The Power of Meditation

The Power of Meditation

What is meditation?

The word meditation likely brings up many images or ideas about what that word means.  The truth is that it means different things to different people.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at meditation.

When most of us think of meditation, we think of stopping the mind, a meditation technique (such as watching a flame or repeating a mantra or watching the breath), or of a state of constant bliss.  In truth, these things are part of meditation, but they are not the whole picture.

For me, the goal of meditation is awareness; awareness of our thoughts, our bodies, our emotions, and our spiritual essence.  Meditation is a practice that builds and enhances awareness.  That is its true purpose, to build and enhance awareness.  And that is exactly what it does.

Meditation is not connected to or owned by any religious or spiritual group although many religious and spiritual groups include meditation in their practices.  Therefore, meditation, in and of itself is non-denominational.

Meditation is a balancing tool.

Meditation is particularly helpful in balancing the mind.  Think of thoughts as activity in the mind.  Then think of no thought as inactivity of the mind.  As you go through your day, your mind thinks thousands of thoughts.  Some of these are conscious and chosen, but many are unconscious and habitual.  Some thoughts are positive and life enhancing; some are negative and work to lower the quality of your life.   As most of our thoughts are unconscious, habitual and negative thoughts, so we need to bring more focus to chosen thoughts, a chosen focus and/or positive thoughts.  If we want to create balance between activity and inactivity we need to focus on inactivity.

How many of you have tried to stop the mind?  It really doesn’t work.  The mind is like any other organ in the body.  It has a job to do and its job is to think, just as the heart’s job is to pump blood and oxygen through our body 24/7.  So, to try to stop the mind is a losing endeavor and we can become caught up in fighting with the mind, which is not helpful when “meditating.”

That is where a meditation technique comes in.

A meditation technique initially allows us to redirect our focus away from the thoughts in the mind to the meditation technique, thereby breaking up the chain of thoughts. This helps us to become more detached from our thoughts.  Initially when we sit to meditate, we will often lose our focus very quickly.  At this point, most of us berate ourselves for losing our focus.  But not to worry, losing your focus is part of the process.  The important thing is that as soon as you notice that you have lost your focus, you simply bring your focus back to the technique.  It is as simple as that.  This has a twofold purpose.  Becoming aware that you are thinking again and have lost your focus builds awareness.  Bringing your focus back to your technique begins to balance the mind.

What is the best meditation technique?

There are many meditation techniques and you may wonder which the best technique is.  We are going to bring our idea of bio-individuality to meditation just as we have with all the other topics we have discussed.  The perfect meditation technique for you will be the one that works the best for you.  Period.

But, where to start?  What meditation technique will work the best for you?  Consider how you process life.  Are you more visually oriented, mentally oriented or tactile (sensation) oriented?  If you are visually oriented, you might want to choose a visual meditation technique such as gazing at a candle flame or imagining a particular image.  If you are mentally oriented, you might choose a word, affirmation, or mantra that resonates with you.  If you are tactile oriented, you might want to choose a sensation such as feeling the breath moving in the body or other sensations in the body.

Experiment with different techniques and see which one works the best for you.  How do you know if it works?  You will notice an increased sense of relaxation or calmness or balance.  As you continue your practice, you will notice periods of stillness or quietness followed by periods of activity.  The periods of stillness or quietness increase, you will notice a detachment from your thoughts and even from the meditation technique.

Transcending the technique.

Once you can remain the detached witness, the meditation technique becomes less important. You can use it as a tool to get you to the place of detachment, stillness and quietness.  Once there, simply enjoy that state as long as it lasts.  When you lose it, employ your meditation technique until you are again detached.  This will lead to a greater and greater sense of witness consciousness, where you are aware of the thoughts, sensations and feelings oscillating with periods of stillness or inactivity. 

At this point, you are aware of the polarities of activity and inactivity.  You become more aware of the stillness that exists within you at all times, a stillness that is there throughout the cycles of activity and inactivity.  And eventually you realize that the stillness is your spiritual essence.  That it is always with you, has always been with you and will always be with you.  It is you.  Then activity and inactivity doesn’t matter.  It isn’t you.  You can simply watch it play out from a detached perspective.

Letting go of control; reclaiming conscious choice.

This might seem like losing control and in a way it is.  You stop trying to control things in your life.  You have greater awareness of your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and spiritual essence.  As your awareness increases, you have the ability to consciously choose rather than to unconsciously react to happenings within you and in your world.  You become more aware of how your thoughts, feelings, words and actions impact you and the world around you.  As that awareness increases, you begin to make more and more choices that will bring you back to a place of balance, calmness, relaxation, peace and harmony.  Once you have tasted balance, peace and harmony, you will want more of it.  It will become more important to you than other things that you thought were important that actually pull you away from inner peace.  It is a journey, not an event.

In truth, meditation is very simple, but not always easy.  It is helpful to have a teacher or group to assist you on the journey.  Believe me, the mind will draw you away and it is helpful to have someone or a group to pull you back. 

Contemplation for this week.  Be aware of the following this week:

  1. Are my thought primarily negative or positive?
  2. How busy is my mind . . . just notice the busy-ness.
  3. Am I able to redirect my mind to thoughts of my choosing?
  4. How do I naturally relate to the world? Visually, mental, or sensory?
  5. Try sitting for 5 minutes each day just watching your breath.  What happens?

Please post questions or comments below or on Facebook.

The Right Use of Positive Thinking

The Right Use of Positive Thinking

  • Do you struggle with negative thinking?
  • Does the invitation to think positively seem like a hopeless endeavor?
  • Does positive thinking become another thing that you just can’t do right?

 

Tips on how to use positive thinking in a helpful way.   

Shortly after the movies “What the Bleep Do We Know” and “The Secret” came out, I was in the worst phase of my experience with fibromyalgia.  I was inundated with negative thoughts, feelings, fatigue and pain.

 

It isn’t helpful to use positive thinking against yourself.

It was around that time, that positive thinking was becoming popular.  It was said that my thinking created my illness.  People would use that against me in regard to having fibromyalgia.  Like somehow it was my thoughts that created it.  I felt blamed and criticized for having fibromyalgia.  That wasn’t the truth.  I could not think my way out of having fibromyalgia.  It had a power of its own, beyond the power of my mind.

 

You can’t make negative thinking go away with positive thinking.

There were times when my mind was very negative, and I would try to think positively.  But I just couldn’t do it.  It often became a war within myself that was very stressful, and I would judge myself for being so negative.  I found that by surrendering to negative episodes, having a pity party, and comforting myself, would help the negativity to pass more quickly.

And yet, it was too painful to allow the negative thinking and feelings to completely take me over.  I would read inspiring things and practice being kind to myself and balance my negative thinking with positive thinking.

 

The real power of positive thinking is to balance the negative thoughts.

I think balance is the real power of positive thinking.  Positive thoughts may never replace all the negative thoughts that come into our mind, but it can help to balance the negative thoughts with a positive perspective.  I had a teacher that said that positive thinking balances the negative thinking and leads to stillness of the mind.  That made sense to me.  I began to notice if I was obsessing negatively about something, if I would focus on something positive, it would lessen and sometimes neutralize the negative runaway train that I was on.  At other times, I had to surrender to the negative thoughts knowing that it would pass.

 

Use Self Inquiry

Sometimes it is helpful to understand where the negative thoughts are coming from.  Perhaps a parent, teacher or sibling said something negative about you. At the time, you adopted that thought as true.  You can now reevaluate that choice and ask yourself if you truly want to believe that about yourself.  You can choose what you believe.  You can chose to think positively about yourself and let go of the negative beliefs that you adopted as a child.

 

Be more aware of your thoughts.

Creating the intention to think positively also helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and . . . especially our negative thoughts.  That can be painful.  Especially when we just want the negative thoughts to stop.  It has been said that our negative thoughts and feelings are simply our old conditioning coming out.  By becoming more aware of our negative thoughts, we have a greater choice in how we think.   The negative thoughts might come up, but you have the choice as to whether or not to believe them.  To not believe them might feel difficult at first, but over time it becomes easier.  By just acknowledging them, they lose power over you.  

Think of a glass filled with water right up to the top.  The water represents the negative thoughts stored in your ‘data base’.  Then you drop a pebble, which represents a positive thought, in the glass and a negative thought spills out.  As you drop in each pebble/positive thought another negative thought/water spills out.  Eventually the positive thoughts outweigh the negative thoughts.

 

Choose your positive thoughts consciously. 

When practicing positive thinking it helps to consciously choose positive thoughts that feel true to you.  You might not be able to go from thinking that you don’t like yourself to I love myself in one fell swoop.  But you could each day, make a list of 1 thing that you like about yourself, one thing that you did really well, and one thing that you appreciate about someone else.  If you practice that each day, you will be adding weight to the positive side and feel good in the process.  It will also teach your mind to look for the good.  Which might be a new healthy habit!

 

In Summary

Don’t use positive thinking as a weapon against yourself.  But use it as a tool, to help balance the negative experiences, feelings and thoughts.  Use it as a way to rescript your old beliefs into new beliefs.  Always be compassionate with yourself and understand it is a process, not an event.  In that way, it can become a tool for growth and evolution.

 

Suggested contemplation for this week. 

  1. Watch your mind this week.
  2. What is the percentage of negative thoughts vs positive thoughts?
  3. Notice if you are judging yourself for your negative thoughts.
  4. Find some positive quotes or sayings that help you to feel uplifted. Read them a few times each day.
  5. Each night think of one thing that you appreciate about yourself, one thing that you did well during the day and one thing that you appreciate about someone else.
  6. Practice self-compassion for being human and learning a new skill.
  7. Notice if this helps balance the negative thoughts without going to war with them.
  8. Share your questions and experiences with this if you like.

 

 

May you find balance and inner peace.

 

Bindu

5 Steps to Break the Cycle of Stress

5 Steps to Break the Cycle of Stress

 Stress is a major factor in illness.

Stress is an important factor in the vast majority of illnesses, both directly and indirectly.  Stress can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body.  It can suppress your immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase your risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause you to gain weight, impair your memory, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes, and worsen your sexual function . . . just for starters.   Stress also makes you age faster even at a genetic and cellular level.

Life is becoming increasingly difficult

A lot of people are feeling that life is increasingly difficult as our world seems to be spiraling out of control.  We watch helplessly as parts of our globe descend into madness and terrorism, and our governments seem increasingly unresponsive to individual needs.  Our lives have become more complicated and we are constantly bombarded with information through television, printed materials and the internet.  Rather than having quiet family time in the evening, our families are scattered doing different activities.

Stress comes from what is going on inside

Stress comes not only from what is going on in your life, but even more important from how you react to it.  When you practice simple stress management techniques, on a regular basis, you can be in the same job, the same environment, even the same family but react in more constructive and healthful ways.

Stress management tools assist us in reducing stress. 

Stress management techniques assist us in responding to the stresses in our lives in a detached and constructive way.  Rather than reacting to events in our lives with fear and contraction, we can respond to them with awareness, love and creativity.  There are many stress management techniques that can be applied and even become our habitual way of being.

We can address stress through physiological techniques such as breathe management, exercise, yoga and relaxation techniques or through psychological techniques such as meditation and conscious introspection.   These techniques assist us in releasing accumulated stress and tension and bring about a greater awareness of how we create stress and tension through our mental, physical and emotional reactions to events in our lives.

Deep breathing provides instant stress reduction. 

Breathing techniques are one of the quickest and easiest ways to break the cycle of stress.  If you slow down and deepen your breath, you will automatically become more relaxed.  When you breath slowly and deeply, it initiates a relaxation response in the nervous system and helps you to become more aware of your reactions. 

Awareness is a key component in reducing stress.  

This week, take some time to contemplate the following:

  1. What are the things in your life that cause you to feel stressed?
  2. What do you do when you feel stressed?
  3. Observe yourself over the next week and notice your stress level, what causes you to feel stressed and what you do when you feel stress.
  4. Consider health ways to address your stress, such as exercise, journaling, breathing, talking it out with a friend.
  5. Experiment with addressing your stress in new ways.

Share your questions, successes and thoughts below.  

Mindset for Healing

Mindset for Healing

The mind is a powerful tool.

It can assist with the process of rebuilding your health . . . or it can get in the way. I believe that the reason I have made so much progress in rebuilding my health is my mindset.  It pulled me through when the body couldn’t.  It also allowed me to keep believing that I could be healthy.

Below are 5 mindsets that will enhance your ability to rebuild your health.

1.  Never give up!

I really get that if you have been ill for a long time, you might doubt if you can really rebuild your health.  It is widely publicized that there is no cure for fibromyalgia by the medical community.  You have plenty of ‘evidence’ that says you will not be healthy again.  At best, you can mitigate symptoms and learn to live with it.

In my struggle to rebuild my health, I went through various phases.  I denied it.  I fought it.  I surrendered to it.  I was angry at it.  I gave up.  But then, a very wise person suggested to me some information about a supplement that was known to help fibromyalgia.  I tried it and got good results . . . temporarily.   But what I learned from that was there is always new information available.  That is one thing doesn’t work, there is always something else to try.

At that point, I made up my mind that I would always keep trying to rebuild my health.  After all, what else did I have to do.  I knew that if I didn’t keep trying, I would only get worse.  But If I kept trying, there might just be something out there that would work.

From that point on, I held the intention that I could rebuild my health.  I could be healthy again.  That made all the difference.  From that point on, my health did improve.  And continues to do so.

2.  Be grateful for the baby steps.

Sometimes, we can get so focused on one symptom that we miss the 5 others that have changed or improved.  It is important to pay attention to your symptoms and be grateful for the small baby steps.  Perhaps you feel more relaxed.  That may be a huge step for you, but someone on the outside might not notice it.  Perhaps you feel better when you wake in the morning.  Perhaps, you don’t react as strongly to something that triggers a reaction in you.  Notice these small changes and know that they are signs that health is rebuilding itself from the inside out.

What I have noticed, is that sometimes a symptom has gone away, and I completely forget about it.  I can be so focused on what hasn’t shifted, that I completely ignore what has shifted.

I have a symptom inventory list that I provide for my clients.  Take an inventory of your symptoms and the intensity of them.  Periodically check back in with your list to see what has improved. What has gotten worse, if any.  What has gone away.  This helps you to have an objective view of where you are and what progress you have made.  You might surprise yourself.

If you notice a symptom getting worse, then some detective work is called for.  Perhaps you need to change your protocol.  Perhaps you are in a healing response or retracing experience.  A healing response is when a symptom temporarily gets worse as it is healing.  Retracing is when an old symptom reappears as the body is healing on a deeper level.

3.  Put yourself first.

Most of us with Fibromyalgia are caring people.  We want our family and friends to be cared for.  Sometimes we put their needs ahead of our own.  We push ourselves beyond what we can do to take care of others.

I call this the Eveready Bunny Syndrome.  We think we are like the Eveready Bunny who just keeps on going.  Unfortunately, even the Eveready Bunny’s batteries run out.  When those batteries run out you just cannot keep on going.

You must include yourself among those you love.  If you have fibromyalgia, chances are your battery has run out or is very low.  If you do not take care of yourself first, you will have nothing to give anyone else.  As your health improves, it will be important to watch this.  I know as my health improved and my energy started to come back, I was so excited, that I would push myself too hard and have a relapse.  Take care.  Be aware.  Make the choice to respect your body’s limitations and get the rest that you need.

4.  Have compassion.

Fibromyalgia is a difficult illness.  It is difficult for you and it is difficult for your loved ones.  You may be experiencing difficulties just getting through the day.  You may not be able to do all the things that you would love to do for yourself and your loved ones.  Your loved ones my find it difficult to see you struggling, to watch you pain.  Out of their love for you, they might say or do things that don’t work for you.

Compassion is the action of accepting and understanding the struggle that comes with fibromyalgia.  It is forgiving yourself for not being able to do all that you want to do.  It is forgiving your family members when they don’t understand how you feel and why you are so limited.  It is empathy and understanding.

One of the greatest gifts that I received from having fibromyalgia is compassion.  I grew to have compassion for myself as I struggled with this illness.  I grew to have compassion for my family as they struggled to understand and cope with what I was going through.  Before I had fibromyalgia, I was a pusher.  I pushed myself and I pushed others.  Now, I listen to my body, my heart, others, and my soul and make choices from a place of love and compassion.

5.  Trust that everything is working for your highest good.

How can having fibromyalgia bee a good thing?  This one can be a toughie.  During my worst years with fibromyalgia, I struggled a lot with it.  As one point, I adopted the possibility that there was a gift in what I was experiencing.  That having fibromyalgia was a wake-up call.  That it wasn’t a punishment.  I hadn’t done anything wrong.  I wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t my fault.

I took a good hard look at how having fibromyalgia was changing me and how I viewed myself and the world.  How it was changing the trajectory of my life.  How it changed my relationships with others.  How it changed my choices.  I would have been in a very different place in my life if I hadn’t had fibromyalgia.  I am not sure I would have been any happier than I am now.  Probably not.  I probably would have more money and a different job.  I am pretty sure those things wouldn’t have given me the satisfaction and fulfillment that I experience now.  My values changed for the better.

I believe fibromyalgia can be a wake-up call to put your thoughts, emotions, and actions in alignment with a higher power.  In alignment with LOVE, peace and joy.  Yes, it is a rude awakening.  Perhaps it feels like you have been hit by a semi-truck full force.   But for me in rebuilding my health, I found a much better path than the one I was on.  A path that has brought me closer to myself, God, others and the world around me.  For that, I am absolutely grateful.

Contemplation for the week:

By embracing even one of these mindset suggestions, can pave the way for the others.  These shifts in mindset, can provide a more positive outlook on a devastating illness.  They can help you shift out of a victim mentality to feeling more empowered and in control of your life.  For me, these mindset shifts made all the difference in the world.  They helped me to keep my head above water in challenging times and moving forward in unraveling my experience with fibromyalgia and rebuilding my health, reclaiming my life, rediscovering my joy and aligning with my purpose.

Reflect on your current attitude about having fibromyalgia and consider the mindset suggestions above.  Notice if there are one or more that you would like to adopt.  Experiment with them and post your comments and questions below.