September 6, 2012
Our new podcast meditation is designed to help you visualize a healthy body. Many people have requested this, each with a different angle. Many wanted to visualize a specific goal. While I allowed time at the beginning of the meditation for people to set a goal, I created a meditation focused on the health of the body as a whole. This is like watering the root of a plant to benefit the whole plant, rather than focusing on any one part.
This Healthy Body Guided Meditation targets the core systems of the body which bring oxygen, nutrition and energy to the cells — the heart, lungs, and digestive systems. Strengthening those supports the health of all of the other parts of the body and can help the body with healing. Simply putting your attention on your body brings energy to it. You can use this meditation to enjoy a sense of well-being and enliven your body.
As with all of my meditations which involve visualization, be easy about the process. You don’t need to follow every word or see everything clearly. You can simply sense something in a vague way. The important thing is not to strain to follow the meditation. Let it unfold in a way that is natural for you. Whatever comes to mind as you try to visualize or sense something is just the right thing for you at that time.
Of course, simply visualizing good health and healing is not enough. For a healthy body, we need a healthy diet, exercise, enough sleep and so on. For healing, it may be necessary to see a health care provider and use appropriate therapies. But visualization can play a big role in moving the body toward health, partly by helping us tune in to our body, listen to its needs and do what is needed to be healthy.
To learn more about visualization, read Dr. Andrew Weil’s article on Guided Imagery – http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00468/Guided-Imagery-Therapy-Dr-Weil.html
For more on my approach to visualization, read this blog post – Intuitive Visualization in Meditation
January 22, 2012
Compassion, like gratitude, is something we love to feel. Even though compassion arises as we witness and empathize with another’s pain, it is satisfying to feel this response in our hearts. It feeds our hearts. Hopefully, this new podcast meditation will help strengthen and develop your capacity for compassion, not only for others, but more importantly for yourself.
I recorded this meditation with my local group. You’ll notice voices in the background in one part. I thought about editing that section out, but I had incorporated the noise into the meditation and thought you might enjoy that. When we hear noise as we meditate, the key is to let go of resistance to it and attempts to push it out. Although it’s more pleasant to meditate in a quiet place, we can experience inner silence even in the midst of noise.
Let me know what you experience with this meditation. Hope it serves you well!
November 19, 2010
Is anger a difficult emotion for you? If yes, why?
In my family, anger simply wasn’t expressed. Being angry wasn’t allowed, the obvious conclusion being that it was a bad thing to feel. I wasn’t a child who could say “I hate you mommy!”, a perfectly normal thing for a young child to say. It’s taken a long, long time for me to find a healthy relationship with anger.
For others, the challenge with anger may be a different one, but I’ve had so many requests for a meditation for anger, that I know it’s a challenge for many people. I do hope this latest podcast meditation will help with some of the issues with anger, and would love to hear about your experience with it. I’ve thought about some reasons why anger can be so challenging and am sharing some of my thoughts as a background for the meditation.
Anger can be a very useful emotion. It can show us where we need to take action and gives us energy to do so. If the barking of a neighborhood dog or someone’s loud music is disturbing your sleep night after night, anger is a natural response. As part of the fight of flight response, it gets you to take action. Hopefully you can find a constructive way to confront the situation and resolve it.
Like every emotion anger is a natural flow of life energy. When allowed to flow freely, it passes through us. All too often, however, anger gets suppressed and doesn’t get released. That energy will then express itself in other ways, or lead to chronically tight muscles and other problems. What you resist persists, and suppressing anger actually keeps it around.
Another way of keeping anger going is to hold onto it by running stories in our minds about whatever it is that makes us angry. We may play something that happened over and over in our minds, thus extending the anger and not allowing it to resolve. Both strategies, suppressing anger and getting mentally involved with it, can cause it to continue longer than it needs to. It’s the ability to allow the anger to be felt fully that allows it to release.
Why would we hang onto anger? Sometimes anger is a reaction to another emotion, and covers up the original emotion. For example, if you feel hurt by someone, it may seem easier to feel the anger than the hurt. But unless you feel the underlying hurt, the anger will never resolve.
Anger can be difficult when it is accompanied by destructive thoughts. The thoughts themselves may seem unacceptable, or there may be a fear that they will be translated into action. The more we can feel the anger fully and allow whatever thought comes to come, the more choice we actually have about when and how to act. The ability to stay centered in ourselves as the observer of our anger gives us greater mastery over our behavior.
When to get help: Sometimes, of course, it’s important to get help with anger. If we are very angry a lot of the time or angry way out of proportion to the situation, counseling can help us work on unresolved issues causing the anger. And certainly if our expression of anger is interfering with our relationships, daily functioning or is destructive to others, professional help is needed.
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with anger and what you’ve learned. I’d also love to hear about your experiences with this meditation.
May 22, 2010
Sometimes I am mesmerized by my hula teacher’s hands. They move with such grace and fluidity, offering no resistance to the aloha spirit that moves through them. Although I relaxed early on into the body movements of hula, I’ve had a challenge with my hands. Despite repeated reminders that the hands should move from the wrist, my hands would seemingly stiffen up and refuse to follow. I felt so awkward, not to mention frustrated!
At yesterday’s lesson, my teacher danced very close to me, demonstrating with her hands as I watched in awe. I wondered how anyone’s hands could move so beautifully and effortlessly. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, I would catch on through “osmosis” as she danced close to me. At one point, she held my wrist and moved my hand for me. I started to feel the right movement. My hands cooperated for a while, only to get quickly “blocked” again.
Once back home from the class, I started to practice in front of a mirror. I did an exercise of slowing waving my arms up and down at my sides, allowing my hands to follow the movement of my wrists. I then placed my arms in position for the basic kahalo step. Suddenly something clicked – a split second before I started to move, an “aha” happened in my brain. The right synapses must have started to fire, because I saw my hands in the mirror undulating like waves, effortlessly, as I started to dance! It was like a frozen river that unfroze and started to flow.
It felt so easy and natural for my hands to move that way. What on earth was stopping them before? As I tuned into the feeling of inhibition that had been in my hands, I remembered how my mother had always tried to get me to stop moving my hands. I am by nature a very expressive person. When I hear music, I can’t sit still. My mom found that trait charming when I was a baby bouncing up and down in my crib singing “hubba hubba hubba” to the music, but later she felt she needed to teach me restraint. What particularly worried her was my tendency to gesture with my hands while talking. I would be enthusiastically describing something, hands moving all around, and she’d say “Mary, stop that, stop moving your hands!” She had explained that a refined, lady-like person doesn’t do that. (Heaven forbid I should grow up to be unladylike!) This irked me no end, but I somehow took her words to heart. Although I was never able to stop moving my hands entirely, they had been quite well “tamed”.
By now the origin of my hula hands block must be obvious. Allowing my hands to move so freely wasn’t something I could easily do. It involves a kind of letting go. It’s a lot like the letting go of meditation. In meditation, we let go of resistance to what comes naturally. We learn to let go of resistance to the natural movement of the mind. In hula, it’s about the natural movement of the body. The traditional hula hand movements are natural and flowing, like the nature they depict.
My teacher has mastered hula with her whole being. Although she may give instructions, her most powerful teaching is from embodying hula. When my teacher danced right next to me, I absorbed something at a deep intuitive level about how she moved. It was as if the “aloha spirit” was being transferred from her to me.
I found a beautiful discussion of the “aloha spirit” at the Cyber Shaman’s website:
“The Aloha Spirit is a well known reference to the attitude of friendly acceptance for which the Hawaiian Islands are so famous. However, it also refers to a powerful way to resolve any problem, accomplish any goal, and also to achieve any state of mind or body that you desire.”
“In the Hawaiian language, aloha stands for much more than hello or goodbye or love. Its deeper meaning is the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo)”
I tell this story in honor of the aloha spirit, and my teacher, Betty Ann. For me, it is a story of healing, and it’s healing for me to share it with you. May all of us experience “the joyful sharing of life energy in the present”.
April 22, 2009
Our bodies are marvelous self-healing mechanisms. They are constantly busy with self-repair and working to move towards greater balance. The same is true, I feel, for our psyches. This latest podcast is designed take advantage of this by helping you tap into your intuition to promote healing. We start, as always, by relaxing into the flow of what is happening. Then we bring our attention to an area needing healing. Allowing something to be in our awareness is helpful in and of itself. Our attention is like a beam of energy and intelligence and when we direct it somewhere energy for healing is provided. The inner intelligence of the body puts that energy to good use. That’s the basis of the Relaxing into Healing guided meditation. This new meditation takes things one step further. We are more proactive, as it were, learning to direct our energy in more specific ways. We drop into our inner knowing to find just the right “flavor” of energy for the situation.
Visualization is a tool that is often used for healing. Sometimes very specific visualizations are recommended for specific problems. My experience is that it’s most effective when we allow the visualization to arise spontaneously from within. I personally find it difficult to follow guided imagery where you are supposed to follow a very particular image. I prefer to first let what needs healing to be fully in my awareness, and then see what “wants” to come, just naturally, to help the situation. I think it’s always more powerful to connect with ones own inner knowing.
As you listen to this meditation, be very easy about it. As with all our meditations, the words are just gentle suggestions for you to use as a springboard for your own experience. You don’t need to follow (or even hear) all the words. Your mind will pick up on the phrases you need for your process. As you are prompted to bring in energy, let that take whatever form comes easily. Some people may have very clear visualizations. For others, it may be something very subtle. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be visual. You may have just a vague sense of some energy or movement. The energy may seem more auditory, like a hum, or kinesthetic, like a feeling of some texture or touch. Or you may just want to relax into the feeling of the meditation. Whatever comes easily for you is just right!
I’d love to hear what you experienced with this. This meditation was done with my local group. Everyone shared their experiences afterwards and each had a very different kind of experience.
December 18, 2008
We’ve had more requests for a guided meditation for grief than anything else. It’s taken me some time to come up with something, even though I’ve been a grief counselor and experienced a lot of grief in my life. This latest podcast episode, Guided Meditation for Grief, is what came up as I reflected on my own experiences with loss.
Often the people asking for a grief meditation have lost a loved one through death, but grief is a reaction to many types of losses, large and small. Moving, losing a job or home, divorce, a change in roles — all sorts of changes can cause us to feel grief. Sometimes we even grieve lost opportunities or what “might have been”.
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful things we can ever experience. Not only is it painful, it can shake our whole world. The lyrics to Paul Simon’s Graceland say it so well:
“losing love is like a window into my heart; Everybody sees you’re blow apart…”
It can feel like your life is blown apart and your heart is going to break. Grief can bring up all sorts of emotions, not just profound sadness but anger, guilt and more. Depending on how the loss happened, it can make you question all sorts of things. You can feel confused. It can be hard to concentrate. As much as we would rather not have to experience all these things, however, the only way through grief is to experience these things all the way.
Sometimes people feel alone in their grief making it even more difficult. Some cultures and traditions support the process of mourning better than others. Often here in the US, people are expected to “move on” way before they’re ready. People are unsure of what to do and say around a grieving person and may even withdraw. And yet although no one can grieve for us, it can really help to feel others supporting us as we grieve. When my mother died, I went to a hospice support group and it made a world of difference for me.
This podcast episode is designed to help you feel supported in your loss. We hope it helps!
September 6, 2008
I’ve had more requests for an inner child meditation than anything else. I haven’t done inner child work in any formal way as part of my path, and can’t be sure exactly what people were asking for when they made these requests. Nevertheless, the concept of the inner child speaks to me and I really enjoyed exploring it as I created this latest podcast.
The term “inner child” has different meanings to different people. Not everyone relates to this concept, but for those who do it can be a very useful concept for growth and healing. If you’re interested in the history of this term and how it’s been used in the past, check out Wikipedia. When I use the term, it relates purely to how it resonates with me and my experience.
As I’ve said before, when I record a guided meditation I am meditating with you. I go into a meditative space and a meditation happens which is just as much for me as for you. In creating the inner child meditation, I discovered a bit about what the inner child means to me.
As I meditated with you, I experienced some feelings which are very familiar, but most of the time are lingering under the surface. My adult becomes very busy with her life and often ignores these feelings which are inconvenient. To pay attention to what may seem like childish needs and hurts, and even the wish to express the unbridled joy which is also there under the surface, would take time away from all the things which seem so important in my day. And yet what is more important than attending to our deepest needs and feelings or allowing ourselves to cry those unshed tears that have been waiting for expression for years? What is more important than expressing childlike exuberance? I love to pretend I have on my tapping shoes and dance around just for fun. We don’t just find our unmet needs and past hurts when we connect with the inner child, we also find the source of our joy.
I have done lots of inner work, through meditation, therapy, and various healing modalities, yet the ethic of productivity and achievement have a strong momentum. I am not always as attentive as I’d like to be to my needs. Our culture prods us on to do, but doesn’t honor our need to be. Our culture doesn’t place a priority on nourishing the inner life. I’m thankful to all of you who requested this meditation. It caused me to take time to connect with some of the longings of my deeper self.
Whether you are already working with the inner child as part of recovery or healing or simply want to explore your inner life, I hope this meditation supports you. I would love to hear about your experiences with this meditation or any other work you’ve done with the inner child. What does the inner child mean to you? What experiences have you had with him or her?
NOTE: We’re so sorry — we originally uploaded our Inner Child Meditation with outtakes. If you are among the 12,000 people who have downloaded the first version, please check back for the correct version which is now available here and on iTunes.
June 16, 2008
I am responding to a question from a listener who experienced emotional pain while using the Chakra Meditation. Here is his email:
I was today listening to the Chakra meditation podcast, but felt it was necesarry to turn it off at the Heart Chakra. I found that I became overwhelmed by a feeling of great emotional pain in my heart… I thought I would e-mail you to see if you knew what might be causing this, and how to find the solution.
It’s not unusual to become more aware of our emotions during meditation, and even to have strong emotions or emotional pain come up. I will write about that in general in another post (or talk about it in another podcast), but for now I’ll talk specifically about having this happen during the Chakra Meditation.
During the chakra meditation, we put our attention on the various chakras. The chakras, or energy centers of the body, are like doorways to different aspects of ourselves. They process the energy for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual functioning. When we put our attention on a chakra, we become more aware of what is going on in the part of our life that the chakra represents. Not only do we become more aware, but the energy in the chakra is enlivened by our attention.
Our attention is a beam of energy and intelligence and, like a laser beam, it affects whatever it is directed toward. With your awareness on your heart chakra, you may get in touch with something going on in your heart area. It’s like shining a light into a dark room — what has been hidden becomes revealed.
In this case, you felt great emotional pain. This could be pain associated with something going on in your life now that you’ve been ignoring, or it could be some pain “releasing” from the past. The heart chakra has to do with our relationships and connections with others. If there has been some loss or hurt in relationships, it is felt in the heart area. The loss or hurt could even be associated with things and events, such as moving or losing a job. If the feeling of hurt (or perhaps grief) isn’t fully “processed”, the energy of the feeling gets “stuck” in the heart chakra. When we put our attention on the heart chakra, we may feel what is waiting there to be processed. It’s the job of the heart chakra to process certain emotions, and when we relax in meditation and allow our attention to go there, the heart chakra gains the energy to do its job. While no one likes to experience emotional pain, it is a part of healing and recovering from an emotional trauma.
Very often we have grief that hasn’t been fully resolved in our lives. Some cultures are better than others in supporting people through grief. In many of our Western cultures, we’ve learned to suppress grief. But our mind and body will always move toward greater balance and emotional well-being given the opportunity. While meditating, things that have been under the surface can come up to be felt.
When something comes up that makes you feel too uncomfortable, you can always do what you did and stop the meditation. It would be good if that happens to lie down and rest a bit to let things settle down. There are some other ways of dealing with strong emotions as well, and for something like this an experienced meditation guide could help. The advice the guide would give would depend on some one-on-one exchange with you.
After responding to the person who asked this question, he emailed back that indeed he had recently experienced a sort of emotional trauma and had been feeling quite numb until listening to the meditation. Based on that, I also want to add that it is quite normal to feel numb after a traumatic event like the death of a loved one, breakup of a relationship and any other intense loss or change. It’s a healthy response of the body and psyche to protect itself from overload and allow us to continue functioning. Usually that phase passes and we begin to feel our emotional reactions. Sometimes, however, those reactions are buried and may surface again after a long period of time. It’s not always possible to know where a strong emotion in meditation is coming from — it could be an emotion from a recent event or left over from something long ago. In any case, part of healing is experiencing that emotion and meditation can sometimes facilitate that.
Usually an emotional release will in meditation will not take too long to resolve and won’t cause undue discomfort. Occasionally, however, meditation can open us up to some feelings that are so difficult for us that we would benefit from help from a trained counselor or therapist. Be kind to yourself and get support if needed.
November 12, 2007
Our attention is like a beam of energy. When we direct our awareness to some area of the body, it brings energy to it. Our new podcast episode, Chakra Meditation, uses this principle to enliven the chakras, creating a better flow of energy throughout the body. (If you are not familiar with the chakras, or “energy centers” of the body, you can read about them here.)
As you listen to this chakra meditation, you may notice differences in how you feel as you focus on the different chakras. It may be that emotions come up, especially at the lower chakras and heart chakra, or that you notice subtle shifts in energy. Just be aware of how you feel, not trying to change or manipulate anything. Simply having your awareness on the chakra will wake up the intelligence in that chakra so that automatically things will shift in the direction of greater balance.
You may find that some chakras are easier for you to focus on. Some may seem very faint or slip away from your attention and others may be sensed more easily. If you continue to use this meditation, your experience of the chakras will become more clear over time. If you don’t notice anything in particular with you attention on the chakras, doesn’t matter. You will still be getting the benefit of the meditation.
Using this meditation regularly should help to bring balance to life, as each chakra is associated with different parts of the body and aspects of living. Let me know how it works for you!
– Thanks to Barry Stevens for the beautiful chakra image on this post.
October 12, 2007
We’ve just published our latest podcast episode, Beyond Pain. It was hard to come up with the right title for this one. The experience of pain is so complex. If we are speaking of physical pain, the pain itself is just a sensation in the body. Unless you are someone who enjoys pain, and there are some people who do, pain is much more than “just a sensation in the body”. It can create enormous suffering.
What makes the sensation of pain so difficult? Besides the fact that it can be so strong that it grabs our attention totally, making it difficult to focus on anything else, there are many ways that we suffer with pain. Much of the suffering comes from the thoughts and emotional reactions that we have along with the pain. It may trigger fear, sadness, anger, or frustration depending on our past experiences and beliefs. We may start to wonder how long it will go on, what it means, where it will go, and whether or not we’ll be able to endure it.
There may be some underlying feelings about the pain that are very subtle and not so obvious, like the sense that it is a punishment or due to our failings. It can bring up a sense of abandonment or betrayal. Pain can bring up all sorts of feelings. Next time you are experiencing pain, you can investigate what comes along with it and also whether the suffering you are experiencing with the pain is from the pain itself or everything else that it brings up.
The purpose of the Beyond Pain meditation is to bring about a greater sense of ease with the presence of pain. We may tend to tighten up and resist pain which in fact makes it worse. The meditation encourages you to relax into the pain, and to let go of the involvement with all the mind’s stories about the pain and the emotional reactions to it. It can help you come to a place of peace in spite of pain. Whether or not the feeling of pain becomes less, the suffering that comes with pain can be released.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with this meditation and invite you to comment!