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Meditation as a Tool


Meditation as a Tool

Meditation is spending time in quiet thought for relaxation or religious purposes according to the dictionary. The history of mediation is rich and it's many forms vast. It's also one of the tools needed to maintain wellness. 

You only need to search the web and find what type or types fit your needs and lifestyle. I practice several different styles of meditation because different needs require it. Meditation seems like the buzz word of the moment but I first encountered it's benefits while in high school many years ago. I grew up in New York and attended high school in the West Village of New York City.  They offered a course in Yoga and I signed up immediately. At the beginning and end of every class we meditated. At the time I didn't have a clue as to it's benefits nor it's absolute necessity. 

Over time I've developed what is called a meditation practice. Meaning, I meditate twice daily morning and night everyday for a half hour each time. My goal is to be able to mediate for up to an hour each time. I also, when the need arises practice mini meditations throughout the day. Mini meditations are focused breathing and mantra techniques that can be done anywhere. For example breathing in for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of seven and finally exhaling for a count of eight. It reduces your stress level almost immediately by allowing for the blood to flow to every part of our body. With a mini mantra meditation,  I usually repeat a mantra while being conscious of my breath; I breathe "in love and peace and I breathe out anxiety and fear". I will do each of these mini meditations for approximately three to five minutes, just repeating the meditations till I am mindful of the actual moment and the stress level has been reduced. 

In my previous post I mentioned how I experienced severe anxiety and panic attacks. I overcame them through meditation. There are many types of meditation but what I found was practicing "I Am" meditation and "Guided" meditations allowed for me to gain control back over my life. With "I am" meditations I could do it anywhere and anytime as needed. I wrote down a list of "I am's"; I am healthy, I am strong, I am loved, I am not alone, etc and committed it to memory but when I couldn't focus I just opened my journal and I read it out loud over and over again. "I am", meditation would stop the attack. With "Guided Meditation" I needed to be home and lying down. It helped me immensely to be taken away via a calm and assuring voice to focus on a specific scenario. That scenario for me is always a beach scene and the crashing of the waves on the surf. "Guided" meditation recharged me so I would get my strength and energy back. With panic attacks, everything begins to race, your breathing becomes shallow,  flight or fight kicks and before you know it you're completely wiped out and that's hoping you didn't rush yourself to the hospital because you thought you were dying. In my case the episodes were so severe I would hyperventilate which has a list of it's own horrific ailments. 

My meditation time is something I absolutely rely on to keep me going throughout the day. It's also something that grows continually. It's not easy to quiet the mind when it's filled with to do lists, time constraints, sleepiness and all of life's noises good and bad. We all need to recharge, recuperate and regroup. Meditation re-charges your battery so when life comes at you, you're capable of being resilient. 

I meditate because I need to clear my mind.  I need to shut down so I can rebuild my mind in a healthy and authentic way daily.  It takes time and I am still learning and I pray I always will be. In order to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul connection meditation is key. 


How to be Mindful


How to be Mindful

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the scientific study of mindfulness, mindfulness is "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally". Practicing mindfulness is about controlling the way you think about the world. It is about learning to live in the present moment because you choose to! 

Step 1: Pay Attention On Purpose

Okay. Imagine having a cup of very hot tea, filled right up to the top. Now maybe this has already happened to you, but imagine having to transport that tea to someone else. Lets say across the room. In that instant you are paying attention on purpose, I am sure! You become fully conscious of what you are doing, because you are aware that the water in the cup is hot and that any miss-step could be a critical one. Therefore you proceed with the utmost caution. In those 30 seconds it takes you to get the tea cup to another person you have experienced full and utter complete mindfulness. Unless of course, the person you're giving the tea to is your boss. In that case you might be worried about the future of your job if your were to spill it on them.

However, my point is that 'Paying Attention On Purpose' is focusing on what you're doing at any given moment so that you can do whatever it is that you're doing in the best possible way. It doesn't matter what it is, when you do something mindfully you are doing it fully: fully focused, fully aware and with purpose.

Its easy for us to get distracted in our heads from time to time or get lost in our feelings about things that have already happened. It is easy to worry about the future and stress about our work. However, being able to recognize when your mind begins to wander and bringing your attention back to what you want to focus on-- is the first step to being mindful!


1. Become conscious of where your focus lies

2. Become aware of your actions

3. Give your actions purpose


Step 2: Be in the Present Moment

This is fairly straightforward, however it tends to be very hard to follow, I can attest to that myself. Replaying things that have already occurred in my head over and over is a part-time job for me. It's important to catch ourselves in those moments of irrationality and understand that no matter how much we dwell on the past -- nothing will change. No amount of 'reminisation' (this could possible be a new word I just invented) can change the things that have already occurred!

"Its done and over with sweetheart so just get with the program."

Is something I must tell myself about every half a milli second, as my mind wanders from one past event to another trying to recreate how I could have done things differently.

"If only I didn't tell that person to go to hell...Maybe things would have been different..."

And they probably would have been different, but there is nothing you can do about it now. Snapping myself back to reality is my forte, but only long enough until my mind wanders on to something that still has yet to occur like:

"What am I going to do.. I want 3 children. But if I have three children most hotel rooms only accommodate four. Then what happens to the third...? Do we get two rooms?"

It happens to all of us. We get caught up in the future or our idea of what the future will be like. Now, I'm not saying to never think of the future and go live as a nomad letting the stars guide your way.  It okay to have a plan, in fact, its very important to set goals for yourself. However, once they are set, you must come back to the present moment. You can't dwell in your thoughts and hopes for too long, because you will never be able to achieve the things you want to unless you embrace the thing that already are. To live in the present moment is to live more purposefully in the directions of your dreams. 


1. Don't live in the past

2. Avoid getting caught up in the future



Step 3: Practice Non-Judgement

You will realize that as you become more aware of the present moment, you will also become more aware of things that maybe you would have never noticed before. Perhaps those things involve people around you or even your own emotions. Its important to observe all the new things that fall into your range of awareness without judgement, categorization or analyzation.

Learn to observe your surroundings objectively. Don't look down on others, don't question things and most importantly don't become what you feel. Although it is important to acknowledge what you feel, it is essential to be able to let them go as well. Embrace the essence of your feelings and emotions but do so from an "outside looking in" kind of way. When you start to feel anger or sadness, register it, acknowledge what those emotions feel like, take mental notes, process them but then let them go. Think of yourself as your own patient. Once you have acknowledged your feelings objectively, use your breath to let them go. Don't cling to those feelings. Even the good ones. The only thing you should cling to during mindfulness is the awareness of your own existence- what you sense moment-by-moment.

Keep in mind that not all will choose to be mindful and in your practice you will come across people that are caught up in their own negativity. Empathize with them, notice how that makes you feel, notice where they are on their journey and keep moving along with your own. Imagine a dog goes into a restaurant and everyone is eating. It goes up to the first table and it gets shooed away while the people say "you stupid dog". Then the dog goes to the next table with the same enthusiasm and they say the same. Like this dog, don't let the outside circumstances or negativity steal your peace or distract you from your journey. Continue on until you find the table where they pat you on the head and give you a treat. Don't expect everyone to adopt the same perspectives as you. Practicing mindfulness is a personal journey and letting go of judgements includes not judging others for their lack of mindfulness. Focus on your own growth and progress, become an example for others to follow.


1. Let go of the need to judge, categorize & analyze.

2. Don't cling to negative or positive emotions.

3. Treat your feelings and experiences objectively

4. Be patient with others who are not as mindful as you have become.