This one vivid luscious rich moment

This one vivid, luscious, and rich moment,

this one right now, it never comes back.

monarch_med

It’s a gift that comes with each breath and heart beat.

It is an immersion in a manifold of miracles, all conspiring together to experience the passion of transformation throughout reality.

We are all given the blessing of focus so that we may learn to appreciate Everything.

It is All in this one vivid, luscious, and rich moment.

This one right now.

Love it!

Don’t wait to meditate

buddha

Are you one of the many people who knows that regular meditation is scientifically proven to change your brain structures that improve well being and reduce stress, but you never find time to do it?   Psychology Today backs this up.

Are you also one of many people who get caught up in the “important” distractions of life: business meetings, email or trudging through the La Brea document pits, to name a few?

Are you tired of having stress in your life compromise your well being?

Me too, and here’s a way out: don’t wait to meditate.

How do I do this, you ask?  It’s very simple.  As a matter of fact, you already are doing it.

Breathe:

  1. Focus your attention on your in-breath.  Notice the sensations that come to you when the air flows in in a purposeful way.
  2. Pause, pay attention to the expansion and the feelings of the moment while the breath is held.
  3. Be mindful of the relaxation that comes from a controlled and peaceful release.
  4. Repeat 1

Do this during a business meeting.  Empower yourself in the moment by practicing breathing meditation during a tedious requirements session or budget planning meeting.

Do this to get through chores.  How about when you are going through email?  Returning calls?

When else can you do this?

Tune in, don’t tune out

Breathing meditation is a means to be more present.  You will know that you are doing this right when you become more awake to, and aware of your world.  Being more present to your experiences in each passing moment gives you more information and inner control.

Too simple to be effective?

Nope.  Every breath is an opportunity to connect your focused attention to the present moment.

Am I doing this right?

Stop asking that question and let yourself just focus on your breathing.  Do not load this with expectations for an outcome.  Just be present in this moment to focus on your breath.  This is the most powerful place you can be.

What’s in this for me?

  1. Increased sense of well being
  2. Increased compassion
  3. Improved memory
  4. Improved concentration ability

Just to name but a few benefits.

Why is it so hard to do?

See the answer to “Am I doing this right?”  Take this opportunity to be gentle with yourself.

So, don’t waste your breath anymore.  

Don’t wait to meditate.

More information on how to do quick meditations.

Genius, power, and magic

A friend of mine today had shared with me a bold venture that he is about to undertake.  His words inspired me and stirred up the spirit of a quote that I want to share with you.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

~ Goethe

The word “genius” is a particular favorite of mine.   The Online Etymology Dictionary tells that it is from the Latin “genius,” meaning “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent”

Genius: a guardian spirit.  This definition doesn’t exactly fit within our modern interpretation of genius.  We think of someone whom is exceptionally bright or talented as a genius.  It’s more of a label and less of a spirit now, as is with much of our experience of things it seems.  But, what if it still is a spirit?

What moves you?  What inspires you?  What shakes your frame?  When you connect with these deep inspirations, do they not give you energy and strength?  Do you not stand taller, feeling a bold energy expanding from within?  Does this energy not guard the best parts of who you are?

Connect with what inspires you.  Meet your genius!

What is Ego?

Yogi Amrit Desai has been a Yoga and spiritual leader for over 50 years.  He is the founder of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

I found the following definition of the ego by reading the EnlightenNext Magazine’s interview of Yogi Amrit Desai by Andrew Cohen:

The ego is really the inborn sense of “I am,” and that is something that nobody can avoid. The sense of “I am” is an identification that has different expressions through the evolutionary stages. The first experience of “I am” is when we directly identify with the body and is connected with the survival of the body. That’s how it begins. And then I realize that I have a body, but I’m not my body. Then I realize that I have a mind, but I’m not my mind. I have my emotions, but I’m not my emotions. I have my self-concepts, but I’m not the concepts I have about myself. I have opinions, but I’m not my opinions. It’s an evolutionary process, an evolutionary journey of ego. Ego is a sense of “I am” as an individual being, which nobody can deny. Ego is not something that is useless or that should be gotten rid of. It needs to be purified by clearly realizing who I really am.

–Yogi Amrit Desai

This is one of the best definitions of the ego I’ve seen.

What will you do to clearly realize who you really are today?

Meditation changes your brain

Ever hear that your brain is just like a muscle, it gets stronger with exercise?  Researchers have proof that this is true.

A study at Emory University in Atlanta shows that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation practice, of which mini-meditations are based on, improves the subjects’ response to stress even when they aren’t meditating.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows specifically a decrease in activation level of the right amygdala in response to stressful stimuli, supporting that meditation improves emotional stability and response to stress.

Check out this Benson-Henry Mind-Body Institute press release for more information:

http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1520

What does this mean for you?  In just as short as 8 weeks, regular meditation can bring you closer to that flow state where you experience your greatest creativity.  How about better mental performance under pressure?

Why not go for an 8 week mind-makeover?

 

Need to relax? Do a mini.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed but can’t take yourself “out of the game?” Try a “mini.” Want to calm down and open up a more relaxed blood flow? Try a “mini.” Want to relax and tap in to the resources of creative flow? Try a “mini.”

“Minis,” short for mini-meditations, were developed by the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind-Body Medicine to reduce stress quickly and easily in little time.

What is a “mini?”

A mini-meditation is a short meditation. No need to chant or hum (unless you want to) nor do you have to sit on the floor. These mini-meditations can be done with your eyes closed or open. I prefer my eyes to be open just a little so that my co-workers don’t totally think I’m sleeping. You can do a mini-meditation seated at your desk, on the floor, or lying down. A “mini” can be done anywhere really as long as your posture is aligned and comfortable and when you don’t need to have fully conscious focus on the task at hand, like driving a car.

My first experience doing a “mini” was at The Revolutionary Practice of Mind Body Medicine Training provided by the Benson-Henry Institute. I saw that within 5 minutes of doing a “mini” I was relaxed. I had proof.

Chill out to warm up

Prior to the “mini” they gave out Biodots to put on the fleshy part of our hand between thumb and index finger. http://www.biodots.net/about/ Biodots are thermometers that show the skin temperature changes. When you are stressed blood flow to the hands and feet is constricted. Conversely, skin temperature changes with increased blood flow. Meditative relaxation opens up this peripheral blood flow. The experience was very cool (pun intended.)

When I put my Biodot on it was black. Ugh! That must have been a mistake since I wasn’t stressed. I was at a mind-body conference and we’re all happy. Nope. Black. However, by the time my mini-meditation was done my Biodot smiled blue at me. My hands felt warm. I felt relaxed and calm. All in less than 5 minutes. It took me longer to write this paragraph than the time it took to relax like that. Maybe I should be doing a “mini” right now? So, what are the different types of “mini?”

Types of “minis”

Looking through my notes they suggest 2 basic ways you can reset you mind by doing a “mini:”

  1. Counting
  2. Repeating a phrase

But, before we can go into the specifics of these mini-meditations we have to review the foundation of meditation practice, and indeed the essential requirement of all aerobic life on Earth.

Breathing is important

To do any meditation you first must become aware of your breath. Feel your breathing. Notice it’s pace. Become aware of breathing in. Notice where your body expands while breathing in. Feel the air coming into your lungs. After breathing in feel the pause in your breathing. Feel how your body feels during this pause in breathing. Be gentle with yourself during this experience. Then, become aware of breathing out. Feel the air flowing out of your body. Feel how your body comes back to form.

Counting meditation

A counting mini-meditation is one where you slowly count along with your breathing. It is very simple to do. No special pillows, bells, gongs, chants, or robes required.

Slowly count up from 0 to 10. Each number corresponds with a slow exhale of your breath. Breath slowly. Think about the numbers as you breathe out. Counting is associated with the out breath because of the parasympathetic response of relaxation that happens when exhaling. In short, the exhale is when you relax more.

This is a deliberate and slow process. I don’t know about you but just going through the exercise describing it is making me feel better. It’s only 10 breaths, why not give it a try?

If you’d like to try something different there are variations of this counting meditation. You could count up during inhaling and count down during exhale. For example, while breathing in you could count up from 0 to 4, counting slowly, pause briefly, then count down from 4 to 0 during exhalation. This technique is good if you want to expand your lungs and slow your breathing you could count up and down over a greater range of numbers. This is a nice way to slow down.

Repeating a phrase

Meditating on a phrase can be even easier than counting. Instead of keeping track of the numbers all you have to do is repeat a short, meaningful phrase over the time while you breathe in, and breathe out.

“I am, at peace” is a phrase that Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist and meditation teacher, suggests to meditate on. It is one of my go-to phrases when I stop, drop and meditate. This is how “I am, at peace” would be used for a repeated phrase “mini.” On the slow inhale of your breath think of the first part of the phrase “I am.” Pause gently. Slowly breathe out thinking and absorbing “…at peace.” Repeat this 10 times. More if needed.

The phrase you choose should be meaningful to you. It should also invoke a feeling of peace and calm. It is best kept simple. It can be religious or secular. It’s your choice. Try different ones that create deeper spaces of calm for you.

When to do a “mini”

I like to do repeated phrase meditation while on the commuter train.  I don’t have to drive it is a great time to meditate. You can do any kind of “mini” to clear your mind while at work. Hardly anyone would notice if you’re blankly staring at a computer screen, breathing deeply. You can even do mini-meditations while walking to get extra benefits of exercise of walking. Mini-meditations can be done anytime when you don’t need to have fully conscious focus on the task at hand as for instance driving a car would be.

Why not try a “mini?”

If you’ve read this far then you’ve already exceeded the time required to do any one of these different forms of mini-meditations. Why not take another two minutes and try one?

Whiteboard on your desk

Have an idea?  Write it on your desk.  Creating designs?  Write it on your desk.  Think this is nuts?  Write that on your desk.

The challenge of capturing your muse

White boarding is a de facto standard to capture ideas.  Nonetheless, we mostly work on a keyboard at a desk of some sort.  Modeling and drawing tools have come a long way but they still get in the way of you and your idea.

The traditional whiteboard is an interruption to creative flow too.  You have to stop what you are doing, stand up (or turn away to it,) and write in vertical strokes.  I don’t know about you but even in this small amount of time part of my muse has gone bored and the fidelity between the idea and something that works has diminished.  This is unacceptable.

My muse speaks, I draw, no delay

I put a whiteboard on my desk.  Whenever I get an idea or a design in my mind I write it on my desk.  Easy capture, easy erase and easy change.  I then immediately can create these designs, merely looking to my right or left, depending upon where my scribbles are and move on with working software.  Thus, my muse speaks, I draw, no delay.

If my desk runneth over with creativity I use my smartphone to take pictures of these designs and transfer them to my laptop for later recreation.

I started this habit over 10 years ago by writing in pencil on my desks.  Back then they thought I was crazy.  I think sometimes crazy is good.  Thankfully now I have whiteboards!

Try it out

And, to get you started: WallMates has a self adhesive safe-stick whiteboard.  That’s the type I use.  Its the right size for my desks.  If you find better, use that.

Tips and tricks on how to mindfully get more stuff done.

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