Category Archives: Spirituality

Visualizing Your Success

Watching the Olympics last night, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. Many of the women about to compete in the hurdles competition were swinging their arms and seemed to be talking to themselves while they gazed down the track. What they were most likely doing was visualizing their race – running it in their minds before they physically ran it. And by doing so, they were seeing themselves winning by projecting success in their minds before the race.

Visualizing success this way is not new. Sports coaches do this regularly when they are coaching their teams. In one of his many interviews, Michael Phelps mentioned that his coach “taught him to use his imagination” – probably starting when he suggested to Phelps at age 11 that one day he would be on the Olympic swim team.

Many health, career and life coaches also teach their clients to imagine succeeding to make success a reality.  Self-improvement gurus often tell clients to “act as if” what they want to happen has already happened. The Secret is built on this premise – that by keeping a thought in your mind, you will attract that wish into your life.

Anyone can use this to succeed at whatever they want. The question is, why doesn’t everyone use visualization to attract everything that makes life delicious? Instead, so many of us project things that we don’t want – worrying about the future, or living in the past.

But it’s easy to turn things around – just start today by visualizing something that you really want and seeing yourself getting it. Imagine your new job in the most ideal work environment, surrounded by people that you like and appreciate. Imagine finding that significant other, and how wonderful and beautiful they are and how they make you feel. Imagine yourself in the best shape of your life and enjoying your strong, healthy body. The clearer your picture is of your goal, the more likely the chances you will achieve it. If you can see it, and stay focused on how you can achieve it, you will find and seize it when the opportunity arrives.

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Changing Your Mind

Are you a mindless eater? Are you sure you’re not? Maybe you won’t admit it. Even if you don’t think you do on a regular basis, chances are you’ve eaten mindlessly before. Most people have.

If you’ve ever eaten anything in front of your TV, in a movie theater, in a car, in front of your computer, while walking down the street, or while reading a book, newspaper or magazine, you’ve consumed some food without realizing it. According to Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, our minds make more than 200 food-related decisions each day, but many of them are without real thought.

How do we change our habits of mindless eating? It takes some practice. This habit of mindless eating is ingrained in us from many different sources. Eating on the go, working too much, social eating, and eating while doing other activities contributes to mindless eating patterns.

In New York City, there’s an event every year called Change Your Mind Day. It was originally started by Tricycle, a buddhist magazine, in 1993 as a day of free meditation lessons to teach people how to become mindful, or to “change their minds,” through meditation.

Many people believe that the purpose of meditation is to become enlightened. While it may be an eventual outcome of regular practice, the real purpose of meditation is to take you into stillness so that you can reconnect with who you really are. It allows you to come back to the present moment, to really live in the here and now – the place where we all exist, yet never seem to live in.

When you end up in the now, you naturally start to relax as you let go of memories of the past and worries about the future. You realize that here and now is really the only place you can be. You can’t live in the past because it’s long gone. You can’t live in the future because it’s always fleetingly ahead of where you are – you can reach for it, and it still doesn’t arrive.

What happens when we apply the idea of here and now to eating? Here you are, in front of the piece of cake. You have the memory of cake in the past, and attachment to this memory may be driving you to eat it – you are living in the past. You project into the future what it feels like to eat cake – the sugar high you may get, the taste of the rich, creamy frosting smothering the moist, soft chocolate cake, the texture of the deliciously sweet dessert.

But then, try changing your mind. Live in the present moment for a bit. Here you are in front of the cake. Your awareness goes to your stomach. How does it feel? Are you full? Are you hungry? If you are hungry, ask your stomach what it really wants. If you listen, you may be surprised at what it will tell you.

Depending on what you ate previously, it could be craving a number of different things. Perhaps it will tell you it wants something light, springy and green, like salad, or maybe it craves something more heavy, solid and grounding, like steak.

If you slow down the mind, and start to live in the present, you will learn how to listen to your body and understand what it really needs and wants. Then you will be able to change your mind. Instead of reacting to cravings caused by past memories or anticipated future events, you will find what you truly want in the present.

Next post will go more into detail about how to start practicing mindfulness…

Bitter Melon, Global Warming, Deer Penis: Around the Web

Some links around the web of interesting articles, sites to add to your delicious life:

Eating Chinese bitter melon might help people with Type 2 diabetics.

Al Gore was on 60 Minutes Sunday night talking about his latest Global Warming campaign. Join his campaign here.

Scientists are studying whether meditation has a tangible affect on the brain. Also, read how meditating could save your life.

No deer penis allowed: certain Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal remedies are banned from use by Chinese Olympians amid stricter doping rules.

All You Need is Love

Lent

It’s Ash Wednesday, and there are many people walking around midtown with black smudges on their foreheads. There are a few people in my office, too, who had gone to church that morning to commemorate the beginning of the season.

Just for fun, a few colleagues who sit near me decided on Tuesday that they would give up going out to lunch for Lent – the rule was that they would have to bring home made lunch from now until Easter. They asked me if I wanted to join in, to see how long we could last, and I agreed. Not for religious reasons, but for the challenge. Also, I figured that it would be healthier anyway – for not just my overall health, but also my waistline and wallet. And I’m sure that I’ll be able to stick to it the whole time – I almost always bring my lunch anyway.

So, five of us have taken on the challenge. It’s day one, and only four of us have stuck to the agreement – one of the guys couldn’t even make it through the first day. If only he realized what might happen if he just gave up take out for a month or so – how his health might improve, even if he generally feels ok, maybe he wouldn’t have given up so easily.

Energy Medicine

I went to see Donna Eden speak Monday night. She was pretty amazing. In her book, she says something like, “My mother said I was born smiling…” and it seemed true – she just radiated positive energy, especially when she was smiling which was most of the time.

I had just picked up her book, Energy Medicine, a couple of weeks ago from the library on recommendation from a friend. A week after I started reading the book, I picked up a Learning Annex catalog and saw that she was teaching a class in a week  – I couldn’t believe it. And it was going to be the only night that she was in New York. I had to go.

The class taught a lot about how to perform the basic exercises outlined in her book and why they were good for you. She gave us a basic routine to do each day that will restore and balance our energies. Then she took many volunteers from the audience, quickly diagnosed their energy issues, and helped them solve the problem through various exercises – tracing meridians, tapping trigger points, visualizing, and using acupressure on different parts of the body to stimulate or calm the energies of different organs or systems.

Her husband, David Feinstein, was also there teaching alongside of her. He is an energy psychologist, and he also taught portions of the class and answered questions. They are both very knowledgeable about energy balance and control. By the end of the class, the mood had shifted from drained and tired to awake and alive.

I highly recommend her book if you want to learn more about how to revitalize your energy, from balancing your chakras to redirecting your meridians to strengthening your aura. Also, check out her website, Innersource, for some very good information about how to solve energy issues (look in the questions and answers section).

Getting Courage to Look

I found this article on Daily OM and thought I would share it:

Not Alone In The Dark
Looking At What We Don’t Want To See

It is one of life’s great paradoxes that the things we don’t want to look at in ourselves are the very things we need to look at in order to know ourselves better and to become more fully who we are. The feelings that make us want to run away are buried treasure full of energy and inspiration if we are willing to look. These feelings come in many forms, from strange images or snippets of information to recurring dreams and feelings that rise up seemingly without a reason. Whatever shape they come in, and no matter how scary they seem, these messengers bring the information we need in order to grow.

When we are tired of pushing something down, or trying to run away from it, a good first step is to write down what we think we are avoiding. Often this turns out to be only the surface of the issue or a symbol of something else. Expressing ourselves fully on paper is a safe way to begin exploring the murky territory of the unconscious. The coolness of the intellect can give us the distance we need to read what we have written and feel less afraid of it. It helps if we remember that no matter how dark or negative our thoughts or feelings may be, these are energies shared by all humanity. We are not alone in the dark, and all the gurus and teachers we admire had to go through their own unprocessed emotional territory in order to come out the other side brighter and wiser. This can give us the courage we need to open the treasure chest of what we have been avoiding.

Within the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to look at, there are emotions that need to be felt. Unfelt emotions are stuck energy, and when we leave emotions unprocessed, we deprive ourselves of access to that energy. When we feel strong enough, we can begin the process of feeling those emotions, on our own or with guidance from a spiritual counselor. It is through this work that the buried treasure of energy and inspiration will pour forth from our hearts, giving us the courage to look at all the parts of ourselves with insight and compassion.

I don’t like writing when I’m not in a good mood – I feel like this sentiment translates in my work. I want my messages to encourage positive thoughts that help people. But I also realize that if I show my real self to the world, that can be helpful too.

Right now, I’m dealing with some heavy emotions from things that happened long ago. I have been afraid to examine them, so instead I buried them. That’s tough to live with though. You can do it for a while, but inevitably, they will come up. The good news is that I’m getting the courage to look. And while it can be painful at times, this article reminds me that releasing this old energy is healthy – it’s necessary in order to grow and it makes room for new good things to come.