Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Loving Kindness and Witnessing Mind

By far one of my favorite meditations is Loving Kindness. This for many reasons, but mostly because I enjoy extending my sphere of influence and knowing that my positive thoughts can positively affect the lives of others is a wonderful thing. I think one of the biggest problems in our world today is that so many people are focused on the negative, what they don't want, what's the worst case scenario, what if.... and it is unhealthy for those individuals and everyone they come into contact with directly and indirectly.
I have enjoyed working towards a witnessing mind and cultivating a subtle mind as well. This, in my opinion, goes hand in hand with the Loving Kindness by way of acknowledging what you allow to take up space in your thoughts. If we actively seek out the positive and work to reframe or become proactive about the negative it makes so much difference in everything.
Integration of these practices does not have to be a time consuming thing. Loving Kindness is a practice that I can do everywhere, and the good thing is each new place I practice is an opportunity to extend my positivity to a whole new group of people. The bus ride to work, the line at the grocery store, walking on the treadmill - anywhere and you I have a group to send my energy to available. A witnessing mind is simply becoming aware of what my thoughts are throughout the day, starting in small increments. Over time I've become focused on all my thoughts as they come and go and eventually learn to hold on to the ones that benefit me most.
This journey I am on has been a fabulous one - there have been times when I have been thrilled with the strides I am taking and times when I have been greatly disappointed with a setback. But I mentioned earlier and remind myself often that it is the progress, not perfection, that matters most. I have also begun to realize that the more I grow the more tests I am challenged with; if we are not tested how can we measure growth?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My obligation as a member of your healthcare team

As a professional it is invaluable for me to realize that I am only as good as the tools I possess. If I stop growing and learning I am doing a disservice to my clients. Science is an ever changing arena - in my profession I study the science of human health; eating, fitness (mental, spiritual, physical) and relationships. What I learn today will be expanded on tomorrow. I feel that I am not able to point my clients in the right direction if I have not glimpsed down that path myself. I can not say that I am fully evolved and have all the answers, nobody does. If I am working with a client that has outgrown my ability it is my responsibility to that client to refer them to a practitioner who will be able to take them further.
A perfect example of this has been seen in many a yoga class...the teacher comes in every week and teaches the same class, the students who attend regularly are able to move through the class by memory and may even be able to recite verbatim the teachers description of poses. Now, this class may be a brilliant class, but as you continue to practice you should continue to grow - if you never press beyond your limits and find a new edge you stop growing and get comfortable.
The best way to handle this would be either for the teacher to recommend these students move up to a higher level class, or, if this is a multilevel class the teacher should incorporate more change and challenge to classes.
Once we stop learning we stop growing, in every day of life there is an opportunity for growth, it is our choice whether we acknowledge these opportunities or let them pass us by. I have chosen to never stop learning and look for the opportunity in all that I do.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Loving Kindness and Integral Assessment

This fits perfectly on an index card and is easy to remember - May all individuals gain freedom from suffering. May all individuals find sustained health, happiness and wholeness. May I assist all individuals in gaining freedom from suffering. May I assist all individuals in finding health, happiness and wholeness - it is beautiful and selfless.
As i worked through the assessment I realized that I do this quite often already - I sit in a moment of quiet prayer and I ask "What can I do to make each moment of my daily life have meaning? How can I make it all count?" I have found a couple of answers...
Right now my area of difficulty is disorganization. Those of you who know me may not realize it, but I live on the disorganized side of life. Although it does not cause any direct difficulty or suffering it does in an indirect way. Being disorganized causes undo stress and anxiety. It cause me to be short fused.
The area that is ready for growth is definitely interpersonal. I consider myself to be very compassionate and perhaps even empathetic to the needs of others. It pains me to see someone suffering and my heart goes out to the person in pain - I want to help. I have begun to take steps to cultivate this growth in myself... There is a program, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), it is a volunteer program that assigns an advocate to the case of a child who has been abused or neglected and is now in the foster care system. To be very truthful I am nervous to take on this role. But nerves aside I am excited to be able to touch the life of someone who may not have any other constant in his/her life, as many of these children do not.
Going through this exercise this week was great because as I did it seemed to me that the exercise cemented my action plan of becoming a CASA, even the words in the Loving Kindness meditation spoke to me in the same way.
I look forward to updating you on the experience.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wellness on 3 Fronts

I have learned that these things are interconnected, our spiritual wellbeing can inhibit or promote our mental and physical wellbeing and the same is true in every other direction; mental to physical, physical to spiritual, mental to spiritual on and on and on. For me personally a period of time comes to mind when I was very physically active and fit, but spiritually and emotionally I was lacking and although physically my body was in great shape I did not feel or see the benefits of it. I still found aches and pains and discomfort. Fortunately I have experienced tremendous growth since that point in time, I have reconnected with and increased my spirituality and begun to quiet my mind.
I was talking with a group of friends Tuesday night and I realized all of a sudden that I have cleared SO much of the negative thought patterns from my mind and it has created space for gratitude and peace and quiet. This one little thing of not allowing toxic thought to play over and over in my mind has had a huge impact on my wellness on all 3 fronts. When I pray to God at night I am able to 'Thank God' for the many blessings in my life rather than complain about the burdens.
The gym has always been a refuge for me, whether I am teaching or taking a class. It has been a time when I can life on hold and just enjoy the abilities I have been blessed with - my body is functional, I can run, walk, dance, lift weights, stretch and any other activity that I feel the urge to do. Knowing this all by itself strengthens my wellbeing in other areas.

As of right now I do not have a track 3 on my cd - it recorded poorly. I am trying to locate another one, but if anyone has it readily available and would be willing to send it to me I would appreciate it greatly.
I have read the Subtle Mind practice and it reminds me of running...I am not a well trained runner, I will get out there every now and again and force myself to run a mile or so and the whole time I am running I tell myself - just run, you don't like running but just do it and then you will get better at it over time. When I was looking at the subtle mind practice I felt the same way, when I am trying to quiet my mind with out a focused thought to hold on to I tell myself - ah just clear your mind and the more you do it the better it will get; but maybe I should change the idea to tell myself that I am already good at it and that will make the growth come all the better.
I found the loving kindness practice was easier for me to stick with because I had focused thought in that practice where as the subtle mind was that exact opposite - don't hold on to thoughts at all. That was difficult for me. I will keep trying however.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Loving Kindness

I would like to state the the cd from Dacher's book Integral Health is poorly recorded and I am not a fan of the narrator's voice or tone - it is the opposite of relaxing and encouraging in my ears. Either way... I went on to youtube and found one that was more comfortable for me: (I could not paste the url, I searched Loving Kindness Meditation and found Metta Meditation (Universal Loving Kindness) from yogayak. (It was a little Buddhist-y, but the intention is the same).
One thing that came to mind the first time I was using the Loving Kindness meditation was the phrase that most of us associate with the Statue of Liberty, it was taken from a poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. The phrase I am referring to is "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...". This came to mind as I was expanding the circle of people that I was meditating on. As I breathe in I take away their pain, illness and struggles to be dissolved in my own heart and sending the individual wholeness, health and happiness.
I believe that this world offers an abundance of health and happiness and wholeness, there is enough to go around for everyone and there is no need to hoard it for oneself. Give it away and it will be returned to you in multiple. I also believe that there is a lot of suffering and we have an opportunity to send out positive healing energy and ease some of this suffering.
As I continued to practice this twice daily I found that it is easier to focus my thought and energy on the people I am sending loving kindness to, I also found that my circle is continuously growing - I began with my husband and my children and then worked through several more members of my family, my groups expanded from my children's scout groups to school, from life groups to church and it continues to grow.
I am left wondering 'What if everyone practiced this just once a week, what a huge and positive impact that would have on the world'!