Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

Gratitude is Good for Us!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Feeling grateful has many benefits: reduce depression, sleep better, connect to others with optimism, decrease negativity…it’s all good!

When you greet the day, think of 3 things to be grateful for. Share them with friends via email, FB, text, or just jot down your thoughts in a journal.

Create conversation with gifts, blessings, fortune and abundance.

Happy Thanksgiving

Showing Gratitude

Examples:

You are asked “How are you?” rather than say, “I can’t complain” try “Everything is going well, thanks” or “I am blessed”

Instead of “Don’t throw the ball inside!” try “Please take the ball outside”

At work instead of “Can I give you some constructive criticism?” try “Would you like some feedback?”

“Stubborn” can be “Persistent”

Smile at someone. Give someone a hug today. It can be fun turning negatives into positives. Good vibes come back to us. Gratitude is a boomerang!

Mindfulness Meditation – Get your Zen on!

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Simple mindfulness meditation: 

  • Find a comfortable, quiet place with natural light
  • Set an amount of time. most beginners start with five minutes a day and increase time with practice Use a meditation timer, your phone or kitchen timer
  • Sit on support – a park bench, a meditation cushion or mat, somewhere solid where you can be comfortable, your feet or knees touch the floor or ground.
    • Rest your hands on the top of  your legs, palms upward is most common but not necessarymindfulness-meditation-outdoors
    • Allow your spine to naturally curve,
    • Gaze gently downward or close your eyes
  • Focus on your breath
    • Breathe in with your nose or mouth and follow your breath.
    • Breathe out, releasing tension.
    • As you breathe in and out, know you are alive in the moment
    • If your mind wanders, go back to breathing in and out without judgment or expectation
  • If you need to shift position, pause, gently move and then return and follow your breath
  • When you are done, gently lift your eyes or open them
  • Pause, feel your thoughts and emotions and decide how you want to go on with your day
  • Whenever you feel stressed take a mindfulness moment, focus on your breathing and enjoy the moment as tension is released.
  • A recent JAMA study found that those who practiced mindfulness meditation had reduced chronic back pain. Others found reduced gastrointestinal issues, less anxiety, improved cholesterol levels and much more

We hope mindfulness meditation adds Zen to your life!

 

What is a Japanese Noren?

Friday, October 14th, 2016

A noren is a traditional Japanese door curtain or Japanese fabric divider.  They are hung in doorways, windows or even to conceal a hall or storage closet. Most feature a sleeve along the top for a curtain rod or bamboo rod for easy hanging.  The most common noren is rectangular, but you can also find ‘half door’ or ‘top door’ noren for specialized styles.  Noren normally have a slit that runs from the bottom to nearly the top. This makes it easier to pass through the curtain.

These Japanese dividers may be used to enhance any room or doorway.  Noren are also used professionally in business. Restaurants and small businesses use these in doorways to help keep out dust or as a buffer against the sun. Business owners often print their name and logo on these to draw more attention to their place. Outdoor noren used in businesses allow customers to know if the business is open or closed. The curtains are hung in the morning when they open and taken down at the end of the day when they close their shops.  These are popular in Asian restaurants to separate the kitchen and dining room.  Noren softens noise and can trap odors in the kitchen.

Noren are available in many styles and patterns including written kanji or calligraphy, fish, birds, poems, temples, mountains, scenery, characters and people.  Chopa Zen Home recently added several new patterns.  Our favorite is the Kinkaku-ji Temple noren. The Kinkaku-ji temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) resides in Kyoto, Japan and was built to house Buddhist relics.  Across the water, an elegant Maiko (Geisha trainee) strolling the garden has stopped to admire the temple. You will enjoy the vivid colors and symbolic designs of this noren. This noren is made by artisans in Japan.

Japanese noren curtain

Noren – Kinkakuji Temple

The I Ching?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Man has sought wisdom and answers to questions for centuries.  Ancient man probably used bones to divine the future.  Developed over 4000 years ago, the I Ching has evolved as an important tool for enlightenment, using trigrams, hexagrams and 3 coins.  Many have used the I Ching to discover simple, profound and intuitive advice.  We found a simple guide to the I Ching, or “Book of Changes”  if you want to explore and find wisdom to follow the right path.

View now at www.chopa.com How to Use the I Ching

Why does a mala have 108 beads?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

If you ask several people, you may receive several different answers. The number 108 is significant for several reasons. Some meditation practitioners believe the journey of the human soul has 108 stages, while others associate the possibility taking just 108 breaths in a day, while in a deep meditation state of enlightenment. We would not recommend one try it.

The best theory we discovered is that the 108 beads on your mala is open to your own interpretation. What is important to you is what matters most. Mala beads were created as a practice tool to use during meditation. While you don’t need mala beads to meditate, most people that use them make it part of their ritual. Mala beads help you to manifest and keep you focused on a mantra. A mala allows one to chant their mantra and keep track of where you are. While many mala necklaces have 108 beads, some contain 54, or half of that amount of beads.

Another explanation for the number 108 is based on Chakras. It is believed there are 108 energy lines connecting to the heart. One of these paths is believed to be the path of self-realization. Others state that while chanting your mantra during meditation you are whole when you reach 100 times.  The extra eight beads account for errors or are meant to be an offering to your guru.

Another belief is based on the ancient script of India.  Within the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters.  Each has a feminine and masculine version adding up to 108. Other theories evolve around desires, lies and delusions. There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals. There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell. There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.  Math also points to some theories of the number 108. Nine times twelve; both of these numbers have significance in various traditions, 9 X 12 = 108.  The number 108 is also a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. Harshad is from Sanskrit and means ‘great joy’.

The more research you perform, the more ideas and theories you will discover. We fall back to our beliefChakra Rudraksha Mala that whatever is important to you is what matters.  Namaste!

 

15 Minute Heart Health, It’s all about breathing.

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

When you don’t manage stress effectively you place an unnecessary burden on the one muscle that keeps you alive: the heart. When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” response. The brain releases hormones that cause your heart to pump faster, thicken your blood, and raise blood pressure. If you constantly experience this stress response, it eventually changes the way the heart and blood system function-putting you at risk for heart disease.

There’s a “cure” you can use anytime, anywhere to change the way you respond to stress and actually lower blood pressure and protect your heart from the deadly grip of stress. Cardiologist, Dr. John Kennedy, developed ‘The 15 Minute Heart Cure’-a set of simple breathing techniques that creates a connection between the heart and brain. This method helps you calm down, reenergize, and protects your heart all at the same time.

To get the most out of using this technique, try to do it at the same time each day.

B in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Beginning. Begin in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for 15-minutes. Begin with a positive attitude. View this time as a gift to your health. Seated in a comfortable position, try to clear all thoughts and bring focus to the your breath, slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

R in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Relaxation. Relaxation brought about by this technique creates changes in brain waves and the rhythm of your heart. Visualize yourself walking on a ‘path to relaxation’, perhaps a beautiful hiking path. With each step, you become more and more relaxed.

E in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Envision. Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Deepak Chopra are called visionaries for good reason. Research shows envisioning is an important part of achieving a goal-be it a story, a revolutionary digital device, or a new paradigm in medicine. Imagine your heart as powerful and strong. Research also shows that imagery can lower your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and strengthen your immune system.

A in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Apply. In Dr. Kennedy’s book, there are heart-healing images and metaphors for you to apply during your 15-minute practice and during stressful moments. Tapping into the imagery, even from memory, can help break the cycle of stress in the moment it is happening.

 T in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Treatment. Your time spent with this technique is no different than taking time for a spa-treatment. See this time as a 15-minute oasis that you create.

H in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Heal. This technique will strengthen neural networks that connect your heart and brain so that your body easily shifts from stress response to relaxation response. Healing is more likely to occur in a relaxed state, bringing more oxygen into muscles, lowering pulse rate and blood pressure, and enhancing immune response.

E in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = End. After 15-minutes of mindful focus on the breath and heart-healing imagery, you will feel deeply relaxed and energized and revitalized. As you end your session, quietly notice your surroundings and visualize how you can use the technique throughout your day.
Breathing-Techniques_for-Meditation

 

Practicing Zen Meditation Techniques

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

How do you meditate?  Do you practice Zen meditation techniques? Many folks need a Zen meditation guide. If you are one of them, you may find the following meditation tips helpful. To gain the most benefits of meditation, we should try to make it a habit. Zen meditation for beginners takes practice and even experienced practitioners seek to improve with meditation exercises. To meditate more naturally & effectively, here are some beginning meditation tips.

Start slowly –

Begin Zen meditation with just a few minutes and gradually increase your time.  How do you know when your Zen meditation time is up?  To avoid looking at a clock to check the time, set a meditation timer or bell to sound the end of your meditation session. Use of meditation timers or bells enhances concentration for all types of meditation.  Some practitioners start by ringing a meditation bell and let the sound carry them into a quiet state.

Set a mediation time –

For successful mindful meditation, set a specific time each day to meditate.  Many practitioners say the best time to meditate is the first thing in the morning.  One of the best Zen meditation techniques is to commit to a regular time for one month and it will become a habit.

Maintain Correct Posture –

Posture is an important part of Zen meditation. Whether you sit on a mediation bench, mat or meditation cushion, you want to be comfortable, with your back and your head up. As body & mind connect, good posture helps create perfect mind-body balance.  Use of good meditation cushions will improve your posture, especially with regular meditation exercises.

Use a Comfortable Zafu and Zabuton –

When practicing Zen meditation, use a comfortable meditation cushion such as a Zafu and Zabuton. They help maintain correct posture to you can focus on spiritual enlightenment.

A sacred space –

Many practitioners set up a meditation room with comfortable meditation cushions, a meditation bell or timer, prayer shawls and incense sticks.

Breathe –

While practicing Zen meditation techniques, count your breath starting at “one” as you inhale through your nose and “two” as you exhale.  Count to ten and repeat starting over again.   Do not worry if your mind wanders, let this breathing technique bring it back into focus.

Burning incense –

Certain kinds of incense can produce a very calming effect. We can quickly develop positive associations with a particular scent, allowing the mind to quiet and a retreat-like atmosphere settle around us.  Some of the best incense for meditation is sandalwood for grounding and relaxing, patchouli to lift your spirits, amber for elevation and letting go, and frankincense for centering and purifying.meditation-enlightenment

Love yourself –

During your meditation exercise welcome your thoughts and feelings as friends, they are a part of you.  There is no “doing it wrong”!  You are getting to know yourself.  When you finish a mindfulness meditation session, smile!  Be grateful for any amount of time you take for yourself.  You are on a path to spiritual enlightenment.

If you need high-quality products to ensure a successful Zen meditation session, visit Chopa.com now. On this popular online store, you can find a wide range of products, like Zen Books, Zen CDs, books on meditation, prayer shawls, meditation timers, meditation cushions, incense sticks, meditation bells, mala beads, meditation mats and more. Visit http://www.chopa.com

Eight Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

While the goals of meditation differ for each practitioner, they share common benefits. Here are eight of those.

Meditation reduces stress. “Meditation is mind without agitation,” Narasimhan says. Stress creates agitation and is something most of us deal with on some level. And it’s increasing, given the rising use of anti-anxiety medications, notes Stanford University researcher Emma Seppälä. Meditation allows people to take charge of their own nervous system and emotions. “Studies have shown improved ability to [permanently] regulate emotions in the brain,” adds Seppälä, who is also the associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford. “It’s very empowering.”

It improves concentration. “I’m more centered and focused in everything I do. I don’t find myself getting as distracted anymore,” says Sara Robinson of Indianapolis, who did the Sahaj course last February. The ER nurse and sky-diving instructor adds that multitasking is easier. At least one study has shown an improved ability to multitask, Seppälä says. “Meditation has been linked to a number of things that lead to increased ability to focus, memory … We’ve seen this at the level of the brain.” Greater concentration is related to the increased energy meditation provides. “It connects you with your real source of energy,” Narasimhan says.

It encourages a healthy lifestyle.  “I tend to want more things that are better for me,” Robinson says, adding that she eats more fresh foods and has cut out nearly all alcohol. She also stopped smoking. Susan Braden, who lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and also did the Sahaj course, says the practice has made her apply the Hippocratic oath — “First, do no harm” — to herself. “You just want to put good things in your body,” she says. That means “closest to what’s natural. So if it doesn’t look like a tomato, I wouldn’t eat it.” Braden also gave up coffee, replacing it with tea.

The practice increases self-awareness. Before Zaccai Free, a District of Columbia resident, began meditating in college two decades ago, he had a very short fuse – to the point, he says, of wanting to commit acts of violence. Meditation taught him to recognize his own anger and become more detached from it. It cleared his mind and calmed him down, he says. Mostly, “it made me more comfortable in my own skin,” adds Free, who does many types of meditation, including Sahaj, Agnihotra, laughter and walking meditations. “When you take more time to dive inside yourself, you are more comfortable showing who you are.”

It increases happiness.  “Meditation puts you on the fast track to make you happy,” says Ronnie Newman, director of research and health promotion for the Art of Living Foundation, the umbrella organization for the Sahaj meditation course. Studies have shown that brain signaling increases in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions, while activity decreases in the right side, responsible for negative emotions, Newman says. The other benefits of meditation, including increased self-awareness and acceptance, also contribute to improved overall well-being.

Meditation increases acceptance. Braden was a high-profile senior policy advisor in the State Department, constantly on the go to trips around the world, until seven years ago, when she was struck by multiple sclerosis. She turned to meditation, and her world view flipped. “I have a disease which really brings you back to yourself,” Braden says. “Meditation helps me accept that. You explore your inner self and realize that’s just as big as traveling to Burma.” For Braden, learning to meditate has been harder than learning Arabic. “It’s a lifetime job. But it changes how you feel life, and it’s made it more enjoyable for me,” she says.

It slows aging.  Studies show that meditation changes brain physiology to slow aging. “Cognition seems to be preserved in meditators,” says Sara Lazar, a researcher at Harvard University. Lazar adds that meditators also have more gray matter – literally, more brain cells. Lazar’s colleague, Elizabeth Hoge, did a study that showed that meditators also have longer telomeres, the caps on chromosomes indicative of biological age (rather than chronological). That meditation lengthens life “may be a bit of a stretch,” Hoge says. “But there is something about meditation that is associated with longer telomeres … [perhaps that] it reduces stress and its effects on the body.”

The practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health. Meditation induces relaxtion, which increases the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and subsequently, blood pressure to drop. One study, published in 2008 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed that 40 of 60 high blood pressure patients who started meditating could stop taking their blood pressure medication. Meditation also improves immunity. “I hardly ever get sick anymore,” Robinson says. “I don’t think I’ve had a cold since I started this.”

 

~ Kristine Crane, meUS News

10 Signs That You Are Ready to Give up on a Dream

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
The reality of moving on ~

One of the most commonly held beliefs about dreams is that we must achieve them. Modern culture is full of reminders of the importance of achieving goals and manifesting visions.

Almost anywhere you hear phrases like:

“Go for your dreams”, “Follow your heart’s desire”, “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

These are just a few catch phrases that come in addition to all the self-motivational material on social media, in popular music, on television, etc. Everywhere we look, we seem to be bombarded by overexcited cheerleader squads prompting us to get to the finish line of every single dream we have ever had, but is it always necessary?

On the other hand, giving up, aka quitting, is looked down upon. “Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle” becomes one of those little phrases that keeps us stuck with the same dream until “success” do us part. We become ashamed of wanting to move on, as if once you have decided that you would do something, there was some social and moral obligation to follow through. This puts a lot of pressure on people. We may not want to quit publicly, because we don’t want to be seen as losers. The element of pride/ego plays a major role in this, as if our entire identity relied upon one single decision.

How about if we all move on as we please and change dreams if the ones we once had no longer feel like they support us? Sometimes it is good to do some emotional decluttering. It is good to remove whatever is standing in our way, is holding us back and impeding our growth. Change is therefore the only constant element. It happens whether we have control over it or not, and each stage of development has specific dreams attached to it. Dreams that may have once felt necessary, but no longer are. We should be able to go through these transitions without going on a guilt-trip every time we choose to do so.

Below, you will find 10 telltale signs that it may be time to move on.

1. It faded like a teenage crush

As teenagers, we probably experienced infatuation for a celebrity. We may have spent hours researching their passions, their lifestyle and we may have temporarily lived our lives through every article we could find on them. It may not even have been a person. In my late teenag years, I developed an obsession with the island of Trinidad. It started with a song I heard, then in my early twenties, I finally packed my bags and over the course of the next 10 years, it would become a large part of my identity, until my actual identity cracked the scaffolding. I didn’t know it at the time, but the purpose of that dream had been accomplished. Teenage-crush-type-dreams paradoxically allow us to find our self while we may temporarily lose ourselves in a frantic passion for something, until it fades away and the person we have become, emerges and surprises us.

2. You have outgrown it

You may have felt passionate about something at one point in your life, yet suddenly the conversations you once had on this topic feel tiresome and empty. This is especially noticeable when you find yourself in the same social circles you once shared this common passion with, and you begin to wonder if the topics of conversations were always this uninteresting or if you just can’t connect with people anymore. When we have outgrown a dream, people who were used to identifying us with this dream feel weird to us. They still see us as attached to that dream, whereas we feel alienated. In the end, some people will accept us for who we truly are, and others will irremediably stay stuck with the image they had of us in the past. This is life. We should move on anyway.

3. You have other interests and it’s okay

Have we betrayed ourselves? What is going on here? How can it be that something else actually feels better than our dream? We never even imagined having other interests. Wasn’t our dream supposed to be the answer to everything? Wasn’t it supposed to make us happy forever? You know you may move on with life, when you begin to explore other possibilities and find more fulfillment in other things. Shifting the focus from blind obsession to whatever makes us a better and happier person can never go wrong.

4. You feel drained

In this case, it is not even about quitting, as much as it is about claiming our identity back. Sacrificing a lot for a dream that is not serving us is a recipe for failure and a very unhappy life. Dreams are supposed to nourish us, they are meant to make us grow. If you feel empty and you cannot even seem to remember why you had this dream in the first place, or you cannot even recall when last it felt great to follow that purpose, you may as well quit out of self-love.

5. You chose it for the wrong reasons

We all go through traumas in our life. Our wonderful instrument that is the mind has incredible ways of building a bubble when necessary in order to keep our attention off things that may deeply affect us. Sometimes we build defense mechanisms. Some people may find refuge in a dream. When a dream you once had becomes an impediment to your growth, do yourself a favor and pop the bubble. To nurture a dream doesn’t mean that we should solely live in an imaginary world and refuse responsibilities.

6. It has served its purpose

One day, when you wake up and you find that the teenage crush has faded, something else catches your attention. It is way more interesting. It is way more fascinating. It is raw. It is real. It is the person you have become in the process. Because truly, it is never about what we get. It is about who we become. Dreams come in all shapes and forms to teach us lessons on life, people and ourselves, lessons we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. So as each stage of growth has its dreams, moving on simply means reaching for the next level..

7. The fire is gone

Okay, let’s be clear. Following a dream will not always be a straight line, the point is to be able to push against obstacles and move on anyway. We do not choose dreams because they feel effortless, but because they have substance. If you do not feel energized at the thought of it, if there is no fuel in there, you may as well re-evaluate your motivations. There is nothing worse than following a dream out of habit, simply because that’s who we supposedly are and that is how others have grown accustomed to seeing us.

8. You are excited over a future that doesn’t include this dream

Your value as a person does not depend on wether you can accomplish this goal or not. If you get excited over the future and this dream is not in the picture, you may as well leave it in the past. In this lifetime, we will be many people and we will have many roles, we should be able to glide through all of them effortlessly. Letting go of a dream creates a space for ideas and possibilities. Can you think of something else that you would like to explore? The whole universe is available to us at any time, there is no point in feeling remorseful about it.

9. You are more focused on yourself now

What drives you? What are your limitations? What excites you about life? What keeps you interested? These are the payoffs that you did not expect you would have. Maybe it is because you have invested so much of yourself in your vision, you now rediscover the joys of taking care of yourself. You do so just because you feel like it. Like a child who is now moving out from their parents’ house, you are eager to celebrate your identity and your relationship with your inner voice has never been better.

10. You are at peace

In the end, no matter what people say, whether they judge us for not following through or they support us anyway, it doesn’t matter, as long as we are at peace with ourselves. We may never reach the finish line because somewhere along the way, we have come across a less traveled path that called us. Detachment is freedom. It is not about giving up, it is about letting go to allow better things to come our way. Likewise, it is not always about following any dream, but choosing the right one.

~ Maria Victoria Maleladr

Nine Practical Tips to Your Healing

Friday, October 9th, 2015

playful couple splash laugh and have fun at the beach together

Normally when most of us suffer from some ailment we blame the outside world or circumstances for it. An ailment is actually created in response to how you have felt about an external situation or circumstance. Healing cannot start until you take responsibility for your present state.

Healing is not about being free from the symptom or ailment. It is about getting liberated from past hurt, resentment, or guilt so that you can step in your wellness. You can lead a life you have always dreamt of, while harnessing your true potential.

Here is a formula of True Healing.

1- Take Full Responsibility for your present state – No one out there can heal you. It is your duty to heal all levels of your being, to be completely well. By educating and empowering yourself with sound holistic healing techniques, you will be on your way to healing.*

2. Commitment – Do whatever it takes to heal yourself. Be committed to doing what is necessary in order to heal, regardless of money and or energy you use.

3. Forgiveness – Forgiveness can actually heal you of disease. There are many people who carry hatred, resentment, anger, and bitterness toward the people they believe have hurt them. These emotions set in the body and get stored over the years until they manifest as disease and other imbalances. Your emotions also get stored in your energy fields and form blockages. There are now scientific instruments that can read your energy fields (aura) and are able to tell you where you have energy blockages.

4. Make wise choices on food and environment that will assist in supporting your physical health to enhance your healing process. Nourishing yourself and strengthen your internal systems.

5. Regulate your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to support long term health. Yoga and Pranayama assists in moderating negative thoughts and feelings, while reducing stress. In channelizing and restoring, you will find your true state of balance and harmony.

6. Regular exercise and yoga aid in improving blood circulation and maintaining muscle strength. Yoga improves posture and assists in maintaining or increasing flexibility, while releasing tension, and uplifting your mood.

7. Be the happiest person you know – Being happy in any situation is a choice you make. Accept your situation and try to maintain a good mood. Engage in activities which make you happy.

8. Reconnect with nature – take a walk in a garden, feel the grass, observe nature. Acknowledge the fresh air and embrace the sunshine. Give yourself the opportunity to reconnect to nature. We are organic beings and reconnecting to nature re-channelizes your immune response which boosts the healing process. You will witness miracles in your life.

9. Listen to your body callings – The symptoms you are feeling in your body in the form of pain or ailment, are actually your body’s way of requiring attention your body needs.

Accepting your current state and being at peace with yourself is the biggest gift you can give yourself. I myself have practiced it and have witnessed wonderful results.

*Note: If you are on medication, practice holistic approach alongside your medication, which will benefit you. Before discontinuing your medication, please consult your doctor.
~Urvi Patel