Meditation, am I doing it right?

I used to ask myself this question all the time when I first started practicing meditation. Am I doing it right? With all the latest research pointing us to use meditation as another tool to living a healthier, happier life, I thought it would be helpful to give my readers a long overdue post and dedicate it to the practice of meditation.

Defining the actual act of meditation can be difficult as there are many traditions and countless ways to practice. It is a heightened state of awareness that requires you to be fully present in the moment without judging what is in that moment.

Generally meditation consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breath, a word or a mantra. However, anything we do throughout the day can be an act of meditation, walking, standing, even washing dishes. The key is to be focused on the present.

Many who are new to meditation will ask, โ€œHow do I know if I am doing it right?โ€. The short answer is โ€œIf you feel better at the end, you are doing it right.โ€ It is natural for there to be internal chatter and this isn’t a sign that you are doing something wrong. Acknowledge the thoughts and chatter and then let them go.

Most people who are drawn to meditation are seeking ways to reduce stress and quiet the mind. It is a very effective stress reducer.

The 4 most important elements in meditation practice are a quiet location with as few distractions as possible, a comfortable position whether walking, sitting, or lying down, focusing your attention, and an open mind.

Meditation may be used as a compliment to traditional medicine (not a replacement of) for various health related issues:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional issues related to chronic illness
  • Overall health and well being

Meditation teaches us to focus attention and be mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations and too observe all these in a nonjudgmental way. The result is a mental calmness and physical relaxation.

Be here now!

Kindness Times Two

In my last post I mentioned I would have the opportunity to share with Nimo again. This evening was very special to me, it was an evening of inspiration at HopeWell Cancer Support Center. It was a wonderful evening of sharing, hugs, kindness, love, smiles, tears, music, and a few bubbles.

This facility is in an amazing location, surrounded by nature. I was sitting on the front porch watching a doe grazing in the grass not more than 50 feet from me. She didn’t have a care in the world, neither did I.

I’m not sure I can highlight just one thing about the evening so I will give you a few.

Ellie, from the Empty Hands Music crew was filming guests as they arrived, asking what was one thing they were grateful for. Do you have any idea how tough it is to pick just one thing you are grateful for? She later did her best to piece them all together as part of the Gratitude video. It was a wonderful surprise.

Survivors, caregivers, and family members shared their stories and inspiration. There were so many beautiful people in attendance.

I gave a little background into my journey and shared the story of the handmade kindness cards I leave in random places. Everyone was so excited to be taking home their own they asked if they could just start passing the box around while I was sharing. Before I could finish a wonderful woman stood up and started sharing. She thanked me for helping her know why she was there. She had been scheduled for surgery in the morning and they sent her home, she didn’t understand why and what the message was until I spoke of the cards. The joy I felt at that moment was absolutely overwhelming.

The entire evening was filled with these “kind” moments. Wherever you are, if you have the opportunity to be a guest for an evening of inspiration with Nimo and Empty Hands Music, don’t pass it up. You will be forever grateful and blessed.

A very fitting photo to cap off the night-Heartfelt!

Gone too long!

Hello everyone! Wow, I really have been gone too long. Life as a health coach, caregiver, yogini, and the many other hats I wear, can get a bit crazy. Just know that you are always in my thoughts even when life doesn’t allow me the time to write on the blog.

I hope you have been out spreading kindness and love everywhere you go. I would love to hear some of your stories.

For today, I would like to share one of the best nights I’ve had in quite some time. Last Wednesday I had the honor and privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people who all share a desire to spread love and kindness in their own special ways.

To my left was the guest of honor and a very special musician, Nimo. Empty Hands Music is a labor of love created by Nimo as his gift to the world. I invite you to go to his website where you can download his 10 track album absolutely free. I guarantee you will love it!

Although the name is Empty Hands, Nimo’s music will fill your heart with joy. I handed out Kindness Cards and simply had a wonderful night. I now have the opportunity to do it again this week at a cancer support center. I’m so excited!

A bonus to the evening, I now have new friends and someone to guide me in accomplishing a life-long dream of volunteering in India. Thanks Nimo!

Grateful Living

How many times have you heard, “Be grateful for what you have.”? What happens when life seems to be going all wrong and gratitude isn’t what we are feeling? Can we find the reason to be grateful in what we perceive as negative?

Life can be challenging and I’m grateful for that. It is in those challenges that I learn who I truly am and gain strength.

Sadness comes into our lives and gives us reason to be grateful for the happier times. Without sadness we could not know happiness.

A feeling of powerlessness over our situation is cause for gratitude in the knowledge that in these times we can turn to others for a helping hand. It deepens our connection to those we love.

Fear is always something to be grateful for. Fear at a primal level will keep us out of harms way. Fear that doesn’t come from a place of survival will lead us to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and live life to the fullest.

Most of us would say it is easy to be grateful for family, food, and fun times. My challenge to you is to find something to be grateful for in every situation throughout your day and your life.

Enjoy the following video on Gratitude. I’m sure that in no time you will be singing along. Each day is filled with gifts waiting for you to untie the ribbons!

Proud Mama: A Smile in My Heart

This post goes out to all you proud Moms. This is for those of you who have ever doubted whether you got it right, did you get anything right. Yes, each time your child smiles, just know you got it right. There may never be an award, they may never say thank you. They may never realize that the goodness in them is the goodness in you. They won’t admit to a stubborn streak, after all you won’t either.

Children are a gift that unfortunately don’t come with a manual. There are no instructions and we just have to pray we get it right. We put our heart and soul into raising this part of us that to us is our heart walking around outside our body. At times we know we did something right and at other times we aren’t so sure. We try to be a living example and hope that they get it and sometimes they do.

Raising children isn’t easy and as a Mom we find ourselves playing many roles: nurse, teacher, protector, taxi, personal chef, housekeeper and more. Never complaining, okay, maybe occasionally. We find ourselves wearing last year’s fashions, no time for ourselves, the kids come first.

Down to the last brownie in the pan and we really are craving some chocolate, we will never turn down the look on the face of our child that says–but Mom, I really wanted that last brownie. You and I know who is getting the last brownie and who will still be craving chocolate.

As our babies grow through all the stages of life we smile at the moments when they shine. Those moments when they show us that somewhere along the way we got it right. Those moments when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, we got something right. Sometimes it is found in a simple smile and the words “I love you.” Sometimes it is found in the big win at the soccer game. Many times our children shine in ways that only we can see. When our kids shine, we shine. We smile.

Today I had one of those moments. This was a text I received from my youngest daughter.

Just had a lady at CVS come up to me. She said I would probably think she’s crazy but she found this in the parking lot and she saw I have two children so she wanted to give it to me. She handed me 11 cents. I said thank you and yes I have two more kids at school. ๐Ÿ™‚ So Sweet!

She could have sent me a message with a totally different tone. She could have said, wow, 11 cents. She could have said, “What does she think I can buy with that?” This text was a shining moment for my daughter, I love you Amanda. It was also a shining moment for me as her mother. With any number of things she could have said and felt, my daughter chose gratitude. That is a moment to shine. I will be smiling about this each time I think about it.

Unlimited Smileage is about all those little moments when we are able to give from the heart. It is also about all those moments when we just sit back and give thanks. Live, love, smile, and be grateful!

I would love to hear about your shining moments as a Mom or a Dad. Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing your great stories.

 

Challenge!

What’s in a word? For those of you who don’t know, I put out a challenge on the Facebook page for Unlimited Smileage. I asked all the followers and readers to think of one word that they would like me to write about in a blog post.

The first word came from Kristin, a wonderful storyteller and friend. Kristin asked me to write about “challenge.” Amusing, that I challenge the readers and what I get back is challenge. Knowing Kristin that was her intent, fun.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of the word; something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort. When first looking at the dictionary definition, I must admit, this didn’t seem like a very positive word. I mean really, I don’t know about you but I don’t want to battle and I’m not extremely competitive. Special effort could be given a positive spin or a negative one depending on your perspective.

I’ve never really looked at a challenge in quite the way the dictionary defines it. With that definition it would seem you are competing against someone or something and that ultimately there will be a loser. I’ve always looked at a challenge as the precursor to a joyous celebration. The rainbow after the storm. The oasis in the desert. I’m sure you get the picture. Does that mean that every challenge is a fun experience? No way! Does it mean that every challenge has the outcome I would think it should have or desire it to have? No way! There is no real challenge in always knowing the outcome. So what does it mean?

Simply put, it means that a challenge is only an obstacle if you give in to it. It means that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Life challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional. When life challenges me in a way that seems out of alignment with what I desire I know that Spirit is telling me, there is a better way. There are no negative outcomes in a challenge, only lessons to learn. Learn the lesson and although the outcome may not be what we wanted, the outcome is a powerful form of positive personal growth.

Nothing in life is insurmountable unless you give it permission to be so.

โ€œWhen you do what you love, the seemingly impossible becomes simply challenging, the laborious becomes purposeful resistance, the difficult loses its edge and is trampled by your progress.โ€
โ€• Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Gratitude…Abundance

Being grateful opens the channels through which abundance flows into our lives. That is worth repeating..Being “Grateful” opens the channels through which “Abundance” flows into our lives. The simplest way to fill your life with more of what you love, need, or want is to be grateful for what you already have in your life. We can’t expect to bring abundance into our lives if we aren’t grateful for what we already have. No matter where we are in life, there is always something to be grateful for. Each day that you are alive is a day for a new beginning. Not sure where to begin, clarity comes with action–not in thought, so whatever it is you have been thinking about doing, just do it! What does gratitude do for us? Here is a short list of what happens when you live each day from an attitude of gratitude.

  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us what is really important in life. Those little hand-prints your child just left on the window you just cleaned will soon be nothing but a distant memory.
  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us of all the wonderful things we have, all the special people that are part of our lives, and can turn a bad day into a good day. Put it to the test, the next time things don’t seem to be going the way you want stop and think about everything you have to be grateful for. I bet you can’t do it without smiling!
  • An attitude of gratitude helps to heal. When we spend time each day counting our blessings, we are less stressed and when we are less stressed our bodies are better able to heal.
  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us to say thank you to everyone throughout the day and throughout our lives. Saying thank you is a simple act of gratitude and isn’t always about the words, sometimes thank you comes in the form of a smile.

Start each morning with just a few minutes looking at your life and everything you have to be grateful for, begin by being grateful that you are able to take the time to be grateful. You are alive, be alive. End each day with a few minutes of gratitude and see the abundance in your dreams.