Why the present is a gift

The following entry was written by one of the most important people in my life: my King.  His words are revealing, sincere, and speak VOLUMES!!  The simplest wisdom is often the most life changing…

In Love, Truth, and this very Moment,

A.K.S.

Original post here

The Power of Now!!!

Cover of "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Se...Cover via Amazon

In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, “It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!” “It takes all my persuasive powers,” writes Gilbert, “to try to convince her that she is already here.”

Often, we’re so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what’s happening right now. We sip coffee and think, “This is not as good as what I had last week.” We eat a cookie and think, “I hope I don’t run out of cookies.”

Instead, relish or luxuriate in whatever you’re doing at the present moment—what psychologists call savoring. “This could be while you’re eating a pastry, taking a shower, or basking in the sun.

When people in a study took a few minutes each day to actively savor something they usually hurried through—eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, walking to the bus—they began experiencing more joy, happiness, and other positive emotions, and fewer depressive symptoms.

Why does living in the moment make people happier—not just at the moment they’re tasting molten chocolate pooling on their tongue, but lastingly? Because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future. As Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  The hallmark of depression and anxiety is catastrophizing—worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away.

The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past. And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases.  Savoring forces you into the present, so you can’t worryabout things that aren’t there.

FYI  ladies and gentlemen, our mode of consciousness can be transformed!  The key to becoming free of the egoic mind, with all its consequences, is to become deeply conscious of this present moment, or, as Eckhart Tolle often calls it, “the Now.”  The consequences of being in the Now may also be traced out from his book.

Connectedness – In place of separation is a two-fold connectedness. To be present is to become reconnected both with Being itself, and with all other beings. Presence is a “state of felt oneness with Being … connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible … that is essentially you and yet is much greater than you.”  That in turn enables us to enter into deeper relationships with others. “Coming from Being, you will perceive another person’s body and mind as just a screen … behind which you can feel their true reality, as you feel yours … Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures.”

Acceptance – Rather than resisting life as it actually is in the present moment, one accepts it for what it is, without labelling or judgment. “Allowing it to be as it is … takes you beyond the mind with its resistance patterns …”

Tolle speaks not only of acceptance of what is, but also of surrender to it.   This “is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life … to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”

This may easily be misunderstood, and Tolle goes on to explain that he is not suggesting anyone should accept for evermore some unpleasant situation in life. That is mere resignation. Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon, changing our attitude so we accept how things are at this moment. Then we can act positively to change the ongoing situation, and such positive action is likely to be far more effective than if it arose out of the anger, frustration or despair of resistance.

The Joy of Being – Instead of pain there is peace, stillness and joy. Instead of loss of Being there is reconnectedness with Being. Instead of external substitutes for joy there is an inner joy which is independent of external conditions. “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.” “You abide in Being — unchanging, timeless, deathless — and you are no longer dependent for fulfilment or happiness on the outer world.”

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Intensifying Your Energy Centers: The Power of the Chakras

I was first introduced to Chakra Energy a little over a year ago.  My Heru (or better half) had stumbled upon some information about Chakras on his quest for spiritual knowledge and I was pleasantly surprised when he shared his findings with me.    In short:

“Throughout our body we have main energy centers, which are connected to major organs or glands that govern other body parts. Each of these main energy centers are referred to as chakra–chakra is a Sanskrit word which means wheel. A chakra is a wheel-like spinning vortex that whirls in a circular motion forming a vacuum in the center that draws in anything it encounters on its particular vibratory level.”

                        Read more from chakraenergy.com

Having this new knowledge was crucial to my own spiritual growth, as it served as a way to heal years of blockage, and underlined a new awareness that I had already been working to develop in myself.  It was all starting to make sense.  I was quite conscious of the flow and transference of energy, but what I didn’t fully understand was that specific energy is concentrated in distinct areas, and could be enhanced or diminished simply by concentrating on certain areas.  Having this new insight on [chakra] energy then gave me the power to improve my overall well-being, including the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of my existence.

Below you will find an article published today at the Huffington Post, which discusses what is perhaps the introduction of four new Chakras (up from the seven with which we are most familiar). This isn’t news however, as there are perhaps hundreds of Chakras actually working within each of us.  But what is profound is that the introduction of these four could give us a new way to approach specific energies that could be holding our physical selves in captivity.  New thought–as pointed out by Leah T (thanks)–maybe an explanation is needed about the difference between the Solar Plexus Chakra mentioned below and the original Solar Plexus, as well as a detailed breakdown of the difference between Third Eye and the Forehead Chakra?   With the combination of the following article, as well as the information found at chakraenergy.com, there is real potential for exponential growth.  And what’s more empowering is that this is a walk you can take solo.  No need for a guru, or instructor to maximize the flow of energy.  This power is found on the inside of you.  Please take some time exploring chakraenergy.com, and other websites, books, and materials.  You really have nothing to lose. 

In Love, Truth, and Positive Energy,

A.K.S.

Author of the new spiritual women’s novel, ‘Downward Dog, Upward Fog’

The 7 Chakras You’ve Heard Of.. And 4 You Haven’t

Posted: 11/4/11 09:13 AM ET

When I began studying yoga more than 20 years ago, I learned that there were seven chakras — those energy centers that run from the base of your spine to the top of your head. They are important because properly spinning chakras (the Sanskrit word for “wheel”) balance the body’s energy flow.

Having seven chakras always made sense to me, especially since experts talk about toning each with one of the seven notes of the major scale or the seven colors of the rainbow. And, as chakra maven Margaret Ann Lembo, author of “Chakra Awakening,” explains, descriptions of the seven are found in such cherished ancient Indian texts as the “Vedas” and the “Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.”

So imagine my surprise to recently learn from an esteemed energy healer that there are actually 11.

Master Stephen Co, founder of the U.S. Pranic Healing Center outside L.A., is an energy healer sought out by such spiritual luminaries as Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Iyanla Vanzant. He’s the author of “Your Hands Can Heal You” and, more recently, “The Power of Prana” — where I first saw his mention of those extra “wheels.” Naturally, I had to call him up to learn more.

Co says his teacher, Grandmaster Choa Kok Sui, discovered the elusive four when he asked advanced clairvoyants to go step-by-step through the body and describe what they “saw,” and that he himself has been using them in his healing practice for years. He notes that the idea of 11 is not as far-fetched as it might seem: The mystical Jewish Kabbalistic system posits 11 “attributes of God” inside the body, and the Hindu “Upanishads” sometimes refers to the body as a “city with 11 gates.”

According to ancient Indian healing wisdom, any blocked chakra can lead to emotional imbalance or disease. Each center is said to energetically connect to an organ system, and is therefore linked to specific disease; goiter may be caused by sluggishness in the throat chakra, for example, lung ailments may mean something is amiss in the heart center.

Therefore, Co says, the widely known seven chakras are fine for people focused primarily on their spiritual development. But if you’re using the chakras for physical healing, as I sometimes do for myself, it might be worth taking these hidden four into account. (Please comment below on your thoughts about this.)

Here, Co explains what you may be overlooking:

Forehead chakra. Located in the center of the forehead at the hairline, this chakra is the true seat of the mystical third eye, not the lower “ajna” chakra between the eyebrows, Co says. Intuition, nervous-system regulation, memory issues, physical paralysis and epilepsy can all be treated here. Although trained healers can carefully stimulate this chakra, such an opening can be extremely powerful; instead, Co advises most people should let it blossom on its own, such as by going inward in meditation.

Solar Plexus chakra. This chakra, with both a front and back entrance, may be the cause of your high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis and ulcers. The front opening is in the hollow area just below the sternum; the back on the spine behind it. It’s especially important to keep this chakra clear, as it plays an important role in balancing emotions. One clearing technique is to make gentle, sweeping motions down from the heart through the solar plexus, “as if you’re removing gray smoke or mud,” Co says. It’s also crucial to express your emotions; new repressed ones will just clog it up again.

Meng Mein. Located on the back, between the kidneys (on a direct line with your belly button), this chakra is the source of many back problems, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Clearing it is important, since (as with Chinese healing systems), fear is stored here. Be careful about adding energy to this chakra, which can cause blood pressure to soar. Rather, Co advises, clear the area with a daily “lavender/salt shower.” During your morning shower, rub a handful of salt mixed with up to 10 drops of lavender oil in a counterclockwise circular motion (picture the clock painted on your body, facing out). Leave it on for a few minutes, then wash away.

Sex chakra. Different from the “sacral chakra,” which some say also covers the sex organs, this chakra sits lower, behind the pubic bone. In addition to its effect on the sex organs (and such problems as menstrual cramps or impotence), this chakra also feeds creativity and is the site of writer’s block and autism. Meditating on the color white is a way to gently clear those obstructions. I will say that I tried this the other day, and when afterwards I sat at my computer, the words easily flowed.

Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the new spiritual women’s novel, “Downward Dog, Upward Fog,” which was recommended by Yoga Journal Buzz Blog and the “Science of Mind” national newsletter. ForeWord Reviews calls the novel “an inspirational gem that will appeal to introspective, evolving women.” Read excerpts at www.DownwardDogUpwardFog.com. Meryl also writes for “O: the Oprah Magazine,” “Whole Living,” “Reader’s Digest” and other national magazines.

Meditation Redefined: Dropping Your Assumptions

Whatever you believe, whatever you do, the truth is, we can all use an opportunity to quiet the mind…

Enjoy!

A.K.S.

Original Post found at Tiny Buddha

How to Meditate at Any Time Without Meditating  

A Meditation at Morro Rock

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Amanda Cook

“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Flour. Salt. Water. Yeast. As I push the warm, soft dough against my palm, I feel the cold stone countertop underneath. I feel my hips leaning up against the cabinets. I hear my breath inside my head.

As I knead the dough, it changes. The dough becomes more elastic and flexible, ready to rise and be baked into a crusty loaf.

As I make bread, I change. My thoughts go quiet. I come into the now.

I have struggled with an inconsistent meditation practice for months. In those moments when I successfully meditate and clear my mind, I feel such a sense of accomplishment and peace.

But as any beginning meditator knows, those moments are few and far between.

Usually, my scattered mind is split between keeping track of the time, trying to quiet the voice in my head, and chastizing my body for fidgeting. 

I struggled and pushed myself to meditate properly with little success, until I realized that any act can be a meditation.

I discovered this fundamental insight through books by Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh. It is not so important to sit with a perfectly erect spine for 20 minutes per day in meditative bliss. What is important is to be here, in the now. Living your life. Noticing what is. Noticing life.

So often throughout our days we are lost in our thoughts. We may be on the train or in the shower, but in our heads we are already giving that important presentation, having the difficult conversation, worrying about and planning for what might happen next.

If you step back and think about it, this is a strange way to live. With all of this planning, worrying, and thinkingwe’re missing out on our lives.

I came to this realization a few years ago when I moved to Paris, France. I had been living the overachieving, type-A personality lifestyle in the United States my entire life.

It’s a common cycle. Working hard in school to get into a good university, then landing a “good job” and working to get promoted, all the while trying to upgrade my belogings to match my desired lifestyle: a bigger apartment, a new car, high thread count sheets, and gourmet kitchen appliances.

My whole life was geared toward reaching some undefined point where I would have “made it,” so I could then take a well deserved vacation.

Then, I moved to Paris.

Suddenly, everything I knew about status and lifestyle was irrelevant. Instead of talking about work all the time, my new French friends talked about hobbies, food, books, vacations, movies—anything except work.

I met people who really enjoyed their lives on a daily basis. Spending time with friends. Savoring delicious lunches. Continuing their artistic pursuits on the side of their career. Hiking in the mountains on weekends and reconnecting with nature.

Moving overseas made me realize that my life isn’t going to start at some undefined point in the future. My constant planning, thinking, and obsessing was making me miss out on my life! I suddenly realized that my life was happening right now, in this very moment.

By living in our heads, we’re missing opportunities to connect with our family. Opportunities to feel the pleasure of sunshine on our face while standing at the bus stop. Opportunities to feel our creative energy spark when we watch a child playing. Opportunities to be in nature, even for just a few minutes, and find our footing again.

Slowly, over the past few years, I have been working on showing up to my life on a daily basis. Trying to live in the present moment. Trying to really be here, now.

So now I have a new meditation practice. I make our weekly loaf of bread by hand.

It doesn’t take that long, once you know the technique. But it’s such grounding, salt-of-the-earth, staff-of-life stuff.

Making bread by hand connects me with the generations before and after who have done this daily practice. I take it slowly. Measuring the flour, salt and yeast. Then slowly pouring in warm water to form a dough. Then the fun part—digging in with my hands. Kneading bread is an almost childlike pleasure because it’s so tactile.

When I make bread, I am reminded of the simple pleasures in life. I’m reminded of the importance of health and nourishing our bodies. I re-discover, week after week, the miracle of transformation. The miracle of basic ingredients becoming something so pleasurable, delicious and a cornerstone of our diet.

Perhaps bread baking isn’t your thing. But you can turn any daily activity into a meditation practice: washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, ironing your clothes.

5 tips to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:

1. Notice, don’t think.

Pretend you are a traveler or student encountering this activity for the very first time. Don’t judge, label, and think about what you’re doing. Just notice. Notice every detail with an open, beginner’s mind.

2. When in doubt, check your breathing.

If you feel your thoughts wandering from the present task, take a minute to hear and feel yourself breathe. Just paying attention to a few breaths will bring you back to the present moment.

3. You have 5 senses, use them.

Mindfulness means truly experiencing what is going on right now. This is more than just noticing what something looks like. What does it smell like? Feel it with your hands. What is the texture? Temperature? What do you hear?

4. Have a strategy to handle nagging thoughts.

Occasionally we all have thoughts that won’t go away—so you need a strategy for how to handle them. I like to have a notebook with me at all times to write any nagging to-dos, ideas or issues. If you write them down, your mind can relax because it knows you can go back to them later.

5. It is what it is.

You don’t need to analyze your mindfulness experience. Don’t worry about what it all means or if you’re being mindful enough. Just try to be mindful every day. Come more fully into the present moment. Let the experience be what it is.

While this might not fit the ideal of a perfect, solitary meditation practice, it works for me. It works because it gets me to the right place—the present moment.

Every week when I make bread, I re-discover that by mixing, kneading and baking, I am able to come more fully into the present moment and really connect with life.  And isn’t that the purpose of a meditation practice in the first place?

Photo by ChuckThePhotographer.

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