What does it mean to be healthy? Does it mean looking like a Victoria’s Secret model but having a train wreck of a social life? Does it mean making a lot of money but having no time to eat well or see family? Does it mean feeling happy despite rainy days? Some celebrate inner peace and self-hypnosis. Here’s why you need to give it a try and how to get started:
Improved Health and Inner Peace: Meditation and Self-Hypnosis Leads The Way
You sleep a third of your life. As in life, some do better than others. Purchasing supreme quality mattresses, making the bedroom a cooler temperature, and listening to soothing sounds are ways to get better sleep. But some swear self-hypnosis allows them to sleep better. It’s known that we do well after eight hours of sleep but the quality of sleep matters more.
Saved Medical Costs
Self-meditation is known to influence medical conditions. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome showed improvement six years after hypnosis treatment. If you compound the cost of medicine and medical treatment over that time, it’s a lot of money saved. Patients started to report signs of improvement after 12 sessions of one-hour therapy treatments.
Self-meditation has been associated with pregnancy, cancer, and arthritis. With repeated sessions of self-hypnosis, people begin to gain control of their body and its reaction to pain. For example, a pregnant woman can focus on the wonder of childbirth and less on the associated pain. Expectation influences experience. One can literally alter an experience based on perception or ability to focus on positive rather than negative aspects.
Anxiety is more a state of mind. Sure, doctors can measure blood pressure and pulse rates and understand certain body effects are related to a condition, but those who self-meditate can lessen feelings of anxiety. For example, public speaking takes an amount of courage. While some personalities may find it easier to do, those who meditate can learn to harness the energy of the moment and use it in their favor.
Any beginner is top heavy on excitement and paper thin when it comes to skill. Such is a recipe for disappointment. Excitement is great but it’s more practical to start anything new on a smaller scale. So, start trying to meditate for five minutes each day for one or two weeks. If you find that you don’t have the discipline to devote five minutes per day, then you should reconsider if meditation is for you.
Understand a Thoughtless State
Some confuse meditation with wisdom. Wisdom can come from meditation and wise people may meditate but there’s a difference. Meditation is a state of complete mindlessness. You don’t want to be thinking about anything at all. It takes great discipline to identify when the mind wanders and to rid your head of thoughts. Meditation is a ‘flush’ of the mind, a state of peace. You might be thinking that you have to focus on something. If anything, focus on your breathing.
Count Sheep and Imagine Numbers
Your mind will wander. Even those with decades of experience need to keep constant focus. You can do things like count sheep or image numbers in your head. Repeat such images until your mind is totally thoughtless and at peace. Sites like ehypnosis offer helpful resources on self-hypnosis and other meditation techniques.
Use an Alarm
If you’re doing it right, you’ll lose track of time. Use a timer, alarm, or app that helps with meditation. You don’t want a rude awakening but something gentle that alerts your mind that meditation is over. On the contrary, a loud or jolting alarm will interrupt the end of meditation as you anticipate it going off.
Sit with Your Back Straight
Any kind of skin sensation is a distraction. It’s why you don’t want to meditate lying down or amid a big cushy chair. You want to be sitting on the floor with your back straight. Some sit with their legs crossed with arms resting on their knees and palms facing up. Basically, you want to get in a comfortable position yet you want your body as isolated as possible from other things. For example, if you’re sitting on a chair, try not to have your back touching it.
Keep Eyes Open or Shut
Should you keep your eyes open or shut? The answer is whichever makes you feel more relaxed and able to concentrate on breathing. Most people find it easier to meditate with their eyes closed. Others find it easier to clear their mind when their eyes are focused on one thing. Some focus on one part of the floor or wall as they begin to drift into a meditative state.
“I have no time” is a common phrase that you hear a lot these days. Whether it’s work responsibilities, family activities, or school obligations, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of free time in our days. Unfortunately, with time being on short supply, finding time to spend with God can suffer and be put on the back burner. This is disappointing because spending time with God through Japa meditation or Gauranga breathing is very important as it provides the transcendental nourishment our soul needs to be happy. I have found a few ways to carve out extra time throughout the day to remember God.
Freeing up Time for What’s Important
Firstly at work. Working in a laboratory, I find myself sitting at a lab bench or computer quite often. I make sure that I take breaks every few hours to either stretch or walk around. Taking these short breaks is not only allowed by my employer but recommended because they will help to reinvigorate my body and mind and help prevent repetitive stress injuries. During these short 5 minute breaks, I like to take a walk outside. I make sure to take my japa beads with me and chant “Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana”. Even for just a short period of time, the power of the mantras will make you feel happier and less worried about anything that may be causing stress. I usually do this 2-4 times a day depending on my work load.
Secondly during exercise. I enjoy working out and trying to keep physically fit. I usually like to lift weights and I found that if I cut down my “rest” time between sets, I’m able to free up time. I used to rest about 60 seconds between sets, but recently I’ve cut that down to 45 seconds. I do 4 sets of an exercise and at least 5 exercises, so that totals 5 minutes. I like use this 5 minutes to find a spot to sit and quietly do Gauranga breathing. Doing Gauranga breathing after a workout is good because it helps my body to cool down from the physical stress it just experienced. In addition to the spiritual benefit, cutting down the rest time between sets is also good for my workout as it keeps my heart rate up which increases the cardio benefit.
Watching television is not something that I routinely do but there are a few programs and shows that enjoy watching each week. These shows are either 30 to 60 minutes in duration. However, I have learned that by utilizing my DVR to record the show, I’m able to cut them down to about 25 and 45 minutes. Usually I record the show and watch them on another day, fast forwarding through the commercial breaks and freeing up extra time for myself. If I do watch the show on the day it’s recorded, I will wait about 15 minutes before I start watching, this allows me to fast forward through all the commercials. I use the extra time I have freed up to finish up chores I would do prior to sleeping for the night, such as cleaning dishes, tidying up the house and showering. That way once my show is completed, I don’t have to worry about household chores and can focus my attention on doing my nightly japa meditation and Gauranga breathing before sleep.
Finally, I have heard that a good night’s rest is usually between 6-8 hours. I’m lucky to be able to get 6.5-7 hours of sleep each night. In addition, my daily schedule allows me to have regular sleeping and waking times. That being said, depending on how my day went and how tired I am, I will try to stay up for an additional 5 minutes doing Gauranga breathing before I go to sleep at night. Also, if I don’t feel extremely exhausted when going to bed, I will set my alarm 5 minutes earlier in the morning and use that time for an extra 5 minutes of japa or mantra meditation practice. I have been able to do this occasionally and don’t feel that my body is exhausted or sleep deprived because of the 10 minute deficit.
As you can see, just by making slight changes to some of my daily activities, I can find 25 – 40 minutes of extra time each day. And being able to use that time to spend time with and remember God has made a big impact on my happiness. I hope that everyone can find a few minutes here and there to free up time for japa meditation practice or Gauranga breathing. No amount of time is too small because of the immense power of God’s Holy Names!
Emily Marshall lives in a quaint small house in the booming city of Toronto with her 3 legged husky, Niko. She has earned her degree in Occupational Therapy and works full time supporting students with special needs. She spends her free time exercising, cooking delicious, vegetarian food and regularly attending meditation classes. She is grateful for the good will and support of her readers.
Happy World Environment Day! This year, it seems an even more important day to celebrate our environment and pledge to clean it up, when the leader of the ‘free world’ seems to have chosen a path away from this. Thankfully, the actions of a nation’s leadership are not always reflective of the vast majority of its people. My #MondayMusings today consists of watching and sharing with you some TED Talk videos connecting to Nature. Be inspired!
‘Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share. World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June.
This year’s host country Canada got to choose the theme and will be at the centre of celebrations around the planet. World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, global citizens have organized many thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests.
This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.
Connecting to Nature
Nature’s beauty can be fleeting — but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.
You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.
How do you define “nature?” If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won’t have any left, says environmental writer Emma Marris. She urges us to consider a new definition of nature — one that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces — and encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect it.
“ Obviously, survival is important but we weren’t put here just to survive, we were put here to create. What if we could begin to imagine a nature-rich future with new kinds of cities, homes and neighborhoods? New kinds of workplaces? If we don’t aim much higher than sustainability, we’ll never reach it. An experience in nature is super-important in making us mindful of who we are and where we are in the moment.” – Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle
Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel……
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!
~ from the lyrics of ‘The Windmills of Your Mind.
There are many versions of this song and I’m currently listening to the Eva Mendes version which you can find here.
What got me listening to this song after long time, are my reflections this morning. As I wrote my morning pages, I recalled the flurry of thoughts that went through my mind last night.
I confess now that I am an ‘over-thinker’! I tend to overthink and over analyse events, situations and possible outcomes of present decisions’! But there’s one particular thought that struck me last night and it troubled me for a while. The question : what am I contributing to the world?
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily events of life. “What should I cook for lunch?” “We need to buy laundry detergent.” “Pablo is due for a vaccine.” Hmmm… Each of these activities are important in themselves, but last night I began to wonder where they fit into the overall picture of the meaning of my life. Surely, when I die, no one is going to remember what I cooked for lunch on Sunday, May 7th, are they? No, I am not unhappy doing any of these things, just wondering how they matter?
And so the windmills kept on churning until I fell asleep.
Now to come to my reflections this morning. I realized that I am contributing something unique to the world – just by being me. The seemingly mundane tasks of my every day are all part of a larger picture.
It’s all a matter of perspective. You can see life as a series of chores. Or you can choose to believe that all the little tasks are meaningful in themselves and all add up to a much bigger picture that is your life. I recall this story:
“Three people were at work on a construction site.All were doing the same job, but when each was asked what the job was, the answers varied.
‘Breaking rocks,’ the first replied.
‘Earning my living,’ the second said.
‘Helping to build a cathedral,’ said the third.”
– Peter Schultz
I know that I’ll think of something to over-think about soon enough! How do the windmills of your mind work?
Awesome! A word we use so casually that it seems to have lost its original meaning and power. Remember what ‘awe’ means? A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder. Sometimes we’re so caught up with our lives that we forget to feel awe – to stop and marvel at life. Today, I’m inviting you to take an awe walk.
A heightened state of awareness comes when we look, and then look again, and then relax into whatever situation we are in. When we have a capacity for fascination with simple things, we are able to sit peacefully for hours on a park bench, or in an airport, engrossed by the different gaits and gestures of people as they walk, talk, and stand. We develop the ability to be patient as we stand in line at the grocery store because we have the ability to look with fascination and wonder at all that surrounds us. -Charlotte Davis Kasl
Take An Awe Walk – find out more here: http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/awe_walk#data-tab-how
If you are new to Friday Reflections, here’s what it’s about. It’s the end of the week, you’re probably exhausted with work, and all you want to do is sit back, put your feet up, sip on some fancy cocktail or wine, and write away. Sanch of Living My Imperfect Life and Everyday Gyaan give you writing prompts and all you have to do is choose any one of those prompts to blog about and link up between Friday and Monday. After you link up, be sure to spread the love by visiting other bloggers who have linked up too.
Feel free to add our Friday Reflections badge to your post or sidebar! Follow us on Twitter @FridayReflect and join our Facebook Group. Share your post on social media with the hashtag #FridayReflections.
Don’t forget to come back on Monday and vote for your favorite post!
Prompts for 5 May 2017
1. Thing you most wish you were great at
2. Imagine you had to parent yourself as a child. What would it be like? Get as creative as you can!
3. Cheating partners – forgive or flick away?
4. “You must go on adventures to find out where you truly belong.” – Sue Fitzmaurice. Use this quote in your post or as an inspiration for one
5. Picture Prompt (credit: Living my Imperfect Life)
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how blessed I feel at this point in time. I’d tell you how I’m learning more and more to see beauty around me. I’m learning that despite being more busy than ever, it’s easy to be mindful if you tune your mind to look for beauty. I’m grateful that I’m finding the magic in everyday moments and loving it. I am gratefully present in the present.
Finding The Magic In Everyday Moments
“The only true enlightenment is awareness of the vivid reality of life, moment by moment.” – Kosho Uchiyama
It’s my pleasure today to welcome a blogger friend, Menaka Bharathi to Everyday Gyaan and have her share Steps to Introduce A Mindfulness Practice To Children. Thank you, Menaka.
Is there a need to introduce mindfulness practice to children? This is one question parents ask me whenever there is a counselling session on mindfulness.
Times have changed, children have advanced, parenting has totally transformed!
This, though might look like a casual comment, is not exactly so. The media, changing food habits, social and cultural shifts and busy parents, eventually have brought about serious changes in children and their behavior.
Where children were once called naughty and playful, are now being called as hyperactive and/or suffering from ADHD.
Parenting has become demanding and challenging!
Introducing Mindfulness Practice in Children
In theory one could easily say – Embracing Mindfulness and practicing mindfulness can calm a busy mind. However when it comes to children, it is easier said than done!
You would find it difficult to make the calmest of the child to sit still for 10 minutes at a row. Children have thousands of memory cycles running through their minds every minute. Making them sit quietly for a while, does take quite a lot of effort and patience.
For parents my mantra is – “perseverance”!
Children can be made to sit still and parenting can become fun – but this takes systematic practice, endurance and consistency.
Advantages of practicing mindfulness for children
Katherine Weare, Emeritus Professor, Universities of Exeter and Southampton in her research on kids and adolescents, has confirmed that practicing mindfulness brings about changes in the meta cognitive forms of awareness.
The advantages are so impressive that you would want to jump into the mindfulness wagon immediately. Well, again – IT IS NOT EASY.
They say “If you cannot explain a thing to a 6 year old you actually do not know about it” Mindfulness can be interchanged as ‘the thing’ here, in this context. You need an unfathomable understanding of mindfulness practice so that you would be able to answer the why, what, when and how of the practice.
I always recommend parents to follow simple steps that can be easily monitored. I conduct weekend classes in schools and have found that early mornings work best for young children.
You can begin mindfulness classes to child from 5 years onwards. However, do not impose; make the sit with you when you practice.
The steps given here are a combination of steps followed worldwide, which have been carefully siphoned down as an adoptable one to every age group, especially the younger children.
First things first
Before introducing mindfulness practice to your children I would advise parents to follow the steps, gain enough experience and then begin asking your children to follow. This is advantageous in more ways than one.
You personally get the basic know-how of practicing mindfulness
You induce the basic vibrations in your home for your child to practice.
You can guide by showing your indulgence in the art.
7 Steps to Introduce Mindfulness Practice To Children
Here explained are seven steps to practicing mindfulness. Take them one by one, slowly. These instructions are for the parents (and children who can follow them) so that they can try themselves for a week or two and then teach their children.
#1 Choose a time
It is a common belief that when you practice something at a fixed time continuously for 45 days, you would practice it throughout your life.
Such a practice can be set in your body clock only when you practice it at a prefixed time. It is always better to practice mindfulness in the mornings; this is mainly because your mind is fresh and ready to do anything you want your mind to.
Set the alarm clock at least half an hour before you begin, you don’t want to rush yourself or start clumsily.
Complete your morning chores and then set yourself in the right place for the practice.
#2 Select a Place – Getting into your Mindful Self
I always suggest parents to make this simple, in fact I would favor sitting on your bed or on the carpet below. This makes the practice easier than to go to another room and then start.
You are here starting some positive vibes, so with your loved ones around, you may as well share some with them.
For those of you, who would want a separate room, well, that is not a bad idea though.
#3 The Bell Technique – Hear Bell Go Still
For children, I have found the bell technique to set the pace of mindfulness very helpful. It gives them an instant push to enter into mindfulness. You can use a physical bell or a bell sound on your phone.
Sit comfortably, there is no need to restrict yourselves to any postures that is uncomfortable, however combining certain yoga poses such as Padmasan or the lotus pose would enhance concentration in children. Ask your child to sit in Padmasan only if he/she is comfortable otherwise sitting on the chair with the spine straight is fine too – comfort is the important point here.
Close your eyes, this is just to make sure the wandering in your mind can be reduced by closing your eyes. Of course there will be a lot of thoughts rushing in, watch the thoughts, do not try to push those thoughts away. Be watchful of the thoughts that arise, it might be the day’s work, previous days occurring or anything that you have watched in television.
For the initial days do not try to do anything with your thoughts, let it wander. After two to three days use the bell a few minutes after you close your eyes, all that is now needed is to breathe slowly.
The body needs to get ready for the next step – give three minutes for the breathing to get into a rhythm.
#4 The Nose –Heart – Nose Technique
Deep breathing is the basic mantra in mindfulness!
Reduce the speed of your breath and start following your breathe. It needs to go from your nostril into your lungs, take a few seconds for the gaseous exchange to happen there. You must mentally be feeling the air going through your nostrils.
Listen to your heart beat – you need to count five heart-beats – 1,2,3,4 and 5.
Now the air returns through your nostril.
This complete cycle of Nose – Heart – Nose is the only cycle you should be concentrating on. Every time you inhale, make it slower, longer and deeper.
Children find this technique easy to follow. In fact they can set into a rhythm faster with the Nose- Heart- Nose technique.
Practice this for 5 minutes (lesser for beginners – if required)
#5 Visualization – Seeing through the Minds’ Eye
Now begin instructing your mind (loudly for children) to visualize a beautiful flower or a lamp, a flame – a point that you can divert all your concentration to.
You can guide your child to visualize the flower, I want you to describe slowly in a calm voice the flower that he is seeing, a beautiful one, vibrant color (choose a color of your child’s choice) and its fragrance.
Give a detailed description of the fragrance. This is important to make your child concentrate deeper, the smell involves a meditative state and you will find best results when your child can really enter that phase.
Describe the flower for at least 10 days, stick to a single pattern every day, Do Not Change.
Practice this for three minutes.
#6 Bring Out The Smile
At the point when you (your child) are getting the fragrance, smile (ask him to smile).
You must feel the smell surrounding you – going around your, brushing past your body, your face. Smile slowly enjoying the fragrance. Feel positive energy in form of fragrance entering your body through every single breath you inhale. Feel the slight heat you are emanating just till a few inches around your body.
You have become positive, a very positive energy is encircling you, engulfing you – guiding you to start your day.
Smile – and feel the pleasure.
You should be in this state till you hear the bell. Ideally 2 to three minutes – the mind will start wandering for the first few times, with practice you can increase the time.
#7 Ring the Bell
The total process would be about 15 minutes. You can set a small vibrating alarm for the timings of different steps so that you can give instructions at the right moments.
After 2 minutes of feeling your aura around you and smiling – the bell needs to be rung.
Make it one simple –TING sound. Do not speak as soon as you ring the bell.
Wait for a few seconds, then – begin uncurling with rubbing your palms together and transferring the heat to your eyes. This gives the eyes the required light and heat difference to adapt to the light in the room.
That’s it – we have completed the practice – simple 7 steps to Introduce Mindfulness Practice To Children! Simple Right!
In my workshops I have found that children practicing mindfulness begin becoming responsible and better individuals within a week’s time. They start planning their day and also concentrate more on studies.
Parents have found it easy to connect with their children and guide them better, it takes only 15 minutes every day.
This is very easy, you just need practice and sooner you would find your child becoming a new individual you never actually imagined he could be!
If you have difficulties in guiding your child you could join my audio classes that I conduct online. I have a seven module class where I give you one module each week to practice. It can be used to set your child into mindfulness.
Menaka Bharathi a.k.a Simple Indian Mom is basically an Agricultural Microbiologist. She is an Organic Lifestyle Enthusiast and Organic Food Producer who markets it under her own brand –SIM Organics. Mother of two energetic boys she blogs at simpleindianmomand is a Parenting Consultant and conducts online and offline workshops on teaching mindfulness to children and mind-mapping for a better future for children.
Just yesterday, I came across a new blog – Christine Everyday – and loved her words about the New Year: “Don’t expect your life to change just because the year does. You have to make change for yourself.”
Yesterday, as I sat down to write my ‘vision for 2017’ and create my bullet journal (yes, I’m trying out a bujo this year), I realized that unlike past years, my feelings were of anticipation and not of regrets. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness have certainly helped me to go easy on myself and not beat myself up about things I didn’t achieve in the past year.
“Mindfulness, or the ability to be present with our experiences without the intrusion of so many old habits, cultivates our inner resources. And when we develop those resources we become not so defined by the things that are going on around us, and we’re more able to let go gracefully, we have a sense of grounded-ness, and I think that makes us very happy.” — Sharon Salzberg
I have many ideas for 2017, but I want to start over some unfinished projects on this blog.
1. My Happiness Project that I started in 2014 and shared here but abandoned
2. The Artist Way series that I started last year and didn’t complete
3. My #everydaygratitude posts.
I also want to create a lot more resourceful content here. I tried a few such posts last month and was happy with the response. In case you missed them, here they are: