Heal Thyself through Meditation

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Heal Thyself through Meditation

Consider: if your body is healthy but your mind is filled with negativity, stress or toxic thoughts, you cannot function optimally. This can result in dis-ease or  disease. If your mind is positive, quick and bright but your body is ill, you are incapable of giving your all. This can result in dis-ease or disease. If your mind and body are quite healthy but your spirit is in pain from loss, or trauma it is difficult to live wholly, openly and with trust. This can result in dis-ease or disease.
 
To calm and control the mind, we learn that meditation and the practice of positive thinking are highly effective tools to stop the 'monkey mind’ – or the ‘mind chatter'. Again, developing a steady meditation practice for a short time every day will change your life. Taking charge of a runaway negative mind by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is a way to re-train the mind to serve us in a healthy way.
 
Without this control, the mind tends to control us causing depression and anxiety, or anger and fear-based behaviors. The use of visualization is also very helpful in boosting our mental immunity.
 
The practice of meditation  is an organic, holistic, immune system "booster" that provides us with natural ways to reduce the effects of not only physical, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual pollution. Meditation helps us realize that not only the physical toxins that we encounter day to day in our environment affect us, but also by the pollutants to our mind, our spirit, our energy and our divine nature. There are countless studies that show that both yoga and meditation  improve immune functioning in all layers of our being and it is actually working to benefit us from the genetic level all the way through the spiritual level.
 
Meditation aids in mental focus helping to purify the body, mind and spirit, moving us towards enlightenment and encourages more mindful and healthy behaviors to aid us on this path.
 
With a steady and regular meditation  practice, we have a much greater sense of inner  awareness which enables us to detect sooner when something is not right. By being more in touch with ourselves we're able to administer self care more quickly and efficiently by adjusting our asana or breathing practice to a more gentler one, spending more time in meditation, eating more mindfully, and resting when necessary.
 
It is so important to understand how you can direct your meditation intentionally, in order to heal yourself and keep yourself balanced and healthy. Whenever you feel like you're coming down with a cold or flu, if you're dealing with a diagnosed illness, or you feel that something is wrong and you don't know what it is- use meditation to let help you let go of fear and surround yourself with healing light.
 
Please feel free to listen to my healing meditation.

Namaste,
Jen
 

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Silent Meditation

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Silent Meditation

We live in a world of noise. The noise of unnecessary speech, the ringing and pinging of our devices, the noise of harsh music and inane commercials and programs on TV. The humming of the heater or air conditioner or other appliances are forever moaning in the background, and the sounds of cars, motorcycles, busses and trucks are ever present when we move from one place to another. Our minds are addicted to a steady stream of stimulation and are accepting of invasive and loud noises for large parts of the day. This is not our natural state of being. Even when we have opportunities for quiet we look around for how to fill the “emptiness”.  In our mechanized, digitized, sensationalized, information world of today, we allow constant noise to invade our space and now are so used to it that it feels natural and frankly, necessary.  This way of life is not the norm and it succeeds in separating us from nature and from our own nature. The constant need to have our attention focused outward prevents us from going inward. Even sitting to read a book has become impossible for many because it is too quiet, and takes too much patience.

The most healthy, healing and loving place that exists for all of us is deep within; that place of 'peace beyond all understanding' that is eternal. How do we live from that space if we're always so busy covering it up with noise?
              
If you are willing to take the ‘plunge’ into Mouna, or silence, you are opening up your mind and heart to an inner world that you may not even realize exists. The practice of Mouna can bring a level of healing and self help into your life that reaches deep inside and changes you from the inside out. This is because when you are in silence you are literally existing differently. You're doing and being in a way that is conscious and mindful. You are giving yourself the space to ‘create space’, to understand yourself and to make changes that may be necessary. You make room for clarity and openness of heart. To spend time with yourself, without judgments or filters or expiration dates creates a softening and opening that leads to deep self awareness. It's one of the simplest things you can do, but it's not easy. It requires patience and deliberate commitment. Yet there are few practices in life more rewarding.

Swami Sitaramananda, my teacher, tells us that:

“We are constantly doing and do not allow ourselves to be silent and to build a relationship with ourselves. There is extensive scientific research showing that silence is essential to our health and well-being.”

Physical Benefits

  • Loud noises over 30 decibels increase high anxiety, stress and blood pressure. Silence lowers blood pressure and allows us to deal with life’s challenges in a better way.
  • Silence is an immunity booster… it helps our body fight off invading bacteria and other pathogens.
  • Silence lowers blood cortisol and adrenaline levels… adding 30 minutes of silence a day can change your life.
  • Silence allows for hormone regulation and interaction of the entire hormone related systems within our body.
  • Silence keeps plaque from forming in our arteries… and thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes.
  • Silence makes us look and feel younger and at the same time have a lot more energy.

Mental Benefits

  • Silence recharges our mind. While sleep reboots the mind, silence recharges it.
  • Silence allows us to get grounded, when too many things around us are moving constantly. It helps to calm the emotions down, detach from the situation and make wise decisions.
  • Silence allows us to get out of our survival and reactive mode of living and thinking and into a deeper and more fulfilling mode.
  • It is a tool for contemplation and meditation. It is meditation itself. To quiet the mind we have to get it to stop talking… and for that we have to practice being silent first.  In starting with silencing our body, specifically, our organ of speech, the mind will follow suit.
  • It allows us to be the witness of our own mind. When we introspect by being alone in solitude or retiring into a calm room for an hour, sitting quiet in a room alone, with closed eyes and watch the activities of the mind, we begin to get a glimpse of who we really are, our real goals, dreams, and ambitions.  It is like revealing the glory of the sun after the clouds covering it dissipate. Calming our mind removes the thoughts (clouds), and the spirit; our Higher Self can then shine through.

Spiritual Benefits

  • Silence makes us happy. Spending time in silence boosts brain chemistry… and increases our ability to concentrate.
  • Silence makes us appreciate life, connect with our Higher Spirit, and be more centered.
  • Silence gives us space and inspiration to ask ourselves profound questions like “who am I?” “what is the purpose of my life?” to “practice gratitude" .  We could live our entire life without ever having the time or mindset to even try to understand who we are, why we are here, what is God’s plan for us, what is our life purpose, and are we living our life according to God’s intention? 
  • Considerable peace follows a period of silence. The energy we’ve saved from not speaking becomes transmuted into spiritual energy (Ojas).

One way to begin a practice of Mouna is to practice silent meditation. Silent meditation is a gateway into a very deep state of consciousness. As you get more accustomed to being in silence through meditation, you can elongate these periods of silence, beginning with an hour of conscious silence and move to a half of a day and perhaps even choose to have a whole day in silence where you don’t speak and you remain peaceful the entire day. Here I will explain to you briefly how to begin with silent meditation.

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, calm your body and breath, and go within. It's ok if the mind wanders- don't get frustrated or critical of yourself. This is what the mind does- that's it's job! Your job is to learn to focus the mind however you feel comfortable which may be to actually witness your thoughts and just be with them. You can also choose to watch your breath or focus on a mantra or an affirmation.

Ohm or Aum is the universal mantra and if you choose to focus on a mantra in your head, this is always available to you. Inhale ohm, exhale ohm. Sohum is another widely used mantra mimicking the sound of the breath. When used for meditation, "Sohum" acts as a natural guide to one's breathing pattern, to help achieve deep breath, and to gain concentration. Sooooo... is the sound of inhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that inhalation and Hummmm... is the sound of exhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that exhalation.

The meaning of Sohum is: 'I am that.... reinforcing the infinite nature of our soul and the non-necessity to label ourselves as something in particular, such as I am mother, I am worker, I am woman.

You can also repeat a mantra of affirmation such as: I see clearly, I am health, I am abundance. Make sure that this type of mantra is in the present sense- not in the future such as; I will be healthy... Otherwise your focus will always remain in the future!

Another way to focus and calm the mind is to bring your attention to the 'third eye' located slightly above the space between the eyebrows and inside the skull towards the center of the brain. The third eye is thought to be the seat of consciousness, and your connection to your intuition, higher thinking, and voice of wisdom. It is also the portal to dream states.

Once you feel completely relaxed and can go deeper, let go of the mantra or focus and let your mind and heart be free to move deeper in silence. Practice for perhaps 10 minutes at first and work your way up to an hour. 

With peace,
Jen

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The Breath and Meditation

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The Breath and Meditation

Why is the breath so important? Why is there so much emphasis put on breathing in Yoga and meditation? When you think about it, we can live without the basics such as food, water, shelter, or love for some time and still survive. The one thing that we cannot live without for even 5 minutes is our breath.
 
The breath is what connects our true essence, self, or soul to our body. It is the thread that links our body, mind, energy, and spirit.  When we come to the realization of how crucial our breath is to our wholeness, health, peace of mind and longevity, then we come to understand the importance of harnessing, deepening, and gaining control of the breath.
 
Pranayama or breath practices is an integral part of yoga and meditation. Prana means life-force and ayama tо regulate оr lengthen...so the practice of pranayama is to regulate and lengthen our life force.
 
The breath is the one function in the body that is both involuntary (meaning that we continue to breathe whether we're conscious of it or not) and also voluntary (meaning we can control our breath consciously). It is the management of prana, the vital life force that animates all levels of being.  Prana enables the body to move and the mind to think. It is the intelligence that coordinates our senses, and the perceptible manifestation of our higher selves. By becoming more attentive to prana—and enhancing and directing its flow, through these practices we can invigorate the body and the mind, develop an expanded inner awareness, and open the door to higher states of consciousness and being.
 
When the breath is controlled, strong and functioning harmoniously, the health and vitality of the mind follow. There are a number of breathing patterns that I will teach you in future classes. Some are stimulating, some balancing and some calming. All of the breathing practices help to increase oxygen in your cells, remove stale air from the lungs and toxins from your body.
 
A simple breathing practice that you can do anytime is a breath called, ‘three part breath’.  Let’s practice.  Sitting or lying in a meditative posture, inhaling and exhaling through the nose, slowly inhale to the count of 3 into the abdomen, the ribs and the chest.... and exhale slowly, abdomen, ribs and chest. Take 10 breaths like this. This is a calming breath and a great beginning practice to begin to feel what it's like to guide ourselves through the breath, to breathe deeply, intentionally, and in a focused and controlled way. It may be hard at first, but keep practicing and you will get it, believe me!
 
The second breathing practice you can try is,  ‘square breath’.   Inhale to a slow count of 4, pause for 2, and exhale to a slow count of 4, pause for 2 and repeat 10 times. It’s helpful to focus on the pause between the in-breath and the out-breath. I call this the magic moment where you feel a sense of suspension or floating sensation. This is also a calming breath.
 
After these 2 relaxing pranayama practices, let the breath come back to normal and meditate for up to 15 minutes just focusing on the natural inhale and exhale. You can always visualize the breath coming up the spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head on the inhale and the breath moving down the spine from the crown of the head down to the tailbone on the exhale, if this helps you.
 
Each time that the mind wanders, bring it gently back to the breath without judgement or self criticism. A wonderful mantra to repeat during this practice is: 'Not now, I'm breathing'.
 
Go for as long as you feel comfortable. Enjoy your breathing meditation. 

Namaste,  
Jen
 

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Mantra and Meditation- the Perfect Pair

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Mantra and Meditation- the Perfect Pair

As we learn more about meditation through practice, we begin to understand that one of the underlying goals that we're trying to achieve is to get control of the 'monkey mind' or 'mind chatter'. Realizing that “I am not my mind” is a crucial step on the road to self-realization and enlightenment. Recognizing that the mind is a 'tool' for us to take in information, learn, and function in our environment, but it is not the essence of who we are…is a major step.
 
Many of us exist so much in our mind that we believe all of the thoughts and stories that our mind feeds us, even though much of our thinking is unnecessary, false, or negative. Meditation allows us the space and inner discipline to come to a deeper understanding of our eternal nature and to step away from the mind stuff, even for a moment, resting or abiding in our own true nature.
 
Mantra Meditation employs the use of a particular sound, phrase or affirmation as a point of focus. The Sanskrit term ‘Mantra’ means:  Man: to think,  and tra: instrumentality...an instrument of thought.  Mantra also means: “protecting the one who receives it”. The act of repeating a mantra is called ‘Japa meditation’, which means 'recitation'. Just as prayer and affirmations need to be stated with a purpose and feeling, a mantra meditation practice requires conscious engagement on the part of the meditator.

Sanskrit mantras are vibrations that resonate in the body in different ways.  The repetition of Sanskrit words or phrases heighten our own vibration which in turn heals the body and opens the mind to higher learning and states of consciousness. It is the same concept as a rosary. Repeating a phrase while counting the beads on a rosary help the mind to calm down and focus on one elevated spiritual thought or idea, raising the level of consciousness and spiritual connection.
 
The universal mantra is the sound Om or A-U-M.
 
Om is not a word but rather an intonation which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Om or Aum. It is believed to be the basic sound of the universe and to contain all other sounds within it. It is a mantra or a prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the center of one's being, the Atman or the soul.
 
Sohum is another widely used mantra mimicking the sound of the breath. When used for meditation, Sohum acts as a natural guide to one's breathing pattern, to help achieve deep breath, and to gain concentration.
 
Sooooo... is the sound of inhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that inhalation.
 
and Hummmm... is the sound of exhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that exhalation.
 
The meaning of Sohum is: 'I am that....', reinforcing the infinite nature of our soul and the non-necessity to label ourselves as something in particular, such as I am mother, I am worker, I am woman.
 
You can also repeat a mantra of affirmation such as: I see clearly, I am health, I am abundance. Make sure that this type of mantra is in the present sense- not in the future such as; I will be healthy... Otherwise your focus will always remain in the future!
 
This type of meditation is very effective for those who have trouble calming the mind and getting it under control. Inhaling and exhaling your mantra gives your mind a focus and trains it to become 'one-pointed'.
 
Having a one-pointed mind is an incredible advantage in all aspects of your life. It enables you to focus so much more on what you're doing and to live wholly in the moment.
 
Choose your mantra, whether it be Om, Sohum, an affirmation, or a prayer and inhale and exhale the mantra during this practice. 

You may want practice my Mantra Meditation audio to see how this benefits you!
Namaste and Peace,
Jen
 

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Mindfulness Meditation and Being Present

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Mindfulness Meditation and Being Present

May is meditation month! Meditation is a means to directly experience our true nature. To accept and know ourselves for who we really are behind all of the labels and structures and stories that we build and create to allow us to survive in this world.

Sitting in stillness and looking within allows us to penetrate through the ego-self that is restless, confused, and ever changing, and connect with the eternal self that is always peaceful, blissful, and impervious to what is happening in our environment and in our minds.

Happiness is within, but we spend our lives searching for happiness in sensual objects. It is when we stop running after our desires and letting go of our attachments that we can abide in our true nature that is eternal, not dependent on ‘things’, and inherently perfect.

The second type of meditation that we will practice together is Mindfulness Meditation.  In being mindful of what is happening in the present moment with our breath, sensations in our body, and sounds in the environment, we can begin this inward journey.

By focusing on the moment-to-moment happenings within and without, allows us to deepen awareness and move closer to the spacious, unconditioned, loving presence within all of us. Each time that our mind creates another thought that cries out to us that it's more important and urgent to pay attention to, without criticism or judgment, we bring our focus back to the breath and the sensations in the body.

With a detached observation, we become the witness of our own mind and, consequently, begin to get it under control. By becoming the non-judgmental observer of our own mind, we can tap into our intuitive knowledge, our wisdom and higher knowing, creating inner strength, inner peace and healing.

Please try my ‘Mindfulness Meditation’ and you will experience what focusing on presence can help you relax, detach from anxious, stressful thoughts, and connect with a deeper part of your being that is peace, joy, and understanding.  Enjoy this dive into the ocean of your true being!

Namaste,
Jen

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