Posts Tagged ‘Meditation’

Meditation

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

When I used to think of meditation, I was absolutely convinced it was totally beyond me. After all, I believed that meditation required a quiet, calm, very disciplined mind. Let me be very honest here, not one of those adjectives would be used to describe my noisy, active sometimes scattered mind.

Imagine how relieved and excited I was when I learned that meditation comes in many varieties, there is no ‘one size fits all’. This led me to re-think the entire meaning and to discern just what meditation is for me.

When I asked myself a couple of questions, it really became quite clear.

* What allows me to become so absorbed that I am both energized and deeply relaxed at the same time?

* How do I feel after engaging in this  activity?

That’s it; there really were only two questions for me. Remember that busy mind I mentioned earlier, well the simple fact is that two questions were quite enough. I was off and running with this idea that I could be a Master Meditator. By the way, there’s no need to look it up, I made up that term. 🙂

I asked myself, what absorbs, relaxes and energizes me? Gardening, being in or on the water, walking my dog. To name a few. How do I feel after any of these activities? I feel refreshed, relaxed and just plain good. I get lost in these activities, loose all sense of time and often have little or no interest in what is happening around me. This my friends is meditation.

These activities allowed my mind to rest, and that is very therapeutic. However, I have found that other forms of meditation serve me in other ways. Listening to guided meditation relaxes me anytime I listen to it. If I’m having a stressful day, I often will simply put on a guided meditation and let it run in the background. Whether I am deliberately focusing on the meditation or not, I notice that my stress level begins to dissipate.

In December of 2010 my 23 year old son took his own life. To say that suicide is traumatic is perhaps one of the greatest understatements of all time. The stress was pretty much off the charts. One of the ways my body and minds responds to stress is insomnia. This has been an issue on and off for me for many years when stressful situations would occur in my life.

I admit that it took quite a while for me to remember after losing my son that I had tools at hand to help myself. However, when I did remember and when I was able to begin using the tools of meditation, I began feeling better. Not fixed, not healed, certainly not over it. But better. And that mattered a great deal.

It’s only been a bit over a year since losing Mike and I readily admit that I frequently need to remind myself that meditation is helpful for me. Sometimes it’s simply too much for me to get out and walk the dog or participate in one of the activities that usually brings on the calm, restful state. However, for me listening to guided meditations helps tremendously. Particularly when I am experiencing insomnia. I use either an mp3 player with headphones or a simple cd player to allow the meditation to play. Sometimes I try to concentrate on the words, other times I simply trust that the meditation will guide me to a relaxed state and a gentle sleep usually follows. If I’m having a particularly difficult time with sleep, I usually put the meditation on repeat and let it play.

Our mind, our body and our spirit all need rest and calm if they are to serve us well. Meditation facilitates this rest, healing and rejuvenation. The more one practices, the easier and more effective it is in bringing on that healing rest. However, rest assured that the benefits are there for the casual user and beginner as well.

I strongly encourage meditation for anyone. Particularly for someone who is experiencing illness, trauma or stress, meditation can make all the difference.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

One of my favorite experiences is to listen to guided meditations while drifting off to sleep.

Open House – Welcome!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I want to take this moment to invite one and all to our Open House!

Monday, November 15th

3-7pm

13825 West National Avenue

New Berlin, Wi 53151

Your Hosts

Serenity

Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance – WOCA

Café of Life Chiropractic

New Berlin Chamber of Commerce

Also Featured

Mary Kay Cosmetics

Shorewest

ANEW

Insight

Miche Purses

Tupperware

…and more

This will be a great opportunity to sample services, ask questions and learn about wonderful services and products.  Some of the services and products featured will be:

Life Coaching – Reiki – Hypnosis – Animal Reiki – Meditation – Vitalistic Chiropractic Care – Cosmetics & Skin Care    Spiritual Coaching – Biofeedback – De-toxifying Footbaths …and so much more!

Wrap up your holiday shopping with purchase of products or gift certificates.

We look forward to seeing you Monday.

Namaste,

Sandy

Meditation Musing – Breathing

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Many Ways of meditation understand and stress the importance of proper breathing. In the Way of Yoga this process is called Pranayama and can be very complex. For most of the rest of us disciplined breathing can and should be an integral part of our practice for many reasons and these reasons bear discussion.

When talking about the disciplined breathing of meditation we are referring to slow, deep, abdominal breathing that uses the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. This is the breathing of relaxation and for many reasons it is difficult, if not impossible, to be tense while breathing in this manner.

Breathing is normally an automatic process and for most of us it fulfills the function of oxygenating our blood and organs. It is believed by many that controlled breathing bridges the gap between our voluntary and involuntary body systems allowing a stronger connection between our conscious and subconscious minds. Abdominal breathing uses our lungs in a more efficient manner and the resulting muscle movement helps massage and oxygenate our organs more than chest breathing alone. Slow, deep rhythmic breathing triggers our parasympathetic nervous system and automatically stimulates our relaxation response which lowers our heart rate and causes muscle relaxation. All of these physiological changes lead to a feeling of less tension, which most of us find to be beneficial.

Many who practice martial arts as their Way believe that breathing is the key to the focus of their minds, and hence the chi or ki which is essential to their Way. Meditators also use their breathing as a focus and, when coupled with that gentle, persistent return to the Now, breathing can be the anchor that helps extend our mindfulness and helps lead the way to that place we go when we Sit.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of our meditative breathing is that of focused awareness. By focusing on and becoming aware of our breathing we are taking the first step towards listening to ourselves and our world in real time. This is called being in the Now and is the place from which all meditation must start. Many would argue that this focus and the process of being in the Now is what separates meditation from sitting quietly and thinking. Both beneficial practices but not the same thing.

When we use breathing as a part of our meditation practice the transfer from the zendo to our daily lives becomes very valuable. With the automatic coupling of focused breathing and the calm, physical and mental state associated with meditation we can defuse our own tenseness, anxiety or fear simply by taking a few deep abdominal breaths, as we do when we start to Sit. When faced with a physically demanding situation both the meditator and the martial artist can take their deep abdominal breath and focus their energy. Children are often delighted to learn that the relaxation of their minds and bodies by the application of focused breathing can provide them with control of their minds and bodies in a time and place where they have very little control over anything else.

Namaste,
Jim

Meditation Musing – Rhythms

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Some form of meditation is practiced by many cultures and different cultures have developed many different ways to help its practitioners archive the desired mental state. A very common form of assistance is one that enhances the mental rhythms of meditation.

While it is unlikely that early Shamans and Holy people knew much about brainwave frequencies and functions, they early on recognized that certain beats and rhythms seemed to affect them profoundly. The easiest method of providing these beats and rhythms was with a drum and indeed, some form of drum or similar percussion instrument is found in most cultures. Meditators today have many options and technologies to help them get to that place we go when we Sit and the process of entrainment is one of them.

Entrainment is the method of using sound frequencies to lead our brain to a particular mental state by providing it with the frequencies that it will give off when in the desired state. As an example, the brains of many meditators begin to generate alpha waves when they reach a deep meditative state. These waves are timed at about 8 to 12 cycles per second. Alpha state entrainment will provide the brain with sounds in the 8-12 cycles per second rate with the goal of leading the brain into that state in which it will begin to generate brainwaves in the same range. When successful, the brain is led into that deep meditative state one is striving for.

The problem is that most brainwave frequencies are below the typical human hearing threshold, particularly of adults whose threshold usually gets higher and higher with age. Getting our brains to hear these rhythms requires more than just beating on a drum.

There is a process in the science of sound that shows us that if we mix two tones together we will produce the two individual tones, the sum of the two tones and the difference between the two tones. For our purposes, if we hear a 200 cycle tone in our left ear and a 210 cycle tone in our right ear, our brain will be able to perceive the 10 cycle difference harmonic and react accordingly. The 200 and 210 cycle tones are very audible to our ears and the 10 cycle tone is in the middle of the alpha band and may lead the brain into a deep meditative state. Since the desired sounds are below our hearing range they are often called sub-audible tones (not to be confused with subliminal messages, which may be covered in a future blog). We could also have two drums, at two different beat rates, providing our ancient Shamans with the same results.

When sleeping, the brain generally settles into delta wave activity which is in the 1 to 4 cycle per second range. By the methods discussed above we can provide the brain with delta waves and often encourage the brain to fall asleep. Theta waves, about 4-8 cycles per second seem to lead to deeper sleep, and when sustained while awake cause a deep meditative state that is often very creative and intuitive.

Many recordings that use entrainment recommend the use of headphones for experiencing the full effect of the technology. It is important to note that if the recording was created specifically for use with headphones listening to it without headphones can be disorienting and perhaps confusing.

I have used many different entrainment recordings but my favorites are generally from Brain Sync (www.brainsync.com), created by Kelly Howell. With a wide variety of titles to choose from and free downloads to try I have always found them to provide good quality recordings that work for me. This Serenity link; http://www.sandywalden.com/recommended.php will lead you to some of those recordings we like the most.

Namaste,
Jim

Meditation Musing-Focusing The Mind

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

When someone recently told me that they often couldn’t sleep because their mind just kept spinning around and wouldn’t stop, I suggested that they visit one of our meditation groups. I was told sadly that meditation wouldn’t work for them because their mind wouldn’t stay in one place for that long, they couldn’t concentrate like that.

I gently tried to explain that if only the people who could concentrate and focus their minds perfectly meditated there probably wouldn’t be very many meditators. In fact, I continued, I believe one of the purposes of meditating is to help build the muscles of the mind. Meditating is, for the mind, what a workout is for the body.

Using the gentle, persistent return to the Now during meditation is the mental equivalent to lifting weights. One starts with a level and intensity with which they are comfortable and through regular exercise of their mental muscles they get better and better at telling their mind what to do and having it obey. You sit in your space and when your mind goes someplace else you gently and persistently bring it back to the Now. Over and over and over. Like a would-be runner who can only jog a few moments before becoming winded and one day finds themselves trotting along for forty five minutes or an hour, the meditator gradually learns to keep their mind in the Now for longer and longer periods. Among other things this process teaches us patience and, perhaps most importantly, it teaches us patience with ourselves, which for many people is much harder than having patience with others.

Some Ways have a practitioner focus their minds on a thing; breathing, a mantra, a candle, focusing the mind like a zoom lens. Other Ways have one focus the mind on nothing, passing thoughts and sensations through the mind with no attachment or comment, a mental wide angle lens. Whichever Way one chooses, the focus is a tool to bring us into the Now. Our ability to use a tool quickly and efficiently grows with practice. So does the ability to discipline our mind

Please understand, the purpose here is not necessarily to reformat our brains to live only or entirely in the Now, although some Ways strive for just that. Mostly we want to be able to bring ourselves to that calm and stable mental place when we need or want to. That way, when a crisis occurs or we can’t get to sleep we can take the deep abdominal breaths with which we start our meditations and we will automatically return to the Now, grounded and centered, our minds calm and serene. And yes, the same processes can help us experience pleasurable moments of our lives quite intensely. Human interactions can be quite interesting when the people involved are in the Now. What greater compliment or gift could we give to another person besides our complete, undivided, focused attention?

Namaste
Jim

Reiki Healing Circles in New Berlin, WI

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Recently we all have spent quite a lot of time hearing about and watching events unfold regarding the oil spill in the gulf.¬¨‚Ć It’s always gets our attention when something of that sort happens. While it was gut wrenching to watch the news about it every day, I believe these things always happen for a reason.

About this time I started to hear people ask for Reiki to be sent to heal the planet, others asked to pray for animals, still others offered this intention during meditation.  It quickly became clear to me that the reason I was hearing this again and again within a very short time frame was so that I would be prompted to do my part.

What does that look like? Well, I’m very excited to share with you that I have begun Reiki Healing Circles at Serenity, located in New Berlin, WI. Twice a month from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. On the second Monday of the month, this gathering is held for the intention of healing the planet and all non-human life. Of course this includes our oceans, mountains, trees, birds, animals, etc.

On the fourth Monday of the month we meet at the same time for the intention of healing all human life.  Those who gather are welcome to offer specific intentions for those they love, whether or not those loved ones are in attendance.

These gatherings are called Reiki Healing Circles, because I am a Reiki Master, Teacher and during these gatherings I offer Reiki as do some of the other participants. However, I would like to welcome anyone of good intentions to join us, offering Reiki, prayer, loving thoughts, whatever feels right to them. While I am happy to welcome anyone who is able to join us in person, please know that you are welcome to participate from where ever you are. Your loving intentions are all that is necessary.

I encourage you to spread the word, begin your own Reiki Healing Circles, prayer groups or spend time in gathering to simply share your intentions in any way that feels right to you. Together I absolutely believe we will make a difference to the health of the amazing planet we live on and those we are honored to live alongside.

Namaste,
Sandy

Serenity Life Coach
13825 W National Av Suite 100
New Berlin, WI 53151
www.SandyWalden.com
(414) 378-8764

Meditation Musings – Equanimity

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

A natural process in meditation for many people is the development of equanimity- the ability to ‚Äö√Ñ√∫let go‚Äö√Ñ√π. Equanimity allows us to detach ourselves from thoughts and images that attempt to distract us from the Now. As we sit and meditate our minds may become distracted by things like ‚Äö√Ñ√∫What will I have for lunch?‚Äö√Ñ√π or ‚Äö√Ñ√∫I should be doing……‚Äö√Ñ√π or ‚Äö√Ñ√∫Why did I ‚Äö√Ѭ∂..‚Äö√Ñ√π Equanimity allows us to gently and persistently bring ourselves back to the moment. No guilt, no sense of failure, no idea of ‚Äö√Ñ√∫I must try harder‚Äö√Ñ√π. Just a gentle and persistent return to the Now.

When this feeling carries over into the rest of our world we begin applying equanimity to our daily life. We typically lose much of the ‚Äö√Ñ√∫why me?‚Äö√Ñ√π and ‚Äö√Ñ√∫it isn’t fair‚Äö√Ñ√π kind of thinking. We might spend more time in the Now, truly interacting with the people around us and seeing our environment in a mindful and sensitive way.

Equanimity and the return to the Now can help when our minds start to work in circles, become unduly anxious about something in the future or past, or obsess on a given thought or phrase. It also allows us to release negative thoughts and emotions about our daily aggravations and irritations. That petty squabble with a spouse or coworker never gets a chance to be over-thought or blown out of proportion if our equanimity allows us to release the conflict and return to a more centered and grounded mental state. The same process allows many people to release the persistent thoughts that keep them awake at night, as their minds refuse to let go of their waking activities.

Other people sometimes misinterpret our equanimity as a ‚Äö√Ñ√∫don’t care‚Äö√Ñ√π attitude. Actually, we wouldn’t have to apply our ability to release things if we didn’t care. A better interpretation would be ‚Äö√Ñ√∫I care but it wouldn’t be productive for me to hang on to this thought, feeling, image, or emotion‚Äö√Ñ√π.

For me, equanimity is the source of that small smile I often wear. It’s not amusement at the foibles and foolishness of the people around me, it’s the result of recognizing my own silliness at becoming entangled in the snares my mind creates out of unnecessary attachments to things that won’t do me any good. I release them and smile at the human nature that causes even those of us who know better to be caught up in such futile exercises.

Meditation has many benefits for the practitioner and the development of equanimity is only one of them. The ability to release nonproductive or unnecessary attachments in our mind helps bring out that sense of peace and serenity that should be a mainstay of our daily lives.

Namaste,
Jim

Meditation Musings – Being In The Now

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Meditation comes in many forms and with many techniques but one of the commonalities of most of them is that one must usually start by being in the Now.

Among the traditional Ways, most fall into one of two methods; concentrative or mindful. In concentrative meditation one focuses their attention on something specific, the breathing, an image, or a sound (mantra), while in mindful meditation one allows thoughts, images, feelings, sensory input, to pass through the mind without attaching to them or becoming engaged by them. In either technique one must have a starting point and that point is usually the Now.

Most of us don’t spend much time in the Now. Have you ever finished a routine trip in the car without being aware of the actual trip? You were somewhere but you weren’t in the Now. Your mind was thinking about something else while your body was on ‚Äö√Ñ√∫auto-pilot‚Äö√Ñ√π. When you are lying awake for the second night in a row, unable to sleep because your thoughts keep whirling around in your head, you’re not in the Now. When you walk away from the stove without turning off the burner, you’re dangerously not in the Now. For much of human history not being in the Now was often a fatal condition.

Babies exist in the Now and one can often watch as toddlers stop living in the Now over a matter of weeks or months. If you’ve ever played an intense game of volleyball (or some other sport) and felt like you had all the time in the world as everything around you slowed down, you were in the Now. The runner who’s in ‚Äö√Ñ√∫the zone‚Äö√Ñ√π and exhilarates in the feeling of the breath in their nostrils and the blood pumping in their arteries is in the Now.

Meditation allows us to relearn being in the Now and many of us then carry that process out of the zendo and into our daily lives. When one has learned to use that gentle, persistent redirection of the mind into the Now while meditating one often finds applications in other places. When faced with a complicated or tedious task at work, being in the Now allows us to keep focus and make better use of our time and energy. When interacting with other people, being in the Now makes us more tuned-in to them and can make us aware of subtle verbal and nonverbal cues we would otherwise miss. If one is in the Now at bedtime those whirling thoughts aren’t there and one can finally get to sleep. In a strange or unfamiliar situation being in the Now can bring to our attention details and information that can help keep us safe.

Some schools of meditation indicate that the ultimate goal of sitting is to move into a state where one is always in the Now. I would like to meet such a person. I marvel at the thought of such a disciplined mind and I think it would be fascinating to see how they deal with their day-to-day world.

Personally, this is one of the reasons that I say I ‚Äö√Ñ√∫practice‚Äö√Ñ√π meditation, staying in the Now isn’t always easy for me. I have, however, learned to notice the signs of my distraction and gently and persistently pull myself back into the moment. As time goes by I’ll continue to get better at it. It’s another tool in my spiritual and mental toolbox that helps enhance my life and make me a better person.

Namaste,
Jim

Meditation Musings

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

As Serenity expands it’s Group Meditation offerings I’d like to take a few
moments to talk about how we view meditation and how our groups tend to work.

Modern science tells us of many benefits of meditation including lower blood
pressure, stress level reduction and better sleep patterns. Most of us who
practice meditation would add to the list, a better understanding of ourselves
and a generally calmer attitude towards life’s travails and petty indignations.
Some form of meditation seems to be a part of most civilizations and some
methods have been in use for thousands of years.

I was an occasional meditator for many years and mostly practiced when I felt
the stress in my life becoming overwhelming. One day it dawned on me that if
meditation could help when I was under a heavy stress load, perhaps, if used on
a regular basis, it could keep my stress load from building up in the first
place.
As I practiced on a more regular basis I began to study the different types of
meditation disciplines. I was struck, not by the differences, but by the
similarities. I also found that my own meditation technique (crafted  by 40
years of intermittent practice) fell into none of the traditional methods. And
yet, I benefit enormously from my practice.

I don’t find it surprising that humans have found such diverse ways to touch
that place we touch when we meditate. We are an endlessly creative species. And
the similarities within all these practices? Well, how many shapes can a wheel
be? They were all created to get us to that place we go when we  sit. That is
their greatest commonality.

My friend Sandy says that when she prays she’s talking to God, when she
meditates she’s listening to God. I start my meditation each morning with the
affirmation “I sit, I sit because it is what I do, I sit without thought of goal
or gain‚Äö√Ñ√π. Our respect for each other’s Way is evident and when you come to our
group your Way will be equally respected.

If you’ve never meditated before we can certainly help you find your own Way.
There’s nothing magical or difficult about it. You don’t have to sit
cross-legged on a funny cushion (but please don’t mind if I do). You don’t have
to “stop your thoughts” (unless you want to). If you do nothing but sit quietly
in a calm and supportive atmosphere you will begin to reap the benefits of
meditation.

Our groups usually meet for 90 minutes. First we typically have a short reading
and/or discussion about some aspect of meditation. We then have 30-45 minutes of
meditation, which could be a guided meditation recording, meditation appropriate
music, or guidance by a group member. We then have a short time to unwind,
discuss the day’s meditation, journal or sit quietly. Whatever the group
prefers.

We presently have our Wednesday morning group which meets from 9:30-11:00 am but
if you would like to see a group at another time or in another format, let us
know. We will be expanding to evenings and weekends as new groups form. We have
a $5 fee per session to help defray the cost of the space, tea, and water.

As these groups grow I’m excited about meeting people with techniques new to me
and those who wish to begin meditating for the first time. Who knows what we’ll
learn?

Nemaste,
Jim

Reiki for Self-Care

Friday, June 25th, 2010

What do you do to take care of yourself? You may exercise, eat right, meditate or a variety of other activities which offers relaxation and the opportunity to ‘unwind’.¬¨‚Ć May I suggest that you consider adding Reiki to your daily practice?

Reiki, defined as Universal Life Energy, is an excellent addition to your daily routine. When I teach Reiki I always encourage my students to give themselves Reiki every day.¬¨‚Ć Reiki is a gentle, hands on healing technique which offers balancing of your life energy. You don’t need any special equipment or tools to do Reiki. Simply your time and intention. It doesn’t get much better than that!

When you give yourself Reiki you learn to become more aware of your own energy, when you are out of balance and the subtle shifts as you come back into balance. Reiki helps you on all levels, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And here’s another wonderful detail, you don’t need to know where the imbalance is or on which level you need to heal. Because Reiki is channeled through you from our Higher Power, it goes where it’s most needed for your highest good.

You may want to spend an hour or more giving yourself Reiki everyday, or you may only spend a few moments with Reiki. What sort of time do you want to give to yourself? It’s all up to you and it’s always going to work for your benefit. Personally, I often give myself Reiki while I relax in the evening, even while I’m watching television or reading a book.

Once you’ve been attuned to Reiki, by taking a Reiki class, you will discover that it’s available to you at any time, simply hold the intention that Reiki flow and the energy flow begins. Ahhh, love that!

As always, I encourage you to take excellent care of yourself. I’d also like to suggest that you consider adding Reiki to your daily routine. It’s a lovely addition and an excellent method of self-care.

Namaste,

Sandy