Listen to your inner voice! What are you supposed to do next?

The Five-Minute-Practice and Beyond

Never underestimate the value of just five minutes.

I believe many people neglect to begin their meditation practice because they don’t feel they can commit. Enough of a commitment, that is, to make it worthwhile.

Many may feel that embarking on a serious meditation practice means sacrifice. Maybe they are fans of Jack Kornfield, or their awakened moment occurred after reading Autobiography of a Yogi.

They know they can’t move to a monastery in Thailand or spend several hours a day in meditation. They don’t want to sit in a cave for weeks or more alone. Many famous gurus have indeed dedicated every waking hour to their enlightenment journey.

However, these are not your everyday meditators. I admire them. But this is not the path for most of us to aspire to.

And then we see those like Elizabeth Gilbert who go on life-changing journeys and find their sense of self through the experience. This leaves us to wonder if we can really find ourselves while living our everyday lives and fulfilling our daily responsibilities.

We can.

We don’t need to perform the “grand gesture,”

We don’t need to subscribe to the “go big or don’t go” philosophy here.

I believe the slow burn is the best way to start many things, including a meditation practice.

This philosophy is useful for many things in our life. Most wouldn’t bake a souffle before they ever boiled an egg or run a marathon if they had never gone for a five-minute jog.

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Let’s Rise the Curve of Awareness

While scientists and politicians talk about the curve of the coronavirus, I want to think about the learning curve that is before us.

As much as we want to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 outbreak, this is the perfect time to heighten a different curve.  The curve of awareness and growth.

Initially, during the first days of the coronavirus pandemic,  many were riding the flat line of fear. We saw this on the news and social media. We noticed this as we went about our daily lives. People began to panic and horde. Suddenly, essential needs weren’t available, causing excitement and overbuying. Then the sale of guns and ammunition exploded. People felt the need to protect their hordes, of well, toilet paper. People became glued to their televisions, compelled to watch hours of doomsday news reports.

Sadly, many will ride this entire pandemic stuck on a flat line. The flat line of fear.

I want to suggest a different approach.

I say, “Jump on the learning curve and rise.”

Because, my friends, if challenges, uncertainty, and struggles are vehicles for growth, then surely, we are in a period of super-growth.

The bar has indeed been raised for us to practice patience, tolerance, and compassion. It is essential for us to open our awareness, reject fear, and learn to adapt.

How do we want to come out on the other end of this?

How can we accept the challenge?

It’s time to let go of needing to be in control. We can’t control what is happening.

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The Covid-19 Pandemic is Probably Kicking Your Amygdala into Overtime

Pandemic – it’s a scary word. Probably just saying it out loud is enough to get our amygdala to signal distress to our brain and send a flood of cortisol throughout our entire body.

Here’s what you need to know about the amygdala.

The mid or limbic brain is emotional and where the “gut feeling” lives. When given the information from the primal brain, this area uses an emotional response to react to a situation with “Fight, Flight or Freeze.”  If the amygdala senses danger, it sends adrenaline and cortisol through your bloodstream, and this is one reason why chronic stress is harmful to your health.

The good news! The mid-brain, which houses the hippocampus and amygdala, is shown to be positively affected by mindfulness or meditation.

The Amygdala

It is buried deep in our temporal lobe and very tiny, the size of an almond. Yet this tiny hidden mass of nuclei is like a Lilliputian in our mind that pushes all our buttons. The amygdala is buried so deeply that it controls us through our unconscious mind. In primitive times, and even now, the amygdala has the power to save our lives.

However, it also has the power to cause us to overreact, be anxious, and irrationally fearful. Additionally, it can manifest an entire host of physical symptoms. When the amygdala activates, it sends a message to the adrenals to pump adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream, cause our heart to race, and deprive our prefrontal cortex of oxygen,...

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Could Meditation Be the New Church?

 

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are temples; my philosophy is kindness.”    - Dalai Lama

Some interesting statistics are flying around about the decline of Christianity. Last year the Pew Research Center concluded that 63% of Americans identified as Christians, which was down 12 points over the previous decade. Additionally, the decline of Christianity is an ongoing trend in Europe.

What is happening?

A new generation is upon us that hasn’t necessarily been raised with mandatory religion. The news of sexual abuse scandals surrounding the church and the denial of same-sex marriage have both been contributory factors in the rumblings of those who want to live outside the restraints of the church and organized religion.

Many, if not most of the upcoming generation, have been raised without the dogma of sin and hell, leaving them free to choose a spirituality that resonates with them personally in lieu of being fearfully forced to choose the religion of their parents or grandparents. Katherine Ozment says, in Grace Without God, “Today, one-third of adults under the age of 30 are religiously unaffiliated.”

These breaks from the church don’t necessarily signify a loosening in morality. We are seeing a significant rise in seekers. Yoga and meditation are becoming more mainstream than ever before. Meditation has grown threefold since 2012, with 15% of the population of...

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The Three "C's" of a Successful Meditation Practice

Do you want to start a meditation practice? I often contemplate about why so many people find so many excuses not to begin the meditation practice they have been thinking or talking about for quite some time.

I’ve heard quite a few comments when the subject comes up.

I’m too fidgety…

I’ll get bored…

My back will start hurting…

I don’t have time…

I don’t think it is important for me…

I’m not sure it’s part of my religion…

Truthfully, beginning a meditation practice is one of the easiest things you can do that will improve your life. If you think about it, there are not many valid excuses to prevent it.

It doesn’t require any equipment – you can do it at home – it only takes a few minutes – it’s not complicated.

A successful meditation practice is a discipline. That may be the most daunting part for most people. But when you think about it.

Taking a bath is a discipline.

Eating breakfast is a discipline.

Going to work is a discipline.

Picking up your children at school is a discipline.

Cleaning up the house is a discipline.

There are many things that we must do daily – there are many things that we don’t think twice about – we just naturally engage in the routines in our lives and the things we must do.

Can you take a few minutes today and think about just giving it a try? Let’s look at the three “C’s” of...

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Why Meditation is for Everyone

There is an old Zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

 Meditation is for everyone…

We often hear the phrase, “it’s not for everyone.” Maybe travel is not for everyone or raw food, or perhaps skydiving is not for everyone. Indeed, most things are not for everyone.  Meditation is the exception to the rule. Meditation is for everyone. However, how a person chooses to meditate can vary and be custom tailored for each unique personality.

When Focus is a Problem

For those who have difficulty with “brain chatter,” you may benefit from something to focus on, such as guided or candle flame meditations.

Guided Meditations

With guided meditation, you can put on some headphones and just lay back with the sound of nature or music to assist in turning down your mind. You can choose imagery visualization or perhaps a meditation which will guide you through a chakra clearing, sound healing, or a list of affirmations. The choices are endless.

Candle Flame Meditation

Fire is hypnotic. A candle flame meditation is a simple way to focus on something and clear your mind. You can blur your focus a little and stare into the flame. It works best in a dimly lit room during the evening hours. Don’t worry if your thoughts keep rolling around in your head. Just breathe and focus on the flame for as long as you feel comfortable.

For Those who are...

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Why Chanting is the Language of the Soul

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where they are from and where they are going.”  – Rita Mae Brown

Our soul knows where we are from and where we are going. Therefore, utilizing tools that open the pathway to our soul – our inner voice - is akin to acquiring a road map to awaken our higher consciousness. When we get to a certain time in our lives – we can look back and see our twists and turns and begin to understand the lessons that we were given for our time on earth. As we learn and grow and age our soul begins to tug on us a little harder. We start to feel an urge to connect more fully with our calling and understand more completely our purpose.

The most effective way to achieve this communication is through a meditation practice. And one of the most effective “add-ons” to our meditation practice is chanting mantras.

How does chanting mantras open the pathway to the soul’s voice?

Chanting mantras is a visceral experience which may act as a bridge to bring us closer to our soul. Additionally, the experience enables us to eliminate or push aside lower vibratory thoughts. The trifecta benefit and beauty of chanting mantras is in the meaning, the focus and the vibration.

Meaning

Mantras are translated from ancient Vedic texts and all translate. Sometimes we see different translations due to different interpretations. It’s good to try out a few various mantras when you first begin your meditation...

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How to Fire up the Fusion of Your Mind-Body-Soul

The ultimate power of purpose is fulfilled when we fuse our mind-body-soul to create a powerhouse personality. Once the three elements of our being melds together everything else in our lives also starts to fall into place. Achieving this higher state takes a commitment and intention to a few daily practices that also offer the bonus of relieving stress and achieving mental clarity.

The Body 

Two of the most effective ways of fusing your body with your mind and soul are through activating and connecting with your chi and learning and utilizing breathing techniques.

CHI: One of my favorite things to do is play with chi. Chi is our body’s personal energy force, and unlike many aspects of metaphysical learning, chi is a completely tangible concept. It was only about 15 years ago when I first felt the energy field through a simple exercise, and the experience completely opened me up energetically.

The exercise is to clap the palms together ten times and rub the hands together until they feel warm. Close your eyes and move your palms towards each other until you feel the energy. My daughter told me, “Mom, it feels like a squishy ball. She was exactly right.” Practice this exercise until the size of the energy field expands. Other practices to expand your energy are Qi Gong and Tai Chi which I will address in later blog posts.

BREATHING: Pranayama otherwise known as yogic breathing is another way to power up your body. We all know that breathing is our...

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Why you Need to Empty your Mind

Isn’t day-to-day life sometimes just so overwhelming? As one who is devoted to learning, I love the fingertip knowledge technology of today. But sometimes, it’s just too much. My childhood was pre-technology – that time that many of us nostalgically love to remember.

We often wish today’s youth could have a peek at this simpler time.

But we are past that, and we can’t nor should go back.

However, in this age of information, we must do something to calm the overwhelm. Therefore, a meditation practice is more important than ever before. We must intentionally cultivate the mind-body-soul connection if we want to reach our highest potential. Going back 30-40 years there were times that just everyday life in itself was meditative.

Long walks without streaming music…

Sitting on a park bench without a phone or tablet…

Lounging by the beach with no devices…

We don’t have that now. Most of us are connected to some device 24/7 or at least it is within an arm’s reach most of the time. So, our action step to diffusing this is to start a meditation practice.

Don’t panic. Silence is not deadly. However, it is often a typical reaction to drown out silence through either constant music or television or even the annoying “chattering mind” called “monkey brain” by Buddhists monks.

No matter what happens when we are in a sitting meditation, it is at the very least a few minutes of downtime so...

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How to Cultivate the Mind-Body-Soul Connection

How to Cultivate the Mind-Body-Soul Connection

One of the keys to optimal health is to cultivate balance in the mind, the body, and the soul. These three are symbiotic in nature and each must thrive individually so that our whole being is nurtured.

You know if you get bad news, you feel it in your gut or  if you get sick, you can’t think straight. And if your mind and body are not functioning, it is nearly impossible to connect with your soul. Ideally, we utilize tools that help to balance and blend these three aspects of our being and deliver us to our most fulfilled self.

Tips for Nurturing Your Mind

Read – Our mind needs to stay engaged. We must read something longer than a Twitter post. Read all genres of fiction and non-fiction on anything that piques your interest. Choose books which challenge you and opt for a classic  now and then.

Learn – Lifelong learning is the best way to avoid stagnation. Never lose your curiosity or desire to try new things. Everything can become a learning experience. Try new foods – listen to different music – strike up conversations with new people. Keep sparking those neurons daily.

Travel – Travel, particularly to completely different cultures opens the mind to more things than almost any other activity. Cultural travel engages all your senses. The sights, the smells, the tastes, and the sounds of exotic locales will bring your mind, your body, and your soul alive.

Tips for Nurturing Your...

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