Meditation Techniques

Meditation: Our Quest for Love

Bruce Davis, Ph.D From Huffington Post

Some people are always in their worldly life. They say they either do not have time for meditation or they do not believe in sitting, breathing,paying attention to the moment. The idea of an inner life is like a foreign country that does not interest them to travel to.

In recent years, however, more and more people are trying meditation. After experiencing the tastes and delights of an inner landscape they find this foreign travel is not so foreign. In fact, meditation is just the opposite. It is an experience of coming home within ourselves. With less worldly distraction, our awareness finds its own essence, an innocence of simply being. When the details on our mind are not so busy occupying and stirring up our attention, an experience of our heart is naturally present. Love comes forward in our awareness. People who meditate discover love is their true awareness when all the stuff of daily life is not mixed in.

Every day, meditation and the calming, centering effects call more love from within us and into our lives. Yes, meditation invites love into our lives.There is no magic here. A brief time of morning meditation including simplicity, being, silence becomes an anchor for more simple being and peace in our lives. Love attracts love. As meditation becomes a priority so does love become more front and center.

As we take time for meditation, our awareness learns to rest in our heart. We are thinking less and being heartfully more present. In the silence of meditation, our noisy thoughts dissolve in an inner quiet. So much thinking welcomes peace and quiet. Our awareness naturally grabs the stillness of meditation like a child grabbing candy! The sweetness of no thought is just too good to pass by. Of course the world keeps tugging on us. But with our meditation practice, the way to the candy store becomes clearer, easy, and fun. We know it is there. We just have to take the time, close our eyes, and go there.

The simplicity of our journey into meditation becomes a lesson in simplicity in other parts of life. Simplicity is love’s best friend. There is no limit to where simplicity and love, where this relationship can lead us.

With meditation, each of us find our own special way to uncover our ground of being. A candle, ocean view, sacred altar, mantra, or simple silence and meditation begins. Underneath our complicated personality, our likes, dislikes, fears, and self importance, our awareness can just be. As we grab onto inner silence, our thoughts are untying. As the rope of our mental life loosens, meditation opens the heart. As we enter, we are free. The inner quiet washes our personality. The deep silence of meditation is perfect therapy, healing, restoring love into the very structure of our personality and life.

There is an inner vault. It is a place where our daily world cannot enter. I use the word “vault” because even though there are actually no walls, the boundary to this place is so true, nothing but silence, being, awareness can be present. This place is available to all of us. This inner vault is a solid place of complete quietude. Here God is absorbing us and we are absorbing God. There is no separation. Meditation is the most direct route. As we leave our daily world behind, the gentle wind of our breath and stillness of heart take us. An inner space opens. Meditation lessens the weight of our personality as we embrace this vault of inner stillness. There is an emptiness which is actually a warm, pure presence. Deep silence and this inner vault comes forward. Deep silence and the landscape of the heart inside our heart unveils. Here there is a vastness and quality of love that is other worldly yet very natural, as if always waiting for us.

As where before we would chase riches in the world, in meditation we begin to unearth inner riches. In our ground of being is real treasure. Here is an abundance which gives us generosity, humility, and gratitude. Our patterns, routines in worldly life begin to change. Much of who we think we are, what we do is only a habit of thought and doing. The treasure inside us changes all of this and that, changing much of what we think, feel,strive for, and hold onto as important.

This inner treasure is our source of more honesty, humor, patience, and kindness for ourselves and others. Our normal identity and priorities are transforming. Vacations, retreats, retirement is planned around life’s real treasure.It is rather easy to step aside from the distractions in daily life, at least for some days. Getting by our own mental distractions is more of a challenge. Compulsive thoughts, our ever wandering mind can seem so overwhelming. Here our intention is important. Lets seek real peace and quiet. Our focus and concentration helps tame our distractions. Lets practice receiving our heart essence. This gentleness within tames our nervous energy. The peace around us supports us to find and receive deep inner silence. Step by step, meditation is breaking habits of thought and compulsively doing for the special love of simply being.

Follow Bruce Davis, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/silentstay

Responding to A Call to Wholeness with Attentive Awareness: an Homage to SN Goenka

I had the opportunity to sit in Vipassana meditation last month over Thanksgiving.  It had been three years since my last course which was during my pregnancy.  Motherhood has been an amazing challenge and finding ways to meditate throughout the day has been difficult, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to revitalize my practice again.

These are the notes I made in the clarity after 3 days of meditating 12 hours a day, observing my breath, observing my physical sensations and observing all the roiling thoughts in my mind that were taking my attention from the present moment.

You are lost in thought again: your thoughts, the thoughts of others, thoughts started in the distant past, thoughts unfinished.  Thoughts re-crafted over and over of what you might have done or what you didn’t do.  Thoughts of the future, the distant future, the immediate future, thoughts of a possible future if only you act now.  Thoughts of people, of circumstances of dreams and expectations.  Thoughts of passion, of regret, of emptiness, thoughts of what might have happened if only you had done or said something different than what  had happened.

These thoughts boil and churn, tumbling over one another again and again, perhaps with slight variations as you reinforce them with your creative mind.  If only, of only, of only…..

These thoughts grip your mind, freezing it in a static stasis of immobility.  If only, if only, if only.  But…but…but…

Resist the temptation to reinforce the past you are trying to correct, it is impossible.  Practice being aware of these thoughts without engaging them.  Observe how they rise.  Observe yourself engage them.  Observe how your physical structure reacts to this process.  And then observe yourself observing all this.

Be still.  Observe awhile and eventually you will see the spaces between thoughts.  Continue observing with attentive awareness and those spaces of clarity will expand.  As you observe, you will see how thoughts arise into the spaces and you will observe yourself engaging those thoughts for awhile before letting them go and watching them fade away.  Do not become elated at this fading away.  Do not expect the momentary peaceful clarity to last.  For, certainly, another thought will arise again.

We are not able to change our thinking by eliminating the thinking process.  We can learn to not react to thoughts and by not reacting to them.  It is inevitable that they will fade away as part of the nature of life which is always and unavoidably ever-changing.  The law of nature is that all is ever changing.

In the first hours of Noble Speech once silence has been broken this past vipassana course, something that always comes up is the question of how it is that we have all come to vipassana as students.  Despite the wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences, it is always interesting to learn that we each came to vipassana in response to an inner call to wholeness.  My story is similar to many others:  A friend was talking about her experience at her first vipassana course.  Her description of the meditation schedule, though rigorous, struck me as exactly what I needed at the time.

My practice has waxed and waned of the subsequent 10 years through graduate school, business and child-rearing.  At times the discipline was strong and I was able to weather intense times of change with easy breaths.  At other times the responsibility to others overwhelmed me and I did not make time to practice and the challenges of life became intense struggles.  But always the same call to wholeness resounded and I returned to find the lessons of attentive awareness once again.

After this past course, I noticed the difference between myself as an older student and the expectations of the newer students that I once shared.  As an older student, now, I no longer expect to have a sudden change of life that will enable me to maintain this clarity.  I don’t expect that I will be able to instantly be able to fulfill the directive to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  And I can accept that without judgement.  I will do what I can do with gratitude for the moments of clarity that come as life keeps changing, changing, changing, ever-changing.

Karah Pino in meditation

Karah Pino in meditation

Vipassana Courses are offered around the world through the teaching of SN Goenka who transcended life this past September.  His recorded lessons teaching the technique and offering guidance to meditation ring true to new students and old students, young and old of all backgrounds and cultures.  Vipassana Courses are offered freely and donation of funds, time or other service are accepted but not expected.  To learn more, visit www.dhamma.org may all beings be happy.

Mindfulness Meditation for a Stress-Less Mind

Mindfulness Meditation for a Stress-Less Mind

We were listening to a radio interview we did recently, talking about the profound benefits of meditation. Deb had said, “Mindfulness meditation is revolutionary because it changes us simply by being fully present, completely aware of just this moment.” Which is absolutely true, but being in the present moment can be slippery, elusive — we want to be in Hawaii, start planning a Christmas shopping list, relive a disagreement with our partner, get distracted by the sound of the mailman outside or an aching knee. The possibilities are endless — all the many ways the mind can do something, anything, other than being present.

On average, we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been, what-might-have-been, or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. But the truth is no matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, leave the house at the same time each day, arrive at the office at the same time, pick up the kids on time, we can still never know what will happen in the next moment.

We used to live next to a glorious river in Devon, England and walked beside it each day. It was beautiful, but as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly changing — the water was never the same as even a second ago. Likewise, we may look the same but the cells in our body are forever forming, growing and dying; we are continually changing and renewing in every minute, we just aren’t aware of it.

Realizing the past is already gone and can never be relived, while the future is always ahead of us and consistently unknown, the only logical way to deal with this awareness is to be present with what is, whatever it is, as it is. Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to actually have nothing going on, to discover that the entire universe is contained in this very moment, to realize that nothing more is required than to just be aware and present. Imagine, what a relief! Finally, we can live without expectation, prejudice or longing, or the desire for things to be different than they are.

Being present invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It’s impossible to think of somewhere else as being better, for the grass is vividly green exactly where we are. At a seminar someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. Ed replied, “Have you experienced this one?”

Right now, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. As you breath out, notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That’s all. It only takes an instant to be present. Or, as a way of reminding yourself, put Post-its in strategic places around your home (on your bathroom mirror, the fridge, the inside of the front door, etc.) that say things like: NOW is the greatest moment, Be Here Now; Stop, smile and Breathe; Only this Moment Exists; There Is Just This, NOW!

It’s also essential that, as neuroscientist Brian Jones teaches, you tune down your sympathetic nervous system (the flight and fight response) and tune into your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and relaxation response). You can do this through breathing and mindfulness techniques and can learn more atrevolutionarymindfulness.com

Mindfully Meditating In the Moment 
Mindfully meditating on the flow of the breath naturally brings us into the present while bringing our awareness inward, rather than being focused outward. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one. You can simultaneously silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”

Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation
Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands are in your lap, eyes are closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body, being aware of the room around you and the chair you are sitting on.

Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement of air as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, “Breathing in, breathing out.”

Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.

Anytime you get distracted, bored, or lost in thinking, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”

You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.

What keeps you from being mindfully here and now? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top.

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.comand EdandDebShapiro.com.

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Beyond Positive thinking

There is an old adage in yoga psychology which is at the heart of the phenomenon of positive thinking.

‘The mind takes the shape of its object’.

When you pour water into a container, it will take the shape of the container. Our mind stuff, that most subtle of all substances, acts in a similar way. If you think of a camel then there is a portion of your mind that takes the shape of a camel, which is another way of saying that the mind forms an image of a camel. Now as we learned earlier, each and every expression of the universe is vibrational in character. A thought is a mental wave composed of psychic energy or mind-stuff. Because it is vibrational in character that mental wave has a particular wavelength. The wavelength of the thought-image of a camel will not be the same as the wavelength of the thought of a vast ocean or a feeling of compassion. Some thoughts are subtle in character and some are less so. Subtle or expansive thoughts, as you might suspect, have a long, steady wavelength while crude thoughts have a much shorter, erratic wavelength. Our mind as a whole has its own characteristic wavelength which is the composite of all the waves active in the mind at any one time. While our mind’s wavelength is constantly changing as different thought-waves rise and fall in our mental ocean, it never changes very much because we each have our own habitual style of thinking, our personality, which determines the nature of those recurring individual waves.

Now what happens in nature when two interact? There is a clash between the two waves and each is influenced to some extent by the other. The stronger the wave is, the greater the influence it exerts, and the less it is affected by the other wave. When two waves are similar in character then there is very little clash. They vibrate sympathetically. On the practical level we experience this as a natural affinity or dislike for the people and things we come into contact with. Our feeling of like or dislike depends on the degree of sympathetic or non-sympathetic vibration between our mental wavelength and that of the object we come in contact with. ‘Good vibes’ is exactly that, the good vibrations that come when we experience a parallelism between the wavelength of our mind and that of the person or object or environment we are in contact with.

As the mind stuff gathers to take the shape of the mental object the wavelength of that thought-form is going to affect the overall character of mind. To some small degree it will influence or alter the characteristic wavelength of that mind. If the thought object is very subtle then the mind will be benefited. If the wavelength of the thought is cruder than the mind is accustomed to then the mind will be affected for the worse. Over time the constant repetition of a thought of either a crude or subtle nature will either degrade or elevate the mind. It is for this reason that the yogis teach that excessive preoccupation with crude physical objects such as money gradually crudifies the mind. Our mental power diminishes, and our capacity for happiness, enjoyment of life, and Self-expression is decreased. But if we fill our minds with expansive, more subtle ideas, it will stretch and expand and grow to accommodate these new lofty ideas.

Changing the mind from crude to subtle is the task of meditation. In order to accomplish this we think about the subtlest object possible, consciousness, with the help of the mantra. By raising subtler and subtler waves in the mind through the constant and concentrated repetition of mantra, the mind gradually expands and becomes more subtle. It gains the capacity to transmit and perceive subtler vibrations. The regular practice of meditation opens the mind up the higher realms of experience — the awakening of intuition, a deep appreciation for art and aesthetics, profound emotions of love and compassion, feelings of sympathy and oneness with nature, and a yearning to realise the inner Self. The world around you changes from a world of fixed and immovable boundaries to one of infinite possibility.

Looking at it from this perspective underscores once again the importance of what we meditate on. History is full of examples of individuals who developed psychic powers through the practice of concentration techniques, but who eventually became degraded by that same practice because they allowed their minds to become crudified.

 

Source : Ananda Marga Ra’ja’dhira’ja Yoga

OCD Expert Who Recommends Meditation as Therapy Is the Focus of New eBook

OCD Expert Who Recommends Meditation as Therapy Is the Focus of New eBook

by

Editor at Open Minds Magazine

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz applies Buddhist teachings to his work with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bucks the mainstream belief that the brain is a static organ that dictates our actions. So it is no wonder that he is a controversial figure.

The amazing thing is that he has proven to be right, and has shown that mindfulness meditation can be effective at reducing the effects of OCD. In part, by utilizing what he calls “self-directed neuroplasticity.” In other words, the idea is that we can use meditation to physically rewire our brains. A process I believe I have utilized myself to improve my outlook and health.

Steve Volk’s new book OBSESSED: The Compulsions and Creations of Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, is the first offering by Discovery magazine’s Discovery In-Depth series. It is available via Kindle single on Amazon.

In the book, Volk examines Schwartz as a scientist and a person. He describes Schwartz as a “pariah among his academic peers,” and “a man battling demons of his own.” Schwartz is often combative, and has a tough time with personal relationships. However, Volk says Schwartz was very open and willing to let Volk spend a lot of time with him, which Volk says is rare in the scientific community. Volk believes Schwartz really just wants to be understood.

Despite his quirks, Schwartz has made substantial contributions to the understanding and treatment of OCD. Volk says his ideas used to be taken lightly, but “he helped produce this shift where now people take mindfulness very very seriously as an effective therapy.”

I find his work fascinating because it relates to the existential question of who we are. As Volk explains it, some scientists believe “our whole selves and our choices are all dictated by physical processes in the brain, and a lot of people take this to mean we don’t have any free will.”

But what if we choose to be different, and in doing so change our brain physically? It sounds fantastic to be able to change the inner workings of our brains by thought alone, but it is now believed it happens, and it is called neuroplasticity. Volk explains, “Schwartz says his therapy, which involves shifting your attention in particular ways in regard to your illness, he says this shows we do have free will and we are not our brains.”

Years ago I learned through studying meditation techniques, methods similar to what Schwartz teaches, and they have helped transform my life. Buddhists teach that in mindfulness mediation one can view their thoughts and self impartially. In doing so one can identify behaviors that are not helpful, and purposefully change the way they react to certain situations. In this way we can choose to alleviate our own suffering, which Buddhists believe we cause ourselves.

For instance, let’s say you get flipped off on the highway on the way to work. That can be kind of frustrating. Some people are prone to get really upset, and then have a terrible morning. In mindful mediation one lets go of emotional static to reflect on oneself and the ways we cause our own suffering.

In reflecting upon why we had a bad morning and realizing it was because somebody flipped us off, we can see that it was our reaction to this event that caused the suffering for the rest of the morning. We can then choose to react differently. I have chosen to smile and wave at people who flip me off, and wish them a good day. I then leave the situation chuckling, while the flipper offer continues on their grouchy way.

This is us choosing to modify our behavior. It may be difficult at first, but as we continue to act out this new behavior, neuroplasticity is at work changing our neural pathways and making this reaction easier to accomplish. One thing I remind myself in these situations is that I cannot let another’s dysfunction become my dysfunction. Just because their brain is wired to be a total jerk, doesn’t mean I have to let mine be wired that way.

In using these methods to help OCD patients alleviate their symptoms, Volk says in his book, “what Schwartz had proven was that his patients could rewire their brains (and reinvent their lives) through sheer force of will, with thought alone.”

Volk says he was inspired to write the book because he has also benefited from “self-directed neuroplasticity.” Beyond that, Volk says, “I really enjoy being able to tell the story about this guy operating on sort of the fringes of things.”  See Video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alejandro-rojas/ocd-expert-stars-in-ebook_b_4119218.html

Not surprising coming from a guy who also authored a book called, Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable — And Couldn’t.

Characteristics of Mantra by Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

Characteristics of Mantra: Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

The third characteristic of a mantra is that it is rhythmic. What this means on the practical level is that it has to be able to align itself with our breathing and hence all mantras for meditation consist of two syllables.

Our breathing exerts a great influence over our thinking. The more rapid and irregular our breathing is, the more difficult it becomes to concentrate or to think deeply. When our breathing slows, our capacity to think deeply increases. For example, take a person who has just finished some hard physical exercise and is breathing very heavily. If you ask them a question that requires some concentration you are bound to get an answer like: Hang on a minute while I catch my breath. Conversely, whenever you are deeply concentrated on any subject you will notice that your breathing has become very slow and regular.

The alignment of the mantra with our breathing has two principle benefits. First of all, it helps to naturally regulate and slow our breathing, which in turn deepens our concentration. Secondly, we develop an association between our breathing and the repetition of mantra which helps us to remember the mantra. When a meditator becomes accomplished in the practice of mantra they start finding the mantra going on with their breath even when they are not formally meditating. Their mind remains in a meditative state even while performing its daily activities. When they sit for meditation they find it easy to remain concentrated because the mantra is rising and falling with the breath. Almost no effort is required.

Now that we have some theoretical understanding of why mantras are so effective as an object for meditation let us look at how the daily practice of mantra affects our day-to-day thinking.

Your Mental Object.

Thinking, as we normally understand it, is an activity which involves a subject and an object. We can take it one step further, however, and distinguish between one’s mental object, the image you have in your mind of something external to you, and the object itself (bear in mind that concepts, such as fame or good health, are also mental objects). The thing your mental object refers to (that new car, your name in all the fashionable magazines) may not exist yet in reality. It may never exist. But the thought exists. Your mental object is quite real. This is indicative of what we talked about earlier, that thoughts are real, significant events involving movements of powerful energy. When the human mind, the mind which has invented and which controls nuclear weapons and space shuttles, thinks something, it is a tangible expression of the most powerful machine in the universe.

Mental Objects tend to become a reality.

According to yoga psychology, mental objects tend to become expressed in the external world. What we think about tends to happen.

If you think you’ll succeed, you’ll succeed. If you think you    will fail, you will fail. Either way, you are right.                                                                         — Yogananda

Indeed, nowadays there are few people who will deny the significant effects on our lives of a positive Self-image and a positive mental attitude, or the crippling effects of negative thinking. By thinking we are happy, healthy and successful, we tend to become happy, healthy and successful, and the reverse is just as true.

Coincidence? Or incidence?

You were thinking of someone when the phone rang and guess who was on the other end. You want to go to a concert but can’t get a place; suddenly a friend tells you he or she has an extra ticket to the show and wonders if you would like it. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Were these coincidences or were they rather small examples of the powerful connection between thought and physical reality? Meditators everywhere notice a startling increase in the number of such ‘coincidences’ in their lives after they start meditating. Whether it so happens that meditation speeds up the process by which thoughts are translated into physical reality, or whether it just makes us more aware of our thoughts and how they shape our lives, this phenomena points directly to tendency of our mental objects to find expression in the external world.

Let us examine more closely the pathways a thought takes to find expression in the external world. Suppose a desire arises in your mind. That desire activates your imagination. Your mind paints a picture for you of the desired object and, consciously or unconsciously, you visualise yourself achieving it. Spurred on by that power of that thought-wave, you apply your will power and determination towards the materialisation of your desire. This is the driving force — desire, imagination and will — which enables you to translate a thought into reality, though often most or all of this process is unconscious to you and you are only aware of your sense of surprise when you find your desire materialised.

Our desires can fail to find material expression for many reasons, but perhaps the most common is that the negative side of our imagination gets in the way, sabotaging our fondest desires. Our imagination has tremendous power and when this power combines with fear, or its counterparts — doubt, anxiety, worry, insecurity, anger, resentment — it can quash all positive expressions of the will. It is somewhat like driving with the handbrake on. Part of you pushes you forward while another part restrains you, and the result is a trip to the mechanic.

Meditation teaches us a style of thinking which is conducive to the synchronisation of our imagination and our will. We raise a positive wave (or mental object) in our mind and then exercise our will to move towards it. Whenever negative thought-patterns arise and threaten to pull us in a different direction we redirect our mind back to that positive wave, thereby training it to overcome the distracting or inhibiting influence of such thought-patterns. Through regular practice this style of thinking becomes habituated and starts reflecting in other areas of our lives, hence the common experience of regular meditators that they start finding their desires quickly and easily materialised in the external world. Of course, this is not always a positive experience, as everyone soon discovers. Often what we desire is not what is best for our growth, and meditators soon learn that they must exercise control over their desires for the simple reason that they so often come true.

This aspect of meditative practice has much in common with traditional and more modern schools of positive thinking, but with several critical exceptions. Rather than utilising numerous mental objects (for example, different affirmations) and thereby diffusing the mind, we meditate on one object and one object alone, which enables us to develop the full power of the mind. And that object is the subtlest object available, consciousness itself, which leads us to the greatest possible growth and expansion of mind. By a dedicated program of positive thinking we may develop a strong, positive self-image and a sense of well-being. We may even become rich or influential, if that is what we tell ourselves we will be, but we may not realise our inner Self.

Walking Meditation: Mindfulness On the Move By ALICIA SPARKS

 

Walking Path Sign

I took my first meditation walka few weeks ago. I’ve since done some research aboutwalking meditation, and wow–there’s a ton of information out there!

My meditation walk was hosted by a licensed counselor who often offers group seminars and private sessions on mindfulness, so I feel confident I learned–definitely not everything–but a good solid foundation for planning my own mindfulness walks.

So, for simplicity’s sake–and to add to the wealth of information already available–I’ll focus on my own meditation walk.

 

Walking Meditation vs. Still Meditation

Probably, this goes without saying, but the main difference between walking meditation and still meditation is you’re not sitting still during walking meditation.

(Oh, and you’re eyes should be always are open!)

Walk at a comfortable, slow pace. Don’t rush–you’ve set this time aside for yourself. Intentionally step heel to toe, one foot at a time, paying attention to how the dirt, pavement, or gravel feels under your soles.

So, understand you won’t be sitting or lying still, but don’t be afraid that you won’t reap some of the same meditation and mindfulness benefits.

Understand Your Mindfulness Meditation Walk

Why are you taking a meditation walk? Why are you choosing to walk rather than sit or lie?

Maybe you want to sharpen your senses, or reconnect with your surroundings. Maybe there’s a specific issue in your life you want to meditate on and you feel moving rather than sitting still will help.

Prepare for Your Walking Meditation

As with any practice–yoga, meditation, running–there’s a little preparation involved before you get started.

Here are a few tips my mindfulness coach shared:

  • Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable walking shoes (or, for you beach bunnies, make sure the sand’s nice and soft!) and wear clothes cool or warm enough for the current temperatures.
  • Set aside enough time. Sure, “enough time” is relative, but walking is a bit different from sitting or lying still, so it’s okay to shoot for at least 30 minutes.
  • Choose your course. Choose a safe area, but feel free to choose among a variety of environments. You can be just as mindful in a park full of boisterous toddlers as you can on a quiet mountain path.
  • Plan your course *. Once you know where you’ll walk, where will you start? Where will you take a left, a right, or turn around to head home? Sure, you could wander, but we’re focusing on mindfulness here. Start out knowing where you’re headed and then focus on being mindful of that course.
  • Patience, not perfection. Whether it’s your first mindfulness walk or you’re a veteran at meditation walking, be prepared to get distracted–and be prepared to let those distractions pass on by. You might find yourself thinking about unrelated things–bills, your dishes, Sally’s dance recital. Once you become aware of those thoughts, don’t indulge them; just let them pass through. Do the same for any distracting environmental noises (beyond those senses of which you’re striving to be mindful).

* Remember all that “different information” I mentioned in the beginning? Well, here’s an example: Rather than choosing a proper “path,” some meditation walk instructions suggest finding a stretch of land, 30 or 40 feet long, and walking back and forth. Although this sounds beneficial in its own way, it wasn’t my experience this time.

Plan Your Mindfulness Walk

Aside from preparing for your walk–and knowing where you’ll walk–considering planning your mindfulness topics.

For example, my mindfulness walking class was a donation-based class to help raise money for an upcoming charity event, so our mindfulness coach divided our walk into three parts and instructed us to focus on something different during each section:

  • First Part: We focused on our breath. The goal was to shut out as much environmental elements as safely possible and pay attention to our breath. Were we breathing deeply? Was our breath shallow? Were we thinking too much about it, instead of letting it happen naturally? What could we do to relax ourselves and thus relax our breath?
  • Second Part: We focused on our five (or six, as my coach allowed for) senses. We smelled the air and listened to children’s laughter and occasional car horns. We felt the wind on our skin and watched the leaves blow in one direction or another. We even tasted the air, our last bite, our latest sip of water.
  • Third Part: During the third and final part of our mindfulness walk, we focused on our current purpose: the charity. Why was the cause important to us? What did we hope to achieve at the event? What were our own personal goals for bettering the situation?

Of course, you might mix up these parts, or take away or add a few. It’s entirely up to you. Your mindfulness walk must work for YOU.

Reflect On Your Meditation Walk

After your meditation walk, don’t immediately hop in your car or get started on dinner. Take some time to reflect on your meditation.

Did you learn anything? Did your mindfulness help you reach any realizations or conclusions?

Did you enjoy walking more than sitting, or was it just a different experience for you?

Was there anything you could “tweak” to make the experience more beneficial?

So, how about YOU, readers? Do you think you’ll try a mindful meditation walk this weekend? Or, have you already put a few meditation walk notches in your belt and have your own experiences to share with us?

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-mind/2013/10/walking-meditation-mindfulness-on-the-move/

Confession of a Fidgety Meditator: HuffPost

Confession of a Fidgety Meditator

Posted: 10/07/2013 1:11 pm

Author and fitness expert

In my childhood home, each person was assigned a specific task. My dad’s job was to wash dishes after dinner. In retrospect, it’s not surprising the memory remains so vivid to me. I remember watching him as he lovingly handled the job every night. He was so methodical, never varying his routine. First he put on an apron, next he filled the sink with soap and water. (This was before most kitchens had automatic dishwashers.) Making sure the temperature was just right, he gently lowered each dish into its soapy place. The last step was setting out a drying towel on the counter. The preliminary work done, it was time to get on with the task at hand.

From the moment he completed the pre-routine, dad went on automatic. Today I realize that in his own way, this was his meditation — a time when he could be fully present. Nothing to think about except the rhythmic movement of lifting each dish out of the water, making sure it was clean, rinsing it off and placing it on the drying towel. His mind didn’t ask, “Hmm what’s my purpose here? What’s my next step? Can I quiet my mind? What is it I have to do after the dishes are done?” The calm radiated from his eyes, but I knew it was birthed in his heart. He was at total peace.

How can washing dishes put someone at peace and how can it be a meditation? By definition, meditation is continued or extended reflection or a fixing of thought on something… the ability to maintain a single-pointed concentration that promotes a sense of well-being. This labor of love was something he could count on. He knew if he did the preparation, he’d be in the “zone.” Same time every night, same place, same preparation, same results. Everyone knew this was dad’s quiet time, so nobody bothered him. Dad was perfectly happy in his domain, focused on the task and nothing more.

I’m not suggesting you hand wash dishes. I’m suggesting that meditation is not mysterious, it’s not a woo-woo religious experience. It’s simply being able to still the “monkey mind” long enough to relax into a feeling of well-being, not concerned about the outside world. There is no new skill to learn. You already know how. Ask yourself where in life you get that incredible feeling of peace and well-being that comes from one pointed intention and total relaxation. Is it painting, cooking, soaking in a hot tub, riding a bike, singing? Once you determine your particular nirvana, create a pre-meditation routine that will transport you into the same space — the one my dad was in every night after dinner, and use it before you “officially” meditate — at the same time, same place, every day. Just as the soap and water washed away the debris of our dinners, your meditation time will wash away the cares of the day.

How easy is it to start or restart a meditation practice? No need to leave the house. No worries about bad hair days, no class fee and no pre-requisite training. You can meditate anytime, day or night. Just boot up your laptop. How easy it that? Don’t put off giving yourself the gift of meditation. It will change your life dramatically. Find a series that is about to begin, register online and embark on a wondrous journey to your real self.

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Meditation made easy: How to sleep more serenely

Meditation made easy: How to sleep more serenely

By Madonna Gaulding

 

Experts suggest that we need a minimum of eight to nine hours to be at our best physically and mentallyExperts suggest that we need a minimum of eight to nine hours to be at our best physically and mentally

Madonna Gauding, author of  The Meditation Bible, gives you a beginner’s guide to serenity.

This week, a meditation to relax you  before bedtime…

BENEFITS: Sleep deprivation is a serious health problem in our overly busy, stress-filled world.

Experts suggest that we need a minimum of eight to nine hours to be at our best physically and mentally.

Realistically, though, we tend to get more like seven hours sleep a night.

This meditation will help clear your head and induce relaxation and sleep, thereby strengthening your immune system.

TO START: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, get into bed and turn off the lights. Ensure that your curtains or shades are closed to keep out any lights from the outside world.

STEP ONE: Stretch out on your back and get comfortable. Tense up your body as much as you can and then relax. Repeat this exercise three times.

STEP TWO: Slowly and deeply breathe into your lower abdomen 20 times.

STEP THREE: Now, with each in-breath, breathe in peace, and with each  out-breath, breathe out all the cares of your day.

Release your worries and welcome pleasant dreams. Surrender to deep relaxation as you let go more and more. Feel yourself sinking into a deep, healing and rejuvenating sleep.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2437668/Meditation-easy-How-sleep-serenely.html#ixzz2gWhfsBm5
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5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditation by Melody Fletcher

5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditation

Post image for 5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditationby Melody Fletcher on September 26, 2013

 

Awesome Sophie’s burning question: “Is there any way around visualizing and meditating to achieve what you want?  I can’t quite get myself to do it consistently.” 

Dear Awesome Sophie,

We have to always remember, and I’m happy to remind you over and over again, that both visualization and meditation are merely tools, to help us achieve certain vibrational states. While both are extremely helpful, neither one is required in order for us to consciously and deliberately receive what we want.

When you can’t visualize or meditate

Some people just aren’t visually inclined. They don’t “see” their dreams, fantasies or desires. They don’t create visual images of the things they want. Does this mean they can’t manifest anything? Well, considering that everything in our current reality was created for and drawn to us by us, and I do mean EVERYTHING, and considering that we probably didn’t visualize every single detail that showed up in our world today, it stands to reason that visualization isn’t necessary for manifestation.

In my article on What Visualization Really Is, I explain that the act of visualizing is simply a way for us to ferret out and release resistance. When we visualize, we are able to “see” what our vibration is in the process of creating before it actually becomes physical. By changing the visualization and practicing the new vision until it feels good (not discordant), we are actually able to change our vibration. As such, visualization is certainly a fantastic tool. But again, certainly not the only one in our metaphorical tool box, and not even necessarily the best one.

Likewise, meditation, while incredibly useful, is also merely a tool, which allows us to stop doing what it is we’re doing that’s keeping us from lining up with Who We Really Are (and everything we want). You see, our natural state is one of well-being, alignment, super-duper happiness and happy shiny puppies. If we are not currently living that reality, it’s not because we’re not doing enough to make that happen, it’s because we’re doing something that’s keeping that from happening. When we meditate, we stop thought, and by doing so, we automatically stop whatever thought is currently contradicting our highest selves. Meditation is an extraordinarily effective tool to help us practice the state of allowing, that state in which we’re not contradicting what we want. The more we practice that state, the easier it is for us to allow what we want to flow to us.

But what if you don’t like to meditate? What if you find it boring, can’t quiet your mind, fall asleep every time, or simply feel reluctant to do it? Does that mean you’re broken, too resistant to help yourself, or just not ready to join the enlightened crowd? No. Many of my clients have issues meditating. They just don’t like it. And you know what? That’s totally ok. There is no one way to do ANYTHING that works for everyone. We each get to find our own joyous path. Why would attuning ourselves to our higher selves be any different?

The tools we use aren’t important. What’s important is the state they help us to achieve. So, if you’ve always had trouble visualizing or meditating, here are 5 alternatives that will help you to achieve the exact same states of mind, and which you may find more effective for you:

#1 – Meditation Alternative: Music

You may not have ever thought of music as a tool, but it’s actually a great way to deliberately feel better. All pieces of music have their own vibration. Listening to a song LITERALLY helps to attune you to different frequencies. Are these wanted or unwanted frequencies? Well, if the music you’re listening to makes you feel better, then you’ve chosen wanted frequencies. As you can see, this is a very subjective thing, and will even change from day to day or moment to moment for the same person. Thank Gawd we have so many different kinds of music! Choose music that makes you feel really good, make a playlist of it and listen to it often. Make sure you update this playlist regularly, and switch out any songs that no longer give you that boost. As you acclimate and raise your vibration on a permanent level, the music that once uplifted you will just leave you feeling kind of blah. When that happens, you’ll have to upgrade.

Spending time listening to music that makes you feel really good and losing yourself in it, will be just as beneficial to you as formal meditation. In fact, that feeling of losing time signifies that you were fully present in the NOW, which is another way of describing what meditation helps us to do. When we are fully in the NOW, we no longer resist the NOW. The benefit of music is that it can also help to move you up the emotional scale, no matter where you are. If you’re stuck in powerlessness, then anger will feel good to you. Choosing songs that help you feel that anger so it can be released will help you to feel a lot better. Screaming profanities to the sounds of death metal may not seem to have anything in common with the calm of meditation, but if that’s what you need in order to shift your energy to a higher place, it will serve the same purpose (when a person in that state meditates regularly, it will increase the anger that comes up the rest of the day, therefore assisting that individual with having their necessary anger release.)

#2 – Meditation Alternative: Zoning Out

People who have trouble formally meditating are often overthinking it to the nth degree, putting stress on themselves to find time when the kids aren’t bugging them, sitting in the “correct” way, choosing the “right” time of day, and trying to get their minds to shut the hell up. Amidst all that judgment and restriction, meditation becomes next to impossible.

If this sounds like you, let me ask you the question I ask my clients in this situation: are there any activities such as housecleaning, gardening, doing the dishes, ironing, golfing, walking the dog, etc., during which you just “zone out”? Do you ever just go all spacey, while continuing to do some mundane activity? Do you ever just kind of lose yourself in the moment? If so, congratulations, you’ve achieved the meditative state. Will this be akin to the deepest possible states which practiced Yogis achieve? No. But unless that’s your passion, there’s no need for you to go that deep. Remember, it’s all about stopping those contradictory thoughts. When you go all blank and dreamy while watering your plants, you’re there. You’ve almost certainly “meditated” quite successfully many times in your life. And yes, it really is that simple. Everything that truly works, is. People often spend years and years doing very complicated things to learn just how simple the workings of the Universe really are.

Seek out the activities that help you zone out deliberately and on a consistent basis, as a way to help you get into a calm state, and you’ll be supporting your personal growth just as much as if you spent time in the lotus position every day.

#3 – Visualization Alternative: Positive “What If” Questions

This is a technique I explored on this blog fairly recently, but it’s so incredibly effective, it bears repeating. The whole purpose of visualization is to help you figure out where your current vibration is at, and then facilitate the shifting of it by changing the envisioned experience to one you prefer. Asking positive “What If” questions is a great way to accomplish the second part of that equation (asking yourself how you really feel and answering honestly, as well as looking at your current physical manifestations, allows you accomplish the first).

When you actively try to defy one of your beliefs by simply stating its opposite, your brain may well rebel. If the belief isn’t very strong, it might just crumble, but if it’s a pretty practiced one, you’ll have a fight on your hands. An affirmation such as “I love myself!”, will simply garner a “No, you don’t!”. You can’t just bombard your brain with messages it “knows” not to be true and expect it to simply roll over and surrender. Your brain is made of stronger stuff than that, and besides, it’s doing what it thinks is best for you, based on the rules you and those around you fed it. But, if you ask yourself “What if I loved myself?”, your brain has nothing to fight. This is not a statement, it’s a question and your brain wants to answer questions (your brain is actually very helpful). If you haven’t been positively focused in a while, you may not get an instant answer (let your mind shift gears first), but keep at it for just a few minutes and you’ll be able to affect some powerful shifts in a very small amount of time. It’s the fastest way I’ve ever found to stop negative momentum and turn someone’s energy around on a dime.

#4 – Visualization Alternative: Vision Boards

I know, I know, you’ve all heard about vision boards. Everyone and their mom has a blog post or video about doing vision boards. I promise not to bore you death with the same old details, but the process of making a vision board can be a powerful tool to help you align your vibration with what you want. Notice, I said “the process of making the vision board”. Once the vision board is done, it can actually lose a lot of its oomph. Just as a particular song can uplift you for weeks and then suddenly leave you flat, a particular vision board will often work for only a limited amount of time. Don’t worry, this is normal.

The basic idea of creating a vision board is to choose some images or even just words that represent the feeling of what you want. Remember: the goal is to achieve a certain state, so choose images and representations that actually give you a little charge, not ones that just seem like they should work because they basically represent the thing you want. Finding just the right images can take a considerable amount of time. But in doing so, you’re defining what you want in great detail (as opposed to what you don’t want) and actively looking for “evidence” or representations of those manifestations. You can then paste these images and words onto a poster board and put it someplace where you’ll look at it every day. For some people, looking at the board on a regular basis really helps them to reinforce the feelings they want to achieve. For others, the board itself does very little. I maintain that the real “work” is done in the creation of the board and in the finding and choosing of just the right images. Spending a couple of hours (or even a few days!) focusing in such a positive way, can create a lot of powerful, positive momentum.

#5 – Visualization Alternative: Play Acting

I’ve saved the best for last. This is my favorite technique. Consider it visualizing on steroids. And don’t worry, you don’t actually have to get on a stage or involve other people (although you can, if you want to…).

Essentially, this technique is all about playing pretend, just as you did when you were a kid: Imagine that you’re in a situation in the future, and you’re telling someone about this thing you want, from the perspective that it’s already happened. You can pretend that someone is interviewing you, or that you’re at a party and telling a friend about it. Instead of having to “see” yourself in these situations, you can actually act them out. The more you get into character, the more fun this will be. Smile, laugh, joke about how easy it all was in the end, how you see now that there was never any way it wouldn’t work out, how amazingly it all came together.

Now, just as with visualizations, watch for any evidence of resistance. For example, if you find yourself telling the story of how hard you worked, how many obstacles you overcame, or how you made it despite the odds being against you, you’re playing out a belief that struggle and suffering are components of success. If you catch yourself going down that road, make a deliberate effort to change the script and talk about how easy it was, how relieved you are and how you learned to let go and trust and enjoy the ride early on.

If you want to take this exercise to a whole different level, you can invite some like-minded friends over and have a “Future Party”, where you all agree to support one another in your manifestations. So, for example, I might declare at the beginning of the party that I’ve just published my 5th best seller, and instead of picking the story apart and challenging how I did it, the people at the party would simply congratulate me and ask questions that would allow me to bask in the glory of my “accomplished” goal (for example: “How does it feel to be a famous author?”, or “After so much success, what inspires you now?”). I once read Jack Canfield attended a party with other now very famous people, where they all pretended that their 5 year goals had all come true. They had actors playing paparazzi, wore evening gowns and had waiters. In other words, they went full out. The account went on to state that every single person who had attended this party went on to meet and/or exceed those goals.

Of course, in order to express to someone what it is that you’ve accomplished, you have to get clear on what it is you want. Don’t worry about filling in too many of the details. For example, I can pretend to have published my 5th book without knowing what the title or even subject of that book would be. Or, I can make up a temporary title which feels good to me, with the understanding that it could change to something even better. For example, people at Jack Canfield’s party apparently even went so far as to crate props, like actual mock ups of their books, etc., to make it even more real. Not only is this technique fun (SOOOO fun!), but it totally works. And really, what have you got to lose? Why not get “interviewed” today?

Bottom line

Visualization and meditation are amazing tools. This is why almost every spiritual teacher talks about them. But they’re by no means the only way to achieve the desired results – and that’s really the point. The tools themselves are kind of irrelevant. If one doesn’t work for you, find another one. The point of the whole exercise is what those tools do for you, what states they help you to achieve. Stubbornly forcing yourself to use techniques that don’t resonate with you, just because others have found them useful, is really missing the point. Remember: this is supposed to be fun. All of it. You don’t have to “suffer” through the process in order to get to the fun someday. The fun starts NOW. Right here. So relax and enjoy yourself. That’ll already get you half way there… :)