Archive for the ‘Zen Living’ Category

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

3 things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

We all experience moments when we feel overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities. Perhaps we’ve just got a new job and we’re worried about learning all our new tasks and impressing our boss, or maybe we just had a baby and find ourselves knee-deep in dirty diapers, we haven’t slept in a week and the laundry has formed a small mountain in the bathroom. Sometimes we simply feel overwhelmed by the seriousness of daily life without being able to pinpoint exactly what is causing the most stress. Taking responsibility and learning to balance the ebb and flow of daily life is the reason we come to our yoga mat each day. Bringing those lessons off the mat is necessary to reap the benefits of our practice in everyday life.

The reality is that whether we’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years or only started last week, each one of us at one time or another will find ourselves paralyzed by that sense of overwhelm. It’s part of the modern human condition, but also a reason to put the lessons learned on the mat into daily life.

To help us all get through these moments, here are 3 things you can do anytime and anywhere when you’re feeling paralyzed by overwhelm:

  1. Take a mindfulness pause

Stop whatever it is you are doing, including obsessive thinking and worrying and come into the present moment. Look around at what’s happening right now wherever you are…the trees moving in the breeze, the traffic passing my, the people chatting at nearby tables or working at office desks. Alternatively, close your eyes and notice how your breath continues to rise and fall like the waves of the ocean. Ever tried to do tree pose while thinking about what to make for dinner? A mindfulness pause is an anchor where you can find stillness within yourself and a place of balance within yourself.

  1. Make a list of the 3 most important tasks

On your smartphone or in your agenda (I’m a post-it kind of girl myself!) list the 3 most important or most urgent tasks. Perhaps these will be the only 3 things you accomplish today out of the thousand you have swimming in your mind but by breaking the overwhelming “to do” list down into a first small group of 3, you lighten the weight and are more like to get them done. No use kicking up into handstand without checking shoulder stability, the core, and drishti so break down the big jobs into little pieces in the same way.

  1. Practice non-judgement and self-forgiveness

These go hand in hand for me. Before, during and after all your tasks, be kind to yourself, release self-judgement and forgive yourself for those judgements you’ve been making about feeling overwhelmed. We can not go back and change the past, but what happens in the present moment creates our future. No action is too small a seed to plant for tomorrow. How many times do we notice judgemental thoughts during asana practice or seated meditation? We train ourselves on the mat to observe, yet continue. A little extra non-judgement and self-forgiveness off the mat today creates a stable foundation from which we can continue getting things done.

Feeling overwhelmed is a sign to step back a moment, before either coming to a complete stop or simply going forward on autopilot. Once we take a moment to realign ourselves and identify our main objectives, we can move forward knowing that we are putting the lessons learned on the mat into practice in our daily lives.Overwhelmed

-Roanna Weiss

What is a mantra?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

A mantra is a tool for protecting the mind from the habitual, unconscious cycles of thought and action we get caught up in. In ancient Vedic philosophy, these imprints on our subconscious mind are known as samskaras.

These impressions that get stored in our mind through cultural conditioning and past experience directly impact how we perceive our conscious experience in the present. Mantras are ancient techniques that we can use to protect our mind from getting stuck in the bottomless well of samskaras. The sounds themselves, even before they are assigned meaning, resonate in different parts of the body and mind, increasing sensory awareness.

The first mantra that you have been exposed to is most likely Om (Aum). It is a universal mantra and the primordial sound of nature. The A (pronounced Ah) resonates in the lower part of the body, the O in the middle part, and the M (pronounced Mmm) in the upper region. The vibrations of OM evoke movements of energy, beginning at the base of the spine and moving upwards to the crown of the head. For the spiritual seeker interested in ancient literature, the Mandukya Upanishad elucidates the syllable of OM and its four states of consciousness.

Mantra recitation guides the practitioner in finding their sacred inner sound – the internal music that has had the volume turned down. Sanskrit scholar Nicolai Bachman explains that Sanskrit originated as the language of mantra and that each mantra has specific or general effects on oneself, others and the world. When pronounced properly, this scared sound energy intimately connects the individual with nature. Swami Sivananda has taught that a mantra practice transforms the mental substance by producing a particular thought movement. According to him, these rhythmical vibrations regulate the unsteady vibrations of the five koshas (sheaths or layers). The koshas are believed to veil our inner Self. Meditation and mantra practice allow the practitioner to peel away the layers, diving deeper into the core of our being.

Daily practice of mantra meditation will make one centered in the core sheath. Developing a japa (mantra repetition) practice with the use of mala beads can take the practitioner into higher states of meditation. As we delve deeper, we use the mantra as a sanctuary that houses the source of power to manifest our intention. When we work with the sound energy of Sanskrit mantras, we tap into an ancient practice that has been performed for thousands of years as an expression of the pattern of nature.

~ Mihir Garudmt

Five ways to boost your health & happiness

Friday, April 24th, 2015
In a perfect world, “getting healthier” would involve a personal trainer and chef who arrive at your doorstep every morning and take you through a rigorous personal workout followed up by an organic, delicious and good-for-you breakfast.

In that same world, “being happier” might mean a two-week vacation on a beach with your favorite mocktail.

Perfect or not, your real world involves work and family commitments, not enough time to get through the daily to-do list, and a budget that is sometimes stretched to the breaking point.

Fortunately, it is possible to boost both your happiness and health in ways that are kind to your schedule and your bank balance.

De-haclutter Your Desk

There are plenty of things you can do in just five minutes to help make your day brighter. Set the kitchen timer and tackle your desk! Clear off this morning’s tea or coffee  cup, that pile of bills you need to organize, and your kid’s stack of permission slips. Run a microfiber cloth over photos and your computer monitor. It’s amazing how having a cleaner, clutter-free desk will help you to focus and concentrate on all of the other tasks you need to do.

Listen to Some Tunes

Music will calm the savage beast. Studies have found that cheerful and upbeat tunes can truly boost your mood, Psych Central notes. In addition, tunes on in the background may help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress level. While you are working around the house, put on your favorite music in the background — it can be cheery classical, jazz or hip hop, whatever you prefer. Enjoy a boost in both health and happiness.

Create a Place of Serenity

A wonderful way to improve both your health and happiness is to create a safe, calm and serene sanctuary right in your own home. It can be your master bedroom, a guest room or office. The only rules: it will be a happy place where you can go to unwind. Paint the room a soothing color, like these 10 suggested by House Beautiful. Add comfy furniture and shelving to hold books and photos. Add some beautiful window treatments to diffuse the natural light. The Shade Store features a gorgeous selection of drapes that come in a range of colors and myriad of styles.

Get that Weight off Your Shoulders

You know that task that you’ve been dreading… the one that has been on your to-do list for the past two weeks? Nothing will give you a jump start like crossing that darn thing off. So grit your teeth and do it: file your taxes, clean out the fridge, call your dentist, scrub that sticky spot off the floor. Whatever it is, just get it done!

Write Down What Makes You Happy

Every single day for a month, take a minute and write down something — anything — that made you happy today. These don’t have to be big things like winning the lottery or George Clooney showing up at your door with Girl Scout cookies. Use the opportunity to recognize simple joyous moments like light morning traffic or your child telling you you’re a great mom or dad.

Then, on those days when life throws you a curve ball, read through everything you wrote. It’ll be a wonderful reminder of all the good in your life.

-Yogi Times

Benefits of Coconut Water

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

For thousands of years, tropical cultures have enjoyed the nutritional and thirst-quenching benefits of coconut water. Those of us outside the tropics have witnessed a coconut water craze sweep health-conscious consumers over the past 10 years, and for good reason. Coconut water possesses high quantities of nutrients, minerals and essential electrolytes including potassium, magnesium, sodium, manganese, calcium and phosphorus.

Because of these properties, it is highly effective in not only rehydrating the body, but provides energizing rejuvenation as the body’s electrolyte balance is restored. Electrolytes are inorganic compounds that become ions in solution and have the capacity to conduct electricity. They are important for electrical signaling—and of course your brain, heart, muscles, and nervous system are all bioelectrical systems. Your cells use electrolytes to maintain voltage across their membranes and carry electrical impulses to other cells. Things like water balance and blood pH depend on your body’s proper electrolyte balance, and you can suffer severe medical problems if your electrolytes fall out of balance.

While initially touted as a sports drink replacement; coconut water has highlighted our bodies need for electrolyte balance in all walks and activities of day-to-day life…on and off the mat. Getting the right balance of electrolytes assists in replenishing energy, lowering your blood pressure, and helping to rebuild lean muscle, which are only some of the reasons coconut water has become such a health craze. Other reports are being released highlighting the cytokinin of coconut water; a compound that protects cells from aging and free-radicals. Coconut water also reportedly boosts the immune system due to the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities of the lauric acid of coconut.

Staying hydrated and replacing lost electrolytes are essential requirements for athletes and all individuals active for long periods especially when in hot conditions. Due to the popularity of hot yoga, coconut water is a very common sight at yoga studios worldwide. Water and other fluids help the body maintain proper body temperatures, while electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, are needed to regulate bodily functions. Isotonic coconut water is quickly ousting synthetic sports drinks for energy and replenishment after exercise and throughout the day. It is low in cholesterol and sugar and has a pleasant, light coconut flavor. Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which can help correct the cumulative effects of acidifying foods that make up most diets today.

The list of health benefits of coconut water is impressive, and growing with each new scientific study. Coconut water is now a universally appealing and familiar beverage of choice. It is not only cherished in health-oriented lifestyles but considered safe in pregnancy, infants as well as in diseased conditions.

~Becky Schillingcq

5 tips to refresh your commitment to yoga

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Time to move on – not away from yoga
You have trained long and hard, practiced diligently and now you have doubts – about yourself, your teaching and commitment. What is happening?
The answer is: you are practicing yoga. Self-inquirytrends in yoga, reflection and doubting your intentions are the manifestation of a deeper relationship, that can withstand and flourish through inquiry and emotional turmoil.Compare your relationship with yoga with other meaningful relationships that endure through change and even conflict. If they are strong, they will develop and strengthen. Yes, flaws may be revealed and that relationship may change, but the underlying love will endure and prove richer in the long-term.

Where, when and how you discover yoga will determine the start of your journey. This may be a route that takes us into a practice, or even teacher training that requires commitment to a certain style that later in life, may not nourish and support your growth. An acceptance and even ultimately a rejection of a particular school of yoga is neither a reflection on the practice, but merely an acknowledgement that it is time to move on. The body and mind evolves during our journey through life. Yoga may keep us flexible, strong and active in the physical body, but our aims may change, as we recognize and nurture other areas of our practice.

Physical injury, health concerns and natural aging also determine the suitability of any practice and may mean changing or adapting your practice. One of the many comforts in yoga is that there is always something that you can do – either softening your practice until recovery allows you to return to your previous choice, or moving into different areas such as pranayama or meditation.How do you move forward?
• Firstly, it is important to accept and be open to change. Drawing back and observing your intentions may at first contribute to feelings of loss and even anger. To ‘let go’ of a rigid practice can also cause feelings of guilt as you release yourself of the commitment and possibly regular practice that has become part of the pattern of your daily life.

• Remember, you are only recognizing changes in yourself. Recall how well the practice suited you in the past – what you have learnt and how it has supported you. Let go of guilt and be thankful for the experience.• Have a break and encourage the body and mind to rest and find the space for observation, inquiry and introduction to other aspects or styles of yoga. This may even result in a refreshed interest and commitment in your previous practice.

• Talk to your teacher and other students. You will discover that these doubts and feelings are not unusual. Your teacher may suggest other classes or training that will support your growth. If this is ‘farewell’, a respectful parting will prevent any bad feelings.

• Observe other areas of your life and how they may be contributing to your confusion.  It can be tempting to use yoga as a crutch to support other areas of life that are out of control, or even to be disappointed in yoga no longer gives you the feelings of strength, stability and calm that it provided when you first started.

• Do not rush! Any decision should be taken slowly and calmly. Remember how long it took to develop your practice and how it has helped you develop.

It may be time to move on, but that does not mean moving out! And if you decide to take a break – yoga will be there waiting patiently to welcome you back – no questions asked.

By:  Wendy Jacob

Heal Addictions Holistically

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

My current addiction is iced black tea. In fact, what I love most about it is saying my order, “Venti, black, no sugar, and light ice.”

Eighteen years ago, I was addicted to a diet soft drink. I loved popping the can open, hearing the effervescent sound of the carbonation, and sipping the ice-cold cola straight out of the can. It was exhilarating. After learning of the harmful effects of soda pop, I stopped drinking it completely.

The truth is, all addictions give us some type of pleasure, otherwise we wouldn’t do them. It’s amazing what addictions mean to us and what we tell ourselves about them.

We often reward ourselves with things that are not very good for us. A friend recently told me she only had one vice: she rewards herself by smoking cigarettes. Drinking diet soft drinks or having the occasional smoke may not seem like a big deal, but addictive behaviors often lead to more serious destructive life patterns.

What Are Addictions?

What do you honestly believe you can’t live without? What do you crave the most in life? Is it sugar, food, cigarettes, marijuana, exercise, sports, the Internet, alcohol, or even sex?

Whatever your answer may be is there something else you feel you can’t live without? If so, you are part of the growing population of individuals who experience addictions.

The reality is we are all addicted to something. The term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion to engage in some specific activity despite harmful consequences to our health, mental state, or social life. There are often biological or emotional factors that contribute to these addictions, too.

According to Stanton Peele, Ph.D., “Addiction is the thematic malady for our society and entails every type of psychological and societal problem.”

In the Buddhist tradition, addictions are seen as attachments. They can be an attachment to fear, to loss, to longing, or even to a lack of purpose. It doesn’t matter if we choose alcohol, drugs, sex, food, pornography, exercise, or even shopping, we are trying to fill an empty space and dampen emotional pain. The important part of the addiction or the compulsion is not about the specific desire to drink, do drugs or spend money. Rather these addictions reflect an emotional need to fill an empty space within us and calm the pain of a past memory.

Understanding how we operate with addictions is the key to healing. Addictive behaviors arise from unmet life needs and a lack of love from childhood. These past emotional memories cause us to feel unworthy and especially unloved.

How Addiction Works

The addictive behavior shows up in life as an “emotional need” and ends up as a replacement for something else. Food becomes a replacement for love or appreciation. Obsessing over things or details becomes a replacement for self-confidence. The addictive behavior offers a sense of power that can’t be found elsewhere. Compulsive, obsessive behaviors and even co-dependency are other forms of emotional addictions. These emotional addictions are connected to areas of life where we feel out of control.

Take drugs as an example. We get addicted to the euphoric sensations they provide. Suddenly we start believing that being under the influence allows us to really “feel,” or that it gives us a sense of grandeur that otherwise we would not experience. However, the drugs aren’t doing anything but changing the dopamine levels in the brain.

When we complain about not having enough of something, money for example, we are getting something from the process of complaining and it makes us feel something different. In essence, this too is a type of emotional addiction. We get addicted to the complaining or to the behavior associated with it to ensure our needs are met.

Transferring Addictions

This is a common occurrence. Instead of healing the emotional patterning associated with the addiction, we transfer the physical addiction to something else. This is often seen with alcohol addiction. If we are addicted to alcohol and stop the addiction yet do not heal the emotional needs behind the addiction, we will transfer the addictive bad habits to something else such as smoking or drugs. To heal, it’s important not to transfer addictions. You want to change the emotional interactions associated with the addictive behavior and unwind the original patterns.

Changing Addictions

Addictions can change once you have the courage to look deeply at what is programmed within yourself. To make permanent change you need to look at what lies underneath the very first emotional hurt associated with your addiction. What was the emotional behavioral pattern’s starting point?

Let’s take a look at cigarette smoking. In order to get to the core of the addictive behavior, you want to locate the very first feeling or the emotional scenario associated with the outward action of the addiction. To get there ask, “What made me take that first inhale?” or “What was going on in my life?” At what age did this occur? Were there family arguments? Were parents breaking up?

Enhance this process and go a little deeper by asking yourself several other questions like, “How do I feel when I smoke, take drugs, etc.?” Do you feel empowered, happy and content? Do you feel weak, depressed, sad, unworthy and unloved? Be honest and describe your feelings.

Current personal situations are gateways to go deeper into the underlying feelings at the onset of a physical addiction. Often addictions stem from needing love or attention from a mom or dad. Earlier life experiences set up the framework for current adult lives.

Whatever the feeling is, it’s okay. This is the place to be 100 percent honest with yourself. No need to cast another judgment upon your feelings or qualify interactions between you and your parents. This is how the emotional energy got stuck in the first place.

Healing, especially with addictions, is a deep exploration into your own self. Of course, stopping the physical actions of the addiction might seem easy, but it’s the subconscious mind and earlier life patterning that are running the show now.

Release Addictions

Here is a visualization to help you go deeper with your own feelings. Remember, in order to release addictive behaviors, you must first identify the original feeling at the onset of the addictive behavior.

Visualize getting onto a train with feeling. Pretend the feeling is a friend. You and your friend are going to take a journey together. Find a comfortable seat on the train. The train soon leaves the underground station (symbolic of the subconscious mind).

Begin a dialogue with your friend to distinguish its characteristics. Ask it questions: “Who are you? What are you teaching me? What is my lesson?” Once you can clearly answer these questions, you can get to the core of the emotional pattern that began the addiction.

The second step is to go a little deeper and ask more personal questions.
Ask the feeling (friend) what emotional need(s) was created. In other words, was it a particular situation? Did the father leave? Mother started to drink? Were you responsible for your siblings? Was it a certain situation? Was it a statement that someone else made? Was it something that happened in the family or at school? Was it a fear? Keep asking your friend (the feeling) questions until the situation is completely identified and the answer is satisfying and clear.

Getting to the feeling is the key to uncovering the emotional cause that produced the addiction. Are you hurt, rejected, angry, fearful, confused, resisting or denying?

Once you have all the pieces of the original emotional experience, embrace it. Yes, love it, even if it’s anger or hate. It’s okay; this doesn’t mean you’ll be angry for the rest of your life. It means quite the opposite; now you’ll be able to let go.

As your conversation with your feeling comes to a close, visualize the next train station approaching. Thank your feeling for the information it provided the same way you would thank a friend who traveled with you. As you walk off the train, know this action helped you attain clarity in the midst of emotional and mental chaos.

This visualization process allows you to go deeper into your core where the addictive behavior first began, which is now buried under 30-50 years of life experiences. This process takes about twenty to thirty minutes and is worth every second.

If you aren’t sure what the feeling is, use the actual addiction instead as your “friend.” For example, if your addiction is with food, use your favorite food in your visualization. If your addiction is with alcohol or cigarettes, use those items in your visualization instead of a feeling.

Take the food, cigarette, or other addiction with you on the train and start the conversation there until you discover the feelings that created the addiction. Once you are on the train with your addiction ask, “What do I feel when I eat/smoke/drink? How does it make me feel?” Have a conversation with the chocolate, cigarettes, or the favorite drink, and identify the feelings that were not originally understood. The identification of feelings helps recapture lost innocence and releases the iron grip the emotional pattern holds.

When the process is complete, it is important to write down any information you discovered. Take time to identify all the circumstances around the addiction. If the same addictive pattern repeats, it means you have not found all the roots to the emotional feelings associated with the original situation that began this addiction.

Get back on the train and see what else you can discover. Ask yourself, “What is the core feeling: anger, fear, confusion, resisting or denial?” By using this visualization, you will locate the emotional roots and gain freedom from any addictions.

You have the answers within. Keep digging for them.

itPaula Muran is a freelance writer, author and yogi. Her specialty is enlightening minds by transforming core beliefs.

Four Magical Lessons From Buddhism That can Help in Your Own Pursuit of Happiness.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Get intimate with your own mind.

We need two main things to become happy, according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition: mindful awareness and loving compassion. The theory goes that the combination of attention and loving-kindness — both of which can be built through contemplative practices like meditation — can help bring the brain into its most plastic, growth-oriented state and support the development of a greater state of consciousness, Loizzo says.

Meditation — “the quiet, humble work it takes on a daily basis,” as Loizzo puts it — is the cornerstone of the Tibetan contemplative science. Through a meditation practice, we can begin to overcome negative thoughts and habitual emotional responese, and start to live from a more calm, centered place, he says.

“Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature,” Sogyal Rinpoche advised in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a guide to meditation and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. “Think of your ordinary emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation.”

The research is now there to back up the benefits of this time-worn strategy for stabilizing emotions and boosting the brain’s capacity for joy. Studies have shown meditation may be effective in reducing anxiety and depression, lowering stress levels, reducing loneliness and boosting emotional well being.

“Twenty years and a thousand stories that have given me an unshakable confidence in the truly boundless potential we human beings have to heal ourselves and transform our lives,” Loizzo wrote in his 2012 book, Sustainable Happiness.

Practice compassion, at every moment.

Most Eastern spiritual traditions involve some form of practice around compassion, or “loving-kindness.” In Buddhism, there is a meditation for loving-kindness,“mettā bhāvanā”, which involves sending kindness to yourself, loved ones, community members, people you may dislike, and eventually, all beings. In the Tibetan tradition, monks practice tonglen, which consists of breathing in suffering and breathing out happiness, so as to reduce pain and spread peace among all beings.

“What’s unusual about the Tibetans is that they have what I call an industrial-strength version of this discipline,” Loizzo says of loving-kindness practice. “These practices allow us to turn our sense of life as a battle, a struggle for survival against everybody else, into a communal experience of connecting with friends and the larger world. That, we’ve learned, is so important to our quality of life and our personal sense of meaning in life.”

The Tibetans have devised powerful ways of helping people learn how to become more compassionate that are now being used in the Western world. A 2012 Emory University study suggested that compassion training derived from ancient Tibetan practices may boost empathy, and other studies have shown that loving-kindness meditation could increase positive emotions and lead to more positive relationships over time.

Connect with others who support your journey.

The traditional “Three Jewels” of Buddhism consist of the Buddha (the example), the Dharma (the path) and the Sangha (the community). In this tradition, the community is just as important an element as any other in living a happy, purposeful life. Increasing your happiness and well-being is a difficult thing to do alone. It requires the support and love of others, and a sense of belonging to a community.

“Modern neuroscience is showing us that we’re really wired to be extremely social creatures,” Loizzo says. “We’re happier and healthier when we do that in a committed way … We need to learn to connect with others with mindful openness and positivity, and to deal with the daily slings and arrows and work through those and maintain a sense of connection that’s positive. This is something we practice in spiritual communities.”

Strong social support networks have also been linked to a number of health benefits, including lower stress levels and increased longevity.

Embrace death — don’t fear it.

In Western cultures, our attitude toward death is largely characterized by fear and denial – and this can, consciously or unconsciously, cause a great deal of suffering throughout our lives. But a central aspect of the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is the belief that death should be embraced, and the concept that dying can be the “crowning achievement” of a life well lived. Although this attitude stems in part from a strong belief in reincarnation, you don’t have to believe in an afterlife in order to better accept the impermanence of life in the here and now. The Tibetans believe that meditation can help us to come to terms with the nature of life and death.

When Loizzo is working with patients who are suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses, in addition to practicing meditation and loving-kindness, he goes through a traditionally Tibetan practice of asking some of life’s big questions: What has been meaningful to you in your life? How do you face the impermanence of your life and the inevitability of death?

“Being able to embrace the idea of death and being present … some of the women say it gives them a new lease on life,” says Loizzo. “The ancient traditions made a science of trying to understand the death process and make meaning out of it … This kind of approach of facing reality, even the parts that scare us, has tremendous potential for healing.”

Asking these questions can help bolster an acceptance of things that can’t be changed or controlled, which Buddhist teachings have long touted as a key to reducing suffering. Now, this ancient doctrine has science on its side: A recent study from Australian researchers showed that during the difficult changes of later life — moving into residential care and losing independence — an acceptance of what can’t be changed may be a significant predictor of life satisfaction.

Source: Plashcy


Three ways to shift your day through breath

Monday, February 9th, 2015

If you are having a tough day, take a pause and notice your breath. Do you feel yourself breathing? Our breathing reverberates in our body and this vibration is directly related to the vibrations in our mind that come as thoughts. As ancient yogic texts have explained, our thoughts affect our breath. Our breath affects our body function. Our body function/health affects our speech. Our speech affects our actions. And our actions affect our destiny. Therefore, if you want to make a change in your life, invite a positive change to your breathing pattern.

Notice the next time that you are feeling angry or stressed about something. Excited thoughts lead to an excited breath, which can lead to quick, reactive decisions; some that we later regret. Sad thoughts lead to a dull, heavy breathing pattern that can make it hard to take any action to help ourselves. Positive, happy thoughts are connected with effortless deep breathing throughout the body. This leads to positive actions and choices that can make our life better. The pattern of breath and thoughts which vibrate within you will ripple out into the functioning of your organs and determine what words are spoken, what actions are taken, and the energy attracted.

On-The-Go Breathing Tools:  

 1. When you need to quickly re-set – Breathe through the nose to allow the breath to slow down. This also helps you get more air into the lungs, and helps you clean more old air out of the lungs. If you pause and take some really deep breaths, moving the air deep into your body, you will immediately start to feel differently.

2. When you are feeling angry or stressed – Pause and fold forward at the hips, letting your torso hang down towards the floor. If you feel tightness in the lower back and hamstrings, bend your knees a bit so that your hips rotate over the legs. Now, lengthen your inhale and let your exhale last as long. See if you can stay here up to one minute.  Then, slowly roll up to standing. And notice how the world looks.32

3. When you are feeling low in energy or emotion – Stand up, feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, take your arms up to the sky. As you exhale, take the arms out and down by your side. Do this about 10 times, and begin to connect the breath with the movement of the arms. See if you can even go slower with the arms and breath. On the last round, keep the arms up in the air for 10 smooth breaths through the nose. And then gradually lower them down.

Suggestions To Start Your Practice:

  • Take a Yoga Class – Yoga is more than just exercise for the body. Many forms of exercise focus on exhaling, pushing and forcing the heart rate to rise. Yoga balances that with time to inhale lots of good, fresh air into the body. The more fresh air we put into our system, the more efficient our body operates. Digestion, assimilation and elimination improve. When our bodies are working well, it’s easier to have positive thoughts and take positive actions.
  • Practice Pranayama – If you are really interested in improving your breathing, consider taking a Pranayama Class at a yoga studio. Pranayama is the technique of expanding one’s life force (the energy behind the breath) through breathing techniques. Many Pranayma classes inlude a few poses to open the body and end in a meditation.

If you don’t like what’s going on in your life, before you decide to take a radical action, start simple. Expand your breathing to bring more positive energy into your system. This will ripple from your mind to your breath and out into your life.

Written by ~ Jeanne Heilman