I just read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the second time. I read it several years ago, so it was wonderful to read it again. I like the lessons in the book. They are good reminders. For my 2020 intention, I want to reconnect with my heart chakra, so reading The Alchemist was reaffirming my intention.
It’s easy to say connect with your heart, but where do you begin? One way to connect with your heart is to feel your heart on a physical level. Place your hand on your heart center, and feel your heart beating. Also, during meditation, you can feel your heart beating as you follow your breath.
This morning during my meditation, I focused on my heart beating. I could feel the gentle rhythm. Also, I felt a twinge of fear. It was interesting because I wasn’t expecting to feel fear. I realize now that my heart has a lot to tell me, and I fear the unknown. But I know to stay in the present moment and let the fear pass.
A few days ago, I wanted to feel my heart when I held my dog in my arms. I could feel my heart fill with joy as a smile spread across my face. My heart started to beat as if it was purring.
I have a trip coming up in a few weeks. I am going to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to participate in a 10-day advanced Thai Yoga Massage training. Last night I thought about my trip as I felt my heart. I could feel my heart beat faster, just thinking about my trip. I am a little nervous traveling alone and spending the last five days of the trip by myself. I reminded myself that I am not traveling right now and to stay in the present moment.
The heart is a sensitive organ. It connects with our mind, emotions, body, and energy. It is the center of our life.
“Mindfulness is an embodied knowing of our present moment experience. It’s being present with our experiences in real time rather than being reactive and mindless, and pulled along by whatever is happening around us. It’s not about getting rid of thoughts or even about relaxation. It’s about developing the skills for greater clarity and choosing how we respond in any given moment.” – Alex Haley, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing
“One of the greatest threats to full aliveness is the sleight of hand practiced by our egos and our culture to keep us from seeing things as they are. Contemplation happens any time that we catch the magician deceiving us and we get a glimpse of the truth behind the trick. Whether it is a happy truth or a hard one, that truth will always quicken our lives.” – Parker J. Palmer
With wisdom and compassion, we can accept things as they are. You were born in a human body, raised in a geographical place on earth, and given a culture to shape who you are. Life is an experience. But the magic happens when we co-create with the universe.
How can you co-create with the universe?
Use creative visualization – use your imagination to create what you want in your life. Use a vision board to activate your goals. For example, use a 8.5 x 11 cardstock paper, cut out pictures from a magazine or print photos from your computer that align with your goals, and use words and phrases.
Use hypnosis. After reading, The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince by Mayte Garcia, I know that Prince used hypnosis to tap into his subconscious mind. No one can ever be like Prince. However, I find it interesting that he used hypnosis.
Learn to trust your inner self. Sharpen your intuition through meditation, pranayama, chanting, music/sound therapy, Reiki, and yoga. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple computers, used Zen meditation to tap into his intuition and creative mind.
Go with the flow. My Buddhist teacher Bhante Sathi says we should enjoy every aspect of our lives – even the things that we do not want to do.
Use the power of prayer. Prayer invokes your goodwill and intention.
Trust the universe. Yes, the universe is made of energy and we can tap into that energy. However, Dr. Ken Dychtwald states, “There is actually no such thing as pure energy or pure matter. Every aspect of the universe seems neither to be a thing or no-thing, but rather exists as a kind of vibrational or energetic expression.” I use Reiki to connect with universal energy and build trust.
Watch for synchronicities in your life. The universe will speak to you.
“When you contemplate the nature of Self, you are meditating. That is why meditation is the highest state. It is the return to the root of your being, the simple awareness of being aware. Once you become conscious of the consciousness itself, you attain a totally different state. You are now aware of who you are. You have become an awakened being.” – Michael A. Singer (From the book, “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.”)
I just spent four days on a silent meditation retreat with http://www.triplegem.org. Here are 11 lessons that I learned from the retreat:
Be a noble friend to yourself. Take good care of yourself. Remember you are the only doorway to the existence for yourself. During the retreat, I realized that I am too critical with myself. I need to let go of things and be my own best friend.
If you find value in something, continue to pursue it. There are many times that I want to give up on something that’s good for me. For example, sometimes I will find excuses not to go to meditation class.
Watch how your thoughts can cause suffering. Do not be mislead by unguided thoughts or false views. Wisdom comes by seeing the whole picture or the whole story (endowed with insight).
Find commonality among other people. Most people want to improve their lives. We are more alike than different.
Decide to lead a spiritual life, even if that means going through it alone. I realized that most of my family members do not accept that I am Buddhist. My family members are Catholic and they do not understand the Buddhist way of living. Sometimes I feel like I am estranged from my family. However, I know that the Buddhist path is right for me, so I will walk alone if I have to.
Renunciate. In Buddhism, the Pali word for “renunciation” is nekkhamma, conveying more specifically “giving up the world and leading a holy life.” My holy life includes daily practice of yoga and meditation, serving humanity through hospice work, attending a weekly meditation group (sangha) with my Buddhist teacher, sharing metta (loving-kindness) with everyone that I meet, and continuing self-study. I want to increase mindfulness.
Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, prayer, and reading spiritual literature can help keep you on the right path.
It is important to forgive and move on. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Gratitude creates a joyful heart. “Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path. Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.” – Pema Chodron
Use your time wisely. We all have 24-hours in a day. You can create a spiritual life with the right choices.
Never do anything that the wise would reprove (reprimand). We are never alone. There are always celestial beings around us.
Last night, in the middle of the night, fear crept up inside me. For the last couple of months, I’ve had occasional vertigo. As I laid in bed, I said to myself, “What is wrong with me?”
Then the fear spread in my head and my body froze.
I know what fear feels like, but now I use tools to help me let go of the fear. Right after I feel fear, I connect with my mantra: I have a strong mind. I repeat this phrase over and over in my mind. Last night, I actually fell asleep saying this mantra.
Other things to remember about fear:
Fear can be learned. In the past, I was afraid of vertigo. Now I know that fear is an experience or energy. It can be transformed – it will not stay. I turn the light on fear, face the fear, and then release it.
Identify the specific event that caused the fear and sever the emotional ties.
Remember the more you hold onto fear, the more it manifests. Fear is like food – you want more.
Give fear “no power.”
Increase self-confidence (that is why I say “I have a strong mind”).
Reprogram the subconscious mind using mantras, meditation, or hypnosis.
I remember hearing that the antidote to fear is gratitude. Anthony Robbins who is an American author and life coach says, “The antidote to fear is gratitude. The antidote to anger is gratitude. You can’t feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time.” Sometimes when I feel fear, I say to myself, “I am so thankful for my life. I will be okay.”
I am okay. I am sitting here typing this post. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to share my thoughts. Thank you for reading my words.
*Note 12/26/18: I went to the doctor and found out that I have low iron which is why I was feeling dizzy.
A strong emotion is like a storm. If you look at a tree in a storm, the top of the tree seems fragile, like it might break at any moment. You are afraid the storm might uproot the tree. But if you turn your attention to the trunk of the tree, you realize that its roots are deeply anchored in the ground, and you see that the tree will be able to hold.
You too are a tree. During the storm of emotion, you should not stay at the level of the head or heart, which are like the top of the tree. You have to leave the heart, the eye of the storm, and come back to the trunk of the tree. Your trunk is one centimeter below your navel. Focus there, paying attention only to the movement of your abdomen, and continue to breathe. Then you will survive the storm of strong emotion.
You should not wait for emotion to appear before you begin practicing. Otherwise, you will be carried away by the storm. You should train now, while the emotion is not there. So sit or lay down and practice mindfulness of the breath, using the movement of your abdomen as the object of your attention. I am positive that if you do this exercise for twenty days, ten minutes per day, then you will know how to practice whenever a strong emotion comes up. After ten or twenty minutes, the emotion will go away, and you will be saved from the storm. – Thich Nhat Hanh
I feel a little stressed out lately. I think my stress and anxiety comes from a combination of starting a new school semester, grieving the death of my father and two good friends, and worldly events. I had a few sleepless nights and a few panic attacks. I knew I had to get myself back on track. The best way to reduce stress is through self-care.
My self-care includes slowing down, staying home and resting, taking a bath, eating well, taking the time to reflect, getting a massage, listening to a relaxing podcast, meditating, doing yoga, walking my dog, and spending time with good friends.
Here are a few more tips for reducing stress (taken from Ridgeview Medical Center, Home Care and Hospice, Minnesota):
Stress reduction in five minutes. Mediation, deep breathing, and yoga increases oxygen, moves your body, and focuses your mind. Just take 5 minutes twice a day (morning and evening) to do yoga and meditation. Studies show that this lowers blood pressure, releases healing hormones into your body, increases creativity, increases productivity, and increases your ability to handle stressful situations.
Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Walk your dog, walk at lunch, or set a treadmill up in your living room so you can exercise and watch your favorite show while you give your body life. Discover new exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong. Death rates from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, are much lower in people exercising 30 minutes a day. Exercise lowers the risk of strokes, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Laugh as often as possible to release healing hormones such as endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Do not buy pills for your stress. Rent a funny movie or go online to a humorous site daily. Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and boosts your immune function.
Play and re-establish “child-like” qualities. Science tells us when we play; it increases our immune cells that combat disease. Playfulness also increases creativity and optimism at home and work.
Pay attention. When we daily pay attention and learn to live a life of awareness and mindfulness, we become aware or our emotions, our choices, our relationships, our home life, our work, we can begin to live a rich life of awareness. Practicing mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression.
Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are healthier and live longer than non-breakfast eaters. Research has shown that people who live to the age of 100 were consistent breakfast eaters or they consumed breakfast more frequently than non-breakfast eaters. People who eat breakfast consumed less fat and had a higher intake of essential vitamins and minerals, and lower serum cholesterol, which leads to a lower instance of heart disease.
Get a pet. Studies reveal there are benefits of owning a pet, such as reduction of blood pressure and inducing a relaxation response in our bodies. Pets are emotional lifesavers, they help people experience intimacy and help with changes and loss in our lives.
Create Friendships. Friendships are strong indicators of mental, physical and spiritual health. Friendship is not a luxury but is essential to work-life balance and your health. Studies show that isolation decreases immune functioning and increases mortality risk.
Attitude of Gratitude. It is physiologically impossible to be grateful and experience stress at the same time. Research shows grateful individuals report having more energy and less physical complaints than their non-grateful counterparts. Studies tell us daily gratitude exercises resulted in high levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.
Altruism and philanthropy. A generous soul lives a rich, abundant life. Altruism neutralizes negative emotions that affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function. Altruism creates physiological responses or “helpers high” that makes people feel stronger and more energetic and counters harmful effects of stress.