7 Simple benefits of Meditation

I have tried different types of meditations i.e. focusing on breath, focusing on a point of light, five senses meditation and the one that I have been able to stick to on a daily basis is a vedic mantra based meditation taught by Deborah  King. From what I know even Transcendental Meditation uses the same format.

The following are benefits I have experienced from practicing this meditation everyday for 5 years now:

  1. I feel lighter- I lost some unwanted weight which I had gained from not eating right over a period of 2 years and it didn’t help that I had to undergo a heavy dose of antibiotics at that same time. I also feel lighter mentally and emotionally.
  2. A healthy sense of detachment – issues that would bother me earlier, now tend to slip away quicker from my mind. I don’t hold on to someone else’s opinion of me or what I should be doing with my life or not investing time and energy in things that do not align with me. I stay away from talking to people who I know bring nothing but drama in my life.
  3. A heightened sense of purpose – the best word I have for this is a sense of alignment to your true core. Another word for this is being in alignment with your Dharma.
  4. Creating a healthier lifestyle- Meditation is sort of a reset button which over a period of time provides you with an upgraded version of yourself. Up until last 3 years or so, I wouldn’t mind having beer/wine when I met friends and sometimes I would go and buy it for myself but in the last 2-3 years I have no desire for it. I may have had 1-2 glasses of wine on New Year’s and that’s just it. It doesn’t feel like control, there’s just no desire. Your body also tunes into healthy foods and eating/exercising. I am no longer attracted to Starbucks Coffee and Lattes which I was almost addicted to!
  5. Sharper intuition- This is one of my favorite things to have developed. It’s a deep sense of knowing. It’s instant. It’s knowing things like when a cop is around you but you cannot see him/her or just taking a turn which helped you avoid an accident. It’s also a sharper sense of knowing when one of your friends needs to talk to you.  This sense also helps you attract the  authors/workshops etc..things that are in alignment with you, including people. And yes, I have also found that the relationships that fade away are also for good.
  6. Looking younger- with all the research that is now available on the physiological benefits of meditation, looking younger is a nice side effectreflective-bench-lake .You look younger because meditation helps your body de-stress much deeper at a cellular level.
  7. Maintaining calm in the middle of a storm- Over the years some people asked me how I could keep calm and see myself through the obstacles that I had, when I look back, in addition to the people who were supporting me, meditation was my true backbone that kept me still. It has kept me from entering a state of clinical depression/anxiety. Also, for those who are curious, check out research on how Meditation works on the HPA axis in our body. I read about it in Bruce Lipton’s book titled ‘Biology of Belief’.

In today’s high tech stressful world where we co-exist with thousands of invisible electromagnetic fields, meditation helps fortify our own energy field! It’s the recharge we need which is easily available to us.

7 Simple ways for healthy coping

Whenever you feel stressed out/off center, it is always better to address it quickly rather than to prolong it. Train yourself to be more in tune with yourself  to recognize any signs of stress. Why accumulate anything that doesn’t help. Right? Am sure we all know these ways of coping but a reminder never hurts and there’s some value in seeing it all in one place.

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Find your way out of stress. (Winter storm Niko-Feb 2017)

  1. Exercise – Any form of exercise for 20-30 minutes will help you kick in those endorphins!
  2. Spend time in nature – Walk in the woods or sit by a lake/ocean. Use an app for sounds of nature ONLY IF there is no option for you to go outside.
  3. Talk to a friend who won’t judge you- I am sure you have at least one such person in your life. Please remember that texting cannot be the same as picking up the phone and talking or meeting someone in person. You can also talk to your furry friend.
  4. Prayer/Meditation- Connect with something higher than you and release your worries
  5. Watching videos which make you laugh/smile. Ex: Cute pups/kittens/comedy shows
  6. Art- Don’t worry if you aren’t a painter, just splash some colors or dance freestyle connecting to the music
  7. Journaling- This can be a notebook or even a video/audio journal. Two things I did as a kid and at times even now – Speaking to the trees around me and having a dialogue with myself as if someone was interviewing me.It works for me!

Find out what works for you and USE IT!

 

Stress, stress..go away.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a close friend. She and I were first roommates and then turned into friends sharing the same wavelength on philosophy, humor etc. Life took us to different cities and we both became occupied with our lives. In the past few months her work and studies demanded a lot of her time which led to us not being in touch daily. Now that you have the background, let me get to the core.

She mentioned that there was a lot of stress at work, school and personal life too (sounds familiar?). For someone who believed in planning everything in life and being calculative about each decision, she gave into the stress and booked herself an ‘escape’ trip all by herself to a city she had never been to. She told me that she had fun for two full days where she cared for nothing and splurged with abandon. While she was giving me descriptive details of all the fun she had, it also took me back to times where I had indulged in some kind of escape. It struck me that often times when we feel like breaking free and escaping from any stress we tend to choose activities like drinking, smoking, drugs, casual sex, and extreme sports. Any mood altering activity that lets us numb ourselves and the vehicle we choose is our body.

I wondered why is that in an attempt to numb the pain and to create momentary pleasure, we end up abusing our bodies. While we are engaging in these band-aid/feel good solutions, I don’t think it even occurs to us that we could perhaps be abusing ourselves.

The other question being, does this approach really work? Perhaps for a short time (if that’s the goal) and then it resurfaces the next time our emotional immunity is at a low. If only we could learn to be kinder towards ourselves, then we would think of learning different ways of coping with stress. Having said this, I know that we are not meant to be perfect and can take a fall every once in a while.

Some of my favorite coping mechanisms include talking to a friend, writing, exercising and being in nature. What are yours?

My best to you,

Pooja

What! I need to cater to my Body???I thought it was meant to serve me!!!

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What! I need to cater to my Body???I thought it was meant to serve me!!!

A few days ago I had written to a dear friend of mine that “ Don’t expect your body and mind to always serve you while you keep ignoring their needs.” In our fast paced and performance driven society it is very important to know our own limits. Commercial organizations may very well organize a one day workshop on stress management for their employees but seldom does one provide an environment/culture conducive for an employee to take a few minutes away from their work to de-st

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Unwind in nature

ress. To top that, we have demands in our personal lives from our children, parents, partners and friends.

There are also several schools of thought out there that teach us to stretch ourselves, push beyond the comfort zone and work on maximum performance every day. Extending ourselves into several different directions is required for our growth and we definitely need to stretch beyond our so- called comfort zone to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The only thing we are not taught is to pay heed to our bodies when it is screaming through pains, inflammations, diarrhea, persistent allergies and constant fatigue. Somehow we have not learned that there might be reason that our bodies appear limited. Every person has his or her own ideal working hours in which he/she can be productive and effective and then there are those hours that just count as ‘office hours’.

It is important to know that you are at the center of every activity you choose to engage in and the state of your health will reflect in every activity you take up.

There are some of us who are extremely capable of ignoring symptoms and putting up a ‘everything is fine’ façade. It is an inevitable vice in today’s society. Unfortunately or fortunately the body knows to scream louder and will draw your attention in several ways. Taking responsibility for yourself begins with taking responsibility for your body and scheduling break times for yourself.Allow yourself a few minutes of ‘me time’ and learn the art of saying ‘No’. Do your best to eat healthy.

Understand that it is required of us to  recognize our limitations and push ourselves within our boundaries; not those created by someone else for themselves. Our body is always talking to us, we fail to listen.

Ever wondered why Seers and other wise individuals ask us to treat our bodies like a temple? It is supposed to be the vehicle through which we perform our duties and enjoy a humanly existence. A vehicle that needs routine maintenance just as your car does!

Relaxation using Five Senses and Elements

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Relax

One of the best ways to reconnect with yourself is to bring your attention back to your body. This will help you ground and center yourself. Lets explore the different ways we can relax using our five senses:

1) Touch- Feel better when you are hugged or someone moves their fingers through your hair? Skin is the longest organ in our body J no wonder then that as human beings we respond best to touch. Get a massage, pedicure, hugs, playful touch with an intimate partner. You can also try and identify fabrics that feel good to you and try to wear them or incorporate them in your linens. Examples of some fabrics could be velvet, satin, silk etc. You can also use stones/ crystals and rub it between your palms. Use of hot and cold sensations is also a good idea.

2) Sight- Soothe your vision with colors and images. There is a lot of research done around color therapy. My favorite colors to calm me are shades of purple and green. Reds/yellows and oranges are ‘activators’ or ‘energizers’. Shades of blue, white can also be calming. Neutrals when used with other colors can create a desired ‘uplifting’ or ‘cooling’ effect. Fill your phone/ laptop and surround yourself with images that bring your joy and happiness. These could be images of times that were happy for you or places/ scenery that creates that same effect for you. Personally I love images of waterfalls/beaches/meadows.

3) Sound- We are all familiar with what kind of music helps us unwind. For some it could be instrumental, nature based, trance-techno, world music or old classical melodies. Thanks to technology, we have apps that bring us our favorite instruments to our phones. I love using Pandora radio and have Jazz, Buddhist Monks music, ancient hymns/ chants,  bollywood music, enya etc on there. A lot of these are freeJ Sounds of nature seem to work for a lot of people. Singing along with a song or just humming a sound that comes naturally to you. Don’t worry about how it sounds to someone else, its for YOU!

4) Taste- Comfort foods! This is probably what comes to mind first and there is nothing wrong with using them in moderation. When I think of taste and what could be soothing/comforting I think of a dark chocolate square, spiced tea or green tea, hot chocolate, mashed potatoes etc. Eating fries/chips/pork chops etc can be added here however if you find yourself needing a lot of this, you may need to seek consultation with a health service provider. There is a lot of correlation between how we feel and what/how much we eat. Be mindful.

5) Smell- I love the smell of coffee brewing, fresh cilantro, first rain on earth.. I hate the smells of strong deodorants and perfumes. That’s just me. We associate a lot of memories through our sense of smell. Aromas from food can also be a part of this. I also know people who love the smell of clean linen and get a sense of ‘everything is ok’ by just smelling it. Oils of lavender, vanilla, jasmine etc are popular. Aromatherapy oils are easily available and not very expensive either. Apart from oils you can also use incense sticks and get the same desired effect. Using coconut jasmine oil for a hair massage will be two benefits in one activity.

The five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether can be incorporated with the five senses to create a relaxing experience. For example – sitting by a fireplace utilizes soothing via sight and touch due to warm feeling. Hugging a tree may provide soothing via touch, sight and smell of the earth.

Get creative, experiment and find ways to soothe yourself. These can also be used to distract yourself when needed. I cannot help but mention sex in here too. Sex seems to encompass all the five senses and definitely helps connect with the body. The key lies in knowing your intentionality and your sense of balance.

This is not an exhaustive list and will need work at your end to identify your tools for relaxation. While you are experimenting, you can also maintain a journal and record your experiences.

Have fun:)

The Sleep Rule:)

While I was getting accustomed to my new smartphone a few days ago, my phone began to prompt me with ‘smart actions’ (and now some smart people will know which phone I use..haha). I was happy that I didn’t have to do all the work by myself to save my phone’s battery and data usage! Within a few days my phone prompted me to create a ‘sleep rule’ which will help , put my phone on silent, conserve the battery, restrict the background synchronization and dim the brightness of the screen during certain hours of the night. I was thrilled by the intelligence by phone demonstrated and I activated the sleep rule. The best part of it was that my phone allows me to set exceptions to the rule and also triggers to the activating the rule. If you have read my other blogs, you will know that I love metaphors and here was a great one that I have not stopped mentioning to people I meet. One of the triggers was the ‘time’ of the night which activated the rule everyday at 10pm for me.

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Enchanting Full Moon in Boston

Hmmm…now comes linking this to our everyday life. I find it amazing and amusing that we can think about ‘recharging’ and ‘conserving’ our phone’s batter but not ours! We have been living under some illusion that we can go by everyday life while taking on different stresses without making an effort to recharge in some way. Making an extra effort to meditate, take a walk, and go for a swim is all too much to ask for on a daily basis (yes, we are good at making excuses). Nonetheless, we also want to function without sleep or the most minimal possible. For some of us, our upbringing has been one where ‘sleep’ means ‘inactivity’ and that translates to being unproductive which is anything but acceptable. We have always got to be ‘doing’ something or appear to be doing something productive. My sense of wonder arises when we let so called ‘machines’ to rest and not ourselves who still are not ‘machines’ or so is my hope. Having lived in a city that never sleeps (Mumbai) and worked in management positions where you always expected to be available, I do know what damage we do to ourselves and then wonder ‘why do I feel like a money earning machine’. Now that I have built up some frustration, lets talk about a simple solution we can begin incorporate on a daily basis.

Design your own Sleep rule. Find out what is the average amount of sleep you need (not minimum) to feel refreshed. Plan to call a ‘ceasefire’ or a gradual slowing down of activities that stimulate you at least an hour prior to your preferred sleep time. You can call this your ‘sleep cushion’. Intend on getting off your laptop, tv, cell phone, stimulating conversation including fights with your partner/parent etc. Another rule that goes along with this is to not have any machines that emit electromagnetic radiations in your bedroom (you know what these areJ). Bedroom needs to be used to sleep/relaxation/sex. Use music that soothes you during that hour along with fragrances or lights that bring your ‘anxiety’ down. You can also choose to not take a fight into the bed!

Examples of some relaxing fragrances include Jasmine, Lavender, Chamomile.

Examples of soothing music include sounds of water, smooth jazz etc. A lot of music that is played in Spas works too. As for lighting, all I would say it needs to be your version of ‘going to bed’. I know some people feel ‘anxious’ with large white fluorescent lights and calmer with yellow lights. Your bedding could be a texture that is smooth and using colors that calm you might be helpful.

All of these are just meant to be guidelines and they are more fun when you experiment with themJ