Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Monday Meditation: Getting Lost In Your Own Mind

Getting lost is a disconcerting sensation. For many goal-oriented people, being lost means something, somewhere broke down along the lines of their motto, “I cannot cope with the worst case scenario, so I will over-plan to be prepared if the worst happens.” While making a plan, then working that plan is a valid approach to achieving success, the best of us get lost. Coping with the reality might be easier if we practice meditation because the feeling of being lost in our own minds and bodies but not experiencing panic is possible. Then it’s a matter of transferring that lesson to real life situations.

The key is surrender. The first few minutes of sitting in meditation are normally a challenge almost every time we go to the cushion. That’s because we are so used to holding on to things. It’s a natural sensation to want to hold on. In my opinion, everyone is born with the desire to hold on because our bodies are constantly pulled on by gravity. It makes sense to me to hold on to things, people, and myself simply because it’s how we function in relationship to the earth’s pull on our beings. Surrendering to this awareness of being held onto by gravity is a first step when sitting in meditation.

Up to the first ten minutes of meditation practice is basically about noticing gravity’s hold over our bodies, organs, and senses. Simply notice, then intentionally start at the source of the pull and work upwards through the body to relax or let go of the worry about being pulled down all the time. It’s very normal to feel everything settling downward (some people note this as being “grounded”), and it’s at this point of everything being settled down we try to surrender it all to a feeling of weightlessness. We let go of the worry. Surrender to gravity’s pull then allow the anxiety about whether or not it’s working to surface and face it. At this point it’s possible to get lost in the lightness of being and just breathe until the session is ended.

It’s surrendering to the power of being lost and letting go of expectations that we practice on the cushion then try to recall when we get lost on the highway or in a tricky plot pattern we’re writing. In meditation we keep breathing and follow the breath to the end. In real life, we should apply the breath to keep us calm and working toward correcting the wrong turn or the wrong speech or the wrong choice. Everyone gets lost. It’s easier for some than others to deal with being off-track. A few moments of being lost in your own mind everyday and surfacing to a better place in the end is one possible way to learn how to deal with the real world situation of losing your way no matter how much you plan in advance.

All the outlines, maps, and global positioning devices in the world cannot teach us how to cope. Those are tools for dealing with and correcting the problem. Applying lessons learned on the meditation cushion to daily realities is one method of coping with being lost along the journey. It happens to everyone occasionally. For those goal-oriented folks like me, the key is adding “get lost” to the plan.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

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Monday Meditation: A Liquid Mind Can Be Messy

 

Monday Meditation: A Liquid Mind Can Be Messy

 

A singular goal of meditation is to learn acceptance and therefore patience. If we accept the truth of ourselves and decide to live that authenticity in our daily activities, we will surely become more aware of our inadequacies. By the same token we notice these weaknesses in other people. “We are only human,” (and flawed ones at that) becomes an overused excuse for not wanting to make the effort to be better, to change. If meditation practice brings us face to face with our true natures then why would we want to do it? Because knowing the realities of who are releases us from the burden of trying be something and someone we aren’t. It’s a very liberating feeling to make choices from a strong and energetic place of, “This is who I am and this decision comes from that source, the me-energy I am.”

 

How can a few minutes of sitting motionless and without dwelling on thinking bring us to a place of fully understanding our true natures? These moments are the only ones in the day when we are free from having to meet anyone else’s expectations. Our lives are all built upon living up to the demands, requests, promises, and instructions given to us by other people. They are perfectly within their rights to offer these requests. Our personal stress comes from trying to meet obligations put upon us that do not match what we believe about who we are and what we’re capable of. It’s stressful to be inside this pressure yet it’s how everyone’s life is lived in contemporary society. There are rules, boundaries, expectations, precautions, and on and on that define how we live. These demands do not have to define who we live our lives as. Meditation allows us to discover and stay connected to our authentic selves and later it gives us the strength to accept and appreciate ourselves and others regardless of flaws. Because we learn in meditation to accept and appreciate our true natures, we are better equipped to offer the same considerations to other people. But we’re only human.

 

I call this having a liquid mind because during meditation I am soft and flowing physically, mentally, and emotionally and the feeling is like warm water all around and through me. After taking a deep cleansing breath, opening my eyes, and getting up from the meditation cushion, I notice this liquid feeling and I make a point to say to myself, “I will do my best to carry this warm, juicy feeling into my experiences today.” Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is messy. Like a coffee cup filled beyond the brim, hot feelings can overflow and scald me when I encounter people with agendas, misconceptions, and fears. I’m only human, a flawed one at that, but I try to pause before I respond to the burning liquid being thrown my way. I try, but sometimes, because I’m only human, my true self says, “You need to clean that up, honey. I left my maid uniform at home.” And I go back to the cushion seeking more practice at patience and acceptance.

 

Is meditation helping you cope with something or someone in a better way?

New website to check out! http://www.joyeheld.com

 

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

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Monday Meditation: Independence Day Lessons

 

My first child was born 24 years ago on the fourth of July. I named her Aurora which means “new dawn” as her addition to my life signaled a new chapter. She has been a grand teacher for me because her ever self-reliant nature determined from the beginning that she would do things her own way. From her I have learned to love a free spirited child whose independent nature isn’t meant to threaten our bond but to test its strength and assure that it will hold no matter what. This is the very same lesson I have learned from years of meditation practice and day after day of trying to apply the concept to my writing.

At first blush, independence is a startling notion the initial time we feel it. It is both exhilarating and frightening when we understand that we are in total control of something: ourselves, the lives of our children, the books we write, relationships, and more. On closer inspection, freedom of choice comes with assorted baggage firmly attached to it that could threaten to dampen our new found moment of feeling like we are running unencumbered through a field of perfect daisies wafting in the breezy sunshine (or whatever image independence means to you.) The downer for some people about independence is recognizing gratitude as a hanger-on-er  because this means a responsibility to someone or something else. It doesn’t feel like the ideal definition of liberation if we have to be thankful and appreciative of who and what got us to this point. Therein is the first lesson.

Saying “thank you” is really tough for some people, but it’s the first lesson of independence and meditation. Simply and regularly being grateful is a great stress reliever because it helps us stay connected to people, and since we are wired to be social beings, we need them from time to time. Telling others how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us keeps them around. People like to be recognized for their contributions. The easiest and quickest way to get rid of volunteers for anything is to neglect saying “thank you” for your help. And people are volunteers when it comes to other people in every sense of the word. None of “have” to help anybody else. We’re busy enough trying to survive ourselves. Take care of yourself, right? Without the help of others none of us could get anywhere regardless of smarts, talent, or beauty. Moments when meditation is difficult (we get bored, tired, frustrated, our backs hurt, etc.) are the perfect moment to appreciate. Start a mental run down of everyone you could thank for anything. When you think the list of people to thank is done, start over again saying the person’s name or visualizing their face and telling them “thank you” in your mind.

Don’t be surprised if the next time you see this person the words “thank you for…” pop out of your mouth. Handle it gracefully no matter how startled the both of you are. When you notice how wonderful you’ve made the other person feel by recognizing their volunteerism and how it’s benefitted your life, you will get hooked on being grateful and saying so.

The writing lesson is to not hold back when acknowledging the people who got you to the point of actually being asked by your editor and publisher to thank people. Go ahead and recognize your fifth grade teacher in as many books as you want. Isn’t she the one who helped you understand exactly what and where a comma does? Don’t leave her out. It’s a sign of mature independence to be thankful for the responsibilities attached to freedom.

Thank you Mrs. Mary Young, my fifth grade teacher at Elkview Elementary school, who believed in my writing for the very first time. Without your encouragement I wouldn’t know the liberty I know today to write stories from my heart just the way you told me to. Thank you, Aurora, who has taught me the meaning of loving our free spirits. Let freedom ring in your writing and your meditation then spread the love. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AURORA.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

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Monday Meditation: The Consequences of Meditation

Monday Meditation: The Consequences of Meditation

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Things change. Whether we want them to or not, everything changes. To bring this to the attention of myself and my students, I close every yoga class with these words:

“With every breath we grow. With every breath we change. Every breath is precious. Until your journey brings you back to me, remember to breathe. Namaste.”

It’s my way of saying, “Change is a natural part of our existence. Fighting change causes stress. Embrace the concept of change and you will know less stress.” But how do we “embrace” change? I don’t have a practical answer, but I do have qualified experience because I practice yoga and meditation regularly. One of the consequences of regular meditation practice is the ability to readily embrace change and not be as stressed about it. The more you practice watching things come and go during meditation, the easier it is to watch things come and go in life. We may not wish to see things come and go, but it happens. One of the consequences of meditation is less stress because we understand that everything comes and goes, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

One of my favorite descriptions of the sensations of living as the result of meditation and yoga comes from yogi Mukunda Stiles in his book “Structural Yoga Therapy.”

Symptoms of Inner Peace

1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear

2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

3. Loss of interest in judging others

4. Loss of interest in judging yourself

There are other symptoms or consequences of meditation listed by Stiles. Just as everyday is a beginning, so is every meditation practice. It’s a place to start learning to watch things come and go without fear or stress.

Have you noticed any consequences as a result of your meditation practice?

Happy Note: Book signing and hatha yoga demonstration Saturday, June 25 at Borders in Vienna, WV, 2-4 p.m. Will I see you there? Bring your yoga mat!

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc. 

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditation: Am I Meditating?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

“Success is never a destination—it’s a journey.”                                ~Satenig St. Marie,

Unless we have a homemade brain wave monitoring machine, we usually don’t have the means to measure our level of success with meditation in a scientific sense. We can feel certain changes and measure them to a degree. The average meditation journey should experience three specific measurable stages:

1.Tension-this is where we notice just how tight our jaw bones are, how sore our backs are and how busy our minds tend to be

2.Letting go-this is when we notice some of the tension releasing and our breathing is slowing down

3.THERE-this is when we become aware of very few things, less and less bothers us physically and mentally we realize our thoughts have slowed down, and we can control whether or not we want to follow monkey mind down its ragged path. We do not follow monkey mind.

These stages coincide with brain wave activity.

Tension = Beta (busy, busy, busy mind)

Letting go = Alpha (focused awareness on our breath and what it’s doing, fewer thoughts)

THERE = Theta (just about to cross the hazy boundary into slumber-ville)

Sleep isn’t meditation as I’ve said before, and theta is the gatekeeper of sleep so the goal is to remain relaxed and aware at the alpha level. Regardless of how messy the day has been, a successful meditation session need only give us a conscious pause from the issues we’re dealing with and that’s enough. Yep. It only takes a few minutes a day to meditate successfully. But what does a successful meditation practice “feel” like?

This brings up the question of goals. Should we have goals where meditation is concerned? Is it better to let things take their course and follow along? Like yoga, meditation is a blend of healthy balance. It’s right to set a goal to meditate for a specific amount of time each day. It’s right to practice particular habits like sitting still and watching breath flow. But it isn’t right to set expectations beyond the realm of the realistic. Why? Because unlike measuring the fact that our brain activity actually slows down during meditation, it creates more stress to attach a measurement or a benchmark for meditation. “If I don’t find perfect peace in my life in three months of meditating, I failed and will give up meditating.” Or “I should notice a major shift in my actions in a set period of time, and if I don’t I will stop meditating because it just isn’t for me.” These are normal examples of our “quick fix”, I-want-it-now mind sets and this doesn’t work with meditation. With meditation, the less you expect, the more you receive.

To answer the question of what successful meditation feels like, beyond the physical and mental releases (which may not feel gigantic, but they occur,) the positive results of regular meditation show themselves in our everyday actions. We are more patient. We smile more. We laugh bigger. We appreciate little things more. We share more. We hold the door more often. We focus better on other projects when our brains are challenged. We are healthier. We are brave. We trust more. We think the best first. We are less critical of ourselves and others. We are more accepting. We are more loving. We are more truthful. We are more understanding. We are more creative. We are more of who we were meant to be.

But it’s a long journey worth every step. Do you have any meditation stories to share from your journey?

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

Be well, write well.

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Monday Meditation: Lessons In Living

 

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

We are each living our daily lives as we would like to experience our deaths.

“Whoa! Hold on,” you’re saying. “I don’t like to think about dying. I’ll deal with it when it happens.”

It happens a little to everyone every day. Awareness of that tiny fact creates a huge relief in those who notice it. Yoga has a particular gift in this area. It’s a pose called ‘Savasana’ which is Sanskrit for ‘corpse pose.’ The end of every decent hatha yoga class is spent in this one pose for up to 20 minutes. My students call it “the present at the end of the yoga workout party” because with practice ‘Savasana’ is truly a gift on many levels. One of those levels is the practice of our death.

“Okay, too morbid for me. Next blog, please.” 

That’s the normal reaction to a discussion of death. But this is a discussion of the appreciation of life.

I was raised in a ballet school and had to perform on stage quite a bit. Recitals, “The Nutcracker”, and benefit performances used to make me nervous. As a young dancer, I sometimes got so ill I couldn’t go on with the show. Nowadays that’s called “performance anxiety” and the study of it has shown that sufficient preparation and practice of an activity completely alleviates the stress caused by having to perform in front of an audience. I taught myself to practice more often and rehearse my dances in my mind over and over by visualizing the movements night after night before falling asleep. When it came time to perform, no sick stomach or sweats, just a great experience for me and the audience. The dedicated repetition in the studio and in my mind gave me the confidence to perform without tension and without worrying about the expectations. I knew I was doing the best job I possibly could because I had practiced a lot. 

In his brilliant book The Inner Tradition of Yoga, A Guide to Yoga Philosophy for the Contemporary Practitioner, author and psychotherapist Michael Stone explores some of how ‘Savasana’ is an honest, stress-free practice of “life structured by death.” In a pure and simple sense we all make daily living choices that lead us along the path of how we will experience our endings. In the regular practice of corpse pose we gently, slowly, and gradually choose in a small way to live and pass peacefully and with respect toward our world and others. Relaxing deeply in the gift of corpse pose at the end of a good hatha session is an opportunity to make a tiny practice about how we would like to leave this existence. It’s normal to resist death but the miniscule and regular practice of accepting it peacefully builds a reserve in our mind. We can call on those peaceful reserves when faced with stressful expectations and the results will be better for all concerned.

According to Stone, “Yoga teaches us that the dance of all we perceive happens in front of awareness, not inside or behind it.” Yoga helps us practice the dance in front of the audience and with repetition we are not afraid. About the two arenas of life and death he adds, “The ‘practice of dying’ is a matter of learning to live the tension ‘in between’ these two dimensions of existence.” Corpse pose enables us to experience a small death with appreciation for living because after the pose we are graciously given the opportunity to stretch our arms and legs, take a deep breath, and go back to our world. The idea is to take the appreciations learned on the mat in corpse pose and practice those lessons in our lives off the mat.

Visit Michael Stone

http://centreofgravity.org/

Learning to appreciate corpse pose as more than a physical relaxation is learning gratitude for life. Don’t be afraid.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous. 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 Be well, write well.

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