Capeesh?!

Life in a pandemic has taught us how very little control we have. For me, and perhaps many of you, feeling out of control can be very frustrating and induce a lot of stress. I have long heard that control is an illusion and truthfully the only thing we have control over is our reactions. I feel sometimes I don’t even have much control over my reactions. Being self aware and noticing how you are reacting and exploring where those reactions are coming from can be very helpful; but also very difficult to do in the heat of the moment.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow

I catch myself getting all wrapped up into what seems like the problem. I get stuck spiraling into unhelpful thoughts about what I think the problem is. But when I breathe, and take a minute to look at why I am feeling the way I am feeling, often there is a different cause. I am not saying that there are not problems. There are, everywhere. So unless we understand what triggers us to respond to these issues in the way that we do, we will be forever whipped around, a prisoner to our emotional response. Emotions can be very helpful in motivating us, but they also can be detrimental when we find ourself in a situation where the outcome we desire is not achievable.

There are things that I know trigger an emotional response in me. I like to be in control, so when I feel out of control, this can cause a lot of stress for me. When COVID first started I had a job where I experienced change on a weekly basis, sometime more often. Those changes were predictable changes. Once the Pandemic started, I was experiencing unpredictable changes. It cause me a lot more stress. I am flexible person. I enjoy change. Being fluid and in the moment, is how I do my best work. So I was surprised in how the unpredictability of life really got to me.

Awareness is the first step. When we examine the thoughts we have around the “problem” we can better understand why we are shaken when presented with the problem. Having this understanding gets us closer to being at peace; despite the situation we find ourselves within. Once we can see what is bring up our emotions and that it is really more about us than the perceived problem; we can start to work on this aspect of us.

It is important to have some strategies to get past these emotions or as Captain Jack Sparrow says, “…[our] attitude about the problem”.

  • Breathe – take a deep breath, center yourself, and just feel the emotion.
  • Acknowledge – emotions are not good or bad, they just are. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel it.
  • Be Present – be present in the moment. Notice what is around you. What do you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? Notice that in this moment you are safe and everything is okay.
  • Understand – attempt to understand what is causing you to feel so …whatever you are feeling. If you can name what is behind the emotion it can be helpful in gaining understanding. For example: I feel frustrated at a lack of control because I have a fear of failure.
  • Calming ritual – create yourself with a calming ritual. What this is may differ on where you are and this will be very individualized to each person. Some ideas are:
    • cup of herb tea
    • lighting a candle
    • carry a “worry stone” that you can hold or rub your thumb against
    • take a series of slow, deep breaths
    • recite a poem, prayer, or mantra (out loud or internally)
    • have a mint or piece of gum
    • take a walk outside
    • rub some lotion on your hands
  • Carry on mindfully – once you have gained awareness you can carry on with your day. You will have a better understanding of why you were so upset and have taken some action to become present and understand you cannot change the problem – only your reaction.
  • Take action if it still seems necessary – once you have done all of this, depending on what the perceived problem was, there still may need to be action taken on your part. Now that your mind is clearer and you are not as caught up in the emotional response, you can attempt to make a plan.
  • Repeat as necessary – depending on what is going on you may find yourself needing to use these strategies over and over again. It will get easier as you practice.

I love the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and wisdom to know the difference.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in this prayer. There are things we cannot change. Things we have no control over whatsoever. Then there are things we can change. Often that is us and how we deal with what we cannot change. Working on ourselves is some of the hardest work, but also the most beneficial work we can ever do. Knowing what things we can affect and what things we cannot affect will give us much more peace, rather than banging our heads against the wall trying to change the unchangeable.

I also believe in the benefit of planting seeds, but that is for another blog. Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find peace within the storm. May you find the calm pool of serenity within yourself.

11 Types of Meditation

There are many types of meditation that are available for someone who is looking to start a daily meditation practice. Have you decided to join us for our 90 days of daily meditation? If you are having trouble finding your way to that peaceful meditative state, it may not be that you are not cut out for meditation, but rather that you have not found the type of meditation that works best for you. If you read my Adventure Sister Emy’s blog, she found that she had to change the way she meditated so that it work for her and her current lifestyle. Check out her blog.

Hong Sau – When I first was learning to meditate, I was having trouble understanding the practice and feeling like I was doing it correctly. Lucky, I have a network of wise friends and I reached out to my friend Patrick, who taught me the Hong Sau meditation method. Here you focus in on the mantra. It helps relieve the worry that you are “doing it right.” You focus on the words or sounds so your mind is not busy assessing your practice. It was a great way to get started. When you do this type of meditation, you say the words silently in your head. “Hong” on the inhale and “Sau” on the exhale. 

Mindfulness or Zen – These techniques are similar. Although a devoted student of either of these types of Meditation could quickly explain the differences. They both come from Buddhist traditions.  This is the type of meditation that is done in silence, focusing on something like your breath. When the mind wanders, it is gently brought back to the breath or area of focus. These are the types of meditation where you see someone sitting on the floor with their hands in their lap and their eyes closed. It can also be done in a chair, if sitting on the floor is not accessible or comfortable for you. There are many Buddhist centers that will welcome you to join their meditation sessions. 

Kundalini yoga meditation  – As a Kundalini Yoga teacher, this type of meditation is near and dear to my heart. There are many different Kundalini Yoga meditations. Some with silent mantras and others with mantras chanted out loud. Some take place in stillness and others have movement associated with them. If you would like to experience this type of meditation, videos can be found on You Tube or you can attend a Kundalini Yoga Class in your area. Meditation is typically a part of the classes. I have had amazing experiences in Kundalini Yoga classes during the meditation portion. There is something about the group energy that cannot be duplicated in solitary practice. If you are interested in learning more about Kundalini Yoga, stay tuned for a future blog, I intend to write one explaining Kundalini Yoga more. 

Tai Chi or Qigong – This is a practice of meditation in motion. Think of the images of people making the slow uniformed movements together. I have only had the opportunity to experience Tai Chi once, It was at morning prayer at a retreat center I went to, but it was an incredible experience. It is something I intend to experience more of in the future. 

Transcendental – This is the only type of meditation listed here that I have not experienced before. This type of meditation became popular in the 60s. For this type of meditation a Guru of the school of TM (Transcendental Meditation) gives you a mantra. This is a personal mantra and is kept in confidence between you and the Guru. If this is a type of meditation that is interesting to you, reach out to a TM Center to find a Guru to work with. 

Mantra – We have talked about a couple types of mantra meditations already but it doesn’t have to be limited to Hong Sau or Kundalini Mantra Meditations. There are the seed mantras, which are powerful sounds that resinate with the universe, like OM. Additionally, anything can become a mantra. The name of your favorite Saint, an intention you are working on (i.e. Peace, Joy, Love, weight loss), or even just a word like “breath.” I was raised Catholic and I very much see praying the Rosary as a form of mantra meditation. 

Loving Kindness – Loving Kindness is another type of meditation that has become popular with all the stress in the world today. This can be done with visualization or mantra. The focus is, you guessed it: loving kindness for yourself, others, and the greater world or universe. 

Walking – In walking meditation, mantra may or may not be used. Breath work is often a part of it. Your focus is internal, despite the fact that you are moving. Breathwalk: Breathing Your Way to a Revitalized Body, Mind and Spirit is a book full of walking meditations. I had the opportunity to experience a walking meditation led by one of the authors of this book. I fell in love with walking meditations. This is a particularly nice type of meditation for people who have a hard time sitting still. 

Focused – This was one of the first ever meditation practices I learned. The woman who taught me about it explained that it is a practice of sitting with your eyes open and gaze soft. You focus your vision on something in your space. A candle flame is a nice option for your gaze. Other options, for focus, could be the pattern in a fabric or the veins in a leaf. Either of which could be traced with your sight. The purpose of this is to keep your mind in the present. 

Guided – These are a great thing for beginners. There are lots of them on YouTube and available in Apps for your phone. See my previous blog Theres An App for That: A Review Of Meditation Apps. The nice thing about a guided meditation is that a facilitator helps you stay present. There are guided meditations for almost anything you could possible want. They can help you have very powerful experiences. Plus better learn how to meditate and what you should expect as you progress in your meditation skills. 

Healing Gong – These are events that are offered by yoga studios sometimes. The gong is the sound of creation. Lying on a mat, completely relaxed, while the sound of the gong vibrates over you can be a transformative experience. These are typically a special occasional event rather than a type of meditation practiced regularly. If you get a chance to experience this I would recommend it.

Learning to meditate can be a practice of trialing different types of meditation in order to find what’s a good fit for you. Even if you are an experienced meditator, you may find that what worked for you at one time, is no longer a good fit. You may need to try a new type of meditation that gets you to a deeper or more fulfilling experience. 

Please share in the comments if you have any experiences you would like the rest of the group to know about. If you have more or different information you would like to share, please do so in the comments. This is how we can help and learn from each other. We are a community. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish for you a meditation practice that is fulfilling and that you find the type of meditation that is just right for you in this moment and every moment. I love you. 

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5 Hints to Find Peace in a Noisy World

I am in the airport waiting for my next flight. There is music playing over the speaker system, airpot announcements, a man talking on his cell phone, a TV playing the news, a women watching something on her iPad, people chatting, someones cell phone ringing, and the electric cart zipping around making its beeping noise to warn unobservant travelers. Have you ever noticed how much noise seems to be around us all the time? At night I like to sleep with a fan because it’s noise downs out some of the other noise. So how can we find peace in a world that is always buzzing and beeping?
1. Recognize that peace lives inside of us. This may be easier said than done. If you choose to focus inward, the busy world can fad into the background.
2. Use ear buds to listen to something of your choosing or white noise to block out other distractions. I like to match music to my mood: Yoga music for meditation, Running playlist to get things done and “how I feel” playlist music when I am more emotional. If you have your playlists set, you are always ready to tune out the outside.
3. Understand that even in a quiet forest there is noise. It is just noise we find more acceptable. When we think we can make the noise stop, we feel frustrated when we can’t. By understanding that noise just is, and we have no control over it, we fight against it less. After all, “What we resist persists” ~ Carl Jung.
4. Use Mantra. Repeating a mantra silently in your head can help you go within and stop noticing all the exterior noises. In Kundalini Yoga we use Sat Nam, which means I am truth. You can use any mantra that works for you. Even the name of Jesus or a favorite saint or goddess can be used.
5. Exercise! Working up a sweat will help you find that inner peace and sweat out your demons. Whether you are a runner, walker, biker, or dancer you can use moving your body, as a way to feel better and find inner peace.
I hope you have good luck finding your inner peace today. Happy Monday and Peace to you!
What do you do to find quiet in a noisy world? What suggestions do you have for others who are distracted by the noisy world around them?

Thank you for reading my blog today! I wish you a day of peace and as productive as you would like it to be.

 

 

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