Do you know anyone who worries a lot, is fearful, or depressed? Of course, you do. Well, this short blog could help them immensely.
Michael A. Singer, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book, The Untethered Soul, begins the introduction with a quote from Act I of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Polonius advises his son Laertes – This above all: to thine own self be true.
Singer then asks a thoughtful question, “To which self are we to be true to?” Is it the anxious one inside, the angry self, the humble wise self, or the moody depressed self? That leads to another question – Who are you really?
The insights gained from the answers can be transformative. They make life worth living. It certainly worked that way in my life. Let me explain.
Hope and a Wise Seagull
Have you read Richard Bach’s classic, Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Jonathan was different from his seagull peers. They sit by and in the ocean, and fly to forage for food. This is their daily life. For Jonathan, that lifestyle was not nearly enough, he felt called to be an aviator. Nothing less would satisfy him. While the others looked for food, he performed experimental aerial maneuvers with delightful abandon. Jonathan had passion for flight itself. The other gulls thought he was crazy.
When I read this book over 40 years ago, a light went on. I resonated with Jonathan. I recall lamenting to a friend that it was a shame that humans don’t experience the enthusiasm that Jonathan had for his life. You see, at the time, my life was upside down in turmoil. When I graduated from college three years earlier with a degree in engineering, I was twenty-two years old and in a hurry. Naively, I thought that getting married, moving across the country, and starting a new career would bring me fulfillment and happiness. Well, these high hopes were dashed in just a couple years.
My new career was filled with frustration and boredom, and more significantly, my young wife died tragically. I was numb and lost, going through the motions of living with little direction or purpose. In those days, I was living for a paycheck at week’s end much like the seagulls were living to eat. Like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it was not enough for me.
Enter the Higher Self
Fortunately, there was a ray of light on the horizon. One evening after another stressful workday, a dear friend casually invited me to accompany him to an introductory lecture about meditation held at his workplace. Although I knew little about it, I chose to attend.
It was a warm August evening, and the presenter quickly got my attention when he declared, “there is something missing in most people’s lives! What’s missing is inside, it’s not out there in the world,” he said. Boldly, he said that if we release our inner potential with the meditation practice he was teaching, we will experience a transformation, and everything in our life will improve – our mental, physical and spiritual health, even relationships.
Thinking that I had nothing to lose, and hopeful that this would help, I decided to take the plunge and learn to meditate. If 50% of what he said would come true, I thought “this will be great.” As it turned out, I could not have asked for more than what followed.
About two hours after my initial class, where I meditated for the first time, I found myself spontaneously skipping through a sandwich shop on the way to the cash register to pay for my lunch. I was euphoric, and didn’t know why. Though, I quietly wondered whether meditation had something to do with this delightful feeling.
In the days that followed I adhered to my meditation instructor’s advice. I did a short meditation before work in the morning and another after work in the afternoon. Within a few weeks, there was a shift in my life. Driving to work in the morning, I was wide awake and feeling good – this was new for me! By the afternoon at work, I was looking forward to another short meditation when I got home. I knew that my evening would be more enjoyable after meditating.
My energy level and enthusiasm grew. Soon, I started reading self-help books and exploring my areas of interest more deeply. Life was good again. I was so much happier.
It seemed the teacher’s comment in the introduction class was correct, there had been something missing in my life – energy, vitality, and well-being. He explained that these are qualities of our true or Higher Self – that I was now experiencing in every meditation. Thankfully, these attributes were now growing in my life after my meditation was over.
Don’t we all yearn for a richer, more meaningful, happier, and creative life? Amazingly, these are just a few of the benefits of Effortless Meditation™ practice. The way I see it, these are fundamental needs of our time.
In fact, if Shakespeare wrote Hamlet today rather than in 1599, Polonius’ directive to his son, Laertes may be: This above all: To thine own Higher Self be true – Meditate. Try it and your life will blossom in ways you may have never thought possible.
Greg Schweitzer, MBA, D.Ay
Stress Reduction Resources, Director
“Do you eat mindlessly?”
“One of the easiest things we can do to promote health is to eat in a calm, mindful manner.”
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is an ancient practice of bringing one’s full attention to all the tastes, smells, colors, textures, temperatures, sounds, thoughts, and feelings that arise
around eating and food. It is eating with intention and attention by bringing
awareness to our automatic and reactive responses to food without judgment.
Through the practice of mindful eating you can learn to experience the natural joy of eating, develop a more compassionate attitude toward your body, and quiet your critical mind.
Is there a Benefit?
Some of the benefits of mindful eating include reduced occurrences of over eating, increased enjoyment of food, improved digestion, and being satisfied with less.
Other benefits may include:
Now that you know the benefits, here are my 8 simple steps to mindful eating:
1. Rate your hunger before you eat
2. Choose food that will satisfy both your body and mind
3. Sit down
4. Eat without distractions and stop multi-tasking
5. Eat like a Foodie
6. Slow Down
8. Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating
Old habits die hard. It may be challenging to practice mindful eating within your hectic lifestyle, especially if you are always on the run. Don’t try to make drastic changes. Lasting change takes time, and is built on many small changes. Start by choosing one meal or snack per day to eat mindfully.
Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, NCC
Eat Well with Gina, LLC
Nutrition Counseling & Consulting
A lousy day on the golf course made Pete realize how much pressure he was under at work and at home, but it took a lousy day on the golf course for him to finally realize that he better take a good look at his life and make some changes. He was stuck and had no idea what to do. He knew his weight was up, his cholesterol, and blood pressure were too high, he wasn’t getting enough sleep, and his wife wasn’t happy with him.
He had no clue what to do or where to start. He didn’t want to take medications. He was afraid! He had no idea what his possibilities were!
One day when he was at the supermarket, he saw a magazine about complementary and alternative health services. He had no idea what it was all about, but he was desperate enough to pick it up and read through it. Most of the services he had never heard of – funny names like Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, and Ayurvedic.
The more Pete read, the more interested he became. Most of the magazine had to do with the benefits these services provided. It was hard for him to get his brain around this way of thinking, but he was desperate and kept investigating these new concepts that restored health in a natural way.
One ad caught Pete’s attention. It had to do with Wellness Coaching. He called the number listed and got answers to all his questions. There were so many possibilities! He now felt hope for a healthy future!
The Coaching helped him realize that he needed to learn to be aware of what he ate, how he ate it, and to be responsible for his health on many different levels. He called his wife all excited because he signed them up for a “food preparation” class. That was a start – something for them to do together to improve both their health.
Pete continued with his “wellness journey.” With the Wellness Coach and other practitioners, he addressed his diet and eating habits, sleep issues, and stress and anxiety. Today Pete is at a healthy weight, his blood pressure is normal, and he is able to manage his stress. These were his possibilities and he took advantage of them! Life is good and so is his golf game – now!
Gale Maleskey, M.S., R.D.
Greg Schweitzer, MBA, D.Ay.
After 35 years of teaching, it is very clear that people experience tremendous value from their meditation practice, and yet who hasn’t thought, I don’t have time to meditate today? It’s easy to lose focus on the things that are important to us when we’re running around responding to the relentless pressure of daily life.
What are some of those things that fall through the cracks when we lose focus? Meditation, exercise, spending quality time with loved ones (building relationships), hobbies and other soul nourishing interests all get pushed out of the way.
Those attending tune up classes find that they help connect them with the power of meditation. Most would benefit from a quarterly 1.25 hour tune up class, some could use it more frequently than that. If you’re having difficulty finding the time to meditate, you definitely would benefit from at least a couple monthly classes. Tune ups will fine tune your practice and jump start it and your life to a new level.
Our computers, automobiles, and homes all need maintenance to maximize the return on our investment. Our meditation is the same. As I was exercising the other day at my gym, I was struck by the number of people participating in a yoga class in the mind body studio. That is good news, people are taking time to refine their practice in group classes.
Small group Effortless Meditation tune up classes are inspiring for all those who attend. I invite you to join us. And if you prefer, private meditation coaching is available.
I recently became friends with Elise who lives down the street from me. I had known of her for a couple years, but just waved and said “hello”. Recently we were formally introduced when she was hired at the same school I am now employed. It didn’t take long for us to become fast friends through yoga.
She was aware that I was a yoga teacher, so I mentioned to her where I was teaching and she very quickly became interested in learning more about it. I knew it would help her manage the stress from working and raising a family, so I invited her to join in on my sessions. She loved the idea.
While I was telling her about the schedule, she asked if she could invite one of her other friends. I said “of course, the more the merrier”. She had only done Yoga once before, and it was quite some time ago. They joined my next class and took it real easy at first, but it wasn’t long until they were both loving the challenging poses and the relaxation at the end of each class. Not only did my friend, Elise, benefit, but her friend was so excited to tell me that after only a few sessions her breathing had improved and her muscles felt less stiff and tense. She was amazed how great she felt in such a short time.
Now they are both doing all the poses in full length sessions and encouraging each other to practice regularly. Elise couldn’t wait to tell me after the last session that she is less short of breath going up stairs and on walks with her dog, her tight calves and thighs are much less tense, and that there is improvement in her overall range of motion.
The power of Yoga is truly amazing for moms and even dads!
As a counselor, I sometimes find that the same issues come up for several people in the same week. This week the issue has been uncertainty, and it’s only Wednesday. Well, certainly, we are living in the most uncertain of times, and, as a baby boomer, I know that says something.
When I was a child, the fear was “The Bomb,” and I have vivid memories about the cold war era. I lived near an Army reserve depot, and there was a flight path right over my yard. At age seven, my best friend was the boy next door, also age seven, who was an authority on planes, because he and his older brother had built many model airplanes. So, when the heavy transport planes and bombers would fly overhead, he would look up, shake his head and say with profound seriousness, “I’m not sure it’s one of ours.” Those few moments were fraught with trepidation, until the plane cleared my house and he reassured me that it was, indeed, one of ours. It’s easy to laugh now at my gullible little self and the boy who knew how to scare me.
Life is filled with uncertainty, and there’s always something we can find to worry about. Worry is trying to control something, when we have no say in the matter. So, how do we accept the fact that the only thing we can count on is change? How do we ride the wave of not knowing? How do we live with an uncertain future? Can we change the self-talk that fuels fear?
Almost daily, I see the changes that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can help make in letting go of the need to control situations and people. EFT can calm a person’s system as they come to terms with uncertainty and change. In my practice, I have the privilege of watching a mother let go of trying to fix her adult children’s lives, a teen come to terms with anxiety about school, or an abuse survivor begin to feel safe in the world. I wish EFT would have been around, when those planes flew over my house.
Yesterday, I received a contractor’s invoice for a home service that was totally unsatisfactory. They did not provide much of the service that’s advertised and yet they billed me as if they had. The “warrior” in me was agitated and wanted justice. I was determined to right this perceived wrong.
Although my prepaid legal service attorney was very ready to take action on my behalf, I began to feel uncomfortable about his suggested response. Perhaps I was acting hastily, why was I so obsessed with this?
Eckhart Tolle, NY Times best-selling author of A New Earth and The Power of Now, might say that I was caught up in my ego-mind. The ego-monkey-mind, gets pleasure in running the show, justifying its position vs. others and distracting us from what we really want, e.g. joy and peace of mind. I had definitely lost my focus and serenity over this issue.
Does such obsessive thinking ever occur in your life? How often?
Certainly, injustices are not fair and ideally can be reversed. However, a balanced mind and approach to life is my goal. Is this contractor issue really that important that it should consume so much of my mental energy and focus?
Fortunately, many years ago I learned how to take the steam out of my obsessive ego-monkey-mind thinking with Effortless Meditation™. Although, as this contractor experience reveals, it’s an on-going process. Obsessive thoughts still sporadically appear, they grab me; however, their roar and impact is far less today. In meditation, I effortlessly return to mental stillness, a state of balance and peace. Through regular daily meditation practice, I’ve experienced a growing internal serenity and freedom that enables me to “let go” of stressors and move on in my life rather than obsessing for long periods over things that I have very little, if any, control!
Injustices, both real and imaginary, are a part of life; however, our responses to them can change for the better. Today, life is good, very good. Don’t sweat the small stuff; and you know it’s mostly small stuff!
Does this sound like you? It was me.
“Caught between…. The sandwich generation….. no time……stressed, running through life…. pulled every which way. I love my husband, my kids, my parents, his Dad, my kid’s friends, my friends. Am I crazy? I want the very best for them. I wonder how we can better communicate. What do they want? Need? As a wife, mother, co-worker and friend, I have to be a their leader and a supporter, but I can see us all falling into the same stress traps, and all living with chronic often destructive stress. I see them stuck in certain behaviors which cause them problems. How am I stuck? Am I the one on a treadmill which is going in the wrong direction?”
Then I started working with Betsy Wetzig and her Coordination Pattern Training to fix my chronic knee and back pains. She told me about her upcoming (it was last January) Self and JOY Renewal Retreat. The flyer read……Release, Refresh, ReJoy and ReNew! …….. It sounded like my turn! Break out of the behaviors which are holding you back, making life less fun or even causing chronic stress and pain. It so sounded like just what I needed, including a mini one and a half day vacation. Enjoy fun, play, food/cooking, and music as you improve the way you move, enjoy life and interact with others. And that’s exactly what happened.
From the start, I got a core understanding of my style and how other people were different from me. I saw how some of my “restricting” habits were learned in my family and culture and how I was handing them on.
By Saturday, as we all entered into a fun competition of salad plate design I saw a new me, using the new creativity and communication skills, I had learned just that morning. But most of all I learned how to turn stress into something positive. I experienced how the Coordination Pattern Training exercises opened up both my movement and my mental processes so I could respond to stress in a healthy positive way.
Betsy said that Coordination Pattern Training does not “change the computer, but it does clean up your basic hard drive and get all the programs and apps working smoothly. It helps you to breakthrough to your best self and your easiest way of functioning.” Release, Refresh, ReJoy and ReNew! …….. It was my turn!
“ JANET”, a doctor’s wife.
This idea was introduced to me on a warm August evening in 1974, during my introduction to effortless meditation.
“And what’s missing isn’t out there in the world”, the teacher said. “What’s missing is inside.” Everyone is looking for this missing element, i.e. peace, fulfillment, enlightenment. Our problem arises because we’re looking outside ourselves. As an example, when he was speaking, I was an unhappy Industrial Engineer working for one of the titans of American industry, Kraft Foods. Did my career bring me peace, NO WAY. Did my marriage bring me peace, NO. And these, I thought at the time, would bring me lasting contentment.
This teacher, soon to become my meditation instructor, said that nothing “out there in the world” is ever enough unless we’ve developed our inner life. Thankfully I started the quest, acting on the message he delivered that evening. I felt I had nothing to lose and much to potentially gain; he told us, “develop the inner value of life through this meditation practice, and everything in your life will improve exponentially.”
To understand this, we just need to contemplate a basic truth of the ancient cultures. Consciousness, the energy field at the source of our thought, is primary and matter is secondary! Many labels are synonymous with word Consciousness; Absolute, Being, Higher Power, Source Energy, the Unified Field of Consciousness, Pure Awareness, and some just refer to it as Spirit. The labels aren’t important, the value comes with direct experience of the state, no matter what we call it.
The simple truths shared with me in the presentation on that August evening changed my life, because I took action on the teacher’s message. I enrolled in his effortless meditation course and began the daily practice. Then, a few years later, I embarked on the journey of becoming a teacher myself.
When a gardener brings nourishment to the root of the plant, every aspect of it, the stem, leaves, flowers, it all flourishes. Pure Consciousness or Being is our essence/root. Regularly bring your conscious attention to this level of life, and watch your life get better and better. It works, I promise.