Meditations & Seizures to Recovery – Seizure Pt I

This past Saturday I practiced yoga for the first time in two weeks – it helped align my muscles.

Yesterday morning I enjoyed a walking meditation along the Hudson River – it helped align my mind.

Yes, the birds do sing along the Hudson. Yes there are quiet places in the middle of the world’s largest metropolis. It simply depends on where you decide to place your attention and what you decide to focus your attention on.

This post is a story of what you can do when you place your attention on a single point of focus, and where that focus can take you.

Both practices, the yoga and the walking meditation, were the first time I was able to abide them since I had a rather massive seizure on September 20th. It knocked me down and took me out for several weeks. There was no convulsions. There was a simple shutdown as my brain experienced an overload and quietly rebooted itself.

In between these events, the September seizure and my walking meditation, I have floated in a muddle of missed connections and forgotten streets, of thoughts that have gone unexpressed, and of the constant reminder that the human experience is a glorious thing to behold.

Throughout it all, I knew the information was in there, I was just unable to access it. The process of which has been a process of breathing and patience, of stopping in silence, interrupted by flashes of knowledge as my brain awakened itself.

It has been a path of following the tried and true, interrupted by frantic thoughts and the need to quiet my mind, of getting lost in a city in a well laid-out grid, of waiting on random corners as my neurons settled down, of not moving until my sense of space and direction returned to me. Of getting lost in time on a park bench, blankly contemplating a leaf in empty silence until something sparked a memory in the back of my brain and stirred my mind to life.

 

The Seizure

On September 20th, the last coherent text I sent out was at 4:39 in the afternoon. After that my wife received a call from a stranger at 6:49, telling her I was sitting in our lobby, unresponsive and not moving. Unseen by either of them, the electrical pulses in my brain had quietly lapsed as it seized.

During this time, my brain was reducing the input, shutting down my sight and my hearing as it went through its own reboot. My sight closed in on me, reducing my field of vision to a very narrow band of light. My hearing began to fail as my brain, the good computer that it is, shut off the sounds that overwhelmed it a short while before. My fingers tingled and went numb as my sole focus was to painstakingly scroll through my phone to my wife’s number in the hopes that I could find someone to dial it before everything went dark.

What usually takes seconds took me well over an hour that afternoon – all with the thought of preparing for the chance passing of a stranger.

If I could have spoken intelligibly, I knew what I would have said, but the words and thoughts were trapped deep in my mind at this point, unable to be expressed. So I sat down on the stone steps of the lobby, resigned to setting things up; remembering, forgetting, taking each step one at a time before forgetting and having to reverse direction once again, reminding myself what it was I was trying to do – prep my phone so that I could hand it to a stranger and point to the dial button.

This was how I spent the seventy minutes between those two points of contact.

I remember the conversation going on inside my head. One voice saying “this could take for hours,” the other voice saying, “Well, it’s not like we’re going anywhere anytime soon, so just breathe and focus, and move as smoothly as you can so you don’t make any mistakes.”

It was a meditation of remembering, of forgetting, of focusing and of letting go.

As luck would have it I saw movement somewhere in the lobby. I tried to speak and showed him the screen of my phone. I may have said the word “wife” but I am not sure if that is what made it out.

He called her from his phone before realizing his phone was a stranger’s number to her, and he pushed the send button on mine.

In minutes I began to hear the wail of sirens as the ambulance raced my wife for the lobby to take me to the Emergency Room at NYU.

 

Collapse & Recovery

My seizures are somewhat unique in a way. They are the result of 9 brain surgeries that have removed more than 20 tumors in as many years, as well as a few rounds of radiation that have left my brain swollen and angry.

It is not that I lose consciousness of what was going on around me. I am actually hyper-aware of the input coming in – I am just unable to process it into anything meaningful. I can walk up to a door, I know that on the other side of this door is my destination, but I am unable to understand how the door works. I can see the key in my hand, but I have no idea how to fit it into the keyhole, let alone to turn it in order to open the door.

In this case I was able to make it into the lobby of our building, but that was about as far as I could get. So, there I sat, in a stupor, patiently abiding my breath as I gave myself up to the actions of those around me, trusting they would do the right thing.

In so many ways these seizures remind me of the inherent kindness and goodness that is within us all. It would have been so easy for someone to grab my wallet, my mobile, or to shuffle me off to some nightmare scenario that screenwriters are so quick to turn into a blockbuster. But this has never happened.

Not once in all my experiences has anyone ever done anything other than to help, to assist, to see me through. For that I am eternally grateful. I am also eternally optimistic that the human experience is not one based on hate or anger or fear, but on love and compassion and understanding. That it is within each of us to reach out and lift up those who are in need, as has happened to me again and again and again.

 

The Fall

This seizure followed a fairly predictable pattern. I was running a number errands and had forgotten to take my Keppra – an anti-seizure drug. I dehydrated myself and skipped lunch which lowered my electrolytes and blood sugar, in order to get one more errand done. I put myself in what I call the danger zone, by adding level of stress to the whole situation, until I ran into a market that was loud and crowded and bright with more food choices than you could ever hope to see, and that is what flipped the switch. It over-stimulated my senses with brighter lights and jostling people and more noise than I could handle; and that is when my brain just said enough.

When then the seizure starts, it comes on pretty quickly. The signs give me perhaps a thirty or forty minute warning. It is like watching my brain shut down the inputs so that it can reboot. My field of vision quickly diminishes to create a tunnel. I begin to see flashing lights. My hearing begins to dim, and I get a numbness and tingling in my fingers and toes.

On this occasion I determined I had enough time to get home.

As I focused on the streets I knew it would not be long until my speech become unintelligible. I also knew I would start forgetting how to make the connections we all take for granted – like how to use a key in a door, how to take an elevator upstairs, or how to make a cell phone work. It is the funny thing about my seizures, I conceptually understand what something does, I simply cannot for the life of me make the connections that are necessary to make it work.

It’s kind of like being a car without a driver. The engine is idles just fine, but it’s not going anywhere without someone turning the wheel or stepping on the gas, let alone being ready to step on the brake.

In some cases if I catch it in time, I can stop the seizure by taking a cold shower to lower my body temperature, drinking an electrolyte replacement designed for marathoners called Skratch, or meditating to quiet down my brain’s activity. I can even nap for a few hours, or collapse into a deep unmoving sleep, until things seem to return to a normal path of recovery.

Needless to say, this time I missed that window of opportunity.

Instead, I felt the growing disassociation with the world as it shrunk in around me as I headed home, key in hand. I remember putting myself on as direct a path as possible. It was only a few blocks to our loft, not even ten minutes, but by the time I got to our front door, I wasn’t sure how to use the key that was in my hand in the lock.

I knew what was going on, so I stopped and breathed and settled things down. I focused on my breath until a connection was pulled together and slowly slid the key in, turning it, and opening the door.

In front of me was the steel door of the elevator that would take me to our loft. I knew what the elevator was for, but by this time I could not sync up the concept of the elevator with the idea of how to operate it [i.e., put the key in the lock, turn the key and push the button for the right floor].

I also somehow knew having my wife find me collapsed in the apartment would be less desirable than accosting someone in the lobby and getting them to call her. Don’t ask me how, but this is the way my brain works in times like these.

So I sat inside the lobby with my keys in my hand and waited. My vision continued to degrade into a very narrow band of light, into which I scrolled my phone one step at a time. I remember thinking to myself, “this is just like yoga, one movement for each breath. Slow and steady,” with the idea that if I could set everything up, if someone came in, if I could catch their attention, I could just push send and give them the phone.

As you already know, a neighbor eventually did come in. I managed to garble out the idea for him to use my phone to call my wife. How he understood I have no idea, but he made the call.

Alex, I thank you for that.

06:49 – Laura sent a text that she was on her way down and calling 911

 

Into the ER at NYU

I remember sitting there, sweating and listening to the sirens as they approached. Alex stayed with me until the ambulance arrived. I acutely aware of my head hanging down as I focused on my breath. I was aware of everything going on around me, without placing too much attention on any one detail. It was as if my brain was absorbing the events in a very distracted way. It was detached, but taking it all in, as if floating just beneath the surface of a lagoon, watching what was going on above the surface without being able to interact with it; calm and serene.

I could not see the EMT when they came into the lobby, but remember hearing them. I was trying to say something, but realized whatever I was saying made no sense. I knew what I wanted to say, but could not get the words out, so I just let it go and let them handle the situation.

I could feel them moving me this way and that, strapping me onto a stretcher and loading me out the door. It occurred to me that this was what Stephen Hawkins must feel like. Able to take in the world around him, observing and noting from afar, without the ability to interact.

Laura climbed into the ambulance and told them NYU, and off we went. The ride itself was a benign trip through which I closed my eyes. I felt safe, knowing that from this point on, everything would be fine.

When I opened my eyes, it was to the noises and lights of the ER. We had arrived at the NYU Medical Center where the doctors have had me on file for decades.  The orderlies were taking vitals and placing electrodes on my chest and head. The nurses were securing IVs into my arms. There was nothing for me to do but lie there and breathe. Everything that could be managed was being managed. I was stable.

 

Recovery

When I woke, it was to the flashlight of a nurse checking the dilation of my eyes. It wasn’t great, but they would get better.

The key difference between my seizures and the seizures caused by something like epilepsy, is that in my case, it is all about the buildup. I hover in the yellow-zone for hours until something pushes me over the edge. I get over-stimulated by some trigger, my brain gets overloaded and simply says enough as it starts to shutdown.

After the seizure occurs, the event is over. There are no follow-up seizures. It’s a one-time event before my brain goes into repair mode, busying itself as it re-establishes the neural connections it once mapped my life to. There are no cascading of electrical impulses where the brain continues to misfire. I am not sent down into a series of seizure after seizure after seizure. And yes, I consider myself extremely lucky in this sense.

It took a day or two of observation for the doctors to confirm that my brain’s activity had normalized, after which they saw little reason to keep me. In effect, releasing me on my own recognizance.

 

The Road Back

What I have learned over the various surgeries and seizures that I have had, is that the physical brain is a truly remarkable organ. Not only does it have millions of connections that not only keep the body alive, but it reorders those connections every second of every day in an infinite number of combinations to create the thoughts and dreams we call the mind.

It also reprioritizes the way in which those connections are put together, in order to better respond to the world around us. A London taxi driver’s hypocampus, the area responsible for mapping and directions is heavier and more deeply folded than yours or mine. It is a survival skill they need having to drive through the more than 10,000 streets of London that have been built up over the past several thousand years – few of which follow any kind of a grid pattern.

I was reminded of this as I began to look out the window of our apartment at the streets of Soho in Manhattan. This is the haphazard area that was laid down before the grid on Manhattan was established. No right angles. No first, second, third or fourth. Instead it is a mishmash of Spring and Mercer, Prince and Wooster, it was this pattern that I needed to access before I could leave the loft.

The amazing part of relearning the streets is that the harder I tried to picture them, the more difficult it was to do so. Instead, the more I relaxed, that more I let go, the quicker the image of the streets would come to me.

On the one day I went out thinking I would wander around the reacquaint myself with the neighborhood, I got lost within half a block. I could not remember what was North or South, East or West, uptown or downtown. I had to stop against a building and breathe for several minutes until I slowly realized where I was, and more important, where our loft was.

That was enough to send me back home for a very long nap.

On my second trip out, I thought of taking a different approach. I would take a left out of the apartment and stick to one street. As I walked down the street I read the signs as they begin to spark my memory. I could feel my brain make the familiar connections that were already there.

After several days of this I begin to visualize a grid around me. It was only a few blocks, but I begin to remember the names of the streets several blocks away. I even began to see the stores on the next block as if they were appearing out of some recess in my memory.

In between, there were moments of standing on a corner for minutes on end, unwilling to go any further until my brain could catch up with where I was. I was taking baby steps, allowing my brain to familiarize itself with the neural network it had slowly established over decades.

As my brain mapped the streets of the city, I could feel other aspects of my mind coming online. I learned it helped to put everything in a very specific place, and to not take any shortcuts. Life became easier when I was able to create familiar patterns that I could return to. As these patterns established themselves within my head, I could expand upon them more easily.

The moment I took a shortcut, was the moment I would get lost or confused, and have to take several steps backwards before starting over.
My conversation begin to get tighter. My writing became crisper. I could even remember the focus of a paragraph from the time I started and finished writing it. Oh, and autocorrect no longer confuses me by misspelling my words.

 

Solving The Immigration Crises Mindfully

The world has become a far different place than it was ten years ago. With climate change effecting more and more third world countries, the mass immigrations we are starting to see will be the norm and not the exception in the coming years. This is simply a fact we need to stop averting our eyes from, to accept, and to realize it is up to us to do something about it. It is time for the nations of more advanced economies to realize this.

Instead of sitting back with talk of spending increasing monies building fences and closing off our borders, we need to be start being proactive and start developing real solutions. It is easy to send warplanes, drones and troops to places like Syria and the Sudan, it is more difficult when the results of those actions end up on our doorsteps; and they will.

Immigration EuropeOnce the waves of immigrants make it to what they feel is the promised land of Britain, they will realize that nation does not have the resources nor the space to keep them. That is the point they will start to look West and to the doorstep of America. It is only a matter of time.

So why wait? Why not take action now? Why put our collective heads in the sand and pretend it is not our problem, when the solution is easily within our grasp, right in front of us? Why not take a collective gasp and admit that the immigration problem is a global problem? Why not help the immigrants, instead of bemoaning the boatloads of seekers as they drown in the oceans and soon on our streets?

To do this, we must first admit that we are all a part of the global community. We must also admit that no economy can survive the influx of millions of undereducated, impoverished, and often abused people. To accept them as they are would only take down whatever country they end up in. And therein lies the solution.

What we can do is start to set up integration camps in key areas of the world. Along the borders of Northern Africa, Central America, and South Eastern Asia, the UN can step in with the goal of preparing the refugees to enter the Western economies they so want to be a part of.

Who will pay for this? Well, it will fall on the first- and second-world economies of Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia and even China. I can already hear the collective moan of “Why is it always us,” but we need to suck it up and realize it is a far less expensive offering than the monies currently being spent on border fences, dogs and patrols.

With the promise of a 12 month stay to study Western laws, to learn computer programming, and to learn a new language such as English, French, or German, we can prepare the growing waves of immigrants for integration into their potential host countries, rather than trying to hide them in the growing refugee camps like the infamous Jungle of Calais.

Still think it is not worth it? Just wait until one of these immigrants brings a virus like the Bird Flu or even Ebola into one of those camps, and you will see an instant outbreak that will make the Zombie Apocalypse seem like a field day.

Think what a change this would have on people with nothing. The promise of a better life is far better than the promise of martyrdom with a bomb strapped around their chest. The promise of a visa upon the completion of a course in remedial citizenship and applicable skills would not only open the door for them, but might even make them realize that we are not the enemy, and that our economies are do not hold the promise they are seeking.

Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to coordinate. Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to budget the cost of upkeep for these camps to their/our national budgets. But with all the money we are spending to handle these situations with our militaries, I cannot see either of these being a real problem. Beides, whether we like it or not, it is our problem; and we can either handle it today while it is relatively inexpensive, or we can try to handle it tomorrow at a much, much larger cost.

After all, it is a new world out there. We need new solutions to solve the problems we are facing with it.

What are your thoughts? I would be curious to hear them.

Q+A – Learn to Surf Your Meditation

Q:

How do I go further in my meditation? I feel like I’m getting stuck early on and I’m becoming frustrated by my inability to go further.

A:

Where are you trying to go and why do you need to get there so quickly?

The beauty to meditation is that it is a journey to nowhere. In so many ways it is a circle within a circle. You sit, you quiet the mind, and you let go. When you arrive to that place of calm you realize you are right where you are. You have gone nowhere. You have experienced what it is to have a clear vision of nothingness; free from the need to pay attention to thoughts or the interruptions of the world around you. With practice you become aware that the distractions of your mind are really no different than the distractions of the world you live in.

You see, meditation is not a place to travel to. There is no destination or linear path to follow. There are no road signs for direction. Instead there is an endless ocean upon which to float, and within that ocean there are entirely new levels of freedom to explore once you are able to free yourself from the inner-workings of your brain and allow your mind to stretch beyond itself. When you are able to do that, you will find that you can reach beyond the world of your five senses.

I often describe meditation as a walk into the ocean.  When you first close your eyes in meditation, it is like walking into the ocean. You are buffeted by waves that push you back and knock you over.  These are the thoughts and ideas, lists and regrets, assignments and tasks that your brain distracts you with.

It is as if a cerebral surf is crashing down on you, keeping you from reaching the calm swells that rise and fall beyond the waves. You know they are out there, but you struggle to reach them. The more you struggle, the more off balance you become, and the more difficult it is to stay focused on your destination.

Once through the surf, you begin to feel the calm rise and fall of the ocean swells. In time, you will even find that you can float on top of the beautiful water, rising and falling as if floating on the ebb and flow of the tides of existence.

With practice, you may even feel yourself slipping beneath the water, safe and quiet, watching the thoughts pass above you, above the surface.  There you can rest in quiet, aware they are there, but knowing that you do not have to interact with them.  You will find that you can stay in that place for a while, until you become aware of an even calmer point that is deeper, quieter, with even less motion from the waves and the currents of the outside world.

And so your journey goes until you are resting in that null space between your thoughts and your breath.

The key to getting to that point is learning how not to fight the waves of distraction, but to surf on them.  And that requires climbing onto a metaphysical surfboard, free from attachment and from ego. It is not the same as “letting go.” Instead it means embracing the world you are in so that you can be one with the waves of your mind.

At first, don’t even worry about “meditating.”  Instead just allow yourself to drop in on your breath.

Simply be aware of the air as it flows in and out of your body.

Be aware of your lungs expanding and releasing with each inhale and exhale.

Pay attention to the quality of that breath.

Notice how cool and dry it is as it enters your nose.

Notice how warm and moist it is as it leaves.

Notice the feeling of your body as it sinks into your pillow or seat.

Gently move your awareness to the pattern of light that plays on your eyelids.

With each breath surf to another of your senses and explore what you see, hear, taste and smell.

Don’t jump, just surf through your five senses gently by moving your awareness and your attention to whatever you are experiencing.

When you are ready, return your attention to your breath.

Do not force your attention to go anywhere, simply follow it through your nostrils and own your windpipe.

Feel it enter your lungs.

Be aware of the currents that air creates as it swirls around your lungs and through your body.

Feel the energy that flows from your abdomen to your scalp, your fingertips and your toes.

Then, when you are ready, return your attention to your breathing and enjoy your meditation on the calm waves of your own ocean.

 

Be well,

 

Monday Moments: Your Life As Meditation

If you live your life as a physical mess, that mess will find its way into your emotional well being, as well as your meditation. In fact, it will find its way into your existence on every level.

It should be no surprise that everything in your experience is linked. After all, you are here in the physical world, not to be isolated from your true self, but to allow your true self to explore the world around you, and in so doing, the experience of being human.

That means it is up to you to slow your body down so that it responds to your needs, not its own. It is not something it is used to doing, but this is a new day for you. Or at least it should be…

Rest assured, your body will tell you what it needs. It has evolved into a very efficient machine to stay alive. Unfortunately most of those programs were written more than 40,000 years ago. So think of that original programming as part of something I like to call Human 1.0, and we are living in the Modern World of 2.0. Even Apple and Microsoft puts out patches and updates from time to time, which is what Modern Meditation is all about. It is kind of like a patch that will help you update your old programming.

Which means today is the day to start cleaning up those areas of your life that are out of balance.  And that includes your mind, your body, and yes, your spirit through meditation.

This does not mean you have to jump on whatever new bandwagon has captured the attention of the media. It simply means you need to be aware of what you are eating, of whether you are getting enough sleep, of how much you are drinking or smoking, and yes, even loving. For even the best feeling of love can be too much from time to time.

The next time you are feeling out of sorts without knowing why, it is probably not the result of some huge issue in your life. It is more likely something simple; like not getting enough sleep, or the right nutrition, or even a bit of healthy exercise.

So instead of panicking, ask yourself, when was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? When was the last time you had a nice, slow, healthy meal? When was the last time you went a week without drinking or getting high? When was the last time you simply smiled into your day and felt good about who you are?

I will bet you, there is probably a stronger connection between your lack of sleep, or lack of a healthy meal, let alone a nice workout, than the lack of love you may have in your life. For it is usually when you are hungry, or tired, or hung over that you feel bad and regretful for everything that you think has gone wrong in your life.

If so, stop and jump off whatever treadmill you happen to be on. Step back and eat a healthy meal, go for a long walk, get a good night’s sleep, and try going a few days without taking a drink of alcohol or a huff of whatever drug to see you through.  You may be surprised at how a change in your physicality can affect you emotionally and even spirituality.

If you really need, you can always sign up for a free guided meditation we call The Waking Buddha Breath. It may be a good place to start your day, and your life, anew.

 

 

Jeff Cannon

 

 

Monday Moments: A Mindful Glass of Water

One of the simplest ways to start and end your day, while ensuring you remain on the right path, can be as simple as sipping a glass of water mindfully. When you wake up, it starts your body working with the idea of cleanliness, health and calm. When you go to bed, it helps you flush all the events of that day out so that you body and mind can process them while you get a restful night of sleep.

Physically, a mindful glass of water helps you flush out the impurities you have acquired living in our modern world. Mentally, a mindful glass of water help you release the stress and worries of your day, so that you can literally put it all to bed. It is a reminder that whatever happened, happened. That there is nothing you can do about it except to let the waters work their magic, as you move on to the next adventure that awaits you.

The best part is, you do not need to buy anything special. All you need is a glass and some water. You can even create a small ceremony for yourself after your evening sip by filling and covering your glass with a clean napkin at night, putting today to bed, and giving yourself a gift to wake up to in the morning as you welcome the new day before you.

When you drink, do not simply pour the water into your mouth. Sip it mindfully. Take a moment to look at the glass as you slow your breathing down and become aware of your breath. Let go of any thoughts in your mind as you see the glass, see the water, and drop in on the image before you.

Breathe in and appreciate the clarity of the water. Breathe out and feel whatever stress or tension you may have flow out with it. Breathe in and feel your mind take accept the clarity. Feel the temperature of the water through the glass. Feel yourself smile at the calm it creates.

Take your time and think of the water as a doorway into your day. Smile into it as you sip and feel that smile opening up into your heart.

Do not drink it all at once, but give yourself permission to stop and breathe between sips. Remember the mindfulness that is within you as you start and end your day. Think of the glass of water as a mirror for your own intentions as you allow them to fill your body. Whether those intentions are for a good night’s sleep, or to re-fortify and recharge yourself for the day ahead, accept them and welcome them.

When you are done, gently place the empty glass down and continue to breathe in and out, down and up. Take your glass over to your sink and wash it out, breathing in and out to yourself as you wipe it dry for the next use.

Drinking a glass of water mindfully creates a boundary through this simple ceremony that will help you separate your day from your night, your work from your dreams. It will also help to ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout your day. And in time, it will help you turn every glass of water, whether drunk at your desk or at a restaurant, into a reminder to stow down and appreciate that moment for what it is.

www.simple-truth.com

 

Monday Moments: Curate Your Authentic Self, Mindfully

In so many ways Authenticity is the Art of Simplicity; both are about removing that which is not you, rather than trying to add that which is. Each is often the product of tempering a great idea – the dream of who you want to be – with modest expectations that are in line with your true self. Neither happens overnight, but is the result of time. That is not to say you will never get to be who you want to be, knowing that it takes time will help you avoid the frustrations that inevitably come when you discover that finding your authentic self rarely happens fast enough.

The path to authenticity is a journey of baby-steps; gently placing your foot out and testing the terra firma beneath you, before placing your weight and lifting your other leg from the ground.

When you simplify your life you do more than quiet the noise and distractions that can undermine your growth. You open those around you to the idea of change, and that can be a very scary thing. Especially when they see you leave the nest they are still in.

So take your time and relax. There is an inevitability to your growth that others may not be so comfortable with. Learn to test the combination of friends and food and art and clothes that are all around you. Learn to cultivate the people and the objects in your life in a way that will bring you and your dreams together. At the same time, learn to gently let those things that do not support you go. As you do, you will learn the pleasures that come from living a life that is both simple and authentic at the same time. One that is true to your Simple Truth.

Living a simple life does not need to be boring. It simply needs to be true to your needs, cultivating those things that bring you joy.

The concept of living a simple life is one reason I teach meditation. Unlike what many think, meditation is not an end unto itself. It is a tool to remove the distractions from your life, so that you can create a community of people around you with whom you can share the same ideals.

You see, family and friends should always be more than a random selection of stragglers you end up with. They are the people who acknowledge the joy that can be found within your subtle nuances. They touch the same notes of music you enjoy and smile.  They savor the same sights and the smells that are a part of who you are.

It is why curating your life is about so much more than just letting go of the bad. It is about replacing the not-so-good with the good.  It is about creating a path to the joy that you should find in every article of clothing you own, in every candle you light, in every window you open, and in every meal you enjoy. Clearing the clutter from your life is about peeling back the layers that have prevented you from being your authentic self and opening yourself up to an enlightened life.

Do not be afraid of being your authentic self. It is who you are, and will sooner or later find its way out in the end.
The next time you hesitate to be you, smile and ask yourself, “what am I waiting for?”

After all, it is your life. It is time to start living it your way.

Learn more about living an authentic life by clicking here and discovering what we call The Strategy for Happiness. You may be surprised how easy it can be…

Monday Moments: Zen & Your Mindful Meal

Summer may be coming to a close, but we all know the beach body mindset is far from gone. Even when it’s time to wear those baggy sweaters and heavy coats, how you look affects how you feel about yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you treat the world and the people around you.

So forget about fitting into somebody else’s idea of beauty and start fitting into the body you were given – perfectly.  After all, having a great body is not about fitting into a double zero.  It’s about being happy with who you are; right here, right now.  So forget the extreme diets, forget the sweat mentality.  It’s time to find grace in the beauty that is you.

The Simple Truth is that there should be no restrictions to living your life.  After all, living life isn’t about fitting into the right outfit, it’s about creating great memories wherever you are.  This is why your diet should not be about losing, but gaining .  Gaining balance, gaining calm, gaining happiness without carrying around the weight that so many people can throw on you.  Because that is what you really carry around; not the pounds, but the guilt, the fear, and the self-loathing society created for you.

It sounds funny, but when you change your relationship with the food you eat, you don’t gain weight, you shed the angst of your old life as you gain health.  And yes, that is very, very visible no matter what season it is. It is also something that meditation and mindfulness can help you with.

Why not start your own Mindful Diet with these helpful tips that will reduce your stress and fill you with joy for the remainder of the summer, and for years to come:

Mind Before You Eat
Food is sometimes more a habit than a necessity.  We eat what we are comfortable with rather than what we really want.  So slow down before you dig in.  Stop and take three slow, deep breaths.  With each breath in, feel your body slow down.  Become comfortable with where you are and ask yourself what it is that you really want.  It will help you get rid of the stress that social occasions often create and the auto-responses we often have around lunch and dinner time. It will also help you take the emotions  out of your meal.   The result is a calmer meal that you can fully without all the extras.

Use All of Your Senses
Stop just eating and start enjoying.  Take the time to see and smell and yes even hear your food.  Don’t take a bite until you have run through all five senses and are aware of the full experience that is your meal.  You will learn to appreciate your food on a whole different level.  With all that joy flooding into your body, you will also eat less.

Slow Down & Enjoy
When your social calendar comes calling, it’s easy to rush into everything you find.  It is also easy to forget what you are eating and drinking as you try to fit it all in.  Use your meals as a chance to slow down.  The next time you feel yourself rushing through a meal, stop, breathe and give yourself thirty seconds to come up with a good answer as to why you are craving what you are craving.  It will teach you to be mindful of your meal and to enjoy it a whole lot more.

Love Your Body
Don’t just accept your body.  Don’t just appreciate your body.  LOVE YOUR BODY!  Love your curves and your freckles.  Love your hips and your stomach.  No matter what shape you were born with, LOVE IT! OWN IT!
Sure, you can lose a little here or there.  You can add some muscle tone and get in better shape.  You can even nip and tuck, if you want to go there – we all can.  But before you do  that, the next time you feel self conscious, take out two minutes to stand in a Superman pose – feet spread wide, hands on hips, chin up and shoulders back and smile.

Feel the self confidence rise up in you.  Feel your adrenaline rise and your cortisol drop – which means you will feel more confident and powerful no matter what you’re wearing.  And that helps you make the right choices whether you’re in a clam shack or the juice bar of some spa.

Learn to enjoy your meals mindfully and live life fully.  After all, this is your life.  It’s time to life it YOUR way!

Jeff Cannon
Simple Truth Project

Monday Moments: Love, Security, Recognition – Balance Your Happiness

Why do you do what you do? Why does anyone?

Is it for Love, to find “the one” who will fill your life with joy and happiness?  Is it for a better job and a higher salary that will give you a greater sense of Security?  Or is it to have a title that will give you the respect and theRecognition you deserve? Stop and think for a moment. Because it is important. Having the right mix of these things are what drive you to do, whatever it is that you do.

If you want to break of out your self-defeating patterns, take a moment and think about why you are doing what you are doing. It’s may even warrant a step back from time to time to look at your actions from an outside point of view in order to find the Simple Truth behind your actions. If you are honest with yourself it will not take long to realize that everything you do is driven by your need for Love, Security andRecognition

If the answer you see shocks you, don’t worry, it’s not just you. These three needs are the drivers behind everyone’s life. Just look at the people around you. Ask yourself whythey are doing what they are doing. You will quickly see that the need for Love,Security, or Recognition are what motivates everyone to act the way they do in life – for better or for worse.  If you do not see the answers visually, just listen to the way they speak and the words they use.

·       Love – the person that speaks about their friends, their family, the passions in their life has Love as a priority for them.

·       Recognition – the person that speaks about their job title, the size of their home, the toys they have collected, their latest accomplishment, or even the accomplishments of others has recognition high on their list of needs in life.

·       Security – someone who constantly talks about their investments, their salary, their retirement fund or their safety is basing their happiness on Security.

Oh, and a quick tip on the side, if you want this person to listen to you more fully, see what happens when you weave the terms they use into your own lexicon. A person who holds Love as a priority will respond more deeply when you start to speak about the people in your own life. Recognition? See what happens when you give them the respect and recognition they want. And security? Mirror the words they use to give them a sense of the security that is possible with you. You may be surprised at how well it works. Just make sure your words are authentic, or there will be consequences to pay from misleading them later on.

I hope this helps you on your journey, and if you want to learn more about balancing theLove, Security and Recognition in your life

Monday Moments: Reset With A Meditation Outbreath

I know this may not be your thing, but I want you to give something a try.

I’ve been getting really great feedback from clients – including entrepreneurs and moms, executives and stay at home dads – on how good this is in breaking that thought loop and interrupting that mind chatter we all become trapped by.

It’s called the Out Breath, and it is something I wove into my meditations from a breath practice called Pranayama. Try it when the world starts to get too much for you, or when you simply need to reset.

It goes like this:

  1. When you become aware that your mind is getting stuck in a loop, or you notice that inner voice getting to be too much, gently place your attention on your breath. Just rest your awareness on the feeling of your stomach moving against your shirt and feel the fabric as it moves against your skin.
  2. Once you have caught your own attention, take a nice, slow, deep breath and feel yourself relax. When you are comfortable tighten your diaphragm and quickly back it up and back to send a small huff of air out of your lungs and out through your nose.
  3. It should feel like you are pulling your navel back and up towards your spine.
  4. Your mind may panic for a moment, but simply smile into it and take one out-breath every second.
  5. Do not worry about your inhale. Your body will take care of that on its own. Start slow and simply focus on the air as it rushes out past your nostrils.
  6. Try 12 to 15 of these in a row before pausing to take a long, slow breath in to fill your lungs.
  7. With practice you will be able to do this exercise for minutes at a time, but to start simply relax into 12 – 15 breaths, drawing your mind away from the distractions of your day and into that little huff of air that you are pushing out of your lungs.

That’s it.

When you hear the silent emptiness where your mind-chatter once was, simply smile and continue your OutBreath for a few moments more, before returning to whatever it is you were doing.

It’s an incredibly powerful way to hit the pause button in your life, day or night, and get back to enjoying your life without anybody knowing what you are doing.

I would love to hear how this has helped you refocus on work or while on a weekend escape, before or during a meeting, in the middle of a date, even while on your daily commute…

Be well and enjoy –

Summer Camp Meditation for Kids & Parents

Do your children and yourself a favor this summer. Give both of you a meditation break without even breathing. Have them leave their cell phones at home during summer camp and even sleep aways.

Summer camp and summer sleepaways are about the finding their independence. They are about giving yourself the chance to do the same.

Give everyone a break this summer and allow everyone in the family to experience summer and be filled with experiences, not ringtones, that you can all share when you all get back together at the dinner table.

Yes, remember that? The dinner table? And how much you have complained how little family together time you have had?

I know, your old brain probably uses the reasoning that you have to check in to make sure they are okay. But they are. Otherwise you would not have given them permission to head off on their own in the first place.

LOL – so let it go. Let the mobile phone go and learn patience this summer instead. It will do everyone good.

Be well, smile and breathe – knowing they are enjoying their growing experience as kids – almost as much as you are as parents…

 

 

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