Mindfulness Cycle

There is a cycle to mindfulness:

Awareness of our thoughts and feelings at the current moment,

Thoughts will wander or become distracted through outside distractions,

Realizing our thoughts have wandered,

Bringing our focus back to the thought, feeling, and activity of the moment

Why does the cycle of mindfulness matter?
I believe the most important part of learning mindfulness is to understand that the job of the mind is to think. It is not designed to stay still, so our thoughts will wander. Our goal is to know when our mind is wandering and develop the discipline to bring our thoughts and feelings (awareness) back to the moment that we are currently experiencing.

Why do I want to practice mindfulness?
Does this sound like another think to add to your to-do list? Like any new skill it does take some time and dedication to develop. However, once you develop this skill it actually lessons your to-do list.

When you begin to live mindfully, you are more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This may sound as thought it will make life more complicated, but it makes things easier. When you know what you are feeling. When you understand how a situation or relationship is making you feel that awareness opens options for you. You now have the option to change how you act or react to a situation. You have the option to set boundaries. You have the option to change the direction your life is going.

Having awareness and options doesn’t mean that things will magically change overnight. What it does mean is that you have the knowledge to know what in your life is aligning you with joy, gratitude, and abundance and what is dragging your down, depleting you, and making you feel like life is being sucked out of you.

Most of us spend the bulk of our time working on our survival needs, which for most means making money. As such, for many individuals their work is either something they are deeply passionate about or they feel as though it is sucking the life out of them. If you feel passionate about your work, great! Continue with that but be sure to set time aside to avoid burnout.

If you feel work is sucking the life out of you or a necessary evil to pay the bills that is a huge message to yourself. Changing jobs is not always easy or convenient but there is always something we can do to begin to alleviate negative emotions until the larger change can happen.

When I worked in the finance industry, one of my roles was quality assurance of paperwork for the sales department of medical equipment. Month end in finance is always stressful as documentation and accounting have deadlines. Quality assurance means that you make sure all the legal requirements are being met; which meant long hours and a lot of people double checking your work. This also meant I had to make copies of things for each file.

That time at the copy machine is when I did a mindfulness exercise. I made sure that my focus was completely on putting the papers in the machine, pressing the buttons, watching the papers come out, separating the copies from the originals and returning to my desk. Boring yes, but those small moments gave me the break from all the commotion around me, constant interruptions, and demands of the job.

Those little mindfulness breaks kept me from only focusing on the stress of the day and allowed me to not become one giant ball of stress. Which made it easier for me to keep my actions and reactions more in alignment with the logic needed at work, rather than the emotions brought on by stress.

Mindful practices:
Awareness through the senses: Use your senses of Touch, Taste, Sight, Sound, and Smell to immerse yourself in the moment.

Live in the moment: Be truly open and accepting of what is happening in the current moment without expectation or judgement. This opens you to simple joy and gratitude.

Accept yourself: Do you give yourself the same loving kindness and compassion that you would give a friend or loved one?

Breathe Focus: Overwhelmed with emotions? Negativity or Anger getting the best of you? Exhausted? Stressed? Focus on the cycle of breathing for 10 breathes and see the change in your body, mind, and spirit. What is the cycle of breathing? Inhale deeply through the nose. Feel air travel into your nose, your lungs and diaphragm expand, pause and exhale feeling the slow release of air. Repeat.

Body Scan Meditation. Lie on your back, arms at your sides with the palms of your hands facing the sky. Focus your attention on each part of your body beginning with either the head or the toes. This is an awareness exercise to see how each part of your body feels; what messages it has to share. No judgements just connecting and listening.

Movement meditation. This can be done with any repetitive task (crochet, dishes, vacuum, folding towels, etc) Focus on the task at hand, when your mind wanders bring it back to the task at hand. This is perfect for practicing focusing on the moment. It also is helpful when feeling overwhelmed with emotions.

Sitting meditation. This can be done in a chair or on the floor. Be comfortable and your back straight but relaxed. Hands can be in your lap or on your thighs or knees. Palms up or down. Begin with breathe meditation. There are also guided meditations.
Walking meditation. Focus on the act of walking and connecting with the ground beneath you.

May mindfulness and loving-kindness guide your way,

Joy as a Legacy

Wherever we go we leave an impression on a person through the way we make them feel. The Law of Attraction states that like attracts like. This is why we are drawn to particular people, situations or environments. When we purposefully align our energy with joy, we align ourselves with our personal truth and the Universe.

The more we work on listening to our heart the more we become aligned with our personal peace and passion. This aides us in creating a life that we adore. If we choose joy as the emotion to resonate with, this shifts our energy to put us in alignment with ourself and the Universe. Does aligning with joy mean that we are never going to be cranky or have a bad day? No, it does not. Will this mean that all our financial, physical, or relationship problems magically disappear? Unfortunately not.

What aligning with our personal joy to live a life of peace and passion means is that you will know more of who you are and what you want. This is how we choose relationships that bring us joy. Jobs that not only support us financially but don’t leave us feeling numb inside. Most importantly, this is how we decide on the boundaries that we do and do not need in our life, as well as the manner in which we will accept being treated.

Joy is your compass. Following joy will lead you to a life of peace and passion. When we operate from joy, peace and passion follow us. Our emotions guide us to when something is or is not working in our life. Recognizing this allows us to use our tools of meditation, mindfulness, and journaling to show up for ourselves and make the best decision for ourself.

Today, make a list of what is bringing you joy in your life. Then make a list of what is not. That’s the first step. Bring awareness to your situation. Once you are aware of your situation you can pick one thing that isn’t bringing you joy and use mindfulness to become more aware of the situation and see what about it doesn’t resonate with you. Once you can observe the facts without extreme emotions then you can begin to plan a course of action to change things.

Choose joy and begin to lead a life of peace, passion and alignment with yourself and the Universe. Joy is the compass to Know Thyself.


Meditation & Mindfulness while Sick

Hello My Friends!

The last several days I have found myself relying heavily upon my meditation practice as I navigate three sick children under the age of ten. Joining lack of sleep has been our friends cranky, whining, and extra tears. Breathe meditations and mindfulness have helped me be more patient and present for everyone’s care right until I woke up sick and congested.

As I was moving around and realizing just how awful I felt in my body, I also noticed my mood. It sucked. I was grumpy and did not want to be a caretaker today. Beginning to breathe in to do a 10 breathe meditation I felt my inability to breathe through my nose happen and recognized this wasn’t going to work … now what?

Meditation while sick is helpful for your mood and your body. “When you can get into that quieter state of mind through meditation, your body isn’t releasing stress hormones into the bloodstream,” Jane Ehrman, Cleveland Clinic for Integrative Medicine.

I thought of doing some guided meditation and then realized I had the focus of a kitten following a laser pointer. So, I needed short focal points to help me relax and be mindful. I didn’t want to be snapping at my kids because I was feeling crappy.

One of my favorite methods to shift my mood is water. Off to the showers it was. As I let the lava hot waters rain over me, I visualized the dark ick rinsing off me and down the drain. When I began to feel lighter I visualized bright healthy healing waters running over my body strengthening me. As I worked on my mental state the steam and heat did wonders for me physical state. Out of the showers, I put on comfy clothes and made my way to the kitchen.

Back to water. I got a cold glass of water to rehydrate me and put a kettle on to make soothing tea. Each time I have been stressed or thirsty; I pause for a moment and ask my body hot or cold? tea or water? Then I answer the call by getting the requested water and focusing on the act of drinking for 10 sips. These moments help ground me in my body, environment, and mind.

Being grounded in yourself and environment is helpful when the cytokines affect the part of your brain that deals with emotions and reason. I find it helpful to be honest about any moodiness that I may be experiencing while ill. Expressing myself to those around me keeps any situation from escalating.

For example, I made it clear to my kids that I was aware I was grumpy and had less patience than normal because I didn’t feel well. I also made it clear that this was not their fault or their responsibility, but that I know I am struggling today and will do my best to not take my emotional state out on anyone around me. If they do find that I am taking things out on others they can can let me know that I may not be acting in loving kindness. We all need gentle reminders. Also, it let’s the small people in my life know that everyone is human.

Self awareness combined with self honesty are important to add into your mindfulness practice. Being aware of a situation, behavior and emotions of yourself and others does you no good if you cannot be real with yourself. Until you are willing to be real with yourself, you cannot be real with others.

If you feel sick you don’t have to let that derail your practice, but you may want to try alternative methods of meditation or mindfulness:

  • Breathe meditation
  • Guided meditation
  • Sensory activities
  • Mindful moments with water or tea
  • Mindful body check-ins
  • Focus Meditation on a plant, clouds, candle, etc

Mindfulness and meditation don’t need to stop because you are sick, but they may need to adjust to fit your physical, mental, or emotional state. Use this time to adapt your practice, be self aware and heal. Don’t push through what you always do just because it is habit. Don’t be a superhero and not rest. Adapt. Listen to your mind, body, and spirit. Take the time to heal and be the best you that you can.


How to Listen to Yourself

Listening by Rumi

What is the deep listening? Sama is a greeting from the secret ones inside the heart, a letter. The branches of your intelligence grow new leaves in the wind of this listening. The body reaches a peace. Rooster sound comes, reminding you of your love for dawn. The reed flute and the singer’s lips: the knack of how spirit breathes into us becomes as simple and ordinary as eating and drinking. The dead rise with the pleasure of listening. If someone can’t hear a trumpet melody, sprinkle dirt on his head and declare him dead. Listen, and feel the beauty of your separation, the unsayable absence. There’s a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it. Give more of your life to this listening. As brightness is to time, so you are to the one who talks to the deep ear in your chest. I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears when that one steps near and begins to speak.


Meditation can be a form of listening to ourselves. When we become aware of our busyness and our stillness we perceive ourselves and our place in the world differently. This is the place we learn what troubles us, brings us joy and the place we are dwelling. Knowing where our thoughts dwell is vital to our state of mindful living. If we do not know where our thoughts dwell, we do not know where we are expending our energy. What we most focus on is what we create.

Begin by listening to your breathe. After you have settled into your breathe and been its companion for a time; you will know that you have come to this point when just sitting and breathing is a simple joy that you look forward to, extend your listening to your body. Listen to what your body is saying through pain, tightness, uncomfortable feelings, loose feelings. Start at the top of your head and check in with each part of your body. Simply listen to what your body tells you. Once you feel you have heard your body, ask it what it needs. Are you lacking water, rest, movement, different foods, more of this?

The next step to listening is to check in with yourself or your spirit. Ask if there is anything your spirit would like to say to you. This mindful listening lets your whole self communicate. Those subconscious observations, thoughts, and feelings have an opportunity to surface. Intuition and insight have room to be heard.

After your have listened to your body, mind, and spirit you will once again focus on listening to the world around you. We rush about our days so much that we lose connection to where we are. Close your eyes and use your senses to observe the place you find yourself. Connect with the environment around you. What do you hear? smell? feel? Lastly, what do you see?

Come back to the present by taking three slow deep breathes. Then thank your body, mind, and spirit for the time spent together. Now is a good time to do something soothing and grounding such as: journal, yoga, tend to a living creature, garden, pray, or drink water. Do something for the next five minutes that deepens your connection to this moment and grounds you back into your body and your surroundings.

Deepen the connection within and you deepen your world,

The messy side of meditation!

Let’s talk about meditation. I don’t know about you, but when I think of meditation I think of quiet time with no interruptions. That is not always a reality. Can it happen? Absolutely!

Does it happen each time you meditate? That depends on your lifestyle and living arrangements. If you live alone it is easier to get that quiet time. Turn off your cell phone and Viola, you have some quiet.

Roommates can be tricky to coordinate with each others comings and goings; but with communication and planning it should be manageable. Have a family with children? Good luck! There are days I swear my toddler has radar tuned to “mommy time!”

There is hope! Communication with anyone that you live with is vital. Tips and tricks for meditation time cues:

lighting. Recently, I have been changing our smart bulbs to purple when I am meditating. Also, I have been communicating to my three young children that when they see the purplelights that means that someone is meditating. The person meditating needs the respect, peace and quiet for self care.

Timing. I really do try to get up prior to my children, but between exhaustion and child radar I am not always successful. When this happens I pause my meditation, toss them on the TV or tablet they want anyway and take the time I need for my self care. Why? Because I have learned that I am short of spoons without my meditation and even an interrupted one balances more than simply skipping it because the , time isn’t right on perfect.

Getting ready for your day. Take your time and be mindful of every action on getting yourself looking and feeling your best for this day. When the kids, roommate on partner come in firmly and politely let them know you are doing set care and want 20 minutes to yourself. Make taking deep breaths and setting intentions as much of your morning and evening self care as brushing your teeth!

Meditation and mindfulness don’t always look the way that we want them to. However, that doesn’t mean that we should give up on this self care. It means we make it work for us within the circumstances of the moment and create our own ideal.

Mindfully yours,Irisa

Meditation: Holding Space

Hello Beautiful!

Today, I want to discuss holding space with you. Holding space in our lives is one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves. At this time of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and for those of us who are American – political and social uncertainty has been rising over the last four years; with elections a few weeks away those pressures and anxieties are rising quickly.

When life is at its scariest we instinctively focus on the mundane. However, when we hyper-focus that is when uncertainty and fear take root. This is when holding space is vital in our lives. The first thing we need to hold space for is ourselves. We need to connect with ourself … not fear, ego or society.

Grab your journal and join me as we take 5 slow deep breaths; breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your nose. Keeping the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth, but touching the roof of the mouth adds to the complete energy/breathe cycle within your body.

Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1
Breath in … 3, 2, 1 … Hold for 3, 2, 1 … Exhale for 3, 2, 1

This is a small moment of holding space for yourself. I would recommend doing this breathe meditation and journaling for 11 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind and heart. There is no right or wrong here. This is about holding space for yourself. By doing so, you gain clarity amongst the mundane.

Holding this space for yourself is vital to personal balance in the mind, body and spirit; plus it opens you to knowing where you really want to focus in your life. When we are willing to stop multi-tasking and hold space for whatever we are giving our time a natural clarity occurs. It is easy to see if that is really where we want to be placing our time and energy when we are fully in the moment and aware of what is occurring with our whole presence and not split focus.

We also begin to see what relationships are feeding us when we focus on holding space when we interact with an individual. Engagement with another individual is an energy exchange. When we hold space and really focus on this exchange of time, energy and emotion with the individual we are sharing with a new awareness emerges.

Does this exchange leave you feeling balanced, drained, exhausted, happy, ecstatic, loved, etc? Is this exchange one-sided or balanced? Once we hold space we can take our awareness to a new level and make better decisions for ourself on what are healthy relationships for us. Some encounters are unavoidable, however, once you know they drain you then you can limit those encounters or make life changes to put yourself in a better place.

Holding space has a beautiful side affect. Your relationships deepen, as do your interests. Time doesn’t become a struggle to share. You are aware of what sings to you and naturally begin to align your time and energy with those things. The more you do this, the more you hold space instead of multi-tasking and rushing, the more your life and priorities become clearer and naturally align with who you are and what you want for your life.

This month I want you to practice holding space for yourself for 11 minutes a day. As you incorporate this into your life with ease, expand this to one task a day. Watch this concept of holding space naturally grow in your life. Journal and reflect on the awareness and changes that it brings for you and to you.

When you fall off the wagon, because we all do during new things, hold space and honor that it happened. Honor the awareness that made you realize it happened and simply begin again. Truth, Love and Awareness are the only perfection you need in life. We all falter, what is important is what we do when we recognize that we have faltered.

Holding Space with you,

Lost and Afraid: Daily Subtitles for 2020

Wanting to know ourselves, understand our place in the world and our soul purpose is as old as humankind. The rise of our global pandemic and quarantines have paused all society from the frantic pace to a much slower lifestyle. Humanity is seeing a shift in how we spend our time, while including a focus on political, social, economic, human and educational issues; also, has forced a shift back to self.

For the first time in decades technologically advanced societies are not moving at breakneck speed. We are forced to slow down. This not only has forced us to see and acknowledge global, country and local issues but personal ones. Our lives are quiet enough for us to see where we are in our lives. To notice something beyond our busyness. There is a rise in depression and anxiety that I believe is bigger than the pandemic. It is a loss of sense of self.

Many of us are taught to define ourselves by the job, income and home that we have. That also influences who we spend our time with, the places we go and activities we engage in. Quarantine has stripped all that away. Each of us is left facing the same uncertainty of health and economy. Plus, we have time to see beyond our hectic bubbles and see the many problems and inequalities that humanity still has not solved or even acknowledged.

With all of this laid at our feet our world view shifted overnight. This touched each of us as an individual, whether or not we want to admit it. There isn’t any one of us who is not going through some sort of personal evolution at this time. A personal reckoning of who we are.

Google the phrase ‘journey of self-discovery’ and you will find articles, blogs, web posts and quotes aplenty. Knowing who we are and our life purpose is central to an individuals need to fit in and find a place in the world. I believe it is why we are obsessed with labeling ourselves and others. Human beings need things to make sense and fit together. This gives us a sense of control and order in our lives.

Control starts with knowing you, truly and honestly knowing you. The you in your heart that you do not speak about to anyone. The one who is afraid of being made fun of for liking XYZ. That is the you. That is the person you need to know and cultivate to have a life you adore.

How do you get to know yourself? Make yourself a priority. Set aside 30 minutes a day for just you. Is 30 minutes too scary? Then start with 10 or 15. Make you a priority for that amount of time. Ready? Great! Now what?

I have previously discussed Meditation and Mindfulness, these skills are a great way to know thyself. To go with this I would recommend a journal. Something that makes you feel wonderful and delicious or an old notebook or a private document on your pc. It is your choice. Those who love journalling are probably squealing with delight. For those of you who despise journalling or have never tried it … breathe.

Journalling is simply a private place for you to have conversations with you. Yes, you can have them mentally or out loud, but journalling will let you look back later and remember with clarity things that your subconscious mind has brought forward. This is important because it can often be the most enlightening part of the work to get to know yourself.

This is the part that will help you admit what truly does and does not make you happy. Where you feel uncomfortable. Define blocks in your energy and emotions. Things that tie up your growth; especially hidden fears and feelings.

If you have never journaled before it isn’t that difficult. No one but you will ever see it. This is between you and you. A place for your mind, body and spirit to connect in authenticity without fear of judgement. A place for your true emotions and thoughts to come to the surface and express themselves. NO JUDGEMENT. TOTAL SAFETY.

Meditation Exercise

Wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing. Have the journal of your choice and pens or power supply. Also, a gentle timer.

Find a comfy place to sit and place your supplies next to you. Set a timer for 7 minutes, but make sure whatever tones you use to bring you out of it are gentle and slowly increase in volume. You are trying to relax, not restart your adreneline.

Begin your timer and close your eyes,
Then breathe …
Slowly, in through the nose until you have taken in as much air as possible;
then slowly exhale through your nose until you have expelled as much air as possible;
Repeat until the timer goes off.

You will find your mind drifting to thoughts. Simply bring your awareness (be mindful) to your breathing and the movement of air through your body.

This is your entire goal for 7 minutes.

After your timer has gone off, restart it and pick up your journal of choice. Put pen to paper and begin to write. The goal here is to keep your pen moving (or fingers typing) for 7 minutes without pause.

If you do not know where to begin here are some prompts:

Hello beautiful/handsome self. I am beginning a new journey of Know Thyself. I started with a breathing meditation and now I am writing in this journal.

If at this point you don’t know what to say, continue with: I don’t know what to say so I will tell you about my day. After I woke up this morning I …

Soon you will find the timer has sounded. You can either continue writing or stop. The choice is totally yours.

Obstacles. Every single one of us has obstacles. Every single one of us can think of reasons to not do this.

Here are some of mine:
* There is too much housework to do and if I don’t do it, it won’t get done
* My kids are too little to be left unsupervised
* My partner will feel neglected or ignored
* The puppies will destroy stuff if they are not being played with
* I’m too busy

Let’s get some perspective on these “reasons” a.k.a. obstacles:
* There is always going to be housework and it is never going to be done. Tell your family you need help, it will be the first of a zillion conversations you will have with them about restructuring expectations of who can do what around here. Your loved ones giving you 15 minutes isn’t going to end the world. In fact, it may just make your part of it better.
* The kids. If they are infants or babies, they do sleep at some point. Try it then and if you fall asleep there is the next time you nap. Just accept your house and you are going to be some form of tired and messy for the first two years and you will retain some of your sleep-deprived sanity. Older kids. Let me guess they are always begging for tablet or tv? Make it a win-win give them 30 minutes of television or tablet for your 15 minutes of sanity. Give the older ones some sort of treat for wrangling the smaller ones while you do this. With some training, it works. Currently, my 8 & 6 year old are with the 3 year old on tv. They have been taught to help him with the potty and get milk/cereal/granola bars while I work in exchange for accumulating free time of their choice (usually a game).
* My partner isn’t a baby and he will be the first to tell me to do what I need to do. Because if I am happy with myself, I am a better partner and parent.
* The puppies can either be watched by the kids or like infants they too will sleep, eventually.
* I’m too busy. Open your calendar. Pick a time of day that feels right, morning, evening or afternoon … schedule 20 – 30 minuets for the next 7 days each day for you. You are in your calendar and just as important as date night, kids play dates, picking up the dry cleaning, work and whatever other social things are there.
* Post this mantra on your mirror, in your wallet, in your cell phone case (wherever you will see it): I am important. I am valuable. I am a priority in my life … repeat three times each time you see it.

As one overworked, overextended, struggling human to another … I give you permission to give yourself this delicious gift.

Try this and let me know what you think.
Irisa MacKenzie

Meditation, Mindfulness, Multi-tasking, YUCK

If you read any sort of self help, positive lifestyle, forward thinking, go-getter, mindset information you have likely heard the terms Meditation and Mindfulness. What’s the difference?

Let’s start out with the basic definitions found in society for meditation and mindfulness. Meditation is defined as: to engage in contemplation or reflection or to engage in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Mindfulness is defined as: the quality or state of being mindful (inclined to be aware) or the practice of maintaining a nonjudgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.

Confused? Don’t worry this is not uncommon. Let’s start splitting the difference so you can understand each concept and how they can support each other. Then we will discuss why and how you would want to incorporate these concepts into your life.

Mindfulness is akin to living in the moment. We have a ton of mundane tasks that propel our lives forward each day. Often when we are doing one task our thoughts are on another. This is not mindfulness.

Example of Mindfulness … when you brush your teeth, observe where your mind is and what you are thinking about. Are you concentrating on brushing your teeth or are you running through the next steps of your day? Mindfulness is concentrating on brushing your teeth. Multi-tasking is running through the next steps of your day.

Is multi-tasking better? Contrary to what I learned in 20 years of corporate working; no, multi-tasking is not better than mindfulness. Constant multi-tasking leads to stress, burnout and mistakes. Also, stop trying to be a super person who feels they have to do it all, all alone. That is a foolish concept that our society puts on us to isolate us from community.

Is multi-tasking always negative? no, not at all. There are many times it does come in handy. Example: Cooking in my house is multi-layered. We have one vegetarian, one gluten-intolerant, one toddler, and meat eaters. Aside from cooking more than one item at a time we need to account for everyone’s needs on top of balanced nutrition. Meals that have meat need to be in a separate pan from the rest of the items being cooked. Something with gluten has to be separate from the other items to prevent an allergic reaction. If I did one item, one pan at a time I would never leave the kitchen. In this instance, multi-tasking does come in handy along with mindfulness.

How does mindfulness co-exist with the multi-tasking of this situation? I need to be mindful of what is happening with each pan to prevent cross-contamination of ingredients. This ensures dietary preferences and needs are respected. Also, there are differences in cooking times between items and when to add different ingredients to the different pans to improve the flavor and quality of the meal.

Hopefully that example assists in illustrating the difference in the concept of mindfulness vs multi-tasking and how they can sometimes co-exist. Now that we have had an overview in mindfulness let’s move onto meditation. That is setting aside an amount of time to contemplate or reflect. What are we contemplating? Why would I do this? Why do I care? That depends.

Meditation can be done for a variety of purposes and there are a variety of methods that can be used to achieve your purpose. Some of the reasons to do meditation:
Mental health such as anxiety and depression (always consult a health care or mental health care professional for guidance. I am not a health care provider),
Spiritual well being to align oneself with the Universe, God, Goddess, Great Spirit or whatever your personal view is,
Decision Making,
Stress Relief.

This is far from a complete list of reasons to meditate, however this should give you some beginning ideas for why people are drawn to meditation. Do any resonate for you? Do you have another reason to meditate? I’d love to hear.

Often the term meditation will bring to mind a person sitting in some crazy cross legged pose in silence. That is just one way to do this; crazy pose optional. There are a variety of types of meditation:
Again this isn’t a complete list but starting categories. Do you have a favorite way to meditate? Have you heard of a technique that you are curious about? Please share.

In my experience I find that mindfulness and meditation both have a place in my life. Mindfulness helps me with frustration and anger. It helps me not feel so overwhelmed with the chaos and demands of life. Also, it helps me recognize when I am feeling angry, frustrated, defeated, overwhelmed, or other negative feelings.

Just by tuning into the fact I am feeling this way I can take steps to figure out why, remove blocks and get back in flow with the Universe. Bonus, as a mom of three young kids sometimes it just tells me my personal wells (more later on this) are empty and I need a break.

Meditation aids me when I feel overwhelmed, need to make a big decision or feel disconnected from my spiritual path. If I feel very rushed and overwhelmed I make time to do this. Something I have fallen away from lately and I notice the difference in myself since I haven’t made time for it. We all slip in our practices. The key is to dive back in when you realize you have slipped.

Children. Do they need this? In my opinion yes. Mindfulness is a great way to teach them how to focus on what they are doing or the chore you have been begging them to do. Meditation is something great for when they are overwhelmed and overexcited. Another day for tips and tricks for the kids.

We are just at the beginning of this journey together. I hope to hear from you and look forward to growing and learning from each other.

Know Thyself – A Journey of Self Discovery

One of the most important things to know about yourself is that you grow and change. Know Thyself is not a destination, it is an ever-changing journey. I have spoken with many that believe they cultivate an idea of who they are and they become married to that self-image that they fear acknowledging any changes (internal or external). This leads to misery, for you and anyone who shares your life.

Google the phrase ‘journey off self-discovery’ and you will find articles, blogs, web posts and quotes aplenty. Knowing who we are and our life purpose is central to a persons need to fit in and find a place in the world. I believe it is why we are obsessed with labeling ourselves and others. We need things to make sense and fit together. This gives us a sense of control in our lives.

Control starts with knowing you, truly and honestly knowing you. The you in your heart that you do not speak about to anyone. The one who is afraid of being made fun of for liking XYZ. That is the you. That is the person you need to know and cultivate to have a life you adore.

First, embrace the fact that we grow and change by both internal and external factors. External factors are more easily recognized. They are things such as school, career, partner, friendships and societal expectations. Internal factors are more difficult because they are often emotional. Changes in relationships, physical or mental health, and our thoughts, feelings and desires based on our life experiences and choices.

Externally, my life changed when I left home to go to college. It was a time of absolute freedom from another controlling my decisions; however, I was wrestling with my familial expectations versus what I wanted at that point in my life. Given lack of life experience, new situations and people I made a lot of choices that I learned from; some of the lessons were very harsh and life changing. However, I lived, experienced and chose. Without these experiences I would not have been led to the person who introduced me to meditation and encouraged me to pursue my love of art and writing.

This situation and the choices I made at age 17 put me on the path of self-discovery. My love of philosophy and mythology led me to the greek maxim “Know Thyself”. Decades of study, contemplation and reflection on this maxim have led me to believe in this as one of the foundation blocks of the healthy self. It has also led me to believe that you cannot embrace yourself as a stagnate discovery, but a mutable journey.

Think of it as weaving a beautiful tapestry full of light and dark colors. If you solely focus on the light, the brightness is overwhelming and seems gaudy and unreal. Focusing only on the dark is depressing and tragic. However, woven together they create a balance of beauty. A connecting web of a life fully lived.

Often, we allow societal and familial expectations to overshadow our self desires and expectations. This leads to imbalance in the body, mind and spirit. These imbalances can cause anger, depression and physical illness (just to name a few).

Have you ever thought: “I have no right to feel unhappy or dissatisfied with my life because everyone tells me how lucky I am? Yet, this isn’t what I want. I know I should want this, but I don’t?”

That is living for expectations that are not for you. One persons ideal is another nightmare. My ex-husband wanted to live in a certain style house with a certain type of friends, no kids, no pets and work corporate jobs at a certain income. I was dying on the inside to the point I was physically ill and seriously depressed. Each day I went to a career I hated, over-shopped trying to fill the void of the family I wanted and became more and more depressed as people told me I was ungrateful for the life I had.

I wasn’t ungrateful, I was living a life that was not for me. I was living a lie that my soul knew. The more I worked on Know Thyself, the more I understood this. I tried to make it work in that life situation but the fact was we each had different truths for what we wanted for life and those truths were incompatible.

Not everyone will come to extreme life realizations. I did and had I not, I would have lived my life unhappy. Instead, I had the courage to find my own path. For me, this path includes a partner who is my best friend with three kids under 8 and two dogs.

Know Thyself looks different for every one of us. There are many paths to get there. I personally love writing, as such journalling is one of my primary resources for gaining personal insight. Meditation is an amazing way to slow down and start the connection process. Mindfulness is a fantastic way to slow down and stop constantly multi-tasking. Music (composing, playing, listening) is soothing and can assist us in connecting with our thoughts and feelings. Art is great for mindfulness and connecting, as well as expressing emotions. These are just the tip of the ice-berg.

Going forward we will be discussing the paths to Know Thyself. Subscribe to further explore this topic.