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So there I was, walking through the book store  making a bee line to the children’s section when I saw this cute little puppy dog on the cover of a  book and it was on sale for $4.98.  Add that to my to my favorite word ever, “Bliss”, it was a MUST HAVE!!!!!

I was once told that the quickest way to feel happiness is to play with a pet.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.  I have never been a big animal person.  I have always had pets, but I have never really been attached to them so I really didn’t understand this.  Until I was really sad and my cat came up to me to love me and make me feel better.  Then my dog would ask me to play and I would laugh so hard at him.  And I fell in love with my animals.  They have taught me some big lessons.  So it was fun picking up this book and learning some lessons on happiness from Trixie the dog.

I also have to say that it was fun reading a book by Dean Koontz that was on the “light and fluffy” side :).

This book was written from Trixie’s point of view, and was a little odd to read at first.  But as soon as I fell into the rhythm of the writing, it all began to make sense, and I really enjoyed the book.

According to Trixie, “the road to bliss is paved with dog wisdom.” And there are 8 steps.  I will not tell you what those steps are; that is for you to read and find out!  But here are some lessons I learned while reading Trixie’s thoughts:

1) Sit still and be quiet.  Meditation is good.

2)  The rising moon at the bottom of a finger nail is beautiful.  I  never really noticed this before!

3) Life without a cookie is unthinkable!

4) “Pleasure without beauty is just empty thrill”…kinda like Sex without love…..hmmm….same thing, yes?

5) “The world is a gift to  make you happy.”

6) “Here is what real meaning is like.  Maybe you’re meant to give kindness to one special child.  Child grows up, is healer or wise leader.  then your purpose was as big as any king’s, maybe bigger.”  Being a stay at home mom….priceless and so very important!

7) “It is what it is.”  “No Kidding.  if it isn’t what it is, then what would it be?  And if it is what it isn’t, what the hell is going on here?”

8)  “Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.” ~ St. Francis

9)  If I want to remain young, I must play and laugh more!

10) Grief is cleansing.

Bonus reminder:  Be grateful!!!!!!!!

This book is filled with such heart warming and profound wisdom..straight from the dog’s mouth!  You will laugh and maybe even cry while reading this book.  One thing is for certain, you will smile!!!!!

This must be my week for simple and easy to read small books.  At 113 “meat of the matter” readable pages, this book is another one you can read in a couple of hours.  It’s simple, easy to understand and very informative.

As a woman who has been dealing with weight and food issues all of her life, I truly appreciated this book.  It’s not about taking away and depriving yourself to get healthy, but rather adding simple things to your lifestyle that will result in better  health and more energy!  Who doesn’t want that?

I’m sure you have heard all the general rules:  60 minutes of exercise, eat 5-6 small meals a day, drink more water..and you might have even heard meditate, meditate, meditate.  Simple Health Value, is a fan of most of that, but it won’t require a huge change in your schedule or for you to go out and buy new exercise equipment or join a gym.  As a Beachbody Coach, it may seem counter intuitive for me to tell you not to buy extra exercise equipment, but as a woman with weight issues and a busy life, I love what Dr. Myers says and I will  pass it along!

According to Dr. Myers there are 5 Simple Health Values that you can add to your life with very little effort.  They are:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat fresh
  • Move daily
  • Sleep and Rest
  • Breathe

Drink More Water:

You might be just like me, and regularly ask for diet soda before you ask for water.  It is a habit.  I remember when I was a kid, if you ordered a soda at a restaurant the drinks were not refillable.  So we were always given a glass of water and 1 soda.  Water was refillable.  Naturally, we drank more water back then.  I remember the day that Chili’s opened in Dallas and I found out that I could drink an unlimited amount of Dr. Pepper!  It was like the heavens opened up and rained down this beautiful gift of unlimited manna from heaven!    It was the beginning of the decline of my water drinking (not that I drank alot of water anyway).  My parents were not water drinkers so I never got used to drinking water.  I’m not blaming it on my parents; I’m just saying it wasn’t a habit I formed as a kid.  Our culture, our commercials, encourage us (and our kids) to drink anything BUT water….soda, sunny D, Capri suns, energy drinks..you name it.  With everything else out there, water can taste a bit flat and unexciting.  Yet, water is so very important to our bodies.  It lubricates our cartilage.  It helps with our blood flow.  It keeps us clear thinking.  It helps detoxify our bodies.  It does so much.

We NEED water.  But how do you know if you are getting enough.  I know I have heard about a dozen different theories.  8-8oz glasses of water a day should do you.  Well, for most of us, that is alot more than we drink now.  But also for alot of us, that is not nearly enough!  That is only 64oz of water a day.  Dr. Myers gives a great water calculating example:

  • Take your body weight and divide it by 2.  So I weigh 236.  I should drink 118 oz a day.
  • Divide that number by 8 (8 oz per glass).  For me that is about 15
  • I need to drink 15 glasses of water each day to be properly hydrated

That may sound like alot.  So  how are we/me going to get all that water into my day?  Dr. Myers gives some great suggestions.  Drink 2 glasses right when you wake up in the morning..before you drink anything else.  Carry a water bottle with you in your car.  Make sure there is a water bottle on your desk at work.  At restaurants get in the habit of drinking water.  The waiter will keep it filled up while you eat and talk; that should get you a couple of glasses of water right there.  Drink a glass of water before you  hit the bed :).

Remember that water is a good appetite suppressant.  When you think you are hungry, before you eat, drink a glass of water…then see if you are actually hungry!

If you don’t like the taste of water, if it’s not exciting enough for you…try putting lemon and/or mint in your water.  Try sparkling water and add lemon to it.  You can also drink herbal/noncaffinated tea :).  I drink herbal tea to help me relax before bed :).

Eating Fresh:

You should be getting 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day.  Last year, I read this great book called Extreme Spirituality, and one of the exercises it suggested was living/eating simply.  This meant to eat fresh and put away the processed foods.  I know that as busy moms’ the processed foods offer us convenience, but those chemicals are killing us.  The fresh foods give us more than just nutrients.  They give us the energy and vitality that is within them.  It is better if you can get your fresh foods from some place local where they  haven’t been sprayed with chemicals to make them last longer, and you know they are fresher.

So, how in your busy life are you going to get more Fresh Food into your body?  Add some fresh fruit like bananas, strawberries, blueberries to your breakfast cereal, yogurt or even your desert at night.  You might like to grate a carrot into your scrambled eggs in the morning.  Take baby carrots or celery sticks to munch on at work.  Take raw nuts like almonds to munch on; you can keep them in your car and eat them while you are driving. (Okay that goes against what I read in the book Women Food and God…but I thought I would throw it out there).  I know when I am eating a sandwich for lunch, I like something crunchy like chips to munch on too; so I replace the chips for carrots :). Instead of that chocolate bar, you can replace that with an apple or an orange.  Or heck, keep the DARK chocolate on the menu and eat it WITH your apple :); it’s a great combination!  Another one of my favorite ways to get the leafy greens in my diet is to add fresh spinach to my sandwiches.  This isn’t about taking away the things you love; it’s about adding to them.  I bet once you start to feel the benefits of eating more Fresh, the cravings you get for the other stuff will go away.  I know that in my life; that has been true.  (That is until I start eating the unhealthy stuff again.)

Move Daily:

Okay, this is a big one.  So many people tell me that they just don’t have time to “work out” or “exercise”.  Dr. Myers isn’t talking about setting 60 minutes aside a day to work out.  He isn’t talking about the 15 minute drive to the Gym plus the added cost of a Gym membership.  He is talking about taking the dog for a walk, instead of letting him out the back door.  First thing in the morning, get up and do some crunches and push ups to get your blood pumping.  Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator or escalator.  Park further away at the grocery store or on the way to work, and walk.  At work, when you take your breaks, take a walk around the building or up and down the stairs.  When you clean house, make a point of making more movements, bending down further, lunging while vacuuming.  Your garden/yard work counts!  Just add more movement to your day.  Instead of driving the kids to school; walk or ride bikes with them.  Go the park to play with your kids or dog.  Simple, easy additions to natural movement in your life.

Sleep and Rest:

As adults, we tend to get busy and stay up too late and wake up too early!  Our bodies NEED sleep.  This is the time when our bodies get the most oxygen; from that deep breathing we do when we sleep.  Our body regenerates and heals. The muscles heal from the day’s exercising.  Our brains get a reset switch.  We NEED sleep.  Dr. Myers suggest setting an alarm clock to remind us that its time to go to bed.  You need enough sleep to go through all 5 cycles of sleep, and each cycle needs up to 110 minutes to be complete.  You do the math!

So how are you going to get to sleep earlier than you normally do?  Stop drinking coffee/stimulants so late at night.  Instead, replace it with a nice herbal noncaffinated  hot tea that promotes rest and relaxation.  Create a “going to bed” ritual that your body will recognize and say “hey!  it must be time to sleep!”  That might include the tea I mentioned and a nice relaxing book or a hot bath or aromatherapy (like lavender) in your room or meditation before bed.  Just create one and do it every night, and it will send a signal to your brain and body to shut off and sleep well.

So what about rest during the day?  Rest is different from sleep. Sleep you HAVE to do (eventually) but rest is a choice.  You body needs a break from the go go go that it does.  Take 2 rest breaks a day..whether that is stepping away from your desk or your computer and going some place quiet to just relax..or going out side to watch the clouds float by.  This may be a time when you decide to get some of that natural movement in by taking a walk around the building at work..or maybe a time when you decide to get some extra deep breaths in.  The beautiful thing about this book is that it talks about adding things to your life, and often these things can be added at the same time.  It’s actually time-saving!  During this break, you can walk, deep breath, get the fresh food or extra water in :).  But you need to step away from the go go go and relax your mind and body :).  Or…if you have time and extra money..schedule a massage once a week.  I realize this doesn’t help every single day, but it will help with the detoxification process that the water does, it will help with the breathing, and help your muscles and body functions work better :).

Breathing:

We take this for granted every single day. I mean let’s face it.  From the minute we were born, we started breathing on our own.  We don’t really control it.  It does it on its own.  Yet it is vital to our living experience.  Without it, we would die!  But most of our breathing we do during the day is shallow.  We spend a great deal of our day yawning.  Why?  Because we are not getting enough oxygen.  We need to be conscious and include deep breathing into our day :).  First thing in the morning, when you wake up, take some deep breaths….from your belly.  Put your hand on your diaphragm and feel it rise and fall.  That is the kind of breathing we are talking about.  When I was a massage therapist, I used to have my clients lay on their back and practice this to  make sure they understood what deep/belly breathing means.  Not only will this help you feel more refreshed and help you with your short-term memory, but it will help with the muscles in your neck that are being used to help you do that shallow breathing you do so consistently.

So how are you going to get this into your daily life?  Dr. Myers suggested setting visual or audible cues.  Like when you see something, it reminds you to take a deep breath.  Or when the phone rings, before you answer it, you stop and take a deep breath before answering.  These breaths should be in through your nose then out through your mouth.  I had a mentor once that suggested we take 5 “ha” breathes.  Inhale through our noses then exhale through out mouths making that breathy noise you make when you spread moisture onto a mirror to clean it off…”hhaaaaaaaa”.  Do this 5 times in one sitting; it will give your more energy and revitalize you!  It works!  I promise!  This will help with stress relief :).

So this may all seem like alot to do in one fell swoop.  I know I tend to swing in major pendulum motions.  An all or nothing type of mentality.  That is not always healthy.  As a matter of fact, it is a fool-proof way to ensure that you quit!  So, Dr. Myers suggest taking one of these Values and start with that.  Once you have successfully incorporated this into your life, add another one.  Slowly……

His book has so many wonderful suggestions and tips. I highly recommend his book.  It can be found on his website:  http://www.simplehealthvalue.com/default.asp

I will leave you with this quote from Dr. Myers, “Remember any amount of forward momentum in simple health decisions is a success.  And success is my hope for  you.”

Chapter 4 “The Listening Mind”

I don’t know about you, but I always have a conversation going on in my head.  I have lists being made, being checked off, reviewed.  I am usually doing one thing and thinking about what I need to do next.  And when someone is talking to me, I quite often and wondering how to respond to them and/or trying to figure out how to help them (instead of really listening).  Active listening???  Not so much.  I am constantly reminding myself to practice ACTIVE listening…instead of being active while listening. *laugh*  So this chapter made complete sense to me!

When someone comes to talk to us and share their troubles, our minds tend to jump right into action.  They start talking, and we hear a little bit then immediately start to label/judge what they are saying.  We categorize what they are saying and then we pull up our experience with this category and staring listing ideas of how we can help them.  All the while, our friend is still sharing with us and we haven’t really be listening, have we?  They stop talking, or maybe they even ask us, “So what do you think?”.  Like a good friend, we have already made up our minds which direction to go and what to say, so we start spouting off our great ideas!  But are they really great?  Are they really what our friends need?  How can we even know what they really need if we were so busy thinking about what *WE* though they needed instead of listening for what their hearts are really telling us.  Whew!  Now there is something to think about.

So how do we stop this insanity?  How do we stop our minds from chattering about and making these lists and really detaching from our friends and/or people in need?  MEDITATE.  Stop the attachment to our thoughts.  Realize that yes, thoughts come and go, but they are not us and they certainly are not our friends.  They are just thoughts.  One will float on by and another will follow right behind it.  It’s okay.  Let them go.  Meditate, and quiet your mind.  Then in the still of that moment, your intuition will find a way to communicate with you, and you will KNOW what needs to be done to help your friend.  You will stop doing what YOU think is right, and really KNOW what IS right.  And maybe what is right is not doing anything at all, but just being there so that your friend feels heard.

In this chapter, it suggests practicing meditation and the art of letting go for 20 minutes a day.  Here is a great quote as it pertains to service:

“First, we have to appreciate the value of such qualities of mind and desire to develop them. Next we have to have faith in the possibility that we can indeed make progress.  Finally, we have to explore and practice appropriate techniques.  Twenty minutes a day of such practice can lead to results and the incentive to go deeper still.  Continuous practice brings about great transformation of mind and leads to a new quality of service.”

“When we function from this place of spacious awareness rather than from our analytic mind, we are often surprised to find solutions to problems without our having ‘figured them out.'”

Have you ever had the right answer just hit you like a ton of bricks..out of nowhere.  That Ah-Ha moment?  That is what this is like.  When we stop trying to “figure things out” and find that space of awareness where all things are possible, the right answer will just come to us.  When we stop being attached to the outcome of our own thoughts and about the way we think things should play out, and just give our own intuition the space to flow, we will truly be able to be of service to our friends, family, and people we serve around our community.  We won’t have to FIGHT it anymore..it will flow freely.

When we listen to our friends, with this kind of spacious awareness  in our minds, our friends will FEEL truly heard, and sometimes, that is all that they need.  I know for myself, I am constantly telling my husband, “I don’t need you to fix anything, I just want to be heard.”  Stop going into “White Knight Syndrome” and just listen; that is the greatest gift you can give anyone :).

Meditate and Let Go………and you will be more effective in your service :).

Chapter 5 “Helping Prison”

When we as service providers start labeling ourselves and label the ones that we help, we have a tendency to get stuck, or trapped, within those labels or forms.  “Entrapment in these alienates us from one another:  a social worker and a juvenile offender just miss; a nurse and a patient seem worlds apart; a priest and a parishioner, so distant, so formal.  What otherwise could be a profound and intimate relationship becomes ships passing in the night.  In the effort to express compassion, we end up feeling estranged.  It’s distressing and puzzling.”

These rolls we play continue in separating us from our true desire which is to be of service and be helpFUL instead of being Helpers.  As long as we continue to separate ourselves from those we want to help, we will be unable to truly give them what they need.

So why do we do this?

As someone who is active in 3 different volunteer organizations, I found this chapter really enlightening.  Each of us has our own reasons for being of service, but one thing we can all say is that when we have truly made a difference in someone’s life, it feels good.  There is a reciprocity in service relationships, but there is a fine balance.  Do you provide service to feel a void in your life (so then the result for you is that you fill that void) or do you see a need for service and your provide it (and as a result feel good because you were able to help someone)?  That is the line.  Are you a Helper or are your being Helpful.  Are you a noun or a verb?

In one of the organizations I volunteer for, there is always an orientation meeting and a training process.  During orientation, the new ladies are always asked, “Why do you want to join us?”  The replies very, but many of the answers are: I want to make new friends, I want to network, I want to have adult interaction and get away from my kids for a bit, I would like the training you provide…then these are always followed by, “And oh ya, I want to give back to community.”  Not this is not true for all of the women in this organization.  Now this is an amazing organization with a heart of gold.  The women are talented, amazing and caring, and they have done some amazing work in my community.  I do not say any of this to disparage them or the organization, but when I read this quote from the book, i was reminded of this organization:  “Or maybe we’re just plain lonely.  Intimacy is what we’re looking for, and it’s often there to be found in a helping relationship.”  “Rare indeed is the individual for whom the helping act does not arise in part out of some personal motive.  To the extent that it does, however, what we are looking for is a role that meets a need….our need.  We’re looking to be helpers, not simply to be helpful.  A personal agenda leads us to invest in the position, not simply the function.  And we invest in other’s reactions to it as well.”

As this “God Project” is about ME and my own personal journey, I will admit that the previous quotes gave me pause.  Why do *I* belong to this particular organization.  What was *my* answer to the question “Why do you want to join us?”  What was my motive?   I will say that I joined this organization because it allowed me to follow my passion which was to inspire young women to be strong and independent.  It allowed me to work with young women; it allowed me to be of service to them..which is what I had been looking for.  I also joined the organization to make friends and for the training and for what it would look like on a resume’.  I’m not going to lie.  However, my first reason for joining was to be of service.  That was *my* answer.

As I continued reading, I found this quote about organizations: “The service organizations so many of us work for have an investment in collective self-image.  Reputations, budgets, relationships in the community, need to be protected and promoted.  By building and investing in formal helping institutions we often end up creating distances between who we think we are and those we’d like to serve.”  It’s this self-image that imprisons us as Helpers…rather than being helpful.

For me, I have found that in the organization I belong to, the “image” of the organization is so important that I believe we are afraid to get dirty.  We want to help as long as it feels and is politically correct.  After all, if we offend someone, we might lose funding or support.  However, I believe that the people we strive to help are rarely put together in nice neat packages that are politically correct.  In behaving this way, and in making these choices, we continue to separate ourselves from those we strive to help.

Another great quote from this book is from the philosopher Gurdjieff, “If we wish to escape from prison, the first thing we must acknowledge is that we ARE in prison.”  We can’t be helpful if we are in prison; if we are bound up by shackles of what others might think of us, we can not be helpful.  And it is for this reason, I have chosen to walk away from this organization.  I have learned alot from them, and I am totally grateful.  But I don’t do well in prisons, and I have found that there are many other places where I can inspire young women to be strong and independent.  This may mean joining another organization which may have some of the same issues; I don’t know.  I won’t know till I get there.  But one thing I have learned, is that if I don’t try, I’ll never grow : ).

This chapter also discusses the feeling of helplessness.  Until we know the feeling and sit in the acceptance of helplessness we will not be willing to accept help.  Until we can accept help ourselves, we will be unable to GIVE help and be helpful.  That is a pretty profound lesson.  As a “super mom”, I have been guilty of not allowing others to help me.  As a culture, we teach independence.  Our national holiday in the USA is INDEPENDENCE DAY!  But we need the community…..It’s okay to accept help graciously.  In doing so, we open ourselves up for such great learnings.  “Help has become a collaboration.  In this collaboration we see just how much we ourselves have to offer: our own perseverance, honesty, openness, gratitude humor.  And we may be amazed to find out how hungry people are for these qualities.”

I will end this blog entry with this quote:

“The challenge, then, the opportunity really, is to accept the roles in order to cut through them, and to cut through them in order to be able to participate in them without entrapment.”…..”it’s a chance to take on form in order to liberate one another from it.  This is the true work of a conscious human birth.  This is what we’re all here to do.”

Here’s to breaking out of prison!!!!