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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

I hope you all are liking the 21-day Meditation Challenge! I have been loving it (I especially love Deepak’s voice) and only have the criticism that I wish they were longer!

 

Many of you have told your thoughts to me personally, but put them down in the comments so others get an idea of what it is like!

 

In the mean time, I was thinking that when the 21 days are over, you may be wondering how to keep up your practice? If you enjoy guided meditation, here are three ways you can get your hands on FREE audio files!

 

1. Podcasts

 

Did you know that there are dozens and dozens of FREE guided meditations through the iTunes?

 

Search for meditation in iTunes. This will bring up all possible forms of meditation, so you will want to filter by media type by selecting “podcasts.”

 

You can listen right there, find your favorites and download them, and even subscribe to the podcast and get updates when new meditations are available.

 

Here are some links to a few good iTunes podcasts:

 

Meditation Oasis

 

The Meditation Podcast

 

Meditation station

 

Dr. Miller

 

2. Phone Apps

 

Did you know there were dozens of free meditation iPhone, iPad and Android apps? Many companies offer free “basic” apps, so you can try them out before purchasing their expanded version. I LOVE having a few on my phone for carpool line, the airplane, and even just laying on my couch when I have a few minutes!

 

Here are some good FREE apps. If you like them, you can consider paying a dollar or two for an expanded app.

 

 

 

 

Take a Break – This simple app gives you a 7 and 13 minute meditation where you can select your preference for nature or music backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

Brainwave Tuner – This interesting app gives you a taste of brainwave meditation, where specific tones (no voice) are sent to the left and right ears (must wear headphones) to achieve the same brain patterns as a deep meditation.

 

 

 

 

Relax and Sleep Well – This free app is a 27 minute meditation by renowned author and clinical hypnotherapist, Glenn Harrold. It gives you a good taste of his voice and style.

 

 

 

 

 

Relax Melodies – This cool free app gives you the ability to customize your own ambiance music/noises for your meditation by selecting a combination of up to 10 sounds (you can even alter each sounds volume). There are no voices, so perfect for a self guided meditation.

 

 

3. Websites

 

There are HUNDREDS of websites out there with free guided meditation files to listen to. They key is finding the voice and style that suites you.

 

Meditation Oasis

 

Fragrant Heart

 

My Thought Coach

 

Magical Living

 

There you go! Try some of them out and tell me what you think!

 

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Wow! I got so many off-line questions about meditation, I thought that I would take a minute to answer some of the most common ones. It feels like many of you are really interested in meditating (which really is another form of prayer, so no wonder you are drawn to it!) but are wanting a little more logistical guidance.


1. How long should you meditate?


The pinnacle (according to the Chopra Center) would be 20-30 minutes, 2 times a day.


This is a little lofty for beginners, so I would say once a day for 20-30 minutes is a great start.


If you are using guided meditation, your timer is built in. I use my phone timer (turn the volume down low) if I am not following a guided meditation.


2. When should you meditate?


Ideally, you should meditate first thing in the morning. Why? First, because are mind has yet to get overloaded with thoughts. Second, you will be less likely to skip if it is the first thing we do. And third, it sets the tone for our whole day.


When I’m in my routine, I get up about an hour before the kids wake up and get straight to it! No email or text checking first!


3. Where should you meditate?


You are best off to pick one quiet and comfortable location and stick with it. You will notice your “place” will have a pavlovian effect on you – your mind will settle down be just being in your meditation spot. Make your spot special: I like to burn a little candle when I meditate.


4. How should I sit when I meditate?


You can sit any way you want! No, you do not HAVE to be in a lotus position with your hands in gian mudra…



I like to sit in a comfortable chair because my hips and back distract me if I’m sitting on the floor. I usually choose not to lay down (but you can!) because I’ll fall asleep. I have a blanket handy to keep warm! I usually keep my hand lying in my lap, palms up. That feels comfortable to me.


5. What do I do when I meditate?


If you are using a guided meditation, like the one offered for free during the 21-day Meditation Challenge, all you need to do is listen and relax. Focusing on the words should keep you from thinking too much about your list 🙂 But, if those thoughts creep in, don’t fret or berate yourself for doing it “wrong.” There is no right or wrong! Just gently re-focus your attention.


If you are doing your own meditation there are two easy ways you can do this:


One, is a breathing meditation. During this you focus on your breath. You can count to 6 on the inhale, then count to 6 on the exhale.


The second is a “mantra” meditation. Select a word you would like to repeat in your head as you are relaxing. You can pick words like…peace, relax, release. You can also pick a sanskrit mantra like Soham – pronounce So Hum.


I remember thinking that speaking in sanskrit was creepy and cultish, but now I’m totally over it and actually prefer it. Since the words have no meaning to me, they produce less thoughts.


6. What should I expect to happen during and after meditation?


If you are a really good meditator you should expect a mystical, out-of body experience, wherein your spirit leaves the physical body and travels in your astral body.


Got you! I’m totally kidding.


You should expect to:
a) fall asleep
b) have thoughts
c) pay attention to guided words or your mantra


That’s it, guys!


After meditation is the most important part. As Davidji says, it isn’t about the 30 minutes of meditation, its all about the 23 1/2 hours after. Think of meditation like going to the gym: you wouldn’t expect to lose 10 pounds after one day, but you will feel the benefits immediately. So stick with it.


I hope this helps! Please keep asking questions if you have more! I am so excited that so many of you are willing to try it. Let’s check in after a couple weeks and see how we all are doing!


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If there was one overriding message in my recent retreat at the Chopra Center it was…


MEDITATE!


Meditate, meditate, meditate and meditate some more.



Why does it matter if you meditate?


Besides just grabbing some peace and quiet for yourself, meditation has the power to change your life and the lives of others.


It can change you life by slowing you down, stopping the mental chatter and strengthening your connection to spirit so you can HEAR the answers and NOTICE the signs. We are all getting them, friends. It is whether we pay attention and act on them.


As Deepak explained: Karma = Routine (what we keep doing over and over) and anything that breaks our routine is a coincidence that give us the opportunity to break the cycle of Karma. We are not bound by our past to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. The quieter we are the better chance we will hear our message.


Meditation can change others lives simply because we are all connected. There have been many studies, but one that stands out in my mind: A large group had come together to meditate over a weekend and scientist wanted to measure the effects their meditation had on bystanders. So, they gathering stress hormone levels from random people on the street (NOT participating in the meditation) before and after the meditation weekend. The stress hormone levels were down a statistically significant amount after the weekend of meditation in people that didn’t even know the meditation was going on! It is kind of like your home – when one person is out of synch, the rest of the family pays for it. Vice versa, when mom is in a great mood, everyone benefits. We are all energetically connected so our meditation practice helps change the world.


If relaxing for 20-30 minutes a day can change your life and the lives of others, do I really have to twist your arm?


I didn’t think so.


So join me in a 21-day Meditation Challenge!


I know when I’m off my meditation practice I get all wonky and crabby, so I can’t wait for something to get me back in the routine and hold me accountable.


Here is the scoop:

  • Starts Monday, Feb 20th
  • It is totally free
  • Each day, for 21 days, you will receive a guided meditation to listen to
  • The meditations are varied to give you a good feel for meditation
  • Sign up at ChopraCenterMeditation.com (<—click this link)


Easy, Peasy!


And for those of you (I can hear you now!) that are saying, “Lina, I just can’t sit still,” or “Lina, I can’t stop my mind from thinking.”


GOT OVER IT!


You aren’t supposed to sit perfectly still on a hard wood chair and stop all thoughts. You are human and humans think. Humans move. If you didn’t think or move you would be dead. So, celebrate that you are alive and relax. Meditation isn’t something that you should worry about doing right or wrong because there is no right or wrong!


Now that you have no excuses, sign up with me and we can change the world together 🙂


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Did you know that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day?


Excluding sleep, that is a little less than a thought a second.


Guess how many of those are original thoughts?


In most of us, only 5%!


Which means the other 95% are recurring, repetitive thoughts…those thoughts you think of over and over again. Unfortunately, most of those recurring thoughts are negative.


Have you ever noticed a beautiful tree when you were driving? How many of you ever think of that tree again during the day? Probably never again. What about when someone cuts you off on the highway? I bet angry thoughts of that driver loop around in your noggin for a while before you let it go.


Really, what we do to ourselves should be considered torture!


Why do you think people are so addicted to TV? Because it stops the mental chatter. You can’t pay attention to the show and think about the crazy driver at the same time. This is the same for video games and really any computer time: our focus helps quiet the mind.


There are plenty of healthier ways that quiet the mind that I bet you are already doing.  You may not have even realized why you enjoyed them so much.  In their own way, they are all very meditative:


  • Reading
  • Exercising
  • Listening to Music
  • Working on a complicated project
  • Intense cleaning
  • Playing a sport
  • Taking a cat nap


So, pat yourself on your back.  You are trying to stop that crazy head of yours and you didn’t even know it.


When you are ready (if you don’t already) meditation is a great way to practice quieting the mind so that you can more easily find those quiet moments anytime during the day.  When you get used to how it feels, you can better identify when your brain is out of control.  If you want to give it a try, take five minutes focusing on your breath. Just count to six on the inhale and six on the exhale.  You will be amazed how 5 minutes of breathing can shift your mood!  It is hard to think about someone who made you mad and count at the same time.


So, here’s to breathing today. And reducing our thought imprint by…say 10%? That would be 6,000 thoughts!


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Is it possible that there may be a purpose for our winter blues?

 

Some interesting research in science may say so.

 

 

It is this time of year – those two bleak, cold months after the excitement of Christmas – when some of us feel the winter blues. If we look to nature for answers, winter is a time of hibernation and regeneration. It is a time of darkness, quiet, and solitude. Plants are focusing inward and preparing for spring’s new growth.

 

The same things are happening to us. While our responsibilities keep us going in full swing, we are still susceptible to the same rhythms of nature.

 

Thus, it is a natural time for introspection: of focusing in and solving problems.

 

Interestingly, studies show that light depression or a “melancholy” mood actually improves problem solving skills. Ruminating (fixating on a problem) is a common element of depression. A study by Andy Thompson and Paul Andrews revealed that depressed patients have increased brain activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), which is associated with extremely analytical thinking. This part of the brain brings together all available information in our consciousness and helps us think more deliberately and methodically. But, the VLPFC can also be slow and exhausting.

 

In another study by Joe Forgas, patients were given a simple memory test. Forgas found that people with “low moods” remembered 4 times the number of items! Again, pointing to an increased awareness and attention when we have the blues.

 

So what comes first, the blues or the problems?

 

Usually the problems trigger our analytical thinking, which can lead to the blues. For example, Andrews performed another study in which he gave students an abstract reasoning test. Non-depressed students showed an increase in “depressed affect” after the test. So, any challenging problem can make us feel sad!

 

Your blues may also be a sign of creative brilliance!

 

Look to history at all of the great thinkers and creatives that had melancholy dispositions. Socrates, Plato, Keats, Darwin and Milton all had depressive personalities. In a study at John Hopkins, successful artists and writers were 8 times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population! So, you are in good company 🙂

 

Some of the best solutions to the winter blues are obvious but worth mentioning:

 

1. Exercising – it allows the stress chemicals to work through our bodies and gives us mood lifting hormones.
2. Meditating – gives our ruminating brains a break from the mental chatter associated with problem solving.
3. Writing – helps us clearly identify the problem we are trying to solve so that we can more quickly work to a solution.

 

So, never fear, you are not alone. It is a natural time for us to turn inward and work on problems. Take a yoga class and start journaling…see what bubbles up. You may find the solution is right there! Happy hunkering!

 

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What does “living in the present moment” really mean, anyway? As I’m sitting here typing, aren’t I present with the keyboard? I just washed the dishes, how do I know I was present – they got done, didn’t they?


For a long time, this statement left me feeling annoyed. Confused. Frustrated. Judgmental. I assumed my own thoughts were the enemy and I wasn’t doing a good enough job controlling them. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be thinking when I was being “present.” Surely there were correct thoughts, and I was thinking all the wrong things. Or maybe I wasn’t supposed to think? Yes, that sounds right. Maybe I am supposed to just feel everything. “Oh, yes, the dried cereal stuck to the bowl feels scratchy. Oh, and hard to get off. Damn it, how many times have I told the kids to rinse out their bowls?!” Oops. There I go again.


Byron Katie from her book, Loving What Is


It was actually reading Byron Katie’s work that helped me get a glimmer of what it means to be present. Yes, it does have to do with thoughts, but she has a much kinder way of looking at things. It basically looks something like this:


1. You think.
2. You will keeping thinking.
3. There is nothing wrong with thinking, because that is what we do.
4. So, just try to pay attention to your thoughts.
5. And, if you are feeling negative emotions as you are thinking, it may be an especially good time to pay attention to your thoughts!


Really, just noticing our thoughts IS being present, because most of the time we are thinking the same damn thoughts over and over and aren’t even paying attention! It’s like a audio loop in our brain, triggering emotions, stress hormones, and anxiety, and we don’t even hear it.


When you finally are present with our thoughts, you can ask yourself – who’s business am I in? Byron Katie sees that there is only 3 kinds of business: Gods, Yours, and Mine. And if you are in God’s business, or in your friends business, then who the heck is taking care of your business? If you’re too busy in other people’s business, then we are not present in you own.


So, now when I am washing the dishes, I try to pay attention to my thoughts. I don’t get mad at them. I just notice. And inevitably, they are in my son’s business, or my husband’s business, or if I’m worried about the future, God’s business. And then I take a deep breath and gently let them go… and bring my attention back to MY business: the crusted, dried-on cereal bowl.  And if I start thinking evil thoughts of my children again, I take another deep breath and start all over again.  It’s a process and a practice, not necessarily a state of being. (Maybe some day it will be!)


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I have had many people over the years say to me, “I don’t know how you can sit still enough to meditate.  I would feel so antsy – like I needed to be doing something.  I could never get my mind to stop.”  Sometimes the comments are said in admiration, but often they have an underlying meaning.  Sometimes this meaning is, You may have time to sit around and do nothing, but I have important things to do.  What I do is important and productive and sitting still is useless and unproductive.”


I had many of the same thoughts about meditation in the beginning.  I believed my errands, emails, and meetings were so important that I couldn’t possible find the time to sit still.  Now that my life is slower, I can see the hustle and bustle of other moms around me.  I feel their stress.  I sense their overwhelmed emotions.  I can relate to their fragmented minds.  I still have those days…just not as many.




I recently read something that I LOVED:


Hurry is fear.


This racing around to get somewhere else is defended by many as enthusiasm or drive. But hurry is merely fear disguised as passion.


When you start to feel frantic, take a moment to ask yourself…


Am I having fun? Does what I am doing right now bring me joy?  Am I following my love? Am I grateful for the opportunity to do what I am doing now?


If you find yourself answering “no,” then you know you are back on the treadmill. Mentally hit the pause button. Step off the treadmill. Consider how you can bring yourself back to the present and enjoy what you are doing.




Why does  James Arthur Ray think our frantic pace is disguising our fear?  Because if we have to sit still, we may have to deal with our emotions.  We may actually have to think about what we love to do and not be told what we have to do.  We may feel insignificant.  We may feel sad.  Darn it, we may actually FEEL something, and for some, that is scary.


Chew on that for a bit…anything bubbling up?


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