benefits of meditation
The Crown Chakra is the Holy Grail of Chakras—it’s the pinnacle—the highest level of your subtle energetic Chakra body
The seventh chakra is the connection between you, the world and whatever God you believe in. And to be honest with you, it is not that attainable for most of us “everyday folk”. But does that mean you should not try — no way. Enhancing your crown chakra in any shape or form will enhance your life. Raising your level of consciousness will ease “physical and emotional pain and release endorphins which create happy and blissful experiences for us,” according to Ambika Wauters , who wrote The Book of Chakras. And she adds, “Once we start living from and within the Crown Chakra, we start to be thankful for our lives exactly as they are. … we accept trials and hardships that have shaped our spirit.” In all of the readings I have done throughout my yoga training, it is the ritual of working toward higher levels of connection that enhance your live, not necessarily the goal of pure bliss or Samadhi as it is called in Sanskrit. In fact, according to Vedic tradition, no goal can ever be guaranteed in yoga or life, so the daily practice becomes the goal.
In helping my students work the Crown or Sahasrara Chakra, which in Sanskrit means thousand petals, we spend more time in quiet reflection than in our other Chakra practices. When I offer my students either doTERRA Rosemary essential oil if they are having too many visions or Frankincense oil if they need assistance in accessing the higher realm, I invariably get few takers for the Rosemary and many for the Frankincense.
“Frankincense, considered a Holy oil, is used for meditative contemplation, for achieving tranquil states of mind, and for attaining spiritual liberation. The spiritual and psychological benefits of Frankincense have long been recognized by many cultures and spiritual traditions. On a physical level, the oil of Frankincense helps with nervous system conditions. Because of the high levels of sesquiterpenes, a type of molecules that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, Frankincense may help to oxygenate the pineal and pituitary glands, according to www.chakra-anatomy.com .Frankincense is so highly touted in treating a number of physical and emotional diseases and the medical community continues to research more and more of its health benefits. To top it off, it smells great making it a top seller at doTERRA. Even though it is very expensive, I offer my students to try it topically to help with focus and meditation.
The Crown Chakra Yoga Practice
We do a variety of the hip and hamstring poses to get ready to meditate. See my Youtube video on sitting comfortably in easy seat.
Gentle neck stretches, side to side stretches and twists are done to make sure all blockages leading from the base of the spine to the crown of your head are cleared. Tree pose is our balance pose to ensure our focus and connection with all living things.
An appropriate relaxation activity for activating the crown chakra is Yoga Nidra. When I did this practice with my students recently, I had several students report some fascinating results. One student reported being able to visualize the blue pointed star at all 61 points that I mentioned. Another visualized a colorful Chinese dragon dancing.
I introduce my students to a variety of other ways to quiet their mind and feel connected to their higher self. Visualizing the color purple, chanting the OM sound or using either crystal bowls or a 108 bead mala to assist in meditating. Each of us respond differently to the various approaches of this practice, so I give the students a sampling and encourage them to practice at home. To find out more about my Chakra balancing series, please fill in this contact form.
I wish you health and joy in your day. Namaste, Andrea
Heaven Lane Creations – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs. Designing individualized doTERRA oil routines for your health. Designing custom made jewelry to fit your style.
Your Life is like a Mirror Reflecting your Own Thoughts Back to You!
How are your resolutions going? Have old habits crept back in without you being fully aware? Did you say January 1, 2016, “I am going to walk every day!” But a week later, you woke up feeling too tired or the dog threw up on your rug or you stayed up too late watching your favorite sports team? WHY IS IT SO DARN HARD TO CHANGE?
Two authors that I read regularly wrote about this dilemma recently. Deepak Chopra of international fame and locally, our own Yogi and Health Writer Nancy Loughlin.
According to Chopra, the reason why it is so hard to change, is because your habits are based on your mindset. “A mindset is like a worldview. It’s the lens through which you see life. A silent filtering process is going on. We let in certain experiences and censor others,” he points out. Every moment of every day we are filtering messages… saying yes, no or maybe not hearing them at all. While these things are happening unconsciously, you can make a conscious effort to retrain your mind. Here are Chopra’s five rebooting techniques.
- Reject Your Old Self
“Most people allow beliefs, opinions, likes, and dislikes to pop up by default. In any situation, their thinking isn’t centered on the present, but is a relic of the past. The self who originated old thinking doesn’t exist anymore.” Chopra says in his article 5 Ways to Overcome Past Conditioning. Use a mantra, which is a statement you repeat silently to yourself like… “I am not that person anymore” I try this all the time when I feel like I have been wronged. Mostly it works.
- Reject Default Attitudes
All of our experiences and our reactions to them leave an imprint on our mind. They are like a record groove. Some call it a karmic impression. According to Chopra, they are “like a microchip that sends out the same message over and over. It makes us respond the same way over and over also, which is the opposite of actually being real and present.” Just last week I was so angry about the way someone treated me, that my first reaction was to put this person in their place with some very choice words, but instead, I went home and did not say anything for several days. Finally, when I was approached about this situation, I realized that I had enough time to process, so that I could respond in a logical, more careful way. A piece of advice I was given years ago (by my husband the lawyer) was to throw out the first draft of any angry email I wrote. It helped me many times when I was responding to a parent who was upset over their child’s behavior in school. Nancy Loughlin in her article, Break the Cycle of Poor Decision making, (News Press Living Well, Feb. 2, 2016) advises to try a simple reboot when this happens with meditation.
- Listen to the People You Don’t Listen To
This is a doozy for those of us who are parents, because our children reject this advice out of hand. Chopra puts it so succinctly. “When you shut anyone out, you are censoring reality,” and he adds that people who seem very decisive are often quietly reviewing and seeking data from multiple sources before they make great decisions. Two heads are better than one, especially the one that is occupying your thoughts every day. When I was in college, I majored in communication. My research was on the way hostages were censured and how it affected their thinking processes. Many hostages came to love their captors because they were basically brain washed. If you only hear the same messages every day you are brainwashing yourself.
Chopra’s advice to overcome internal brainwashing is as follows “See yourself as a kind of human inbox, allowing as many viewpoints as you can to enter your mental landscape. A rigid mindset is soon melted this way,” he concludes.
- Favor Expanded Awareness
This is a tricky one because it involves stepping out of your comfort zone and many people like to be comfortable. Chopra puts it this way. “We draw back when we feel insecure and vulnerable. We are averse to the unknown and the potential risks that await us there. These are all symptoms of constricted awareness.” Loughlin suggests that you notice the circumstances surrounding your habitual negative reactions without judgement and create new positive reactions (record grooves) by responding differently than you might have in the past.
Here is another piece of advice that has helped me with changing old thinking patterns, when they are not working for me. I can go forward kicking or screaming hoping to stop the tide or I can, as Poet Donna Faulds puts it, “Use my energy to swim with the tide.” This leads perfectly into Chopra’s final piece of advice.
- Find the Way of Least Action
As an avid tennis player, I love Chopra’s metaphor on this one.” A tennis ball falls to earth in a simple curve, not a curlicue. An arrow flies straight to the target…If nature is always this efficient, using the least effort and energy as possible, why do we complicate our lives?” Oh my, this one hits a nerve. I have been told by my dearest friends and family, “I never seek the easy way!”
This is why many of us, including me, need meditation. According to Chopra, “When you encounter the silent depth of your mind, some problems dissolve automatically while others present new solutions… A life aligned with the laws of nature is easier.”
So it’s our choice– if our current ways of thinking and reacting are making our lives harder, why not free ourselves and try something new. With these five simple techniques, it might be easier than you think.
I wish you health and joy in your day and in 2016!
Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.
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Dealing with life in a healthy way takes practice and the Yoga mat doing asanas and meditation is a great place to get that practice.
A New Harvard Study shows that Meditation actually increases the part of your brain associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. “The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus,” according to the article in Feelguide.
“Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. ” In other words, people who meditate or participate in mindfulness activities like yoga have more brain matter that helps them feel good and improves their quality of life. Not a bad outcome for 27 minutes a day.
If you need more reasons to practice yoga, read on:
1. Development of flexibility is probably the first and most noticeable effect of yoga. Maybe when you started you could not touch your toes. With slow, careful and consistent practice, your muscles will loosen up. Eventually, your connective tissues and ligaments will feel more lubricated, which then could help alleviate back pain and pains in other joints.
2. Strong muscles – Many of the yoga poses look beautiful, but you might not know that yoga is considered one of the safest ways to develop strength. The strengthening is accomplished without the loss of flexibility as is often the case with weight training. And because every pose is done equally on both sides, you remain balanced.
3. Lubrication of the Joints –When practicing yoga your joints are in motion, which helps to prevent degenerative arthritis. Joint tissues are a bit different than muscles tissues. They don’t have the range of motion that muscles do. In fact, they look different than a muscle, more like a matrix of fibers. A good analogy for joint tissue could be cotton candy. Without moisture, they get stiff, but add moisture and they act like a sponge, absorbing fresh nutrients during the squeezing and gentle release. By keeping them lubricated, we are preventing them from developing a glue-like quality which over time further restricts movement.
4.Yoga can improve blood circulation. Yoga and other forms of exercise help supply cells with oxygen, in connection with which they perform their functions better. Twisting during yoga help to “squeeze” the venous blood from the internal organs and allow the oxygenated blood to flow more freely through certain Asanas such as twisting. Inverted postures help the flow of blood from the legs and pelvis to the heart and lungs, where it is enriched with oxygen again. There is a growing body of evidence that yoga can increase the level of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the tissues, possibly reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
5. Yoga lowers cortisol levels. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily enhances immunity. If the cortisol levels remain high even after the crisis, it could negatively affect the immune system. A temporary increase in cortisol levels improves long-term memory, but if your level of cortisol is kept at this level constantly (which occurs in people who feel stress much of the day), it may lead to a number of medical problems including major depression, osteoporosis (cortisol leaches from the bones of calcium and other minerals), high blood pressure and the body’s resistance to insulin. In addition, increased cortisol leads to overeating. The body converts extra calories into fat, contributing to diabetes and ailments associated with being overweight.
6.Yoga makes you more aware of where you are holding stress. The more you practice yoga, the more you become aware of your habits off the mat — like holding the steering wheel or tennis racket in a “death grip” or keeping your brow wrinkled or your face in a permanent frown. Many of these unconscious habits lead to chronic stress and muscle fatigue, and painful sensations in the hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and face. By practicing yoga, you start to notice which parts of the body have accumulated stress. It may be in the language of the eyes, the muscles of the neck and face. Gradually, you learn to relax those muscles.
7.Yoga gives our nervous system a break. The rhythm of modern life may force us to be in a state of constant excitement, which adversely affects the nervous system. Yoga can help you relax and calm down. Yoga practices such as yoga nidra (a relaxation process), Savasana (Constructed rest), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation all give your nervous system a break, sometimes allowing you to stop focusing on your problems. This, in turn, may improve your ability to handle those problems and can lead to better habits such as eating better and getting enough sleep.
To sum it up, regular yoga practice can improve your body and your mind….reduce susceptibility to stressors (fear, anger, anger, regret, etc.) and make you a happier, nicer person. Adapted from a post written by Anshul Malik of India in the Facebook group, The Yoga Room.
Catch me teaching yoga at Happehatchee Wednesdays at 11 am and Fridays at 9 (weather permitting). I teach ata Fyzical on Metro every Thursday at 8 am. For more of my offerings, check out my yoga page.
I wish you health and joy in your day. Namaste, Andrea
Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.
Have you every obsessed about your weight? I have been obsessing over my weight my whole life.
When you have a mother who looked like a movie star and won Ms. Atlantic City Boardwalk because of her slim beautiful body, its ingrained in you. My mother even looked good just a few month after giving birth to me. That’s a hard act to follow.
See the family picture below to see what I looked like right after Gabe was born. I weighed 200 lbs and my extended family decided this was the time to do the big family portrait…. in fact, the one and only family portrait. So I get to remind myself of how easily my body can go up and down 60 lbs ever time I look at this picture. For years, I obsessed about getting all my nutritional needs. What was I going to eat and when exactly was I going to eat? These kinds of questions occupied a great deal of mental activity. It became background noise in my brain. This may have been the direct result of a year in my life back in the early 2000’s when my stomach could not even adequately digest my food so I ended up juicing most of my meals. In 2000, I was diagnosed with an odd disease known as Gastro -paresis.
The medicines that I was put on caused chemical depression. I lost 40 lbs or so and was told I might have to go on a feeding tube. I eventually weaned myself off all medicines and re-trained my body to eat and started gaining weight again from a low of 120 lbs. (which is very thin for my frame). That is the also year I started practicing yoga seriously. It was my lifeline. I started to see my sensitive stomach and my sensitive nature in general as a blessing, not just a bane. Awareness of my internal landscape could be a compass to point me in the direction of health and wellness. I could learn to control and understand the nature of the background noise.
Since that time I have been on a quest to find the right eating plan for me. It continues to be a work in progress, which is the impetus for doing the weekly Monday Menu. Meditation has a role in today’s Monday Menu. During my morning 12 minute meditation, I had an epiphany. I was going to reverse the order of what I ate! Here is how it goes: Since I am trying to eat my main meal in the middle of the day, its about figuring out how to get in the rest of nutrition in a way that works with the desire to not eat much in the evening. So instead of grabbing a breakfast bar (usually a Kind bar) before running out in the morning, why not try gluten free oatmeal with fruit and almond milk. Midday, when possible, will be the big healthy lunch and then the Kind bar with a cup of tea to stave off hunger and a sweet tooth in the evening.
So here is where meditation comes in! Why do ideas come during meditation you might ask? “I thought you weren’t supposed to be thinking about anything during meditation. Clearing your mind… right?” Well maybe. However, the “monkey mind” as it is known is hard to clear. So sitting in meditation waiting for that moment might leave you a bit disappointed and possibly feeling like a failure. Meditation, as one of my teachers explained, is a daily practice just like brushing your teeth. You do it every day because it is good for you… and every once in a while, you may end up with an epiphany.