Monday Moments – Short Sits

Short Sits

For most of us, the idea of sitting on a hilltop for an hour is a lovely idea. The reality, however, is a far cry from that dream.  Rarely do we have an hour.  Rarer still is there an empty hilltop to sit and enjoy.

Perhaps it was realistic 3,000 years ago when meditation was first introduced, but today, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is you have more stress in the first thirty minutes of your day, than someone did in an entire day 3,000 years ago.

The answer is not stressing about finding a quiet place to sit for two hours, or even twenty minutes. That is not necessarily the most effective way to meditate in today’s world anyway.

The fact is that research is showing us that sitting for shorter periods of time more frequently actually produces better results for those seeking to reduce stress, find balance, and yes, even reach their inner calm.

So, the next time you feel anxiety or panic come on, or when you realize the trigger for your stress is going to be in that meeting coming up, sit for a short time.  Just three to five minutes will do.  Then take a very short break of maybe thirty to sixty seconds, and sit again.

Just be mindful of whatever it is you are doing during your break. Keep the rhythm of your breath going and try not to lose your natural ease. Smile to yourself as you sit again, and feel the joy in what you are doing.

What you will find is that taking short breaks like this will extend your meditation and create a living meditation within your world.  You will feel your life become richer and more inspiring than ever before.  It will help you mind the gap between your seated meditations and the very real life you live every day. It will also take the clumsy, irksome and solemn nature out of a more traditional practice.

Very quickly, you will find the barrier that once separated your meditation from your life disappear. Instead, the distractions that once undermined your work, and even your meditation, will fade away – leaving you in your natural state, free from the mind-chatter that once used to cause such dismay.

As I have often said, “A meditator may leave a proper meditation, but a proper meditation will never leave the meditator.”

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not make it YOUR meditation?

Zen & The Art of the Mindful Diet

Zen and the Art of The Mindful Diet

Summer may be a long way off, but the image you have of your body is not a seasonal topic. It is with you every day of the year. Beneath those baggy sweaters and heavy coats in winter, it effects how you feel about yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you view the world that you live in.

You do not have to flash on the beach, for your body to show.  It is visible in how you feel every day of every year.  More important, those around you feel it in how you treat them and in your attitude.  After all, having a great body is not about fitting into a double zero.  It’s about being happy in who you are.  It’s about fitting into the body you already have perfectly.  So forget the extreme diets, forget the bathing suit and the stretchy yoga pants.  It’s time to find grace in the beauty that is you.

The Simple Truth to the Mindful Diet 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 winning.  Winning balance, winning calm, winning happiness without carrying around the weight that so many people can throw on you.  Because that is what you carry around, not just pounds, but guilt, fear, and self-loathing.  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.

The Mindful Diet is a program created by the Modern American Monk, Jeff Cannon.  Jeff is a leading voice in the Modern Meditation Movement who has dedicated his life to applying meditative techniques to resolve the contemporary issues we all face in the modern world.

Jeff survived eight brain surgeries that collectively removed more than twenty tumors in as many years.  With each surgery he refined his own diet in an effort to slow down new tumor growth. Along the way, he removed carbohydrates and processed foods.  He incorporated caloric restrictions.  He also applied Modern Meditation to reduce his stress.  The results was not only slowed tumor growth, but a healthier, happier and lighter self.  He became more aware of who he was in the world around him.  As that happened, he became more confident and more secure.  And that is something everyone around him noticed.

The simple practice of mindfulness that he lives his life around today changed his relationship with food and eating on every level.  For Jeff, it left him with just 15% body fat.  He still enjoys food and an occasional cocktail when the event calls for it.  Now, he just does so mindfully – and that makes all the difference.

The Mindful Diet is his gift to you.  It will help you  live a richer, fuller life while helping you maintain a healthy balance in everything you do.  While you will lose weight along the way, the real benefit is to leave you feeling great in a natural, healthy and mindful way.

The Mindful Diet is not about counting individual calories.  It avoids the starvation/sweat mentality so many people rely on.  Instead it is about slowing down and enjoying life every minute of every day by simply being present wherever you are.  Some people have called the Mindful Diet the “un-diet,” because it does not matter if you were born strikingly slender or with rich beautiful curves.   What matters is that you breathe in a positive body image and breathe out the toxins that hold you back.  When you learn to do that, you learn to transform your body and your life for the better.

Why not start your own Mindful Diet with these helpful tips that will reduce your stress from your vacation and fill you with joy 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.  Be 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 help you take the emotions  out of your meal.   The result is a calmer meal that you can fully without all the stress-laden 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 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!

 

If you want to learn more about The Mindful Diet – just visit us at www.simple-truth.com/mindfuldiet.

Monday Moments – Passing Meditation on Thoughts

12,000 – 50,000 – That is how many thoughts researchers estimate pass through your head in a day.  That is how active your brain is, even if you do not meditate.

The good thing is, they do not all need to be a part of your life.

You see, your brain was not designed for today’s world.  It evolved over time, and its main function is still to keep you alive. Yes, the brain is a magnificent organ, but it was hardwired to:

  • Observe the world around you
  • Associate that input with all of the memories you have
  • Produce thoughts to keep you alive

That is what it does, it watches, it reads the signals, and it produces thoughts to help you survive. Most of these thoughts originate in the old, primordial brain.  That is why so many of your thoughts are based on fear, rather than the higher-level, creative thinking that is better suited for today’s world. This is also why it is so important to be aware of them, and to let them go. Simply – they were programmed for a different time.

It is not until you are in a safe place that the executive function of your brain is allowed to play. This is where your hopes and dreams and happiness live. So while at some point your brain can be a pathway to your higher self, for the majority of the time it is still an organ, and its primary purpose is your survival.

I am sorry, but that is just how the glorious structure of the human brain evolved.

Just remind  yourself, the next time you are feeling depressed or afraid or frozen in place, this is not you, and you are not your brain.  This is just how your brain is programmed to work.  Smile at its beauty, and then remember that the last time it evolved was 40,000 or 150,000 years ago, and you live today, now, in the present. 

You don’t even need to meditate to do this.  Just breathe down deep into your lungs and smile as you decided what it is that YOU want to do today.

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

 

 

 

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Q+A – Why Do You Meditate?

Over the past few millennia we have been introduced to meditation.  Our teachers have taught us how to become aware of our bodies and our minds.  This awareness has helped us foster a better understanding of our own thoughts and actions, both within ourselves, as well as with those, and even the universe around us.
Meditation has even allowed some to peer past the veil of existence to see what lays beyond.

Those same teachers have, through faiths like Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, taught us the art of compassion, love, and kindness. While their philosophies do not always overlap, they do interconnect through the paths of meditation and awareness.

For those of you who choose the path of meditation, you are often rewarded with an understanding and a sense of growing enlightenment.  Each of which enables you to grow beyond yourself.  The further you follow this path, the more you are able to move beyond the sense balance and calm you initially sought.  In time you may even find a level of insight which will free you to cultivate wisdom free from oversight.

It is this insight that opens up an entire future where you are free to explore.

Simply knowing this gives me hope for the future. While it is not in my hands, it is there in my heart.

Thanks to the methodology of Western science, the physical and psychological effects of meditation have been proven ad-infinitum.  With this approval, meditation is now being taught to children in schools and to employees at work.  Both of whom are showing greater compassion and understanding for those and the world around them.

It gives me hope that we are building a foundation of peace for the next generation. I do not say this lightly, but if it is not for you that you meditate, then it is for your children and their children after, that you meditate.  That with our energy, you can in fact leave the world a better place than when you arrived.

This is why it is so important to go beyond the self; to go beyond your own stress and unhappiness, and to look at the bigger picture – so that you truly realize how your actions are moving the world in a better direction.

So when I am asked by a student, “what is next?” I smile.  For that answer is not found in yourself.  It is found in everything and everybody around you. It is knowing that when you hit someone, you are also hitting yourself, a smack that you will carry with you for years to come.  It is found not just in one bottom line of Profit, but in a triple bottom line that balances People, Planet and Profits for the future.

“What is next?”  Next is using the stability and clarity that you have gained to develop your own wisdom and to share it with those around you.  And by wisdom, I mean the wisdom of the heart and the mind.  For it is in that wisdom that you will find your divine.  Not within yourself, but in the connections you enjoy with the those around you and with all of existence.

Keep that in mind if you ever ask yourself why you meditate.  Or more likely, if that 40,000 year old brain of yours ever asks you what you are doing, while shooting in some adrenaline and cortisol to get you worrying that you have better, more immediate tasks to do.

The next time you question what you are doing, simply stop.  Simply dip your toe in the water of meditation with three simple breaths.  Let those three breaths lead you to wade into the pool of calm as you leave the world crashing in the waves behind you.

Let yourself be carried away in the gentle currents of Love that you will quickly remember is meditation.

 

Meditate to Embrace Your Emotions

Embrace your emotions
Without feeling trapped in having to pursue them.
That is the goal and the path to the calm you seek.

Emotions are not the problem.  It is how you deal with them that is.

If you lose yourself to the emotions you feel, then they become your master.

The next time you feel an emotion rising.  Love or Hate.  Anxiety or Comfort.  Lust or Disgust.  Do not respond to it immediately.  Stop.  Breathe.  Separate yourself from whatever it is that is triggering it.  Train yourself to contemplate what you are feeling even if for a moment.  Acknowledge it, label it, contemplate it, and then ask yourself if responding is really what you want to do.  Or do you simply want to let it go?

It is not the emotion that is the problem.  That is simply your brain telling you something out there is about to effect you, in here.

It is up to you to decide how you want to respond.

After all, it is your life.  Living in a meditative manner is the difference between pain and anguish, Love and joy.