Emotional Wellness

Meditation: Different Ways to Meditate

Meditation: Different Ways to Meditate

My first attempt at intentional meditation was no less than a total flop, at least in the way I was trying to learn to meditate. Just the word "meditation" means different things to different people. Consequently, I do not believe there is just one way to meditate. The purpose of meditation is to evoke a physiological change that relaxes the body and reduces the heart rate. Some people meditate to relax and rejuvenate the body, some meditate for spiritual enlightenment, and some meditate for both reasons.

SpiritualAs I mentioned, my first experience with intentional meditation didn't go very well. I was living at a yoga Ashram for a month several years ago to learn yoga and increase my spiritual abilities. As I sat on the floor in a room filled with others, the energy I felt emanating in the room was actually too overwhelming to me. So I often skipped out and spent the hour quietly walking down a rural dirt road. I would now call that a walking meditation or contemplation. At that time, I just thought I was failing at all attempts to meditate.

Over the years, I have had various experiences, some more enlightening than others. There are tons of materials and books on the market to teach about meditation, so my words will not be extensive on the subjective. Mostly, I will describe what I consider my more successful experiences.

My second real attempt to meditate brought an amazing experience. Since I didn't seem very capable of just "emptying" my mind of thoughts, I sat and focused on the palms of my hands and just felt. Before I realized it, I could feel the energy pulsating through my hands in the most amazing and calming way. I could tell it was not simply my pulse, because I could feel that too. I had two different energies moving throughout my body. I just sat, experiencing something completely new to me, and let the energy flow. I sat like this for about 45 minutes; then the sensation simply stopped. I wanted to grab it and say, "please come back." I sat there in total amazement and deep relaxation, feeling totally rejuvenated.


MeditationAnother time, I was actually sitting in a group guided meditation session. This doesn't usually work very well for me, but something was different this time. Right off the bat, I could tell I had tuned out the woman guiding the session. I really have no idea what she was saying. I was off somewhere else. Eventually, I could hear her calling us back into reality, but before my body or mind was willing to join everyone else, I had an amazing spiritual experience that I will not even attempt to describe here.

If this type of meditation does not work for you, at least practice simple deep breathing practices while relaxing each part of your body. Many people enjoy moving meditations with and without music, walks in nature, and other activities that produce an enjoyable relaxed meditative state, allowing for meaningful contemplation.

Deep breathing and relaxation help with stress reduction, pain management, and even improved problem-solving skills. To sum it up, time devoted to prayer and meditation always pays off - in one way or another.

When working with Karen as a health educator and wellness coach, you will be encouraged to discover ways that promote relaxation and peace of mind, opening up a new way of thinking, living, and changing your lifestyle habits.


How Toxic People Affect Emotional and Social Wellness

We read a lot about toxic substances in the environment and even in our foods. Most of us would not willingly ingest toxic chemicals or inhale toxic fumes.

What about toxic people? How do we identify them, and how do they affect our lives?

Toxic people

Six Characteristics of a toxic person

  1. A person who belittles you or lies to you.
  2. A person who does not follow through with commitments.
  3. A person who is physically abusive (that’s the easiest one to recognize).
  4. A person who acts nice to you to your face and then gossips about you behind your back.
  5. A person who blames everything on you until you begin to believe it.
  6. A person who focuses only on negativity and victimhood.

It might be easy to simply avoid the toxic person if you are not in a relationship of any sort. Put up your mental barrier and move on or away from the person. It’s not so simple if you find yourself in a relationship with a toxic person.

Learn to set boundaries. You are not someone’s emotional punching bag. If you feel stuck, you may need help from a supportive person, whether a good friend or even professional help. When you realize that a person in your life is toxic and is harmful to your emotional wellbeing, you need to be the one to take the first step to protect yourself from their toxicity.

The healthiest way to live is to learn to recognize toxic people in the first place and learn to avoid them or do what you need to do to protect yourself from them.

Never believe you deserve to be treated poorly. Just like toxic substances harm the body, so do toxic people harm one’s emotional health or peace of mind. If you find yourself dealing with toxic people, make a change. Don’t wait until your self-esteem or mental peace is all but destroyed.


Self-Empowerment: What it means

Self-Empowerment: What does it mean?

It means being the person you want to be
and following the path you want to follow.

Self-empowerment is not about what you do.

Self-empowerment is about who you are.

When you feel helpless in your circumstances, you are not self-empowered. When you are dependent on others to make decisions for you and provide for your every need, you are not self-empowered.

Five Toxic Words NOT to Say

Should – Ought to – Need to - Have to - Must

These five words can be toxic, in that they do not create a sense of self-empowerment; rather they can produce feelings of guilt, resentment, and hopelessness.

Three ways to empower yourself

  1. Be aware and pay attention to the words you say. Are you saying any toxic words to yourself or others?

  2. When you catch yourself saying a toxic word, mentally throw the word into a fire and let it burn to ashes. Do this every time you hear yourself utter a toxic word.

  3. Purposely and with awareness use the words could, choose, and want.

When you are aware that your behavior or circumstances are harmful to you or someone else, using these toxic words may or may not motivate you to change your behavior or circumstances. The goal is to change your behavior by becoming self-empowered and changing your situation from the inside out, not by being forced to by outside influences. When you let others have control over your emotions and actions, you give them your power.

Choose for yourself carefully. For example, if your current situation warrants a major change, telling yourself you should, ought to, need to, have to, or must do this or that, will likely cause you anxiety and produce little change. Instead, after considering all options for your current situation, write down the following:

  1. Things you could do;

  2. Things you choose to do;

  3. Things you want to do, and

  4. Things you will do.

By doing this you are becoming more self-empowered and developing the ability to create what you want to create in your life. Sometimes, however, you may want something; but you are not willing to choose the course of action to achieve your desire, but at least you are taking responsibility for your situation. The act of taking personal responsibility for yourself promotes personal growth, which is itself a sense of self-empowerment.


Stress: A Consistent Part of Life.

Stress "management" has become a multi-million dollar industry.

Everywhere you go there are books and magazine articles on stress management. There are entire websites dealing with stress.


ToxicBut let me clarify one thing. I do not like the words "stress management." When I am dealing with excessive stress, the last thing I want is needing to "manage" one more thing. I prefer the terms "easing stress, de-stressing, or stress relief."

Stress is part of everyone's life; some stress is beneficial and some detrimental. What is the most detrimental to our health is stress that builds up and does not get released.

Unrelieved stress can cause depression, anxiety, and chronic diseases. Stress that builds up can complicate chronic diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes, along with other conditions.

Many things can cause stress than can become toxic if we do not balance our lives and reduce stress. From childhood to our elderly years, stress is everywhere. We must never negate the stress that children experience as well as the elderly. And adults of all ages and backgrounds live through stressful events.

What complicates stress is when we feel hopeless to do anything about it. How we view stress, the actions we take to reduce it, and accepting it when it cannot be changed are important things to remember when analyzing our stress levels.

What causes you stress?

  • High-stress job

  • No job and not enough money

  • Difficult relationships

  • Illnesses

  • Being a full-time caregiver

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Lack of a support system

  • Unhealthy environment (work or home)

  • Loneliness

  • Too much to do

The list can go on endlessly. The stress you are experiencing will determine specific needed action.

Woman prayerObviously, if you just lost your home in foreclosure, doing jumping jacks and deep breathing exercises will not solve your house problems. But enjoyable healthy activities and a proper diet may help you deal with the stress better, have a better outlook on life, and actually help you come up with creative ideas to solve your problem. Listen to everything that comes into your mind to see if it offers you ideas and ways to improve your stress levels.

Years ago when I was a single mother going to school, I was so stressed that I couldn't even breathe deeply. As I was learning yoga and deep breathing practices, I would cough every time I tried to take a deep breath. I was mega stressed. I realized that when I was the most stressed, I actually would hold my breath unconsciously. That certainly didn't help matters. With practice, I learned how to relax enough to at least breathe properly.

Check out my Wellness Way coaching program to help you get your stress under control. But beware, we will be talking a lot about what you eat and how proper nutrition can help with stress. Your body will thank you for it.


Energy Healing: What is it and why is it Important?

Energy Healing, What is it?

Energy medicine is identified by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in the United States as one of five natural healing modalities. However, theories and approaches vary among practitioners. More mainstream medical specialists are giving credence to various forms of energy healing. This is a modality that needs to be researched and experienced by individuals in order to make the decision if it is a viable route of healing for them

No ethical energy healer would recommend ignoring medical advice and treatment when it is necessary. Energy healing is most often used as a complementary approach to healing, rather than as an alternative to medical care.

My First Experience with Healing

When I was about 27 years old and a mother of six young children, I had a kitchen fire that severely burned my foot. I was in the hospital for about ten days with a dangerous infection. I spent several months in pain with an itchy ugly thick scar covering the entire top of my right foot. A friend told me about her sister who was learning foot reflexology. I had never heard of foot reflexology, but as she was just learning it, she agreed to come to my home for a very small fee to practice on my feet.

She had to be extremely careful with my right foot since the top was still very tender and covered with a scar that was about an inch thick. After massaging my feet using the traditional Chinese technique for foot reflexology, she put her hands around my feet (without touching them) and proceeded to do something I had never experienced. She just held her hands circled around each foot. The foot with the recovering burn on it began to feel like someone was pulling on it, even though she was not touching it at all. The pulling feeling was so strong that my foot actually arched and pointed, reaching towards her. After finishing the session, I looked at my foot. I could hardly believe what I saw. I looked at her, looked at my foot again, and then said, "Do you see what I see?" She said, "Yes, I don't know what to think." Remember, she was a student and just learning about this herself. To simply explain what I saw, the thick ugly scar tissue was thin. The scar was still a bit discolored, but the thickness had actually disappeared right before my eyes.

Now being the scientific thinker that I am, I did not believe anything magical had happened. Whatever she had done,  divine energy, or God had done through her, had simply made the liquid in the scar dissipate back into my system. The amazing thing was that it never became thick again. The only time you can tell that my foot was burned is if I have been barefoot in the sun and I get a tan. The scarred part of the skin does not tan.

That was only the beginning of my learning about natural healing. I personally have had some amazing unexpected experiences. However, I am not claiming that it works for all situations and for all people.

On a very personal note, I attribute all healing to divine power, and my personal goal is to merely be a helper to assist in the healing process.


Mindfulness Does not Mean You Have to Sit and Do Nothing.



Mindfulness.stressMindfulness can be a bit tricky to understand and even trickier to practice for many of us. By definition, mindfulness is the act of living in the moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is all about "being" rather than "doing."

It is easier to explain with examples such as taking a mindful walk, eating a mindful meal, or even mindfully rocking a child. When taking a mindful walk, you would actually feel yourself breathe, feel the physical and emotional sensations of your body, and notice the surrounding environment (e.g., the different shades of green in the trees or the smell of freshly cut grass or the spring blossoms).

I can remember living on a farm as a child. During the summers I would often spend my time in the woods or the meadows feeling as though I was simply part of nature. I remember my delight in picking bluebells in the "upper woods" and playing house in the "lower woods." Even to this day, when I am on a quiet nature walk, away from cars, phones, and computers, I feel as though I simply belong there.

However, much of my life is typical - running here and there, or working on the computer for hours on end, not even noticing what is going on around me. Or worse, I am noticing everything that is going on and it is so overwhelming that I have to work to tune it out. The goal of mindfulness is to be alert yet relaxed, while focusing on what we are doing, or rather being.

WalkinwoodsSome explain this feeling as being in the "flow." This means experiencing something in such a positive enjoyable way that distractions go unnoticed. We are so used to having to multitask, that being mindful and being in the flow, is sometimes hard to even imagine.

The following are some ideas to help start practicing mindfulness, these will improve your ability to be aware of your experiences and your feelings.

  • Be aware of smells, sights, and sounds around you without judgment.

  • Notice how your body feels at different times of the day or after specific activities.

  • Notice your emotional feelings. Do you feel calm, nervous or anxious, angry, or pleasantly content? What is happening in your environment?

  • When you eat, pay attention to what, when, and why you are eating. Is it because you are really hungry, or are you bored or upset? Or is it simply out of habit (eating while you watch television)

Being mindful (paying attention) can actually help you understand yourself and help in making decisions. An example might be feeling irritated for no apparent reason, but when you pay attention, you notice that you can hear two television sets on in the background, sirens blaring in the distance, and maybe an offensive smell coming from somewhere. The opposite is also important, noticing and paying attention to what actually feels good enhances your state of happiness and sense of peace.

While working with Karen's Wellness Way coaching program, you will be encouraged to pay attention and note what you actually did and felt during the day. This can give you a better understanding of why you do what you do, as well as promote a sense of well-being.


Thoughts to Emotions: Emotional Wellness

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds

AlbemarleTradewinds.com

Emotional wellness consists of creating positive emotions and not allowing negative emotions to control our actions and our ability to live a meaningful life. It is interdependent with physical, social, environmental, mental/intellectual (how we think), and even spiritual wellness.

What causes emotions? Before there is an emotion or feeling, there is a thought. That thought might be a memory, or it might be a thought triggered by current external stimuli, or perhaps both. The brain reacts instantly (thinking) to something it notices, be it pleasant or frustrating. If the thought is powerful enough, it will trigger an emotional reaction.

If a stranger or friend gives an unexpected compliment, it likely conjures a positive, pleasant thought. That positive thought evokes a positive emotion, causing one to feel “good.” If the memory or external situation is perceived as a threat, a host of negative emotions can follow. Those negative emotions can affect all areas of life. An obsession over an unpleasant situation and negative emotion is like being a fly stuck to flypaper. Mentally observing the thought can help one choose a better response or way of reacting.

Imagine a woman knocks over her cup of coffee or tea, gets upset, shouts profanities, and throws her favorite mug into the garbage. Instead, maybe this woman cleans up the mess, refills her cup, and perhaps still mutters a few not-so-nice words? Which woman would you rather be around? Emotional Wellness does not mean everything goes well. It does not mean a person is always happy or handles everything perfectly. It means that one can choose how to respond to thoughts and events that happen in life. Emotional wellness lifts our spirits amid chaos.

Changing one’s perspective (changing thoughts) can help manage and create healthy emotions. Changing one's perspective may be difficult, or it may simply be one of those ah-ha moments that brings sudden enlightenment.

Years ago, I had an ah-ha moment that instantly changed my emotions, resulting in my changed behavior. After raising my own eight children, I found myself in my 50’s raising three little grandchildren. While I wanted my grandchildren, I was exhausted and sometimes irritable from the constant spills and messes. I remember the day clearly when I walked into the kitchen and saw the dishwasher open and dishes everywhere. I almost yelled out of frustration when a thought/voice came out of nowhere. "You could be raising disabled children who are in wheelchairs. They would be incapable of making messes." How did that thought come to me? I don’t know, but it changed me. Suddenly, I was grateful for raising healthy children who could choose to make a mess. I admit; changing one’s perspective is often not that easy, but it is worth the effort.

In Summary, thoughts evoke emotions. Positive thinking produces positive emotions that promote Emotional Wellness which, contributes to a quality, healthy, holistic lifestyle.