Loneliness as a doorway to connection – guided meditation

March 15, 2013

Loneliness can be a doorway to connection. Contained within the feelings of loneliness is our capacity for connection. Our podcast meditation – Guided Meditation for Loneliness – encourages you to go deep into the feelings of loneliness to connect with yourself and ultimately with others.

So often we resist emotions that we feel are threatening or unpleasant. Most of us don’t want to feel pain, but resisting our feelings alienates us from ourselves. This is especially true with loneliness. When we are lonely, we may feel deeply sad or have a strong sense of yearning. We might feel anxious, especially if we feel that there is something wrong with us for feeling they way we do. And yet going into the very heart of loneliness, experiencing it all the way, allows us to feel the most important connection of all — the connection to ourselves.

Remember — loneliness is a normal human feeling. It’s a result of your natural capacity and desire for connection. I would love to hear about your experiences with this meditation.

Sleep Meditation for Children

January 19, 2011

Getting me to bed was a long routine for my mother. She’d have me all tucked in and start to leave my room and then I’d say, “Mommy, I want some water”. Off she’d go for water, and once I’d had that, she’d be on her way again. My next ploy for keeping her near was — “leave a crack in the door”. She’d leave the door a little open and I’d say “bigger”, and she’d open it a bit further and start to step away. “It’s too big, make it smaller”, I’d say. You can see where this is going! I’m not sure how she would finally make an exit, but I do remember what was going on inside me. I was anxious!

I haven’t thought about this for years, not until I started recording this new podcast (Sleep Meditation for Children). I wanted to go back and remember and get into my child world. What would have helped me if I could have had a guided meditation back then? I tried to speak to the child that I was, and this new podcast offering is what resulted. It is designed to help a child settle into bed and relax into sleep. For children who are fearful at bedtime, there is an added element of a “make believe friend” to help them feel reassured.

Please listen to the meditation first and see if you feel it will be suitable for your child. It’s for fairly young children. I’m sure you’ll check to see if your child liked it after the first time they hear it, and see if he or she has a question about what something means. Like all guided meditations, this will work for some and not others. I do hope, though, that it will send lots of children off to sleepyland feeling relaxed, safe and loved.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with it here. And it’s fine if you use it as an adult. We’ve all still got the child we were within us!

Relief from Stress and Pressure Guided Meditation

July 27, 2009

Although many people have reported stress relief from our meditations, we’ve still had requests for a special meditation for stress. This inspired me to create this latest podcast — a meditation that goes further and helps to root out the stress at a deeper level.

Like all the guided meditations I create, I am meditating as I speak. I am literally meditating with you. Since I was feeling a lot of pressure on the day I recorded this meditation, I found myself sinking deeply into my own experience and talking my way through it. I actually felt a lot better after I finished the recording! I hope your experience is the same.

Acting under a sense of pressure doesn’t help us accomplish what we need to do. In fact, the feeling of pressure can interfere. Our energy is actually being dissipated and our attention scattered as we are in an over-stimulated state. In reality, we are able to accomplish a lot more when we are relaxed. Our minds are clearer and all of our energy can go toward the task at hand rather than into pressuring ourselves. And of course, it’s extremely unpleasant to feel pressured.

Relaxation is the antidote to that pressured state. It’s an antidote for stress. It’s so difficult, though, to relax once we’re feeling that kind of pressure. We feel as if we have to meet its demands! We hesitate to take the time to relax. So it’s important understand that taking the time to relax will actually help us accomplish more.

Also, it can be challenging to sit still with that feeling of pressure. It may be accompanied by unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, irritability and so on. Continuing to be focused on a task keeps us from feeling the inner discomfort that is propelling us. To allow deep relaxation to happen, we need to be able to be present to the emotions and bodily sensations associated with the stress and pressure. Being able to sit with those feelings and and sensations and experience them completely helps them to resolve. It allows the tensions to unwind.

Using this meditation regularly should help develop a habit of noticing when a sense of pressure is present and then backing off. The more we respond the the pressure, the more pressured we feel. Our muscles tighten and our emotions escalate in their intensity. This meditation can help you develop new ways of responding to stress, ways which help create more balance and ease.

At the end of the meditation, you have the option of continuing on your own with the music. Be creative — use the various strategies that were used during the meditation in the way that works best for you. Some of the things mentioned were noticing the breath, feeling what the pressure feels like, being fully present to the emotions, noticing tension in the body and letting it go. Let your intuition guide you. You can learn to relieve the stress and pressure using your own inner knowing. You just need to take the time to listen.

Anxiety — “What you resist persists”

June 22, 2009

I’m working on a special series of meditations, “exercises” really, for anxiety. I’m editing one right now using deep breathing. In it, the first thing I suggest is bringing attention to the anxiety. This is quite the opposite of the usual tendency to want to run away from it. Anxiety builds in a kind of vicious cycle. Anxiety is an expression of fear, and part of what creates it is the fear of the anxiety itself. We resist the anxiety, try to run away from it, and that resistance does indeed cause it to persist.

Anxiety, like any other feeling state, comes and goes. Feelings come and go like the weather, but when we get involved in them either through resisting them or ruminating about them, they tend to be prolonged. Let go of the resistance, and the feelings can “pass through”.

This is only one small piece of the approach I am using for anxiety, but it is an important one. I’ll write more when I’ve finished my Anxiety Solutions project.

June 2010 Update — It’s almost exactly a year since I wrote this post and we’ve just finished our anxiety program. What was going to be a series of meditations evolved into a program with meditations, suggested daily exercises and journaling. You can read about it here.

Discovering Peace Guided Meditation Podcast

October 15, 2008

The idea for our latest podcast episode, Discovering Peace, came out of a discussion with our local meditation group. People were feeling agitated about the election and felt they were losing their center. One person said “I want to be able to rise above this and find peace”. Ultimately, a guided meditation much like the one we just published came out of our discussion, but first we talked about the idea of “rising above” something.

Many of us are being affected now with the turmoil in the economy and a heated election going on. In the midst of all of this we long for a sense of peace. Often people envision that as arriving at a place that’s not only peaceful but completely removed from the difficult feelings. That’s what “rising above” sounds like to me. While we can find moments of time in which there is only peace, this isn’t always possible, and, when we try to get away from the fray, that creates a conflict in and of itself. What’s more realistic and achieveable is to find the peace within that’s there even in the midst of conflict and struggle.

In many ways this new guided meditation is like the Beyond Pain meditation. Even though pain may not go away, we can still find a sense of peace with it. It has to do with stopping fighting what’s bothering us and relaxing into the difficult feelings. Even more important it has to do with discovering that peace is always with us — in the breath, in the silence of our own awareness.

Just yesterday I was out walking with lots on my mind. Thanks to all the years of meditation, or simply thanks to grace, I recognized a sense of peace that seemed to be there in the air around me — in the blue sky, the sounds of birds, colors of flowers. It was even there in the sounds of the traffic. At that moment, I could see that life could seem really, really difficult if I focused solely on the challenges in my life, but much more simple and sweet if I also acknowledged that peace. Sometimes I do that, and sometimes I don’t. And part of the process of growth on the spiritual path is letting that be OK too.

What about you? How do you find peace in your life?

No right or wrong way to meditate

September 16, 2008

Meditation is about your own self-discovery. Learning to meditate is about discovering your own natural ability to shift into a way of being that is natural and effortless. It’s about finding what already exists in your own awareness. My goal with my guided meditations is to create a platform from which you can make your own discoveries, so there is no right or wrong way to do them. Meditation is a happening, not something that you do. However it happens for you is just right.

Yesterday I answered an email question making this point, and today I received a reply back which was so beautiful. It’s all about this very point, in this case as it applies to someone experiencing anxiety. I’m sharing part of the email exchange here because I think it might be meaningful for many of you.

Question:
“I have always had an interest in meditation and have known for some time that it would help me get over my anxiety and panic attacks but only in the last 3 months have I made it a part of my daily life and the results have been dramatic. Just knowing that the peace that meditation brings is available to me whenever I need it has made a huge difference to my day to day life and your podcasts have been instrumental in this. I really can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your life to do this for others.

However, the anxiety I feel often manifests itself physically as a tight chest and shallow breathing. During meditations I have found that focusing on my breathing when it is already laboured sometimes makes this worse as I become more conscious of the unpleasant sensation and this feeds the anxiety. My breathing does eventually become effortless but generally only when I take my mind off my breathing.

I imagine that this may be the case for others who suffer from heightened anxiety and would love to hear your views and opinions on the matter.

Thanks again for making the podcast and the website. It really has been a huge help for me to make meditation part of my daily life.”

Answer:
“Thank you so much for your open sharing of your journey with anxiety.  It’s wonderful …that you’ve made meditation part of your life. You are very welcome for the podcast — it’s so inspiring to hear from people with stories like yours!

These meditations are really meant as a springboard for the discovery of your ability to relax and enter a meditative state. Although we do have a Breath Awareness Meditation among the podcasts, and some other meditations refer to breathing, there are many that don’t involve awareness of the breath. Perhaps you’ll find that certain meditations are more useful than others at different times.  For example, when you are particularly anxious, the breath meditation may not be the best one for you. You can trust your intuition on this! 

And when you are doing a meditation you don’t need to follow the instructions precisely.  There’s no right or wrong experience or way to do them. They are there for your own exploration and discovery. You discovered that at certain times taking your mind off your breathing works best. You can trust yourself and do just that!”

Questioner’s Reply:
“Thank you so much for your reply. The fact that you said that there is no right and wrong experience and that the meditations are there for our own discovery really has helped me see the breathing issue in a different light. Even if my breath isn’t effortless then that’s ok because this is my experience and whatever happens during my meditation is right for me. I’d get frustrated in the past thinking that because my breathing was difficult then I was doing it wrong somehow. Of course you mention these things in your podcasts but sometimes you have to be told something many times before you take actually take it on board don’t you?

As I have realised many times since I started meditating, the relaxation and peace I’m looking for only comes when I stop frantically trying to find it. The first time I ever felt the complete peace that meditation can bring I felt so stupid! I’d been looking everywhere for this feeling during my anxiety and there it was all the time, quietly waiting for me to stop looking. Just that knowledge made all the difference.”



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