Tag Archives: mindfulness

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.

You Are Rich (And You Don’t Even Know It)

Guest Post by Jasmine June Cabanaw

Back in August, I made a decision to practice gratitude. This is not an easy thing. It has to be deliberate and disciplined and requires constant mindfulness. Honestly, there are days when I feel exhausted from it. However, since I started practicing gratitude, I have become so much more grounded, confident, content and happy.

It turns out, practicing gratitude involves a lot more than thinking positive thoughts. It means being nice to people who aren’t being nice to you, it means appreciating things even when you’re having such a bad day you’re in tears, it means not complaining when all you want to do is vent (still working on that one!), it means making the first move most of the time (being the first to say hi to a stranger, offering to pay for a friend’s meal, holding open the door for others, giving up your seat on the bus), it means donating money, and it means not expecting anything in return, ever.

That’s the biggie. Giving without getting. Being grateful means that you acknowledge that you are rich, and have a surplus to give. Do you know how challenging this is? It means that I give change every single time someone asks for it, even if all I have in my purse is $5. It means that I donated $50 to my friend’s charity today, even though I’m scraping change together to buy Christmas presents.

Donating so much money still makes me feel panicky, but two interesting things have happened that I didn’t expect:

1. Giving up a big chunk of cash hasn’t affected my quality of life at all.

2. Even though I feel panicky every time I donated a large sum (large for me, let me clarify), I feel that I should be donating more. So the amounts I donate just keep increasing.

To be clear, I thought I would feel good about contributing so much, but actually I feel guilty for not contributing more. That was entirely unexpected.

It’s made me realize how much fear we have about being poor and taking risks, when in reality, we have way more than we ever need. We’re just blinded by fear so we don’t realize that we’re rich.

So, my message for you is: you are rich. Like, literally richer than most of the world’s population. Don’t believe the fear that’s propagated in our society- you’ve already achieved success and everything at this point is just icing on the cake.

(Note: this obviously doesn’t speak to people who truly are poor. But I feel that most, if not all, of the people who will read this are doing well enough that they are suitable for this message.)

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