Meditation for Stress Less Living




Welcome to Meditation Monday — a new addition to my blog. Each Monday (as much as possible, anyway) I will post a recorded meditation for you. Below is the link to the meditation. I hope you will enjoy it!

Meditation has been my daily practice for most of my life. The benefits of meditation on health and happiness are growing as more research exists (especially on the benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation). Of course, the recent research simply reflects and affirms what I and many have experienced through regular practice.

What is meditation? Meditation is practice of contemplation that can be practiced in many ways — following the breath, focusing on loving kindness, eye gazing on a candle or photo, prayer, or using a mantra or affirmation to focus your mind on peaceful quiet. Meditation is integral within every religious and spiritual approach. Contemplation is an important practice for experiencing inner peace and devotional prayer. Quietly sitting for several minutes or more a day is how to begin meditation.

In my work, I recommend meditation to many of my clients. What I often hear in response to my suggestion is, “I’ve tried and can’t”, “I can’t meditate. I can’t empty my mind.” After several unsuccessful attempts to experience a silent mind, they stop trying. However, the myth of meditation is that we can empty our mind of thoughts.

Consider this. Our mind’s job is to think. Instead of trying to empty your mind from thought, acknowledge the thoughts that continue while sitting. Practicing meditation is learned by sitting in quiet, gently breathing in and out, noticing thoughts that drift by, letting them go, and refocusing on the breath (or whatever you choose to focus on). A quiet mind? That comes with years of dedicated practice and, even then, the mind continues to think, only slower. A mind without thought is momentary.

The benefits of meditation keep me taking the time to meditate daily. Meditation cultivates more happiness and peace in life; increases focus, creativity, memory, and compassion; decreases the experience of stress and anxiety overall; builds self-esteem and intuition; offsets the aging process of the brain; lowers blood pressure; and improves our health.

How to Meditate? Schedule the time to sit, stand, or even walk in order to calm your nervous system, quiet your mind, and experience focused awareness. Use this dedicated time to turn off the tv, radio, or even music so that you can experience a settling of your nervous system even if thoughts continue. I encourage the same time of day so that it becomes a consistent practice.

Initially, it is helpful to listen to a guided meditation. A favorite for many is the app, Headspace. There is a convenience to Headspace because you can listen from your phone anywhere. Search Google for ‘guided meditations’ and you will find many teachers who offer free guided experiences. I suggest listening to several of them to see who’s voice you resonate with most.

I will be posting a weekly meditation here. My intention is “Meditation Monday’s” so that you might use my guided meditations throughout the week. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Puppies Are Good For Health & Happiness

Do you smile and melt when someone posts a cute puppy or kitty video on Social Media? I do! If you are like me, you watch them because you want to feel good, laugh, and, for a moment, allow whatever doesn’t feel good fade into the background.

So, this last weekend I decided to rescue one of those cute puppies and bring more love into my world (and have a dog who barks when someone comes to visit). Of course, as you can imagine, I have had several nights of less than restful nights! My days have shifted from my quiet rhythm with an aging deaf dog and an older cat.

I would like to share with you my list of the benefits (as I know them) of a puppy in the house. It is a reminder when I am not so enthralled by the antics of this little being in my home who is a bundle of nonstop motion and energy.

The Benefits of a Puppy at Home:

1. Rescuing a puppy from a shelter expands your heart.
2. A puppy who is in the process of house-training means lots of outdoor time and fresh air.
3. A puppy who is learning how to walk on a leash with another dog means I am improving my flexibility as the leash or puppy gets tangled around my legs (add ice and it is even more exciting).
4. I am practicing my mindfulness (or actively noticing) by learning pee and pooping cues.
5. My carpets are getting an early Spring cleaning even if it is one small spot at a time.
6. I love being appreciated and what better appreciation than a puppy excited to see me when I get home from work or get up in the morning.
7. Exercising my memory to be certain my pockets are full of training treats and poop bags before heading outdoors.
8. I have increased my physical contact through petting and massaging another dog in my household.
9. I am getting to learn what is important and what to let go of. For example, a new puppy explores so books are sent flying off of my coffee table and my gloves and hats are fair game on the table by the door. I may even learn that some furniture is no longer necessary as she wants to taste and chew everything. I don’t really need so much stuff anyway!
10. I get to practice my rapid response skills — getting up & dressed in the morning (including boots, coat, mittens, and a hat) to get outside first thing for puppy pee & pooping.
11. Her playfulness is a delightful refocus from the dire news I might otherwise be checking.
12. My vocabulary has simplified tremendously — ‘Come’; ‘Sit’; and ‘Good girl’ says so much and what fun to see her desire to please (or maybe it’s for the treat I reach for in my pocket).
13. Lots of Oxytocin release (the feel good hormone) when I sit to receive endless kisses and love.
14. A reminder that play is an important part of every day!
15. Research shows that people with pets live longer and enjoy improved health! I’m on board with that!

These are just some of the benefits I’ve experienced this week with a new puppy on board. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the other animals in my house are not so enthralled. My cat has hidden on the top shelf in a closet, coming out only at mealtime and at night when the puppy is safely in her crate or eating her own meal. And, my aging dog (who is getting more exercise trying to escape puppy play) looks up at me with eyes that seem to say, “Really??”

My little bundle of joy, whose name is Willow, is a rescue from Kentucky. I have enormous respect for the many people who take on rescuing, foster caring, and finding homes for dogs and cats — their passion is their love of animals. In the process of having Willow join my household I’ve learned that most of the shelters down south are ‘kill’ shelters. I like that I have just saved a precious life!