The Power of Conscious Choice
13Jun 2017
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Written by Jessi Kohlhagen

You have been blessed with the power to choose.

Every living, breathing moment, you are making a choice.

What to eat, how to move, how to react, how to breathe, what information to consume, what desires to indulge, how much to work, how much to play, who to connect with, how to care for yourself…

The average adult makes around 35,000 choices each day.

The beautiful thing about being human is that we have the power to make these choices consciously or unconsciously. And whichever we choose will consistently deliver, in tangible and measurable form, a quality of experience that harmonizes with our choices.

The Evolution of Our Consciousness

Making conscious choices can be a tricky thing, because our experience of “consciousness” is a moving, evolving, unfolding experience.

It’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to see our current blind spots because, well, we’re blind to them! More…

The Winning Ticket to a Healthy Lifestyle
12Jun 2017
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Written by Lifebook contributor Paige Johnson

For some people, it seems like a healthy lifestyle comes naturally. No matter what stressful event life throws at them, they never seem to be thrown off of their health game. Day in, day out, they stick to a healthy diet, avoid unhealthy habits, and exercise. They even find a way to smile about the whole ordeal. This begs the question, how do healthy people stick to their lifestyle?

It starts with a smile

Being happy about your current lifestyle may not be a realistic choice right now due to a few bad habits that you possess. Despite this, you could find something to smile about, like the fact that you are reading this and hoping to learn what the winning ticket to a healthy lifestyle is. The benefits of smiling can be vital to the success of your healthy lifestyle goal, thanks to the way that smiling promotes positive feelings.

This trick will work regardless of whether or not the smile is real, and it may help you maintain a good mood throughout the day. The uplifting mood a smile generates is nothing to scoff at either. Your happy, smiling face can aid you in alleviating stress and tension on a molecular level. Over time, the physical relaxation you feel could make you more productive, meaning that you may find yourself a bit more eager to go on a walk or hit the gym.

Where to improve

Now that you have your go-to energy booster, it is time to decide on which unhealthy habit you would like to eliminate from your daily routine. Make the first habit you pick as specific as possible, and preferably something you can change right now. By focusing on removing one bad habit at a time, the odds of succeeding greatly increase. If you opt to choose a habit you can alter right now, it becomes more probable that you will start your healthy lifestyle transition today. More…

6 Mind-Expanding Podcasts for Your Intellectual Life
06Jun 2017
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Lifebook Pocast Host Jordan River presents his top 6 favorite podcasts mind-expanding podcasts in honor of Intellectual Month.

Each of these podcasts are informative and creative… and there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Click here to download the audio (right click player and “save as”).

Here are the links to the podcasts he mentions. Be sure to listen in to discover what makes each of them so unique and wonderful!

Podcast #6: Nightvale

Podcast #5: Adam and Drew

Podcast #4: How Stuff Works Network

Podcast #3: Freakonomics Radio

Podcast #2: StarTalk

Podcast #1: Dan Carlin

35 Quotes to Move You From Fear to Freedom
30May 2017
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Written by Jessi Kohlhagen

Fear.

It can stop us from doing great things, and it can keep us holding tight to the things that are hurting us.

Most people operate in unconscious avoidance of fear, enabling it to color their thoughts, feelings and patterns.

This causes them to procrastinate, lash out at others, react unconsciously, shrink in insecurity, hold themselves back from connecting with people in a meaningful way, and continually poison their dreams with doubt.

Trust me, I get it.

I’ve spent the better part of two years diving headfirst into my fears, exploring the terrain of my inner wilderness, and recovering the pieces of my soul that lie hidden deep within. It is no easy task. As Carl Jung said, “There is no birth of consciousness without pain.”

But if I’ve learned anything through it all, it’s this…

Every single decision we make in life is motivated by one of two things: fear or faith.

In each and every moment, we have the power to choose. The key is to become aware of what motivates our choices, and to slowly, gently ease ourselves more and more in the direction of courage, trust and freedom.

Because here’s what most people don’t realize…

The lack of acknowledgment and exploration of our fears is exactly what gives them power.

You can squirm over, under and around your fear. But you will never overcome it, or discover the treasure it contains, until you walk straight through it.

Here are 36 Quotes to Move You From Fear to Freedom:

More…

Why Be Great?
23May 2017

Why Be Great?

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Written by Lifebook Vice President, Sandra Garest

Why be great?

Why focus on excellence and continuous improvement?

Sure it takes effort, discipline and gigantic focus to live an extraordinary, world-class life.

So why do it?

Because it makes you feel good, which makes it all worth it.

It all centers around this big idea…

Playing below your potential makes you feel bad about yourself. More…

9 Steps to Quit a Bad Habit
09May 2017
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Just about everyone in the world has a bad habit they’d like to quit.

Whether it’s smoking, sugar, shopping, nail biting, porn, excessive social media or TV, or any other distraction… for better or worse, we humans are wired for habitual behavior.

The problem is, most of us are too comfortable in our groove to bother with the cruel and merciless task of reprogramming our behaviors. So we choose the easy and safe path — staying stuck in a negative loop that neither fulfills nor evolves us — ever wondering what life would be like if we could only work up the courage and fortitude to burn away our limitations and leap into our unknown potential.

Trust me, I get it. Quitting a bad habit is hard. In fact, it takes everything we’ve got.

And on the path of extraordinary living, we are faced with endless opportunities to reprogram our patterns. A truly extraordinary life is a journey, not a destination – made up of a series of opportunities to become even better, even stronger, even more evolved than we were before.

Our ability to continually choose change and growth over comfort and predictability is what ultimately builds our character, and a fulfilling life.

It’s hard to change ingrained patterns. But it’s doable.

Here are 9 powerful steps you can take to quit a bad habit:

(Note: You don’t need to follow every single step to quit a habit… but the more of them you do, the higher your chances of success will be. If you want to go all in, commit to all of them. Otherwise, get creative and see what works for you.)

  1. Have a big motivation.
    Lots of times people quit things because it sounds nice: “It would be nice to quit caffeine” or “how amazing would I feel if I quit drinking alcohol.” But ultimately this is weak motivation. What you need is strong motivation: “I quit smoking because I knew it was killing me and the people around me, and I knew my kids would think it was okay to disrespect their bodies if I continued to set that example.” Know your Why, and connect with it throughout your Quit. Write it down at the very top of a document called your “Quit Plan.”
  2. Make a big commitment.
    Now that you know your motivation, be fully committed. A common mistake is to say, “I’ll do this today,” but then let yourself off the hook when the urges get strong or you start to face resistance. Instead, tell everyone about it. Ask for their help. Give them regular updates and be accountable. Have a support partner you can call on when you need help. Ask people not to let you off the hook. And know that, in the beginning, it’s going to feel like swimming against the current. Stick with it through thick and thin. Be all in.
  3. Be aware of your triggers.
    What events trigger your bad habit? Recognize that the habit doesn’t just happen… it is triggered by something else: you smoke when other people smoke, or you shop when you feel like you’re not enough, or you eat junk food when you’re stressed, or you watch porn when you’re lonely, or you check your social media when you feel the need to fill space in your day. Watch yourself for a few days and notice what triggers your habit. Make a list of all those triggers on your Quit Plan, and develop a strong awareness of when those triggers happen.
  4. Know what need the habit is meeting.
    This is a big one, because it gets to the deeper root of the behavior. We all have bad habits for a reason — they meet some kind of need (or at least leave us feeling like they do). For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. The habit might be helping you cope with stress. For some of the other triggers, it might help you to avoid something, or cope with sadness, boredom, loneliness, feeling bad about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, or needing a break or treat or comfort. Write these needs down on your Quit Plan, and think of other healthier and more fulfilling ways you’d like to start meeting those needs when they inevitably arise in you in the form of cravings (which leads to #5).
  5. Have a replacement habit for each trigger.
    So what will you do when you face the trigger of stress? You can’t just not do your old bad habit — it will leave an unfilled need, a hole that you will end up filling with your old bad habit. You have to develop a good habit to do when you get stressed, or when someone gets angry at you, or when you’re feeling bad about yourself, etc. Consciously choose a new positive habit for each of your triggers, and write them down on your Quit Plan.
  6. Watch the urges, and delay.
    You will likely get strong urges to return to your bad habit when the triggers happen, especially in the beginning or in moments of intensity. These urges are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and create more space between your stimulus and the response. In that space, simply sit there and watch the urge rise and get stronger, and then shrink and fall. There is an ebb and flow to it. This is where awareness and mindfulness is built… in the spaces between things. So delay yourself. Stop what you’re doing and just breathe deeply. Remove distractions and create inner stillness. Become a witness to yourself. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. Call someone if you need the support. Above all else, remember — the urge will go away, if you just delay.
  7. Do the new habit each time the trigger happens.
    This will take a lot of conscious effort — be very aware of when the trigger happens, and very aware of doing the new habit instead of the old automatic one. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but you need to be very conscious of being consistent here, so the new habit will start to become automatic. This is one reason it’s difficult to start with bad habits — if there are multiple triggers that happen randomly throughout the day, it means you need to be conscious of your habit change all day, every day, for weeks or more. Difficult, but absolutely doable.
  8. Be aware of your thinking.
    Human beings have an amazing capacity for justifying bad habits with our thinking. You must watch your thoughts and realize when you’re making excuses for doing your old bad habit, or when you start feeling like giving up instead of sticking to your change. Don’t believe your rationalizations. Make choices you know you’ll be proud of.
  9. Learn from mistakes.
    We all mess up sometimes — if you do, be forgiving and gentle with yourself, and don’t let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time and improve. Write this on your Quit Plan. Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

As Tony Robbins says in this month’s LifeNote, Awaken the Giant Within, “using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.”

So make the decision, and stick with it. You got this!

It’s in our moments of decision that our destiny in shaped, again and again.

More…

The Neuroscience of Happiness (MP3)
02May 2017
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In this short and sweet 8-minute exploration of the science of happiness, we discover that scientists are learning more than ever before about how emotions relate to the brain, and how we can rewire our brains for positive states…

9 Powerful Meditations You Need To Try
24Apr 2017
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Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
– Buddha

We all know the power of meditation.

Some of us have experienced it firsthand. Others may have dabbled in it.

Yet, regardless of the known benefits, nearly everyone has a difficult time making meditation a consistent daily practice.

In our modern culture, our minds are trained to work around the clock… and indeed, they’ve become addicted to it.

With countless distractions drawing our awareness away from our own center — and endless gadgets and tools with which to consume information — we condition our minds to process, evaluate, react, and repeat, without ever breaking the cycle to rest and recharge.

It starts first thing in the morning, when most people turn on their smartphones to check email, Facebook, and surf the web – all before they are fully awake, arrived in the body, and out of the bed. It continues throughout the entire day and into the evening, typically ending with a glowing television screen right up until bedtime (and more and more commonly, through the entire night as a “sleep aid”).

All day long, our minds are both confronted with, and in search of, information to consume.

This causes tension, struggle, uncertainty and frustration in every area of our lives. Because as we know, our mind creates our reality.

A cluttered, burdened, troubled mind = a cluttered, burdened, troubled life.

Modern humans have made mental busyness our most ingrained habit — and it can be seriously difficult to break.

This is the real reason people don’t meditate. And, perhaps, that they haven’t found a form of meditation that resonates deeply enough to provide the profoundly tangible and far-reaching benefits inherent to the practice.

It’s time for all that to change…

Are you ready to devote yourself to the cultivation of a practice that will continually clear your mind, elevate your consciousness, and awaken your spiritual life in unimaginable ways?

In this article we will discuss the true purpose of meditation, and explore 9 unique ways to practice. Some you may have heard of, and others are more “outside the box.”

In this way, you can explore the terrain of your consciousness by choosing the pathways that resonate most with your level, your style, and your ultimate goal.

Whichever method you choose, we encourage you to commit to a daily exploration of meditation techniques, in honor of this month’s Intellectual focus.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet.
It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there –
buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.
– Deepak Chopra

Meditation is essentially a state of pure consciousness without content.

Ordinarily, our consciousness is filled with all kinds of rubbish, like a mirror covered with thick layers of dust. The mind is in constant traffic — with thoughts, desires, ambitions, emotions, and opinions in constant motion. Day in and day out, the mind is functioning, evaluating, preparing and reacting, with little or no resting period in between.

Meditation is a ceasing of the traffic — a calming of the fluctuations, and a stillness of the mental “content.” It is within this stillness and silence that our deepest truth can be realized, and our highest Self can be remembered. In the highest state of meditation, known as Samadi, we learn to flow in unimaginably ecstatic and blissful union with the divine energy of love and light, which we come to realize is our essential nature.

If you want to find God,
hang out in the space between your thoughts.

– Alan Cohen

In this article, we’ll explore 9 different approaches to meditation (some of which don’t even seem like meditation!), to help you experiment with what works best for you, and develop a deepening practice of mindfulness, presence and bliss in your own life.

The you that goes in one side of the meditation experience
is not the same you that comes out the other side.
– Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

9 Powerful Meditation Practices

GUIDED MEDITATION

Meaning and Origin

Guided meditation (otherwise known as “guided imagery” or “creative visualization”) has been used for centuries as a medical therapy. Evidence shows Tibetan monks began using guided meditation as early as the 13th century, imagining Buddha curing disease.

In guided meditations, either live or recorded, one is voice-guided step-by-step through a meditative experience.

Guided meditations are a wonderful place for beginners to start, as they require less effort and pressure to “get it right.” After all, meditation is the practice of deepening our relaxation and awareness.

Once you get the hang of it, and wish to take your practice to the next level, you can begin to explore other methods of meditation (some of which are listed in this article).

How to Do It

Guided meditation usually comes in the form of audio (youtube, file, podcast, CD), and sometimes video. You will find that any guided meditation will fall in one of below categories (with some overlap, of course).

  • Traditional Meditations — With these types of audios, the voice of the teacher is simply there to “illustrate” or “guide” the way for your attention, in order to be in a meditative state; there is more silence than voice in it, and often no music. Examples are offerings by Thich Nhat Hanh and Tara Brach, which are rooted in authentic Buddhist practices.
  • Guided Imagery — This makes use of the imagination and visualization powers of the brain, guiding you to imagine an object, entity, scenery or journey. The purpose is usually healing or relaxation.
  • Relaxation & Body Scans — This practice helps you achieve a deep relaxation in your whole body. It’s usually accompanied by soothing instrumental music or nature sounds. In Yoga this is called yoga nidra or “yogic sleep,” in which you are suspended between sleeping and waking states to achieve elevated awareness and deepened relaxation.
  • Affirmations — Usually coupled with relaxation and guided imagery, the purpose of these meditations is to imprint a message in your mind.
  • Binaural Beats — Binaural beats were originally discovered in 1839 by physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. He discovered when signals of two different frequencies are presented separately, one to each ear, your brain detects the phase variation between the frequencies and tries to reconcile that difference. This is used to generate alpha waves (10 Hz), which is the brain wave associated with initial levels of meditation. There is scientific research into why and how binaural beats work.

Learn more:

Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind,
the light of your consciousness grows stronger.
One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head.
This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously,
as your sense of self does not depend on it.
– Eckhart Tolle

VIPASSANA MEDITATION

Meaning and Origin

“Vipassana” is a Pali word that means “insight” or “clear seeing.” It is a traditional Buddhist practice, dating back to 6th century BC. Due to the popularity of Vipassanā meditation, the “mindfulness of breathing” has gained further popularity in the West as “mindfulness.”

How to Do It

There is some conflicting information on how to practice Vipassana. In general, most teachers emphasize starting with mindfulness of breath in the first stages, to stabilize the mind and achieve “access concentration.” This is more like focused attention meditation. Then the practice moves on to developing “clear insight” of the bodily sensations and mental phenomena, observing them moment-by-moment and not clinging to any.

Here’s a brief overview for beginnings. To learn more, explore the links below or consider a retreat or personal instruction.

Sit on a floor cushion, cross-legged, with your spine erect. If this is too challenging, you may also use a chair, but the back should not be supported.

Now focus all your attention, from moment to moment, on the movement of your breath. Notice the subtle sensations of the movement of the abdomen rising and falling. Notice the gentle expansion of the body on each inhale, and the contraction on each exhale. Notice the sensation of air passing through the nostrils and down into the throat.

As you focus on the breath, you will notice other perceptions and sensations appear: sounds, feelings or tensions in the body, emotions, mind chatter, etc. Simply notice these phenomena as they emerge in your field of awareness, and then return to the sensation of breathing. The attention should be kept in the object of concentration (in this case, the breathing), while these other thoughts or sensations are there simply as “background noise.” As you continue to be drawn out, draw yourself back in again to the breath. This is meditation.

Make “note” of what arises, without becoming attached to it. You can do this by identifying an object in general, instead of in detail. For example, if you become aware of a sound, you can label it “hearing” instead of “voices,” “cars,” or “barking dog.” If unpleasant physical sensations appear, such as tension or discomfort, you can label it “feeling” instead of “back pain” or “knee pain.” If you notice a scent, say the mental note “smelling,” without identifying the source of the smell.

In this way, you observe the objects of awareness without attachment, letting thoughts and sensations arise (as they inevitably will) and fall away naturally. Mental labeling (explained above) is often used as a way to prevent you from being carried away by thoughts, and keep you in more objectively noticing them.

Learn more:

Mental problems feed on the attention that you give them.
The more you worry about them, the stronger they become.
If you ignore them, they lose their power and finally vanish.
– Annamalai Swami

ZEN MEDITATION (ZAZEN or SHIKANTAZA)

Meaning and Origin

Zazen (坐禅) means “seated Zen” or “seated meditation” in Japanese. The aim of zazen is “just sitting;” that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.

Zazen has its roots in the Chinese Zen Buddhism (Ch’an) tradition, tracing back to Indian monk Bodhidharma (6th century CE). In the West, its most popular forms comes from Dogen Zenji (1200~1253), the founder of Soto Zen movement in Japan. Similar modalities are practiced in the Rinzai school of Zen, in Japan and Korea.

How to Do It

Zazen is generally practiced seated on the floor over a mat and cushion, with crossed legs. Traditionally it was done in lotus or half-lotus position, but a regular crossed legs position is more accessible for most.

The most important aspect of the practice is keeping the back completely straight, from the pelvis to the neck. The mouth is kept closed and eyes are kept lowered, with your gaze resting on the ground about two or three feet in front of

Internally, it is usually practiced in two ways:

  • Focus on breath — Focus all your attention on the movement of the breath going in and out through the nose. This can be made easier by counting the breath in your mind, or by gently tapping your thumb to each fingertip on both hands. Beginners should start with an inhale of 5 seconds, and an exhale of 5 seconds, and work their way up, always keeping the inhale and exhale equal in length. If you get distracted and lose your count, gently bring back the attention to #1 and begin again.
  • Shikantaza (“just sitting”) — In this form the practitioner does not use any specific object of meditation (such as the breath), but instead remains as much as possible in the present moment, aware of and observing what passes through and around the mind, without dwelling on anything in particular. This is a type of Effortless Presence meditation.

Learn more:

Self-Enquiry is not asking you to believe or to trust –
it is putting a mirror in front of you and asking you to look.
– Mooji

LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION (METTA MEDITATION)

Meaning and Origin

Metta is a Pali word that means kindness, benevolence, and good will. This practice comes from the Buddhist traditions, especially the Theravada and Tibetan lineages.

Observed benefits include: increasing the ability to empathize with others; development of positive emotions through compassion, including a more loving attitude towards oneself; increased self-acceptance; greater feelings of competence about one’s life; and increased feelings of purpose in life.

How to Do It

Arrive in a comfortable seated position. Keeping your spine erect, allow your entire body to relax and surrender around it. Close your eyes and bring your attention inward. Bring you awareness to your heart center, and begin to generate feelings of kindness and benevolence. Typically, you will work your way through 6 “objects” onto which you will radiate loving kindness:

  1. Oneself
  2. A close friend
  3. A “neutral” person
  4. A difficult person
  5. All four of the above equally
  6. And then gradually the entire universe

The feeling to be developed is that of wishing happiness and well-being for all. Spreading the light from your own heart outward to the whole of all existence.

This practice may be aided by reciting specific words or sentences that evoke the “boundless warm-hearted feeling”, visualizing the suffering of others and sending love; or by imagining the state of another being, and wishing him happiness and peace.

In this article, Emma Seppälä, Ph.D explores the 18 scientifically proven benefits of Loving-Kindness meditation.

Learn More:

When you realize how perfect everything is,
you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
– Buddha

MANTRA MEDITATION (OM MEDITATION)

Meaning and Origin

A mantra is a sound or word, usually without any particular meaning, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind. It is not an affirmation used to convince yourself of something.

Many masters insist that the choice of word, as well as its correct pronunciation, is very important, because of the vibrational power associated with sound and our energetic field. Others believe the mantra itself is only a tool used to focus the mind, and the chosen word is actually irrelevant.

Whichever you choose to believe (and we recommend experimenting with both!), mantra meditation can be a powerful way to enter into deeper states of relaxation and consciousness.

How to Do It

As in most type of meditations, mantra meditation is generally practiced sitting upright, with spine erect and eyes closed. Then, you are to repeat the chosen mantra in your mind, silently, over and over again for the duration of the practice.

To deepen the practice, you can match your breath to the mantra in your mind, coordinating the pacing of the two to unify your physical and mental rhythms.

“As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.

Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe.” (Deepak Chopra)

Here are some of the most well known mantras from the Hindu & Buddhist traditions:

  • om
  • so-ham
  • om namah shivaya
  • om mani padme hum
  • rama
  • yam
  • ham

You may practice for a certain period of time, or for a set number of “repetitions” – traditionally 108 or 1008. In the latter case, beads are typically used for keeping count.

As your practice deepens, you may find that the mantra continues “by itself” like the humming of the mind. Or the mantra may even disappear, and leaving you in a state of deep inner peace.

Learn More:

Meditation is offering your genuine presence to yourself in every moment.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

KUNDALINI YOGA

Meaning and Origin

“Kundalini” is an ancient Sanskrit word that literally translates to “coiled snake.” In the yogic tradition, it is believed that each individual possesses a divine energy at the base of the spine. This energy is something we are born with, but we must make an effort to “uncoil the snake,” thereby putting us in direct contact with the divine. Kundalini Yoga is the practice of awakening our Higher Self and turning potential energy into kinetic energy.

The exact origin of Kundalini Yoga is unknown, but the earliest known mention dates to the sacred Vedic collection of writings known as the Upanishads (c. 1,000 B.C. – 500 B.C.). Historical records indicate that Kundalini was a science of energy and spiritual philosophy before the physical practice was developed.  The word “upanishads” literally translates to “sitting down to hear the teachings of the master.” The first Kundalini classes were just that. Masters sat down with students and gave oral recitation of spiritual visions. Over time, the body science of Kundalini Yoga was developed as a physical expression of the Upanishad visions.

How to Do It

Meditation in the Kundalini Yoga tradition contains specific, practical tools that carefully and precisely support the mind, and guide the body through the use of breath, mantra, mudra (hand position), and focus. The range and variety of meditation techniques in the Kundalini Yoga tradition is very large.

Breathing, stretching, moving, jumping, chanting, meditating, focusing… Any given Kundalini kriya contains a variety of activities. A typical class is focused on control of breath, expansion of energy and alignment of the chakras.

The typical class is 60-90 minutes, structured as follows:

  1. 5-10 minute warm-up (often including spiritual teachings from the instructor)
  2. 30-45 minute kriya (the moving meditation)
  3. 5-15 minute Savasana relaxation
  4. 11-31 minute seated meditation

According to 3HO, the following guidelines should be followed during each Kundalini Yoga class:

  • Tune-in with the Adi Mantra: Chanting “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” three times before beginning any warm-ups, kriyas, or meditation.
  • Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of awareness. Listen to your body; do what works for you.
  • Challenge yourself to extend just past whatever you think your limits are. For instance, if you think you can only do one more minute of an exercise, then try for one minute and ten seconds.
  • Follow the directions! Keep the order and type of posture. Do not exceed the stated times. If you wish to shorten an exercise, shorten all exercises in the kriya proportionally (i.e., cut all times in half or quarter).
  • In a class, feel free to ask for clarification on an exercise or other aspects of the practice.
  • Drink water as needed between exercises.

The best way to experience Kundalini Yoga for the first time is in a classroom setting, with specific instruction from a trained teacher. Alternately, there are recorded classes available online at yogaglo.com or gaia.com for a small monthly membership fee.

Learn More:

Touch your inner space, which is nothingness,
as silent and empty as the sky; it is your inner sky.
Once you settle down in your inner sky, you have come home,
and a great maturity arises in your actions, in your behavior.
Then whatever you do has grace in it. Then whatever you do is a poetry in itself.
You live poetry; your walking becomes dancing, your silence becomes music.
– Osho

TONGLEN MEDITATION

Meaning and Origin

Tonglen is a Tibetan word which means “giving and taking,” or “sending and receiving.”

Tonglen meditation is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation that is meant to connect you with suffering in an effort to help you overcome it. In the West, we are often taught to avoid suffering, sometimes through seeking pleasure, which is the exact opposite of how Tonglen teaches you to manage suffering and challenge.

The practice can be traced back to 11th century Tibet, and the Kadampa school of Buddhism founded by Dromton Rinpoche. Dromton credits his teacher, Atisha, with training him in Tonglen practice, and tradition holds that Atisha learned it from his teacher Serlingpa, in Sumatra.

In these meditations, you develop an attitude of openness toward suffering, let go of negativity, practice giving and receiving, and cultivate compassion and empathy through the breath, visualization, and intention—for ourselves and others.

How to Do It

Tonglen can be practiced either as a formal sitting meditation, or practiced anywhere, anytime, as you go about your daily life. For our purposes, we’ll first discuss the formal method, as that is the ideal way to learn the practice…

First, center yourself and become present in the here and now. Once you have fully “arrived,” call into your mind someone who is suffering. See them as vividly as possible, imagining how hard it is, and what they might be feeling. The aim here is to try and feel their pain like it is your own, so that you may allow compassion to crack open your own heart.

Next, imagine that you can relieve them of their pain, by taking it on yourself. Imagine their suffering as a dark cloud of ash and smoke, and breathe it in, welcoming it all and accepting it as your own. As you do so, you may say silently in your mind, “May you be free from suffering.”

Now take all of that pain and suffering you have invited into your being, and move it into your heart center. This is where pain and suffering is transmuted, purified and transformed. Witness the cloud of pain and anguish transform with the pure light of awareness, and recognize that the other person’s suffering is not all that is transformed… but so too are your own ignorance, selfishness, and egocentric perspectives.

As you exhale, send positive vibrations of pure white light and the energy of love, freedom and peace to the person. Visualize the energy moving into their bodymind to completely heal and rejuvenate them. As you exhale you may say, “May you have happiness.”

Repeat these steps for as long as you wish, with as many people as you wish.

Learn More:

Whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.
What is soft is strong.
– Lao Tzu

ECSTATIC or TRANCE DANCE

Meaning and Origin

For as long as we can remember, and certainly throughout all of recorded history, music, dance and storytelling have been used as fundamental tools for healing and spiritual connection.

Spiritual dancing is a cross-cultural phenomenon, a testament to its power and authenticity. Cultures from every continent on this planet simultaneously embraced unique dance forms based on the animals and elements of nature present within their domain. Their purpose in dancing was to enter the consciousness of, or embody, the spirit of the sun, moon, and various animal and plant life. Through these dance rituals they believed that the spirits within nature could empower them with abilities such as courage and compassion, as well as reveal insights into the future.

Today, conscious dance can be seen as a doorway to the soul. Through absolute surrender to the body and the beat, we can free ourselves from the bondage of the mind, discover parts of ourselves we didn’t even know existed, and enter into ecstatic union with our spirit.

How to Do It

With eyes partly closed, allow your body to move as it wants to move to the music. Do not control your movements, or even be a witness of what is happening. Just be completely in the moment. Dance as if possessed. You are possessed by your own soul, fully inhabiting your body.

Let the dance flow in its own way – don’t force it. Follow your body. Allow it to unfold in its own time, on its own rhythm. You are not doing something very serious, you are simply playing! Playing with you body, playing with your life energy, playing with the universe. Allowing it to move you, and move through you.

Forget the dancer at the center of the ego, and become the dance. The division must disappear in order for it to become meditation. If you are standing aside, looking at and judging and planning your own dance, the division will remain. If the division is there, then it’s simply exercise – good, healthy, but it cannot be called meditation. The dancer must go until only the dance remains. Until it is not something you are doing, but something you are being.

Learn More:

The fastest, cleanest, most joyful way to break out of your own box is by dancing.
I’m not talking about doing the stand-and-sway.
I’m talking about dancing so deep, so hard, so full of the beat
that you are nothing but the dance and the beat and the sweat and the heat.
Put your body in motion and your psyche will heal itself.
– Gabrielle Roth

CANDLE STARING

Meaning and Origin

Candle meditation has been around since candles were invented; and before that, its origins must certainly date back to the first time a human being stared into a fire.

Fire is hypnotic, and can quickly create a state of trance – if you have a fireplace or wood stove at home, or if you have ever been camping, you know how mesmerizing a fire can be… or if you’ve ever sat in a room lit only by candles, you have experienced how peaceful and relaxing the warm glow of candlelight can be.

How to Do It

Candle staring meditation (also known as Trataka) is simple, gentle and totally accessible to anyone. The practice is incredibly simple. In essence, you simply stare at a candle (or fireplace or bonfire).

Here are some simple steps to create the most potent experience…

Create a quiet, dark space. If possible, place the firelight at eye level. Make yourself warm and comfortable, by wearing relaxed clothing and adjusting the temperature of the room (if possible). Remove any possible distractions or disturbances.

Sit on a chair, with your feet making flat contact on the earth beneath you, and rest your hands gently in your lap. Alternately, you can sit cross-legged on a floor cushion. Keep your back straight and centered throughout the practice.

Draw your attention to the flame. Focus on smoothing, lengthening and deepening your breath. As you continue to breathe, gaze softly at the flame, breaking eye contact only to blink occasionally. Allow your thoughts to come and go like clouds in the sky, and keep your entire awareness on the flame of light. Remain aware, focused, concentrated on the flame.

When you are ready (usually after 10-30 minutes), slowly begin to come back into the space surrounding you, first noticing the sounds, then the smells, and the finally begin to lift your gaze and re-familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Move slowly, and take a deep clearing breath. Give thanks for your practice, and all that it has offered you.

Learn More:

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime.
– Sogyal Rinpoche

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Sources:
http://liveanddare.com/types-of-meditation/
http://www.fragrantheart.com/cms/free-audio-meditations/spiritual-awareness/candle-gazing-meditation
http://www.oshorajneesh.com/download/osho-books/Meditation/OrangeBook.pdf
http://www.shityouregosays.com/sat-nam-the-secret-history-of-kundalini-yoga/

More…

20 Ways to Eliminate Stress From Your Life
18Apr 2017
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The internet is overflowing with articles on ways to unwind and relax after a stressful day, which can be very useful… but an even more powerful strategy is to get to the source of the problem, and cut stress out before it even happens.

By careful editing of your life, and changing certain habits, you can eliminate most common sources of stress in your life.

It’s important to note that a totally stress-free life isn’t possible (or even desirable). Stress is a natural response to challenges and growth in life, and a life without challenges or growth is too boring to contemplate. However, many of us can agree that most of the stress in our lives is unnecessary, and that it can be eliminated by taking some simple steps. It can’t be accomplished overnight — but it’s a rewarding and worthy goal.

Let’s take a look at an example — it’s a little extreme, but it exemplifies the typical stressors in people’s lives. Let’s say Fred gets up in the morning, waking up late, and now has to rush to get ready. He’s so rushed that he spills his coffee on his shirt and has to change, he nicks himself shaving. He heads out the door and then has to go back in the house because he forgot his wallet. He gets in the car and realizes he forgot his keys.

Now he’s on the way in to work and is in the middle of rush-hour traffic — and his temper starts to flare after someone cuts him off. He’s honking at people, cursing, and arrives to work late and in a bad mood. He snaps at someone and is surly all morning. His desk is covered in piles of paper, and he can’t find that report he needs to work on. His inbox is overflowing and his email notification is going off, and he sees he has 36 messages to respond to. He knows he’s late on two projects and his boss isn’t happy. He’s got to finish 5 tasks before the 11 a.m. meeting, and he’s got meetings all afternoon.

You get the idea. His day does not go well, and he hits rush-hour traffic on the way home. He gets home late, exhausted, completely stressed, his mind still on his late and as-yet uncompleted projects, his still-full inbox and email inbox, and all the stuff piling up that he has to work on tomorrow. The house is a mess and he snaps at his family. His kids have not put things away exactly where he told them to put them away, so he begins to yell at them. He has a quick, greasy dinner in front of the TV and zones out before falling asleep late.

Again, this is a bit extreme, but we can all relate to days like these. And many of these common stressors can be eliminated with just a little bit of thought, preparation and intention. More…

5 Ways to Sharpen Your Mind
11Apr 2017
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Welcome to the Lifebook Podcast!

In this episode, host Jordan River explores 5 cutting-edge ways to sharpen your mind.

We all know that exercising and eating right are great ways to improve mental focus… but many of us have the “basics” dialed in already, and are looking for deeper, more cutting-edge tools to add to their mental toolbox.

These methods were chosen because you can implement them immediately to improve the acuity of your mental focus…

Enjoy!

 

Click here to download the audio file (right click player and “save as”).