Tag Archives: meditation

How to Make Your Writing Come Alive by Connecting with Your Body

Guest Post by Laura Probert, MPT

Connecting with your body as a source of wisdom, intuition, and creative flow is an ancient art that many of us have lost touch with. It can be the difference between writing that’s good and writing that comes from a place in your soul with the potential to light the reader on fire with enthusiasm. Time to connect again… let me show you how.

Body awareness is the key to unlocking a creative flow you may not have experienced before, even if you’re a long-time writer. It’s the door to feeling, sensation, and emotion and the avenue through which you can Feng Shui the internal mess that is your mind. Making space mentally is very much like making space in your physical environment – it changes the energy and allows flow.

To connect with that inner wisdom, healer and intuition, no matter what your purpose, you must first understand that feeling is the way in. You must give yourself permission to feel everything, including the resistance to feeling! By using the body as an anchor for awareness you can let the mental story attached to the sensation drop away. This leaves space for new ideas and fresh inspiration to flow through to you!

A Body Awareness Exercise for Writers

Try a little bit right now. Push back from the screen, plant your feet on the floor, and settle down into your chair. Relax your body, shoulders down; neck, back, and legs softening. Take some deep breaths and really arrive in your body for a few moments. Notice what you feel. Any tension? Any aches or pains? Any mental chatter starting up? Just notice those things and go back to following the deep breath and melting or un-clenching the body with each exhale. 

Be the observer and the feeler of what’s going on. With an open mind and curiosity, see what happens when you get still and connect with your body like this. Try this practice for a few minutes at first and work your way to fifteen or twenty. Body awareness meditation is a powerful practice that takes you on a healing journey.

After you’re finished, grab a piece of paper and pen and fill in the blank: I feel_____. This kind of writing has no rules, so don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or even finishing sentences. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write until it goes off. Allow the writing to come freely, without getting in the way of it with your judgements or thoughts.

When we connect with the body essentially we’re connecting with the soul’s GPS system. It will help us navigate inside of our lives and aim us at uncovering the layers of stuff keeping us from ease, flow, inspiration, and joy. When you begin to peel these layers off by simply feeling them and letting go, you are practicing the Feng Shui I talked about earlier. You create the space that will attract the creative flow you’re looking for in your writing or other endeavors.

Why the Ability to Connect with the Body Is Essential

In more than twenty years of studying the mind-body complex and what it takes to help people heal and feel better in their bodies, I’ve learned that the ability to connect with the body is essential. Helping people arrive as a conscious, loving, curious soul inside their own bodies and practice feeling and learning the language of their inner wisdom is a powerful, life-long tool. When that shift starts to happen and an individual wakes up to the messages they are being given on a daily basis that guide their life, everything changes. Suddenly they feel excited, hopeful, and enthusiastic about their life.

When you allow this connection to fuel your writing, you open a door to endless possibility in terms of ideas and inspiration. You open a box you didn’t know you had locked up. When this door opens you realize you had the key to it all along, right there under your own skin. Once this connection is made, you’ll hardly ever use the excuse of writer’s block again because you’ll be connected to a source that’s so much bigger than you.

Let’s do one more exercise before you go. In terms of the body, the breath is one of the magical entry points into feeling and healing. Push back from your computer again and ground your feet into the floor. Relax your body, un-clenching all the muscles and melting yourself into your chair. Take a breath and clear your mind. Use the breath now to feel. As you begin to inhale and exhale, allow the body to increase or shorten the breath. Just let go and allow the body to breathe while you bathe it in awareness.

Feel the inhale and notice where that sensation flows. Feel the exhale and notice where that sensation flows. Relax and melt with each exhale, letting feeling and sensation be your primary focus. Let go of everything else; all the mental chatter, all the judgements, all the ideas about what you’re feeling. Come back into the body for each breath.

As you ease yourself back into the room and your surroundings, notice how that felt. Grab your paper and pen, set your timer for 5 minutes and fill in the blank: My breathing feels_____. No rules! Just write in a free flow until the timer goes off.

I hope you’re beginning to feel how this kind of writing is different than many others. Without the analytical, judgmental brain taking over, this kind of writing is free to come from another space inside of you. It will show you things about what clogs you up internally and bring them out onto the paper, creating an opportunity for you to reflect, and then make new choices about what you think and believe.

Writing is just one moment when you can practice this body connection. Take this practice into your daily life and you’ll start to notice that other areas of your life begin to shift and transform. Feeling is healing. Using this powerful practice in combination with writing (and anything else you do) is what I call Warrior Healing. It takes a warrior to look at his or her life and decide to make a change.

Connecting with your body, learning its language, and then practicing that awareness on a regular basis will be the key to your best writing, and your best life.

About the Author

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Laura Probert, MPT is a holistic physical therapist, published author, poet, inspirational teacher, and black belt in Tae Kwon Do. You can find her writing featured in places like The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Best Self Magazine, The Wellness Universe, Wild Sister Magazine, PersonalGrowth.com, Tiny Buddha and The Elephant Journal. She’s serious about integrating mind body and soul as a journey to passion and power and it’s her mission to show you how. Find her books and programs at www.LauraProbert.com and www.facebook.com/kickasswarriorgoddess.

Meditation for Health and Happiness

“Meditation is simplicity itself. It’s about stopping and being present. That is all.”

The following post gives you a terrific introduction to mindfulness meditation. And what’s the connection to writing you ask? Everything. In order to open the creative mind, silence, simplicity, and letting go are essential. Meditation is the gateway to mindful writing. Attending to the magic of language, allowing your full creative potential to flow through, this is the power of integrating meditation and writing, together. Freewriting or stream of consciousness writing straight out of meditation practice is one of the most powerful resources to help you transcend writer’s block, discover new ideas, and cultivate original possibilities with your writing.

Guest Post By Payal Bhandari

Different cultures and spiritual traditions practice different types of meditation. The more popular types include Centering Prayer, Mindfulness Meditation, Kabbalah, Tibetan Buddhism, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), and Transcendenta Meditation.

Meditation is a lifelong process which should be practiced on a daily basis.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation connects a person’s mind or spirit with his/her physical health. It calms the mind and relaxes the body. There are many different ways in which meditation can be done. During meditation, a person will direct his or her focus toward a sound, image, word, breath, or prayer, and become still. Meditation brings balance and harmony in the middle of continual change and noise. The person opens up to peace within.

Meditation and Health

Meditation can help calm your body and mind. This calming effect promotes healing and you may find the following physical benefits manifesting in your life:

  • Increased positivity
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Less tension headaches
  • Better management of depression
  • Improvement of heart conditions
  • Better management of high cholesterol
  • Being freed from eating disorders
  • Ability to quit smoking
  • Increased lifespan

Tips on Getting Started

If you’re new to meditation, these tips might make it easier for you to get into it:

  • Find a quiet and private place to sit that you can regularly use where you won’t be bothered.
  • Set some time aside on your program for meditation. Say to yourself that you have nothing else to do during this period.
  • Find a way to gently end your meditation session, such as a vibrating alarm or someone softly calling you.
  • Find a comfortable sitting position. Keep your back and neck straight, your chin parallel to the ground, and your hands resting in a comfortable position. You can either sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, kneel on the ground, or sit with crossed legs. The most important thing is that you are comfortable.
  • While keeping your eyes open or closed, simply allow your gaze to settle.
  • Start with shorter periods in the beginning and gradually build up to 20-minute sessions.
  • Meditate on an empty stomach – a full belly can make you feel sleepy.
  • Meditate regularly. The more you meditate, the easier it gets.

What to Expect from Meditation

Meditation is a continuous process, so be patient with yourself. It may be difficult to sit still and concentrate in the beginning, but it will gradually become easier, and your mind will become more clear and stable. Over time, you’ll experience an increased sense of freedom, and you’ll find you focus less on your own needs and become more compassionate towards others.

You may experience a deepening in your spiritual life, and you’ll feel you’re able to release negative habits such as anger and fear. Don’t expect immediate rewards, but if you consistently practice meditation you will reap the rewards in time.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a family physician at Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Dr. Bhandari delivers integrative, holistic care which looks at the whole person. She is consistently able to understand the root cause of any illness and effectively transform health.

A Note from Albert:

I hope you will join me at the Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Hollyhock—Canada, or Shambhala Mountain in Colorado for one of my popular writing retreats “Writing as a Path to Awakening”, in which we integrate the power of meditation with the power of innovative writing exercises, prompts, and insights that help take your writing to extraordinary new levels! And please stay tuned for my new book by the same name due out in 2018!

Please click back to our EVENTS page for more information.

The Discipline of Silence

Guest Post By Emma Robertson

The twins both stood at the open back door. They peered outside, into our sparkling sunny garden. First one up, loudly named the “cold”, he sounded concerned. Little brother, who was stood right behind him, gave a reassuring hand on his back. “Is alright,” he said.

It is truly amazing what you can hear when you choose to be silent. The birds were tweeting and the foliage was occasionally rustling in a slight breeze as we all trooped out to exercise. The boys booped forth to bounce and play in the beautifully clean and fresh air of this morning. Meanwhile I practiced exercising my silence.

Little nods of assurance were all that were needed from me and each one was cordially accepted by my beautiful boys as they babbled away to one another, to themselves and the world at large.

This exercise gives rise to an ideal opportunity to practice communication using mainly eye contact. Patience can be gently encouraged this way. Waiting for the attentions of Mum’s eye contact is usually rewarding; I try adding different hand gestures and some pulled and exaggerated facial expressions, similar to the lovable CBEEBIES character, Mr. Tumble.

Gently stretching my self upon the slight incline that is our garden path, I gravitated to a garden chair to ponder on this wonderful feeling of love. “How can I bottle this feeling?” I wondered. A smile matched the warmth of the sun.

All of this sifted away as the day unravelled but this warm feeling of peace did endure. Each moment of stress was gently eased away with a therapeutic memory of this morning.

Discover Daily Mantras To Improve Your Writing

Discover Daily Mantras To Improve Your Writing

When I wake each morning, I start the day with a single thought, “I am alive.” It’s the one mantra I say consistently, every day. I love the sing-song sound of the vowels and the way the “v” vibrates on my bottom lip like a buzzing bee. But more than that, it’s a reminder to be grateful for simply being alive in this world.

A key part of a mantra is its sound, which is why you’ll hear “Om” chanted in yoga and meditation classes. Together, a mantra’s sound and meaning produce a powerful effect that can ripple throughout your day. “I am alive” is my reminder to have gratitude for the simple joy of being, which can get away from me throughout the hustle and bustle of the day if I’m not mindful of it.

Mantras are especially important to me as a writer. Writing requires focus, clarity, and an openness to run with ideas— all of which are qualities that can get blocked by stress, busyness, and distractions. I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my writing practice since I incorporated daily mantras into my life.

Below are three benefits daily mantras provide for writers, along with some ideas to get you started.

A little reminder that you are a writer.

While it’s important to write every day, this goal is not always attainable. I’m sure most of you can relate to being swept up in the daily grind of a job that isn’t related to writing. Have you ever experienced a time when you were so caught up in other things that you forgot that you were a writer? It can happen to the best of us and it’s a fast track to derailing your writing practice.

A daily mantra is a wonderful way to remind yourself each and every day that you are first and foremost a writer. If you are a writer, it is essential that you that you experience the world in the best way you know how, through writing. It’s part of who you are, and if it gets away from you, it’s as if you’ve shut down a part of yourself.

The mantra can be as simple as, “I am a writer” or you can embellish your mantra to inspire deeper thoughts, such as “I am a brilliant writer,” or “I am a brilliant writer who has a successful writing practice.” Say it every day, write it on your mirror, jot it down on sticky notes— do whatever you have to in order to affirm that you are a writer and to always embrace that true part of who you are.

Daily mantras as writing prompts

Sometimes the ideas flow and other times they get stoppered up. I often think that if we were to peer inside writers’ brains, we would such a jumble of ideas that they would resemble a cluttered old attic. We need to sweep out the cobwebs from time to time to let our treasures shine.

A fun little writing exercise is to use daily mantras as writing prompts. Build a story around your mantra, or create a character who reflects the message of your mantra. You can also turn your mantra into a poem. Taking even ten minutes to play around with a mantra will get your creativity flowing, help unblock any obstacles with your writing, and reaffirm what your mantra is all about.

A solution to writer’s block

Repeating a mantra is a form of meditation and one of the best ways to cure writer’s block. The practice has a calming and grounding effect, and creates a space for quiet reflection and silence.

Meditation is connected to mental clarity. Repeating a daily mantra will make your thoughts clear and your mind more alert. Engaging in this practice often allows writers to connect with that “aha!” moment in their writing, when all the pieces suddenly come together.

The next time you have writer’s block, take a few deep breaths, think of a mantra, and repeat it slowly a few times. It will help! And at the very least it will connect you with gratitude, which is a powerful reminder that despite any distractions, obstacles, or busyness in your life, you are a writer. And you are alive.

Do you have a daily mantra? Tweet it to us or post in on our Facebook page!

Mindfulness and Writing as a Path to Awakening

Mindfulness and Writing as a Path to Awakening

Mindfulness meditation is perhaps one of the best gems a writer can have in their creative treasure box. Being aware of life and the world around you will shine light onto your ideas and bring insight into your concepts. Great writers tend to think outside the box, but brilliant writers have no box at all. Mindfulness meditation creates conditions for this by providing a space for solitude, self-reflection, and awareness.

Writing itself is a path to awakening. It is a process of utilizing the practice of writing toward further self-awareness, increased emotional intelligence, and overall expansion of consciousness. Writing as a path to awakening is a journey into creativity and exploring one’s sociological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual story for the primary purpose of insight, understanding, further clarifying, and ultimately transcending any limitations it may inspire due to over-identification.

Many of the greatest spiritual teachers from around the world were, and are, writers. From Sappho and Rumi to Pema Chodron, Thomas Merton, Jack Kornfield, and the Dalai Lama — the written word has the power not only to inspire, but also to awaken the very best in the human heart.

There are two easy ways to start incorporating mindfulness and writing as a path to awakening into your daily life. With both of these exercises, get into a space of quiet meditation first by sitting down and taking at least 30 consecutive deep breaths and turning off all distractions.

1. Mindfulness while journaling

Keeping a journal offers many benefits, and one of these is the ability to be mindful on paper about the contents of your daily life. Think about any recent interactions with people and write down the emotions that come up. Jot down descriptive words or any colors that come to mind. Your journal is a space to explore how you felt about a myriad of things, from the argument you had with your spouse that morning to why you like the smell of apples at the farmer’s market.

Being mindful while journaling will allow you to look at aspects of your life from new angles. It will unlock emotions around certain things that you maybe never even knew you even had. Best of all, mindfulness while journaling can help you resolve conflicts and look at situations with renewed gratitude and empathy.

2. Stream of consciousness

Once you have taken your deep breaths and feel as close to having an empty mind as possible, take a pen or pencil and write without stopping for about ten minutes. Don’t pause to think about what you’re writing and don’t take any breaks.

When you’ve finished, look at your writing and underline phrases or words that repeat. Highlight any parts where your handwriting had a dramatic change. Ask yourself what these things represented for you, which themes were present and why, how different parts made you feel, and if any new ideas or insights arose.

You can take this type of writing to the next level by focusing on a mantra or key word or phrase while you are doing the deep breaths before the writing. Try setting an intention and see if that shows up as you jot down your stream of consciousness.

If you’d like to learn more about Writing as a Path to Awakening, there are several workshops throughout the year at different meditation centers. The next one is coming up soon from July 15, 2016 – July 17, 2016. More details here: Writing as a Path to Awakening

Does Meditation Make You A Better Pet Owner

Does Meditation Make You A Better Pet Owner?

Does meditation make you a better pet owner? Well, it certainly has a whole host of benefits for both you and your pets. Meditation also helps us cultivate mindfulness and gratitude, allowing us to let go of the concept of ownership altogether and embrace being a pet parent. Or even better, it helps us look at our pets as animal companions.

Animals are sentient beings, and as such, they are affected by our moods and energy. Ever felt stressed while you were getting ready to go out and noticed that your pets were acting excited, too? Or have you ever been sick or sad and somehow your pet just knows to give you extra snuggles that day? They know when you are sad, mad, or glad and behave accordingly.

The Benefits of Meditation for You and Your Pet

The well-being of your animal companion rests entirely on you. And how are you supposed to take care of a living creature if you are not taking care of yourself? Any anxiety in your life will spill over into theirs. This is where meditation can be a big (and easy) help.

You also want to ensure that you will be around to take care of your pet. Stress has been linked to numerous health issues, ranging from mild to life threatening. Simply taking ten minutes to meditate each day will help reduce your stress and improve your health. Benefits of meditation include lower blood pressure, feeling calmer and grounded, less muscle tension, a decrease in inflammation, and a stronger immune system.

The benefits of meditation will spill over into your pet parenting. For instance, studies show that meditation increases a person’s empathy, which will allow you to make an even deeper emotional connection with your animal companion. Meditation will keep you more calm and relaxed, which means your animal companions will also feel more calm and relaxed.

Three Ways to Meditate with Your Pet

Mindfulness Meditation: An easy way to get started is to take a minimum of ten minutes a day to sit in silence. Once you are in a comfortable position and have been sitting in silence for a moment, begin to focus on your breathing. You’ll want to take long, full belly breaths from deep within you abdomen.

While you are focusing on your breathing, think about positive qualities your animal companions bring into your life. This will help cultivate an increase of gratitude and appreciation for your pets. As well, taking a moment each day to calmly think about your pets and nothing else can alert you to any changes in their behavior. We are not always aware of things unless we make a point to focus on them. Mindful meditation will give you a renewed perspective of your animal companions and what’s going on in their lives.

Petting and Snuggling: You most likely pet and snuggle with your animal companions throughout the day. This is a form of meditation in itself. The rhythmic motion of petting your animal companion’s fur often puts people into a slight meditative state. There is a reason you find snuggling with your pets relaxing!

To take this one step further, integrate the mindfulness meditation techniques. Focus on channeling your calm energy to your pet. If you have a cat, try to match your breathing with your cat’s purr. Studies even suggest that a cat’s purr has healing powers! To get the most out of this meditation, make sure you and your pet are in a quiet place with no distractions. This is a great way to calm an anxious pet and especially helps when dogs are barking. Creating this relaxation for your pet will also help decrease pain in pets that have tense muscles or inflammation caused by disorders such as arthritis.

Chanting and Mantras: Animals respond strongly to the tone of a person’s voice. It’s one of the reasons dog trainers advise owners to not yell at their dogs during training sessions (or ever). Even looking at an animal a certain way can cause them to tremble with feelings of guilt (you’re especially aware of this one if you have a dog).

Chanting sounds such as “om” are very calming and rhythmic and are an easy technique to use as a way to calm anxious pets. For example, if you have a pet that suffers from anxiety while traveling in cars, chant a simple mantra while you’re driving. This is also a technique that can be used to help pets who have trouble sleeping. Feel free to use healthy treats to your pets when you are using the chant or mantra so they will further associate it with something positive.

The chanting can be as simple as a hum or using the word “om”, or it can be more complex, such as a lullaby or a mantra. The mantra and chanting will have positive effects on you as well; they say a daily mantra can stave off depression and foster feelings of positivity and gratitude.

If you think about it, animals meditate on a regular basis anyway. Meditation is simply finding the joy and gratitude of being in the moment. Animals do that everyday. In fact, everything mentioned in this article are benefits your animal companions provide for you. It only makes sense to return the favor.

If you happen to be in the California area on July 18th, 2015, join me for my “Writing as a Path to Awakening” workshop at Spirit Rock for a day of mindfulness meditation and writing. More details: www.spiritrock.com