Meditation, Meditation, Meditation…

It’s like a buzz word. But WHAT is it really? Why would you want to meditate?

A decade ago meditation to me felt like a prison in which I HAD to produce some kind of amazing thought, reaction, or peace and solitude in my mind. The idea of sitting and doing nothing except trying not to think about something had me looking for the exit sign.

Since that time I have become appreciative and even a proponent of meditation.

Linda Meditation

Do you meditate? What holds you back? Time? Interest? Let’s discuss some of the benefits.

If you already meditate how many of these reasons hold true for you?

Five Reasons to Meditate…

1)    Meditation brings us to the realization that we are all connected. We are part of a universal energy in which we play a part. Our energy affects the whole. What I think, what I say, and what I do really does matter.

2)    Meditation fosters mindfulness. It brings us into the present moment and creates a basis for us to respond rather than react to our circumstances. Kabat-Zinn said, “While it won’t get your work done for you, it will profoundly change your orientation, so that your doing comes out of your being, and the choices you make come from a deeper knowing of yourself. That approach can have a profound effect on the quality of our work in the world and how we face the stresses in our personal and professional lives.”

3)    Meditation reduces self-destructive thought patterns. In as little as 30 seconds a day we can learn to let go of poisonous self-depreciating thoughts like revenge, anger, jealousy, greed or hate; and instead foster nourishing life giving thoughts of hope, love, understanding, and kindness. In other words we can learn to “let it go” and focus on actions that are life enhancing.

4)    According to Kabat-Zinn,  meditation helps to “cultivate a capacity to see what is here to be seen, hear what is here to be heard, and feel what is here to be felt.” Imagine the world being more vibrant and delightful to your soul!

5)    Meditation has proven to be a helpful treatment in alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic pain, sleep disorders, headaches, depression, and high blood pressure. Studies reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke and other studies conducted through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (CFM) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center are just a few that support these claims.

Why do you meditate? Where, when and how? I’d like to hear from you.

Is It Better to Give or Receive?

This is the time of gift GIVING right? But, is it really better to give than to receive? I think receiving sometimes take a back seat to giving, for all the wrong reasons. Let me explain… Have you ever put a lot of thought into a gift, given it to that special someone, only to be disappointed by a less than enthusiastic nod from the receiver? Headstand Snowman. We repeat that scenario when instead of acknowledging the little things in life that others do for us we only see “room for improvement”. Especially when it comes to the people we love the most.

I’ve committed to turning it upside down this holiday season!

Here are six ways to be an excellent, over-the-top receiver…

  1. Notice the gifts given to you everyday from people you come in contact with. A smile, open door, helpful advice, small act of kindness, etc. Most folks just want to be helpful or noticed.
  2. Take time (like two minutes) to tell a loved one the sweet impact they’ve had on your life. Use phrases like: “I appreciate you!” or “I really enjoy your company.” or “The way you __________ makes me smile.” By acknowledging their gifts you show that you “receive” them.
  3. Be Genuine – Pay a genuine compliment by looking someone in the eyes and acknowledging their worth for no other reason than just because. Really “see” another human “being” rather than just look.
  4. Listen – Turn on the “listening” ear and turn off the intense desire to run at the mouth. Receive another by “listening” not just hearing.
  5. Show love – Bend down to look a child in the eye and tell him/her how much you love the present they put together out of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter.
  6. Be Grateful – Maintain a heart full of gratitude for the little things in life. Whenever I feel resentful, overworked, or under appreciated I play a little game. Which is this…to name as many things as I can that I am grateful for in one minute. It’s the single most important gift I can give and receive from myself – a change of heart.

When we truly receive we are thinking not about ourselves, rather, we are acknowledging the giver, their kindness, humility, and their individual worth. In that moment of receiving…we are in a true abundant state of mind. “The most important thing you can do for another human being is to validate their existence.” ~ Marie Forleo Is it better to give than to receive?

I’d like to hear about what brings you the most happiness this season! Please share your thoughts below.

Yoga Helps Improve Focus and Mental Clarity

Yoga Tip: Use balancing postures to sharpen your focus and mental clarity.

An article I recently read struck a chord with me.

It pointed out how our mind is one of the resources we rely on most to navigate our life and possibly the one we take most for granted.

“If you think about it you’ll realize that it’s true. Your mind is your greatest asset.

We use it for our intelligence, imagination, creativity and reasoning. When it is gets foggy or overwhelmed and unclear it’s hard to make decisions, remember things or have the mental capacity to complete projects.

Do you feel like your head struggles sometimes? That your memory recall is slow or your intuition can’t be found?

I know I do.

It’s important to maintain and improve mental clarity – why?

  • Job performance – our livelihood depends on how we show up and our focus on the job.
  • Information retention – I don’t believe that as we age our minds get less sharp…I believe we lose the ability to retain information because we aren’t focused on our “focus” muscles. Information recall and retention are directly related to how we assimilate information. Mental alertness and clarity is key.
  • Complex problem solving – reasoning and day to day decision making is easier when our minds are sharp, clear, and tuned in.
  • Having direction and purpose in life – ahhh…this is my favorite and often we overlook the value of having direction and purpose in life. Then in our 40’s we look at where we are and say “What am I doing here?”

And the list goes on…

A great way to increase mental clarity is through meditation and exercise. Yoga combines the two to create excellent clarity in the mind. When we are focused completely on holding balance in a pose the mind becomes sharp, all other thoughts are removed giving the mind clear focus.

When I began to practice yoga back in 2000 I noticed within a few weeks that I was experiencing greater focus, clarity and productivity at work. I still use yoga today as a vehicle to keep my mind sharp, focused and vibrant.

A great pose to practice clarity of mind is Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3) pose.

Photo

Five Tips for a Healthy Low Back

This season can be hard on the low back…especially if you don’t have a snow blower. I’ve already shoveled more snow this year than all of last year combined. Utah is having a stellar snow year!

If your low back is irritated and inflamed, here are some timely tips to keep your back feeling strong and healthy.

  1. Maintain equivalency. In other words, if you do an activity using one side of the body, balance it out by doing it on the other. For instance, when snow shoveling, shovel and throw the snow over your right side and then repeat to the left. Balance. Shift which hand you hold the phone in or which leg you put more weight on while standing. Notice how you move in your day to pick up clues as to why the low back is in pain. Often when the motion is countered the low back pain goes away.
  2. Photo: My Yoga Online on Flickr

    Manage repetitive motion. There are some occupations that repeat motion on one side over and over again, like dentists and golfers. If that is a requirement for you at work, it can be difficult to maintain equivalency. Your job depends on repetitive motion to one side (like a right handed golf swing or leaning over a patient in the same direction). To counter this, take periodic breaks while working to counter the movement by stretching in the opposite direction. There are also exercises that you should do at the gym or in yoga that can counter the stress of repetitive motion. See your local yoga instructor for suggestions.

  3. Photo: Lululemon Athletica

    Stretch Tight Muscles. Tight quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips all contribute to low back pain. Sitting for long periods of time can cause stiffness in the hips and hamstrings and pull the low back into over stretch. Take a break from your desk and walk to loosen tight muscles. A regular yoga practice can keep you limber and alleviate stiffness that comes from repetitive motion or inactivity. Bottom line? Keep moving! Here are a couple of asanas to open the hips and stretch the low back: Hip and Low Back Stretches.

  4. Strengthen Postural Muscles. Do you get that sagging sit back, relax and slump in your chair posture towards the end of the day? Maybe sooner? A strong back can help. Try this sequence of postures: Back Strengthening.
  5. Take an office Break! Sit up tall. Here’s a video to help: Yoga Office Break
What keeps your low back healthy?

Top 5 Life-Affirming Practices

I’m here in St. George at the Huntsman Senior Games supporting my man in his quest to be the fastest biker over 50 competing against top cyclists in the state of Utah and from around the country. He’s pretty darn fast! How does he do it?

Single minded focus and great determination. He has what I call self-discipline (see definition of self-discipline in my recent article). Continue reading

Self Discipline = Serving Your Highest Good

I’m writing this blog from my outside office as I bask in the last warm rays of the sun and watch them slowly sink below the west mountains before giving way to the cool fall evening. I pause… reflect…and move on with my thoughts about self-discipline…

Martial arts require a tremendous amount of self discipline. Photo: Glen Edelson on Flickr

Self-discipline has always been a wrestling match between what I want to do and what’s good for me. Do I go to bed early like I “should” so I’m fresh for the next day? OR do I stay up late and tie up loose ends at work? OR catch up on my favorite TV program? OR finish an informational YouTube video I started earlier? OR <fill in the blank>.

There are so many good choices. How do you know which are the best choices? The BEST choices require SELF DISCIPLINE. Sometimes getting it all done isn’t realistic. How do you balance it out and not feel guilty if you’re not ON TASK and MAKING THINGS HAPPEN and PRODUCTIVE? Continue reading

Clear the Clutter, Clear Your Mind, Manifest Your Dreams…

Photo: h.koppdelaney on Flickr

Four out of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga are directly related to meditation and the remaining four are supporting elements.

This isn’t by coincidence!

When our minds are constantly cluttered with monkey mind jargon it’s nearly impossible to create focused forward momentum. Instead we get stuck in the “doing” or “having things a certain way”, and “in a certain order” mentality. We can spin our wheels re-living the should’ves, would’ves, and could’ves that leave us feeling resentful, anxious or crazy! My advice… Continue reading

Staying Mindful During the Hectic Holiday Season…

  1. Photo: LuluLemon Athletica on Flickr

    Take a Break – it doesn’t have to be big or long, just meaningful. Go to the movies with a friend, or snuggle up with your favorite video. Take a hot lavender bath with Epson’s salt or Sea salt.

  2. Connect – Treat yourself to an hour conversation with your spouse over lunch or schedule some one-on-one time with a family member.
  3. Finish a project – nothing feels better than letting go of unfinished business. Close a deal. Make a decision that you’ve been putting off or complete that project that has been on the back burner. Continue reading

What Can You Eliminate?

I just got my “Costco Connection” August 2011 Issue in the mail a few days ago. In browsing I came across a great article by Dr. Robert J. Leon that struck a chord with me and made me think of ways I can improve my health and wellness.

In the article he answers a common question posed by many of his patients and non-patients alike and that is: “What vitamins or pills would you recommend to improve my health?” Continue reading

Gratitude

I woke up Sunday morning with anticipation and excitement. I lay in bed wondering what was different about today than any other day. “It’s not my birthday, it’s not Christmas, I don’t even have exciting plans.” So what is different? Sometimes when I wake up all I want to do is go back to bed. I have a lack of enthusiasm for life…or at least for the day. But today…hum, today was different. As I contemplated the possibilities I placed my hands over my heart to hear what it had to say. The answer was profound and tangible…

Deep, humble gratitude. Continue reading