MEDITATION BLOCKS

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Meditation can be a challenging practice for a lot of us. I often hear comments like, "I just can't meditate," or "my mind doesn't quiet down," or "I can't tell if I'm doing it right."

The proof that this practice is unparalleled in terms of bringing us back to center and the myriad of benefits for both our psyches and our physical health is indisputable.

So why all the resistance? Here are a few reasons why we may be avoiding this practice:

  • it's new - The most obvious of all is simply because it's new to us. When we are incorporating something different into our routines, we tend to have a lot of resistance to it. It requires a change of behavior and daily patterns. Think about any time you changed your daily routine to incorporate something good for you, whether that was getting more exercise or eating differently. These new activities feel foreign to us and cause discomfort. Typically we try them, feel uncomfortable, and eventually revert to what was comfortable.

  • overthinking it - Our minds are so used to thinking, processing, trying to make sense of things, that we are not used to just being. This state of "being and not judging" is uncommon for most of us. However, it's what is needed in more areas of our lives than we are aware of, and it's definitely required in cultivating a meditation practice. If you can approach meditation as an observer as opposed to a doer, it will help take the need to "process it" out of the equation.

  • it's a skill - I think one of the most unexpected things about meditation is its deceptive ease. It involves sitting, silence, and breathing - this sounds like something we should all be able to do naturally, but in actuality, it's a skill. If you think about most skills, they initially involved some sort of formal introduction or instruction. When it comes to meditation, due to its apparent ease, we sit down and wing it, and then wonder why it isn't working for us. If you are at all serious about starting a meditation practice, I would highly recommend some form of instruction, whether that be with a teacher, a weekend workshop, or even an app.

  • it's a practice - Like all learned skills, meditation requires dedicated practice. It's unrealistic to expect significant change and dramatic insights while we are still getting accustomed to the process. Try it for thirty days consecutively and then reflect on any changes you may have noticed due to this new practice.

  • expect disruption - This is a big one and one of the main byproducts of any personal growth process which no one really talks about. Because we spend so much time running, overstimulated, and busy, we are usually disconnected from our inner selves. When we get still and give our minds some space, truths that have been suppressed under all that activity begin to surface. We start to notice that maybe we aren't happy in our jobs or our relationships. We may see that we are spinning our wheels on tasks and activities that aren't fulfilling to us. Perhaps it dawns on us that we would be happier living in a different location, one that feels more aligned with the lifestyle we want to create. The bottom line is that when we take the time to tune-in, it can mean that shifts are coming, and for some, that is terrifying - hence the resistance.

All in all, meditation will bring us closer to ourselves and our truth - it is a tool for alignment. Having the awareness that as we evolve one area of our lives, the other areas tend to follow suit allows us to approach this process a little more consciously. Thoughts and feelings that begin to point us toward change are here to serve our highest good and to place us where we will ultimately thrive. Only when we resist those insights does change tend to avalanche into our lives. However, if we tune in, honor the messages, and gradually point ourselves in new directions, the transitions can be much more balanced and fulfilling.

EMOTIONS - A ROADMAP TO HEALING

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The past few weeks have been an emotional time for a lot of people I know (myself included). If you've been feeling it, then congratulations, you are attuned to your heart and the energetics that have been playing out in our realities.

But before delving into the heart, it may be a good idea to discuss the context of emotion in general. In case you haven’t noticed, emotion in our society gets a pretty bad wrap. It’s not okay to be “emotional”, any emotions that aren’t deemed “positive” need to be squelched as quickly as possible, and don’t even think about actually processing any of those “bad” emotions unless you want to invite them into your experience permanently. If you're a man, good luck - the restrictions are all the more amplified. So where does that leave us? Mostly in the space of denial, suppression, numbing, escapism, and repeating the patterns of unhealed wounds that we are not allowed to address.

It is true that emotions, especially difficult ones, can be messy, inconvenient and downright unpleasant at times. Here is where a broader understanding of emotion is necessary. Your emotions serve one of the most vital roles on your journey through life. That role is to show you, at any given time, whether you are in alignment with your higher self of not. They are the roadmap to your authentic self and your first line of defense when it comes to self-care. When you ignore or deny them and continue to dismiss their intelligence, it creates disharmony within your being which eventually results in illness and/or disease, not to mention a pretty unpleasant reality.

We have been taught to value our minds over our emotions, however, the mind can tell you any story you want it to. It can argue both sides, it can rationalize any point of view. The heart, however, cannot lie. Your emotional state will always reveal what is most true for you.

Since most of us don’t have much resistance to positive emotion, for the sake of discussion, we’ll focus on the not so fun side of the spectrum. If we understand that everything that has been provided within ourselves is here to help us on our journey, then our emotions are part of the same medicine. Painful emotions, everything from apathy to frustration to rage are showing us where we are out of alignment with what is good for us. This usually translates to being out of alignment with ourselves, our relationships, or our circumstances. Similar to the way physical pain calls our attention to where our bodies need healing, emotional discomfort shows us where our spirits need healing.

This is not new information for most of us, but the challenges come when it’s time to “deal” with these emotions. The first being, we don’t want to and are taught not to. There is so much social conditioning around the suppression of negative emotion. We’ve never been taught, nor do we allow ourselves the space to process difficult feelings and let that energy move out of our bodies.

Secondly, instead of moving into the discomfort of negative emotions (which, let's not kid ourselves, takes an immense amount of bravery), we avoid, numb, suppress, drink, shop, eat, and bury our heads in our phones. What is important to understand about painful emotions is that they do not dissipate when untended to, rather they transmute and take up physical space in our bodies. This knowledge, backed by Eastern medicine, is why the suppression of emotions like anger, which compound over time into rage, is energetically responsible for some of the most debilitating diseases in our world today, including cancer. When you think about the immense pressure we live under every day, the traumas we endure without healing, and the overall stress that accumulates in our lives, it makes perfect sense that these types of conditions continue to be on the rise.

So, what to do… firstly, do not dismiss your emotions, sit with them, feel them, work through them, either by yourself or with someone. Sounds simple but this is incredibly difficult given our current social and emotional climate around feelings. Also, don't buy into the pressure of denying how you feel - worrying that it will result in some horrible outcome. Only by doing the work will you overcome whatever is holding you back from your greatness. Build a community of people around you who are committed to authentic expression, these are the people who will be able to hold space for you to do the same. Understand that these feelings are coming up to help redirect you down a path that will ultimately be best for you. It can be a messy journey, but you will be happier, healthier and more alive in the end. Lastly, be kind to yourself. Feelings don't come up for no reason. They are here to serve you. Your ability to address, process and transmute them speak to your courage and emotional fortitude. Be brave.

BEING IN YOUR BODY - THE KEY TO BEING PRESENT

There has been lots of emphasis in recent years about being present, and for good reason. In this state, we can detach from stress, calm our minds, are more easily able to access our true selves, and enjoy life around us.

What this essentially boils down to is being in our bodies. At any given time, most of our energy is not in our bodies. It’s in the future, or in the past, or in our minds, but not in our physical bodies. Being in our bodies allows us to be in the moment and when we are in the moment, we are not stressed about future events, pressuring ourselves with to-do lists, or repeating past conversations and scenarios in our heads. It quiets the energy around us and allows us to take in whatever activity we are engaged in.

Here are a couple of quick ways to bring your awareness back into your body. You’ll notice that when you do these exercises, you will instantly feel more connected to ourself and things will quiet down around you.

exercise 01 | place both hands over your heart, close your eyes and take three slow deep breaths. this is a brilliant exercise that takes no time at all and will quickly get you to connect to your body. though deep breathing is always great, the additional gesture of touch helps focus us into our bodies and heart space in an immediate way.

exercise 02 | in a sitting position, simply close your eyes and focus on a center point in your body, this could be the center of your hips, the center of your chest, or the center of the inside of your head. now simply call back your energy from wherever it may be outside you. imagine it coming back from the past, the future, memories, conversations, wherever and whomever it may currently be with, and feel it collecting back in this space within you. once it is all back with you, take a deep breath and open your eyes. you should feel calmer and more connected with yourself.

Here are some additional ways to gauge how present you are in your day to day life:

  • when you are walking from one place to another, say leaving work to go to your car… are you noticing the people and places around you? the temperature of the air, trees or flowers in bloom?

  • when preparing a meal - are you present to the sensations of the food you are prepping, it’s freshness or texture, the smell of the herbs, the sounds of things cooking?

  • when eating, are you tasting our food and chewing your food? one of my favorite ways to be in my body when I’m eating is to pay attention to how long I chew my food. for proper digestion it is said that you should chew each bite of food at least 30 times (or until it dissolves). it sounds a little gross but I did this exercise for about a week and was surprised by how much it showed me about my eating patterns. give it a try for just one meal and you’ll see what I mean…

  • when you are showering, are you taking in the temperature of the water? noticing how it feels on your body? this is a great time to enjoy the moment and refresh yourself. water is incredibly healing and taking time to absorb this ritual can be a luxurious experience.

  • driving is another time when we often leave our bodies. are you present to your drive? notice whether you feel relaxed or tense? are you seeing the things you are driving past? again, this is another time when you can’t really do anything else and since most of us drive alone, it can serve as a great space to take some time for yourself, enjoy the ride and be present to your moment.

THE NOT SO MYSTERIOUS GIFT OF INTUITION

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We are all energetic and intuitive beings. Since starting this work, I have had so many people ask me “how” I access the information I do, and how I am able to communicate on a non-physical level. The truth is, we can all do this. Though our “gifts” may take different forms (seeing, hearing, or simply sensing information), it is not something that is reserved for a special few. It’s built into our senses and everyone has it. If you are curious about how to connect more with this part of yourself, keep on reading…

start to notice your intuitive nature - The truth is, we received intuitive messages every day. They come in the form of feelings, senses we get about people and places, random answers that come to us from friends, maybe something we’ve heard on a podcast or even a song. Because we are energetic beings, we pick up on most of our information energetically. This is why when you meet someone, you often get an immediate read on them. There is something about them you like or something about them you don’t. Most people pick up on this in extreme cases, meaning people you REALLY like, or those that REALLY rub you the wrong way. As you get more attuned to feeling into your environment, you will be able to pick up on the energies of people and spaces by simply being around them. Start to notice the environments that feel good to you and those that feel difficult. You can do this with events as well, the next time you are in a meeting at work, read the way the energy feels in the room, what is your intuition telling you on a non-verbal level.

turn down the noise - One of the other main reasons intuition may seem hard to access is because of external noise. This refers to both audible noises, as well as, the noise in our minds or mental clutter. It’s been about 8 years now that I’ve consciously reduced the noise in my physical and mental space. This means more silence and bigger doses of nature. In that time, not only has my life calmed WAY down, but my intuition really came online and it seems to get more attuned as the years pass. We spend most of our lives being constantly over-stimulated by external sources, from news to television, to traffic, and even music. Though none of these things on their own are problematic (well, may just the news…), the constant stimulation keeps our brain on overdrive. Layer in the to-do lists, and always running to keep up with over-scheduled lives, and you can pretty much say good-bye to your intuition coming through. There is simply no space for it. Try taking it down a notch, block out time for a few minutes of silence, take up a meditation practice or head out for regular walks in nature. You’ll be surprised what comes through…

intuition is quiet - It rarely (never for me) comes in like a flash of lighting or a jolt of clarity. it’s subtle, it’s a quiet thought, a recurring feeling, that thing that you keep seeing repeatedly, the book that four of your friends have mentioned now, the coffee shop you keep meaning to check out, these are intuitive hits. as you become attuned to your own intuitive messages, you may notice other details as well, maybe a particular sensation in your body, like feeling warm or cold. for me, it comes with a sense of “having to do something” that feels different than other ideas or prompts that float through my brain.

trust the information that comes through - This is probably the toughest one for most of us. The fact is that most of us disregard this information. We have been taught that in order for information to be relevant, it has to be processed logically through the mind. Our minds, however, are simply one way in which we access information, and usually not the most accurate. The other thing is that information doesn’t always align with how we “see our lives”. Your intuition is coming from within you but from a higher self. It’s not really concerned with whether this information “makes sense” in our world or is convenient for us. For example, you may be an executive with a lucrative career, yet your intuition is nagging you to write a book in the woods. Or you might get a hit to visit a certain place and not really understand why. The best way to learn to trust this information is to follow the trail. I’ve learned that for me, intuitive hits are like a breadcrumb trail. The outcome might not be super obvious at that moment, but invariably, they lead me down a path, one crumb at a time.

A WHOLE-ISTIC APPROACH

It has been said that a holistic approach to our lives is needed to reach a space of balance. But what does that look like in a practical way? For me, it is comprised of the basic pillars that make up my daily experience: physical health, emotional health, food, and my space (home). These are the ways in which I can personally affect my everyday experience, and always determines how I show up in the world. Whether that’s in my personal relationships, my work, or to the stranger in the grocery store. When these aspects have been tended to in a nurturing way, I am more grounded, less agitated, and generally enjoy my own company more. Though four areas every day may seem like a lot, I usually go easy on myself and do what I can on any given day.

PHYSICAL HEALTH | Though I love a long, drawn-out hike on the weekend, during the week, physical health is usually my biggest challenge (bless those of you who wake up at 5am and make it to the gym, this will never be my reality). That being said, I can always find time for a short Pilates routine, a few yoga poses, or if nothing else, a brief series of stretches (sometimes in the kitchen!), which seems to do the trick.

EMOTIONAL HEALTH | This is a big one and one that most of us have been taught not to prioritize. I do what I can every morning to start my day in a balanced state. The quickest way for me to do this is with some deep breathing in the morning, even spending 5 minutes before I get out of bed, taking deep breaths to connect and check in, will start me off on the right foot. The next part of this is honoring what comes up for me during the day, if I get irritated or frustrated, I will process through those emotions either by myself or with a friend and then I can let it go and move on. Of course, there are days when emotions run high for one reason or another. The important thing here is to allow them to move through as opposed to suppress, bury or numb them. Most days, simply sharing them with someone you trust will defuse their intensity and if you can get to a place where you can laugh about it, that’s even better.

FOOD | I’ll be doing a post in the future on intuitive eating which is what I practice on a daily basis. This basically means paying attention to how foods make me feel, listening to my body and what it needs from me on any given day and generally making choices that feel good and satisfying. I will not punish myself, I will not restrict myself, and I don’t involve guilt or judgments like “being good” or “being bad” to enter into the equation. Eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods, always leaves me feeling more energized and less driven by cravings throughout the day.

SPACE | My home and personal space is a huge contributor to feeling a sense of balance and ease in my everyday life. A space that is uncluttered, functional, and serene does wonders to ground me regardless of what else is happening in my world. Creating a nurturing environment, whatever that looks like for you can be a rewarding way to care for ourselves.

Think about these four pillars in your own life. What small things can you do on a daily basis to tend to them in order to nurture yourself in a more “whole-listic” way.

UNDERSTANDING ENERGY

Everything is energy. So, by now, most of us have heard this a hundred times, and though we “get it”, it wasn’t until I truly absorbed this concept and put it into practice in my everyday life that I started to notice some pretty profound changes. It is now the principle that governs my life and has led to an understanding of interconnectedness and cause and effect that influences every action I take.

For me, the light bulb went on when I learned about the now famous water study conducted by researcher Masaru Emoto. If you are not familiar with the research, he basically studied crystals of water that were collected from a singular source. He then separated the water into containers and exposed them to different elements of energy such as music, phrases (labeling the containers) such as “love and gratitude”, or “you make me sick.” Finally, he photographed these highly magnified crystals to reveal that the water exposed to harmonious music and thought forms had very beautiful and balanced crystalline structures, while those exposed to difficult energies formed jagged and irregular shapes and structures. Given the fact the over 60% of the human body is made up of water, including 73% of both the heart and brain, 83% of your lungs, and 79% of your kidneys, it seemed pretty profound that the exposure to different forms of energy could literally alter the state of the structural components of our beings.

It was with this information that the gateway to energetic science opened up for me and I wanted to learn EVERYTHING. I started to become aware of things like the slogans we wear on our t-shirts. Similar to the labeled containers, these “words” had an energetic frequency and by wearing them, I was imprinting that energy into my body. Same with the things I watched on television or took in with advertising. It started to spill over into all areas of my life and I began to take notice of how I felt when I exposed myself to different situations, or how I felt around specific people. Did they make me feel good or bad, did I leave feeling energized or depleted? I then began to slowly move in the direction of the things that felt good and gently back away from the things that didn’t. I started applying this theory to food, activities, relationships, projects, work, my home, even my drive home. Did it feel better to sit on a freeway or to weave through neighborhoods and take in the sights? How did the music I was listening to make me feel? What about podcasts or movies?

This process has become my roadmap and now, over 10 years later, here are some of the changes I’ve noticed:

  • Stress is not the default state in my everyday life. Sure, there are times of stress that are unavoidable or moments in the day that can be unnerving, but in general, I am not “stressed out”. What’s even better is that when those times of stress inevitably emerge, I am in a stronger place and better equipped to handle what comes my way.

  • By choosing the people and things that fill me up, I’ve simplified my life. I also no longer over schedule myself or commit to things I don’t truly want to do. I don’t put pressure on myself to complete tasks that don’t really matter.

  • I am healthier. I rarely get sick anymore. When I start feeling run down, I stop. I do the things I need to to take care of myself instead of pushing through and feeling miserable in the process.

  • I have a clearer mind. It’s no longer cluttered with things like bad news, fearful headlines, chaos, and stress inducing programming that I used to take in automatically. Creating some distance between myself and that type of energy has left me feeling more relaxed, less agitated, and oddly more in control of my life.

  • I question everything. I no longer automatically believe statistics or something someone told me they heard somewhere, or the latest study saying that what was good for me last week will kill me this week. I take the time to experiment with ideas myself, to entertain the things that make sense to me and disregard the things that don’t, regardless of which expert says what.

  • Mostly, I live life in the moment. When with friends, they have my full attention. When I’m home cooking dinner, I’m enjoying the process. I try to stay present on my commute home, taking in the weather, looking at the trees, checking out the neighborhoods, or enjoying a podcast that feels uplifting.

  • The quality of my relationships are richer. Gone are the constant complainers, the criticizers, the drama queens, the people who seem to always be unhappy and unfulfilled. Of course, we all have these moments from time to time, so it’s not about running away every time someone has a moment, but rather recognizing how I feel around them in general. Do I usually leave feeling exhausted and drained or do I leave feeling uplifted and energized. Do I feel loved and supported in general, or is there an undercurrent of competition and envy. Over time, it becomes pretty clear who to move toward and who to step away from.

  • Freeing up more room mentally and focusing consciously on things that enrich my life has created space for me to be more connected to myself. I can step back and understand my behavior, as well as the behavior of others, with more clarity and compassion. I’m less likely to be reactive and can resolve conflicts in relationships in a way I am proud of. The other benefit of being more connected to myself has been a staggering increase in my intuition and understanding of the greater world around me. This, in of itself, has been worth all of the work.

Though I have SO many more things to work on and through, understanding how energy works in my life has caused me to make some profound changes that have laid the foundation for further growth and healing as this journey unfolds.