Meditation + Intuition

At one point or another you have had a gut feeling about something. We have all walked into a room and just felt that it was going to be a boom or bust. You’ve walked past an alley and just intuitively felt it was dangerous. Perhaps it was as simple as looking outside and saying to yourself, “I know they’re predicting sun, but it just feels like it’s going to rain.”

Intuition is that subtle knowing without knowing. It is the ability to sense something in the air without knowing why.

Cognitive science has begun to demystify the strong and often inexplicable presence of your own unconscious reasoning. Even the military has begun to explore the concept of intuition to help troops make quicker decisions and save lives. What they have all discovered is that your brain has spent its entire life, collecting the subtle shifts in the data your eyes, ears and nose pick up, attaching them to the outcome of events so that you can intuit, even predict, what will happen in the near future.

In many ways being more intuitive means listening to The Voice Within. However, in order to listen to your gut, your heart, your intuition, you must first quiet the chatter in your head and distance yourself from the distractions that create the chaos that seems to go on all around you.

Once you quiet the noise and the chaos that inherently leads you astray, you can drop in on what your heart is picking up to make better, more attuned decisions. Your heart, your gut or your instinct, whatever you want to call it, naturally develop with age and experience, but you can hone them to look beyond the “facts”, in order to make clearer decisions based on your intuition.

What senior business people, war-worn soldiers and common every-day folk will often advise is to learn to read the signs, to read between the lines or to stick your head above the fog. To listen to your intuition. With practice you can use your intuition as a guide. It takes time, and it takes letting go of your logical brain, but in the end it will pay off beyond wealth and riches.

This afternoon, I am speaking to an audience at the The Rubin Museum of Art,  about intuition. It follows an Icelandic film on the subject of intuition called Innsaei. For those in the city, I highly recommend it.

The film features artists like Marina Abramović, the “grandmother of performance art,” who teaches that “in order to create something new human beings need to go into the unknown”. It also features spiritual leaders like Malidoma Patrice Somé, a West African elder and author who reasons that “Intuition binds us together. Without it we lose our sense of purpose and belonging.”

I will lead the audience through two meditations, each designed to provide an opportunity to develop your own ability to be more intuitive. The first will help you remove much of the stress and distractions that your primal brain picks up in its endless efforts to keep you safe [a wonderful train that worked well 40,000 years ago, but now holds you back more than it helps. I created the second meditation to provide you with a solid foundation from which to trust  yourself, enabling you to venture out into the world, trusting your intuition to take bigger and bigger steps into the unknown.

I would like to lead you through each meditations to help you do trust your heart and your gut on a whole new level.

 

Awareness Meditation:

This meditation uses your five senses to help you find balance and comfort in the world, no matter where you are. Regardless of whether you are in the middle of the city, in a chaotic house in the suburbs, or out in the distant country, it will help you settle into everything around you, so that you can find your peace.

  1. Find your breath. Simply drop in on it as it is. Do not try to control it or re-order it. Simply follow it at whatever pace it is moving. Say the words “in” and “out” with each inhale and exhale, “, if you need.
  2. Smile to yourself as you listen to the sounds around you. Do not judge them. Simply listen to them. Label them if you wish and tell your primal brain that it is okay. It is not a threat to run from, it is simply a part of the world you live in. It may be the air coming out of the vents, a car honking in the distance, or even the sounds of your home settling into itself. Either way, it is okay, it is simply a part of your world.
  3. Next, feel you weight of your body against the cushion or chair you are sitting in. If you are standing feel the weight of your feet pressing into the floor or earth beneath you.
  4. Now, be aware of the lights that play on the backs of your eyelids. Breathe in and be aware of the scents and smells that waft past. Be aware of the tastes in your mouth. Are they stale, or fresh? Salty or sweet? Do not judge simply be aware of them.
  5. Allow yourself to rest in your own body as you grow comfortable with the world around you.
  6. Allow your tongue to drop from the roof of your mouth. Relax your lips and your eyebrows. Give yourself permission to relax your forehead, your cheeks, your jaw.
  7. Allow this delicious sense of relaxation to flow down to your shoulders, your arms, and your back.

It is okay to drift off a bit. Simply get in touch with the world around you and open up to the beauty that is your world. Give yourself permission to let go of the chaos that may be there and allow your mind to touch upon your world as it is. Allow your intuition to grow and expand. If your mind comes up with issues or opportunities do not dismiss them as good or bad, just treat them gently and allow your mind to play with them for a while.

Enjoy each thought you have as a part of your world, as an inspiration, and as an intuitive element for you to write down after your meditation is done.

Foundations Meditation

When you find yourself riddled with doubt and insecurities, I often recommend this meditation as a way to get your footing back, as well as to create a solid foundation from which to more easily follow your intuition.

In many ways meditation has always been a communal act. One that we are just now recognizing. This meditation will help you break through whatever walls you created for yourself by reaching out into the network of people that are all around you, even though you may have forgotten they exist. You may be very surprised at how quickly and easily it is to feel whole and complete so that you can open up to your intuitions.

For this meditation settle into your breath and your seat. Feel yourself relaxed using the awareness meditation if you wish.

When you have settled into yourself, begin by thinking of someone you Love, someone who is close to you and with whom you trust and feel comfortable with. Smile into their being and feel your spirit or your energy connect to theirs. Begin to see a physical ray of light and Love connect to them. Allow it to build and establish itself.

Once you have that connection in place, find another person you trust and do the same. With each person feel yourself weaving a tapestry around you. As your tapestry begins to take shape, feel free to extend your energy to business associates, the person behind the deli counter, or cash register at the market. Continue to weave each of these people into your tapestry.

Feel it strengthen and grow stronger. Begin to see, not only the energy and Love you send out, but also the energy and Love they return to you. Realize that the tapestry you have woven for yourself is your foundation and your safety net. Realize there is no end to the people you can include in your tapestry. Understand that in one way or another they are all there to support you when you need it.

With this tapestry to support you, feel more comfortable about following your intuition, your gut, your instinct. Knowing that you have a network of support to rely on if you ever need to.

I you would like to join our weekly newsletter for more topics like this, simple apply for our Waking Buddha Breath Meditation on the upper right of this page.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

j.

Last Walking Meditation Along The Hudson – 2016

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox. The point where the sun sets at the same time and in the same place that it did when we began our Walking Meditation Along The Hudson.

The sun did not fail to astound us with a farewell explosion of color, just as it did when we both began our aligned journey back on March 20th.

When we began the sun set just after our walk at 7:30. Over the summer we watched as the sun set later and later, and further and further North. We not only enjoyed our walks and our meditations, but we were able to witness the giant cogs that forever spin all around us.

We all noticed the air warm and then cool. We noticed the ebb and flow of people in the park. But most important we learned, as one person noticed, “to the West is you could feel the wind and the river, to the right you could see the lights of the city. And there we were balanced in the middle of it all simply breathing.”

Enjoy the colors of Autumn and the clean white of winter.

 

Until next year, be well.

 

j.

Meditation: Mindful Negotiations

Mindful Negotiations

Is the glass half empty or half full?

It is a simple question. So is the answer. It all depends on your perspective. The answer you provide is a deep insight into who you are and how you view the world around you.

In effect, you are what you think. The glass is just a glass. It is a reflection of you. It is not the glass that is half empty or half full, it is you, it is also the person sitting across from you.

You see, you do not live in a binary world of full or empty, “1s” and “0s”, hot or cold, win or lose. There are any number of ways to find an outcome in which everyone benefits. To find that outcome means being able to step away from the table and not allowing your ego get involved. It means taking a mindful approach to your negotiations so you can see beyond the glass being half empty or full, but seeing that you can always refill the glass.

In the end, no matter where you are in a negotiation, you can always change your mind. That does not make you a “flip/flopper”, it makes you a smart person who is able to change the way you view the situation as it changes before you.

Picture yourself coming to an open field 40,000 years ago. You are hungry and afraid. Imagine seeing a branch rustle across the field. It could be a rabbit, and you could have dinner. It could also be a wolf, and you could be dinner. Do you rush toward the rustling branch [half full] or run away from it [half empty]? The first is riskier but potentially feeds your family. The second is safer, and you stay alive to see one more day.

More than likely you would approach the rustling branch slowly, constantly reviewing the situation with every baby step you take. It is called being cautiously optimistic – ready to leap forward at the opportunity for dinner, but prepared to also run away as fast as possible to avoid being dinner.

This is called being mindful of the world around you. It changes every second, and you should be aware of those changes; not blindly optimistic, not openly pessimistic, but finding balance in those two until a choice can be made. And yes, not choosing is still a choice; you are simply placing the decision, and your future, into the hands of nature or someone else, which is rarely a good decision if you are to live your life on your terms and in your way.

Just remember the closer you are to a situation the more your ego will cloud your perspective. Your primordial brain will think of your survival as the #1 objective. It will think that it is better to live another day than it is to catch that rabbit. Your heart will cloud your decision with optimism of what “could be”.

That win or lose scenario was fine 40,000 years ago. It assumed that somebody won and somebody lost. Then something strange happened. People found that it does not have to be that way.  In fact, when you deal with the same people over and over again, sometimes it is better to lose a little in order to gain a lot. A smart person could create a win/win solution by negotiating.

When you look at it, the question itself – half empty or half full – is itself misleading. It implies there is a winner and a loser. It implies the only answers available are a 1 or a 0. In reality the answer could just as well be a 0.5 and a 0.5, or a 0.4 and a 0.6. You can negotiate it in any number of ways so everybody walks away happy. Perhaps not everybody get everything they wanted, but they can leave with their ego intact and, most important, happy

Instead of half full or half empty, think about refilling the glass. Look for a positive outcome in which everyone wins.

In every situation, social or professional, reprogram your auto-response to step back, take a breath, pause and look beyond the original question. Seek alternative solutions that stem from a positive place and, like walking across that open field, take baby steps forward. Assess the facts of the situation before you. Be aware that your brain will cloud your judgment with its desire to win. Be willing to walk away at any minute, but also look for a creative solution that creates a win/win outcome for everyone.

Task yourself with this in every situation you come across. Many people from the traditional world of business think they not only need to come away from a meeting a “winner”, but there needs to be a loser for their ego to remain intact.

It is an incredible feeling to realize how much you can control your attitude by shifting your perspective from a winner take all approach, to a win/win approach. You will be surprised at the clarity and even-headedness you can create with a cautiously optimistic outlook.

Training yourself to be cautiously optimistic is easier than you may think. Your normal response is to follow every question in a linear fashion. To stay on topic and to not question the person asking. That process was drummed into your head from your parents, your teachers, even your bosses. It makes them happy to be on top.

They get upset with someone who asks questions, or follow a new line of thinking. They would use that term “off topic” as a way to bring the discussion back to their idea.

Here’s a secret, you do not have to share all of your thoughts with those around you. The difference between your inside voice and your outside voice is that one allows you to think through an alternate path before you share it with others.

The beauty of the skull is that what happens in your skull stays in your skull. Sharing their opinions at the wrong time landed Galileo into the hands of the Inquisition and Einstein a job at the post office. Keeping their thoughts to themselves until the right time landed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg into powerful positions from which they changed the world.

The next time somebody asks a question, rather than jumping forward be the first to answer first, sit back and take a breath. Ask yourself what is behind your question? Is it truly you asking or is it your ego? Next, what is behind the other person’s interests? What is their logic, or is it their ego being swung around? Could the answer lay somewhere between both of your ideas? In reality the answer to the “half empty/half full” is both – as you can always refill the glass.

Before you go into a meeting to try this way of thinking out, take a moment by yourself. Close your eyes and meditate on a pending issue you have. With every breath in, mull over the question before you. Turn it around and view it from every angle. Literally hold it in your hands and turn it back and forth, up and down.

See if anything new comes out of it.

Next, try that same tactic with a friend during a conversation:

  1. Be fully aware to what is being said.
  2. Before responding, think through the question, and carefully gather your thoughts.
  3. Do not worry about the time or the length of your pauses. When you respond, do so with a well-thought out answer that may or may not be in line with the question – if it is not, simply be prepared to provide an explanation for your response free from emotion.
  4. Fully listen to the person across from you, without getting personally caught up in what is being said.
  5. At the end of the interaction ask yourself:
    1. Were you fully present and listening?
    2. Did you aim for a win/win outcome?
    3. Were you personally invested at all times?
    4. How would you have handled it differently?

Please feel free to email me directly by CLICKING HERE, I am curious to know how this worked for you.

 

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Slow Down – Do More

To some people life is all about faster, quicker, sooner. Faster downloads, quicker processing, and sooner, same-day delivery. For those that think they are not performing fast enough, or falling behind in their studies, there’s always Adderall.

For some reason we think by running, running, running we will get more done. The problem is the faster you run, the more details you miss, and that is how you fall behind. It is those details that catch you in the end. Sooner or later you will have to go back and edit whatever it is you are doing. After all it is in those details that you truly live.

It is far better to attend to the details of your life the first time around than having to go back and edit them later. So why not slow down and enjoy the process the first time around? Why not pay attention to the details of your life so that you do not have to spend time re-aligning yourself with the work at hand and the inevitable edit that comes after?

In the end, slowing down and paying attention to the details of your life will save you hours and years in the end.

When you first pass by a painting or a photograph, you may think “Oh, that’s a pretty painting”, or “that’s a stunning photograph.” But it is not until you take a closer look that you notice the details. Those are what turn an artist’s perspective into a thing of beauty. How is it framed, how are the light and shadows dealt with? The subtle nuances are what make the difference.

As Mies Van De Rohe said, “God lives in the details.” Apparently so does the Devil – depending on your perspective. It is in the details that you can lose yourself and burn a lifetime or find yourself and turn an average life into a thing of beauty.

How many times have you passed a view completely unaware that it was there? How many times have you read a book, completely forgetting the words just pages before, or turned a project in with typos and misspellings? It takes a special person to slow down and see the world for what it is. It takes someone who is truly awake and present to notice something that others never see.

Why not take the time to notice the details on your first pass? Those details are what hold the scents hidden behind a photographer’s image, the tastes beneath a painter’s brush, or the essence of a band. Those same details will bring joy into your life and make your days, work or play, worth living.

Learn to slow down and notice the details. It will save you a lot of time in the end. It will also bring your life to life in a more vibrant way. Slow down, be aware of the world around you and find a balance between noticing the details without losing yourself to them. That is what will make the difference in everything you do.

You can lose yourself in the details, which is how they become the Devil, or you can use them to bring out the beauty of a project, no matter what it is. The choice is yours.

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Enjoy

 

 

 

j.

 

 

Choose To Be Mindful

Being mindful is not an endeavor confined to a specific time or space. It is a practice that should be woven into every action you take and every reaction you make. Mindfulness is a choice. It is an orientation in the world that you choose to make or to avoid in your everyday acts. When practiced on a consistent basis being mindful will form the foundation upon which you build the habits that will lead you or from unconscious auto-responses to conscious acts, and over time toward enlightenment.

Simply drawing a breath, down deep into your lungs, slowly and fully, is a choice you make. It is no different than slowing down at a meal and chewing each bite mindfully. Each can be supportive for yourself and for the betterment of the world if done with Love. The difference? That you choose to take your breath or chew your food in a mindful manner. The alternative? To simply fill your lungs or gulp your meals down automatically and live life as you always have.

The same can be said for all of your habits. Eating, if done mindfully, will enhance your life one mindful bite at a time – they will nourish your mind, body and spirit with the Love of the Universe.

Even eliminating waste from your body can be a mindful act. No longer an act of revulsion, but a thing to be embraced as a natural part of the digestive cycle. The same can be said of intimacy and even of dying. Each, if approached as a mindful act, can be an act of Love. The passing of the spirit to wherever your belief system leads it, will become an act of Love and light, rather than of mourning.

To make any moment a mindful moment, simply apply your breath to your actions and smile as you choose where you want your life to go.

It really is that simple.

The first step to making an action a mindful action is to consciously choose to do so.

Studies show that roughly 40 percent of your activities are performed out of habit. These habits emerge through what is known as associative learning. That is, “X” happens, and in response, you do “Y”, “X” happens, you do “Y”, “X” happens, and you do “Y”.

You are programmed to repeat what works until behavioral patters emerge. It is a survival instinct that almost every animal follows. After all, if it worked yesterday and I survived, I simply have to do the same thing and I will, once again, survive.

That kind of mechanism worked wonderfully for hundreds of thousands of years, but in today’s world those same life-saving habits will wear you down. The subtle nuances of something as simple as a random social situation creates the stress and anxiety that you find yourself feeling – and this is not a good thing. It may support the growth of a stable society, but it does so at the cost of you, the individual.

That is because you will eventually feel as if you are failing because you will find yourself falling far short of your potential. A classic example of this involves the Take 5 program that was started years ago.

The “Take 5” program simply stated that we should all have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. When the “Take 5” media campaign was rolled out 35 percent of people polled came away believing they should eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day. It was deemed a success.

However, when looking at what people actually ate, only 11 percent of people actually met this goal. It made people feel inadequate and stressed that they were not eating as healthily as they should. The Take 5 program changed people’s intentions, but failed to change their habits.

So what is one thing you can do to change your habits? Take ownership of your actions.

When you open a door, say “I CHOOSE to open this door.”

When you go shopping for dinner or order from a menu, say to yourself “I CHOOSE to buy something healthy.”

Be mindful of your options, be mindful of your decision, and then OWN IT.

Oh yes, and then reinforce your decision to be mindful. Lock it in place. Congratulate yourself, embrace yourself, smile to yourself for making the right decision.

Now, Go and Do Good. And, Smile With Love in Your Heart As You Do.

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Most important – Love yourself and be well,

Labor Day Meditation

Happy Labor Day.

Just remember this is more than a day to celebrate the end of summer. It is more than a day to celebrate the workers of the world, or to buy a new car. It is a day to reflect and renew your commitment to the self-labor you require, because when September rolls around it will all get a lot more complicated.

With the elections in the U.S. and everything else going on in the world, it is, as they say, ABOUT TO GET REAL.

So this Labor Day, let go. And when I say let go, I mean truly LET GO.

No that does not mean losing yourself in whatever drugs or alcohol they’re using at whatever party you crashed. I mean leave all the angst and anxiety of the summer behind.

Do you still hate you’re the way you look after seeing yourself in a bathing suit all summer? Let It Go. Everybody wonders about the way they look, but you can change it.

Do you still think you’re on the edge of losing your relationship? Let It Go – Everybody thinks they’re on the verge of a breakup, all the time, but you can change it.

Do you think the direction you are heading is not where you want to go? Let It Go – everybody wonders if they are going in the right direction, but you can change it

Labor Day was created “to pay tribute to the American workers for all of their contributions and achievements.” It was created by the labor movement at the end of the 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. The world was a very different place back then. So were you.

At some point, Labor Day became the day that marked the end of summer, the last day you could wear summer whites, and the day you could pick up a great deal on mattresses, appliances, and that car you’ve had your eye on. And that is where the similarity to some kind of “labor appreciation” ends.

So why not use it as a day to let go of the insecurities you built up for yourself and to start your life anew? There will always be goals you want to reach and ambitions you want to accomplish. There are the things that will make you happy and things that do not, so why deny them? Just make sure they are your things, not the result of some guilt trip social media has put you on.

If you feel your anxiety building because summer is drawing to a close, simply stop, breathe, and smile to yourself as you contemplate where that anxiousness comes from. Was it driven from within? Or was it driven from without?

If you want to make more money in a career you love so you can move your family to whatever your idea of a sanctuary is, then that is a good thing. It you want to make more money in a career that is laden with stress and anxiety simply so that you can brag to your friends about the size of your office or your title – then it may be time to rethink your priorities. If you want to trim down to create a healthier you, then that is a good thing. If you want to diet so you can look good in that sexy outfit you saw in a window – then it may be time to rethink your priorities.

If you are in doubt about whether what you want is actually what you want, simply step back from it all. Take a break. Take a few slow and deep breaths. You can even meditate to re-center yourself in the here and now. Once the swirl in your head has stopped and you have settled, ask yourself where is this coming from?

If that is too difficult to tell, then step forward and ask yourself where this need taking you?

If your desire to lose or gain weight is nestled in your need to show off your body or to fit into someone else’s idea of what is attractive, then it probably comes from the wrong place. If it is driven by the desire to show someone up, or to fit into some social norm, then it is probably sending you in the wrong direction.

However, if your desire is the byproduct of wanting be healthier, then it is probably coming from a good place. If you want to swim faster or hike further than you did before, then it is probably sending you in the right direction.

Labor Day should be reserved for this sort of self-examination. Not in a bitter or cruel way, but in a healthy manner. An ebb and flow that gently swings from meditation and mindful breathing to a gentle self examination.

When you feel your thoughts begin to drift from a place of Loving Kindness to a place of bitterness and anger, it is time to take a break, to breathe and meditate until you have brought yourself back to your center.

In any type of contemplation there is a rhythm, a healthy back and forth, that pendulums you to and from your center. Let go and allow yourself to follow this pattern. Embrace it with a knowing smile as you watch your mind distract itself in fits and starts, before finding your balance and your center. See yourself in a warm place of calm before beginning again.

Let this be your Labor Day be a new beginning as you say goodbye to summer and hello to Fall.

If you want to receive gentle reminders like this every week, simply click on the Waking Buddha Breath form at the upper-right corner of this page. We can add you to our list and send you a gift to settle your day before it even starts.

More important – remember to Love yourself as you smile, and be well,

 

 

Jeff