how to commit to meditate

How to Commit to Meditate

We know we "should" meditate--tons of physical, emotional, and mental benefits have been documented. We can lower blood pressure and cardiovascular health, improve outcomes for a host of medical treatments, relieve depression and anxiety, improve concentration and mental function, and more and more...but somehow we just can't seem to commit to the practice. Disciplined in so many other areas, why are we blocked from the discipline of meditation? We know we can benefit from as little as 10 minutes. The questions remains: how to commit to meditate?

Our egos like to be busy and they like to be in control. In order to maintain that (illusion of) control, the ego can set up a lot of road blocks to keep us from meditating. Here are some of the common strategies our egos use and some ways to counter them:

  1. Our egos love to tell us that we are too busy to meditate. Of course that is not true. There is an old saying that goes: "Meditate every day for an hour unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate for two hours." There is a lot of truth to this, but an ego that thinks it is too busy probably won't agree to that! So we can set an expectation that our ego will agree to. We can achieve a lot in just five to ten minutes of meditation, and even the most stubborn egos will have a hard time arguing with that!
  2. Our egos often tell us that meditation is something specific that we "can't do". The inner dialogue goes something like "Meditation is not thinking; I can't not-think!" or "Meditation is reciting a weird mantra, and I don't want to do that!", or "Meditation means sitting cross-legged, and my legs can't cross like that!", or "Meditation means counting the breath; I'll feel like I'm suffocating!" Meditation can be any of these things and it can be something else. We can do a little research and find a style that seems reasonable to us.
  3. Sometimes our egos tell us that we can't meditate because we can't stop thinking. When my ego tried that one, I made a deal with it: I sat in meditation but let my mind process its ideas, go through the list of chores, think about the grocery list. This became "thinking time before meditation". I decided to be OK with it, and have come to think of it as a kind of clearing process. Many of my meditation friends do the same thing. As it turns out, our minds come up with some good stuff when we give them the time to process. After the processing time, we can move on to our meditation.
  4. In other cases, our ego puts us to sleep. When this happens, it is a good idea to make sure we keep our meditation time short and our posture pretty straight and not comfy-cozy. The ego trick of falling asleep is something that patience and persistence will help us through. For me, it was kind of like training my toddlers to not throw tantrums: I didn't cave in to candy in the grocery store, and I didn't give my own ego what it wanted, either―I sat in meditation anyway.
  5. Our egos can get trapped in other kinds of rigid thinking that keep us from meditating. It is best to meditate first thing in the morning, but I am not a morning person. When I had to wake early and was off to a busy start, I meditated at night instead. Now my schedule has changed so I do my meditation in the morning most of the time.

Meditation should be fun, refreshing, a treat! As we become aware of the good vibes we get when we meditate, those feelings in themselves can become the positive reinforcement that keep us going. Till then, the tricks listed above can help answer that question, how to commit to meditate!

If you have other tips and ideas, or traps that need suggestions, please leave comments below!

Past-life regression and a short reference to getting sick

I have seen and experienced incredible healing through past-life regression therapy over the years―on both sides of the recliner, so to speak. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I have helped clients resolve longstanding issues through regression therapy. As a client, I have used regression to gain insight and heal the patterns that kept me from thriving and to shine light on things that made no sense from my logical mind's point of view. Regression therapy is one of the very best tools we have for making strides―big strides―in personal growth.

One of my most interesting experiences happened when I was in graduate school. I have not been afraid to speak in front of groups since I was in middle school; in graduate school, I gave many presentations without a hitch. I went on to become a professor at the local community college. I've given talks at corporations, taught yoga classes, led get the point. But one time in grad school was very different.

As the final project for my human development class, I had to give a five-minute talk about "anything related to human development". I chose to talk about the chakras. It went well, and I received a high A for my effort. But I felt sick. After class I went to meet my boyfriend at the park so we could run together. When I got to the parking lot, I opened my car door and got sick on the asphalt. So much for our run.

A few days later, I met with my hypnotherapist to figure out what had gone wrong. We did a regression therapy and uncovered a lifetime in which I had been stoned to death for having religious views that differed from the prevailing norm. I think that the lifetime was during the very early Christian era, and that I was a Gnostic Christian. The specifics of the case are interesting but far less important than what happened next. What happened next was the healing.

My hypnotherapist and I did healing on this memory. We connected to the after-death experience to reinforce the knowing that death really isn't bad, and my Higher Self nurtured, loved, and protected that unfortunate me. Eventually that other "me" felt brave and calm and almost regal, and totally unafraid to speak her truth.

And now I'm writing a public blog post about past-lives, hypnotic regression, and metaphysics.

What would you do if you could release a past-life trauma?

Energy Healing

Energy work is gaining popularity. It is a powerful tool for personal growth and healing. Clients are amazed at the transformation they experience in just one session. One client texted me the day after our first energy work session to say, "That was amazing!" Her physical discomfort was gone and she felt emotionally at ease with an objectively difficult situation.
Remember we are energy beings! The physical body is an automaton responding to the energetic input from the etheric levels. The aura is real, and you have probably seen it. Have you ever noticed that white outline around things? Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you, you are seeing energy. This level of the aura contains the template that runs our physical existence.

In the film A Thin Sheet of Reality, from the 2011 World Science Festival, a panel of four physicists (a Nobel Prize winner, and professors--interesting ones!--from MIT, Berkley, and Stanford) explain their theory that our three-dimensional world may be a holographic projection of a two-dimensional template. The theory developed from their research into black holes.

As an energy healer with a penchant for research and scientific investigation, I was so happy to see a scientific explanation of what to me is a very real and very important part of reality. Another constant source of scientific backing for the energy-healing world is Bruce Lipton, author of the Biology of Belief.

Luckily we don't need a PhD in physics or biology to receive the benefits of energy healing. If you would like to experience the peace that comes from releasing energy blocks, whether for physical healing or spiritual growth, please contact me.

Image created by Silk

The Seven Rays of Divinity: Introduction to the Seven Rays

Part one in a series.

Everything is energy. This piece of metaphysical wisdom has been backed up by science and most of us can accept it as truth. A less-known teaching from the Ageless Wisdom is that there are seven Rays, or types, of energy that vivify everything in creation. As an avid student of esoteric spirituality, particularly the work of Djwhal Khul and Alice Bailey, I have been fascinated by these Seven Rays for more than a decade. The topic is huge and complex in one sense, yet simple from another angle. I'd like to share a little of what I have learned with you. I would ask that in return, you keep an open mind---before and after reading! Try to avoid drawing concrete conclusions from such esoteric teachings. My hope is that you will be captivated by the topic as well, and that our joined thought will open humanity up to a greater understanding of the workings of the Universe.

The Seven Rays originate in a distant place in the universe. They circulate through Sirius and then to the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades. From there they circulate throughout creation, making their way to our solar system. They color, or affect, every living thing, from the sun to a planet to a kingdom in nature on earth to a human being.

Each Ray is characterized by a particular quality or attribute, and the things (everything!) the Rays touch are therefore also characterized by this quality. The Sun is primarily affected by a particular Ray; a different one affects the earth. The mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms are likewise affected by a particular Ray (actually a pair of Rays for each). Human beings are affected by the Rays in five different levels of human experience: on the level of the soul; the personality as a whole; the mind; the emotions; and the physical body.

The Rays are:

  1. The First Ray of Will or Power.
  2. The Second Ray of Love-Wisdom.
  3. The Third Ray of Intelligent Activity.
  4. The Fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict.
  5. The Fifth Ray of Concrete Knowledge and Science.
  6. The Sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism.
  7. The Seventh Ray of Ceremonial Order and Magic.

The first three Rays are known as the Rays of Aspect. They correlate to the three aspects of divinity as understood by Hindus (Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahman) and Christians (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). From another angle, Father Spirit (Ray One) impregnates Mother Matter (Ray Three) and creates consciousness, the Soul (Ray Two). Rays Four through Seven are known as the Rays of Attribute. They are said to be sub-rays of the Third Ray.

In future articles we will explore in greater detail the qualities of each Ray and explore how they affect the earth as well as how they affect each of us individually.

Happy in the New Year!

As you are thinking about your goals for the new Year, have you considered adding “be happy!” to the top of your list?  Perhaps you should. There has been a lot of talk about happiness recently, and researchers are finding out about the many benefits to happiness-besides just feeling, well, happy. Happy people are also healthier, more successful, and have better relationships and greater job satisfaction. The pursuit of empty pleasure does not make for a happy life. Happiness comes from a blend of a positive outlook with meaning in life. Here are some mindset changes that can help increase your happiness:

  1. Adopt a “glass-is-half-full” attitude. There is plenty wrong in the world, for sure, and nobody’s life is easy. But focusing on the negatives breeds discontent. Instead, focus on what is right--and see it grow.
  2. Don’t compare. No matter how tempting it is when you pass a Ferrari, a mac-fabulous house, or a person with a rockin’ bod, don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. You are on your own journey, learning the things you need to become the person you are becoming. You can’t really know what anyone else is going through but you can be sure of one thing: We all have pain. It’s part of the human experience.
  3. Be mindful of your words. Words have power and we should use them wisely. Make it a practice to avoid hurtful words. One all-too-popular form of hurtful speech is gossip, which is like a boomerang: you won’t avoid being hurt by it if you engage in it. We can also fall into the trap of hurtful speech during conflict. Instead, use your words carefully and thoughtfully to convey your point of view, but never to hurt another.
  4. Let others in. Allowing yourself to trust is one of the bravest things you can do, and one of the most rewarding. If it seems scary, consider this: people are basically good. We don’t always behave that way, but most of the time, most of us do pretty well. Besides, as they say, no man is an island. To think that we can do it all on our own is illusion; humans thrive in groups. So get socially engaged, spend time with friends, and allow yourself to love and be loved.
  5. Give back. There is probably nothing that increases happiness—real happiness, not the “I just got a lollipop” kind of transient happiness—more than giving back. So give back—to the people in your life or to strangers; to animals, to plants, to the earth. Find a cause you enjoy and get involved. Make someone’s day. Make a contribution to the welfare of something beyond yourself. There is absolutely nothing can make you happier.

Loss and love

I recently spent the evening with my sister’s family as they rode the waves of grief. They were reeling from the loss of an entire family of friends, gunned down in an unimaginable act of violent terror. There have been and will be tears of anguish, the constant questioning of why and how this can have happened, and those other questions—How will I go to the park when I’ve always gone there with my best friend? How will I wake up tomorrow and be forced to realize this isn’t a nightmare?

The teenage girl had nicknamed herself “the Moment.” She was unique and happy and comfortable in her own skin. She made people laugh. She loved—she simply loved, because that’s who she was.

In the middle of the night her uncle, fragile before military service and destroyed afterwards, came into her house and gunned down her family, then left to wreak his destruction on others, leaving seven holes in countless hearts.

Some humans are vulnerable to evil.

And yet people are basically, inherently good. The outpouring of concern, of heart-felt compassion and love, has been amazing to witness. When we focus the spotlight of attention on such a tragedy, as happens too often these days, our hearts crack open a little more. We feel each others’ grief.

In the face of heartache and loss, with hearts wide open and in suffocating pain, we have two choices: we can respond by shutting down, by closing off, by building another layer on top of our hearts. Or we can move through the pain, and in the depth of our feeling realize the deep love that binds us all. Our hearts can soften in the crucible of despair and become more pure and beautiful because of it.

The innocents who seem to sacrifice themselves every day in more or less public ways seem to be singing out from the other side: don’t lose faith. We are still here and we still love. Be happy and be kind to one another. And simply love.

photo of hands holding earth

With our thoughts we create the world

With our thoughts we create our world. This ancient piece of wisdom, handed down by the Buddha, is making inroads in our culture. Is there any evidence that this is true? If we accept that this is true, what are the implications? Thoughts must be incredibly powerful if they create our world, but they often seem to have a “mind of their own”. How can we correctly handle them?

One of the best examples of evidence of the power of thoughts to affect matter is the water experiments of Dr. Masaru Emoto, made famous by his book Messages from Water. Water crystals energized with the thought of love are beautiful, bright and clear; those exposed to the thought of hate are misshapen and dark. His mold experiment is another fascinating example of the power of thoughts.

The Global Consciousness Project is investigating the impact of our collective attention on the earth’s magnetic field. The researchers involved with the project have installed random number generators in 70 sites around the world. When big news stories captivate our collective attention and emotional response, the numbers become somewhat synchronized.  The investigators have calculated one in a trillion odds that this effect is due to chance.

And Bruce Lipton, in his book The Biology of Belief, explains how our cells react to our thoughts and emotional climate. The field of epigenetics shows that it’s not genes per se, but the protein covering the genes—the epi-gene, or “above the gene”—that switches genes on or off. The proteins are affected by the environment, including food and water we ingest, the air we breathe, and the emotions we feel. There is a great video about epigenetics produced by Nova here.

So our thoughts are things, and we use them to create our reality. So what now? It becomes increasingly clear that it is our responsibility to monitor our thoughts, to purify our thoughts and emotions, and to be as clear as possible in order to create the life we want—not just for ourselves but for our world. We accomplish this by first becoming aware of the need and dedicating ourselves to the process. Then tools like meditation, hypnotherapy, and energy psychology allow us to clear long-held thoughts and emotions that separate us from the highest good. We open our hearts through gratitude. We learn to trust the process and begin to realize the results of our efforts.

Together, we can be the change that we wish to see in the world, and then see the world we wish to see.


Photo courtesy of; "Ecology World" by Danilo Rizutti

Beautiful image of a neuron by geralt at Pixaby

Loving Our Cells

I want to share with you something that has been helpful in my work with clients, as well as being profoundly helpful to me. A lot of my clients are trying to lose weight. This isn’t really surprising, as trying to lose weight is so common that it is practically an all-American pastime. A lot of us criticize our bodies and criticize ourselves for not having an “ideal body”. I’d like to turn that around and start loving ourselves—we can start by loving our cells.

It is a struggle to eat the SAD diet—that’s the acronym among “healthies” for the standard American diet—while trying to grow healthy and strong. In our culture, we are fed a constant barrage of media images that idealize an unrealistically super-thin woman (Martha Beck once referred to this as a “stick figure with boobs”) and an unrealistically super-cut man with a six-pack. All this while our population balloons to ever-greater BMIs—one of the areas in which the USA leads the world.  This causes a lot of us to dislike our bodies and feel bad about ourselves as we don’t appear to “measure up.” The negative body image often leads to shame and hopelessness and a host of other negative feelings.

Having a negative body image is destructive. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with our bodies when that relationship is built on criticism and dislike. And it really isn’t fair to dislike our bodies. Here’s a different perspective on why this is so: Our bodies are made up of 50 trillion cells. Each cell lives for about seven years, and each has a certain kind of job to do in our bodies. Moreover, when those cells are taken out of the body and put in a Petri dish, they will move toward a sugar and away from a poison. In other words, our cells are alive, and they have some kind of intelligence, some consciousness. (For more on the consciousness of cells, read Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief).

Now, here’s how this is useful: we can shift the way we think about our bodies. We can learn to honor the cells that make up our bodies, the “50 trillion molecular geniuses” as Jill Bolte Taylor calls them in her most-popular TED talk. We shift from “being” our body to honoring it. This leads to a healthy level of detachment, and it is founded in truth. When we realize that we have a body, rather than mistakenly thinking that we are a body, everything shifts. Those tiny molecular geniuses work hard for us all day, every day. They deserve to have us say good things to say to them. They deserve to be loved an honored.

When we love our cells, we can better love ourselves. Making this shift in how we think of our bodies changes our whole relationship with our bodies. We move out of criticism into love. We love our cells, and begin to love ourselves and to appreciate all our various parts, certainly flawed but special anyway, that make us uniquely us. And that is a profound shift.


The Cinderella of Health

Of all the things we do for our health, one of the most important is probably the least respected. We know about healthy eating. We don’t always do it, but we sure hear a lot about it. We know about the importance of exercise, and there is a whole industry built around our need for it. We don’t always do it, but we all know we should. We hear more and more about the importance of meditation, which may be on its way to being as routine as brushing our teeth—which is another thing we do for our health. We get regular physical exams, have our eyes checked, and go to the dentist.

What we don’t do, as a culture, is get enough sleep. And that is a shame, because sleep is a cornerstone of health and a pillar of good mental health. When we get enough sleep, our brains operate efficiently. This improves both our cognitive skills and our moods. Our reaction time is better, we are easier to get along with, we even eat less.

But as a culture, we adore staying up late, getting up early, and applauding ourselves for being so busy.

When Edison invented the light bulb, he rejoiced that human beings would no longer “waste” so much time sleeping. Before electricity, people slept when the sun was down. In the winter, that could be a very long time. Now we do have electricity and we certainly won’t be in bed for 14 hours on December 21st. But the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. We have plenty of light, and illuminated screens, to guide us through endless and, contrary to Edison’s hopes, often mindless activity. We do this to the detriment of our health and wellbeing.

Even one night of poor sleep causes irritability and moodiness, and decreases our inhibitions. Over time the consequences can be severe. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation leads to increased mortality risk, weight gain, moodiness, irritability, accidents, heart disease, and decreased immune function. And the consequences for teens are grave: sleepy teens have trouble with weight gain, moodiness, and learning, and sleepy-driving accidents are most prevalent in drivers under age 25.

How much is enough? You probably have heard that adults need seven hours of sleep. In reality, while individual sleep needs vary, we need about eight hours of sleep each night. Teenagers need more, about nine and a quarter hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, 85% of teens report getting less than the recommended amount, and 15% get fewer than 6.5 hours. Adults do a little better, but still 30% of us sleep less than seven hours a night and increasing numbers of us are getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night.

So what can you do to get more sleep?

  1. Make sleep a priority.
  2. Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  3. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bed.
  4. Turn off “blue screens” (TV, iPad, monitors) two hours before bed.
  5. Decrease caffeine consumption and don’t drink caffeine six hours before bedtime.
  6. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
  7. Restructure your day so that you can get eight solid hours of sleep.

Try it for a week and see how you feel. Try it for three weeks and create a new habit. Model it for your children, and make sleep health a priority in your home. You will find yourself slimmer, more alert, easier to be with, happier, and healthier!

Letting go

Shifting out of criticism

I’m starting off with a bold statement, and it’s one I stand by: Nobody is going out into the world every day determined to screw up. Nobody gets up in the morning and says, “Today I am determined to make people mad and make as many mistakes as I can.” People make all kinds of mistakes, for sure. In fact, none of us is immune. One of our biggest mistakes, I believe, is to criticize others for making mistakes!

When we fall into the trap of criticism we are taken away from our inherent oneness. The heart center is taking a backseat to the little ego and we make the mistake of reinforcing our separateness from others rather than focusing on our interdependence.

We all have our own back-stories. We all have wounds to heal and lessons to learn, as well as a contribution to make. So, just as you wouldn't get angry with a toddler for not understanding a philosophical debate, or a person who speaks another language for not understanding yours, isn’t it inappropriate to get angry with others for simply being where they are on their path?

Here’s the real kicker. The things that make us really upset at someone else are always a projection of something we are not comfortable with in ourselves. Do “stupid people” really push your buttons? Check your internal dialogue for self-criticism about being stupid. Enraged when someone is being selfish? Ask yourself how often you criticize yourself for being selfish, or see if you have a martyr complex.

And so it goes. What we criticize in others, we criticize in ourselves. The more we criticize others, the more we are criticizing ourselves. Once we realize this, and start to work on ourselves, we come to a place of acceptance. We find ourselves engaged in criticism and judgments less and less. When we do the hard work of healing our own wounds, it is easier to accept the mistakes of others.  We’re in this together, doing the best we can with the personalities we have.