Thursday, January 11, 2018
Monday, December 18, 2017
Often people ask me how important is posture or space in meditation? Should we practice in a group setting or practice alone? Is it essential to light a candle while meditating? Should I keep me eyes open or shut? Is there a specific time of day to practice? These questions are relevant not only for mindfulness meditation but other forms of meditation too such as Chakra meditation,or guided visualization.
Here is a primer on mindfulness meditation but before we begin, it is worth reminding ourselves, how mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, "Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
Posture: While there is a benefit in sitting upright, perhaps cross legged or on a chair, with your eyes gently closed, a particular posture is not mandatory in many meditation practices. Often people prefer to lie down or some choose to meditate while walking, running or even swimming where they feel they become one with their surroundings.
Space: Where we chose to practice can seem very important to us. For some people a certain kind of space is critical to meditate, perhaps a room where there is a lot of natural light or a room with no natural lighting. Some may find that meditating in a natural surrounding, be it at a lake front or the mountains, may help them zone in. The rhythmic sound of water can be especially calming to some or the gentle wind ruffling the hair and caressing the skin can be relaxing to others. And yet, there are those who meditate while they ride the bus to work every morning.
Time of the day: Mornings work very well for many people as the mind is usually clear and rested. Indeed, sages, gurus and meditators over thousands of years have preached the importance of starting the day with meditation. However, thousands prefer meditating just before going to bed while others prefer short one minute sessions through the day. Read my article on Traffic control (controlling your mental clutter) for more.
Group setting: Meditating in a group helps many meditators because it instills a sense of routine and discipline. They find a group practice invigorating and the collective energy very beneficial. And yet, few prefer to practice alone stating that their meditation is their own individual journey.
Accessories: Candles, light music, a meditation cushion, flowers or a statue of Buddha or even apps and meditation gadgets are accessories that many feel are essential to the practice of mindfulness meditation. More about commercialization of mindfulness in a later post.
In reality, you do not need any special equipment, commodities or space to meditate. Yes, space, accessories etc may seem important for beginners but with experience and practice, you might find them (or not) to be trappings and you might just find yourself dropping these accoutrements at some point in time. You also do not need to meditate at a particular time of day. Recent studies conducted by Harvard Medical School indicate that meditation is beneficial at any time of the day. Consistency is key. More important than the angle of your spine, or the music (or lack thereof) in the background, is what is happening in your mind, or even what you are doing in your mind? Are you enjoying being in the moment?
Likewise, while formal meditation sits are extremely important and help us to get into the zone, ultimately, the ability of transferring this feeling of calmness, acceptance and stability to our everyday routine and into our personality is what mindfulness meditation is all about. And if you feel anxiety or worry creep in, consciously pausing your thoughts, anchoring yourself into your breath or a visual imagery may transport you back into the zone. It is more important to be mindful where ever you are, and in whatever you are doing. Space, posture, setting, length of practice or the time of the day is not as important as your intention to practice. May your meditation or mindfulness be your own, however you may choose to define it. May you discover it in a mindful way that embodies your truth and your dignity.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
How do we maintain healthy relationships with those that mean the most (not just with our significant other, but friends and family too)? Here are 8 keys to healthy relationships by mental health professionals - published on Thriveworks. Don't miss point No. 8 :-)
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Monday, November 6, 2017
Friday, October 27, 2017
This is that time of the year when mid-term grades get announced. Education or academic performance has been known to be a great source of angst between kids & parents. In a report published by the American Psychological Association, Stress in America - Are Teens Adopting Adults' Stress Habits , "teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 vs. 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens vs. 5.1 for adults)." Stress can come from various sources including parents. But can parents forcefully create interest in their child for learning? Can parents increase the capacity within their child to understand, and absorb a subject? Sure, they can force their child to study by disciplining them, shouting at them, threatening them by taking away their privileges etc. But will that help? On the contrary, by instilling worry and fear, the inherent capacity within a child actually reduces. Daniel Pink states in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us that "Science shows that the secret to high performance isn't our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive - our deep seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to love a life of purpose."
So, what can you do if your child brings back a C on his assessment?
CARE! ... And caring means it’s not about your feelings on this, but your child's and its impact on their self esteem. Try following this 4 step plan for achieving a response and communication that actually works:
Take a deep breath, or make it 10 deep breaths, count to 20, or just step out of the room. Remember that your child is noticing every facial expression and even if his back is turned towards you, he feels your vibes nice and strong. It might be worthwhile to take a pause, a moment of silence, so that you get time to organize your thoughts. Take this time to consciously remove any negative thoughts you might have. This will help you respond to the situation rather than react.
Be mindful of the capacity of your child. Some children are naturally gifted in some subjects and some are not. It's worth considering that the potential or capacity of a child may not be to be a straight A student. Sure enough, motivate your child. Encouragement is essential but with unconditional love. This may drive a child to move from B to a B+, and may eventually move even higher. Have expectations and ask your child to set goals but leave space for mistakes and failures.
Respect your child:
Acknowledge and take stock of all the qualities and interests of your child. This is important because we tend to take for granted what our children already have. If academically our child may be a straight B student but is excelling at swimming and piano, is it important to excel in every subject at school? If it comes to that, it might be a good idea to write down his qualities and achievements and put this sheet up on the refrigerator. You might just see a smile on your child’s face. Parents of teenagers, note that your child might actually find this “so not cool”, but deep down, he is grinning.
Parents cannot forcefully increase the intelligence and capacity of their child. But parents can increase the self-esteem of their child by having faith in him, by praising his qualities and achievements, nurturing his most compelling interests, and providing him with support, guidance, unconditional love, and a whole lot of positive vibes. This will empower your child. This will also increase the soul power of your child. As Shawn Anchor stated in The Happiness Advantage, "Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work (or school) and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance."
As parents, we have the opportunity today to plant within our children seeds of trust, growth, confidence and self worth. Go ahead! Plant those seeds. CARE!
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
The proudest moment for a teacher/ parent is to see their student/ child become the teacher.
This video was never intended to be published (the poor quality of the video attests to that). However, the purity and the sincerity of this meditation compelled me to publish this (with permission from this child and parent). I will let this video do the "talking and guiding" for this blog post...