Coping With Change

bench-forest-trees-path-largeWe are averse to change. As thinking human beings, we strive to keep our worlds the same.

We live in bubbles as we take care of our families, our vehicles, and our homes. A small thing—an inconvenient illness, a flat tire, a burst pipe—can put us into a tailspin. So how can we handle change without turning a situation into a crisis?

We may not have control over things that happen, but we can control how we handle them. We can control our thinking.

pexels-photoThought Control

Sometimes, our minds run rampant and turn the smallest thing into a potential nightmare.  For example, we get a flat tire and realize we will be late for work. What if we get fired? What if we can’t make rent? Our thoughts take on a life of their own, but the reality is that we are just experiencing a temporary setback.

Our thoughts sometimes make our experiences appear more dramatic than they actually are.  So when we find ourselves in a downward spiral, we ought to question whether the thoughts we are thinking are true, or whether we are worrying about something that will probably never happen.

benchphotoLife Can Be Easy

Anything—and we mean anything– that erupts in life is temporary. Whatever we worry about today will surely morph into something else once again.

So it makes sense to put ourselves first, and when an inconvenient situation arises, raise our awareness and decide on an appropriate response. Do we allow that situation to affect our whole day and cause stress, or do we simply take care of it without adding negative emotions so we can feel good about the day?

Whatever we are going through, we ought to eat well, take rest, sleep enough, and sprinkle exercise and sunshine into our days. Plus, carving out some time to fill a soul need can add pleasure to even the most melancholy periods.

Coping With the Snow

snow

Where we live in New Jersey, it has been snowing. It is one of the snowiest years in a long time and everyone has been growing weary of the seemingly never-ending weather events. In fact, it is so pervasive, and affects so many lives, it is the main thing everyone is talking about. Why is this minor inconvenience a primary focus of attention?

The Two Reasons Why the Storms Create Angst

We retire after the 11 o’clock news not really knowing what the morning will bring. We have to live with the predictions alone, as the future is always uncertain.

Of course, the future is always uncertain and perhaps the storms that have relentlessly blanketed the Northeast is a reminder of that. Life is unpredictable!

Another reason why we blow the effects of the weather out of proportion is because it forces us to make decisions. What will you wear? How will you get to work safely? Should you even go to work or cancel an event?

Our Stress Comes from the Stories We Tell

We like to stay in our comfort zones, but when we are forced to make decisions, and live with the “not knowing,” we invent a new story. The new story is that the winter is stressful and if the snow would just end, we could all go about our routines without worry. But again, life never ceases to change.

The Buddhist saying “winter always turns to spring” is comforting. It metaphorically points out that the winter we dislike will end, and that there is something we can count on. Indeed, if there is anything we can count on, it’s change.

Allow and Appreciate the Winter

So let the winter come and go. Appreciate the beauty of the snow and ice, despite all the trouble it brings. Rest in the assurance that weather is only a small part of your life. And don’t forget to meditate. Going within is the best way to cope with all the inconveniences of daily life.

Is Guided Meditation Really Meditation?

 

We think that guided meditation—the soft and pleasant “voice over” recordings designed to take you through the periods of silence– truncates the benefits of mindfulness breathing, and that the concept is really an oxymoron. Why?

Meditation is About Letting Go

For us, meditation is about surrendering. When you are listening to a calming voice, it is pleasurable, but you are still actively engaged in the listening process. We want you to fully release, props included. Do you meditate by looking at a candle’s flame or by counting your breaths? Do you use prayer beads or other accouterments? Sitting upright on a pillow, or in a chair, are popular ways to begin, but in the end, we would like to see you let go of all outer props—including background music–and just be. You need not even sit. Feel free to lie down on your bed, or melt into your favorite living room chair. Then close your eyes and notice your breaths.

Without Reliance on Props, You Can Access Your Inner Self Anytime

It is often a challenge to find silence in your day to attempt something like this. It is much easier to plug in your headphones and tune out the world, but when you truly connect with your inner self—without a voice guiding you to relax and without New Age music or prayer beads—you will find a recognizable and essential piece of you. It feels safe, familiar, desirable, peaceful, and joyous. We could say when you are there, you will know it, but that place of which we write is so simple, you could easily question your arrival even if you are already there. Of course, we know you have experienced moments of it throughout your life, but without deliberate and continuous effort, you will not reap the additional benefits that these prolonged visits provide.

It is important to remember that you can access your inner self at any moment. Knowing that it is there allows for an easier connection, but it often takes a few minutes of silence to reach that place. This is the self-knowledge that we have been writing about all along. Knowing who you are at a deep level is not only comforting, it is the only way to get centered, and centering allows you to go through life with less stress.

The Real Purpose of Meditation

We cannot describe exactly what you will find once you get there because it is something that has to be experienced. When you go within, in silence—without someone telling you what to do, how to think, or how to feel—you will find the solace you need to more easily connect with source energy.

What do you tell yourself?

Loving yourself means being kind to yourself, and this includes thinking kind thoughts. Louise Hay is famous for telling people to look in the mirror and say “I love you. I really love you.” She says this all the time, but that is because it is one of the most powerful tools she can give to the world. Self-love includes kindness, and everyone knows that words can do harm.

In our last post, we suggested that you may have beliefs that come from the outside and are really not part of who you are. If you have a belief that contains a negation, then reframe it in a positive way. What is the opposite of that negative thought? For example, you may think “I will never be able to afford the home I want.” Change the thought to: “I can afford the home of my dreams.” Such affirmations are effective in altering our views.

When you think more positive thoughts, it does not result in instant manifestations, but it will point you in the right direction. With the new thought, you may come up with a way to save for the home that you now believe will come into your experience. Similarly, when you think “I am ugly,” you set yourself up for negative experiences. You believe that other people will think your appearance is unsightly, and you act as if you are unworthy. However, think the opposite thought: “I am beautiful.” Your day will go a whole lot better.

We suggest you notice all the negative things that generally go through your mind and write its direct opposite. Begin to use these affirmations daily. These are actually good to use prior to meditation. Meditate after reading a list of these positive thoughts, ask the universe to make these a reality, and brilliance will flood into your experience.

What we tell ourselves is tied to what we believe, but we can change what we believe by what we tell ourselves.

How to Meditate

It is likely that you have heard a lot about meditation but the truth is that meditation—as we see it—is very simple. Get quiet. Choose a place where you will not be disturbed. Wear comfortable clothing.  Relax. Sit or recline in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

Notice that you are breathing. Just focus on your breath. Feel your breath. One way that meditation is taught is to count breaths, but that is up to you. Experience the stillness. Notice that you are breathing.

Is that all there is to it? That’s just the start. The journey is internal. It is a good idea to approach your period of silence with a question in mind. Don’t force an answer. Don’t even think about the question. Don’t even try to clear your mind. Bring no expectations to the session. Just be.

Many people say that they cannot stop the running commentary in their minds long enough to meditate, but that is not true. There are no prizes for stopping the most thoughts. Simply be. As thoughts come in, acknowledge them,  pay attention to your breathing, and let the thoughts vanish by themselves. They will eventually. If you are too tense to be still, maybe you need to do something active first. Run or walk it off and take a shower.  Then try again.

Time of day does not matter, but as the day unfolds, your energy level will fade and meditation may be easier.  Early morning, before the rush of the day enters, is also a good time.

Many different teachers have different goals and practices for meditation. For us, meditation is about connecting with the self at a deeper level.

Meditation is an individual experience. You can meditate in the same room as someone else, but ultimately you are alone with yourself once you close your eyes, and perhaps that is what makes the experience extraordinary. It takes a bit of practice to connect with your inner world, but once you do, you will have greater clarity about your life, and you will probably become more intuitive. If you rely on that intuition, you will be following the only guidance you will ever need.  And once you know how to connect, you will be able to do it anytime and anywhere.