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Consciousness

5 Steps To Bring Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life Starting Now

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In 2007 I travelled to Phoenicia, NY to attend a mindfulness workshop with professor and author Jon Kabat-Zinn. For almost ten years now, I have continued to “struggle” with the practice of it.  Mindfulness is a difficult word to wrap your head around, and I catch myself bouncing back and forth between being mindful and mindless many times throughout the day

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As Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it, “mindfulness is not about sitting in lotus position, but more of living your life like it actually mattered.” One of the popular ways to become more mindful is to develop a meditation practice (lotus position not required), which can help wake us up from the unconscious, robotic, task completing automation many of us feel we are stuck in.

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In Tibet, the word for meditation is “familiarization.” It means to cultivate intimacy with yourself.

“Your true nature — your inner nature — is what’s in there — god, love, peace, truth, kindness — there are questions of who we really are!  But we think we is me. Each of us just wanting to sit in our own bubble.”  

– Krishna Das

My own mindfulness often loses out to mindlessness when I’m driving. I find myself driving in my own little bubble, while traffic, other drivers, and my impatience lead me to feel as if I may just “pop.” It is difficult for me to “cultivate” any sort of intimacy with myself while driving.

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In order to get my mind off the actual task of just driving, I have been listening to a series of lectures by musician and writer Krishna Das (though I realize this isn’t really being mindful). I immersed myself in his numerous lectures on Spotify about meditation, mindfulness, and chanting in hopes of better understanding the concepts of mindfulness for my busy mind as, almost 10 years after starting the practice, mindlessness still often had the upper hand over mindfulness.

“If something upsets me during the day, or if the day isn’t going the way I imagined it would go, I just need to close my eyes and breathe. I realize that there are so many more beautiful experiences in life than negative experiences in life if you really just allow yourself to experience them.  When you do that enough times, you actually just start learning how to BE love, and that begins to permeate within yourself.”

– Paul Chek

5 Steps to Cultivating Mindfulness

(Inspired by the lectures of Krishna Das)

  1. 1_will_powerWillpower

You may not associate willpower with mindfulness and meditation. It sounds aggressive, doesn’t it?  What happened to flowing with life?

Krishna Das believes that willpower “in its simplest form is doing what you really want to do. To do that… you have to DO. Willpower lets you to get involved in things to go after those things you really want in your life.”

As renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says, “the most important part of the meditation practice is sitting down to do it.” That is why you need to have some level of willpower. You need to actually do it.  You need to actually practice it. If you don’t have the willpower inside of you to practice it, then you are just someone talking about it, and talking about something isn’t cultivating it.

2 - Planting the Seeds

  1. Plant the Seeds   

You could read all the books about mindfulness and meditation you want (or listen to all the lectures on Spotify or Audible about it), but all of that just keeps the mind busy. You need to train it, and you do so by planting the seeds.

Planting seeds can take only five minutes a day. Turn your phone off, put it in another room, and sit (or lie) for 5 minutes every day. There is nothing else to do. Just that. Just witness your breath. When you find yourself thinking about other stuff, just take it back to your breath. This may happen 5, or 500, or 5,000 times in the 5 minutes, and that is fine.

Krishna Das believes that “by developing a personal practice, sincerely, you begin to plant seeds.” Over time, those seeds begin to grow. In the Bhagavad Gita it says, “Even the slightest bit of effort in the opposite direction than everything else is going — which is usually out through our senses, especially the eyes, and the mind— the slightest bit of effort to turn the attention to within is a really huge thing.”

  1. Practice_The_Process_of_RipeningPractice: The Process of Ripening

Many people stop practicing because they don’t feel anything different. They assume they will see immediate benefits, like they might when making drastic changes to their diet or when beginning an exercise regime. We want satisfaction quickly these days. We like “Likes.” We want it delivered now. We want drone delivery service. For most people, early on, mindfulness doesn’t offer that same instant gratification.

Krishna Das related it to the idea that if you put some fruit in the sun to ripen, you don’t just leave it there and assume it will ripen after 5 minutes. Through practice, our lives ripen. Our aspirations, our desires, the things we long for in the deepest part of our hearts come toward us.

They come to fruition, you could say.

He concludes, “More importantly, things that tripped us up or prevented us from that success go away. You’re shifting the way you live every day. Practice allows for a daily course correction. What becomes important to you begins to shift in you. You begin to make decisions based on that.”

  1. 4_Peace_of_mindPeace of Mind

Krishna Das also writes: “Peace of mind is very important. It’s underrated. We are so busy all the time.  We are so anxious to connect — to take us away and out of our bullsh** and into something more exciting or pleasing. To connect with something. We just don’t know how to be at ease with ourselves. Just be. At ease. With ourselves. Peacefully. I mean, I don’t know about you, but it wasn’t something they taught me growing up.

The way the spiritual path is presented in the West is very much like our society is – very goal oriented. I’m going to be the best meditator or have the best downward dog in the world! If you try to do that you may develop the ego of a meditator.”

  1. 5_well_beingWell-being

So what is the 5th step?  Well… being!

Siddhartha Gautama (before he became known as the Buddha) stopped his much-disciplined meditation and breathing practices because he felt that he wasn’t where he wanted to be. He then supposedly sat under a tree and while he was sitting there a memory came to him when he was a boy.  He was sitting under a tree on a beautiful sunny day and he was watching his father work in a distant field.  His body went into a high state of “being” and, as he was recalling that memory in the present, he was overcome by the same feeling from the past. It was a state of natural well-being. A simple, easy, and relaxed state of contentment.

During one of his lectures, Krishna Das describes this “state” like he was reading it directly from a book. Siddhartha says “this feeling did not arrive from the joining of the senses and this pleasurable object, nor was it the pushing away the object with our senses, and it didn’t come up because of a cause. It arose naturally.”

Try your best not to get caught up in having expectations about “how you are cultivating mindfulness” or “what you may see” or “how you may feel.” All of that is just creating a “busy mind.” Keep planting seeds and see what grows naturally from it.

We often are our worst enemy. We trip ourselves up all the time. For some of us, that happens every day.  We need to take time to look at those issues and consider why they arise. Cultivating mindfulness can help us become more aware of what triggers these thoughts and gain some distance from them.

After the Buddha had that experience under the tree, he grabbed some food and decided to break his fast.  It was at that time that some of his “followers” started to leave him, believing he had lost his mind.

“Love and happiness are not outside of us. It’s who you are and who I am.”

– Krishna Das

Strengthen the willpower.

Plants the seeds.

Practice.

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Consciousness

How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Mental health challenges, depression and even physical illness, are all on the rise. All three are believed by emerging research to be linked to trauma.

Thankfully, nervous system health and trauma are becoming a big part of what people talk about as it seems people are looking to get to the root of these issues more now than ever before.

After coming to my own realization that I was traumatized from experiences I had, I began studying trauma to not only help myself but to see how I could further improve my own media work – which has been, in essence, trauma-informed, since 2009.

What I’ve come to feel is that trauma affects almost all of us in some way, while there is not much data to back that up, I truly believe this to be the case. Learning useful skills to work through that trauma is becoming important in order to take our health into our own hands.

In the video below, I talk a bit about how events going on in the world can make us feel anxious and worried, and how that affects our bodies, minds, and health. I also share a simple yet powerful technique for sensory grounding.

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Consciousness

Why Hugging Is Powerful: Especially When We’re So Isolated

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When’s the last time you had a good hug? Can you even recall a time when one lasted longer than 10 or 15 seconds? Hugging releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, as well as serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are a big part of what makes us feel good and build a sense of community and connection with others.

When we hug our friends or family, or even spend a good few hours with them, we often don’t know what exactly the mechanism is that makes us feel good, but often times it’s touch, eye contact and reading facial expressions.

Throughout COVID, once we got a sense of what it feels like to not have as much touch, see smiles, see our friends or family, we might have gained a greater awareness of how important this really is. Intense isolation, like we’ve all experienced, leads to touch deprivation, and one could argue, has led to collective traumatization throughout the course of this pandemic.

Humans biologically need touch, it’s built right into our physiology. When we are babies, touch is a crucial part of our ability to regulate our nervous systems and feel safe. When we’re very young, our bodies have not yet built the ability to self-regulate (feel safety and comfort), and thus our caregivers play the important role of not only touching to bring regulation and safety, but also using facial expressions to send the message that ‘all is OK.’

Further, humans thrive in a sense of community and connection. When we are too isolated, without a deep and dedicated practice like monk’s might do in a cave in Tibet, we begin to lose the benefits of co-regulation, and in turn our psychology can begin to suffer over time. Humans have built incredible things – together – when in community, and touch plays an important role in that.

It most cultures around the world, hugging is part of daily life. Other cultures might decide to greet one another with cheek kissing instead, but touch is often a common denominator. But it’s true, there are places that may be ‘less touch-y’ and will certainly find other ways to connect.

One thing I can say though, especially during this unprecedented time of isolation, make it a point to hug those close to you when you can. Make it a good one, 15 or 20 seconds! Pay attention to how you feel after.

As mentioned, hugging is not the only way we get a sense of co-regulation and connection. Looking into one another’s eyes, sensing facial movements and reactions are also important. We have millions of mirror neurons in our brains that are constantly reading what is happening in another person, and sending information to areas of our brain, subconsciously, that tell us how a person might be feeling, for example. When we witness someone taking an action, neurons in our brains respond to that action in the same way as if we were taking that action ourselves – hence ‘mirror neurons.’

This might mean that when we watch a nervous moment in sports for example, although we are not playing, we might take actions like covering our mouths or holding our chest, feeling the nerves the players are likely feeling. As you can imagine, this is not a perfect science. Sometimes we are nervous but the player is cool as a cucumber, but generally, mirror neurons tend to help us connect to what others are feeling or doing, giving us a sense of empathy.

It goes even deeper. Research from Institute of HeartMath has shown that the human heart emits a measurable electromagnetic field that contains information other people can pick up on and decode in their brains. Regardless of how ‘new-agey’ this might sound to some minds, it’s a reality of our physical bodies.

Just think, have you ever walked into a room with multiple people in it and noticed the energy of it? Perhaps you noticed right away it was very tense or very jovial. This sense likely comes from having an awareness of how our electro magnetic field is interacting with the collective field of the room.

What you’re feeling is how someone’s general emotional state is affecting the field they emit. The more we feel tension, anxiety, or depression for example, the more we also put that signal out into our communities. Now, this isn’t a call to get stressed out about how we’re affecting others, this is simply a realization of what’s going on.

In our current chaotic world, it’s quite common to feel anxious or uncertain about what’s happening, and acknowledging that is OK is perfectly fine. The next question becomes: how can I manage my emotional state and create a a felt sense of calm? (Which of course will change the field you emit as well.)

Managing Our Emotions & Energy

One very simple option is written at the top of the article we post here on The Pulse. It’s a simple technique I adapted from my training at HeartMath, but I added in my own flair learned from my trauma specialist training as I felt a greater focus on interception, our awareness of sensations in our body, was important to be in the mix.

As go move through your day, stop, take a breath and release the tension in your body starting from your head all the way down to your feet. Take a few moments on each muscle group if you like. Place attention on your physical heart and breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease.

I wrote a much more in-depth article here, where I share more detailed steps and how this helps improve our overall energy levels as well.

Our bodies are filled with tools that sense anything from obvious to ‘unseen’ signals coming from others and our environment. These tools suggest we are beings of connection, and we thrive when we get enough of it. They also suggest it’s important to pay attention to more than just the material aspect of our world, as there is much that needs to be ‘taken care of’ in the ‘unseen.’ By that, I mean, as we manage our emotions and regulate our nervous system’s, our felt electro magnetic field communicates a different message to others out there.

What message are you sending?

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Rationality & Seriousness

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on July 23rd/24th. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 23rd throughout most of the world and on the night of the 24th in the time zones East of Japan. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 9th/10th.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

Leo season began 36 hours before the Full Moon and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, social issues, groups, teams, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. This energy is unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, scientific, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Quincunx Venus, Conjunct Saturn, & Square Uranus

This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Venus which has recently entered Virgo. Our feelings, emotions, needs, or domestic lives may be at odds with friendships, values, finances, pleasure, or matters of love. It can be hard to integrate these areas but being flexible and making adjustments can be the solution.

The Full Moon is moving towards Saturn in the same sign. This can reflect a serious energy and we may be faced with limitations, restrictions, delays, or obstacles. We or others may be emotionally distant, pessimistic, or reserved. However, this can be good for some sort of effort that requires discipline, structure, and orderliness. After the Full Moon period, some of these energies will be strong again on August 1st/2nd.

Following the conjunction with Saturn, the Moon forms a square aspect with the disruptive Uranus in Taurus. This is activating the square between Saturn and Uranus that is happening throughout the year which I’ve covered in previous articles. Themes around ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Jupiter Going Back Into Aquarius

Jupiter entered its home sign of Pisces in mid-May for a short stint as it is returning back into Aquarius on July 28th/29th. The planet of expansion, freedom, beliefs, perspective, education, is unrestrained in Pisces and gets to express itself more ideally in this sign. We have seen examples of this as many jurisdictions loosened up covid related restrictions during this period.

With it going back into Aquarius, a traditionally Saturn ruled sign with Saturn currently present there, Jupiter will be more inhibited until late December when it re-enters Pisces again. It’s possible that during this 5 month period we will likely experience more restrictive measures return or new ones implemented. We may also experience this in different ways in our personal lives such as not being able to expand the way we’d like to. However, this might not be noticeable immediately.

The combination of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius (which began last December) can be good for building towards something or planting seeds pertaining to some sort of technological integration, social networking, collective or social pursuits, activism, new scientific approaches to things, and innovation.

Venus Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Jupiter

Venus will be in a square with the Lunar Nodes which will be strong from July 28th-30th. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to friendships, love, values, or financial matters. We may need to complete something and address what is holding us back  to help us move on and take a step forward in an evolutionary way when it comes to these areas of life. Venus is in Virgo so therefore discernment, details, practicality, health, organization, or efficiency may be key.

At this time Mars will be switching from Leo to Virgo while in an opposition to Jupiter. We may begin to feel the need to apply ourselves in a way that is more productive, sustainable, healthy, and clean. However, we can overextend ourselves and take on more than we can handle. This can also play out as conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, or judgements.

Mercury’s Superior Conjunction

Mercury will be in its Superior Conjunction on August 1st/2nd which is in an important phase of Mercury’s cycle with the Sun. From this point onward we may have a better perception around certain things that were seeded or occurred in the previous two months which may also help our momentum forward. .

Circumstances and developments that happen at this time can help us gain more clarity or facilitate necessary realizations to help us make the right decisions and appropriate mental focus. During this conjunction, the Sun and Mercury will be opposing Saturn which can play out as hindrances or the need to be pragmatic as part of this process.

Things To Consider

How can you balance or integrate your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What areas of your life do you need to be more orderly, structured, disciplined, or take more seriously? Is there anything that you need to separate from? How can you apply yourself in a more noble way?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 2:37am Universal Time on July 24th, night of the 23rd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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