Getting lost in the little stuff

January 29, 2010 at 2:10 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

As I read the newspaper and check the blogs and news sites each day I am struck at how often we seem both individually and as a society to ‘get lost in the little stuff.’ So much noise is made about a television program or a new consumer product or some other trivial thing that it somehow seems important. Somehow, we just must be part of the latest trend.

Over the years I have noticed some of the following signs of getting ‘lost in the weeds.’ Usually it happens to me when I am too caught up in things that have no real importance and I neglect longer term, important feelings and people.

  • Do you find yourself constantly talking about others, perhaps repeating unflattering stories over and over again?
  • Do you find yourself watching television so much so, that if you suddenly can’t see you favorite programs, you feel lost and even angry?
  • Is fashion and trend more important than good sense?
  • Do you find yourself feeling lethargic with nothing to do and nothing seems to motivate you?
  • Do you constantly look for something new to do or to buy to get a ‘good feeling’ again?
  • Do you find yourself getting overly angry or emotional when you commute?
  • Do you ever wonder who would miss you and what kind of a legacy you would leave if you suddenly vanished?
  • Do you have any learning goals that you just do because you want to?
  • Do you ever stop and wonder about life’s important questions like where we came from or why we are here?

This is just a tiny sample of questions to get you thinking. When we think of the disaster in Haiti and serious trouble elsewhere in the world, and the fact that there are people starving or struggling just to live, and yet consume ourselves on trivialities, we have to stop and reconnect.

Meditation is the most powerful tool we have to relax our physical bodies, revitalize our minds and renew our inner connections. Being fully aware of our physical and spiritual surroundings both in our neighborhood and in our world is an important part of being a person on this planet.

We are all interconnected, and we are all a part of the human family. If one suffers, then we all suffer. If one person’s rights are trampled, then we are all less as a race. If one child goes un-nurtured and un-loved, then we all lose something of our humanity.

I have found that through meditation I can keep my focus and feeling toward larger important things and keep my attention on what is truly important. Taking time to meditate each day and practice mindfulness keeps me connected to my humanity and makes me aware of things around me so that I can do the good that is around me to do. Learn to meditate and you can receive these benefits for yourself. 

What if we all took the time to meditate each day, cleared our hearts and bodies of excess worry and care and then translated that into acts of kindness and love to those around us?

Not only would there be an outpouring of goodness, but the feeling of self-absorption and total focus on ‘what’s in it for me’ would evaporate.

Try it and see.

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Mindfullness Meditation

January 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm (Meditation Basics, Why do we meditate?)

Mindfullness meditation is a beautiful and gentle method of meditation.

In the course on meditation we talk about different styles of meditation. One of the styles that we describe is called mindfullness meditation. The word mindfullness is often used to describe different things. I will explain the different uses of the word in the meditation context.

The first meaning of mindfullness is as a technique or aid to effective meditation, the second meaning of mindfullness meditation is a state of awareness during meditation that has a much deeper meaning and is often described as being fully ‘in the moment.’

In the first and simplest sense, mindfullness means to be mindful, or aware of the feelings that you experience when you meditate. These thoughts and feelings may be of several types.

  1. First there are the bodily sensations and feelings. Heat, cold, hunger, something touching the skin, etc.
  2. Second, there are emotions that we feel that may surface during meditation. For example, we feel hurt at a recent verbal exchange, or we are angry at someone for an unmet expectation or because they said something unkind.
  3. Third, there are thoughts that we may have that come up during meditation. For example we may think about what we’re going to do tonight, or what we had for lunch, or an important meeting that is coming up.

All of these take the attention of the mind when meditating. Mindfullness is the act of being aware of the thought or feeling that is pressing itself into your consciousness and then observing the thought or feeling in a detached way. For example, if you are hungry and that feeling suddenly presses into your consciousness, your response in meditation would be to name the feeling. “I am feeling hungry, hungry, hungry.” After acknowledging the feeling, or thought, you simply allow it to have a bit of space, and you don’t engage by thinking about what you could eat, or what you will eat later, or what you shouldn’t eat. You simply understand the feeling, give it space and a name and then allow it to gently go off the stage of your mind.

You repeat this process with all the feelings, sensations and thoughts that come into your mind as you meditate. Each time, you simply return to your concentration on the breath, and allow the thought to drift away as you mindfully acknowledge it, allow it a space and then without engaging in any dialogue, allow it to be replaced with your focus on the breath.

This is the first and simple definition of mindfullness meditation.

The second and deeper meaning of mindfullness meditation is a state during meditation where you become fully occupied with the present second of existence. You are not distracted by anything outside. You do not feel any other intruding feeling and do not sense any bodily awareness. You simply exist in the present second, without thought and without distraction.

Sometimes this goes even further and you become completely unaware of all surroundings or the passage of time. You become fully connected with the great expanse of energy and being and seem to loose your self-awareness for a time. This is described as being ‘in the moment.’

A beneficial by-product of mindfullness meditation is the habit you cultivate even during your non-meditate time – of focusing on the present without dwelling on the future or the past. For example, this would mean if you are walking the dog, you focus completely on the act of walking the dog and the connection with the dog and the air and sunlight of the present second. You are not thinking about what you need do afterwards, whether or not you will be late for work or any other thought not in the present second of reality.

The habit of fully participating in each present second that you have and not using your mind to be ‘somewhere else’ as we so often do, will increase your enjoyment and understanding of the present, and help you avoid the trap “I’ll be happy when….”

If we learn to enjoy the present second for all that it has to offer and be in our lives, then we truly become more grateful, understanding and kind creatures.

Learn more about Mindfullness Meditation.

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Emotional trauma and stress

January 22, 2010 at 9:09 am (Benefits of Meditation, Uncategorized, Why do we meditate?)

After the discussion of stress in the last post, it may seem that we are somewhat doomed to be damaged by the stress monster. This is not true, but it takes direct action and desire on our part to manage these effects. Stress relief through meditation is clearly a beneficial path.

Emotional distress is also a damaging influence on our brains. Such emotional disturbances cause abnormalities on both structure and function of the brain. Again, from Dr Newberg’s research, emotional disturbance can impair memory storage and retrieval, impair social empathy and damage other parts and functions of the brain. The bottom line is that anxiety and depression wreak havoc on the brain. When we are emotionally distraught, we tend to take things out of context and react inappropriately.

Studies at the University of Wisconson show that those who dwell on distressing thoughts also have lower antibody counts and are more prone to infection and disease. A study at the University of Montreal indicated that failure to control negative emotion can have disastrous psychological and social consequences.

The good news is this: There is strong evidence that we can consciously interrupt these destructive neural processes through meditation. In the study at the University of Montreal mentioned above, researchers found that human subjects could voluntarily alter their mental processes and influence the electrochemical dynamics of neural circuits that promote emotional self-regulation.

The important thing to take from these studies is that streas, anxiety and negative emotion are damaging, which we all already know intuitively without studies to prove it, BUT we can change all that with meditation, positive imagery and relaxation. We have the power to repair our brains, form new neural circuits and create a beneficial nurturing environment in our hearts and minds.

What a wonderful and liberating piece of information to have! We have control in our own hands and we can use the simple tool of meditation to relieve stress, heal our minds and live more productive and clear lives of happiness and joy.

This, by itself is enough reason to engage in regular meditation. This doesn’t even count all the bodily health benefits of meditation and the great power for achievement which meditation unleashes in our intellectual and artistic endeavors. Meditation is truly a wonderful and powerful ability that we possess.

We fully discuss the great effects of stress relief, healing, personal achievement, learning and the creative process and finding yoiur own spirituality in the various books of The Power of Meditation series. You owe it to yourself to unlock your own genius potential!!

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Stress – What it does, and Why to Dump It!!

January 20, 2010 at 8:48 am (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

Researchers, medical professionals and psychological professionals have long been aware of the damaging effects of stress on our lives. While some moderate stress can be beneficial in promoting physical, emotional or mental growth and accomplishment, in our current world, we generally have far more stress than is healthful.

Stress is related to a host of problems and illnesses that are annoying at least and completely debilitating at worst. The physical aspects of stress cause high blood pressure, digestive problems, ulcers and worse, and some medical studies show that emotional stress leads to psychosomatic illnesses including back and joint pain, general depression, general levels of pain in the body, (often associated with fibromyalgia) and a host of other illnesses.

The focus of this article is on the effects of stress in the brain, which is the realm of meditation. In his book on ‘Why we Believe What We Believe,’ Dr. Andrew Newberg from the University of Pennsylvania explains that stress attacks the hippocampus, which is the gland in the brain that regulates emotions, memory learning and personality. These functions are essential in maintaining a healthy outlook on life, motivation, healthy behaviors and beliefs.

He also underscores the harmful effects of stress on the systems in the body that control growth, sexual and reproductive functions, heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure and digestion. The harful effect of excessive stress on nearly all body functions is not hard to understand. The physical analogy is trying to hold a heavy object over your head for an extended period of time. You can do it for a while, and then you exceed your limit. Continuing to try puts crazy stress on every area of your body and mind, and soon you collapse. Why would the internal physical and mental systems of the body be any different?

Dr. Newberg goes on to explain that stress can undermine every aspect of our cognitive and emotional ability and the longer we remain stressed the more our perception of reality becomes skewed. We ten come to believe that we are helpless, hopeless and somehow emotionally crippled. This state releases further stress hormones and the cycle repeats. Our frontal lobe activity is decreased and we then find it more difficult to solve problems and we are more prone to depression anxiety and rage.

Wow! What a set of indictments against stress. The point of putting this information in the blog on meditation is to point out the beneficial effects of meditation on stressful situations. Meditation can help relieve stress in at least three ways.

First, meditation can relieve stress by giving you the ability to separate yourself from the situation for awhile. During meditation we intentionally empty our minds of thoughts or focus on one simple thing like the breath. This gives our bodies and minds time to regroup and recover from the ongoing stresses around us.

Second, In this meditative state and process we can think more clearly about aspects of our lives that we may want to change. What can we eliminate, or what can we change that will reduce the stress in our lives and the pull on our time? In the course on ‘The Power of Meditation,” we cover extensively various strategies for relieving stress and calming the storms that life can sometimes dump on us.

Third, meditation can help you every single day to have a period of calm reflection, clarity of mind, total relaxation of body and spirit and peace which will greatly assist you in your efforts every day to manage the day well, get the things done that you wanted, and keep your commitments to change that you identified in the paragraph above.

Relieving stress is a fantastic way to use meditation, stress relief is a natural by-product of effective and regular meditation. Dr. Newberg points out that the effects of stress are cumulative, and that as they build up over time they are even more damaging. In exactly the same way, Stress relief and the benefits of meditation are also cumulative. The more you stick with your meditation practice, the better you get at it, the more effective your meditation becomes and the more powerful and deep the benefits are on your life, heart and mind.

Here’s to stress relief through meditation!

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Meditation Music

January 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm (Meditation Music, Visualization) (, , )

Today I was thinking about meditation music. That is to say, music designed specifically for meditation. I am a musician, and love many kinds of music. So for me, using music with meditation is natural and right. However, there are many different thoughts on the subject and also many different kinds of ‘music’ or sound that can be used in aid of successful meditation.

In this post I want to talk about two different kinds of music used for meditation. The first kind is music that has some subliminal aspect to it, such as specific brainwave entrainment frequencies, or other subliminal messaging, such as sub-audio threshhold affirmations. The second type of music is simply that – music. It is music that is designed as meditation music to feel good and comforatble to you and to enhance the meditation experience without any ‘axtra injection.’

There has been an explosion of brainwave entrainment music in the last 10 – 20 years. What is brain entrainment music or sound? The basic premis is this, the meditation ‘music’ can be musical tones or nature sounds, seashore waves or wind, but underneath it all, there are a pair of audio frequencies that are designed to gently ‘lead’ the brain or ‘entrain’ the brain to move to a particular frequency. 

Those familiar with brainwave frequencies know that alpha is 7 – 13 Hz and Delta is 4 – 7 Hz and Theta is 0 – 4 Hz. (All these numbers are approximations, as there is always controversy about the exact boundaries.) So an alpha brainwave entrainment (BWE) recording tries to help your brain go to alpha state by creating a frequency in the alpha range. Other recordings are designed to lead you to the other brainwave frequencies.

When we meditate, we take ourselves to one of these frequencies. (Each frequency does different things, and that discussion takes another post.)

I am a recording engineer, a long-time student of psychoacoustics as well as a musician, so I can give a very technical explanation about how this all works, particularly since I have purchased and disected BWE recorings in the studio. But that is not the point. The point is that the BWE recording or ‘binaural beat’ recording tries to lead your brain to the meditative frequency or frequencies.

Subliminal messaging, on the other hand, uses music to mask the repitition of some positive message about your personality, body, money status, self-esteem or other aspect that you wish to influence. The idea is that repeated subliminal hearing of the affirmation will positively affect your emotion and action.

Proponents of both of these methods claim outrageous and instant success and wonderful and immediate life-changing alterations with their use. My experience suggests that they are somewhat effective, and do help to a limited degree. The primary limitation comes from the fact that they are external. They are outside forces trying to get you to do what needs to be done internally.

In my personal practice, and in my teaching, I have found meditation music without the ‘artificial injections’ to be far more beneficial, and to cause far better results. I believe that this is because you are using the meditation music to enhance your own meditation, and your own internal efforts to make thhe positive changes in peace, prosperity, health, relationships or whatever your target is.

The external ‘injection’ method sort of falls into the category of ‘external quick-fix’ that seems to be so much a part of our society and culture in the western world.

To be perfectly clear, I love meditation music, I write many kinds of meditation music, I sell meditation music and I believe in meditation music. Different kinds of meditation music work better for each person. I am simply saying that your own personal meditation efforts enhanced by pleasing and relaxing music that speaks to your  soul is far more important and effective than any external ‘injection’ of brainwave frequencies or repeated affirmation.

The reason is this: – the effort actually used in getting your brain to the meditative frequencies is the pay-off. Then you understand and can make those changes and feelings at will. You are fully in control and in charge of your own progress and empowerment.

So just to be clear, Meditation music is powerful and I endorse it, but I believe it should be just music without the BWE, or subliminal content. When you use meditation music this way, it will be the most beneficial for you and your meditation will improve much faster.

More importantly, the feelings, changes and improvements you are seeking in your life, health, wealth, relationships and personal peace will manifest much faster with meditation music that you choose that speaks to your soul and gives you the experience you desire as you seek your deepest inner voice. Visit this site to access some original meditation music that will help your meditation.

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Why Learn How to Meditate?

January 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm (Uncategorized, Why do we meditate?)

Why should we learn how to meditate?

This is a fair queston that I get a lot and it deserves a bit of discussion. I can think of many reasons why we should learn how to miditate. I will try in this short article to list those reasons and briefly describe a benefit associated with each of those reasons.

1.   Meditation is a simple skill. It is not difficult to learn to meditate. The essential skills can be taught in a few minutes. The benefits will last a lifetime.

2.   Meditation can be done anywhere without tools, equipment or any special set-up. Since meditation requires no special equipment or location, it is a skill that is truly portable. You can do it almost anywhere, and achieve the calming empowering benefits in minutes.

3.   Meditation can be adapted to the capacity and needs of every individual. The process of ‘learning how to meditate’ is different for each individual. The beauty is that meditation is infinitely flexible and will work its benefits and magic on everyone who is persistant and engaged.

4.   Meditation is a powerful tool. There are few tools that we can access that have the power of meditation. With it you can access your subconscious mind and program yourself to be anything that you choose to be. You can also achieve complete peace in yourself no matter what is going on around you.

5.   Meditation lets us understand the world in a different way. Often we develop views and opinions that are distorted because we are too involved with something, or because we lose perspective. Meditation can help us get a larger picture of the world and a more balanced view of ourselves and those around us. This increase in balance and perspective often allows us to solve problems, overcome obstacles and face challenges that seemed impossible.

 6.   Meditation will improve your health. Many studies show that when we regularly meditate, it improves our heartrate, blood pressure, circulatory and resparatory and nervous systems, among others. Many treatment programs for physical or emotional issues recommend meditation as a part of the healing or theraputic process.

The list of benefits from meditation is nearly infinite, and is as varied as the practicioners themselves. In a future blog post, we will describe benefits in more detail and list some specific examples. In addition to this short list of reasons, there are other questions that I am often asked with regard to learning how to meditate. I have listed a few below.

Q. When whould someone learn to meditate? A. You can learn to meditate at a young age. Young children at age 5 can be taught the basics of meditation consistent with their attention span. Meditation is a great way to build concentration, positive self image and a host of other good attributes in children.

Q. After I learn how to meditate, is that it? Do I need to do it regularly? A. Meditation is something we should practice regularly since your ability to meditate effectively increases with practice and the beneficial effects are cumulative.

Q. How long should I meditate? A. Start with 15 minutes, morning and night. If you can’t make that much time, then start with 5 minutes when you get up and 5 minutes when you go to bed. The payoff will be so good that you will find more time.

Q. Am I too old to learn how to meditate? A. You are never too old to learn how to meditate. It is true that the brain becomes less flexible with age, and that the new neural pathways associated with meditation form more slowly, but this is no barrier. Meditation will have its beneficial effect on everyone, regardless of age.

If you want more information on the amaing power of meditation, then click here!

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What About Anger?

January 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

Well, What about anger?

Anger is one of the most common human emotions. It is generally brought about by an unmet expectation. In its most simple sense, we expect something to occur, like we expect a check in the mail, or a promotion, and it doesn’t happen. We feel anger. Someone acts very differently than we expect, like a driver cuts you off on the road. We feel anger.

Sometimes the expectation is clear and conscious. We have been thinking about something, or we have been having a conversation with someone. Events begin to vary significantly from our desire. Anger starts to steam and froth in our minds. This is expecially true if we think or imagine that the other party knows what we want and somehow intentionally won’t give it to us.

‘Why can’t they just do it this way? OR Why can’t they just do what I need? These are often the unspoken questions that we are feeling when anger starts to boil.

Medical research shows that excess anger is one of the most destructive of all emotions. The chemicals generated when we are angry damage our heart, our brains and our other internal organs. This is especially true if we are angry often, or are angry frequently or for long periods of time.

Fortunately there are many ways to deal with unmet expectations. When we anticipate something or expect something to happen and it does not, it is natural to feel disappointment or anger. The question is ‘what then?’ What do we do with the anger that we feel?

Some would have you believe that anger is somehow wrong, and you should pretend it away or supress it. This is not true, repressed or stuffed emotions cause anxiety and problems later. It is far better to understand your feeling, acknowledge it in yourself, and then intentionally decide what to do with the situation that you are in.

This process can be done in one second. Even in the time it takes to react to the driver who cut you off, you have time to understand that you were surprised and to choose what to do with your situation.

This is where meditation comes in. If you are a regular meditator, you are far better prepared to meet the challenges of the day and you are much more in control of your emotions, feelings and the expressions that you choose to use to display the emotions and feelings that you have.

Regular meditation gives you the power and control to be the master of any situation and to be the person that you choose to be and not a reactive person.

Do you want to be in control of your life and choose your destiny and the outcome of your situations? Then click here for more information about meditation!

Happy meditating.

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The Relationship of Forgiveness and Inner Peace

January 4, 2010 at 3:45 pm (Benefits of Meditation)

As I was meditating this morning, I came upon an interesting insight that felt useful in understand the physical benefits of forgiveness. We all have people that hurt us, or those who carelessly damage some part of our lives either physically, emotionally  or spiritually.

We are often told to ‘forgive and forget’ and many religious systems talk about forgiveness as a necessary part of the human experience. I have always heard these admonitions in sort of a spiritual way, i.e. If I ‘forgive’ someone who has harmed me in some particular way, then that ‘good act’ will somehow come back to me and I will receive forgiveness.

That may be true, and I have some experiences to talk about that topic in another entry. This entry is about the physical benefits of this practice.

We all know the sick feeling of the knot in the stomach and the fast heart rate, or the chest or jaw tightness when someone insults, offends, or betrays us. We also know that with these feelings pounding away at our brain, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to think clearly.

These feelings can linger on for days and sometimes smoulder for years as festering grudges that we hold for some unavenged or unrighted wrong in years past. We may make unkind remarks or hold unkind thoughts about a person for years and years. Every time the thought or topic of that person or situation comes up, the feelings come like a flood and the hurt or anger is present all over again.

The funny thing is that the person to whom these feeling are directed is generally unaware of our emotional discomfort, anger or the misery that we are feeling again as a result of re-thinking or re-living the long past event. They are not being damaged by these things! Only we are!

If I can truly forgive and forget the offence, then the physical sickness, anger, distraction, clouded judgement, obsession with the old event, etc. all goes away and I am suddenly free to live my life in the full energy of my wonderful self. I am free to be, do, create and live a life of wonder and joy. I am no longer chained by the emotion that continually returns when I savor an old slight or wound.

We can never be at our best mentally, emotionally or physically when we are consumed with emotion and focused in a fog of remembering some old bitterness. How much better to give ourselves the gift of a free mind, a clear heart and relinquish the cold, sorry comfort of an old grudge!!

Forgive those who have offended you and your meditation will be more effective, your heart wil be clearer and your mind and body will be more full of energy!! What a gift to give yourself!!! 

Make a resolution to forgive 10 people that have offended you and remove 10 big rocks from YOUR OWN back pack!!!

Learn more by clicking here.

Kellan

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