Tag Archives: Meditation

Choose Your Thoughts, Choose Your Power

I was listening to a friend recently tell me about a rather unhappy experience he’d had recently. He was going to a local convenience store that he usually stops at on his way to work. He was wearing a t shirt with an emblem on the front that identified him with a particular movement that is both popular and unpopular at the same time. Those that agree with it’s philosophy are all for it, but those who don’t think twice about voicing their disagreement, as they feel that many will share their convictions.

So my friend walks into this convenience store, fills up his coffee, and is waiting in line to pay. The guy working behind the counter begins an open tirade against the organization on my friends t shirt. Now my friend was on his way to work, and only stopped in for a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee, so he wasn’t mentally prepared for any kind of debate. And as luck would have it, everyone else in the store seemed to be in agreement with the worker behind the counter. So my friend, who was only expecting to buy a cup of coffee, found himself surrounded by people that had no problem ridiculing him for what he believed in.

Keep in mind that the organization that he supports is a mainstream organization with a large percentage of the population on the same page. It’s not like he was advertising kiddie porn or something on his t-shirt.

He was totally taken aback, both by the fact that he was suddenly surrounded by detractors who through their apparent agreement didn’t feel any reason to hold back, and that the instigator was working in a large chain convenience store, where one would expect at least a surface level of professionalism.

Now my friend is an avid meditator. He told me that after the situation began, he stopped, took a deep breath, held it, and then exhaled. He did this a couple of times, and focused on his purpose. Enter shop. Buy coffee. Leave shop. He told me that after only a few breaths, he was able to feel centered, and allow the people the luxury of expressing their opinions. They weren’t going to harm him, they didn’t have guns or knives, they were just capitalizing on the fact that they had him outnumbered, at least with respect to the opinion suggested by the organization on his t-shirt.

I asked him how he specifically practices to be able to get to that level of uninsultability, and he says it’s simple. All you do is exhale all your breath, wait until you feel the desire to breath, and then breath in slowly while feeling appreciation for your breath above all else. Then when you fill your lungs, you hold that appreciation in your mind to the exclusion of all other thoughts. He said that it takes practice, but once you develop a habit of breathing this way for a few minutes every day, you will train your brain in powerful ways. You will train your brain to “detach” from automatically reacting to the world around you. Instead, you will learn to see and hear the events around you, and then have the presence of mind to choose how to respond.

It all sounds very esoteric and zen like, but it really is just practicing a behavior that you want to get better at. Nothing different than practicing a golf swing or your tennis back hand. You are practicing withholding any thought other than the appreciation of your own breath in your own lungs.

And from that space between outside reality and your choice of thought, comes incredible power and resourcefulness. Not a bad skill to have, if you ask me.


Breath In Power, Breath Out Fear

Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel that ‘blah’ kind of feeling? You just can’t get into a groove. Not like you are in a bad mood or anything, but you just don’t feel very inspired. You just want to hurry up and go home, and watch TV and forget about the outside world. Sometimes those days happen more often that I’d like. I’m not sure what causes it, maybe different bio rhythms or perhaps sunspots or something. If you are one of the lucky ones, and this rarely happens to you, I’m sure you know some people that have experienced this.

The tricky part is how to pull yourself out of this funk. When you realize that being in this funky state is not very productive, on any level, it seems to be a goal in and of itself to move yourself up to a higher level. One of the things that is so difficult of being in this ‘blah’ state is because it’s really not that painful, it’s easy to feel comfortable, so you lose sight of what it felt like when you were on top of things. And the longer you stay in this ‘blah’ frame of mind, the more difficult it seems to get out.

Recently I’ve discovered a method that helps me to keep out of that state on a daily basis. It’s kind of a visualization/breathing exercise I’ve been doing lately that I’d like to share.

What you do is get in a comfortable standing position. Bend your knees slightly, and let your arms hang at your sides.  Slowly exhale all you breath, until your lungs are completely empty. Then wait, just a few seconds, until you can feel that strong desire to breath begin to grow. Then slowly inhale, until your lungs are full. The key point is that as you slowly inhale, make sure to really feel appreciation for the air that is filling your lungs.  Imagine the appreciation starting at your root chakra, and then slowly filling up the line in front of your spine. When you have your lungs filled, imagine a ball of energy in your brain. Imagine that this ball of energy is pure appreciation, and let this energy of appreciation saturate all your neural connections in your brain, going into all your memories, all your thoughts, and all your plans for the future.

Hold the breath, and the imaginary ball of energy in your brain, for a few seconds. Just like the inhale, wait before you feel the need to exhale, and then exhale slowly. Imagine the ball of energy as a sponge which has soaked up all the negative energy it found while saturating your brain out into the universe.

Do this several times, the more the better. I practice Spring Forest Qi Gong every morning, and use this visualization while I inhale and exhale. It’s a great way to start the day, and can go a long ways to give you that nice relaxed, ‘can do’ frame of mind to carry with you throughout the day. And you’ll also find that when you start to practice this on a daily basis, you’ll inoculate yourself from any stray negative emotions that used to come your way.


The Five Tibetans by Christopher S. Kilham

The book I’m going to recommend in this post borders slightly on the esoteric, so if you don’t believe that you can find benefit and value from things of this nature, I would recommend that you do not continue to read this article, because if you don’t believe that those things are possible, then you aren’t likely to receive any benefit.

If you are of the mind that there is always something useful to be found in most anything, read on. 

The book I’d like to bring to your attention in this post is called The Five Tibetans, by Christopher S. Kilham. These are five simple exercises to learn and to do. The book itself is rather slim, but at just over eighty pages, it is absolutely packed with these simple yet ancient exercises that can help you whatever you esoteric or spiritual orientation.

The book covers five exercises called, of course, The Five Tibetans, or sometimes as the Five Rites as they are sometimes called. The story goes that a retired British army officer “discovered” them from the local Tibetans in the early twentieth century. How long they’ve been practiced before that is anybody’s guess.

Christopher S. Kilham is an accomplished teacher of yoga, meditation, and natural healing. He has traveled extensively giving talks on television, the radio, and in front of live audiences.

The first five chapters of Kilham’s concise work is an overview of the background of the Tibetan exercises. He also includes a brief but extremely comprehensive overview of energy, and the relation to the body and the mind. He also discusses Kundalini energy, and how it relates to breathing.

The sixth chapter gives and overview of each Tibetan, with easy to follow photographs. Chapter seven gives you the basics of when and where to practice, and discusses matters of importance such as clothing, time of day, what to wear, etc.

It is the eighth chapter that I personally found the most rewarding and insightful. In this he talks about Yoganidra, which is the control of all the energies that are flowing through the body. Another name for this is yogic sleep. Here he teaches you how to calm the mind and reach states of relaxation so deep that you can start to control body functions that are thought to be wholly unconscious, like your heartbeat, and brain waves. That these advanced techniques were put in after the main exercises, almost as an afterthought is a testament to the absolute power of these simple but profound practices.

The ninth and final chapter is a fascinating introduction to Kundalini energy and Kundalini meditation. Both chapters eight and nine are worth the price of the book in their own rite.

He tells you to start off slowly, doing only one iteration of each exercise, and increase gradually. Similar to beginning a running or weight lifting program. The most iterations he recommends is twenty one of each exercise. That is only one hundred and five repetitions, so they will take you only a few minutes.

If you don’t believe anything about controlling brain waves, or Kundalini meditation, that’s ok. By doing these exercises simply for the physical benefits you will reap the fantastic rewards of better flexibility, improved circulation and digestion, and even deeper sleep every night. You don’t need to buy any equipment, or pay any gym membership dues. These exercises are truly one of the economically efficient and metaphysically profound I’ve ever run across.  When you realize how much you will easily improve yourself after doing these exercises for only a few short weeks, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t discovered them earlier. Go on over to Amazon, and have a look. You won’t be disappointed.





Going Deeper, Even Still

I got it in my head once that I wanted to run a marathon. And of course, instead of starting to train slow, two miles a day for a week, and then three miles a day for a week, I decided to jump right in and run 7 miles for my first training run. Let’s just say that walking the next day was a little bit less than pleasant.

My coworker, being the incredibly nice guy that he is, would walk up and pretend he was going to punch me in the leg. Naturally I involuntarily contracted my thigh muscles, causing an unbelievable amount of pain. He did that all day long. I grimaced, he laughed. Even when I saw him coming, and knew what he was up to, I still couldn’t help but to contract my muscles when he wound up on me. Kind of when the doctor hits your knee with that little hammer that he has. Except that is kind of cool. This was rather painful.

I’ve heard from psychologists that stress effects the mind the same way. Something happens in the world, and no matter how much we are expecting it, or see it coming, our mind contracts, causing unneeded and unresourceful mental anxiety. So what’s the answer?  One way to train your mind to relax is through meditation. There are many medically proven benefits to a daily meditation practice. Lower blood pressure, better sleep, more energy during the day, better clarity of thought. When you think about it, all these benefits can easily be explained by a mind that has been trained to be relaxed when you want it to.

And just like when you relax your body by not moving your muscles, you relax your mind by not moving your thoughts. One way to still your mind is to count your breaths. One, breath in. Breath out slow. Two, breath in, breath out slow. Focus only on the numbers. Release all other thoughts. If other thoughts drift into your mind, just allow them to continue drifting, until they float all the way past and fall off the edge of your consciousness. It doesn’t really matter if you sit in a chair, or on the floor, or even lie on your bed when you do this. Breath in, one. Breath out. Breath in, two, breath out. A good goal to aim for is to get to three without noticing any other thoughts. When you can get up to three, shoot for five, and then ten. Slow. In. Out. And it doesn’t matter how long you do it, a few minutes is really all you need.

As you continue to improve your skills, you will notice that because you are able to release thoughts easier and easier, those old ideas that used to cause you anxiety can’t do so as much any more. And sooner or later, you will come to the liberating realization that it wasn’t those ideas at all that was doing it, it was your mind’s reaction to them. And the more you train your mind, the more it seems you can shape your reality.

While you walk through the world with your less reactive mind, you will naturally start to see opportunities that you didn’t see before, so much so you will wonder why you didn’t realize you could do this earlier.