Do you meditate? And if you don't do so regularly, have you ever tried it?
For the millions of people who practice meditation regularly, meditation is life-changing and affirming. And recently, there’s been some fascinating research into how practicing meditation can actually make positive changes to your brain’s structure.
The Research Study
The academic journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging recently published a study about meditation. This study, completed by Massachusetts General Hospital clinicians, looked at a small number of subjects and used brain imaging equipment to look at their brains before and after an 8-week meditation class.
The results were astonishing: for meditators, the areas of the brain that focus on being compassionate toward others and being self-aware got larger and the brain areas devoted to stress actually got smaller.
Experts are so sure of the positive mind-altering benefits of meditation that it’s beginning to be taught in some grade schools. For vibrant health, it seems that meditation should rank up there with your diet and exercise goals!
Tips for Getting Started with Meditation
(1) Find 1 or 2 times a day you can meditate. Before breakfast is great. Just before dinner also works.
(2) Initially, plan to spend 10 minutes for each meditation session. You’ll gradually increase your time by 5 minutes every other week or so, until you reach 30 minutes.
(3) Find a quiet space. If you have your own den or study, that’s probably a good place to meditate. Your bedroom might be another.
If you have a quiet space in nature, that would be a fabulous meditation site. There must be silence or as little noise as possible in your surroundings.
(4) Make sure you won't be interrupted. Meditating before your kids or spouse wake up might work for you.
If that’s not possible, ask family members not to disturb you during meditation.
(5) Cover or move your clocks. Make sure you can’t see them from where you’re sitting. You want to de-focus from everything around you, particularly from watching the clock.
(6) Wear comfortable clothing. Stretchy or baggy clothing like athletic wear often works fine.
Shoes or socks are not necessary. However, if you think your feet are going to get cool, go ahead and wear socks.
(7) Get into a comfortable position. Most people find that sitting on carpeting, a soft rug, or a yoga mat works best.
If you need to lean against something, try sitting on the floor while leaning against your bed or sofa. Cross your legs Indian-style if it’s comfortable for you.
Either clasp your hands loosely in your lap or extend your arms to balance the top of your wrists on your knees, with your hands gently cupped upward.
(8) Use a gentle-sounding timer. Many people like an external stimulus to signal the end of their meditation session.
But avoid startling yourself after you meditate, because that would defeat the purpose of meditating in the first place.
Most cell phones these days have a wide variety of timer sounds with a few of them on the gentler side. For example, sounds like a harp, sonar alarm, gong, or xylophone are particularly helpful to use when emerging from meditation.
(9) Meditate. The scene is set. Get comfortable.
Close your eyes. You can also stare at a spot on the wall or an object of beauty, like a vase of flowers or picture of a sunset or the beach, if you prefer.
Breathe. Listen to the sound of your breath and clear your mind. If your mind wanders, just re-focus on your breathing.
After some practice, you’ll find yourself going into an altered state, almost like sleeping. You’ll experience feelings of tranquility.
Then when your timer sounds, give yourself a little time before gently arising and going about your day.
Here's What Will Happen if You Keep at it...
Today is the International Day of Peace. If you knew it would work, would it be worth it to you to dedicate time every day to meditating so you could create peace in your own life?
Well, if you get into the habit of practicing meditation twice a day for 10 minutes, every day, you’ll be amazed at the results you achieve.
So I encourage you to alter your brain by meditating each day. You’ll live a more peaceful life and have healthier relationships with your inner self and others.
See you next time!
The Self-Talk Quiz...
TRUE OR FALSE...
-I criticize my looks.
-I have negative thoughts about my best efforts.
-I talk myself out of trying new things.
-When I receive positive feedback, I say or think ‘Yes, but. . .’ I would never talk to other people the way I talk to myself.
-I label myself with derogatory names, such as loser, stupid, klutz, etc.
-When I have good thoughts, my critical inner-voice reminds me of past failures.
-When entering a room, I anticipate the worst.
-I find myself repeating the same negative thoughts automatically.
-I find fault with my accomplishments.
Count the number of true answers..
0 – 3 Your self talk could be better.
4 & Above Let’s discuss your responses.
Are You Sabotaging Yourself with Negative Self-Talk?
You can discover if you are sabotaging yourself by tuning into your thoughts and listening.
What do you hear?
You may not even realize how negative thinking may be dominating your life. This may be something that you deal with daily and have come to see as normal.
(1) Do you talk yourself out of being excited and hopeful every time you feel good about yourself?
(2) Do you often start out feeling confident in yourself and your abilities, and then drop to zero confidence when your inner dialogue kicks in?
(3)Are you encouraging yourself with positive thoughts? Or are your thoughts filled with negatives?
You can combat negative thoughts with positive-self talk instead of letting an automatic negative thought process rule your life.
Positive self-talk is the practice of responding to negative thoughts that run through your mind. For example, when you tell yourself that you can't possibly land the job because you aren't good enough, you can respond with positive thoughts that leave no room for negativity.
These thoughts can be as simple or complex as you like. The important thing is that you continue to think positively.
Now, one way you could change your thinking in a really powerful way is to pair your positive thinking with affirmations...
Affirmations & Positive Self-Talk
Affirmations are simple statements you can repeat to yourself over and over again. Affirmations are positive statements that replace your negative thought processes. You can allow these thoughts to become true for you. The process is as subconscious as it is conscious.
When you continue to reaffirm the positive thought, you will make it true for yourself until you eventually don't need to remind yourself to think that way.
Set an intention to replace your negative statements with positive thoughts when you repeat your affirmations. Eventually, it will become second nature to repeat your affirmations anytime that you start to think negatively.
With positive self-talk you can truly change your life completely.
You can go from being a negative person with no hope for the future, to being an optimist who can achieve anything you put you mind to. Does this mean that there won't be challenges along the way, or that you'll never fail?
No, because those things are a part of life. But what it will mean is that you'll have a better attitude, which will allow you to grasp the very best that life has to offer.
7 More Tips for Eliminating Negative Thinking
Before we get into the 5 tips, let's find out more about the extent to which negativity is affecting you. Take the negativity quiz and then read on for more tips to help shift your negativity habit...
(1) Notice your repetitive thoughts and when they occur. The first step to changing these thought patterns is to catch them when they first begin. When you notice negative thinking, change your thought.
(2) Read positive quotes each day. If you can’t find the time to read a book, at least read a few positive quotes each day. You can buy calendars with positive quotes. There are also plenty of websites with quotes on a wide variety of 1 topics.
(3) Keep your mind in the present. That doesn't mean you can't look ahead, as needed, to make plans. But your thoughts should remain rooted in the present.
Thinking about the past often leads to frustration and regret. Thoughts of the future can cause anxiety. Keep your mind on your current surroundings and task.
Decide not to worry about the next step. Take care of the current step first.
(4) Ask yourself, “Do I know for certain this is a fact? Or is it just my opinion?”
You don’t know as much as you think you do. You make a lot of assumptions based on faulty knowledge.
That might lead you to believe that your situation is less solvable than it really is. If you don’t have accurate beliefs, you’re already at a huge disadvantage.
(5) Let go of the idea that perfection is possible. Expect that you won’t be perfect at anything.
If you make perfection your goal, you’ll always fall short and that will lead you right to more negative thinking.
(6) Spend time doing something that makes you feel good. It will be a lot easier to have positive thoughts if you’re doing something you enjoy.
Make a list of things you like to do and spend some time each day doing at least one of them. Enjoy yourself each day.
(7) Meditate - Meditation seems to be a cure for everything. It’s one of the best ways to learn more about your thought patterns. It’s also a great way to learn to focus and direct your thoughts.
Negative thinking is a challenging habit to defeat.
But if you monitor your thoughts, defeat negative thinking before it can take root and replace those negative thoughts with a positive alternative, over time, you’ll find that you’re spending more of your time thinking positively, and your life will change for the better!
Affirmations for Releasing Negativity
I release all negativity from my life.
Being a positive person allows me to enjoy my life at a much higher level. Everything seems better and I am happier.
I can always find something positive about every person and situation I encounter.
When I have to deal with someone that challenges my positive feelings, I understand that this person has been sent to help me release my negativity.
Focusing on positive feelings helps me to release all negativity from my life.
Today, I choose to focus on the positive.
I see the good in every situation I face and every person I meet.
Journal Prompts for Letting Go of Negativity
(1) What is the most difficult challenge I face to maintaining a positive attitude?
(2) What daily experiences tends to make me feel negative?
(3) What are the benefits of releasing all of my negativity?
Which tip or suggestion from this post will you try first?
See you next time!
Happy Positive Thinking Day! Try using one of the mom affirmations each day for the rest of the week.
One day, I was watching a video, and the guy wanted to demonstrate the power of our minds and of visualization. So he told us to stretch out our arms, and then, reach back with our right arm as far as it could go.
By that I mean, move your arm toward what is behind you and reach as far as you can. Then he had us note a point on the wall which would be about where we reached to that time.
Next, we did some deep breathing, stretched a little and tried again. Not much change.
But then, he had us visualize ourselves reaching back a lot farther than we had been able to go. Then he had us stop, do some deep breathing, and visualize it again.
And he told us to imagine how much farther we thought we might be able to reach and to mentally mark that spot on the wall.
Finally, he had us try again to reach back as far as we could go and note the differences between where we'd started, where we thought the new place would be and where it actually was. For me, there was at least a four foot difference between the spot I thought I would hit and how far back I actually was able to reach!
Well, in Wednesday's post, I encouraged you to imagine what would shift if you were able to let go of fear and trust. I wonder if the actual shifts would surpass what you imagined in a similar way.
Read on to see how to support the changes you imagined.
Visualize the Shift
For each area, if you got an answer to what would be different, imagine everything that would mean. Try to see it all come to life in your mind. If you can visualize it, your subconscious will believe it is actually happening.
Use Affirmations that Remind You of the Shift
What if that change is just around the corner?
You might just need a little encouragement or support to believe it's possible. Or to get started on it.
And affirmations can help! What can you tell yourself about the changes that are most important to you, that might make them seem more believable, or realistic?
Journal about it
Write in your journal about the shifts you want to make, and why. You could even write them as stories that have already happened in your life.
What You Can Do Today
For each change you imagined, in each of those areas, try to take it step further. Go back to the vision you had or knowing you had about what would change and ask yourself, "and then what would happen?"
Next, try to tell it to yourself as a story. Journaling would be a great idea, but you also could say it out loud, or think it through, instead.
Start with something like, "what happened first was..." and continue with, "and then, over time, ..." and see where that takes you, story-wise.
Finally, think of keywords that will instantly remind you of the imagined shift. It could be as small as one word that will have meaning to you, or could be a full affirmation sentence.
For example, if someone is having trouble with a disappointment and seems to be stuck in those feelings, you might pair his or her name with "happy again."
Pick one idea that you're going to try and share it in the comments.
See you next time!
What if you could do this every day? Just lay your fears or worries aside and trust.
Take a moment to think about the impact that would have on every area of your life...
What is one good change you would experience?
See you next time!
Taking a day or two (maybe more if you can) to recharge your batteries will help you return to work refreshed and refocused. Sometimes, all it takes is a clear mind to tackle a lingering problem efficiently, supercharge your productivity or envision your future success. - Leanne Kennis, constantcontact.com
Happy Labor Day!
How will you and your family celebrate today? In addition to the yummy food, I'll be resting. I overdid it last week - I am a spoonie who cannot afford such things - and my body has been speaking to me about that for a couple of days now.
Here's why you should rest, too...
5 Reasons to Rest on Labor Day
Disengage from work and turn off your phone for a while. Treat your body and mind to a day of rest.
Journal Prompts for WAHMs
How do you feel about the idea of taking a break on Labor Day? And then, maybe repeating that plan at least once a week?
Most of the women I work with or know online, work from home. And that's great, but what it can mean is that you're always at work!
Here are some journal prompts, or questions for reflection...
(1) Do you take self-care breaks each day?
(2) Does your body show any signs of wear and tear that might be caused by stress or by working too much or too hard?
(3) Do you take at least one day off a week? If not, why not?
(4) If you do, what would it be life to take off two?
(5) What's one thing you can do today that is just for you?
10 Ideas for Rest & Self-Care on Labor Day
Have a wonderful day!
A Self-Care Plan is an intervention tool that keeps you from being completely sucked into the vortex, saving you when you find yourself standing on the precipice gazing into the dark abyss. It’s a fail-safe, created by you, and filled with your favorite self-care activities, important reminders, and ways to activate your self-care community. - Mindful.org
Many people view self-care as a luxury, rather than a priority. Consequently, they're left feeling overwhelmed, tired, and ill-equipped to handle life's inevitable challenges. - VeryWellMind
Welcome to September...
How are you today? Have you given any thought to what you hope this month will bring you?
If not, take a moment to think about that now and let yourself dream big.
And then, below, I think we sometimes talk about self-care in a way that doesn't give its potential full credit. Watch and listen, and tell me if you agree...