Monday Moments: Art of Listening

There is more to listening than simply turning your ear in the right direction.

To truly listen is to turn down the volume on your own thoughts. To stop anticipating what is to come, and to just allow whatever song or conversation is happening to simply unfold on its own.

There is a saying that I often heard an old teacher of mine say in class, “before you can sip, you must first empty your cup.”

It is deceptively simply, but not so easy. For to empty your cup, you must lower your defenses, let go of your ego, and prevent the auto-responses that our old brain puts up to protect you.

If you are not sure what that sounds like, just wait until you start hearing that loop in your head play back to you. Yes, that loop that wakes you up at four a.m., or that interrupts your thoughts when you least expect them. Listen to it for a moment before you allow it to grow in volume. then gently place your attention on a sound, a sight, or upon your own breath as you let that though go.

That thought, and others like it are the interruptions that prevent you from truly listening to what is going on around you. When you free yourself from your own opinions and your own ego, you prevent yourself from discoloring whatever it is that is being said.

Free from that bias, you can prevent yourself from being misled by your own mind, so that you can truly hear what is going on around you. Free to hear a voice that can spark an idea or cause you to miss an opportunity for something truly wonderful; and why would you ever want to do that?

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

Thank you in advance and be well.

 

 

 

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Are You a When I?

Are you a When-I?

You know, the person who refuses to be happy, or even satisfied, until they reach some future accomplishment? They can be found saying things like, “I will be happy when I get a million dollars,” or “When I find that perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, then I will be happy,” or “I will not be satisfied until I get that promotion”, or “…a new car,” or “…a new title on my business card.”

I call these “when-I’s.”

It is that person, and we have all been there from time to time, who keeps pushing themselves to reach that next step, that next stage, that next place of accomplishment. Some people even chase that sense of achievement into the afterlife; thinking that whatever misery they endure or and sacrifice they make now, will be satisfied with a higher appointment in the ever-after. Some even try to speed the process along, thinking that their happiness will be found once they escape this world. Sadly, they realize, all too late, that happiness, contentment and satisfaction was right here all along. In this moment.

You see, happiness and satisfaction do not come in reaching some destination, or in acquiring an object. It is found in the journey. It is found in appreciating the adventure you are on and enjoying the human experience in all its failures and glories. 

All those titles and trophies are wonderful marks of achievement, but they are not what this is about.  

I will never forget, years ago, when a student asked our Hapkido instructor, Grand Master Bong Soo Han, when he could test for his black belt. Now, Grand Master Bong Soo Han was a man who grew up in occupied Korea after World War II. He was a man who learned martial arts under Japanese occupation. He was also the man who brought the art of Hapkido to the United States. He was slight in stature, but so quick and powerful. He was also very, very wise.

He looked at this student and smiled. “The test for a black belt is a formality. It is an event. It marks what we already know to be. We know when we invite you to test that you are already a black belt. We watch how you carry yourself, how you act. So, do not worry about being invited to test. Worry about living your life, every day.”

No, that student was not invited to test that day or that quarter. But we all noticed a change in him. As a red belt, he began acting as if he were a black belt. He began to approach his exercises with newfound sense of humility and a sense of focus on the moment. He changed from being a When-I, to being an I-Am.

Which are you?

Monday Moments: Windows + Doors

Every window and every door is a reminder.  Or at least it should be throughout your day.

It should remind you that whatever happened on the other side of that door is over. It is gone. It is now in the past, and that there is nothing you can do to get it back. It should be a reminder to Let It Go, and to Let It Be.

It should also be a reminder that even though it is in the past, that does not mean you are powerless to do something about it.

Yes, the moment you pass through a door is the moment you move forward  toward the next opportunity in front of you. It is also an opportunity for you to look back, and to ask yourself, “is whatever it is that happened just now worth revisiting, worth carrying with me as new baggage, or should I just Let It Go?”

If someone shot down your new idea in a meeting, is it really worth going after them? Or should you just Let It Go and get on with your day? If someone cut you off on your commute, is that space you have opened up for them, really worth it? If not, and I doubt it ever is, then Let It Go and do not dwell on it.

If, however, that event keeps happening, that person keeps berating you, or the affections you have for someone continue to be unreturned, then you have to ask yourself, is it worth pursuing knowing that they will not change. Or, should you yourself be the one to change and just Let It Be.

Let them go about their lives without you, or with only a limited part of you? Because that is the other half of letting it go. Knowing when enough is enough, and knowing when to walk away.

Tell your ego to be quiet, let the anger subside, and get on with your day. As fun as it may be to think up awful ways to get back at someone, all you are doing is giving them a home within your heart. You are giving them fertile ground in which to drop a seed. And that seed, with enough attention, will grow into a weed with the potential to suck the life out of you.

So stop it before it starts. Smile to yourself and breathe. Feel that smile radiate across your face and follow your breath down into your heart. Let the glow within your heart spread across your body as you push out whatever anger or ego was trying to arise, as you Let It Go and/or Let It Be.

Then get on with your day as you walk through the next door that awaits.
I hope this helps you.

Be well,

Monday Moment – A Productive Mindset with Meditation

There is more to a productive mindset than being focused at your desk, because there is more to your work than the time you spend at your desk. Having a productive mindset is about creating a flow that connects your work, your play, you waking and your sleeping hours together.

Having a productive mindset is about a balance between your up-time and your downtime so that your subconscious brain continues to produce the aha moments in your life when you least expect them. And that does not happen if you are filled with anxiety, stressed, or worried about your life; personally or professionally.

Those seemingly random ideas that end up being the aha moments of brilliant breakthroughs you wait for? They do not come out of nowhere. They are not sitting on a cloud that you wander into. They come, like anything, out of the hard work of your subconscious mind, and that subconscious mind only works when the noise and distractions that so often clutter it are gone. so learn to let go, not just to relax, but to open your mind up to all the wonderful possibilities waiting.

Years ago, when I was producing or ran my own agency, I found that I separated my work into several categories. The hours I actively worked on a project – perhaps two hours a day – were the only ones that “really counted,” or so I told myself. The hours I spent researching, thinking, and developing creative solutions for my client’s issues somehow did not really count as “real work.” Oh, and those hours I spent pondering in bed or during my commute – it was as if those did not even exist.

Looking back, I remember the stress and the anxiety. I also remember how there were never enough hours in the day for all the work I had to do. I remember how my anxiety often prevented me from coming up with the kind of solutions my clients so badly wanted.

Oh, how wrong I was. For it was in those seemingly wasted moments that my brain was actually free to work in its own way. It never occurred to me that the flashes of brilliance that came while listlessly staring out at the ocean on a weekend, or while feeling the water splash on my face while in the shower, only came when I felt calm and balanced and open. Rarely did they appear when I was at my desk, in my mind, “actually working” the few hours each day that I actually gave myself credit for.

It is funny, in a way, that is wasn’t until I was able to step away from my desk that I was able to see the solution that was there all along, waiting for me.

To fixate the results that end up on your desk to the time you spend at your desk is to dismiss the real work you put in all along the way. And, I equate that mindset to the post-war, industrial world most of us grew up in.

Yes, when we were an industrial nation, work was a much more physical task. The time that mattered was the time you actually spent farming, or fishing, or building. But this is the 21st Century, and your physical labor is often not what drives your results. The decisions you make at home and at play, with friends and family all influence your frame of mind, no matter what your occupation. And if your mind is filled with anxiety and distracted by the noise of your life, then there is no way that you will be able to come up with the solutions that equate to success in today’s world.

If instead, you are calm and rested, the solutions will come to you whether you are at the office every day or not. So learn to balance the different aspects of your life; both personal and professional. That includes finding a thread between work and play, health and finances, family and love and spirituality, even with your own sense-of-self. It is there waiting for you, if you know what to look for.

Only when those elements are in balance, will you be free enough to truly deliver the kind of results that you can be proud of. Only then will you be truly productive, feel accomplished, and satisfied every day and every week.

Remember that having a Productive Mindset is about more than being productive at your desk.  It is about creating a thread throughout your life in a calm and focused way.

So breathe, smile and remember to give yourself a break from time to time.  That is what will create a focused sense of calm across all of your efforts; at work or play, with family or friends, or even when you are all by yourself.

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Modern Meditation Profile – Alan Muskat

Alan Muskat – PhilosoForager: Looking Without Seeking

Alan Muskat is a naturalist in the tradition of Muir and Thoreau. He has brought the art of foraging to new light, both as a meditator and a philosopher. As someone who is stepping into Modern Meditation, he calls his approach that of a philosoforager.

Alan pursued the martial arts in middle school, before studying Daoism while in college. He entered the Back to the Land movement in the 1990s; a precursor to today’s Slow Food and Locavore movements. For him, it was simply an idea that resonated. Eventually he began to simplify his life, and soon enough, to simplify everything he did. He found each step returned him to a more natural state of being, and he liked what he was experiencing.

For the next twenty years, as Alan recalls, he continued to chase after material things until he found, as many of us have, that he was living in fear: the fear of not Forest Meditationhaving enough. It was with this understanding that he came to the realization that the only way to remove fear from his life was to stop collecting those things that he simply did not need.

You see, a forager is not a farmer. He or she does not put down roots. He does not store the crops he has raised. Instead, a forager is endlessly wandering, searching without looking for anything in particular.

“What many people don’t realize is that foraging is not about intention. It is about letting go,” as Alan puts it. “I try not to go into the woods with the idea of finding something specific. I never know what I will find. I can look for something, but I may not find it.” He smiles, “In April everyone wants morels.  But to seek them sets you up for frustration and disappointment. It really is a practice of non-attachment.”

Today, when Alan wanders into the woods, alone or as a guide, he finds himself reminding those Slide3who wander with him to “look without seeking.” When people seek him out, most are not looking for the philosophy behind the foraging. Usually, they just want to know how to get the food.

But it’s not that simple. “This is not about making nature into a grocery. Some of the prettiest things can be the most poisonous, while some of the tastiest can be the least attractive. All the while, we are fed by beauty and the sounds of nature. Even if you don’t find anything to eat, you are continually being fed.”

For Alan, this is how foraging can be a walking meditation.

“When I am sitting, I get distracted. But when I am in the forest, nature takes my attention.  Like Krishnamurti says, ‘meditation is like the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open.’ I can’t easily find the beauty in life, outside of my thoughts, when I’m sitting in a room.”

For Alan, as it is for me, going into the woods is a wonderful context for meditation. But then, it was like that for John Muir and Henry David Thoreau too. May it be the same for you.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”]

There’s a love that’s divine

And it’s yours and it’s mine

Like the sun

Van Morrison

 

What drew you to yoga and meditation?

Well, I was mostly forced into it. I have adrenal fatigue and other stress-related conditions. For me, it was a matter of necessity.

How have they changed your life?

I’m slowly developing better habits. Basically, in stressful situations, I go into my body instead of into my head. It greatly reduces my stress and provides me with a wonderful sense of calm no matter where I am.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

I teach something as soon as I learn it. Or rather, I argue for the importance of it, based on my own experience and reflection. There hasn’t been a “point” at which I began to teach yoga or meditation because, for the most part, that’s not what I teach, at least ostensibly. But I have been slowly integrating more of both into my work as a nature guide.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

I like making friends with others, finding common ground. If I can get past superficialities, I always learn something. I also pick up simpler ways to express my teaching when people reflect it back to me.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

Probably just to “be in your body.” Most everything else important comes out of that.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

I think of flexibility, like you are promoting. Someone you can relate with, and v.v., who bridges the gap between “teacher” and “student.”

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I’d like it to mean something integrated with daily life, a way of walking any path, rather than a technique to take time out to do. Mindfulness, I guess.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

I have not developed the discipline to do a regular practice on my own. I am starting to remember to use these tools when the need is flagrant, like first aid.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

Probably my deepest practice is self-forgiveness. For example, ‘if I don’t meditate, that’s OK.’  I fall into my workaholism and fritter my time away again and again. Harping on myself doesn’t help. It’s where I’m at, and if this “plant” is going to grow, I need to water it, not yank on it.

What is your Simple Truth?

I adhere to Advaita (non dualism). I would sum that up by saying that life is a dream and the challenge is to stay awake in it. To be awake in the dream of life is not to believe that “nothing matters” but to recognize that the best way to alleviate suffering in the world is to find and/or maintain a peaceful, open heart in the midst of it. Simply put, “all we need is love.” Foraging helps me to see that with love, everything else comes easily.

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Q+A – Meditation & Anxiety in the Modern World

A student asked me, “Why is there such angst and anxiety in the world today, and how do I cope with it?”

“Why do I worry about Russia sending warplanes over the Baltic Sea? Why do I worry when our government begins to break down? Why does my wife take a tone sometimes? Are these the same?”

My first answer is yes, they all basically come from the same place. They come from a place of fear. It is how your old brain was programmed to respond to everything in the world around you; and while you cannot change the way your brain works, you can change the way your brain processes and responds to that information.

Instead of having to respond with your fight or flight auto-response, you can train yourself to pause, to contemplate – even if for a second – and choose to take a different route than the one your primordial brain has laid out for you. In truth, you can choose to live your life your way.

The net/net is that the brain creates pathways that you live by.  We call them habits. Neuroscientists call them auto-responses; but they are so much more. They are the responses that you live your life by, and they can often lead you down a path that you will probably regret later on.

Neurologists have a saying – neurons that fire together, wire together. Eastern Philosophers have another saying, you are what you think. They are the same.

All that nervousness, that anxiousness, that angst? It is the result of the patterns that have been developed over eons of evolution. And this is the problem. Many of them date back tens, and even hundreds of thousands of years. They worked wonderfully in the past, they got us to the top of the food chain, but in the modern world you now live in, most of them have little relevance in your life.

The fear that rises when you read about other countries becoming more aggressive is no different than when a primal ancestor saw a shape moving on the horizon. The fear that rises to anger when you read about our government is no different than the worry that was felt about a field of crops failing. And the perceived tone that your wife is taking? Again, it is your old brain preparing for the worst.

If you doubt this, just think about what your brain scrolls through when any of these events take place. They are always worst case scenarios.

Always remember, there are two parts to your brain. There is the old brain that has just one objective – your survival. Then there is the modern brain, the part that most of us think of when someone asks us about the brain. It is that magnificent organ that sits on the top, the part that is responsible for the executive functions in your life.

The old brain becomes uncomfortable with anything that implies risk – taking a new route to work, watching as a new employee enters your workplace, hearing your loved one take a tone. It jumps at every ping and chirp from your mobile device just as it did when a twig snapped in the forest thousands of years ago. It keeps getting distracted by all the things going on in the world around you, looking for danger; even though most of them are completely irrelevant to your survival.

When you begin to get involved in any higher-level thinking, preparing a report, reviewing a PowerPoint file, or looking toward the future, your modern brain focuses in on the task at hand. But, your old brain is still working in the background. It kicks in when it hears a ping, sees movement out of the corner of your eye, or detects a tone. At that moment it begins releasing adrenaline and cortisol.

It starts slowly, preparing you for a potential threat, but as you respond by getting nervous, it elevates your threat-level and starts to release larger and larger amounts of these hormones [adrenaline being produced by the adrenal gland]. It is what happens when your boss calls you into a meeting out of the blue. It is what effects an architect when a client changes a floor plan.

Your modern brain realizes that taking a calculated risk is often the safest path to a secure future. Your old brain does not, and that is where the problem begins. One still thinks that the old way is best.  The other knows that in today’s world the new path is more often the right one. The result is you feel doubt and insecure as the two battle it out.

The key is to remind yourself of this when you start to feel anxious or when you feel self-doubt. Remind yourself that all that angst is simply your old brain trying to keep you safe, and bless it’s heart, what it thinks is safe is dated by more than 40,000 years.

This is why you should step back the next time you feel off and take a meditative breath to calm yourself. Then acknowledge whatever it is that is before you and label it for what it is. It may sound like “boss calling me into his office,” or “client changing something that we agreed on,” or “the one I love is using a tone with me.”

Breathe into the issue that is before you. Take a moment to contemplate just how serious it is, and then let it go. Let each issue go for now as you return to whatever it is you were doing right before it came up. Smile as you give yourself a moment to calm down before responding. If it’s on text, give yourself an hour; email? a day, because the moment you are in is probably different than the moment your old brain sees you in, even though it is right here, and right now.

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.

Modern Meditation Profile – Dina Proctor

Dina Proctor

From the start, Dina’s life wasn’t so different from yours or mine. She spent her 20s running after the same things everyone is after; a good job that meant something, a loving relationship, a sense of purpose, a sense of stability. But the more she looked outside herself for her answers, the more she realized it was the void within that she was trying to fill.

She did non-profit work in Africa, Guatemala, and with juveniles in jails – helping to heal others in an effort to heal herself.  She changed jobs every 9-months.  She changed boyfriends and moved just as often. Each time telling herself, “if I can just get a bit more money, if I can just find the right guy, if I just save one more person, it will all be better.”

It wasn’t until she moved into a new living situation in that her two worlds were forced together.  Her roommates were social drinkers and at first her life was a party. Then it spiraled.  Within weeks she became a daily drinker.  In months, she became a round-the-clock drinker.  After years of battling clinical depression and thinking, “if I don’t wake up in the morning, I’m okay with that,” she actually chose a date to take her own life.

That was 2008 and she had hit rock bottom. She did not so much pull back in that moment, as she realized she was sick of being sick of her life. She thought of suicide, but before she ended it all, she decided she at least wanted to see what real drunks looked like. That was the day she wandered into an addiction recovery meeting; “just to see.” Listening to them, she realized she was far worse than any of them.

At one point in her recovery she was introduced to meditation. She was asked to sit for 20 minutes. Her body was still detoxing, her head was spiraling, and sitting still for 20 minutes was physically impossible for her; she found she could sit still for about three minutes at a time. So she decided to sit in three minute increments until she reached the 20 minute mark. That was something she could do.

It was hard, but she was able to do it.  Then, about eight weeks into her meditation practice she had an out of body experience.  For the first time in her life, her mind was free from chatter, free from the inner voice that had haunted her. Everything she looked at was pristine and beautiful.  It was an absolutely full presence, a spiritual and physical moment that she remembers vividly to this day.

She had two revelations in that moment.  First, there is no such thing as time.  Time is something we transcend.  Second, everything in the physical world is just a reflection of the mind. At that moment she just knew that all she had to do in life was maintain the state of mind she experienced, and she could be grounded and open in the way she had always wanted.

She continued her meditation practice which eventually settled into three minutes, three times a day. In days she reached a point of ownership and non-resistance in her life. She wrote a book called Madly Chasing Peace: How I Went From Hell to Happy in 9 Minutes a Day, that turned into a best-seller, and now she teaches her style of modern meditation to hundreds of people who want to find the kind of peace that she discovered for herself.

Hers is a message of strength, empowerment and transformation.  It is one worth discovering for yourself no matter where you are in your life.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”] What drew you to yoga and meditation?

I don’t think I would say I was drawn to meditation – more like I was dragged kicking and screaming! At the end of 2008 I hit rock bottom in my life – I was suicidal and clinically depressed.  I was also horribly addicted to alcohol. I had tried countless changes to fix the emotional black hole I’d felt inside for years – moving cities, changing jobs, upgrading my boyfriends, individual therapy, group therapy, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications – you name it I tried it. But nothing worked to fix how I felt.

In hindsight (and obvious to everyone but me), I was constantly moving but always taking myself with me. Meditation was an instruction given to me when I finally fell apart. I remember balking at the idea of meditating for 20 minutes – wondering how on earth sitting in a floaty, wistful sort of way would do anything at all! But at that time I had run out of my own answers. So I tried it. And it ended up changing everything about everything (about everything!) about my life.

How have they changed your life?

There is not a single area of my life meditation hasn’t transformed. When I first started meditating I was in addiction-and-suicidal-thought withdrawal and could not physically or mentally sit still for longer than about 3 minutes at a time. Since my instruction was to meditate was for 20 minutes total I would sit for 3 minutes several times a day so I could meet my quota. After about 8 weeks of this messy 3 minute here, 3 minute there practice, I had an experience in what I can only call a state of higher consciousness.

For 3 entire days my conscious awareness was outside of my body – hovering above my body, yet tethered to it, everywhere I went! I had no thoughts in my head, absolutely zero mind-chatter, and everyone and everything was extraordinarily beautiful.

During that time I realized 2 things: that there is no such thing as time (really!) and that everything that exists in my exterior world – my body, my relationships, my financial situation – is simply a reflection of what was going on inside of myself; my world is basically a direct reflection of the quality of my spiritual life.

That 3-day experience profoundly changed my life perspective and I knew that these 3-minute meditations held the key to changing my entire reality.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

Teaching others was something I heavily resisted at first. About 8 months after my rock bottom point I had people approaching me asking me to teach them how I had used what had evolved into what I call 3×3 Meditation (3 minutes, 3 times a day) for the practical results I was achieving (a healed relationship with food and with my body, transformative relationships at home, work and with my family to name a few) and I didn’t feel ready.

I thought I needed to have it all figured out and picture-perfect before I could help guide someone else. But my mentor at the time advised me to share what I’d learned with others as soon as I was asked to – because only in giving it away is it something I can keep.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

There is nothing in the world more fulfilling to me than to share 3×3 Meditation with others and seeing them achieve their own results! I’ve recently started certifying people to become 3×3 Coaches and that is also deeply rewarding.

To share something I developed at my toughest point with people who use it to transform their lives is a rare and precious gift. I always knew helping others would help me help myself but when I was in my twenties I went about it all the wrong way. I worked at homeless shelters and third world aid organizations – went to the poorest parts of Africa and south America to bring food and supplies for students but even that good work I was doing did not fulfill me nearly as much as sharing a practice given to me by something greater than myself with people who are desperate to change their own lives.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

First I want to tell you that you are not alone! For so long, and especially at the beginning of my journey, I felt so isolated, so past the point of help. That feeling of isolation and hopelessness was killing me.

It stunned me when I realized that others had been where I’d been, had bettered their lives from the exact point where I stood. If you are just starting out, be gentle with yourself, accept and be open to the journey, and look forward to a life that is better than you could have ever imagined.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

The most important thing in choosing a mentor or teacher is feeling an emotional resonance. I’ve learned so much more from people without distinctions and degrees than I did from well-intentioned people who tried to help me from a more intellectual perspective. Don’t get me wrong – those who have knowledge and training are infinitely valuable and are of service to so many, but I didn’t experience my truest healing from all my doctor and psychiatrist visits – I experienced it from people who had been where I was. I will always have a mentor (or two!) and the first thing I look for – well, really feel for – is a sense of true, deep connection and a feeling of being completely understood and accepted exactly where I am.

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I would define Modern Meditation as whatever practice works for individuals as they navigate their everyday busy lives. Meditation is deeply personal – just as every workout isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, some folks prefer one meditation method over another. It’s so amazing there are so many to choose from. Modern Meditation means bringing a sense of calm, peaceful presence to everyday situations – being present as you shop for groceries or wait in line at the bank – it’s cultivating who you be not just on the meditation cushion but out in the nitty gritty of the real world.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

Outside of my structured meditation practice (which of course only takes 9 minutes a day), I hold an intention to touch that space of inner space as I coach clients or write articles or record videos or wash dishes or clean the bathroom or eat lunch or reconcile my bank account or run errands. My life purpose is to be the fullest expression of my innermost self in my physical form, and to accomplish that I need to bring the space and peacefulness within my being to every aspect of my everyday life.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

It would be a much shorter list to make a list of how it hasn’t improved my life – because it has enhanced, improved and transformed every single aspect of my life. From healing addiction and depression to releasing weight to refreshing my relationships to writing a book to quitting my day job to teach this full-time and find financial stability, my meditation practice has been the key to every one of these achievements.

What is your Simple Truth?

My simplest truth is remembering and living from the perspective that my exterior world is only a reflection of what’s going on within me. If I don’t like the reflection I see in a mirror I don’t seek another mirror, I realize that I need to change the source that’s being reflected. It is all up to me.

Simple.

Empowering.

Liberating.

Inspiring!  

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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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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.