June 30, 2014
I just responded to an email with a great question — in fact, I’m surprised I’ve never gotten this question before. It’s an opportunity to remind everyone how to listen to our guided meditations. Here’s the Q&A —
Q: I like the app (Simply Being) but what the guide is saying there is somewhat confusing : on one hand it’s “open awareness to whatever is happening right now” and on the other hand “easy, there is nothing to do”. These are 180 degrees different states of mind, as far as I interpret it.
A: Great question! The words are meant to help you experience a relaxed, meditative state. It is impossible to do that through precise instructions, so the instructions can seem like mixed messages or a paradox if they are taken too literally. The phrases are really just gentle prompts to allow the mind to do what it can naturally do — let go. “Open awareness to whatever is happening right now” is not so much an instruction as a description of a natural state. If there isn’t openness — if you notice resistance to what is happening or some attempt to change it, you can let that go. The phrase “easy, there is nothing to do” is to encourage that letting go. (Resistance to and manipulation of what is naturally happening involves effort, “doing”.)
You can just listen easily to the meditation, not trying to make sense of all the words. That’s why we say in the instructions, “just let the words wash over you”.
For those of you who do not have our apps — I am copying our How to Listen instructions below. These instructions apply to all of our meditations, whether they are on an app, a CD or in the podcast.
“Listen easily to the guided meditations, allowing the words to ‘wash over you’. You don’t need to understand, or even hear, all the words. The words and phrases aren’t instructions that are meant to be followed precisely. They are just gentle prompts to the mind.”
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
April 25, 2012
Deepening your connection to your baby during pregnancy is not only fulfilling in itself, but has benefits for both mother and baby. This new podcast meditation helps you to relax deeply, tune into your body and connect with the baby in your womb.
When deeply relaxed, everything flows more easily in your body, circulating blood with its nutrients and oxygen to nourish both you and your child. Your breathing becomes deeper and more regular. The physical benefits of this for both you and your baby are obvious. Mentally your mind becomes more settled and open and you are able to focus on your baby. Emotionally, you are more available to bond with your child and tune into your child’s presence and energy. Being more tuned in will automatically guide you in your eating and lifestyle choices.
As you continue to use the meditation, your connection will deepen. You may also want to share the meditation with the baby’s father. When the guidance is to become aware of the baby “inside you”, he can also connect with the baby inside you. Listening together will enhance your connection with each other, harmonize your intentions, and help you bond with each other as you bond with your baby.
This meditation was born of many requests by pregnant women over the years. Most of them have had their babies by now, but they did help birth this meditation. I would love to hear about your experiences with the meditation!
July 7, 2011
This latest podcast meditation came about when I became aware of how much easier it was for me to sense the right side of my body than the left. I was doing a body scan and when I noticed this difference in perception of the two sides, I began experimenting with favoring the signals coming from the left side. The result was a pleasant sense of balance and wholeness. I tried this out with my local guided meditation group and everyone loved the experience. The session had been recorded and so luckily we can share it with you. Doing this meditation, especially if you use it repeatedly, should enhance mind-body coordination, and increase mental and physical balance.
The Body Balance Meditation guides you to focus more than most of our meditations. You will be directed to put your attention on the right and left side of the body (moving from feet to head) and notice if you experience each side with equal clarity. Often it will be more difficult to sense one side than the other. When one side is less clear to you, you’ll be guided to try to sense that side more, holding the intention of experiencing both sides with equal strength. As you do this, be very easy about this focus. You don’t need to strain or concentrate hard to reach the goal of sensing each side equally. If you don’t find your perception of each side shifting, that’s fine. As with all of our meditations, any effort you make is an “effortless effort”. As you repeat this meditation over time, just naturally the balancing of the perception of the two sides will take place. Simply having that intention will gradually make this shift happen.
I’d love to hear your experience with this meditation, and, as always, am happy to answer questions.
November 7, 2009
Three years ago today our first podcast episode went up on iTunes. And now there have been almost 3 million downloads. We never dreamed that so much would come out of the podcast, for us and our listeners, and we’re celebrating that today. Of all of the things we’ve done over the years with meditation and personal growth, I’d have to say this has been the most rewarding.
We hear from our listeners almost daily, and are often amazed at the profound impact the meditations are having on so many peoples’ lives. It doesn’t get better than this — to know something you’ve done has helped another along the way. And yet we know that the positive changes you experience aren’t really about us. Your openness to meditation, your willingness to grow and change, are what makes this happen. The podcast is a joint effort in every sense of the word. What we hear from you – your experiences, questions, comments, requests – help us learn and grow.
So, please lift a cyber-glass to toast with us today, and thank you for taking this journey with us!
August 31, 2009
Our latest podcast meditation is yet another variation on a theme. It’s along the same lines as the Letting Go, Simply Being, Effortless, Let it Be and Trust meditations. Each has a slightly different angle that points the mind to the same place, a place which isn’t really a place. They help us to achieve a state of being in which there is a lack of resistance to the natural flow of life. This state of mind can be described in so many different ways. “Lack of resistance to the natural flow of life” is only one way to talk about it. “Resting in the source”, the name of this new meditation, is another. And yet, words always fall short. Words have meaning, but the words used in these meditations are used to help the mind move beyond meaning. They are words to undo words.
The word “source” in the context of meditation is full of meaning for many people. I asked what it meant to people on our Facebook page, and it was interesting to read the responses. For some, source has spiritual or religious meaning; for others it is more secular. And yet, it’s my feeling that the most fundamental meditative state is the same regardless of how we approach it. Sometimes images capture it best. In the meditation, the image of a fountain came to me. All of the water flows from the source and falls back into the source. Hopefully the meditation sets the stage to allow your mind rest at the still point from which everything emerges and to which everything returns.
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.
July 20, 2009
It’s always a surprise to me. Every single time. I record a guided meditation, do some editing and pass it on to Richard. And then before I know it, he’s added some music and voila — it’s done. Just like that, he listens to the meditation at his keyboard and the music seems to get composed effortlessly. And I always love it. It always feels just right for the meditation. And I’m always in awe. How did that happen? How is it that every single time, on the spot, the music comes?
Even though I’ve experienced how effortlessly things can get created, I’m still amazed. And yet, when something new does come into existence, it is by nature a spontaneous, effortless event. If it’s new, it’s never been seen, touched, heard, known before. How could that come with effort? When we make an effort, we are working at something. We have an end in mind — we draw on everything we know and have experienced before; we use our logic; we try to connect the dots. But something completely new can’t be found in what we have heretofore experienced and known. It comes from the source of all of that, and the functioning of the source lies outside the functioning of our own will and actions, even though it influences them. So “true creativity” can only be effortless. While we may work at shaping an inspiration once it arises, we cannot force the inspiration to come.
While that explains to me the effortlessness of Richard’s composing, it doesn’t explain the consistency of it. And here I turn to my understanding of meditation for answers. Meditation can align us with the source of all creation (and hence creativity). The mind shifts into a more open, intuitive mode, beyond intellect and logic. Composers have to “get out of the way” for their music to come into being. Meditation in its most essential form gets us out of our own way.
Richard gets into a meditative state to compose. After all the years of meditation, it’s easy for him to do that. So Richard gets out of the way and the music comes. I should understand that — it’s how my meditations come. It’s how everything I’ve ever accomplished creatively has come. And yet it still surprises me when it happens. It is always a wonderful, awe-inspiring mystery. It is always a gift.
Richard’s beautiful, meditative music is available on our Pure Light album (a compilation of background music from our podcast and CDs.)
July 6, 2009
What I am really asking is — am I cut out for Twitter? “Do twitter and meditation mix” just sounded like a good title. Meditation mixes with anything — meditation can be a part of any lifestyle. But for someone like me who was drawn to meditation partly because of my “twitter mind”, Twitter can be a challenge.
My twitter mind is a lot like the Buddhist “monkey mind” — jumping from thought to thought like a monkey from tree to tree. Some of us are more that way than others. In Ayurveda, my mind has a lot of vata energy. For those conversant with Ayurveda, I’d say Twitter would aggravate vata, pacify kapha and be neutral for pitta. But that’s a whole ‘post in the making…
Noticing anything about this post — does it seem to be jumping around? Too much time spent learning the Twitter ropes got my mind going. The energy there is incredibly frenetic for someone like me. It’s also exciting. My mind tends to go off on tangents and free associates. It’s great for creativity, but it has to be tamed. I’m sure that’s what lead me to the style of meditation I learned and the style I teach.
In my guided meditations, I consistently encourage letting go of thoughts — not following the train of thought. This allows the mind to detach and settle down. Not only does this allow for deep rest, but it allows for the discovery of what lies beneath our thoughts. When we meditate, we experience the quality of awareness itself — the silence and stability within. We call it getting centered. It is the opposite of having a scattered attention. The attention becomes one-pointed, anchored.
Twitter could easily scatter ones attention as you jump from tweet to tweet, clicking on links wandering here and there through blog posts, videos, and more. It’s all a matter of balance — finding the right mix of activities that keep us balanced and grounded. The “right mix” isn’t the same for everyone. What we need to learn is what works for us.
As I said, for me Twitter is a challenge. It’s a fun challenge — I love the interconnectivity and especially the opportunity to connect with more of our podcast listeners. But because of the way I’m wired, I can’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. (And that’s a good thing — I have so many projects to work on!) I have to find a way to make Twitter work for me. I need to tweet my way, and how that will look is just beginning to evolve.
For now, if you follow us on Twitter, you will receive updates of new blog posts, podcast episodes and other news. I’ll try to follow you back if you look like a podcast listener. Let me know if I miss you, and suggestions are welcomed!
Thanks to Vincent Abry for the great Twitter button.
June 26, 2009
Our latest podcast, Let it Be Guided Meditation, is a variation on a theme. It’s the same theme that gave birth to the Simply Being, Effortless, and Letting Go meditations. It’s a theme that can be approached from many angles and given many names, but all of the names can be misleading. All these meditations point you to experience the essence of meditation. The words — effortless, letting go, simply being — are all meant to invoke a state of being that can’t be put into words.
I also use the phrase “let yourself be” in the meditation. That’s pretty easy to relate to. Being someone who tends to be hard on myself, I need to remind myself to let myself be quite a lot! But what is letting IT be?
What does it mean to “let it be”? Are there any words that can really capture what the meditative experience is like? What did those words mean to Paul Mc Cartney when he wrote Let it Be? What does it mean to you?
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