The following is a conversation between Cat and her meditation teacher Sarah McLean. This is truly an inspiring piece. As I was editing this interview, I felt an inner shift happening within me and with it came a sense of serenity and peace. Hope this inspires you as it did for me. Sarah is truly an incredible and powerful human being. I look forward to learning from her. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this interview.
Meditation is an essential travel partner
on your journey of personal transformation.
Meditation connects you with your soul,
and this connection gives you access to your intuition,
your heartfelt desires, your integrity,
and the inspiration to create a life you love.~Sarah McLean
A few years ago my husband and I drove to Sedona, Arizona to seek out a private mediation session.
At that time, I was embarking on a self-discovery journey, in deep inquiry about how to lead a more meaningful life. I had this fundamental restlessness that no longer had me fully engaged in daily life – I was uninspired by the complicated upkeep of the corporate hustle that was rewarded solely by material comforts.
Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.~Benjamin Franklin
A friend and I were on a beautiful hike through the redwood. It was early morning, and the mist still hung in the trees, but the sunlight had started streaming through the branches, little beams of heaven.
“I hope I locked the car,” she wondered out loud.
We both looked at each other and started laughing. Here we were in arguably one of the most beautiful and special places on the planet, and she couldn’t help but worry about the car doors.
Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.~Brad Henry
There’s a vase full of roses on our dining table. Each week it’s a different color or a new variety. The first time I had the roses there, as soon as they turned slightly droopy I threw them out. Why not, right? I mean they weren’t doing anyone any good, looking so old.
One day, instead of throwing them out, I trimmed them a little bit and put them in a smaller vase. They perked right up and thrived for quite a while before it was time to throw them out.
As time went by, I got wiser. As the roses aged, I found a smaller vase to fit the trimmed stems. Then later transferred them into a mini vase. Finally I floated the blossoms alone, minus the stems, in a large white bowl to accentuate their beauty.
Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles,
they toughen and make strong.~Norman Vincent Peale
I am a self-employed freelance writer and if you have ever worked for yourself (or worked at a demanding job), you can probably related to the sentiment that stress from work is one of the biggest factors that can cripple your mind and body.
Since our goal at Think Simple Now is for all of us to live a happy life, in this post I will share a story of when stress broke me down and the 5 lessons I’ve learned while coping with stress.
We’ve been deep-cleaning around the house lately: donating old clothes and getting rid of any extras that have been unused for sometime. In order to create ease with our daily routine, we’ve been simplifying our home and life.
My husband and I have a lot of random items from previous moves that we’ve been unable to shake – mainly sentiment that has spared numerous boxes of trinkets from our childhood or souvenirs from our travels.
But we honestly have no use for any of this stuff. They’re space-takers – they’re extras.
In an effort to simplify our life, we often turn to our material possessions: de-cluttering, donating, and organizing our space to create a sense of calm.
Monday, last week was a crazy ride of a day. First, it was my son’s one year old birthday, and we were planning a big party – 24 adults and 8 babies. Second, we were notified that we’d won the Good Mood Gig contest!
The day consisted of a lot of running around, last minute shopping, cooking for over twenty people, writing the announcement blog post, and taking part in the excitement on facebook. I don’t think I ate anything all day until 9pm.
The party was a success, people looked like they had a good time. We had loads of food, helium balloons, and a lot of red wine to keep many of the adults happy. Ryan was properly dressed in a suit vest with a red tie, and brown dress pants.
I ran around, making sure the food was all laid out, that people got drinks, and that everyone had their photo taken in our makeshift portrait studio we had temporarily setup in the garage (Photos from the party can be seen here).
Life is mostly made up of routines and patterns. Every day we act them out and they are what make up the bulk of our lives. Many of us live according to a socially acceptable template, within the realm of safety, while living repetitively and dreaming of ways to escape.
I used to revolt against these routines. I saw them as the enemy of adventure and of living a spontaneous life. However, I’ve found that routines can be quite blissful. I’ve realized that every day events and what we would commonly classify as “normal”, is often extraordinary if you just take a closer look.
I’ve discovered that even if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be, that doesn’t mean that life right now can’t be beautiful or enjoyable. And the best part is, you don’t have to do anything to make it beautiful. It already is beautiful.
If meditation is new to you, this article suggests several ways how you can start today. These suggestions are all based on my personal experience testing out various techniques over the years. I have personally found these to be helpful and hope that they can add value to your wellbeing.
Find a comfortable place. Sit with your back straight. It’s important that you are not lying down or slouching as you might fall sleep. Make sure you won’t be disturbed by closing the door and turning off or placing the phone in silent mode.
Let your hands rest naturally and comfortably in your lap, or on top of each other.
Close your eyes.
Start breathing deeply and fully, eventually to a natural breathing rhythm.
Focus on your breath and nothing else.
When a thought comes, acknowledge the thought, let it pass, and go back to focusing on your breath.
Periodically, I find myself feeling nervous for no apparent reason, or sometimes for a reason, at which point my mind will create stories to instill fear and worry into my being. My stomach would tighten up and when observed closely, I could feel myself breathing shallowly. It is so easy to to fall into that state once it starts.
Your mind is so powerful. It is so easy to be unconscious. But you know deep down that you are in control and that you can switch out of that state in an instant: the instant you decide to feel joy and refuse to believe in your mind created story, which is no longer serving you.
Three powerful questions to ask your self at any point:
Chapter One of “Meditation is for You” by Swamiji Nithyananda says “…without exception, every single goal points to the same thing – a yearning for the state of bliss.”No one can say “I don’t care being happy? Or I don’t want to be in a state of blissfulness.”
However intellectual and sophisticated the term is, and when we express it, what we are all seeking is nothing but achieving peace within ourselves and the feelings of blissfullness. Only the ways we search for it is different. It could be through money, power, or relationships. It could also be through all the comic and tragic dramas of our daily lives. It is the single motivating force of our lives.
“Meditation is nothing but a preparation to rediscover the state of Bliss that is already inside you,” - Swamiji Nithyananda
If the above two quotes are tricky for you to personally relate, then try to remember the moments when you’ve experienced extreme beauty. As such moments, we suddenly “become still, wordless and totally aware. And that moment is meditation.”, Nithyananda
Much of what I experienced with feelings of peace, calmness and bliss this past year is attributed to my exploration with meditation techniques. I’ve explored techniques expressed by Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Falun Dafa and Swamiji Nithyananda. I’ve also tried techniques with sound, visualization and have tried both Tibetian and Zen meditation.
The benefits of meditation is well documented, here are some that I’ve experienced personally to achieve focus and concentration: