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

How Do You Eat an Elephant or (in this case) a Dinosaur?

**First Marty wanted to say no dinosaurs were hurt in the making of this blog or above picture.

A friend recently reached out to me because of a meme on Facebook that said, “Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang out with and the things you subject your mind and soul to. Always be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” It was from @aNewKindofHuman. The reason she contacted me was because this seemed so overwhelming to try and change all of these things at once. Of course being a wise woman, in her own right, she already knew the answer. “How do you eat an Elephant?” “One bite at a time”.

There are so many things in life that we can be doing to improve our life, bodies, minds, situation, performance, and ourselves. It can feel very overwhelming if we try and focus on them all at once. I am currently on a sabbatical from alcohol, working on 21 days to be complaint free, wanting to walk 10,000 steps a day, maintain a low sugar intake, intermittent fasting, and be a faithful pescatarian. On top of all that, I would like a daily yoga and mediation practice, to read more books, start running again, journal, return to my Toastmasters groups, blog more, volunteer more, offer online classes, and learn some new healing modalities. There are probably several other things I would like to do as well to improve myself and be the best ‘me’ I can be.  It is easy to see how quickly all this could be very overwhelming.

This is precisely the reason, when another friend with my best interest at heart, encouraged me to give up diet soda I told her not right now. I know, that the ways I am currently working on myself are enough for me right now. I cannot improve everything at once. I have to eat the elephant, one bite at a time. I can start to try to add a bit more water to my day, in hopes that it will replace some of the diet soda naturally, but to give up diet soda right now would increase the chances of failure. Not only failure in that but maybe some of my other initiatives as well. I do believe that soda is not good for me and in time I will stop, but today my mouth is full and I am not ready for the next bite.

Yes, what we put into our bodies, minds, and spirits does matter. Trying to be the best ‘us’ we can be is a very noble journey. It is important to continue to move forward, step by step, along our path. But, we are human. This is a human experience and we cannot strive for perfection all at once. It takes a slow, methodical approach. Just like walking across the street. You cannot jump over the street. You must cross it step by step. I am proud of you for the improvements you are making to your life. You should be proud of yourself too! Go ahead, it is okay, celebrate your successes! There will be time for more successes in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you have many successes (big and small) to celebrate, as if by magic.

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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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Join Us On This Adventure!

There has been a lot, in a news lately, about the stress hormone; cortisol. People are talking about how you can gain weight around your middle due to its effects. There are many companies out there peddling pills to help you reduce the weight gain from cortisol. But what if there was something more natural that could be done? What if there was a simple, beneficial thing that could decrease the cortisol as well as benefit your life in other ways and didn’t need to cost you anything but a little of your time. Well, there is such a thing! Meditation. 

I have decided to challenge myself to 90 days of daily meditation to see how it may or may not affect my weight. I love my body as is, but after my winter of hibernation and decreased mobility, I have noticed my clothes are a little tighter. I sat down this morning and the back tore out of my shorts. I’m sure this was related to the fabric being old and not my expanding size; I hope, anyway. I decided to weigh myself, something I seldom do. I hesitated whether or not to share my weight in this blog. In the end I decided it is just a number and not a reflection of my value as a person. So why not share it? I weighed myself midday, fully clothed and was surprised to see my weight has jumped up to 207.4lbs. Okay, I really do need to do something about my weight. It seems to have snuck up about 30lbs from where I used to maintain it. 

My plan is to meditate daily as a way to manage my stress an hopefully decrease cortisone and then see a decrease in my size so that my clothes fit better. I was sharing my idea with my Adventure Sister, Emy, who liked the idea of a healthy stress management process so much so she decided to join me also. 

What a great idea! What if we did this as a community? What if we all supported each other through this and shared our successes, what we learned, and our experiences? For the next 90 days Emy and I will commit to meditation daily. Once a week we will each write a blog to share how it is changing and enhancing our lives. We invite and encourage, all of you, to join us on this adventure. Give meditation a try; whether you are an experienced meditator or new to the practice. I have meditated a fair amount over my life but never been great about maintaining daily practice. I feel that by committing 90 days to ourselves, it gives us a good amount of time for it to become a routine to both our conscious and subconscious minds. We welcome your comments on our blogs and social media sites. Your experiences maybe just what someone else, someone who maybe struggling, needs to hear that others are too. Trust that guidance to share your journey with us on this adventure. 

I am currently experimenting with several meditation Apps. Stay tuned for a future blog that will share which apps I tried and what my thoughts were on these helpful guides. For a jumpstart; please see my earlier blog: 9 Ways to Improve Meditation.  Additionally, I will be writing a blog highlighting several different types of meditation techniques.  Hopefully these will help us all on our 90 days of daily meditation. Our journey to committing to a healthy way to manage our stress. 

So come on this adventure with us! Whether you are doing this for stress management, to release weight, or just to be a part of a community; we look forward to walking this journey with you. If you don’t feel now is the right time to start a daily meditation practice, that is okay. Do what feels right for you, in this time and space. The blogs will be here for you when you are ready. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your lifetime be full of healthy stress management and may your body easily release anything that does not serve your highest good; whether it be weight or outdated beliefs about yourself. 

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