Sunday, August 3, 2008

Positivity is Possible

Source: California Psychics

You can't be happy everyday. Each and every one of us goes through ups and downs and that's normal. In fact, there's an entire school of thought devoted to the idea that without the bad times, we couldn't appreciate the good. Whether you believe this or not, one thing is for sure, most of us could think more positively most of the time. And if we did, we'd be happier more often!

Here are five practical steps to becoming a more positive - and thereby more satisfied - person!

Cope with stress
How do you cope with stress? Do you head straight for the chocolate when things get you down? Or perhaps that glass of wine to unwind turns into three? Whatever your stress-reactions are, make note of them. Only when you're aware of a behavior can you take steps to replace it with another. After all, stress is a part of life - you may be able to reduce it, but you can't remove it altogether. So, you'll need new coping mechanisms - the kind that make you feel better, not worse, in the end!

Remember your joy
One self-help expert talks about creating a memory bank. This is a place where you write down things that bring you joy as they happen. Then, when you're feeling down, you can look back on them and you'll find you experience a sense of calm - a little bit of the happiness associated with that moment returns. This is a great thing to start doing - but in the meantime, make a list of some people or experiences that make you feel good and calm. Think about your favorite vacation spots, or your last workout high. Consider a pet you adore, or an aunt that made you feel particularly special.

The next time you feel particularly stressed, turn your focus to one of these uplifting thoughts. Make a conscious effort to do this instead of reaching for that ice cream or a cigarette.

Be aware of negativity
This one sounds easy, but it's not. It requires a shift in perspective.The next time you find yourself feeling particularly negative, whether your boss has pissed you off, you're stuck in what seems like endless traffic, or you're simply experiencing the desire to tell the entire world to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, stop yourself. One of the most important things we can do to improve our quality of life is realize if everything is making us angry, we're probably the problem. Not that we've necessarily done anything wrong, but it's useless to be controlled by external occurrences.

Take a breath and consider the situation. Is it a chance to practice patience or communication skills? Is your energy better spent somewhere else - other than stressing about this? The answer is probably yes to both of these questions. Remain calm, refocus and recognize that negativity will get you nowhere.

Give yourself credit
Each day, make a list of what you've accomplished. The word accomplishment should not be reserved for huge projects, but rather, give yourself credit for doing the things you need to do to take care of you. You got up on time and had a calm morning - big accomplishment. You washed off your makeup before bed and took the time to use face cream - you're taking care of you. You made the kids' lunches and still had time to eat breakfast yourself - amen.

If you begin to see the little things you do through the eyes of accomplishment, you'll feel the urge to accomplish more, and you'll feel more productive without actually adding anything to your plate, except maybe a little "me" time.

Express your love
There's an ideology that says we're all part of the same energy - a universal flow. A simplified, redux explanation of Taoist philosophy is that if we go with the flow we will find peace. Part of this flow is accepting that love is energy.

Contrary to cultural obsession, true love is not simply romantic love. It is loving yourself. It is taking glory in each moment of your day. It is feeling and being loving - not in a phony, "paste on a smile when you want something" way, but in a "we are all one, and what's good for me is good for the whole" kind of way. This does not mean being selfish - sometimes what is good for you is not necessarily what you desire (anyone who has spent time chasing the wrong mate knows this one)! What it does mean is being free with your love - your happiness - your energy.

Don't be afraid to pay compliments. Hug the people that mean something to you. Smile at that guy on the street for no reason other than that you feel like it. As you express the positivity you do feel, the amount you experience will grow. And it will spread to everyone around you.

Meditation Medication

Source: California Psychics

Just in case you needed one more reason to take up meditation practice, a new study indicates that Transcendental Meditation benefits patients with heart disease.

According to multiple outlets, in a study of adults with coronary heart disease (who were stable and receiving optimal medical care), 16 weeks of Transcendental Meditation not only reduced blood pressure significantly, but also improved heart rate variability and insulin resistance, which is associated with an increased risk of diabetes. These benefits were achieved without weight loss, medication or psychosocial variables. In other words, meditation alone fostered these improvements for patients. Hats off to the mind/body/spirit connection!

Now of course it's completely inadvisable to forego medical treatment for any illness in favor of simply meditating. So don't even think about that! But combining meditation with any treatment plan you get from the doctor you trust seems more and more likely to be helpful, as continues to be proven. In the last year alone, one study after the next has been released touting the benefits of quieting the mind on a regular basis - for the sick and for the healthy. So don't wait until you've got a condition that needs curing to get started - meditation has perks for everyone!

For starters, meditation lowers stress levels and promotes a calm, connected feeling. It improves focus and concentration and boosts your energy (physical and mental) as well as sharpening your mental clarity. Meditate in nature to experience even greater benefits - and a oneness with the world around you. All it takes is a few minutes a day and you can be on your path to a far more pleasant, healthier existence. Meditation is like recharging your batteries.

Make a change for the positive! Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be. Sure, there are people who meditate for hours, but ten minutes a day will do the trick for the busy individual (and you can even start with five).

Start by clearing your calendar for fifteen minutes, just to make sure you've got enough time to prepare beforehand and then ease back into your day after you're done. Mornings are great (especially if you can get up just a little bit early), but so is the time just after work before you eat dinner. Naturally, any time you can spare will work.

First, turn off the TV, computer and any (and all) phones. Create a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed. When beginning your practice, you may want to set a timer. Start with five minutes.

Next, get yourself into a comfortable, seated position. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor and you should be sitting up straight. For this reason, a chair is probably better than on the floor (unless you're a Pilates junky with posture to spare)!

Then, once you're settled and comfortable, clear your mind of any stray thoughts, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe in through your nose in a way that you can hear your breath as it enters. Breathe out through your nose the same way.

The idea is to breathe deeply and evenly. Some people find counting helpful. If that works for you, breathe in on a four count and out on a four count. Focusing on your breath is not necessary, but many people find it helps their minds from wandering.

A certain amount of thought activity is normal, especially at first. So, as stray thoughts enter your mind, politely send them away. Don't get angry at yourself for these thoughts - they're natural. It's not easy to quiet the mind, and even five minutes may feel like a lot at first. Just do your best to make it through as long as you can, aware that your meditation stamina will increase as you continue to practice.

When the timer goes off, take a moment complete a final breath and open your eyes. Allow yourself to re-acclimate to your surroundings. You should find that even after just a few minutes, you feel alert and refreshed.

If you keep this up daily for a few weeks, it will become ingrained and you should be able to extend your practice time.

On a last note, if you find you fall asleep during meditation, you're not alone. Consider opening a window, or some gentle music to help keep you awake, and pay special attention to your posture and the grounding of your feet. Try not to meditate before bed at first too, just in case… while it may lull you off sweetly, it will also defeat the purpose.