Where Are You – Modern Meditation

Where are you right now? Not just the physical location, but emotionally, in your own head? There is more to feeling peace than your location. There is more to your location than the address where you are, what you can see, hear or smell, because there is more to your world than just the space you fill.

Take a moment to look around. Take a moment to look within. Ask yourself what you are feeling right now, right where you are. Are you feeling anger, anxiety, comfort, ease? Are you relaxed or tense? Those are just as much an indicator of where you are than the longitude and latitude of your location – even more so in many cases.

Every sight, every smell, every breath of wind you feel is processed by your brain in micro-seconds. Your brain takes 13 milliseconds to attach memories to the scents and sounds you experience. Those are what tell you to beware or to relax. It even goes deeper than that. It dictates how to respond.

We have all walked into a room or a party and gotten a sense that it will either be a dud or a great time. We have all walked into a meeting and instantly knew we were either going to kill it or it was just going to be 60 minutes of living hell. Those sensations quickly begin to shape your world, creating a better or worse situation for yourself to live in.

I bring this up for a very simple reason, all of those memories and expectations, as well as the memories yet to be experienced are attachments your brain layers onto a location. They are what shape your life. They are just as important to your well-being as the location you have traveled to. They are what make you comfortable or uncomfortable no matter where you are. They are what make you happy or sad, excited or bored, laying out the scene you will have to live through.

What does this look like in the real world? If you find yourself staring out the window while breathing in the sun and the sky outside, perhaps being cooped up in a floor of cubicles is not the job for you. I know you’re working hard for the windows of that corner office, but maybe the pleasure of having a corner office will wear off quickly as you once again start to feel trapped no matter how hard you worked for it, because it will never give you the escape you associate with living. Don’t worry. It’s not for everyone.

Some people are not comfortable in the great outdoors. They feel anxiety because to them, behind every tree and rock their your brain sees danger, creating stress with every step they take. Some people take to the ocean immediately. Others prefer the hardness of land beneath their feet.

There is a simple reason for this. Everyone is different. Everyone’s genetic makeup is unique, as is their upbringing. It is why it is so important to be aware of the places you are most at peace.

When you find yourself in a new location, take a step back and assess your feelings without judgment or comment. Breathe in slowly to bring yourself to a place of calm.

Begin to find the threads that connect those places to the happiness or the stress in your mind. Find out for yourself what makes you feel at ease or stressed, then use those threads as a way to weave your life into one you will love day in and day out.

That is how to use modern meditation as a tool to create a life of well being for yourself, no matter where others may find it.

Be well, and I hope this helps.

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Awaken from Delusions

There will always be days, weeks, even months when you feel as if the delusions of your life are over-running your life. It’s okay, we all get them. This is when it is time to wake up to the real world, not the one you think you are living in, but to the real world that is all around you. It may feel like you need a boost or a shot of caffeine.  More than likely you are simply feeling tired of living your life in delusion. Stop thinking in terms of success and failure, winning or losing, think in terms of delusions.

I know it is not easy, but these tips may help get you back on your path and overcome you own nature – to truly Awaken to your own Simple Truth.
Here are a few ways to jumpstart your engine to keep you moving in the right direction. After all, it is your life and now is the time to start living it your way, only this time with a meditative twist:

  1. Ask yourself when was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? When was the last time you sat down to a healthy meal? When was the last time you sat down with a friend and listened, really listened? What you hear may surprise you.
  2. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. With every inhalation feel the relaxing strength of each breath flow from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. Begin with your scalp, feel each relaxing breath flow up to your scalp, then down to your eyebrows, your eyes, your cheeks, your lips and your jaw line. Feel that relaxing strength pass down your neck, your shoulders, your arms and your fingers. Feel each breath flow down to your hips, your legs and your toes. Relax and feel the ebb and flow of that energy as it flows through you, lifting you, giving you the Focused Calm to move forward.
  3. Reach out and help someone. It does not have to be earth shattering. It can start with a smile, holding the door for someone, being fully present as you listen to them without judgment. Make someone else feel good about themselves without seeking anything in return. Then smile to yourself for doing so.
  4. Touch the earth. Even if that is the side of a building or the pavement, a sidewalk or an office floor. Remind yourself that they are connected to the earth in some way. Tune yourself into that connection and smile as you follow that connection no matter how thin it may be. Remember energy travels though the thinnest wire to illuminate a lamp from the tiniest of batteries. Do the same as you re-energize.
  5. Write down five things that you are proud of. Put that list in your pocket or handbag. Remind yourself that you have done great things in your life and will do many more in the future.
  6. Stand in front of a mirror, raise your hands above your head in a power pose and stare at your smile in your reflection. Think of the great things you have achieved in your life. When your mind turns to dark thoughts return your gaze to your smile and say to yourself, “I am smiling through my delusions.”
  7. Acknowledge what is happening in your life. Label the instances where you think things went wrong. Then acknowledge that you still have fingers and toes to feel the world with, you have eyes to see the world with, you have ears to hear with, you have a mouth to taste with, and if all those senses are gone, you still have a heart and your spirit to steer your moral compass by.
  8. Stop picking up your mobile phone, stay off of social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. Pick up a book, sit back, and read instead.
  9. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not someone else, they are not you. Just know that they are just as insecure as you are. Now, laugh at yourself for being foolish and only seeing the curated life they want you to see.
  10. Do not allow negative thoughts in. Every time you feel one bubbling up, call it out, label it, and return to the very real world that you are in. Scroll through your five senses as you look around, listen, touch and smile until you find one teeny, tiny bit of beauty in your world. Trust me, it is there. Feel that bit of beauty expand until it fills your world, the real world you are in, free from delusions.

[BONUS] Train yourself to quit the negative and focus on the positive.  Start today. Know that we are trained at birth to see the rain more than the sun. It is human nature, but it does not have to be your nature.

 

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Observe, Assess, Appropriate Action

It’s not just about the election, it is a lesson to carry with you for the rest of your life.

I have been inundated by calls and emails from people on both sides of the aisle. Each had some very strong emotions about the recent election. Those emotions run the gamut of anxiety and anger to fear and helplessness. Each is also very complicated.

On one hand, your emotions are a very real chemical response to the perceived threats of your world. On the other, each is also layered with your past experiences and future expectations. Your brain layers these on as it tries to assess how large a threat the events of your life actually are. While they should never be dismissed, they should also never be taken at face value.

Emotions like fear, anger and anxiety are sparked by very real events. However, the memories your brain accesses are rarely as accurate as your brain would like to think. In fact, some of them may have never actually occurred at all.

In many ways the fear and anger you feel are disproportionate to the reality going on around you. When this happens they quickly become a distraction that will prevent you from being a better person or from living your life, your way.

In one sense fear and anxiety is your brain telling you to watch out, that you are walking into danger. It is no different than when your prehistoric ancestors stood at the edge of a forest and stared into the darkness. Their fear made them hesitate, which is why you should do what they did so many millennia ago. They stopped. They Observed. And they Assessed before taking the Appropriate Action.

Whether you love the election results or hate them, I encourage you to slow down, to observe and to assess what others are doing before you take any action. We are all at a crossroads. One path leads to a more enlightened world where we all get along. The other leads back to the swamp of hate and fear that we have spent hundreds of thousands of years climbing out of.

It is more important now than ever to be sure your responses are appropriate to the situation at hand, not only for your self-interests, but for the interests of everyone around you.

Now, more than ever, you need to stop and listen, truly listen, to those around you. You need to hear what they have to say and understand their hopes and dreams and concerns. I think what you will find that We The People are more alike than the media would like to admit.

After all, Love and Kindness rarely plays as well as Hate and Anger in the ratings game. That is a shame. It also prevents us from putting our energy where we should be. If we are ever to change the way we behave, we need to change the way we think. We also need to change the way we treat our neighbors.

After all, it is not our neighbors that are the problem, it is the political process and the way the media covers it that is. Just remember there is far more at stake than your ego and pride. Now is the time to dial down your auto-responses and clear your mind so you can respond in a way that is appropriate to the situation at hand.

 

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.

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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.

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,

Meditation – Nobody is Better Than You

YOU are on your own journey. Even if you find the love of your life, the path you are on is only wide enough for one person. From time to time you may walk beside someone else, at other times you will struggle with yourself.

That voice of self-doubt and that feeling of insecurity? They are not real. They are the result of comparing the behind-the-scenes reality of your life with the highly edited film that everyone else has produced of the life they want you to see.

The simple truth is they have just as many fears, worries and concerns as you do. They look at themselves and see a train wreck unfolding, just like you, instead of the brilliant bit of editing that you see of them.

Just remember, you are on your own path. Forget about what everyone else is doing and seemingly achieving. They look at you and think the same thing that you think of them. Perhaps they wish they had different elements of your life like than you wish you had of theirs, but it is all the same in the end.

Take a moment to think about it. Do you wish you had their mortgage? Their failing relationship? Their screaming kids? Do you really want their medications?

I didn’t think so.

I know you wish you had the glamour they are trying so hard to project. You wish you had their big house and fancy car. You wish you had their closet of designer clothes and their bank account. Well, they wish they had your freedom. They wish they had the life that you take for granted as well.

So start living your life, but live it YOUR way.

Forget about what everyone is doing. YOUR life is about finding your limits and then breaking through them.

Find out what it is you want to do and then go after it. Take it step by step and do not stop for anything.

  • If it’s taking longer than you think it should. Do not stop. It always does.
  • If it is harder than you thought it would be. Do not stop. It always is.
  • If you are overcome with doubt. Do not stop. Overcoming doubt is what this is all about.

If you do not understand it yet. All of this is just an illusion. Your real life is lived in the here and now. The real challenges you face are not in the world around you, but in your mind.

Don’t believe it? All you have to do is think back to when you were most satisfied with who you are. It always occurred when you overcame a personal hurdle, didn’t it?

Not somebody else’s, but your own. Yes I thought so.

So find another hurdle for yourself, one that only matters only to you and then jump over it.

That is what real gold medalists do.

A Meditation on Immortality

The universe continues to amaze me. The more I look, the greater my wonderment grows. I sit back and stare at the stars on a cloudless night. I stand on a boat and stare into the depths of the seas. I am eternally curious about the nature of what lies beyond the visible world around me.

Did you know that there are jellyfish that are, depending on your perspective, immortal. Like any other jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii begins life as a larva, called planula. The planula swims before settling to the ocean floor where it matures into a colony of polyps. These in turn spawn genetically identical medusae, or free swimming jellyfish.

The fully mature Turritopsis dohrnii are only about 4.5 mm, or 0.18 inches across. They are tiny. They have bright red stomachs which are visible inside its transparent bell-shaped bodies, and about 90 tiny tentacles reaching downward.

What makes these tiny creatures remarkable is a survival skill that is called transdifferentiation. When attacked, or facing starvation, they respond by taking a step back in their maturation process. They literally turn back the clock and become polyps once again that are genetically identical to the injured jellyfish.

In time this polyp colony continues the process, releasing more medusae in a process that defies what we think of as the normal cycle of life and death.

If we can look beyond the physical body of this jellyfish, and into its DNA, it becomes easier to see that the idea of the self has more to do with transference than physical existence. With this new perspective, it makes it easier do the same for our own sense of self.

Are we the physical collection of cells we see in the mirror? Is it our psychological being? Or is something more? Our essence? Our spirit? Our soul? Or a combination of all three of these? Is it, like the DNA of the jellyfish, the collection of experiences and attitudes we carry with us?

When we physically die is that truly the end? Is there more at play? Does our spirit transcend with whatever code it carries?

Like the genetic material of the jellyfish, do we pass through the process of polyp, medusae, and adult, carrying the essence of our being forward, a code we do not see?

What are your thoughts? I am curious to know.

 

Learn more at www.jeffcannontheconversation.com/

Meditation: Be Like The Sun

I sat and watched the sun rise this morning. I saw the sun shine evenly over the entire earth. I realized it does not differentiate between plants and animals, friends and enemies. The sun does not discriminate. I only noticed that those who rise up to greet it, who are closest to, it receive more light and warmth from its radiance.

Be like the sun with your Love. Love everyone and everything equally. Let those who believe in you and reflect your own Love rise up to meet you and return your Love to you. Let them revel in the Love and community you offer, but do not hold back from anyone. Like the sun, let your inner warmth shine.

 

 

 

 

 

Be Your Meditation Master

Meditation is not something one can teach. One can only share their practice with your. It is for you to take what resonates with your life, to layer it with the teachings of others, to question what you do not understand, and to develop a practice that works for you, in your world.

Meditation is a practice you develop over time. It is not a one-time program that you learn from just one teacher in one sit. It evolves. It grows. It becomes a part of you just as you become a part of it.

With every moment of growth, you will exceed the teachings of the one before you. As you establish yourself in The Way, you will learn to share your own insights with those around you. This is how you create community. This is how you learn to straighten the crooked, even within yourself. If you are ever to grow, to become more than you are, you must continually strive toward a harder task, even within your meditation. It begins within yourself and reaches out to those around you.

Just as your practice starts with a breath and grows as you layer that breath with a count. As you learn to acknowledge your thoughts and to let them go, you will also learn to open your heart so that you can reach out to those around you. In so doing you will learn to straighten yourself; not in solitary contemplation or meditation, but in the shared community we are all a part of.

As you grow you will uncover the master within yourself. This is your only true master. When you surpass what you were you will find enlightenment. Just as meditation is not a one-time event, enlightenment is not a one-time moment. Each is an ever evolving series of steps, each leading upward to the next.

If you ever ask “who is my Meditation Master?” It is you. Who else could it possibly be? Who can know how your heart and mind works as well as you?

Just remember, only after you subdue yourself can you release yourself into the world around you with a new-found sense of focus, peace, and calm

Yours is a never-ending experience that requires more than an occasional sit. It requires that you open yourself to the peace and Love that is within you. It also requires that you share same peace and Love with those around you. That is how you emerge from your chrysalis.

Yes, enlightenment and even transcendence can be found in solitary contemplation. It can also be found in community. Neither is better or worse than the other. They are simply different paths to the same end.

Trust yourself to make the right choices for you. They will always lead you forward, toward the next fork along your path. If you are to make good choices you must learn from your past so that you can apply that knowledge to your future, the one that is happening in the present moment, all around you.

 

 

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