Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

Affirmations and the power of positive statements.

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Affirmations are simple positive statements you can make each morning as soon as you awaken or get out of bed. Similar to mantras, you can also practice saying these while meditating.
By repeating a series of affirmations, you can visualize yourself reaching the goal or objective you set out to achieve. Many people practice saying affirmations around the world. The power of affirmations can become a powerful tool in your self-help toolbox. We like to supplement our meditation practice by incorporating positive affirmations at selected times of the day. Try it and see if you become a believer.

Here are 8 affirmations our staff submitted from their own daily rituals.

I am feeling healthy and strong today,
I am happy and content with my life.
I am patient and calm and greet the day with ease.
I make the right choices all day using my inner wisdom.
I have all the information I need to solve any challenges that come up today.
I have the knowledge to make smart decisions for myself today.
I have all that I need to make this a great day in my life.
I am filled with gratitude for another day on this earth.

meditation-with-affirmations

Affirmations for meditation.

Space Clearing with Tingsha Cymbals

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

A customer called the other day asking about space clearing with tingsha bells versus smudging.

Space clearing is the practice of removing or clearing negative energy in your home, office or other personal space. The practitioner walks around the perimeter of the room or space they want to clear and rings the tingsha cymbals slowly and methodically.  The resonating sound and vibrations of the hand cymbals cleanse the negative energies and replaces them with good vibrations and a positive flow. Space clearing is an integral part of Chinese Feng Shui.

Smudging works in the same manner, except a smudge stick is used instead of a space clearing bell. Smudging is done with a bundle of sage, cedar or other herbs. The smoke emitted from the smudge stick is believed to attach itself to the negative energy and when the smoke dissipates, it takes the bad energy with it. Negative energy goes up in smoke, so to speak. Smudging was originally a practice of native American Indians.

We have spoken with numerous space clearing practitioners over the years and believe it is a matter of personal preference. Quite simply, some prefer tingsha, while others prefer smudge sticks. In our discussions, we discovered that some who preferred tingsha bells quite often had sensitivities to smoke or were concerned about the clients they worked with. It is possible that clearing an office space through smudging could cause discomfort to office staff, or that many commercial spaces today are deemed “smoke-free”. One teacher pointed out that some states, like California have strict laws about commercial, smoke-free zones and this discouraged them from smudging. Others had concerns with smoke in client’s homes, especially if they have young children, seniors or even pets in the home.

Today, we are more conscious than ever about chemicals,smoke and other potentially harmful elements in our personal spaces. Some space clearing masters indicate apprehension about using smudge sticks manufactured in other countries. They are concerned about the potential for harmful chemicals and ingredients used in the process, especially if scents are added. Chopa Zen Home offers a nice selection of tingsha, bells and chimes for space clearing practices. Visit our store and shop online.

tingsha bells

Tingsha Cymbals

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