Archive for the ‘centering’ Category

Guided Meditation on Loving Yourself   Leave a comment

I wrote a guided meditation back in February for a gathering at my church, and I thought I’d put it up to share with anyone who might be interested in guided meditations. I used to create these on the fly back in college, but this is the first one I’ve written in many years. I hope that it gives you what you need.


 

Make sure you are seated comfortably, with your head supported.
Sit back, close your eyes, feel your body supported by the seat and cushions beneath you.

Take a deep breath and release; feel your breath filling your entire body.
Continue taking deep breaths;
With each exhalation let go of some tension, stress, or tightness held in your body.

Feel your body become more relaxed with each breath.
Let yourself sink into the cushions supporting you.
With no tension in your body, let your body go limp, melting into the seat.

Continue feeling each breath fill your body, and now let each breath make you lighter
You gradually become lighter and lighter, becoming light as a bubble
Eventually you start to float, carefree and relaxed.

A door opens and in the eddies of wind you float outside.
Like a bubble carried on the breeze you rise up above the day-to-day world
The moon beckons you and fills your bubble self with light.
The light of the moon fills your senses, fills your mind.

As your vision clears you find you are now resting on a low tree branch.
You are no longer a bubble, but your normal body.
Looking around, you see that the tree branch you are on is just a few feet above a stream.
Gently, you push off of the branch and step into the stream
Walking slowly downstream out from under the shade of the tree
You feel the the water flowing around your ankles offering a gentle caress,
You feel the sun warming your back,
And hear the birdsong providing a relaxing melody in the background.

“Love is patient”

As you walk down the stream, you encounter a spot with a still pool on the side of the stream.
There are leaves swirling on the surface of this pool.
If you have felt frustrated or impatient with yourself recently, pick up a leaf from the pool,
Put your frustration or impatience on the leaf, and put it down in the stream to be washed away.
Release as many leaves to float away in the stream as you have frustrations,
Let go of whatever makes you impatient with yourself, or those that you love.
When there are no more leaves to release, you continue walking down the stream.

“Love is kind”

Further down the stream you find a deep pool of spring water spilling into the stream.
The spring has a smooth surface and when you approach you can see your reflection in the water.
Your reflection smiles up at you, beckons you into the pool,
and offers an apology to you for any unkindnesses you have said or done to yourself recently.
You step into the warm pool and soak in that apology to yourself.

“Love is not jealous”

After you have been soaking for a while a bunch of butterflies flutters nearby
The butterflies land on the rim of the pool and on your head and arms.
You can look at the butterflies up close, marveling at their fragile beauty.
The butterflies absorb any jealousy that you have been harboring towards anyone else,
and any lack of contentedness with yourself.
One by one they lift off and all fly away, taking your jealousy and discontent away with them.

“Love is not pompous nor inflated”

Eventually you get out of the pool and continue walking down the stream.
A warm rain starts to fall, gentle at first and gaining in intensity.
Each droplet of rain massages your head and body.
Any facade that you wear to face the outside world is softened by the rain, and maybe even washed away.

After the refreshing rain shower passes on, the sun comes out.
You notice a large flat rock near the stream and you lie down on it to dry off in the sun.
As the steam rises off of your hair and clothes,
let any other stresses, grudges, or criticisms that you hold evaporate with the water.
Feel the sun warming you like an I-love-you from God.

When dry and warm, relaxed and contented you start to feel lighter and lighter.
You become a feather lying on the rock.
A gentle breeze comes by and picks you up,
Lifting you higher and higher.
As the breeze carries you through the sky the day turns to evening, and then night.

You realize that you are no longer a feather dancing in the sky but are flying like a bird.
Feel the glorious wind rustling your feathers as you fly above the earth, surrounded by star light.
Look down and you can see the lights of the city below you.
You fly lower, feeling drawn towards something.
You see a building with an open door with light spilling out of the door.
You fly towards the light and then into the building.

You alight on a seat and settle your body into the cushion.
As you do so you gradually become aware of your arms, legs, and body resting comfortably in the seat.

When you are ready you open your eyes, refreshed and renewed.

 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

4Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous,
Love is not pompous, it is not inflated.
5It is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
6it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Posted March 30, 2014 by mayakey in breathing, centering, spiritual practices

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So How Did Pregnancy Prep Stack Up to First Trimester?   Leave a comment

(Side benefit to getting my energy back – I have time to blog again!) For the last few years I’ve been preparing for pregnancy, preparing to be a good host. My goals included diet improvement, strength training, meditation, and posture improvement. Well, now that it has happened, how did I do for the start of the “race”? Better than I think and feel I did, but unfortunately what I think and feel matters regardless of whether it’s true or not. Psychologically I felt lost. Like I was alone in the middle of a lake, just floating in my in my life preserver, to tired to swim or cry or do anything but hope a current pushed me to safety. To be completely honest I’m just incredibly grateful to the universe that my blah never turned into depression, although there were days when I was very afraid. Thankfully pregnancy brings hope and excitement along with blah.

Over the last couple years improving my diet has been a huge focus. My sugar intake was already below the 5 tsp (20 grams) recommended intake, except for special occasions like birthday celebrations. How did I do in my first trimester? Just fine, thank you. I think my sugar craving has actually decreased and my chocolate cravings are fluctuating between non-existing to mild. There were a handful of splurges in the first couple of weeks as I was just desperate to get food in me and stop the hunger and nausea; and I did give in and buy the requisite saltines as emergency gut fill. Another goal was to avoid regular junk food. How’s that going? Completely derailed. Even with a nice sour cherry-pecan trail mix at my desk, a free bag of salty potato chips wins when hungry (even well knowing that the chips won’t make a dent in my stomach). This is totally a willpower check, and I’ve absolutely failed over and over again. As I feel better, though, I’m failing less often/badly.

The last big diet-related goal was the most important to me, and that was increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables. I really did get into the habit of making sure that I was eating at least one serving with every meal, and even snacks had a component. Unfortunately in my first day of nausea I made the mistake of forcing myself to eat my leftovers for lunch, and was almost unable to think about eating a non-avocado vegetable for a couple weeks. I can honestly say I felt crushed, and found it downright depressing to be consuming almost 100% carbs, fat, and protein. Isn’t that stuff supposed to be comfort food? It just left me feeling more blah then exhaustion already made me feel. It’s been a rough haul, but I’m back to vegetables (although bitter greens may have been an extremely unfortunate casualty of war). I’m not even trying to hit every meal yet, since the number of daily meals has just about doubled, but it feels good. The temporary catastrophic failure of this habit is probably the biggest contributor in my overall psychological struggles.

The attempt at restarting a regular strength training routine had already failed before I got pregnant. So being so tired that I didn’t run or do strength training for a couple months is kinda moot. Except for the fact that I love running, and when feeling blah not being able to run just contributes to more blah.

The next major thing that I did as part of my preparation was to commit to daily meditation. It was awesome, felt great, and may have been one of the best decisions that I ever made in my life. With the exception of one evening per week at my prayer group, I haven’t meditated since April. Blame the exhaustion, every evening I go from up to crash in about 5 minutes. Sometimes it’s at 9, sometimes it’s at 11, but when I start thinking about brushing my teeth and meditating my body decides it’s time to sleep NOW, and not in ten more minutes. For my own psychological state I’d really like to get my act together again. Daily meditation just felt so incredibly awesome! Luckily the calming, centering, and grounding effects have lingered so far.

My efforts at improving posture is one of the current goals, specifically focusing on lower body posture. I can proudly say that I managed to not cross my legs even as my mood dropped. Feels especially good since at my last massage my therapist found that my pelvis is significantly more level than it was a few months ago. This goal is still on track (keeping a better stance – feet shoulder width apart), and growing (keeping my back and neck straight).

Posted June 27, 2012 by mayakey in centering, goals, health, pregnancy, psychology

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Shalom   Leave a comment

Shalom

Shalom doesn’t just mean “peace”. Look it up, Google it, or Wikipedia it. Shalom means so much more than the English word “peace”. Shalom means wholeness and wellness as well. Shalom encompasses individuals, nations, and the entire universe.

Happy New Year to all.

Shalom

Posted January 1, 2012 by mayakey in centering, musings, spiritual practices

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Practicing Meditation vs. The Practice of Meditation   Leave a comment

For the last several months I have been working towards a goal of daily meditation. Even knowing that as my focus moves on to other things this practice will almost certainly slip a bit (especially Fridays and Saturdays), I am proud to be able to say that I meditate every day. Unfortunately, I say that with some sense that I’m not being honest because while I may be practicing meditation I have to confess that I haven’t committed to the practice of meditation.

This is definitely an example of the importance of commitment. For as much as I value meditation for its calming properties for mind, body, and spirit, I’ve never been able to sustain daily meditation long term. I think the biggest problem was that I never truly tried. When I would set myself a goal to meditate, it was “nearly daily” as I assumed that I wouldn’t manage it on Friday and Saturday, that it would feel silly on Sunday after being in Mass for an hour, and that I would have a good “reason” for not meditating occasionally. Doomed to failure with that built-in lack of commitment. And it always failed; I never even made it to the 6 month mark and my goal reward. This time around I made a commitment for every day. Sometimes it’s a timed seated meditation, sometimes a decade or two of the rosary, and sometimes I just lay for a few minutes in the corpse pose or legs-up-the-wall corpse pose and focus on my breathing, but the point is I did it.

Daily meditation feels so good, too! Usually I build my goals as a “two steps forward, one step back” progression, knowing myself well enough to know that once my focus eases even good habits that I enjoy slack off a bit. So I’m aware that I’ll probably start missing days, but in this case I think it’ll be less dramatic than usual because I am really feeling the benefits of this practice and I really want to continue it. I am definitely more calm, have a much much easier time centering during the day, and have improved body awareness.

But for all these benefits, honestly I’m only going through the motions; imagine how awesome it will be if I can get myself to commit to the practice. What I mean by these ticky-tack words is that while I’m sitting quietly, I have been utterly unsuccessful at getting my mind to wander less. There was a time in my life when that was easy, then I became an adult with responsibilities that are always on my mind. Now the timer may be set for 10 minutes, but I’m probably lucky to get 30 seconds of actual inner peace. My commitment was getting me to the game, but it isn’t helping me play. So I think the next commitment needs to be to actually practice daily meditation and not just go through the motions.

Posted August 22, 2011 by mayakey in centering, goals, spiritual practices

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Okay Okay, I Get The Message, Visualization Is Important   2 comments

For last month or so I have literally been getting the same message repeatedly and from many different sources. The message is that if you can’t visualize something happening, it won’t; or conversely that the best way to make things happen is to visualize it. I know why I’m getting these messages, but it has taken me an unusually long time to actually GET the message.

The issue is basically the complete and utter lack of visualization that I have been able to do about getting pregnant. Before we started trying I had managed to “create” the conception story and pregnancy story as my naturopath instructed me as homework. But it wasn’t very strong visualization, and collapsed as soon as we started actually trying to get pregnant. In fact, I ended up following the tactic of not thinking about it at all in an attempt to shield myself from the potential heartbreak of trying to get pregnant. Apparently the universe disagrees with that tactic. When I first started receiving these messages my response was along the lines of: “women get pregnant without visualization all the time, it would be arrogant to think I could make it happen by wishing.” And I kept getting the messages. Eventually I realized that while it may be true that visualization doesn’t matter for someone who hasn’t used it regularly as a tool, the story might be different for someone who has used visualization regularly in the past. Then I started actually paying attention to my energy flows and realized that by deliberately not thinking about trying to get pregnant I was essentially directing my person energy flows AROUND my second chakra. Again, that might not matter for someone who doesn’t care a whit about personal energy flows, but I normally care very much and have a very minor ability to sense the flow of personal energy. In a weird way it makes sense that visualization might not make any difference for a person to whom it doesn’t matter, but might make a world of difference to someone like me for whom the act of visualizing is generally important. Or as I just explained it to my husband, for someone who uses visualization regularly, deliberately NOT visualizing something is akin to willing it to NOT happen.

In my experience, visualization is an incredibly powerful tool, but it is also very hard to do. I think most people figure it is just about making a picture in your head of what you want to happen. But for it to be really effective, the image has to be fully sensory. Whatever you are visualizing needs to feel real; you need to be in the image. Visualizing giving a presentation? Feel the muscles of your legs holding you up, feel your feet pressed against the floor, feel the coolness of the table against your hands, hear the whir of the projector’s fan, see the dust flecks in the beam of light, feel yourself get nervous with tight stomach and sweaty underarms, and then feel yourself take a deep breath and feel the tension go away, imagine looking at the audience as you talk and seeing their reactions, and imagine yourself presenting and doing a darn good job at it. It’s like a mental rehearsal. The challenge for me was how do you visualize the unknown? That’s where my visualization broke down. I could barely visualize being pregnant, but didn’t have enough knowledge of fertility to visualize getting pregnant.

Wikipedia to the rescue! It took me a while to find it but their prenatal development page has an awesomely detailed explanation of fertilization and embryonic development. Just what the doctor ordered (which is actually in this case just what the doctor ordered).

Posted February 25, 2011 by mayakey in centering, pre-pregnancy, psychology

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Personal Mantras   Leave a comment

Everyone should have a personal mantra or two. Or more if that’s your style. This week’s Mark and Angel Hack Life post is a mantra for each week of the year. I don’t think I could handle one for each week, but I have found that having a few mantras embedded in my being serves as a very good touchpoint and certainly helps keep me going.

My long-term mantras include:

  • Nothing bad every happens. It may hurt like hell, but that doesn’t make it bad.
  • I am a competent person, and I can do it. (whatever it is)
  • Everything in moderation, even moderation.

The list of my short term mantras is longer, and I can’t remember every mantra I’ve ever used, so I’m not going to try. Sometimes you just need a mantra to repeat for a few days, weeks, or months, and then you are ready to move on.

According to the dictionary, “mantra” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “instrument of thought”. In practical terms a mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated in order to get some benefit like centering, motivation, or comfort. Mantras, and their use, are also very personal.

In my experience, the definition of mantra could be stretched a bit to include an emotional repetition as well, even if it doesn’t have the same phrase attached. An example in my life would be from back in my teen/early twenty years when (like most teens) I used to think I was really ugly. In order to overcome that I changed my mentality to be positive instead of critical when I saw myself in the mirror, and in short order I was able to recognize my beauty. There wasn’t really a set phrase, but rather an emotional action. The constant repetition forced to me change the way I was thinking overall and had a profound long-term impact.

Posted January 17, 2011 by mayakey in centering, psychology, spiritual practices

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Sitting Quiet   Leave a comment

Sitting quiet is most essential. Don’t waste your time by not doing this.

Papaji (Sri H.W.L. Poonja)

Posted January 5, 2011 by mayakey in centering, quotes

Centering in the Office   1 comment

The Northern California region of my company recently worked with some external consultants for what was called the “Full Potential Initiative”, which was basically one of those “how can we work better” things. Several of the senior engineers and managers participated in a series of meetings over the course of the last year to learn various tools and the put them into practice. They are now rolling those tools out to all staff in the region, a little bit at a time. Last week was the introductory presentation, including the introduction of the first tool: centering.

I have to say that, in my mind, this whole process gains some legitimacy by making centering the first tool to learn. I heard the phrase “slow down to speed up” mentioned, and in my head responded with “amen!” Maybe I’m weird even for an engineer since this is not a foreign concept to me. I guess for many of the senior engineers this is a real challenge, as well as being something they had never tried to do. Some of them do seem to be actually surprised that it is effective, especially before or after difficult meetings or phone calls, or on an overwhelmingly busy day.

We were all assigned homework to practice centering three times a day for the next week (until the next presentation), using events like meetings and phone calls as triggers. I don’t think I’ll have any problem with this since I have had an Outlook reminder to “center” that pops up every 30 minutes for years (well, it used to say “Move!” but I changed it to “center” several months ago).

The office is an environment that is structured to make centering necessary and easy. Centering is necessary because I sit in front of a computer staring into a screen for hours. Centering is necessary because I have to deal with people, who can sometimes be very frustrating. Centering is necessary because sometimes I have too much work to do in too little time. Centering is necessary because … (fill in your own reason). Centering is easy because I sit in front of a computer all day where I can set a reminder. Centering is easy because my time is conveniently divided into tasks, with a pause between each one. Centering is easy because there is a short walk to the restroom or the break room.

We would probably be healthier if every 30 minutes we stopped what we were doing for a few seconds. It is a time to close your eyes and/or focus on something distant to keep your eyes from getting tired. It is a time to roll your neck and shoulders or stretch your back and legs to prevent pain. It is a time to listen to the body and get a drink of water or go to the restroom if needed. It is a time to look out a window and check in with the outside world. But most importantly, it is a time to take a deep breath, feel yourself standing or sitting where you are, and feel the inner calm and inner strength that lie deep within us all.

I’d like to encourage everyone who works in an office to take up this homework and practice centering a few times a day, be it on a regular schedule, before meetings, or randomly throughout the day. You might be surprised how it can help you.

Posted May 2, 2010 by mayakey in centering

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Centering vs. Anxiety   1 comment

Centering and meditation are pretty much the best medicine for anxiety; but anxiety is one of the strongest meditation interferences. Which one wins out? It depends on the level of commitment.

I am currently experiencing the worst anxiety of my life, including flirting with anxiety-induced depression for the first time. At the same time, part of my pre-pre-pregnancy lifestyle changes include committing to centering as a way to bring peace into my life. It is either a perfect storm (anxiety preventing meditation and centering), or a perfect opportunity (learning to meditate through anything and using centering to combat anxiety), and the difference is my level of commitment to internal peace.

One would think that a commitment to internal peace is a no brainer, right? Not for us “modern” humans! We feel the need to brag about our discomfort and dramatize our voluntarily adrenaline-packed lives. We are really good at finding internal peace, and then throwing it away. We insist on doing what feels “good” rather than what feels GOOD. It is a real challenge to stop every once and a while, take a deep breath, and just BE. It is a real challenge to silence the voices in our heads long enough to FEEL who we are at our cores, to FEEL what grounds us, and to FEEL our inner strengths. But when we do, it works; it works really well!

Feel an anxiety attack coming? Stop and take a deep breath. Empty your mind for just a moment as you feel the breath filling your body and then rushing away to leave you standing/sitting a little bit taller and a little bit stronger. Find a visual that helps you. My visual is a tree. A tree has a deep and wide root network, and when the wind blows, the top of the tree is flexible and bends. As a result a storm does not move or break the tree, and it will still be standing when the storm is gone. Taking these centering breaks regularly throughout the day, and whenever I feel a surge of anxiety, has really helped to keep the anxiety in check. I have only had one anxiety attack in weeks, and that one was related to my failure to consistently block out the anxiety while meditating.

So the score is tied: Anxiety 1 (for affecting meditation), Centering 1 (for reducing anxiety)

Centering Practice   1 comment

Right now one of the things that I am working on is centering. My new 6 month spiritual goal is to  habitually center myself periodically throughout the day. I really crave the peace of being centered during ordinary life, and yet I haven’t been able to it. I kept procrastinating, unable to make the commitment. The noise of “being busy” was too seductive. It is amazing how much of a trap busy-ness and stress are. Just think about how often people complain (brag) about  how late they were up working last night, or the all-nighter they had to pull, or the extra hours at work, or how much housework had to be done. In high school I actually kept a log of what time, to the minute, I went to bed and woke up so that I wouldn’t just be telling fish tales but substantiated stories about how little sleep I got. I keep the log as I reminder of my craziness. Plus it is one of those things that will make my kids roll their eyes, I hope. Our society is so focused on doing more in less time, and doing it louder and brighter. As my life circumstance change, I know that I need to break out of that cycle of busy – brainless – busy – brainless. And the only way to slow down, is to slow down. Centering is part of that for me.

I center on my breath. I tried centering prayer back in college (where you meditate using a specific word, and then at any time in your day you can think that word and re-center) but it didn’t work very well for me. The part where you regularly practice meditating using the specific word is where I got hung up, since I could never settle on a single word or phrase. I’ve also tried walking meditations but I’ve yet to figure out how that is supposed to work.

My basic breath meditation evolved from the counting meditation where you repeatedly count 10 breaths. If your mind wanders, you start counting at one again. In college I was able to do the counting meditation without my mind wandering. And then things changed. At some point I got fed up with never getting past “4” and decided to just think “inhale” and “exhale”. I figured that I could concentrate long enough for one breath at at time and I wouldn’t feel like a dunce when my mind wandered. That evolved quickly into not necessarily thinking “inhale” and “exhale” and just feeling them instead. I feel the breath come in my nose, fill my lungs, and lift up my entire body; and then I feel my lungs empty and my body relax. Mentally, on the exhale I go down through the first chakra (base chakra, located at the base of the spine) into the ground and into the spiritual body that connects us all, which brings me back up and into my center. At first it seemed weird to have to connect to the universe first in order to connect with myself, but now it actually makes sense. Since I’ve been practicing this for a while, it almost automatic when I think of it.

That is what my goal relates to. Not so much the meditating and centering at night, but throughout the day. Just meditating at night is great, but I felt almost like I had two separate lives. Now I want to have mini-meditations consisting of one or two breaths throughout the day. At work I have a Task in my Outlook that used to be titled “Move” to remind me to get up and stretch every 30 minutes (I just keep hitting the button for 30-minute snooze). Now I am using that to remind myself to take a short mental break and take a breath. Two weeks of focusing on nightly meditation, Mountain pose and Sun Salutation in the the morning, and periodic centering breaks during the day are already making a difference. Nothing else about life has changed, but I already feel much more at peace.