During my 10-day Vipassana silent meditation experience, we were provided with an environment and structure that forced our focus into the present moment, more specifically into each of our own inner present moments. We were placed into silence for 10 days; no talking, no writing, no phones, no computers, no reading and no eye contact. Clothes were to be loose fitting and comfortable. Men and women were provided separate housing and only came together in the dharma hall for meditation. Vegetarian meals were provided in the morning and at midday at their specified time. Dinner consisted of fruit and tea only.
Seated silent meditations were held throughout each of the 10 days, often sitting for an hour or more each time, adding up to about 8 hours or so of meditation each day. Dharma talk was held at night and opportunities to speak with the spiritual teachers were by appointment only.
I learned so much from that experience, so much so that I go for a little “tune up” and maintenance each year. However these “tune ups” consist of their shortened 3-day vipassana session (if you want to attend, it is a requirement that you first attend the 10-day session before being invited to attend a shortened 3-day session).
This type of extreme silent submersion provided a plethora of leaning experiences. I got to observe the many inner workings of my mind. The constant stream of thought ranging from neurotic moments turning into boredom turning into “aha” moments melting into tears turning into fear moving into pain with a constant return to breath and energetic observations. And I sure got to notice all of my judgments and assessments all abound! The thought train chugged along without much of a stop but I agreed to hang on for the ride and it was more than worth it.
The technique of vipassana meditation can only truly be taught and experienced through the 10 days of participation in the program. However, what I can share about is the keys that were unlocked for me about this thing we call a “human experience.” The more I sat and came back to the silent space of simply observing the breath, body and my energetic being, one constant became extremely clear. The mind likes to solve problems, imaginary ones, real ones and everything in between. It will sit inside a problem and navigate through true and unreal obstacles over and over until it seems to rest upon the solution or it gets bored of the topic. The mind likes to be active even when the present moment is offering a simple opportunity to sit still and observe the breath. I found myself wondering, “why is it so hard just to accept the gift of stillness and breath?! “
As human beings, there seems to be this struggle to deepen into the gratitude of all the miracles the present moment offers to us. We often find ourselves slightly discontent or maybe even grossly discontent with the happenings of the moment just as they are. We want more or we want less, while we rarely seem to want what is. Thus we are catapulted into a state of oscillation: bouncing between craving states and aversion states of being. Some Thoughts that may represent this for you: “I wish”, “I want”, “make this go away”, “if this could just be like this, then…”
If you find yourself living in the United States at this time, you may notice an increased challenge with truth and pain arising in your life. It's important to remember the energy of the world is at a pressure point. People are being pushed to seek the truth, to discern where they stand, to rise up into an authentic way of being. The energy around us is infused with this extra layer of judgment and discernment. There are a lot of things happening outside of us that we are truly upset, hurt and appalled by. Be aware that this will ignite the cravings and aversions flame in the mind and in your being. It will naturally increase these aspects of being as we are collectively experiencing a need to resist and change that which is outside of ourselves. When this extreme need to change that which surrounds us, it naturally ignites the judgments and changes we have inside of ourselves.
If you find yourself in this space, Questions to Ask: What are you yearning for in this moment? What are you trying to avoid in this moment? What can you appreciate in this moment? Where do you need to take action? Where do you need to let go and simply breathe?
Answering these questions and accepting what arises for you will support your process to move through with your "higher self" on your side. Accepting does not mean you agree with what is occurring, it means you are willing to be with what arises instead of trying to push it down or ignore the truth of what the moment has brought forth. It’s being willing to be sober for all that arises and allowing it to move through and pass on it’s own time. This may make for some discomfort at first, however the more you can be present for what is and honor the truth, the more you will be able to tap back into the gratitude that each moment provides. Sometimes the moment provides us with joy, sometimes sadness, anger, or anxiety. Each of these will arise and pass. It is certain. The only constant is change and being willing to be with what is, allows for truth to become more important than getting caught in the constant cycle of avoiding or craving for something different.
Accepting what arises can invite in a sensation of true thankfulness for each emotion, whether it’s a positive or negative one, for each truthful moment invites in an opportunity to be present to all that life has to offer.
Let’s break this down a bit further. Simply consider how gratitude can change how we may experience the not so pleasant moments that arise. Looking at sadness, we can turn to gratitude and say thank you sadness for reminding me of my beautiful heart and how it naturally connects with others and for it’s ability to love. For without love and connection, I would feel no sadness.
In looking at anger, we can bring in gratitude to remind us of the passion that resides in our heart. We can say thank you for the reminder that “I care a lot” about what happens to me, the world and others around me”. Without passion, I would feel no anger.
Take a moment and ask gratitude to show you the other side of the struggle you are facing in this moment. Ask how it can illuminate the positivity in your beautiful heart and soul.
That’s all for today folks! Thanks for taking the time to read and I look forward to writing for you again soon.
If you are interested in Vipassana meditation, here is a lovely resource to get you there: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index
It’s donation based so you pay what you can. You do need to sign up early so check it out now even if you are just considering it J.
If you are interested in meditation and mindfulness but you are not ready for such a big commitment, please attend one of my monthly events or work with me 1:1.
I can be reached at email@example.com
We are forever changing whether we like it or not, whether we invite it in or we push it away, change is forever at the forefront of our lives. When we are able to work with this fact of life, managing and enjoying each life’s moment becomes laden with a deeper sense of ease.
Some changes happen to us naturally, such as aging, for example. You know you are getting older with each breath, don’t stress, just enjoy the wisdom and seniority that comes with age ;-).
Now there are some changes we are trying to make. Maybe you have a New Years resolution or a heartfelt intention you set when the clock struck 2017! How is that going for you? It’s been about a month for most of you, so it’s good to get that reality check. Is the change happening? Slowly but surely? Quickly but it’s fizzling out?
You may have found yourself jumping head first into the change; you pulled out all the stops; invited your friends to join in, purchased the membership, shouted your goal from the rooftops and put it in a vision board. How is it working for you now? You may have found it’s working and your new habits are flowing into your life, good for you! Keep it up.
However, you may have found that you started off well but now your friends are dropping out, your membership is fast approaching the next months re-up and your vision board has not been given its daily viewing. Sound familiar? If you find yourself in this situation, no worries, change is inevitable, it just depends on which way you are determined to lean into it and steer it.
Remember that only YOU can make the change and that becoming dependent on your friends or others to show up for the task will make your success dependent on them, not you. So if they don’t show, neither do you. Of course, we need support with change and having friends join in can be very helpful. However it we rely only on our “extrinsic” motivators: those motivational factors that occur outside of your personal actions, then we can become too dependent on others to accomplish our goals. There is another type of motivator we must acknowledge and activate in order to find the balance with implementing lasting change. This type is called “intrinsic” motivation.
Your “intrinsic”, aka, “internal” motivators are based on your personal needs and values that are driving your desire for change. What is the need you are trying to meet by setting this goal? List out each need you are aiming to meet and how this new habit/activity will support that need. You may even want to list how you have been neglecting this need and how that has had an impact on your life. Simultaneously, identify the different values attached to this goal. Values often arise out of questioning “Why is this important to me”? Maybe it is important to you because you value family (living a healthy life so you can be around a long time for your children), or you value health (being healthy makes me feel strong and good, etc).
Some Questions to Ask Yourself: How would you like to show up for yourself now? What needs am I tired of neglecting? What needs have to be met for my wellbeing and happiness to arise? What values do I honor by carrying out this new goal? How can I step more deeply into my authentic self? What obstacles am I willing to overcome with this new journey of change?
Now, maybe some of you are doing well with your new habit or goal. You may find yourself in the “slowly but surely” category of change. Good for you! A great resource to keep you on track with this way of change is the book, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer PhD (2014). This is a quick and practical read that is based on the simple principles of taking changes one step at a time. The two top tips I’ve taken away from this book of making changes is to:
1)” Take One Less Sip”. The Author, Dr. Maurer breaks down how we can simply take one less bite of that donut, take one less sip of alcohol, one less……I think you get the point! The idea is to start small so any of the overwhelm that often disables us in making changes, will become disarmed as the change is so small that it no longer poses a threat to the letting go process that happens with the old habit.
2) “Incorporate more of what you need”. When we make more time for what we need, there will naturally be less space for those old habits that do not serve us well to show up and take over. The idea is to focus less on cutting things out or stopping or eliminating things. Instead, simply focus on creating time to incorporate more of what will serve you well. Your old habits will naturally shrink slowly but surely as there will be less time for those habits and you will notice the difference of how much better you feel from simply adding in a workout each week, putting veggies on your plates or taking those deep breathes throughout your day.
Above all else, when faced with the inevitable reality of CHANGE happening around us and inside of us, take some time to observe how well you receive and adapt to change. The practice of “going with the flow” has infinite benefits and “going with the flow” does not necessarily mean you agree with the change, it simply allows you to flowingly adapt and move more strategically with your next steps.
One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer Ph.D. 2014
Learned a lot about love and community.
Opening it up,
Closing it down.
Being cast aside,
Endings with judgment.
Focused on love,
Bringing in acceptance
Letting go of Shame,
Being at Peace with my life decisions.
Soul contracts live on Universal time.
It was discussed,
And the overall wellbeing for all,
In love and light,
Determined a new way.
And a coming together.
In love and community, Liz Myers
Do you feel it?
All the way down to the root, through your core.
Moving through chakras, ancient lands and energy systems.
Maaaan, how I wish it flowed out like a gushing mountain water stream with no attachment to outcome.
No need to please,
Flowingly, like the bird flies and glides on the invisible wind.
it's an inner knowing how without a seeing of how.....
Breathe deep, let it in and let it out.
Crying, crying crying.
Is that a soul cry?
All the way deep down and guttural,
you feel the eruption,
water arises from out of your mouth,
dripping down your cheeks.
Clear vision is creeping in.
Clean and close your eyes.
Uncover the Soul.
The last mindfulness based rejuvenation retreat in Ramona was so refreshing! One of the reasons it felt so good was because of this amazing anti-inflammatory raw chocolate treats!
I've been making raw chocolate for awhile so I often eyeball the measurements and taste along the way to get the ingredients just right! Chocolate is very forgiving so play around with the recipe! Here's the basics:
1) Start with making the chocolate base: Measure out the cacao powder and put it in medium size mixing bowl. Next, gently melt the cacao butter and coconut oil in a pan. Low heat is necessary to avoid burning this aromatic butter. Take mindful moments to breathe in this delicious cacao aroma! When the butter has just melted, pour it into the bowl over the cacao powder. Add in the maple syrup, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt to taste. Mix with love! This is your base chocolate.
3) Next, add in any berries and/or nuts that you would like. I put in goji berries (high in vitamin c) and golden raisins. Be sure to save some for the finishing touches once you place them in a chocolate mold (You do not have to use a chocolate mold, you can also put wax paper onto a plate and pour the mixture there. It makes a nice chocolate bark you can cut into piece when you are done).
4) Lightly coat the molds or the wax paper with coconut oil. Then pour the mixture into molds or onto the wax paper covered plate.
5) Last, add in the shredded ginger and turmeric root. I like to squeeze the shreds to get the juice and color to drip onto the chocolate.
6) Place in the fridge for an hour or so before removing.
These will last up to a week in the fridge, unless you eat them all before then! Enjoy :-)
It's in this acceptance of our natural seasons of unveiling where we enter deeper into our journey into wholeness. Now, if I were completely evolved than I would already know that I have been a "whole all powerful loving being since birth" and I would have been functioning with this deep gratitude and awareness of this wholeness with every single breath, interaction, step and so on. However, this concept of wholeness has been more of an unfolding in my life rather than a cherished gift. I mean, it feels like a tall order to truly believe and live as though I have all that I need inside of me already, that I am perfect just the way that I am and that change will occur inside and outside of me on a consistent basis! In that light, it makes sense that wholeness has felt more like a slow growthful awakening rather than a birth given right.
I wasn’t a daily drinker but I did binge drink on the weekends for a long time. I worked in the field of social work and the day to day of emotional stress would take it’s toll on me. I found myself drowning the emotional stress by partying over the weekend in an attempt to erase any traumatic happenings from the work week. Not to mention my past growing up in a household that didn’t know how to handle alcohol. Like many who discover that alcohol is like a poison to their mind, body or spirit, it often runs in the family.
If you are reading this then I am sure you are on the "soul growth path" with your life. You know, the path that asks you to be mindful, present, and aware while exploring what is in your highest good? Asking yourself, is this in my highest good? Does this serve myself and others on their growth path?
Walking on the "soul growth" path is not an easy path to take but it surely seems worth it as the lessons of love, compassion, strength, healing and joy emerge. In my coaching practice and personal growth practice, I find obstacles of resistance arise along the way. It's at these times when the soul growth path may feel more like a darkening tunnel than an enlightening journey. This is when I turn to the wisdom of how nature grows to light my path once again.
When I consider all the work that goes into a flower or plant to grow from the dark soil of the dirt all the way through to just below the surface of the earth to burst through to the other side of light, I simply have to take a deep breath! The amount of strength, momentum, and faith it takes to bust through the surface of the earth to reach the light on the other side reminds me of how powerful growth and unshakable trust and faith is in the process of unfolding.
There is this natural tendency to grow upwards towards the light. Just like the plant growing in the dark soil underneath the ground, it's natural tendency is to grow upwards to break through the barrier of the earth to reach the light. How does it know there is light after breaking through the surface? How does it know what it is growing for/towards?
The soul growth path requires a certain amount of unshakable faith that this path is worth the beautiful unfoldings we have yet to experience. Just like the plant unfolding, we do not know if we are to be revealed as a rose, a pepper plant, or an orchid. It's in this unknown, with a deep commitment to the soul growth highest good path, that we can let go of the end goal and unfold into the unknown of our beautiful light and growth to be.
When you discover resistance on your path, take a moment to sink down into the rich dark soil of your beginnings and truly take note of how you have already expanded through the surface to the light. Use your moments of unshakable faith to carry you through to your next unfolding.
In light and love,
Liz Myers, Rooted Living Wellness
Since we often operate in a bouncy ball game of craving for something else, whether it's a future event, tasty meal, arrival of something, etc., we get lost out of observing what is and we move into an imaginary state of "what will be" and this often comes with expectations and attachment so that when the imaginary expected moment comes, we are not with it just as it is but rather as a comparative moment from the past imagination of what it was to be.
Further, when we are not craving for the future moment, we may find ourselves in a moment of aversion; a moment that feels unpleasant so we may feel that urge to escape as soon as possible. Again, the moment is not spent on observing the present time experience but rather it's spent on the escape plan. The mind has many avenues of escape; you can check out with a daydream, escape to future thoughts of an external stress reliever of food, drink, etc. You can also escape physically by finding a way to get up and walk away from the moment. Either way, what I've learned is that you can be in any moment and be with it just as it is, even if you are labeling it as unpleasant. Try on this for size, the next time you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, see if you can detach yourself from it and simply observe your thoughts about it. Just notice how you are breathing, how your body is feeling and what types of thoughts are happening for you. Challenge yourself just to be with it before you decide to physically or mentally find an escape route. Just like in a yoga class, you may have poses that don’t feel as good, but if you can ask your mind and body just to settle into it, the struggle and fight lifts and you realize the many great benefits to surrendering and letting go to the moment just as it is presented to you.
The realization comes from accepting that we have so much influence over how the moment feels and goes. For example, when we experience something unpleasant, our mind and body can start to react with negativity, thus further attaching to the negativity of the moment and this can make the observed unpleasantry work double time because now we are associating with it and attaching to it like a bunch of negativity magnets piling up on each other. If you can stay in a more objective place and just notice, it can keep the bunches of negativity magnets at bay and this will allow for a more timely passing of this unpleasant moment. Patience is your friend with this practice, since patience does not involve a reaction; it simply sits and observes without expectations of time.
Similarly, we have to be aware of those pleasant moments that we want to last and last and last. Those joyous, happy, loving moments that feel oh sooo good. When we become attached to those pleasant sensations, we also create a certain game of craving for those moments and we can feel a sense of loss when they are not there. This holding onto those moments can create cravings for more and more of it, which can lead you on a dangerous lovable moments chase, which again can easily lead you out of the present moment.
Again, the idea is to be with what is as much as possible. Just start by observing how much time you spend thinking of the past or planning for the future. Just observe it and see if you can practice coming back to what is happening now. Of course, we all have jobs and things we need to plan for, but see if you can leave those to designated times instead of whenever it seems to pop up. Observe what it feels like in your mind, body and/or spirit when unpleasant moments arise and see if you can sit with it just as it is without moving away from it and without reaching for something external to soothe it. Again, patience here is your friend :-).
This takes a consistent practice; a truly diligent and strong effort, but believe me, it's worth it! You will start to experience a more even balanced way of living, where the roller coaster of life will not take you on a bumpy ride since you will be able to detach more from the ups and downs and just observe it all calmly and with deeper sense of appreciation. It will allows for more love and compassion to enter into your heart and you will have more focused energy so you can serve others from your highest ways of being.
If you want to find out more about Vipassana mediation, visit their site here: http://www.mahavana.dhamma.org
If you want to learn how to practice a more balanced mindful life, send me an email and we can set up a time to sit and have a session.
Liz Myers, MA
Founder, Rooted Living Wellness.
Meditation serves many purposes. It can be used to calm the mind, settle the body, connect with spirit while you give your being a full dose of a much needed slow deepened breath in and out. Take a few pauses today to really connect with your breath. Pause, feel the air enter into your nose or mouth, feel yourself let it out, emptying yourself completely.
Allow yourself a few moments to slow down and breathe in big and deep, pause, and breathe out big and deep and pause again before breathing in again. Dropping your breath into your belly while you do this can give you a very nice relaxing feeling! Start with just a few of these nice deep breathes in and out at times when you need it most or can remember to do it today!
Liz, Rooted Living Wellness.
Liz Myers, MA
Certified Wellness Coach, trained Counselor and cancer survivor. I believe each person deserves balance in their lives. This blog will serve as a catalyst for change, health, wealth, joy and humor!
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