Tag Archives: meditation

How Can I Serve?

Like everyone, I sometimes see certain aspects of my life very challenging. When I am in a circumstance that I don’t enjoy or feel isn’t necessarily aligned with what I want to be doing I can feel frustrated or even angry. The little kid inside me wants to kick and scream like those days when I didn’t want to go to school or the dentist (no offense to the incredibly valuable dentists out there). The resistance is sometimes a sign that I need to make changes in my life, however often those changes often can’t be made immediately. Patience is required and that can be one of the toughest things to practice in these situations.

In these moments, I have found it helpful to reflect back to something I have heard Wayne Dyer say many times “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Situations are only as bad as our perception is and in actuality, every experience invites us to learn and grow in different ways. I do truly believe in the divinity of every second so even those things that I want to run screaming from are openings to spiritual growth or guidance. As I have come to realize this I have found one particular question really grounds me and brings me back to a place of peace and excitement…

How Can I Serve?

This simple questions encompasses all of who I want to be, a person that supports and loves others and myself. Looking at the any situation, whether I like it or not, and asking this one question often opens up a world of possibility I didn’t see. Taking the focus off my dislike for something and shifting it to the benefit I can bring is not only empowering but also liberating. In looking at the world this way, everything becomes an adventure of kindness. It may be serving myself with a deeper level of love or it may be serving others with an act of kindness; either way is a gentle and fulfilling way to approach everything I do. This does not take away from the steps I need to make to remove the things I know don’t align with me, but it makes patience incredibly easier and I can enjoy the journey of growth instead of the suffering of circumstance.

This has now become my daily practice every morning, simply sending that question out and waiting for life to give me opportunities in response. I encourage you to try this question and see how it supports you on your path. If it isn’t this one, play with other questions that bring you back to who you truly want to be and you will be amazed on the shift this can bring to your life. Please share any questions you come up with below so my other followers can benefit from your wisdom.

With gratitude and service  -April

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10 Tips for Meditating

As most people have heard by now, meditating is extremely beneficial for your health and overall happiness.  In today’s world, our body and minds are constantly over stimulated.  We are busy, we are distracted and we are constantly thinking, even when we are trying to sleep.  Learning to focus and control your mind will allow you to manage your thoughts and give yourself a much-needed break.  Because it also helps with stress management, meditation has been proven to help your health from lowering blood pressure to losing weight.

One of the common reactions I get when I purpose meditating to someone is “I can’t do that” or “I would go crazy just sitting in silence.”  If either of these are your first thoughts, you probably need this more than you think.  It will allow yourself the space to listen to yourself, detach a little bit from your chaotic life, and give you the gift of doing something just for yourself.  The peace that comes once you get the hang of it is undeniable and addictive (in a good way 🙂 ).

Below are 10 useful tips for those that want to start meditating but aren’t sure how.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, just give yourself some time to be alone and in quiet.  The rest will flow naturally.

  1. Find A Quiet Space – When a person is just starting to meditate it is sometimes difficult to not get distracted by noises.  Find a place that is as quiet as possible and has a great energy.
  2. Be Comfortable – Sit in a way that will not cause any pain or tension.  Also, be sure to meditate in loose and comfortable clothing.
  3. Create A Sacred Space – As meditation becomes a routine it is useful to have a space that your body and mind learn to relax in.  If you can’t create an alter or a place that you can consistently meditate, just get in a habit of lighting a particular candle or incense.
  4. Set A Timer – Many people have trouble not watching the clock in fear that they may fall asleep or meditate for too long.  A simple solution to this is to set a timer that has a nice sound to gently bring you out of meditation.  There are many phone applications that are meditation timers and awake you with a nice chime. You can also use a radio alarm clock and set it to a relaxing station.
  5. Stretch Beforehand – Stretching your shoulder and leg muscles before you sit can help you release tension.  This is a great way to relax your muscles and allow your body to get comfortable.
  6. Start Out With Guided Meditations – If you find sitting in silence too hard then chose some guided meditations or mantras to begin with.  They help you focus and give your body the time to relax.  They are found on ITunes, Amazon, or with a simple web search.
  7. Don’t Have Expectations – Sometimes people have certain expectations of meditation that aren’t always true or accessible at all times.  You may fall asleep, you may see colors, you may not have anything happen…it is all okay. Go in with an open mind and spend the time observing your practice instead of judging it.
  8. Don’t Try To Shut Off Your Thoughts – It is impossible, that simple.  Thoughts will come and go, don’t get frustrated with them or yourself.  Just gently release them when they come.
  9. Look For The Results Outside of Your Practice – Meditation brings many benefits.  Once your start getting in touch with yourself miraculous things can come into your life.  You may also find you are having new perspectives and responses in certain situations.  Observe these changes to see the effectiveness rather than what is or is not happening in meditation.
  10. Build It Into Your Routine – Setting a time to meditate generally isn’t successful in maintaining a daily practice.  Building it into a routine (i.e. after I brush my teeth before bed or in the morning, etc.) can be more effective.  It takes 21 days to form a habit so keep at it!

It is best to meditate for 30 minutes twice a day but if that is too much, start smaller.  Even 10 minutes every day will greatly shift your moods and stress levels.  The key is to give yourself this time and give you mind and body a break.  Enjoy!

Imagine yourself sitting somewhere peaceful and beautiful.

Imagine yourself sitting somewhere peaceful and beautiful.

 

Being Content

We all know that feeling.  It is the feeling of creeping frustration.  Slowly over time our dreams become so strong it is almost unbearable to live another day without reaching them.  We are taken over by the empty dissatisfaction that emerges when we think about everything we want to change.  We feel suffocated by the circumstance that are keeping us from doing what we truly desire.  We then ponder about how others peoples lives seem so much better than our own.  We convince ourselves we will be happy once we get “there”.  Before we know it, we wake up angry and not looking forward to the day.  Our energy, focus and smile begin to dwindle away.

This is a painful cycle that many live in for weeks, months and even years.  Sometimes it takes a big event or someone being so fed up that they can’t take it any more to really change it.  The solution to this is very simple- be content.  Now, this may sound contrary to other posts about not settling, taking risks, and being uncomfortable; but it is not.  Those things are all so important.  Having dreams and goals to work towards is a large piece of living fulfillment.  The idea of being content isn’t about not wanting to work towards things.  Being content is about taking the perspective that until you get there, everything now is just as it should be.  Things are perfect in this moment and you can be happy, right now, while working towards those things.  Finding a way to focus on your dreams while loving your current life is a fine balance, but one that brings great rewards.

When we get a good vision of our dreams, it comes with a sense of urgency to get there immediately.  The reason is your perception of your current life.  Your tomorrows will always look better than your today if you are focused on what you want to “fix”.  Envisioning a life that you want to create is incredibly important, but can be detrimental if it takes away from your happiness today.  Why can’t you have both?  Dream of a tomorrow that will be all you want while enjoying a today that brings real happiness.  You will never get to your tomorrow if you don’t live the present moment, so you might as well enjoy it.

Here are some tips to start living contentment:

  • Take your time, slow down, and enjoy all the beauty in your life.  Picture yourself 10 years from now looking back.  What will you miss about your current life?  Are you enjoying those things now?
  • Integrate a gratitude practice and don’t focus on the things you don’t like.  Eventually, the journey to achieve your dreams will be significantly more enjoyable.
  • Don’t view your life once you achieve your dreams as “better” than your current life.  Remind yourself that they are both wonderful, just different.

Finding Balance

We are busy people.  Regardless of who I speak to, very few people don’t respond to “How are things?” with the some form of the answer “Good but busy”.  It almost seems as if there is a competition out there to see who can get the busiest.  The winner will win a slew of stress related health problems and regrets of not spending enough time on the important things in life.  It’s not a great prize and we don’t really want it, yet we all continue to compete.  Regardless of the stress or the amount of time it will take that we don’t have, we keep piling on things until one day, we completely break.  Why do we do this?  For each person it is a little different but the range of reasons can include the inability to say no, feeling obligated to do more, not feeling as if we are as important as the things we have to do, etc.   It is a vicious and dangerous cycle that we thrive on until we are exhausted and burnt out.

The solution is fairly simple but hard to enforce.  We need to put ourselves first and demand that we remain balanced in our lives.  We need to start running our calendars rather than have them run us.  When we are out of balance and spending too much time in areas that don’t serve us, we are not the best us.  We cannot give 100% to anything we are doing if 100% of us isn’t available.

Not providing time to relax, center and focus is a common spiral that can be broken if we are aware of it.  Once you become aware and implement strategies to keep it under control, the rewards are worth far more than the difficulty it might cause. Living a balanced life we have the energy to spend on our passions, our families, and our purpose.  We have a sense of calm and peacefulness.  Every moment is enjoyable and effortless instead of stressful and hard.

Here are some steps you can take to integrate more balance in your life:

  • Learn to say no – You don’t have to do everything for everyone.  It is a hard lesson to learn, but if you aren’t realistic with your time then you are unable to give the proper attention to the things you want to commit to.
  • Ask for help – It is a hard thing for many, but asking for help is critical.  Your friends and family want to see you happy and helping can also give them a sense of joy.
  • Build in relaxation time – You have to have time that is dedicated to you.  Something to look forward to and that helps your soul feel nurtured.  It isn’t about the amount of time; it is more about the effectiveness of it.  List out things that you wish you had time for and would relax you.  Pick from them, rotate through them or do all of them.  Whatever works, just make sure there is a routine in place to give you frequent YOU time.
  • List it out – List out everything that you are spending your time on.  Narrow down the list to the things that aren’t critical or making you happy.  Of those items, what can you remove?  What can you let go of?
  • Practice – It is important to build a practice of balancing our minds and energy.  It can be a meditation routine, long baths, or simply taking deep breaths with our eyes closed throughout the day.  Find what speaks to you and makes you feel calm and relaxed.  Make sure to make it something you can integrate easily into your daily life. This will help reinforce the changes you are making and keep you balanced in stressful situations.

These are just a few steps to start with, but critical ones.  Start small then build up as you get more comfortable.  You and your happiness is worth every bit of effort it takes to achieve balance in your life.

Managing Stress

You know the feeling, we all do.  When your muscles ache with tightness, your brain can’t stop thinking and you feel like there is so much to do you can’t stop for a second.  Stress is something that we all deal with from time to time.  It often creeps up on us and then suddenly we are at a breaking point.  Stress is a perception of situations.  It isn’t actually a real tangible thing, however it does create real and tangible symptoms if we let it.  Many people end up with pain, some become overweight from emotional eating, others sluggish from drinking too much, etc.  These are all things that we do when we get into this state when we let stress become real in our life.

Another symptom when we are feeling stressed is our lack of compassion for others.  We begin getting short tempered or just tuning out to others because we already have too much to think about.  Next thing we know we hurt someone unintentionally because we became more focused on us and whatever is causing our stress, rather than the people that matter most to us.  If we do this long enough or often enough we can seriously damage meaningful relationships in our lives.

The good news is stress that is something you can mitigate in your life.  It would be unrealistic to think you can instantly remove it however there are things you can integrate in your life to minimize the chances of stress getting out of hand and causing an impact.  Doing these things all the time will also help you from being venerable to stress.

Eating well – When we are stressed often we change our eating habits and become less concerned with that we are choosing to eat.  We gravitate to what is quick and easy or what gives us comfort.  Often these are things like sugars, unhealthy carbs, alcohol, etc.  All of these things cause inflammation in the body and will deplete your energy levels.  It will cause you to feel worse, therefore more sensitive to stress and you eat more of it.  It is a vicious cycle and your body pays dearly for it.  Think about what your patterns are when you are stressed and try to come up with healthy options to eat/drink instead of your normal defaults.  This will help relieve some of the effects stress has on the body.

Stretch – Although a complete exercise routine would be ideal, when people are so busy adding an hour of exercising every day may seem overwhelming.  Integrating stretching a couple times a day for a couple minutes does wonders for helping with stress.  It helps relieve the tight muscles and gives you a couple minutes to break from everything to get re-centered.

Sleep – Often when we get busy the first thing we cut out is time to sleep.  It is either because we keep completing tasks past our bedtime, or we want to squeeze in relaxation time before we sleep and didn’t give enough time for it.  Either way, the more sleep you steal from your body, the more stressed you will become and the less productive.  Sleepy bodies and brains don’t work nearly as well as rested ones.  This is one thing you shouldn’t ever compromise.

Meditate – Meditation helps you train your brain to make space for quiet.  This allows you to stop constantly thinking about the running to-do list.  You can’t force these thoughts to quit in meditating but focusing on something else, like a mantra, your breathing or a prayer, helps your brain rest from the thoughts.  This calmness will become more natural and occur in a non-meditative state as well.  This will help you sleep better and focus on one task at a time.

Ask for support – Support may be someone just listening so you can get emotional stress out or it may be asking someone to help do things for you.  Whatever the case may be, it is important to recognize when your plate is too full and you need help.  Friends and family want to see you healthy and happy.  Helping you get there is a key part of these relationships and I am sure the day will come when you can help them.

Find a beautiful place – Find somewhere close to your home where you can go and look at something beautiful often.  It can be nature, art, watching kids play, amazing architecture, etc.  Whatever it may mean to you, seeing beauty helps you focus on the good in life and remove the focus from the stress.  Taking a few breaths and enjoying a moment of beauty can help you feel calmer instantly.

Never forget, stress isn’t real.  It is a perception and allowing that perception to bring havoc to your life isn’t necessary or healthy.

Let go of what doesn’t matter, focus on what does, and honor your health and wellbeing always.

The sky is one of my close by Beautiful Places 🙂

Be You.

In today’s world it is often difficult to know who we really are.  Every day we are being told what we should like, what we should want and who we should be.  We are pulled in many different directions and try to live up to many different expectations, whether we put them on ourselves or are from those around us.  Society as a whole has created molds of what a successful life should look like and many of us struggle to fit into this mold.  Even when we do, often times we are not content with it.  Because of these various influences, we can lose ourselves and have a hard time understanding who we actually are.

Many of us do not take the time to question if the life we are living is true to who we are rather than a manifestation of expectations and fears.  When we do take a moment to reflect on this, often it is after many years of unhappiness and frustration.  The reasons for this vary but ultimately fear surrounds most of them.  It takes a large amount of courage and confidence to decide that you are not what others would like you to be and to live your truth.  However, the risk is worth it.  The only way to true purpose and happiness is to be who you truly are, not what you believe you should be.

If you feel that this applies to your life, that maybe you are not living your whole truth, than there are steps you can take to move in that direction.

1-   Stop Judging.  This applies to judging yourself as well as those around you.  When we judge others it is generally because there is insecurity within us.  Also, the simple act of judging others causes us to fear being judged.  It is extremely difficult to stand up for who you are if you are afraid of others judgments and if you are not accepting of who you are.  Next time you catch your thoughts drifting to judgments quickly assess the root cause and replace the judgment with acceptance and love.

2-   Listen to yourself.  If you don’t ask yourself who you really are, what you really want and who you would like to become than you will never know.  The key here is to be completely honest with yourself and listen to your gut.  If you head says “I want to be a doctor” but your gut cringes, it is most likely someone else’s dream for you that you are repeating.  Remove everyone’s expectations and just listen.

3-   Meditate or Journal regularly.  Getting in touch with who you are requires you to spend time alone getting to know yourself.  When you meet a new friend you have to spend time with them to know what they like, what they don’t like, what their values are, etc.  If you are disconnected to who you are then you have to reintroduce yourself.  Meditation or journaling is the best way to be completely honest with yourself without fear and judgment.

These are three steps to start with.  Although they may sound simple, they are not easy and take time and dedication. You will never find true peace or happiness if you are not living your truth.   So go ahead, take some time to get to know yourself and start being the beautiful person you truly are.

Trusting Yourself

We spend a good portion of our lives making decisions.  We make small ones constantly regarding what we eat and how to dress.  We make several huge ones throughout our life including what we do with our lives, whether we will get married or have children.  In all of this deciding, there is a tendency look externally for answers.  We research and read articles.  We ask friend and family their thoughts.  We find experts and hang on their every word hoping there will be a magic answer.  As we slowly unravel life’s moments we tend to reach out for any guidance we can find.

Although researching and getting others thoughts and opinions isn’t by any means a bad thing, the risk of losing our inner voice should be acknowledged.  The more we allow outside influences to take part in our decision-making processes, the less we listen to our instincts.  Why do we do this?  When it comes to decisions in our lives we don’t always trust ourselves.  We don’t listen to the nagging feeling or little voice in our head.  We ignore the feeling of anxiety or panic that is beginning to creep up.  We ask others often- “What do you think I should do?”  We ignore everything screaming inside of us and default to the “I can’t make a decision” or “I don’t know what to do”.

The simple fact is, we already know everything we need to know.  The answer is right inside of us.  When we allow ourselves to be consumed by others opinions we disconnect from what our bodies and feelings tell us.  We rationalize until we no longer feel.  We allow out intellect to block those precious moments when the answer just comes to us.  Having confidence in our decisions, true confidence, can only come if it is something that internally resonates with us.  It is critical we reconnect with ourselves to find the answers instead of searching for it anywhere else.

The next time you have to make a decision or a change in your life, try some of these techniques BEFORE you go asking around for everyone’s opinions:

Meditate on it.  I know there are still many people that cringe at the thought, but lets face it, sitting by yourself in silence is the best way to hear what is going on inside.  Sit with your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths.   Ask the question and wait.  Notice any feeling, thought or movement you might experience.  They are all pieces to the puzzle and should be listened to.

Journal.  Often one of the simplest things is to write the question down and then write everything that comes to mind after that.  Don’t judge it or think it over.  Just write.  No one ever has to see this paper but you and if you let it all come out you may be surprised at how freeing and calming the process can be.   You may find yourself working through many different possibilities and it is important to get it all out; no matter how impossible or foolish your inner critic may say it is.  Then you can read through it all to find that right answer for you.

Look for Support.  For some people, talking it through is the best way to have that moment of- “Wow, did I just say that?”  The key here is to do this with someone that won’t give you the answer or their opinion, but help you talk through the problem and dig into your feelings on it.  A close friend, a spouse, a professional coach or counselors are all great options.

See what comes up for you.  Then take that information and well thought out plans to make things happen.  You have the answers inside of you; the key is finding a way to let them out.  Once you give yourself time to process and hear the inner voice, it may be easier to trust and have confidence in what comes out.  Believe in the simple fact that you know what is the right thing for you.

Waking Up to Grace

As I was driving the other day I went to make a right turn.  I quickly looked to the left so I could proceed and experienced a moment of complete awe.  In that second I was blessed to see the sky in the early moments of sunrise and it was incredible.  Here in Arizona we get amazing sunrises and sunsets daily; but this one in particular was breathtaking.  Rich deep reds swirled around shades of purple.  Light oranges bleeding into rich golds.  All offset and surrounded by the dark sky as if it was being framed and hung on the wall.  The mountains beneath it resting peacefully with a blend of cactus’s and palm trees anxiously awaiting the light.  The inner peace and appreciation I felt in that moment is something that took me completely by surprise and I won’t soon forget.  It was a moment of complete stillness and grace.

As I sat there staring (luckily no one was coming behind me so I got to sit for a minute or two), I gently gazed around at all the cars going by me.  It was early so there were many and I wondered how many people were missing this moment when the opportunity was right in front of them.  Often I hear from people that state they feel disconnected, rushed, and empty.  I thought to myself, this is a perfect moment that can give us the feelings we so greatly strive for and many people are literally driving away from it.

When I suggest to people that they can find the connection and grace they are looking for by being in the moment, I often hear that we don’t have time to be in the moment…as ironic as that may sound I am sure many of you relate.  Multi-tasking has taken over to the point where we live in a state of being rushed and compiling lists and thoughts in our heads.  One of the beauties of the world today is we are constantly finding ways and making gadgets to help us save time.  A simple example- you can do anything you have to do sitting in a waiting room on your phone; check e-mail, carry on 5 conversations while texting, order dinner and pay a bill all in the span of about 15 minutes.  Not too long ago time waiting for the doctor, getting an oil changed, or waiting for a meeting to start was fairly unproductive time.  We maybe socialized, flipped through a magazine, watched the TV mounted on the wall.  This actually gave us moments of relaxing that are now filled with tasks.  Everyone is on their phone doing something.  The question I often wonder is, if we have now taken this unproductive time and turned it into time when we get more accomplished that they were able to in a whole day prior to the wonder of computers; what are we doing with the time we are saving?  Where did it go?

This simple example can show how we have condensed so much into minutes that we have the time to stop and see these moments of grace that exist.  They are all around us, waiting to be uncovered.  We can take a moment to experience things like this if we would be open to seeing them.   Allow yourself to leverage the benefits of living in this time and commit to actually seeing what is around you versus living in your head.

Forgiveness

“The hatred you’re carrying is a live coal in your heart- far more damaging to yourself than to them.” ~ Lawana Blackwell 

I have found the word forgiveness has come up again and again in the last few months.    As a society we are evolving.  We are beginning to see that fulfillment and happiness comes from a deep place of spirituality.  In order to evolve this aspect of ourselves we must release from the past and shift to the present.  One key component of this is forgiving others as well as ourselves.

Often when this topic comes up with clients there are a few things that happen.  Often there is the denial of thinking- I have moved on, I have let that go.  Next, our resentful side of ego comes out and we begin to think- they don’t deserve our forgiveness.  We get angry at even the thought.  Lastly, the pain begins to come up and the defensive walls we cling to begin to rise.  As we continue to dig deeper one key message that I continue to state is- “not forgiving is hurting the other person far less than it is hurting you.”  This is especially true with those that have passed on or we don’t speak to anymore.  Our grudge isn’t affecting them in the slightest.  But it is affecting us.  We are continuing to punish ourselves for others actions.  When it is looked at in that perspective; it seems insane.  Someone hurts us and we do more damage by holding on to the pain and not forgiving.  That tension in your neck, the fearful reactions you have, the frustration you are holding in your heart- all symptoms of needing to forgive and set yourself free.

Regardless of the pain it may cause, we struggle to forgive.  Our anger and ego keeps us focused on the fact that they don’t deserve it.  Regardless of what was done to you, forgiveness is possible.  It is something you can choose and work on so that you don’t continue to hurt yourself.

Here are some simple exercises you can use that will help release you from this pain:

Journaling– Sit and write.  Just write.  Think about the situation or person and write whatever comes to mind, without judgement.  This will help to energetically release the pain.

Write a letter– Write down everything you want to say to that person in a letter.  It doesn’t matter if you send it, it is getting it written so you can move through the process of releasing.  If you chose not to send it, burn it to avoid the temptation to revisit.

Meditation– So much of our emotions can be handled by living it out in our minds.  Envision yourself saying to that person everything you want to say.  If it is a childhood trauma, picture yourself as that child releasing everything you have held on to

Affirmations– This is an easy and powerful technique that allows you to affirm your intent and shift the focus of your energy.  Examples may be- “I forgive those that hurt me and enter into a state of peace” ; “I am a being of forgiveness and send love to those that have hurt me” ; “I love and forgive all around me without reservation”.  Say your affirmation to yourself often throughout the day.  If you can’t remember leave it written in places you will see it often or set reminders on your cell phone.

All of these techniques allow you to release and forgive without involving the other person.  It is necessary in times when the person isn’t around but ideally talking it through is the most effective method.  All these methods can also be used to forgive yourself.  Although it may be temporarily painful to visit this memory- it is much less damaging to yourself than if you continue to move through life with the negative energy attached to grudges.