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How to Find Greater Happiness

FAQby Greg Schweitzer, MBA, DAy

Most everyone would like more happiness. As a young man, I like most others looked for happiness through achievement, and was I disappointed! For starters, graduating from college and getting married brought no lasting satisfaction.

Fortunately, in my mid-twenties, I met a wise teacher who told me that there’s a deeper truth to finding joy. His teachings changed the direction of my life.

It’s all inside – be quiet.

He said the nature or essence of life is bliss. (Bliss is unbounded joy or happiness, i.e. big joy.) And, by cleansing our nervous systems of stress through meditation, we could reclaim the reservoir of well-being and joy that exists inside us.

This bold declaration motivated me to take his meditation course, and ultimately become a meditation teacher. That was over 40 years ago. After just my first meditation, I was calmer, more at ease. I continued to meditate every day, growing in happiness and inner peace. This good feeling was not due to anything changing in my world other than my daily meditation practice. I hadn’t won the lottery or gotten a fabulous raise in salary. Now, I was just happy. To my surprise, smiling and laughter was coming easily.

Similar experiences come for everyone through Effortless Meditation™ practice. Recently, a couple who expressed concerns about the tension in their marriage, noticed after only a few days of meditation practice that they were more patient with each other. They also realized that they were sleeping better and happier for no apparent reason.

THAT’S IT! Happiness doesn’t need a reason to exist in your life. Happiness is a state of being. It’s our birthright.

Isn’t this obvious in our children? My four-year old granddaughter is delight personified. She doesn’t need anything to make her joyful, her happiness just is. She’s excited by life – a silly expression, a new idea, a song, jumping up and down, almost anything brings a twinkle to her eye, laughter, and enthusiasm. She exudes joy; she can’t contain it. It bubbles out of her. Wouldn’t you like to have more of that in your life?

It’s not only possible; you deserve it. In Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, author Eckhart Tolle states that “true happiness is found in simple, seemingly unremarkable things.”   Such as your dog running playfully through a meadow, or your child wiggling with excitement. “But to be aware of these little quiet things, (says Tolle), we need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.”

 Cultivating happiness and inner peace

How do you achieve this inner alertness and quietness? It’s really easier that you think. To cultivate it, learn to meditate, or do some yoga, stop talking and just listen, or walk mindfully through a forest.  Another exercise: observe your surroundings as you stroll silently without trying to get anywhere. Each of these will all quiet your chattering conscious thinking mind.

The deep truth is that beyond the sounds and stirrings of nature and beyond your thoughts, there is something greater, a sacredness that cannot be understood through thought. This is a reservoir of energy, joy, and inner peace. It is available to you. Just learn to quiet your mind and be still.

If you make one or more of these suggestions a regular practice, inner stillness and peace will begin to show up in your daily experience. It won’t be long till you find a level of serenity and happiness in your daily life that you never imagined.

You can get started today.

Click here for Introduction Class Information.

Keeping Your Inner Well from Running Dry

Close-up of a young woman receiving back massage at spa

by Jeanne Mancinelli, RN, LMT, Reiki Practitioner

Constantly giving to family, friends, job, life events all help to drain your energy. When the inner well is full, we are able to give as the situation needs. If these events or situations begin to drain our energy and we do not take the time to replenish our supply, then we run into trouble.

As the body approaches this level, it begins to send out warning signals. These can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Feeling “down”
  • Irritable, Etc.

Now we are entering a “dis-ease” state. If left unchecked, it will spiral downward and become more systemic. You may experience:

  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent severe headaches

How to replenish the well?

  • First is to recognize the situation
  • Secondly, realize that if you do not take care of yourself, you could end up with a physical or emotional breakdown.

What do do?

What helps you relax? Make some “you time.” This is where massage can help. As early as 15 minutes into the massage, the body releases endorphins. These are the “feel good” hormones. During this time your blood pressure begins to lower. Further into the massage, your muscles begin to relax and tension begins to ease. Clients frequently report improved sleep.

The type of massage will depend on the needs of the client. The therapist should discuss the expectations of the client. Some people prefer a more vigorous massage, while others enjoy the long, slow strokes of the Swedish massage. Incorporating essential oils can help ease muscle tension, help elevate moods, and help alleviate stress.

Taking time to refill your inner well is good preventative medicine.

According to a statement issued by the American Massage Therapy Association, there is a growing body of research supporting the health benefits of massage. They have listed 25 conditions that are positively affected by massage.

Included in this list are:

  • Relieve stress
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Relieve tension headaches
  • Improved sleep, Etc.

Massage is so much more than what a lot of people think it is.

Massage is not just a frivolous activity. It improves your health and well-being, it is good preventative medicine.

Join Jeanne Mancinelli, licensed massage therapist, for a cup of tea in our homey kitchen and learn about the different kinds of massage and their benefits.

Tuesday, February 9th at 5:30-6:30 pm

Register with Jeanne at 610.393.9676.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trager Approach

Rocking to Health  

Movement Education & Mind/Body Integration 

Have you ever been in an accident? Do you have weak posture? Are you fearful?  Perhaps you have developed emotional blockages or experiencing daily stress.

Dr. Milton Trager developed The Trager Approach, a psychophysical integration therapy, to treat his own chronic back pain. He became fascinated by how the body coordinated its patterns of movement in response to chronic pain or injury.

A Trager treatment consists of gentle, rhythmic rocking, and lengthening movements creating a state of deep relaxation and flexibility, which can allow the body and mind to achieve a state of balance and integration.

As the rhythmic motions progress, it is thought that deeper states of relaxation can facilitate the release of unhealthy patterns of tension between mind and body at an unconscious level.

By teaching the mind to unlearn these patterns of “blockage,” the body can also release chronic states of tension and become more flexible with less pain.

Conditions treated with the Trager Approach:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Joint irritation
  • Soft tissue discomfort
  • Improving athletic performance
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Physical injuries
  • Neurological events (limited or restricted movement like stroke)
  • Tension headaches
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Emotional imbalances
  • Postural problems
  • Mobility issues
  • Pain relief
  • Increase physical mobility
  • Mental clarity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Sports injuries
  • Back and leg problems (sciatica)
  • Breathing issues (asthma and emphysema)

Two aspects of Trager Therapy:

Table Work: The client lies on a well-padded table in a safe, comfortable environment while your body is supported and gently moved within its pain-free range of movement and natural rhythm. You may choose to be fully clothed, or partially clothed and appropriately draped.

Mentastics: Dr. Trager developed simple, effortless movements to encourage playful exploration of “what could be freer” for your body. Integrating Mentastics into your daily life will allow you to enhance and recall feelings of ease, freedom, flexibility and joy. Mentastics can become part of the way you take care of yourself by relieving stress and tension. Instruction is offered in private sessions or class.

Bonita Cassel is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and has been practicing the Trager Approach since 1985.

For Table Work or Mentastics instruction, please call 610.395.3355

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation is Personal Hygiene

Who among us would start our day without making time for personal hygiene? At the minimum, we clean our teeth, wash our body, and brush our hair. Why do we take the time? We feel better, we’re healthier and we receive good feedback from those we personally contact!

Meditation is a personal hygiene practice.  It prepares us for the day in front of us.  The day goes more smoothly; it is more enjoyable and meaningful as a result of making the time to meditate.

A few weeks after Mary and John learned to meditate; Mary said that John had changed. He’s much happier when he comes home from work, she said. 

John has a stressful one-hour drive to get to work each day. Add to the stress of the drive a long pressure-filled workday and the same return drive home, and you realize what many of us face every day. We then carry the fatigue and pressure of our workday into the evening hours with our family. Now, since taking the Effortless Meditation™ course, John sits in his car to meditate in the garage for 15 – 20 minutes following the ride home. The deep rest of his meditation releases his tension and stress. He then walks into the house with more energy and he’s happier, he’s feeling lighter.

After 38 years of meditation practice, my most obvious benefit from meditation is the increased mental and physical energy and happiness that I feel. Fatigue and stress wear us down; they dull our nervous system and brain. I’ll never forget watching a busy friend, a small business owner, fall asleep as he was talking! When the brain is compromised by stress and fatigue, it’s impossible to be at the top of our game, and it’s hard to find much to enjoy and appreciate in life.

Effortless Meditation™ practice is an antidote. During the practice, we experience levels of rest that are deeper than sleep. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol decrease as we experience a deeply relaxed state of inner wakefulness. Similar to recharging the battery of your phone, this is a preparation for a higher degree of satisfaction and success in life.  

For maximum benefits, all it takes is fifteen to twenty minutes twice a day. For many, this is as essential as any daily personal hygiene practice.

Greg Schweitzer, MBA, Director of Stress Reduction Resources and Effortless Meditation™ Instructor for more than 30 years

 

 

 

Especially Athletes! and All Others!

Diligent practice of hip stretches—what in yoga we often call “hip openers,” as though they are key to unlocking thesecrets of the hips—can dramatically increase your flexibility and range of motion around the hip joints. If you are athletically minded, this can be a good thing. But as with many good things, too much can be overdoing it.

The key for athletes is to develop or maintain balance between stiffness and openness: a balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles around the hips.This balance can change depending on both the athlete’s body and on sport-specific needs.

Depending on your sport, too much flexibility can be detrimental to your sports performance, as it can reduce your snappiness. Consider, for example the stiffness a runner needs for efficient transfer of energy to the ground. A floppy runner, one whose hips sag with each step, will have to work harder than one who springs lightly over the ground. But you need enough flexibility to move fluidly through your stride, without a hitch that can lead to an overuse injury. Poses that mimic the running stride, like lunges, can help you stay flexible through the range of motion used to run, and hip stretches that target the external rotators can help avoid overuse injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.

On the other hand, athletes need vastly more flexibility in the hips for engaging in activities like rock climbing, curling, or playing positions like catcher in baseball or softball.  A yoga practice for athletes in these activities can look very different from a practice for athletes who require more springy stiffness in their bodies; athletes who need to take deep squats can enjoy the full range of hip stretches, including poses that move deep into flexibility.

Consider where you fall on this spectrum. There may be a very good reason hip openers frustrate you, or a good reason for you to love and enjoy them. Either way, the process gives you an opportunity to consider what you can change and what you can’t, and to practice focusing your energy on creating useful change and accepting the unchangeable.

For all those who would like to improve balance and flexibility, reduce pain, increase range and ease of movement, and reduce habits of tension, consider becoming a student of one of the following: Yoga, Coordination Pattern™ Breakthru Training, Feldenkrais Method® of Movement Education, Personal Fitness Training, Pilates, Tai chi or Qigong,

How Could This Pain Have Anything to do With Stress?

Sarah took the Effortless Meditation™ course because she was intrigued by what she heard in the introduction session; however, her primary motivation was to support her sister who enrolled in the course. She knew her sister was in distress and she felt that her sister would be more comfortable taking the course if she participated with her.

The first four classes proceeded smoothly, and when they returned in two weeks for their fifth session, Sarah remarked that she hadn’t had any stomach pain in two weeks.  Since she hadn’t mentioned stomach pain as a concern, I inquired about it.  She explained that during the preceding two years, “I’ve had every test in the book to determine why I have pain every time I eat. It’s gotten so bad, I hardly eat at all.”  None of the tests have found anything abnormal and just last week, her doctor explained that he thought stress could be the culprit.

How could this pain be due to stress, she asked.  Sarah said she thought her doctor was crazy, but now she’s seeing that he was correct.  Her pain is real, it’s not in her mind.  Stress causes tension and muscle contraction.  Hold a tight fist for a couple hours and tell me it doesn’t hurt!  Under chronic stress, muscle tension cause headaches or pain may show up in our jaw, arms, abdominal area, anywhere in the body.

The deep rest and relaxation of Effortless Meditation was relieving the tension in Sarah’s muscles.  Deep rest is an antidote for stress, it relieves the stress response.  The proof, Sarah was without pain that had been plaguing her for years, and she was able to eat again incomfort!

Deepak Chopra, M.D. would explain that this wasn’t magic, it’s based in science.  Sarah was meditating every day as prescribed.  Her smile said she couldn’t be happier.

Greg Schweitzer, MBA, D.Ay., Director of Stress Reduction Resources and Effortless Meditation™ Instructor for more than 30 years

Acupressure: Holiday Health Is In Your Hands!

Ready or not, the holidays are coming! Along with the hustle and bustle, stress slowly builds. Who wants to waste time running to the doctor and spending money on pills? There are gifts to be bought and wrapped, decorations to be placed, cards to be sent, parties to attend, cookies to be baked, food to prepare, and on and on! Just thinking about it, creates stress. Save your precious time for the joys of the season. Don’t let stress take control of you.

There’s no better time than right now to learn how to take charge of your health with the healing touch of your own hands.

How can this be done? The ancient Chinese practice of acupressure brings balance to the body using the power and sensitivity of the fingers and hand. Through the use of gentle finger pressure, tapping, gentle pounding, and pressing meridians at acupoints to even the flow of energy, health and wellness is restored.

The body has twelve healing energy pathways (meridians) as identified by traditional Chinese Medicine. Energy (chi) flows through these meridians and your holiday stress and tension can cause them to get blocked at the acupressure points. By effectively using acupressure techniques, energy begins to flow through the meridians reducing muscular tension, increasing circulation, and enabling deep relaxation. Stress is relieved and harmony is restored to all body functions.

Let this holiday motivate you to relieve the stress that is stored in your body now (and even more so as the holidays approach), strengthen your resistance to disease, and ultimately maintain your health. Join us to learn self-care applications and pressure points for not only holiday stress but many other specific conditions.

Give yourself the gift of stress relief this holiday. You don’t have to shop for it, wrap it, or return it!  You’ll have it for the rest of your life to use at any time you feel the need.