Posts Tagged ‘Meditation’

Why Aren’t We Kinder To Ourselves?

Written by Kate • December 20, 2011 •
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KindnessI’ve seen it in myself and in so many others, the rages, the shaming, the cutting words, the unkind way we treat ourselves after a mistake, after having done something “stupid”, after over eating/drinking/spending, after watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet, or after doing something we’ve been trying to break ourselves out of the habit of for so long.  It’s absolutely amazing how we so completely trash ourselves to ourselves in our head.

I’ve been working on catching these previously unconscious, automatic thoughts so that I can be completely aware of all the thoughts I am thinking. The unkind thinking is happening less and less but I recently caught myself being extremely unkind to myself about something, I forget what. And I marveled at how I was choosing to look at whatever I had done in such a harsh light, with no compassion or kindness for myself in that moment.  And so I thought to myself, “why aren’t we kinder to ourselves?” “why are we so dang mean to ourselves?”  And it came to me that there are four main reasons we are so unkind to ourselves:

  1. Our Egos: Our egos tell us we can’t yet accept ourselves until we’re a better person or have a better job or better relationship or more money…you get the idea. We think that we don’t deserve happiness or praise or acceptance because we’re not yet perfect or at least a lot better. But you don’t have to be perfect to happy now, as I discussed in my recent post about seeing the wonders of the world now.
  2. Living in the future or the past: If we’re not present in this moment, our egos are given free reign to start a whisper campaign against ourselves that becomes so habitual that we no longer notice how we speak to ourselves mentally. And of course comparing our actions now to a past we can see better with perfect hindsight or dream of future in which we can act perfectly is bound to lead us to conclude that we’re just screwing up by the numbers.
  3. Family and Teachers: We’ve been raised and taught by people who haven’t been kind to themselves because they aren’t very present or aware of their own ego’s internal whisper campaign. Have you noticed how people who are really judgmental and critical of other people’s actions and behaviors are often even harsher to themselves in their own heads? They are as critical of themselves as they are of others. So we learn that we’re not good enough because we’ve been taught be people who think the same things about themselves.
  4. Off the Spiritual Path:  Dropping criticism of ourselves and other and beginning to rest in compassion and forgiveness for ourselves [and others] is something that we must arrive at for ourselves. This is kind of the point of our own spiritual evolution.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can accept and be kinder to ourselves through forgiveness and compassion, no matter what. The following are some steps you can take to begin to first notice how unkind we are to ourselves and then to turn the judgement into compassion:

  1. Meditate: You probably guessed this one was coming from my previous blogs, no? Meditate so that you can begin to notice your recursive thought and how few new or unique thoughts you actually have. This will help you become aware of your thoughts as you have them so that they become less unconscious and more known to you as they fly across your mental screen. Here are some previous blogs on how to meditate.
  2. Witness: Notice how mean, unacceptable, shaming, judgement or unkind we are to and of ourselves. After first, just be happy to notice them. It’s a huge step to just see that. And please don’t judge yourself harshly for judging yourself harshly! Be a witness to your own habits and rest in the comfort of knowing that you’re on the path to mending this.
  3. How do you treated beloved friends: Recognize that this is not how you’d treat a beloved friend or family member.  Once you realize you’d never speak to someone beloved to you so harshly or unlovingly, begin to ask yourself how you can treat yourself more lovingly and with more compassion? [This is an empowering question, not a disempowering question. Empowering questions get your fabulous brain to think of new ways and breakthroughs.]
  4. Loving-Kindness: Do a loving kindness meditation and ask for compassion for yourself and others. Practicing compassion is a wonderful use of your time and will bring huge dividends to you in all aspects of your life.
  5. Focus on all that you HAVE done: Begin to notice rather all the things you accomplished each day and congratulate yourself on a great day. Take five minutes before you leave your desk or before you go to bed and write down three to five things you’ve accomplished that day.  You’ll be begin to notice that you actually have gotten a lot accomplished and that you actually do rock. Don’t worry about all that you didn’t get done. Those tasks will take care of themselves soon enough.
  6. Gratitude: Be grateful for everything in life, including “your problems”.  By being and feeling grateful, you can turn around the negative thoughts and vibrations in your head in an instant.

I’ve personally experienced great gains by doing all of this and I find myself much happier with myself.  It’s been a wonderful evolution to realize that I can just choose to be very nice to myself. And now that I’m nicer to myself, I’m also so much more compassionate to others too.

What has been your experience?  Have you been able to witness your thoughts and to change them?

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Meditating App -Great Way to Track Progress

Written by Kate • October 13, 2011 •
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Tibetan Singing Bowl

Tibetan Singing Bowl

I’ve been using an app from Spotlight Six Programs called Insight Timer. I think it’s helped me tremendously with my meditation practice.

There are several features I really like using. They are the following, in no particular order:

1. Tracking Meditation Time: The app provides a timer to track how long you’re going to meditate. The app has several different sounds, like Tibetan Singing Bowls, to choose from, all of which are incredibly soothing. It also allows for a delay, for however long you choose, to get yourself settled before the “real” meditation timer kicks in. It also provides for the timer to sound at intervals you select, in case you’re trying to stretch yourself in your meditation practice. The intervals give you subtle reassurance about how much time is left in your practice.

2. Tracking Meditation “Stats”: It also tracks your personal stats, as in when was the last time you meditated, how long you meditated for, and on what days of the week you meditate the most. In this way, I can track if I’ve been meditating for more or less time in the past week, month, etc.  It also gives badges out for every 100 days that you’ve meditated. And it tracks how many days you’ve meditated consecutively. This may not be the most Zen of features but I really like that it keeps me honest about my actual meditation practice.

3. A sense of community: I really love this feature of the app. Whenever I launch the app, it provides me with the number of people who are meditating right now around the world [who are, of course, sharing the app and also logged on]. In the morning, it can be as many as 78 or more people. I love to see that there are those who are logged in from all over the US, Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, Australia, the UK, etc.  It shows how many minutes each person has set to meditate for that session and how many minutes are left. It’s amazing to feel so connected to so many people in that moment,  knowing that we’re all sharing the same meditation practice in the same moment, around the world.

Have you tried this app? If so, what do you think of it? Or do you have your own favorite app you like to use?


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Meditating with Delight

Written by Kate • August 17, 2011 •

My view one morning this summer visiting a lake

As anyone who’s tried to meditate knows, meditating can be quite difficult at times. I know it’s taken me a good long year or more to finally realize there is no “right” way to meditate.  When I first began, I actually had the hardest time just setting aside the time. I resisted even the thought of meditating.  And then after a month or more, I would be able to sit for just 5 minutes until I had to lunge up off the cushion. And then I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to meditate for a few days. But gradually it took. First 5 minutes,  then 8, then 10, then 13, then 15, then 19 and so on. Now, I feel edgy and unsettled if I don’t start my day with just a 10 minute meditation [which seems really short to me now!]

Even so, some days my monkey mind is an entity that won’t be tamed. Some days I’ve gone on a long trail of unconscious thinking and it’s seems like I’ve been gone thinking for most of my session before I’ve caught myself. Some days 15 minutes feels like an eternity. But then I return to the moment, to my intentions, and the remaining 10 minutes seem to speed by.

I follow my breathe some times. I say a mantra other times. Still other times, I try to engage my third eye and “experience divinity”.  They all work sometimes and sometimes they don’t. And many days, the 25 or so minutes that I meditate seem like some of the best of my life.

I also have found that adding 15 minutes of stillness to my day adds a great deal to my meditation practice. 15 minutes of stillness is not 15 minutes of meditating, figuring out what’s next, what I forgot to do, or really doing anything. Instead, I take a few minutes in the early afternoon and enjoy 15 minutes in my sunroom, looking out on the hills that surround my house. I don’t meditate. I don’t try to do anything.  At first, in those 15 minutes of not doing anything, I would fall asleep. But now I just sit and allow my mind to be quiet. Sometimes it takes off but now my mind seems to know this is our quiet time to just be.

Tonight, I did another round of meditation just because it felt like the right thing to do. And it was magical and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have heeded the call. It was 15 minutes of pure delight, that welled in my belly and rose up through my whole body. I found myself laughing with the delight and savored every moment. It was the easiest meditation session I’ve had in ages. I didn’t want it to end.

I went into this meditation with the intention to be open to God, to be guided, and to just trust how things unfold. And I was able to spend the next 15 minutes meditating in pure delight.

If you’d like to try it, don’t stress out about the length of time. 5 minutes is a wonderful start!  Take some time to set your intention about what you’d like your session to help you with. Then set your timer and let whatever happens unfold. It may not be magical every time, but the delight that awaits you- it’s worth your time and energy!

What are some of your best meditation techniques? Anything you’d recommend?

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Extraordinary Chakra Meditation CD by Syl Carson of Bodhi Yoga

Written by Kate • June 29, 2011 •
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I was recently introduced to Syl Carson through Carol Tuttle‘s Chakra Resonance home study program.  During the session in which the focus was on the throat chakra, Syl brought in her [then] new Chakra Resonance Theta Healing CD.  She played part of the five-minute seed sound/Chakra Resonance for the throat chakra.  The hair stood on the back of my neck, it was so gorgeous. It was haunting, it was lyrical and I had to have it.

I thought about it and I hesitated because it actually is a CD and it appears there is no downloadable version of it any where. After some additional thought, I realized I can just buy the CD, like it’s 1999!

It arrived over the weekend and I’ve played the Throat Chakra and her Om Nama Shiva 2 again and again. It is just so lovely and so penetrating. The others are quite good as well but these are magnificent.

I wish it was on iTunes so you could sample it but it looks like Syl is still a bit old school. If you don’t mind taking a chance and spending $15, I highly recommend it!



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Are you experiencing compassion?

Written by Kate • June 28, 2011 •

Image thanks to helovesus

In my post last week in working on the Root Chakra, I suggested that you set aside 10 minutes a day for some meditation designed to center and ground you. Beginning at the lowest chakra is the best place to start when you’re working with your chakras and most of them are imbalanced.

Loving-Kindness Meditations

I suggested a few minutes of loving-kindness meditations as follows:

After your 5 minutes of imperfect meditation, say the following loving-kindness affirmations to yourself -three times. This should take less than 1 minute. But put your heart into it and really bless yourself with these loving affirmations.

  • May I be well.
  • May I know peace.
  • May I be free from suffering

Here is another way to practice loving-kindness meditations.

Implementing These Affirmations

I implemented my daily meditation practice several months ago and I regularly meditate at least 30 minutes each day. It was a slowish evolution to go from 5 minutes to 30 minutes of meditation in one sitting and I really resisted meditation in the beginning. Now it seems my day is scattered and incomplete if I don’t get my meditation in first thing.

Sunday, I dedicated my meditation practice to these loving-kindness meditations. I repeated the above affirmations over and over again. However, with some sort of internal inspiration, I added in “May I know compassion”.

Instant Suffusion of Love

After I said this affirmation, I felt an incredible suffusion of love and peace encompass my body. It was simple yet transformative. I felt, at the same time, lit up inside and at a deep peace. For a time, without my volition, the compassion was directed at myself and it was a beautiful moment. And then it moved on to those in my life and I felt such profound love for them that any residual judgments or criticism I may have been harboring seemed to just melt away. And that was an even more beautiful moment.

And from there, my compassion moved to the world – to the Middle East, the subcontinent of Asia, China, and beyond. It ended full circle to come back and rest with me. What grace!

It was so moving that I practiced the same affirmations again Monday during meditation.  I realized that I sometimes feel sorry for myself and I often feel compassion for others but I rarely feel compassion for myself. It created a sense of forgiveness, of love, of space so that I can accomplish more in this life without the harsh judgement of the internal critic.

It’s at the heart of Byron Katie‘s work and by practicing it, I see its power.

How Often Do You Feel Compassion for Yourself?

How often do you feel compassion for yourself? Or do you hear your internal critic so often that you’ve identified with all that you can’t do well or the mistakes you’ve made in the past?

Given yourself the compassion that you would give your friend. Accord yourself the same level of love and acceptance that you give to everyone else.

Try It Yourself

Take a few minutes to get into a calm place. This can be a few minutes of meditation or a series of breathing in for a count of 4, holding it for a count of 4, and breathing out for a count of 8. Do the breathing cycle three times. Then do the loving kindness meditation as follows and put your heart into it and really bless yourself with these loving affirmations.

  • May I be well.
  • May I know peace.
  • May I know compassion.

You may well find that the more compassion you feel for yourself will magnify the compassion you feel towards others. It’s a virtuous cycle – the very opposite of a downward cycle.

Let me know how it goes. Did something shift in you? Can you feel the light and the love?

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