I receive a daily email from a meditation guru named Light Watkins and one day a few weeks ago, the email that landed in my inbox said this:
“I had a conversation recently with someone who left her job and became a successful (and happy) entrepreneur.
Long story short, she had always envisioned leaving her office job, but was afraid of the unknown, and it never made sense to give up her stability to follow a dream—until she had multiple run-ins with her new passive-aggressive boss. Then she knew she couldn’t stay another day.
I’ve had similar situations with ex-bosses, ex-landlords, and ex-girlfriends, where the situation became so intolerable that I had no choice but to take a leap of faith into the unknown. And every time it worked out for the best.
I’m now convinced that these people who force us to take a leap of faith by making our lives a living hell are the real angels, sent to help us evolve and grow.
The Universe isn’t stupid. It knows that we don’t grow and evolve as much when we’re comfortable, and most of us aren’t going to leave a comfortable situation on our own accord—not without a “divine” push.”
Very interesting perspective and I thought of times in my life where this kind of dynamic had to happen for me to move forward. A situation literally had to become unbearable before I would take the sometimes painful steps toward growth. And then I sheepishly thought of times that my bad behavior had made me an “angel” to someone in my life.
A humbling thought but also a thought to spark some healthy self awareness and growth.
As beautiful as the Holiday Season is, it also can be a time of hectic schedules, overeating and drinking at holiday parties and occasional family frustration. All situations that mindfulness can help with.
What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.” – Psychology Today
How do I practice Mindfulness?
There are many ways to practice mindfulness and all techniques are a form of meditation, but the goal of any technique is to achieve a state of focused relaxation. You achieve this by sinking into your body and paying close attention to thoughts and sensations – without any form of judgment. This allows the mind to completely focus on the present moment.
Basic mindfulness meditation:
Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra. Notice each part of your body starting at your heads and ending at your toes. Allow any emotion to be present while doing this without judgment. Practice a relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration” etc. as your mindful meditation continues. Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
- Higher brain functioning
- Decreased stress
- Increased immune function
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered heart rate
- Increased awareness
- Increased attention and focus
- Increased clarity in thinking and perception
- Lowered anxiety levels
- Experience of being calm and internally still
- Experience of feeling connected
Gaining these benefits can be as simple as closing your eyes and being silent for ten minutes a day. This is a practice that is so easy, anyone can do it!
I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.
Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:
- The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
- Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
- Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
- I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)
And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).
Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:
Loving Kindness Meditation
This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.
- You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
- Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
• May I live in safety.
• May I have peace and joy in my life.
• May I have good health and freedom from pain.
• May I live with ease.
- Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
- Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
- After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
- To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.
And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo