If someone inquires as to how you are, do you reflexively respond "Good" or "Great" when you don't actually feel that way? You're not alone.
A few years ago, I had a wonderful woman on my course who told me that everyone thought she was happy because she was very talented in acting that way even when she wasn't feeling particularly happy at all.
We have all heard the expression, "you are what you eat", relating to the foods we consume and their effect on our bodies. But this expression applies to all the experiences we consume. They become us.
It's a lesson we are reminded of every time we are a passenger on an airplane. During the pre-flight safety announcements, the flight attendants instruct us if we happen to experience a change in cabin pressure and the oxygen masks drop, we should first put on our own masks before assisting other passengers.
We use tools because they help us accomplish things.
When we make soup, for instance, a long wooden spoon is an essential tool. If we stir the pot with a piece of silverware, our hands get messy and possibly burned. And this doesn't just apply to soup - in virtually any endeavor, having the right tools is key to our success.
If you're feeling particularly unsettled and stressed right now, you're not alone.
Most presidential elections elevate the stress of the collective consciousness. However, this year, the tension in the atmosphere is unprecedented.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association indicates that 52% of American adults report that the 2016 election is a significant source of stress regardless of their political affiliation. Click here for the full report.
When we're stressed, things feel very wrong indeed. But no matter how wrong your life may feel, there is never anything wrong with YOU. It's easy to blame yourself and wonder, "Why can't I handle this? Beyoncé has the same number of hours in the day as I do, and look at everything she accomplishes! I'm just not as strong as she is... right?"...
When we find ourselves in quarter- or mid-life crisis mode, the question "Who am I?" is a frequent (and often unwelcome) visitor.Until recently, the following words came to mind when considering who I am: female, wife, daughter, friend, East Coast transplant, teacher… brunette, tall-ish, sensitive, fearful, insecure…the list went on.
It's just full of demands. Your job, commute, family, and environment all place demands on you, and the state of your brain and body determines how you respond. Demands aren't a bad thing; they're a neutral and non-negotiable part of modern life. It's impossible to avoid demands if you want to have relationships and make contributions to the world. We come to know demands as stressful because of how our physiology reacts to them, but the good news is we have the power to change this. Instead of resenting or avoiding demands, we have the most success when we gain the tools to deal with them elegantly...
Are you missing it? Missing what? What's happening right here, right now.
An ongoing Havard University study found that participants spent 46.9 percent of their time awake thinking about something other than what they are doing and this mind-wandering experience typically made them unhappy. Why? ...
Meditating is the easiest thing I do all day, and in a society where focusing and accomplishments are celebrated, the effortlessness of meditating feels even better. We can't be in "hustle hard" mode 24/7; in fact, people who hustle especially long and hard need a tool to recharge their brains so they can continue said hustling. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.
Vedic Meditation is a simple, effortless meditation technique that requires no focus, concentration or paying attention to thoughts or activity. Practicing Vedic Meditation does not require clearing the mind of thoughts or cessation of thinking. Without trying, your mind settles to its least excited state beyond thought. This makes it accessible and enjoyable.
The benefits of practicing Vedic Meditation are profound: Feel happier. Sleep better. Think clearer. Save time. Work smarter. Strengthen your relationships. Curb harmful behaviors. Be present and productive.
Great news! You don't have to. In fact, trying to suppress thoughts creates more mental activity, which is completely counterproductive. Meditation is not all about emptying the mind; expecting the mind to stay quiet is like expecting the ocean to stay still. Quietness is one of many meditation experiences, just as stillness is one of many ocean states.
As meditation picks up steam in the wellness space, mindfulness is everywhere. The term can be confusing, though, because mindfulness connotes two distinct things: a meditation technique and a state of being. Let's define them:
The technique: Mindfulness is a popular technique with many versions, but it generally involves sitting in a stable, erect position and feeling your breath as it goes in and out. When your attention inevitably wanders from the breath, you come back to it. If thoughts, feelings, or body sensations arise, you accept them without judgment and return to the breath. The touted benefits of this technique include physical and mental health improvements, including easier access to mindful living, described below.
Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com
Why are fear and worrying such universal experiences? They don't seem to fit in a world where the options and luxuries available to us are ever-improving. Now that technology and communication have pervaded most of global society, the collective capacity is at an all-time high and we're more "evolved" than ever on so many levels...
In the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, we are left asking what can be done to change things. Do we need to change our laws? Our leadership? Our foreign affairs? We ask of ourselves, what can we do as individuals. Donate our money? Our time? Our energy? Our blood?
As I approach my 30th birthday, aging has been on my mind... and I find myself struggling with society's decidedly negative attitude toward getting older. According to nearly everyone I meet, it all goes downhill after 30. However, I refuse to accept the idea that my life is going to get progressively worse, and my meditation studies have confirmed that I need not despair about aging, let alone turning 30.
A Gallup poll from a few years ago indicates that over 40% of Americans get less than the minimum recommended seven hours of sleep (I suspect this number has increased since this poll was published in December 2013). Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Sleep impacts the quality of our lives every day--our energy, our focus and productivity and our mood.
When I eat ice cream three days in a row (usually with a side of Real Housewives) and find an empty carton on day four, I feel a sense of craving and lack. When an old boyfriend dumped me ten years ago (because I was clingy and insecure), my life felt empty and meaningless.
Clearly, we're better off if we don't rely on external sources to feel happy and fulfilled.This isn't to say that friends, lovers, and the rest of life's pleasures are meaningless because they aren't our true source of bliss. Instead, think of these things as a beautiful bonus that make our lives even more abundant.
One of the main obstacles that keeps some people from learning Vedic Meditation is time. Although the technique itself is absolutely effortless, requiring no focus or concentration, paying attention to or monitoring thoughts or activity, it does require time.
The general strategy is to meditate for twenty minutes twice a day.
We tend to think of our time linearly. Meaning if spending our time meditating, that is time taken away from doing something else, like work or spending time with our friends and family or going to the gym. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ben Turshen taught me that these deceptively similar words manifest quite differently in our life experiences.
The word reaction generally has an unfavorable connotation. When my mom nags me (out of love, naturally) and I snap back at her, I call it an overreaction. When my student throws a chair and my heart starts racing, I call it a stress reaction. And if your skin develops a rash after your dermatologist prescribes new medication, she would call it an adverse reaction to the drug.
On the other side of any person, place, or thing, period. Not the promotion, the apartment, the vacation, or any of it. We all know this intellectually - we've seen marriages fail despite picture-perfect weddings and celebrities self-destruct despite dream careers. But somehow, we continue to seek fulfillment outside of ourselves, whether it's a little pick-me-up (yet another pair of shoes) or a milestone goal (house, spouse).
These days, the word "meditation" is about as specific as the word "exercise." In a world where it's becoming increasingly cool to meditate, people often say that running or praying or tea or coloring is "their way of meditating." Although these pursuits are valuable, they are not meditation because they don't allow the body to rest deeply, completely transcend thought, and remove stress (rather than temporarily relieve it).
No one starts meditating because they have 40 extra minutes in the day, am I right? We seek meditation because we want to thrive in our busy lives. So many people wish to establish a regular habit (of exercising, cooking, meditating, whatever) but feel like they simply can't fit it in. If this is you, I would argue that you probably do have the time, but you may not be using it as well as you could. This is not your fault - life is demanding! But you're responsible for taking action if you feel dissatisfied, and meditation gives you the energy to use your time optimally. It allows you to get more done and focus on activities that truly make you happy.
It's that time of year. Spring cleaning. Time to donate that third and fourth pair of gray New Balance sneakers. Time to dispose of all the expired medications taking up room in the cabinet above your bathroom sink. Time to go through your closet, your dresser, the bins underneath your bed and get rid of all the "stuff" that is now irrelevant and redundant.
What if you could declutter your mind like you declutter your home? When you practice Vedic Meditation that is exactly what happens.
Funnily enough, I don't. This may change some day, but that's besides the point.
If you're wondering whether meditation is worth your time, ask yourself whether or not you exercise, get your teeth cleaned, or wash your hair regularly. If the answer is yes, you must care to some degree about your physical health and well-being. Youth reigns supreme these days and we tend to worry about "letting ourselves go." We want to keep our bodies toned, wrinkle-free, and devoid of gray hairs. I am no exception, although I would like to stress less about aging and this post from one of my favorite blogs is super inspiring... but I digress. You value your body and want it to feel good because you absolutely deserve it.
Insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other chronic disorders are all too common. Furthermore, cancer and other debilitating diseases continue to affect millions despite medical progress. People whose mental or physical struggles impact their daily life are seeking meditation and, amazingly, finding relief.
Sometimes, things get heated with my darling husband. Usually, this looks like me yelling and/or crying while he expresses an endearing combination of caring and bewilderment. Before I started meditating, our arguments would "end" with him feeling peaceful and ready to move on, and me wallowing in bed feeling teary and unsettled for the rest of the afternoon. "How can you just get over this and be cheerful right away?" I would ask. "We were just yelling at each other a few minutes ago. I'm not mad anymore, but I need to process and recover from this."
Truth time: Fear Of Missing Out does not have to be a thing. Before meditation, I was an introvert who joked about about my extreme homebody tendencies while secretly feeling like it wasn't funny at all. When social plans arose, I always preferred to stay home and recharge my batteries and often used my "draining teaching job" as an excuse. But while a part of me was thrilled to post up on the couch, I also felt guilty and self-critical for not wanting to be social. Why can't I be a normal, social human being? I'd ask myself. What if everyone out in the world is becoming BFFs without me? I truly believed that I sucked at having fun and no one liked me because of it. I didn't want to engage socially because I felt like a failure at it.
The act of practicing Vedic Meditation is not very sexy at all. Even if you're very good looking to begin with, to the outside observer, it looks like you're just sitting there comfortably with your eyes closed for 20 minutes. It would be quite a boring thing to watch for that long no matter how aesthetically pleasing you are to the eye.
When we were kids in school we learned about pulleys and levers in our science and math classes. With amazement, we found that by utilizing these tools we could move heavy objects with significantly less effort.
These natural laws apply to Vedic Meditation as well--to the technique itself and its effects. By doing less, we accomplish more. By doing least, we accomplish most.
It's been a long time since I first learned Vedic Meditation. Since then, this meditation practice has absolutely impacted the way I think, act, behave and interact with the world. But I certainly don't think, act, behave or interact in any which way whatsoever because I'm a "meditator" or even a "meditation teacher".
One of the things I like the most about Vedic Meditation is there no mandated moral or ethical codes or belief systems, religion or lifestyle changes that are prescribed. You don't join an organization or receive a special name. But expect some changes to come about on their own.
Growing up, my coaches would shout at me, "get your head in the game". My school teachers would constantly remind me to "listen, pay attention". I was not alone in receiving these instructions.
We often find ourselves reviewing the past or trying to predict the future, speculating, and mostly worrying. Why is it that we have a such a hard time being in the present moment? How come our mind and body become so easily disconnected? Stress is the main culprit.
When it comes to Vedic Meditation, the meditation technique itself is easy and enjoyable. The mind and body settle down automatically and spontaneously without any effort, focus, or concentration.
The hard work for most people is finding the time to meditate. Vedic Meditation is a daily practice and the general strategy is to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning and another 20 minutes in the afternoon/evening. For new meditators, this is may be challenging. It was for me.
My views on meditation have changed. This may surprise you, but I used to think meditation was strange. Something for people that were not like me at all. When I thought of meditation, I imagined monks dressed in robes sitting perfectly still in silence for hours in mountaintop temples or yogis sitting in full lotus position chanting mantras.
I had no desire to become a monk and had never taken a yoga class, but I was envious. The idea that I could quiet my mind, shut down the daily barrage of fear, worry, anger, sadness, frustration that swirled in my head was very appealing. But it seemed like an impossible dream for someone like me. Along with anxiety, depression and insomnia, I struggled with what doctors diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder. I thought that my mind was too busy to meditate.
I'm writing to you having recently returned from two weeks in Rishikesh, India, a incredibly beautiful holy city known as the birthplace of yoga. While there, I meditated in abandoned ashrams, explored ancient temples, swam in the Ganges River, met new friends and received supreme knowledge from my teacher.
I want to help you start 2015 with a clean slate, but the unfortunate truth is that on January 1st, you don't get a clean slate. Your slate is a day more marred and scarred than it was on December 31st.
Everyday we are being programed by experience. Our past leaves its legacy and that cannot be erased by a change of the calendar date. Despite our intellect telling us that there might be a better way of thinking and acting, our default mode of operating is based on all our yesterdays. It is the equivalent of trying to create a beautiful mural on a wall covered by decades of graffiti and filth.
Practicing gratitude is a very simple thing. It doesn't require any special knowledge or ability. That doesn't make it insignificant--quite to the contrary, if the expression is genuine, it is very powerful. It establishes equilibrium.
Gratitude doesn't require a special day, but during the holidays, we're reminded to give thanks for all the good we have in our lives.
The technique of Vedic Meditation completely transformed me. I would never imagine my life without it.
We all have some sense of how we want our lives to look. We might know where we would like to live or even what we want to do to earn a living. We have a picture of how we would like to spend our time and the people we would like to spend that time with.
Regardless of what our lives look like on paper, we all desire the same thing. We want to be happy. This is the human condition. Our minds are designed to move us in the direction of greater happiness. We're always on the lookout for more satisfaction, more fulfillment, more happiness.
Our ability to perform at our potential is proportional to our stress levels. Stress is not a given situation or demand, but rather our reaction to a given situation or demand. It's how we respond.
Growing up, I came to understand this all too well. Whether on the playing field or in the classroom, I found myself sabotaged by stress. As an athlete, you could label me a "practice player." I had the skills and the ability to perform, but when the game was on the line, my anxiety would get the best of me and I would "choke" under pressure. I would let my coaches and teammates down...
Unfortunately, some people believe that they "can’t meditate". To them, it seems like an impossible task. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Vedic Meditation is not a monastic practice. Meaning, it wasn’t designed for people whose spiritual path involves detaching from society. This technique was developed for “householders”—people like you and me, who are fully engaged in life. Multi-tasking people with hyperactive minds who lead busy, active lives with jobs, relationships, and families.
With the Fall season arriving, we look for better ways to manage our stress. Before learning Vedic Meditation, I did a number of things to help manage my stress--some healthier than others. One of my healthier pursuits was exercise. I train in a grappling sport called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art developed by the Gracie family for self-defense. On the mat, I experienced my mind and body at the same place at the same time. Off the mat, I continued to struggle. My anxiety, depression and insomnia were ever present.
We are creatures of habit. Our days are filled with rituals and routines. As we approach the end of the summer, many of us move into our "back to school routine" as we shift gears into the fall season. Vedic Meditation is enjoyable and easy to practice, but it's also a routine, a daily practice, and that is a key feature to it's efficacy.
There's a tendency to think of meditation as something to do when you're feeling especially stressed--like a band-aid, a quick fix. Vedic Meditation decreases our stress and increases our happiness everyday, providing immediate and sustainable change.
Recently, I've been thinking about hockey. Maybe because the New York Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in twenty years. Growing up, I was completely obsessed with the sport. My parents would spend their weekends driving up and down the East Coast to take me and my teammates to our games and tournaments.
As a native New Yorker, my favorite team to watch was naturally the Rangers, but my favorite player was Wayne Gretzky, who didn't play for the Rangers until 1996. Nicknamed the "The Great One", Gretzky is considered the greatest hockey player of all time...
Summer has arrived in New York. With the warm weather, our schedules fill up with outdoor activities and events. We may even be so lucky to travel out of the city on the weekends to spend some time in nature. We are busier than ever. This is not the time to be stressed and miss out on everything wonderful going on around us. As the kids call it "FOMO" (fear of missing out). Worse than missing a barbecue or a day at the beach is actually being there physically but having our mind somewhere else altogether. Vedic Meditation delivers us to a place where we are present, clear, grounded, rested and energized. We are able to fully enjoy all the opportunities that life provides during the summer months and beyond.
It seems that spring has finally arrived in New York. This particular change of seasons often inspires us to do some "spring cleaning". We go through our things and get rid of what we now find irrelevant and redundant. In the same way we accumulate stuff in our homes, we accumulate stress in our bodies. Vedic Meditation delivers our bodies into what the scientific literature describes as a wakeful hypometabolic state, a state of profound deep rest (exponentially deeper than what we can experience in sleep). The experience of this state removes accumulated stress from our physiology. Think of Vedic Meditation as "spring cleaning" for the mind and body, removing irrelevant and redundant structures (stress) at the cellular level. Maybe we go through our belongs once or twice a year in this fashion, maybe less than that. When you practice Vedic Meditation regularly you go through this process of purification every day.
As we are thawing out from one of the longest and coldest New York winters in recent memory, we turn our attention to the warmer months ahead. With excitement, we begin to plan for the summer, and for many of us this means getting "in shape". We spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and expense using varying means in an attempt to enhance our physiques. The truth is that regardless of what our bodies look like when we're sitting on the beach, happiness comes from a place deep within ourselves. Vedic Meditation is simple technique that delivers us directly to that place where happiness resides.
Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the one commodity we all share equally is TIME. Vedic Meditation gives us more time. The profound deep rest experienced using this meditation technique (exponentially deeper than sleep) heals our bodies of the effects of decades of accumulated stress and provides us with energy and clarity so that we can be infinitely more productive, efficient and available in all of our relationships and endeavors.
Relationships are all about giving. Vedic Meditation improves relationships. When you are stressed, anxious, and tense, you can only give so much. When you are calm, relaxed, grounded, and equanimous, you can give the very best of yourself and all of your relationships improve.
Many of us view the new year as a clean slate, a time to re-prioritize our choices and dedicate ourselves to improving our lives and our relationships with our best intentions at hand.
The challenge is not in the choosing itself--for the most part, we know what we should be doing. Spending time with family and friends, exercising regularly, eating healthy nutritious food, finding time to relax, being patient, kind and compassionate to others. The list goes on. The problem we face is that regardless of our intention, we are destined behave and act according to the baseline level of stress that we've accumulated in our minds and bodies...
For most of us, the holiday season is a joy-filled time of year, yet it can also be very challenging. We are faced with high levels of demands and expectations as the days continue to grow shorter and colder, our schedules fill up with holiday parties, even trips to visit family, or a vacation somewhere warm to escape the cold of winter. The choice is often to "power through" and we end up missing a very special time of year being over-stressed. Vedic Meditation gives us a way to find balance, inner peace and a profoundly deep level of rest that allows us to enjoy the holiday season and begin the new year grounded, with clarity and grace.
I want to share a personal story with you about my path of finding Vedic Meditation.
I had been battling anxiety, depression, and insomnia for most of my life. When I started my career as a corporate attorney at a large New York law firm, the burden became unbearable. That's when I found Vedic Meditation and it made the most immediate and profoundly positive impact on my physical, mental, and emotional health.
A few years later, I decided to do something that could help the people in my life -- and that’s why I became a teacher of Vedic Meditation.
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