Human Condition

Books: Inspire, teach, inform, travel, transform, perspectives, joy, love, growth, tragedy, drama, mystery, beauty, words, photographs, what’s possible, past, future, history, science, other worlds, rich characters, imagination, magic, resilience, strength, happiness, health, meaning, fear, anger, sadness, joy, laughter, adventure, ideas, creativity, connection.

and, so much more….

I recently saw a post on Facebook, a video clip that has gone viral where young people are asked to name a book. Most of them struggled to name even one. I was shocked that Dr. Zeus was the only book an adult could remember while others admit they don’t read. Was the clip made up to  encourage reading? I’m not at all sure, though if it was made up, how brilliant! It certainly left me thinking about the books I’ve read and wish to read. I was inspired to visit the library and make a stop at a local bookstore — stocking up on this month’s reading.

Books! From novels to text books, I love to read. Over the course of a year, I easily read 2 – 3 books each month. At any give time I am deep into at least two books. Always a novel that I read before bed, quiet afternoons, or rainy days. Then, there is something inspiring, like poetry or a book on nature — being inspired keeps me positively focused. I also like Informative books on positive psychology, living a better life, or a book on herbs that will inform my work.

Books allow me to travel to far off places — I am especially fond of historical fiction. Some places I’ll never get to see, some places I’ve already traveled to, and other places are on my bucket list of must see. Reading invites me to dream and plan. Of course, other stories are about places that don’t exist except in the author’s imagination which then spark my own imagination. Through reading I’ve learned about the romantic lure of Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy. I’ve learned about the rich landscapes of India, Egypt, and Africa. I’ve also learned about the brief history of the US and the many beautiful places between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Books make my day-to-day richer. If I am in the middle of a novel, my imagination is carried into my life off the page — hikes become fantasy wanderings in the woods, people become characters in my story, and I am more open to creative thinking and being. Many things I make in fiber remind me of a novel I am reading or have recently read. I’ll often change my style with the next absorbing story. For example, reading the entire Outlander series came with a wealth of creative ideas — sweaters, shawls, blankets, cowls, and fingerless gloves.

Through reading I learn about other points of view on living, thinking, and being. Reading also informs my own writing whether creative writing, articles, or blog posts.

I can’t imagine life without books and a good story. We are wired for story — it is our ancestral way of ‘recording’ history and passing on what we need to know in order to survive, live a good life, and make informed decisions for change. Books also present stories with positive messages that open us to make more empowering decisions to bring more meaning and purpose into our lives. 

I am saddened to think reading is falling out of favor. Where is the richness of a good story if books aren’t part of life? Do you read? What do you like to read? Would you like to read more but don’t know where to begin? Check out goodreads.com where you can see what others are reading.

Hey folks! Reading is essential. Go out to your local bookstore or library and wrap your hands around a good story. 

Memorial Day Meditation

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Many people think of Memorial Day as a celebratory three day weekend of picnics (and, sometimes, fireworks), parades, and the unofficial start to the summer season.

Did you know?

~ Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, began after the Civil War (1864) by women who placed flowers on the graves of loved ones who died in the war.

~ Over 600,000 died during the Civil War which means that nearly everyone knew someone who had died fighting.

~ Originally, Memorial Day was on May 30th.

~ In 1971, it was moved to the last Monday in May and now includes those who have fallen in all wars.

~ In 2000, President Bill Clinton established a moment of silence at 3 pm. to remember and reflect on the sacrifices of our military personal in order to provide freedom for all.

Now, no matter what your beliefs and points of view, Memorial Day is a day of remembering, honoring, and reflecting on young women and men who have chosen to be in our military and have lost their lives while in service.

Today’s meditation is in honor of all soldiers who have fallen in war. 

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.

Meditation Monday & Mindfulness

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“A walk at Walden Pond”

Welcome to Meditation Monday. Today’s focus is on mindfulness or actively noticing. We will follow sensations as our attention is called to them. Mindfulness is a simple yet active practice of heightened awareness.

As we follow our attention, we’ll practice breathing into and around sensations or thoughts. We will practice relaxing around the focus of our attention to make space for the sensations or thoughts to be exactly as they are without judgment.

Yes, we can practice mindfulness throughout our day as well. Through mindfulness, we can slow down to notice more of the surroundings in our daily life. We can also use mindfulness practice to be more present and deliberate in whatever we are doing.

I encourage you to take the mindfulness in the meditation into the rest of your day. If mindfulness is new for you, consider listening to the guided meditation again and again throughout the week.

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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