What is Meditation?

Someone asked me for my thoughts on meditation and it got me thinking… do I know anything about meditation? For me, meditation is so pure and simple that it is somehow complicated to put into words. Mindfulness/meditation is the art of doing nothing and letting go. It is going home to ourselves when we have left our senses. It is our natural way of being. It is feeling the power of relinquishing the need to control.

The Great Contradiction

Meditation to me is a kind of contradiction. By yielding to the present moment we overcome our situation. By giving in to what is happening, we are instantly rewarded with a better, more fulfilled feeling. By letting go, we gain so much. And all we have to do to have the most wonderful feeling in the world… is absolutely nothing.

Our Busy World.

With people so busy checking their phones, looking over their shoulders for competitors and some even building walls of fear and hate, we all need meditation to help us to find a sense of peace. In our current society, we have become too infatuated with speed, success and doing, that we have forgotten to refuel.

Recharge the Batteries!

Humans energy levels are similar to mobile phone batteries. Almost every day, we charge our mobile phones to make sure that it has enough energy. This is akin to people making sure to get a good nights sleep. We need around 8 hours every night to function well. But what happens during the waking hours of the day?

Take Many Breaks.

As we use up energy on our phone, for phone calls, internet and messaging, we demand a lot from our phones. By the same token, as we expel our own energy on our thoughts, our daily tasks and constant activity, we also deplete our own energy. We need to take moments during the day, simply to be. We need moments in which we do not give out too much energy. We can stop for a minute to refuel our batteries.

What Do the Experts Say?

Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now” advises that adding a small moment now and then to our lives for a mindful breath or a short meditation can greatly improve our well-being. The length of the meditation is not important, rather he advises to inset periods of meditation on a regular basis. The duration of meditation will naturally extend as we implement our own practice.

I encourage everyone to practice a bit of meditation. In whatever way we invite peace and meditation into our lives, it is one of the healthiest choices to make. We can slow down. We can refuel. We can become healthier and happier. As we practice, moment by moment, we can recover from a lifetime of struggle.

 

What we Can Learn from Disney Heroines

disney-heroines-follow-your-dreams-magic-true-love

I have many friends who dismiss Disney as childish, anti-women or cliched. However, I believe that children’s stories can reveal to us astute messages if we are willing to see them. Movies that are directed at children often have poignant moments which reveal great truths, the kind that are the most difficult to admit to ourselves. And I remain a huge fan of all things Disney, so here is my toast to the women who inspire the little girl in me.

  1. They did not have it easy in the beginning.

Most of the classic Disney ladies had it tough when they grew up. Belle was viewed as aloof by everyone who knew her, Cinderella had her awful step-sisters and Rapunzel was cooped up in a tower. It is inspiring that despite their difficult beginnings, the Disney princesses did not let their personal circumstances get in the way of their dreams and their destiny.

2. They stuck true to their beliefs of what is right and wrong.

The Disney women did not appease people they did not approve of. Snow White didn’t take any prisoners from the seven dwarfs. Belle turned down the egotistical Gaston who came chasing after her. Cinderella left behind her cruel family to live happily ever after. As the song says “I never bother with people I hate. That’s why the lady is a tramp”.

3. Their Princes fought for them.

The men who chose these Disney princesses were not after riches or status. The Princes fought dragons, went against their social differences and pursued their love interest until they could unite. They were daring, bold and brave. They could see how wonderful these Princesses were and were willing to fight fantastical and social challenges for them.

4. They appreciated the good things in life.

Pursuing true love, caring for nature, and being true to themselves, the Disney women are elegant ladies with social tact. Although life presented many issues, the Disney women would power through and life would bring them to the right place at the right time. They were able to flow with life and trust that all will work out well in the end.

5. They believed in the power to choose good or evil

There is a good deal of magic in Disney stories, which helps to change your life. But when you take out the metaphysical or witchcraft elements of the stories, what you are left with is a battle between pure humanity and wickedness, caused by envy or hurt. The Fairy Godmother gave the gesture of kindness and mercy by giving a helping hand in an hour of need. The Wicked Witch was simply to be pitied for harnessing so much hatred against Snow White. Fairy tales are of course fantastical, but they show us how people have a choice in how the choose to respond to life’s challenges.

I understand my friends who do not approve of Disney. But I hold steadfast in my beliefs. Despite what other people think, I believe in happy endings, I have faith in the goodness of people. Although I may not change the world, I will be the heroine of my own life… with a touch of magic!

From Flowing to Floating

dailypromt-float-flow

via Daily Prompt: Float

 

Here is a little poem inspired by “Floating”

 

Flow when your friend is sick

And can’t make it to the gig

Twist the twist of fate and see

You have a choice suddenly

To do exactly as you choose.

 

Flow around the bumps and lumps

That life serves up

Dish yourself out something new.

Ask what’s next on the menu?

 

Float: when you

Cannot flow anymore,

Paralysed by too many options

like the donkey (long overdue)

between two bails of hay

could not choose and what did he do?

 

Float when you

cannot flow anymore

when the water won’t play by your rules.

 

Lie on your back

face up, look at the sky.

 

Put the flow back in floating.

Let life row you downstream to

Its source back where you

Came from… home.

 

Flow on to new adventures

when you have wind in your sails.

But when you are all blown out,

Remember to float

back home.

 

What will you do flow or float?

 

 

5 Reasons not to Compare Yourself

unique compare happy

When we see someone do exceptionally well in life, do we think, “I could never do that!” or “I want to do that too!”? In life, there will always be someone faster, stronger or more talented than us. Therefore, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. Here is some of my advice on how to keep us focused on our own goals.

 

  1. You are on your own unique path:

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. We are built differently to each other, with different ages and different backgrounds, so no two people can be compared in how they live. As we reach for life goals we will take a completely unique journey to anyone else.

  1. This is not a race:

We can reach our goal in our own time. Even if we share the same goal as someone else, set the time frame to suit ourselves. If your goal is to run 5 kilometres in 15 minutes, and it takes one month to achieve this, you still reached your goal. Some people take longer to achieve their goals than others, but we will still get there in the end.

  1. Remember you are not alone

Everyone has moments when they feel unsure about their own abilities. We have all compared ourselves to someone else. It is reassuring to know that you are not the only one to feel like this.

  1. Competition distracts you

No one else matters when we pursue our goal. Our fight comes down to ourselves alone. We can only look to ourselves to push through to the end. Watching what the others are doing around us, will waste our energy. So don’t let competition take your eye off the prize!

  1. You will have more fun!

We will enjoy life so much more when we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else. We will have the best time doing it in our own way.

Conclusion

Instead of competing with another person, turn them into your role model. Be impressed with their success. Let them inspire you to do the same. If you want to follow their path, talk to them about how they prepared for this goal. Look up to this person. They can show you the way! At the end, when you finally reach your goal, you will meet them at the finish line!

 

How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Giving Up

Its that time of year again, where we begin new projects and may struggle to maintain momentum with the new changes. How can we continue with a project when we really, really, REALLY don’t want to? If we have been disillusioned with our health or work for a while, we may lose interest or motivation to keep going. How can we avoid giving up? Here are some tips to help us keep going with relationship issues, work-related stress or our fitness routine.

 

  1. Choose a fun task

Do something you love! If you are doing something which is not your thing, try something new. Try as many styles of work and projects as you can until you find the type that suits you. You will know when you find the correct type when you enjoy it, you want to be challenged more and you feel by the end of the workday as though you really gave your best. When you do what you enjoy, believe me, you will flourish!

  1. If it is not fun, make it fun!

Sometimes if we want to focus on a particular task, our options for fun can be limited. If we cannot avoid a certain task we can find a way to make it more fun. Get creative with your mind and make this as silly as you can! Laughter will really help you through the difficult workdays.

  1. Distract yourself

A bit of background noise can help you to work better and get you more engaged in your work. Put on whatever helps to get you more motivated to work. Also make sure that your work space is inviting so that you associate work with having a positive experience.

  1. Change the routine

Here is where you can trick your mind into thinking you are doing a new routine. Simply change the order of in which you complete your tasks. It is a minor change, but it can be a new approach when your routine has become repetitive. This change can be as good as a break.

  1. Don’t be rigid.

Life will not allow you to follow a rigid work plan. You will have to learn to be flexible as life interrupts your plans again and again. This is a good challenge however, as the more you are challenged by life, the more indestructible your work habits will become. With practice you can meet every challenge as it arises and overcome whatever life throws at you.

  1. Get curious!

If you find you are struggling to maintain your good quality work, find out why you that is. Is there something holding you back from your goal? What is the reason you are not progressing with this project? Explore the reasons to find out exactly why there is this issue.

 

Final Note:

The process of becoming a happy worker is not a straight forward journey. We set out with great determination to work exceptionally well and it is not long before life starts to challenge us. These hurdles are our real test. As we make these positive changes in our working lives, we have to change our attitude so that we can keep on going. Don’t beat yourself up for being human, remember your overall goal and find the path most enjoyable to you. If there is no path, build your own one to suit you! Whatever you do, keep moving forward!

 

“Lighting of One” By Joan Healy

InkSplinters

From ‘A Christmas Challenge’

Sweetest Love, I do not go
Underneath the mistletoe.
This Christmas find me underneath
An avalanche of snow.

I give myself the gift of time
To finally fall apart,
To write you out of my will
And will you out of my heart.

But instead, I get one single flake,
As lonely as a prayer.
The first to fall is the one to call
The rest from sleep to share

In the falling and rising of snow
Til the sky is covered in white.
Litany of lighthouses guide us home
In the bleak mid-winter night.

Beacons like olive branches,
Are passed from star to star to come.
For all the light we are blessed with now
Began with the lighting of one.

One crystal becomes a cloud
One angel becomes a choir
This song becomes this silence
As one light becomes a fire!

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How to Welcome in the New Year

happy-new-year

 

At this time of year, it is nice to reflect on 2016. What did it bring for us? What do we look forward to next year? Is there anything on our To-Do list that we really need to take action on? As one year dies, another one is born. So, here are some tips on how to let go of the old year and welcome in 2017!

 

  1. Say Goodbye to old friendships

Let go of friendships that no longer feel right. Sometimes friendships have a short life span. For one stage in our lives, certain friends reflect our state, our self-beliefs at a particular time. Then, as we change and grow in life, some friendships strengthen, and some fall away.

  1. Bring in New Friends

As we let go of some friends, we make room for new ones! When we widen our social spheres, we allow in new ideas, new possibilities and even new expectations of ourselves. The people who we surround ourselves with have a great effect on how we perceive ourselves and how much we believe in ourselves.

  1. Take up a New Hobby

Learning keeps us young. Our physical health and our mental health improve when we learn a new skill. Learning a new craft or skill activates process in our brain that keep us refreshed, engaged in life and happy overall. As the adage says: “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”

  1. Take a fresh look at our Health

Our health is our greatest asset and if we neglect it, we pay for it! To keep ourselves healthy, we can take on a new commitment to our physical health. We can educate ourselves about nutrition and take part in sports classes and a new fitness regime.

  1. Take care of our Mental Health

This is the most important aspect of our health and it can be also the most difficult to approach. We can begin with one step to look after our mental health. It could be inquiring about support groups in our area, learning about how to look after our well-being or seeking help from someone.

I wish you a happy end to 2016, whatever it has brought to you! And here’s to year of greater health and happiness!

 

How Meditation Makes Us Healthy

Joan Healy, music, singer

Meditation is savouring the sweet mundane. It brings in attention to life as it is, here and now. In meditation, you can begin to declutter your mind. There are many portals to meditation, e.g. breathing, awareness of the body and sense perceptions. The goal of meditation is to come back to yourself. When you forget to give your true self attention, you can always

Sandra - meditation
Back to health, harmony and happiness

come back home, back to oneness with God and back to full health. I created this little article for you to see how meditating can help you on your path to full mental, physical and spiritual health.

 

Our Mental Health:

  1. Meditation Helps You to Let Go:

When sitting in meditation, practice letting go of your worries and cares of the day. Come into the space where you can just be you for 5 to 10 minutes. There is no onus on you to say, do or be anything during this time. This is a safe place and a welcoming place. As you sit in silence, become aware of a space inside you that is what you truly are. As you bring loving attention to your real self, the baggage that you carry begins to fall away. Maybe you have carried this for a long time without knowing it. As we bring all sides of ourselves into the light of awareness, the light of our true self strengthens.

 

  1. Mediation Protects us from External Negativity

Toxic relationships, and abusive comments from strangers are some sources of outside negativity.  If you are sensitive, hurtful words can linger in your mind. I noticed that hearing a man swearing on a bus can put me in an uneasy mood for the rest of the day. Unresolved issues amongst families can also “live” in your psyche and release negative energy to you. The solution is to mediate when you feel upset by another’s comments. The space brought in by meditation allows us to separate these comments from ourselves. In this way, we build a protective shield against outside negativity.

 

  1. Meditation Helps You to Grow a New Belief

If you want to make some new positive beliefs, you need to clear your mind firstly. Meditation helps you to take away the noise in the mind which gives you an empty space to bring in a new idea. Think of it as clearing all the words off a whiteboard and then writing a new mantra to begin your new day. This is very good practice if you are using affirmations. A short meditation before your affirmation will greatly help with your manifestation.

 

Our Physical Health

 

  1. Meditation Helps us to Prevent Disease

Signals that something is amiss in your body always start quietly. When we learn to listen to our body’s feelings we can notice the little signs it sends us when something is not quite right. Perhaps we are out of balance in some area in our life, which our body is reflecting back to us. For example, I recently lost my voice, which I thought was due to excessive use from talking or from singing. But at a deeper level, with meditation, I could tell that there was a bigger meaning behind losing my voice. I have to learn to speak up for myself and to speak my truth in order to have a happy, healthy body.

 

  1. Meditation Prepares us for Conscious Exercise

Our bodies love to move and be energised by exercise. I recommend a short meditation before carrying out your normal exercise routine, just to check in with how your body is feeling. This is also good before a yoga class, so that you can notice what parts of our body are aching or needing more attention. You can then be more aware of your body’s needs to avoid injury during your regular sports activities.

 

  1. Meditation Allows you to Just Breathe!

Bringing your attention to your breath is one of the quickest and most effective forms of meditation. Listen to the breath and feel the ride of the waves on the exhalation and inhalation. Notice how all this breathing happens with very little effort when your mind and body are relaxed. The breath is a wonderful portal to meditation as you align your body to your spirit.

 

Our Spiritual Health

  1. Intuition is Perfected by Meditation

As you become more comfortable with meditation, you will notice that you “know” certain things to be true beyond what the mind can justify. I believe the center for intuition is in the heart or the stomach. If there is a niggling question to which you want to know the answer, I recommend asking the heart, as it is our great connection to the truth. As Paul Coehlo said “Listen to your heart, it knows everything.”

 

  1. Meditation Builds a Connection to God

The most important connection, in my opinion, is your relationship with God, the source of life or the universe. Through meditation, you can clear an opening for more light to enter your life. You can open a door for more positivity to enter. This positive influx may be in many forms, e.g. abundance, joy, freedom and health. As the wonderful book “Eat, Pray, Love” says: “If you open that door … God will rush in…. and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.”

 

  1. We Become More Connected to Each Other

As we have space for God in our lives, our world will open. New opportunities, new friends and new avenues of life will open up. Our relationships with other people become more meaningful and rewarding. We can share love and give out good vibrations to all people and the Earth. We can become a harmonised race with peace and joy as our goal.

 

Conclusion

Once we have let go of our personal baggage, shielded ourselves against bad karma and made a strong connection between ourselves and life, we can open to each other. Share the love and the good vibes with people who seem open to receiving good karma. Meditation is a life-long practice and worthwhile beginning now. We owe ourselves and each other the very best in life. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s meditate!

 

Top 10 Motivation Tips to Get Back into Fitness!

 

Introduction

Just the thought of going to the gym. Suddenly you think of everything else you could do instead… It’s easier to have a duvet day, but the payoff for your health is priceless. Whether you are completely new to fitness or struggling to face another hour at the gym, I have some advice to get you back on track. Here are my Top 10 Tips to get you off the couch and back into the gym.

 

  1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize:

Whether it’s you’ve Summer holiday or a wedding coming up, visualise how you want to look on a certain date. Imagine how you will look and more importantly how you will feel on that day. Make sure to keep this image clear in your mind before you begin training. Remind yourself that every session will bring you closer to your goal.

 

  1. Take it One Step at a Time:

Losing too much weight too soon can be very bad for your health and put a strain on your heart. So it is important to create a relationship with food and exercise that you can maintain for the rest of your life. To lose weight or get into shape, I recommend investing in a personal trainer. They will advise you the healthiest way to reduce your body fat in the shortest possible time. Your health is your greatest asset and your trainer will be with you every step of the way.

 

  1. Don’t be Afraid of Looking Ridiculous:

We are not born gym-bunnies. It takes time to build up your fitness levels, so it is perfectly natural to work up a sweat and have a bright pink face while training. I have to admit, I still feel out of place amongst the super-fit gym members, but everyone has their own pace and their own style so we should not compare ourselves to others. It is also good to remember that everyone else at the gym has at one point felt a bit out of place when they first began.

 

  1. Music:

Adding music to your training is like adding magic! Have some fun by making your own personalised gym playlist. Play some warm up songs to get started, followed by songs with a strong beat for cardio for your workout and finally some slower songs for your cool down. Most gyms will play dance music that would not be out of place in Dicey’s on a Saturday night, so if this set list is not to your taste, bring your head phones to play the tunes that you like.

 

  1. Think of Training as “Me-Time”:

Your training is time to focus 100% on you. You can let go of all your cares from the week. Whether you are out jogging through the park, doing yoga at home or taking part in your spinning class, for that hour, nothing else matters but your training. Having this time dedicated to you can be a great reliever of stress.

 

  1. Get a Gym-Buddy:

There is a temptation to go to the gym with earphones, speak to no one and do your training in a little bubble. So, bring a friend! Research suggests that training with a friend can increase your performance 200%. The energy you get from someone else sharing in your session will make you want to give more and be able last longer. Having a friend by your side means you can laugh through the whole session and have so much more fun.

 

  1. Start again:

We have to forgive ourselves for being human. We are not perfect, though some people appear to be! Sometimes we slip in our commitment to being healthy, but we always get a second chance. I believe that each time we “fail”, we uncover a weakness which we can then learn from and move on. So, you can think of failures as really precursors to success. A nice little quote to sum this up is:

“Power is made perfect in weakness”.

 

  1. Get a Natural High:

When we exercise, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, called endorphins, get released and make us feel happy. This feel-good factor is a great boost and will have you smiling again after your training. It is called a post-work out high and can be a little addictive!

 

  1. Try Something New:

A new approach to training could be just what you need to engage new muscles and give you a fresh start into fitness. If you always focused on flexibility, why not try out focusing on strength. If you feel you mastered your core strength, go for endurance, etc. Even if it means, you are the only guy in the dance class or the only girl in the boxing class, don’t be afraid to go for something new!

 

  1. Set a Goal:

Don’t let your goal be too vague, e.g. losing weight. Be specific with your goals, e.g. I want to be a size 8 by August. As you continue with your new fitness and diet regime, you can watch this goal become a reality. Research shows that people who set goals in their minds are 10 times more likely to succeed than people who don’t set any fixed goal. As you get comfortable with one level of fitness, you will want to step up your game to reach a higher level. Your trainer will be only too happy to challenge you!

Conclusion

There is so much to gain by bringing fitness into your life. Make sure to keep it fun, new and interesting. Don’t be disillusioned by any slips ups as they are a part of life. Keep your eye firmly on the prize, no matter what. Be sure to bring along some enthusiastic friends to keep you on your toes! So what are you waiting for? Grab your gym buddy and get going!