Meditation “Practice”

For years I have been attempting to perfect my meditation practice. I have tried several different types of mediation: Buddhist, Kundalini, walking, guided, yoga Nidra, etc. After all of these I have still felt like an amateur when I sit on my cushion. This morning I realized, it is “practice”. I don’t have to be perfect at it. There are days when I sit on my cushion and the 20 minutes passes easily with myself in the zone. There are other days when I check my timer, twice, sure I must have forgotten to start it. Some days I sit and spend the whole 20 minute thinking. Other days I am listening to the sounds in the house. It does not have to be perfect to be beneficial. I just have to keep practicing.

Some of the helpful things I have learned about mediation are:

  • We only get upset at noises we think we should be able to control. We don’t get upset at birds or wind, but family members or our pets, we think should stay quiet for us. Meditation is about being able to still quiet our mind despite someone doing the dishes, watching TV, or barking at the delivery driver.
  • The mind will think, that is what it does. It is not my job to stop it from thinking but rather to notice that it is thinking. Meditation helps us be aware of how our mind works and to notice what it is doing. By practicing with it, in a calm environment, we better understand it and can notice what it is doing in stressful situations.
  • Giving the mind something to do can help you meditate. Kundalini meditations, involve chanting mantras and sometimes performing certain movements. This can be very helpful because the mind is busy focusing on the mantra and/or the movement. It allows you to get to the mediative space.
  • No one is good at mediation when they first start doing it. It takes practice and commitment. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
  • For all the imperfect meditations I have, the ones that work are worth all the ones that don’t.
  • You have to find the mediation that is right for you. I have had amazing experiences with many different types of mediation but my favorite is sitting silent mediation. It is not necessarily the easiest but it is the one that I have the riches experiences with.
  • There are many layers to your mind. I have identified a thinker, a narrater (who thinks they have to tell me what I am doing and what I am thinking like I am not there experiencing it), there is a watcher, a judge (who scold when it thinks I am not doing it right), and back behind all these other layers, somewhere deep within, is me.
  • Making a nonnegotiable habit makes it much easier. I get up in the morning and I mediate for 20 minutes every day. There is no option to do it later. When I get up, it is time. I go and sit.
  • I feel more ground, connected, and at peace now that I have established a meditative practice.
  • Meditating daily helps with other commitments. I know that a temptation will pass and am better able to stick to my other self-care initiatives.

If you have ever considered doing mediation, do it! It is worth it. Be gentle with yourself. Practice is practice. Anything else you were practicing you would not expect yourself to be perfect. Let meditation have the same grace. Notice that the mind is thinking and come back to your breath, your mantra, or focusing on the flicker of a candle flame. Be willing to experiment with different types of mediation till you find the one that works for you. Wether you have a deep experience during mediation, you find it easier to pass on the candy bowl, or you notice how you are reacting in a stressful situation, you will know that the effort of your practice has been worth it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the perfect way to make meditation a beautiful part of your self-care practices. You are worth it.

Other blogs on Meditation:

9 Ways to Improve Mediation

Mediations: A Beautiful Experience

7 Mediation Myths

11 Types of Meditation

There is an App for That: A review of Mediation Apps


6 Tips to Decrease Procrastination

I have long been a procrastinator. Are you? My dad always said, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow”. I guess I took his funny little statement to heart because I would put everything off until the last possible moment. Telling myself that I work best under pressure. Let’s explore procrastination and see how it fits into our overall wellness.

People who are prone to procrastination tend to procrastinate until it becomes more painful to “not” do something than to do it. It is all about stress and pressure. We may think by avoiding doing something, we can avoid the stress and pressure of it. However, the stress and pressure of not doing it will be come worse by avoiding it and then we will eventually submit and dig in and get it done. When I was young I often quoted Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. “I can’t think about that today. I will think about that tomorrow”.

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that not doing things till the last minute does not actually give me any more peace. It actually just gives me, as my daughter would say, “Low key stress”. Instead of avoiding the stress, it just simmers under the surface, causing a little bit of subconscious pressure, until the task is completed. I even feel a little guilty about those things I put off, along with a bit of anxiety that I may miss a deadline or forget about it all together.

Over the past few years I have made a real effort to decrease my procrastination. Here are some of the techniques I have been using:

  1. Just Do It – When I need to write reports at work I start them and keep adding information to them as I go, so I can turn them in when my site visit is done, rather than having them hanging over my head.
  2. Use Natural Rhythms – I know morning is my most productive time of the day, so I work to jump out of bed and keep the momentum going. Using times that I know work for me, helps me to check the boxes and get things done.
  3. Make a List – I love to work from a checklist.  I use an orange highlighter to cross off what is done, because orange is the color that makes us feel most productive. Checking things off a list is also a nice visual way to see what you have accomplished.
  4. Notice How Good It Feels –  Notice the big relief you feel when you have everything done and nothing is hanging over your head.
  5. Rewards! – I like to give myself little rewards. I get to go for a walk if I get XYZ done on my “to do” list.
  6. Start With The Easy Stuff – Dave Ramsey suggests a debt snowball starting with the smallest debts first so you can feel that first success early and quickly. It is the same with procrastination. Do the easy stuff first so you can feel the success of getting stuff done.

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I would say I procrastinate 50-60% less than I used too. I definitely feel less stressed in life by getting things done as they arise (at least a little more often).

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find tasks easy to complete timely, as if by magic.

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Financial Wellness: An Interesting Side Effect We Discovered

My husband and I recently decided to work on our financial wellness. You may be thinking that finances have nothing to do with your overall wellness, but I strongly disagree. Our finances have a profound affect on us. They allow us to pay for important healthcare; such as acupuncture, massage, or even a visit to the doctor.  Having adequate resources allows us to buy healthy and nutritious food. Money even supports some self care activities such as going on a retreat, vacations, or yoga classes. Even without all the things that having some coin in our pockets can do for us, there is the stress that not having enough cash causes. When the bills seem to out number your income or creditors all calling, the stress level can get out of control fast. High stress levels are not good for us. They can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other illnesses including unhealthy weight problems. Gaining control of your funds is an important step to your overall wellness.

As my husband and I set out on our journey to financial wellness, we first had to get on the same page. We are grateful for the book, Total Money Makeover; by Dave Ramsey. Dave doesn’t believe in manifestation or the Law of Attraction. Interestingly, I feel it was my focus on manifesting financial abundance, that caused the Universe to bring Dave and his books to my attention. I am happy to agree to disagree with Dave on this point. Total Money Makeover inspired Marty and I to get serious about our finances and we started working on the steps Dave laid out in his book.

All of this was a new to me. I have done spreadsheets for bills and payments due but never made a plan for how to spend the rest of the money. It just never seemed like there was enough of it to worry about. However, not worrying about how to spend the rest caused overspending. This just made matters worse and financial stress higher. We downloaded the app, that has been developed to support Dave’s principles. It is called Every Dollar. Dave wants you to give every dollar coming into your household a home so you know where every dollar is spent. When we initially logged our October spending, we were shocked to see some of the ways that money was escaping from our pockets. There were a lot of little things we were spending money on that, quite frankly, were a waste. Money was dribbling away from us in little insidious ways. It was not big purchases that were doing damage to our bottom line. It was the few dollar here and a couple of bucks there.

Next, we developed a November budget and set forth to follow it as close as possible. It was the first time either of us had ever really budgeted that tightly. There were things that came up that we had to adjust another spot in the budget to expense them from. Everything needed to add up to zero at the end. There were a couple places where we placed too much money and a couple others where we did not plan enough.  In the end, we made it through our first month of budgeting. When we talked about how we felt during this first month of budgeting, we both agreed that we felt more in control of our finances and less stressed. The interesting side effect was, when we got to the end of the month and the next payday, we had some money leftover. It seems crazy but true. Somehow being on a budget, giving everything a home and watching where things were going; not only gave us the feeling of having more money but actually more money.

I am very grateful that my husband is the type of man who is willing to walk this process with me. It is truly a team effort. If you decide to start on a road of finance wellness, I wish you every success. That are many money gurus out there. Maybe Dave is right for you or maybe it is someone else whose process just seems to make sense and be the right tool you need to feel financial well.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! I wish you a lifetime of finding the right financial tools for your personnel wellness, as if by magic. Just as mine came to me.

*Photo taken in Rome, Italy

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There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps.

Since I ask you to join me in 90 days of daily meditation adventure, I though I would provide you with a review of some helpful tools. On my Join Us On This Adventure, I also included a link to my blog, 9 Ways to Improve Meditation.  Today I am offering you my insight on 6 meditation Apps. There are many meditation Apps out there so I randomly selected 6 to try. Below is a brief look at what I learned about each one. 

10% happier: The Facilitator suggests that you sit in a dignified posture. I really liked how that sounded. It gave you the option to choose meditation from 3 minutes to over 25 minutes. It is also very reassuring, that it is normal for the mind to wonder but when you notice it has, bring it back to the breath. This App is free, unless you choose to upgrade to premium which is $14.99/month or $99.99/year. Provides you a daily reminder. 

Headspace: It compared your thoughts to cars in traffic. A very interesting analogy. With this App you can chose 5 or 10 minutes for meditation. There is a little lesson before each meditation. The Facilitator has a loverly accent.  After the introductory 10 sessions, it is $12.99/month or $94.99/year. Provides a daily reminder.

Breathe: This App lets you rate how you are feeling and then gives you a few meditations to choose from. You can choose a woman’s or  man’s voice to guide you through the experience. The one I tried was a “5 senses” meditation, Here they talked you through your 5 senses, one at a time and help you focus in the here and now. This App is free, unless you choose to upgrade to premium which is $9.99/month or 58.99/year. Provides a daily reminder.

Simple Habit: This one allows you to pick a topic for your meditation from a pretty impressive list. I chose weight loss. This App is free for a month and then $7.99/month. It tracks your meditations for you and lets you choose between 5,10, or 20 minute meditations. It connects you with your Facebook friends and can create a community. Provides a daily reminder.  This one was my least favorite because I felt it was too pushy about signing you up for a subscription to the App. 

Insight Timer: This one also has a wide variety of meditations to choose from. There are very short meditations (3 minutes) to longer meditations (1 hour). I chose a 5 minute meditation called Weight Loss and Your Beautiful Body. I was shocked when the Facilitator used a cuss word. Not that it offended me but just because it surprised me. Even with that it was still a very positive and uplifting meditation. I did not see any cost on this App. Provides a daily reminder. 

Meditation Studio: This one has a free starter series for beginners. I like their analogy of the mind as a puppy, because it will wonder off, just bring it back with a smile. The beginner meditation was a bit longer than 10% happier or Headspace but was very supportive and relaxing. After the starter series this App is $7.99 month or $49.99/year. I didn’t see an option to set up a daily reminder. 

These Apps are not necessary to use but they maybe a helpful tool for you. Especially if you are new to meditation, They provide some instruction and insight into the practice of meditation. I do like that most offer a reminder to help you remember to make your meditation a part of your self care priorities. Along with these Apps, there are also many YouTube videos that offer various levels of meditation, from beginning to experienced. As we start on this journey together, I think it is best to go out an experiment and find the technique and meditation type that are most helpful for you. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a transformative and effortless meditation practice. 

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