Lightness of Being

Stress Free Living through Meditation

Have you ever  had a day or two when you felt completely in harmony with yourself and life? 

Perhaps you woke up feeling great, you had a chance to meditate, pray, journal or whatever your morning ritual is, your needs were being met before you even thought of them, your intuition was right on, you got perfect parking spaces wherever you went, you ran into the right people right when you needed to connect with them, everyone you met gave you a compliment (and you believed them), you saw the good in everyone, time flowed perfectly – you were never late or rushing to go somewhere, your creativity burst at the seams, you expressed yourself easily, and you felt like you were smiling from the inside out.

This happened to a client of mine. She described how she felt in the flow of life, where she saw everything and everyone including herself as luminous, peaceful, powerful, and whole, full of potential. Then after a few days of bliss, unexpectedly, she woke up one morning and the feeling of lightness and perfection was gone. She described her self-talk as going something like this: “You can’t follow your dream, who do you think you are?” “You aren’t good enough.” “You need to do A LOT more than you are doing.” She was left deflated and discouraged.

What happened? Why didn’t that lightness of being last?

There could be many reasons, and hers was that she was overworking. The effects of the physical stress were what blocked her mind and body’s ability to maintain that good feeling.

Stress. What is it really? If you were to ask a dozen people to define stress, or explain what causes stress for them, or how it affects them, you would likely get twelve different answers. What is stressful for one person may be pleasurable or have little effect on another. And, we all react to stress or stressors differently.

It can go like this: something doesn’t go your way, and then stress occurs. Are you bored with your job, and you wish it were more interesting? Stress. Do you desire a better relationship with someone and all you do is argue with them? Stress. Do you desire a pain free body and you have pain? Stress. Do you desire a peaceful world, and you keep hearing about war and violence? Stress.

Stress can also be caused when we don’t get enough sleep, eat food that isn’t good for us, say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘no’, or ‘no’ when we mean ‘yes’, or when we don’t live in tune with nature’s daily, seasonal or lifecycle rhythms. It can accumulate due to toxic environments, undigested experiences or emotions, or painful relationships.

Stress affects everyone both physically and mentally. You can ignore the feeling of stress or temporarily wish it away, drink it away, or watch TV to forget about it. However, once the masking effect ends, the stress is literally still there, blocking your creativity, wholeness, bliss, health, and peacefulness.

Left unchecked over time, stress can cause tension, anxiety and panic, high blood pressure, chronic pain, headaches, respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, skin disorders, mild depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Your birthright is to experience yourself as blissful, joyous, energetic, creative, peaceful and loving. WE start out that way, just look at a young child, full of energy and bliss. As we get older the stress compounds in our nervous system, and if we don’t get rid of it, it masks our fullest expression of who we really are.

Most of us cannot go through life completely avoiding stress, it is just not possible. Yet there are a few effective ways to deal with it. Sleep is one way, meditation is another.

Meditation is proven to be the perfect antidote to stress. It counteracts the physical and mental component of the flight or fight syndrome. Did you know that the purpose of yoga and meditation is to reduce the stress in your nervous system so you can experience and maintain higher states of consciousness and experience your full potential?

This is good news. As we meditate, and the stress dissipates, we become healthier, happier and able to realize greater self-awareness. People who practice meditation regularly report that they experience greater intuition, more creativity, increased mental abilities, improved memory and a decreased need to visit a doctor compared to before they began to meditate. They are ‘tapping in’ to the intelligence that pervades our world.

Studies have even shown that meditation can reduce or reverse cardiovascular disease and improve the ability to cope with chronic illness.

Although there are many different ways to meditate, I recommend that you try a meditation that isn’t about imagination or affirmations. We teach simple mantra meditation techniques, including Deepak Chopra’s Primordial Sound Meditation, to train your awareness to go transcend thought. It then relieves the effects of stress. The meditation techniques we teach help you to reconnect with the part of you that is most real and most true. Eventually, through meditation, you’ll find that you can maintain a sense of balance and peace no matter what the outside world is up to. And when you do it, you too can experience your true lightness of being.

Join a meditation class or a free introduction to meditation, look at our new online schedule, or listen to the Meditate CD so you can learn to meditate, or if you already know how to meditate and have been taking a break from it, here’s your reminder to begin your practice again.

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Spirituality: The Next Starbucks?

starbucks

A few years ago, millions of people from around the globe were logging on to Oprah.com for Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose book study and webinar. It was the NY Times #1 bestseller of the moment. What is going on? Are meditation and spirituality going mainstream? I hope so.

Spirituality isn’t just confined to the New Age movement anymore, it is undeniably migrating to the center of mainstream cultural awareness. I mean, Oprah meditating live in front of millions of people? Yes, it happened.

What used to be considered a private aspect of life is spilling over into the public domain and onto the internet. Spirituality is becoming more popular, trendy even. And I am happy about that.

People are actually shopping for meaning and purpose. My husband is reading Michael Moe’s book, Finding the Next Starbucks, that says spirituality is a trend that is growing dramatically. I often imagine a meditation center next to every Starbucks. Meditation is a great way to start a day, better even than a grande half-caf soy latte.

When I worked at the Chopra Center in California, we started our day with a group meditation. It actually made my job easier. If for some reason I was late doing it, or had to miss it all together, I really felt it. It’s almost like not having your cup of coffee in the morning.

I believe the single, most significant step to opening your awareness or awakening to who you really are is by meditating every day.

How? Don’t worry, you can do it and you don’t have to join a religion, wear special robes, eat differently or believe anything. You don’t even have to stop thinking. Find a meditation class that focuses on a type of silent meditation, and be sure that it doesn’t emphasize any goal – like finding your animal totem, spiritual guide, or figuring out your past lives.

It is only when your mind is still, that you can truly experience the your true essence , your true self – the you that is beyond the roles you play and your self image.

The journey toward self-discovery that silent daily meditation activates will bring you inner contentment and clarity more quickly and completely than any other single activity I know. And once you experience the restful, deep stillness and peace that meditation provides, you will radiate that peacefulness to others. And over time, you’ll want to meditate more than you want that cup of coffee in the morning!

Follow your Path

Finding Your Life's Purpose, Your Path to Self-Discovery

Follow Your Path

How to Open Yourself to Your Life’s Purpose

“Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?” Asking these questions marks the beginning of your search to finding your life’s purpose. Following the path toward a life of meaning and purpose is different for everyone. Here are some steps that have been taken by many who live a fulfilling life.

Become more self-aware so you acknowledge how you really feel. Are you fully  fully satisfied, or it is time for a change? One of the keys to living a life of meaning and purpose is acknowledging the nagging feeling that there was more to life than what you are doing now. Perhaps you don’t feel satisfied, and nothing on the horizon looks like it will do the trick. Do you sense there is a greater reason for being but don’t know what it is?  Have you had enough? Do you dread going to work? Do you feel unfulfilled? Do you feel bored and unhappy?

Ask yourself these important questions: Begin your day with meditation or prayer, and ask yourself these questions:  What is my purpose in this life? Why am I really here? What is my heart’s desire?  Then listen. The answers might not come to you right away, but be patient, and look for clues. Don’t try to come up with the answers intellectually, or figure it out; these are questions that you want to be answered in a more expanded way.

Listen to your inner voice. Listen to your inner voice above all. Meditation is a key to unlock your intuition. By spending time in silence every day through meditation or prayer you can expand your awareness and quiet the noise and distractions from the outside. Listening to your inner wisdom takes practice, and anyone can do it. Intuition is a very wise, yet quiet voice. It is very real, and doesn’t steer you wrong. When you act on your intuition and respond authentically to the cues around you, you’ll begin to trust your own wisdom and unlock the keys to your happiness.

Notice what you are attracted to, pay attention to your internal yes and no, or your yums and yucks, and act on them. Your body is wise, just think, it exchanges oxygen molecules for carbon dioxide molecules, constantly replaces the cells in your body, controls your temperature and your heartbeat, and so much more. Your body is wise; it is your best friend. You can tune into and become more aware of your sensations of comfort and discomfort, listen to the quiet voice inside, and really pay attention to what you are attracted to. Becoming aware and honoring how you feel in each moment is vital to a successful journey toward a more fulfilling life.

Tune out the “should’s” from those around you. Take a leap of faith and trust in your dreams. A bad habit is when we are dependent on others people’s opinions of us, and defer to their idea of what we should do rather than following our dreams. Finding your purpose sometimes means going against the advice of close friends and family.

Gandhi once said,

“There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, i.e. the voice of conscience, even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being.”

Look for clues and be open to possibilities: Clues to your life’s purpose might be found in the answers to these questions: How do you spend your free time? What were your hobbies were when you were a kid left to express your own creativity? Perhaps you’ll find clues in books or cds that catch your attention. Spend time with people who are living their dreams and are talking about things you are attracted to or are thinking about. When you are onto something, synchronicities may become more frequent, that is a big clue. An opportunity to find and express your passion might be revealed or serendipitous event that reminds you of what’s important and what makes you happy.

Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull writes:

“Nothing happens by chance, my friend… No such thing as luck. A meaning behind every little thing, and such a meaning behind this. Part for you, part for me, may not see it all real clear right now, but we will, before long.”

Notice who you admire, and put your attention on what kind of person you want to be. You might admire your mom, or grandfather, or a mythological or biblical figure, or a world leader or boss. Make a list of who they are and what qualities they have. Those who you admire are showing you the qualities that you can bring out in your own life. Determine how you already show those qualities and acknowlege that. What you put your attention on grows. So check your list and aim to embody the qualities of those you admire.

Be patient. Trust the wisdom of the universe. You will sense that you are onto something when you experience joy or peace in the moment, feel energized by your activity, or sense that you are being supported in your efforts by the universe, nature, God or your higher power. Know that life is on your side. Have faith and patience. Be open to signs and wonders, coincidences and opportunities. Keep your commitment and take small steps to make it happen.

Practice gratitude. Putting your attention on what you have and then asking for what you want will keep you from regretting the present moment. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life. According to the experts, it’s easy to regret the time you’ve spent being unhappy or unfulfilled. Research has found that those who practice gratitude report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, shares how he found his passion:

“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love…. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

How do you know when you are on the ‘right’ path? Here are some of the signs people cite:

“It took me quite a bit of whole-body tuning-in to learn to feel it, but there’s a physical sensation of sweet ease in the center of yourself, between your chest and belly, that will let you know you are moving in the right direction.” Gay Hendricks, author Conscious Loving.

“The first sign would be a feeling of general happiness and satisfaction. If you drag out of bed in the morning and can barely face the day, then you’re definitely not on the right path. If you hop out of bed and you are enthused about what you are doing, then you are.” –Deborah King, Ph.D., author of Truth Heals: What You Hide Can Hurt You.

In his book and DVD, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Dr. Deepak Chopra shares that everyone has a unique purpose in this life:

“We all seek our unique destiny, our place in the cosmic plan. It is known as dharma and it is more than seeking work that you love. The root of the word ‘dharma’ in Sanskrit means ‘to uphold.’ This is a valuable clue. You know you’ve become part of the cosmic design when the universe upholds and supports you. Every principle of nature comes to your aid, every power supports you spontaneously.

“The universal mind choreographs everything that is happening in billions of galaxies with elegant precision and unfaltering intelligence. Its intelligence is ultimate and supreme, permeating every fiber of existence from the smallest to the largest, from the atom to the cosmos. You are an impulse of the universe.”

“Everyone has a purpose in life, a unique gift or special talent to give to others. When we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.”

Sarah McLean, founder and director of the Sedona Meditation Training Co., was the education director of the Chopra Center in California and has taught hundreds of people to meditate. Find out more, call (928) 204-0067, or visit http://www.SedonaMeditation.com.

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