Happiness

Meditation's Healing Powers

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For the past 6 months, I have meditated over 32 HOURS! My meditation journey was a slow one. I loved the brief 5 minutes of meditation I got from every yoga class during the savasana (last resting pose) and I wanted to explore more, but I always came up with excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “I can’t sit still for that long” and a variety of others, but my body was aching for peace and for stillness, among the chaos that I was part of. Yet, I ignored it and went on with my life, until life got so chaotic and so crazy, I was starting to get panic attacks and gasping for air. By then, my body was SCREAMING for attention, it was yelling for me to listen, to tune into what was happening INSIDE. So, I made time, I downloaded an app and committed to the 30 day meditation challenge.

It was very difficult for me to sit still, my back ached, so I decided to do my meditation in the savasana which is how I enjoyed it to begin with. I started to look forward to it every day, my body started to CRAVE it! I love the convenience of the meditation app, because I can meditate ANYWHERE; at home, in the car, on my hammock, in the park while lying on the grass and basking in the sun with my headphones on.

Looking back now, I can’t even believe that such little effort each day of 10-15 minutes I dedicated, has had such an impact on pretty much every aspect of my life: my relationships, my health and my spiritual journey began with this practice.

Here are some amazing benefits I started reaping from my daily meditation practice:

  • I sleep like a baby (or like a koala). It may not necessarily be longer, but it is better quality sleep. I fall asleep quicker and stay asleep through the night without tossing and turning like before. Most people toss and turn because they start to analyze their day, plan for the next day ahead, reflecting on thoughts and emotions. That all makes it very difficult to fall asleep. Meditation offers you that time to be able to sort through your mind so you are not battling with it while trying to sleep.
  • I have more patience. With two rumbustious toddlers in the house, there is always whining, fighting and writing on the wall. It is sometimes difficult to keep my calm, but I have noticed my patience increased as I dug deeper through my meditation. I’m by no means 100% Zen at ALL times, but I’m definitely more aware of my surroundings and when I’m about to lose it, I know just the actions I need to take to bring me back to Zen.
  • I appreciate every moment. We have started a gratitude jar where we (and by we, I mean me, myself & I. My husband has written in it ONCE!) write all the things we are grateful for in our lives; as little as I love my fence and as big as I love my husband for being so open and understanding in difficult situations. Meditation helps to expand the window of perception, allowing you to see the value in every experience and every relationship.
  • You don’t need external validation because you love yourself for who you are, just the way that you are. I used to need my parents approval of my choices, then my husband’s, then my in-laws. I felt like it was a never-ending game of “Please Love Me” and “Please Accept Me”. Meditation has allowed me to tap into the source of fulfillment, a satisfaction I have never experienced in my life before.
  • I have less "FOMO" (fear of missing out). I used to be guilty of this ALL THE TIME. I wanted to be everywhere at once. I was always rushing from one thing to another, trying to experience as much as possible. And as much as I love the “hungry” part of me, I was getting run-down. Meditation helped me to SLOW waaaaay down and really enjoy the journey to the destination.
  • I have less fear. I used to be afraid of taking chances; big changes scared me due to an unforeseen outcome. Even though I was lucky enough to have friends who have pushed me to take leaps, internally I was a chicken. After meditating, I have finally started to listen to what makes me happy. I have gotten my Reiki certification, so I can bring more healing into this world and I have finally signed up for my yoga teacher training. I still have fears about the unknown: I don’t know if these endeavors will bring success, I don’t know if I will be a great teacher but what I know is I followed by heart on these choices and that sure will bring an abundance into my life.
  • My desire to drink alcohol has diminished significantly. In fact it is pretty much gone. My friends would often hear me say “I need a drink” after a long day. Many people consume alcohol as a way of alleviating stress, but meditation helps you release your stress and boost immunity, so the need for alcohol begins to decline.
  • My communication with others has improved. By mastering my emotions, I’m now able to clearly explain my point of view and be emphatic towards others. I’m able to actually LISTEN to others and respond in a calm manner.
  • I practice guilt-free-self-care more frequently. Let’s be honest, as mothers, in the midst of kids and chores and errands, if you are not taking time for yourself, you will get burnt out. Meditation has allowed me to tap into my needs and being able to act upon them without feeling guilty about it. If my body is aching for an Epsom salt bath tonight while husband puts the kids to bed, then I make it happen.
  • It has helped me be less judgmental. This may apply to any culture, but I feel like the Russian culture is very judgmental and critical, especially the older (babushkas) generation. This form of “communication” and “bonding” has been engraved into me since childhood and I can feel how meditation is starting to break down those patterns. I find myself more understanding towards people’s differences and their circumstances. I complain less about why people do the things that they do. I accept them for who they are.
  • I watch less TV. The mindless shows I used to look forward to watching are now replaced with activities such as reading, exercising, gardening, writing, working on my hand stands etc. I use that time that used to be wasted on TV to engage in activities that feed my soul.
  • I savor my food. This may be obvious to some, but I used to chow down food so fast to hurry to something more “productive”. I’ve often engaged in thoughts such as “what if we didn’t NEED to eat, how much time we would have for ... more busy-ness”. Only after practicing the art of being mindful did I start to really ENJOY my food, to really taste it! Not to mention all the digestive benefits of chewing your food slowly and thoroughly, I was starting to see food in a different light resulting in more mindful, healthier and more fun grocery shopping trips. Now my thoughts gravitate towards statements such as “I can’t wait to cook and taste this!”

Wonderful things start to happen when you tap into that amazing mind of yours and really observe your thoughts, reflect on emotions and connect to the deeper parts of soul that are screaming to be heard.

Change is the Only Constant

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As 2010 rolls around, we all want to change/improve something aboutourselves, but we might be overwhelmed by the amount of things we want to add/delete to become the new us. However, MJ Ryan author of AdaptAbility says "Making ONE change enables you to see the possibility for more significant change in other areas of your life”. Here is a list of "little" changes that can make a big impact on your overall well-being

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1) Changing up our daily outline can really do wonders for our psyche. I like to play the “negative energy scavenger hunt” game where you find all the things that drive you crazy and work to get rid of it. This "cleaning out" process gives you an instant lift. Create a holistic routine to lift the spirits

2) Our thought patterns create neural pathways in our brains. You can TRAIN your brain to think positively. Constantly reminding your brain to think positive can become your natural way of thinking. Negative thoughts consume a lot of our energy, so list three things you’re grateful for every day

3) Little things add up: small changes can really make a big difference when it comes to the shade of green! Switch to online bills, use a reusable tote for groceries instead of plastic, don’t waste water and turn off the lights when you leave the room

4) Save a life: give blood

5) Meditate in the morning. Starting with a daily dose of peaceful practices will set a much better tone for your day than watching the news, which usually tend to make you depressed. This may seem like such a drag for a lot of us, but if you don't think of it as a chore and think of the benefits that go along with meditation or just setting a positive tone for the day, then you'll be more likely to get out of bed early and actually look forward to it

6) Turn down the noise: don’t answer every email the second it arrives, watch less TV. Write down or visualize what you really want to do, because writing bridges the subconscious with the conscious. Make a visualization board of all the things that give you goose bumps and pull you

7) Meet new people: bringing new people into your life leads you to new experiences and new ideas. You never know who might be of help in the future. Keep in contact with everybody. Remember their birthdays (or write it down), their likes and dislikes, memories you had together, inside jokes etc. It feels great to receive a birthday or a holiday card from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, especially if the card includes a personal message, a memory, an inside joke. Brings back good memories

8) Hug someone every day. “Hugging decreases levels of stress hormones and lowers blood pressure”. For all you animal lovers, cuddling with a pet counts! But pets do the magic by their mere presence.

9) Fidget-cise: Keep moving throughout the day: squats while you brush your teeth, push-ups on the counter while waiting for your toast or tea kettle. This boost circulation throughout your body and you get a mini workout!

Don't forget change is eternal, perpetual, immortal. You can't escape it, so just roll with it and have a FABULOUS 2010!!!