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!
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”.
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.
June 13, 2007
We’ve just added the Breath in the Heart meditation to our podcast. It’s a variation on meditations in which you follow your breath. In this case, you maintain awareness of the breath and the heart area at the same time. This helps open and enliven the heart chakra. The heart is the seat of love and connection. Attention on the heart helps to awaken the energy of love. This meditation can be especially soothing as you connect into the energy of the heart. At the same time, it can bring our awareness to any emotional pain which is present in the heart chakra. The pain may be from past hurts or from our current situation. If we are grieving, bringing attention to the heart will help facilitate the feelings of grief. By allowing these feelings to be present, they can move through and resolve.
May 4, 2007
I just added an episode to our Meditation Oasis podcast called “Relaxing into Healing”. It’s a very simple, direct approach to healing, and probably quite different from most guided meditations for healing.
The meditation is based on the idea that healing is in the nature of life. The natural intelligence of the body and psyche is always moving in the direction of healing. We can cooperate with this natural process of healing by being open to it, relaxing so that the maximum energy is available for healing, and allowing whatever needs to be healed to come fully into our awareness.
Being open to healing — In the beginning of the meditation, we set the intention to open to healing. This way we become more receptive to the process of healing.
Relaxing to free up energy for healing — We relax by letting go of resistance to whatever we are experiencing in our body, mind and emotions. Resistance takes energy, and we want to let that energy be used for healing.
Allowing what needs healing into our awareness — Finally, the guided meditation encourages you to allow everything to come into your awareness that needs healing. The idea isn’t to start thinking about it and analyzing it, but to simply experience it. Our attention is a beam of intelligent energy. Simply having something in our awareness brings energy to it. It may be a situation, an emotion or something in the body that needs healing. The meditation encourages you to simply allow yourself to experience whatever needs to be healed without judgment. In this way you hold a compassionate space for yourself to heal.