Why (not) Meditate?

By Dr. Leigh Lewis

This is a question I have been personally struggling with for years, nay, decades. I have long been aware of the research supporting the practice as pertains to health benefits, both mental & physical, and yet there was this wall blocking me from doing it. As a former endurance athlete, I’d spend hours each week running, biking, swimming and lifting, sometimes in the pouring rain and freezing temperatures, but never had the time to meditate for 15 minutes.

Then, when I relocated from Oregon to Arizona, by design, I found myself with more time. Coincidentally, I also found myself struggling with some health issues that required me to slow down. A quick web search and chat with my colleague, Dana Price, who is a strong advocate of meditation, I was able to connect with a local resource, the Phoenix branch of the international Tergar organization, which has a number of on-line and in-person meditation training opportunities and resources, offering both secular and Buddhist-based tracks.

It has been one year since I have embarked on my quest for a daily meditation practice. I haven’t been perfect, but have meditated formally more days than not and have been able to integrate mindfulness into my daily activities. What I have found is not earth-shattering, but, like many others will attest, this practice has helped me feel more calm, increase my tolerance to inevitable stressors, approach my dealings with others in a more compassionate way. Again, I am not perfect, I may still curse others in traffic and get irritated when placed on hold for more than 10 minutes, but I am more likely to see how these reactions are not beneficial and may, in some cases, be harmful. Many sources will describe how our thoughts can re-wire our brain and affect the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters produced thereby having specific physical actions. Physically, I have slept better, experienced less migraines, and have less distress from hormonal fluctuations.

meditation greenery.jpg

In my clinical practice, I am frequently working with patients who are reporting physical symptoms that are at least partially due to or exacerbated by stress. Many have been told they need to decrease stress to see improvement in these symptoms. However, there is no anti-stress pill or quick fix to achieve this and stress is, unfortunately, a very prevalent fact of our modern lives. Unlike many other medical treatments, meditation is not only effective, but is free, has no side effects, is easily accessible, and can be done by anyone. Research supports the application of meditation for a wide variety of health issues such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure,  perinatal mood issues, chronic pain, insomnia, infertility, disordered eating, and decreased immune function.

So knowing that stress is a fact of life and has negative impacts on our health and well-being, where does one start? First, it is important to realize there is no “right way” to meditate. Like with exercise, it is important to find a technique that resonates with you for long-term success. Listed below are a variety of apps, books, websites and local resources that can help you find a path that will work best for you. I suggest starting with one of the books that do a great job providing the foundation of why meditation can be so helpful and how to go about starting a practice. If you are more technologically-minded, the apps may provide a great resource for guided meditations and ways to track your time. As always, contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further

Books:

Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness; Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Why Meditate: Working With Thoughts and Emotions; Matthieu Ricard

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life; Tich Nacht Hahn

Apps

Headspace www.headspace.com

Insight Timer www.insighttimer.com (free)

Online Resources:

https://learning.tergar.org Joy of Living and Path of Liberation training resources.

https://palousemindfulness.com/MBSR/gettingstarted.html 8- week free MBSR training

Local Resources:

http://www.iluminahealing.com/meditation/ Led by Dana Price

https://tergar.org/communities-and-practice-groups/find-a-center-or-group/phoenix/

http://www.solutionmindfulness.com/about MBSR group training & resources

 

 

Ten Reasons to Meditate and Practice Mindfulness (and how to do it)

Ten Reasons to Meditate and practice Mindfulness (and how to do it)

1) Increases blood flow, lowers respiration rate, slows heart rate 2) Decreases heart rate 3) Reduces stress, anxiety and aggression 4) Enhances the immune system 5) Harmonizes the endocrine (hormonal) system 6) Relaxes the nervous system 7) Improves brain function and electrical activity 8) Reduces stress and balances hormones to stimulate ovulation 9) Improves learning ability and memory and increases productivity 10) Improves relationships with others

Mindfulness Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

This exercise is very simple, but the power, the result, can be very great. The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as the out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath. Just recognize: this is an in-breath, this is an out-breath. Very simple, very easy. In order to recognize your in-breath as in-breath, you have to bring your mind home to yourself. What is recognizing your in-breath is your mind, and the object of your mind—the object of your mindfulness—is the in-breath. Mindfulness is always mindful of something. When you drink your tea mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of drinking. When you walk mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of walking. And when you breathe mindfully, that is mindfulness of breathing. So the object of your mindfulness is your breath, and you just focus your attention on it. Breathing in, this is my in-breath. Breathing out, this is my out-breath. When you do that, the mental discourse will stop. You don’t think anymore. You don’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking; you bring your attention to your in-breath and the mental discourse just stops. That is the miracle of the practice. You don’t think of the past anymore. You don’t think of the future. You don’t think of your projects, because you are focusing your attention, your mindfulness, on your breath. It gets even better. You can enjoy your in-breath. The practice can be pleasant, joyful. Someone who is dead cannot take any more in-breaths. But you are alive. You are breathing in, and while breathing in, you know that you are alive. The in-breath can be a celebration of the fact that you are alive, so it can be very joyful. When you are joyful and happy, you don’t feel that you have to make any effort at all. I am alive; I am breathing in. To be still alive is a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive, and when you breathe in, you touch that miracle. Therefore, your breathing can be a celebration of life. An in-breath may take three, four, five seconds, it depends. That’s time to be alive, time to enjoy your breath. You don’t have to interfere with your breathing. If your in-breath is short, allow it to be short. If your out-breath is long, let it to be long. Don’t try to force it. The practice is simple recognition of the in-breath and the out-breath. That is good enough. It will have a powerful effect.

This meditation instruction excerpted from the Shambhala Sun website. http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=3490

Women's Circle, Monday Oct 3rd

Circle and Meditationat ilumina Healing Sanctuary

Marion Light offers a Circle for women on the 1st Monday of each month and a meditation evening on the third Monday of each month. These begin at 6pm at the clinic. The Circle is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other women and to receive support with whatever you are going through. It is a safe environment for sharing and includes meditation. The meditation evening will be a short guided meditation and lead in to a silent time. All are welcome. Please call to sign up, 602.957.2602

Physical Benefits of Meditation • A deeper level of relaxation • Deep rest accompanied by decreased metabolic rate and lower heart rate • Decreased high blood pressure • Improved flow of air to the lungs • Increased levels of energy • Decreased muscle tension • More easily falling asleep and sleeping soundly • Improved state of the immune system.

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Meditation • Decrease in restless thinking • Increased ability to stay calm in every situation • Greater creativity • Decreased anxiety • Decreased tendency to worry • Decreased depression • Decreased nervousness, irritability and moodiness • Enhancement of self-confidence • Improved concentration • Increased self-discipline • Improved learning ability and memory • Increased feelings of vitality • Enhanced feelings of happiness • More emotional stability • Developed intuition

Spiritual Benefits of Meditation • Peace of mind • Emotional and mental detachment • Heightened awareness of the inner self • The ability to look within, beyond the body, mind and personality • Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego • Discovery of one's true being • Attaining self-realization and spiritual awakening

Forgiveness Is an Act of Self-love

Ghandi wrote, “Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first sign of self-giving love.” True healing occurs when we have the courage to be present with all aspects of ourselves and move through the processes required to return to wholeness. In working with a diverse array of clients, I have found that often the most difficult step of the healing process is forgiveness. As difficult as it may be, forgiveness is necessary to free oneself from the painful emotions that have bound our lives and stifled our Spirit. Of course, once we let go and forgive, we become fully responsible for our own feelings and behaviors and can no longer make excuses or stay stuck in our patterns or stagnation. That can be daunting, so it is understandable that some people resist forgiveness and choose to remain comfortably stuck, but in doing so we limit ourselves, and our lives do not open fully to their potential.Many people hang onto anger and blame out of a misplaced sense of justice. A common misperception is that forgiving someone means accepting their behavior, or letting them off the hook. This is simply not so. We can forgive and also choose not to allow people into our lives who hurt or betray us. We can, if we wish, offer the kind of forgiveness that might free the person we are angry at, but the greatest impact is within. Forgiveness frees us from the low vibrational energies of anger, blame and resentment and allows our heart to open to a more joyful and expansive life.Carrying anger, hate or resentment in your heart will weigh heavily on your life, preventing you from truly healing and moving forward. When you have been hurt or betrayed, there is a process you can turn to in order to release the experience and find alignment with yourself again. The key steps are firstly, AWARENESS of what needs healing or what is holding you back. The second step is to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the feelings that were triggered by the experience without blaming yourself or others. Next, it is essential to find TRUST in a deeper part of yourself, and know that you are more than your pain. Acknowledge the perfection of every experience and what it has brought to your life. It may be hard to imagine a painful experience as a ‘perfect’ experience, but this simply means that the experience ‘is what it is’ in the fabric of your life, and every experience is full of potential. It becomes ‘what you make it’ and that will shape the tapestry of your future. Seeing the greater picture of your being and your life will allow you to FORGIVE AND LET GO. The final step is to experience a RENEWAL or REMEMBERING of who you really are. In this state, all the energy you have bound up in anger, resentment and pain becomes available to you again in a pure and positive way, resulting in increased joy, vitality and enthusiasm. You find yourself more present in your life and trusting that your inner self can not only handle the experiences of life, but can appreciate them –all of them, for the great gifts they are. This is not an intellectual exercise, but an opening of your heart. It is a gift you give to yourself and your world.Love and Light,Marionwww.marionlight.comwww.womeninbloom.orgilumina Healing Sanctuary, located in Scottsdale, is a unique clinic that combines acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, emotional wellness, general and fertility massage, and whole food nutrition. We are the only clinic in Arizona with board certified practitioners of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Our highly trained and experiences specialists provide therapies that support the body, mind and spirit through all phases of a women’s life.ilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602

Women in Bloom: An Inner Journey to Motherhood One-Day Retreat

For women who are…

thinking about becoming pregnant or trying to conceive,

who have struggled with infertility or miscarriage

who have conflicting feelings or uncertainty about motherhood,

…our retreat will gently guide you to a place of clarity while providing emotional support

and the resources to help you realize your desires.

2009 DatesSaturday, February 7thSaturday, May 9thSaturday, August 29thSaturday, November 21st

9:00am-4:00pmParadise Valley, Arizona

To be the experiences of great joy and expansion that they were meant to be, conception, pregnancy and motherhood  require ultimate self-awareness and surrender. For many women, these profound life transitions have become a time of fear, pain, confusion and struggle. Women in Bloom’s retreat is designed to support all women with the physical and emotional issues surrounding fertility, pregnancy and motherhood. For women trying to conceive, having difficult pregnancies, or wanting to sort out conflicting feelings about motherhood, this unique program will bring you to a place of deeper clarity, understanding and balance and provide you with resources to enhance fertility and the experience of pregnancy and motherhood.

Retreat activities include:Discussions on fertility, pregnancy and motherhoodGroup Sharing and SupportGuided MeditationLabyrinth WalkSelf Discovery

$150 for the full day

Retreat size will remain small to allow for optimum healing and growth with these two renowned experts. Please register early as our offerings fill quickly.

For more information please e-mail:Marion Light  marion@marionlight.comorDana Price   danaprice@iluminahealing.com

To register please call (602)957-2602

Testimonials from previous retreats

“I left Women in Bloom believing in myself and having faith in what is ahead.”

“This was a powerful and transforming circle of women who empowered us to birth a new awareness of ourselves as women.”

Without Dana, Marion, & Women in Bloom, I would still be struggling to find a way to let go of the past issues. Thanks to these wonderful women, I feel a breath of new life has breathed into my future.”

“There is something powerful in the environment you have created for women on their path to conception. I feel extremely supported and nurtured.”

“Women in Bloom has become my sanctuary during a time of great challenges.”

“The workshop helped me create a brighter light within.”

“I feel very free to share and connect with women.”

“This is a great step on your path to self discovery and wellbeing.”

Fertility Healing Circle

ilumina Fertility Healing Circle: A Place for Women to Come Togetherilumina Healing Sanctuary is honored to offer a women's healing circle for current patients. Our intention is to create a safe and nurturing environment for women to receive comfort and support in their journeys. Something magical happens when our stories are witnessed in a neutral, loving and supportive environment. This enables us to listen and hear our own wisdom and to share that wisdom with others on the path of good health and emotional healing.The Circle will include guided visualizations and will remain small to ensure personal attention. Meetings will take place from 6:30-8:00 twice a month starting September 15, 2008 for three months. The Fertility Healing Circle will be held at ilumina and guided by Marion Light and Dana Price. For more information on Marion's work please see her website at www.marionlight.com. For more information on Dana Price and ilumina Healing Sanctuary see our website at www.iluminahealing.com.For more information or to sign up for the Fertility Healing Circle please call ilumina Healing Sanctuary at (602)957-2602.