Wellness Wednesday October 5, 2016

Spot Check

Take a moment right now to spot check on muscle tension within your body. Start at the top of your head and move gently, slowly go down through your body including your arms to your fingertips and your feet to your toes.Where you find tension, breathe in deeply, 
demonstrating deep breathing

scrunch those muscles even more tensely, then release breath and muscles at the same time. 

You’ll soon feel that lovely tingle of oxygen flowing through your body! Oxygen replaces the held tensions and you feel better!

The effect on your body will be about the same as having a massage, but with the advantage you can practice this technique anywhere—your chair, while walking, wherever you are. 
To deepen the experience try this autogenic training just before sleep. 
While lying in your bed, start with your feet. Scrunch them up and hold tightly as you take in a big lungful of air. Now release air and muscles at the same moment. Ahhhh!

Go to your calves, up through your thighs, and so on, scrunching and deep releasing with your breath each set of muscles in your body. If you come to your head and face and you aren't asleep already, start all over again. 

You'll soon find the benefits of blissful sleep, deep relaxation and increased oxygen flow can be yours.  

Flurry of Worry? DO Something!

Here’s a more complete list of what to do with worry. The first thing is write down what bothers you. You may not do anything more with whatever's on the list, but the act of writing helps your brain believe you are more in charge. More in charge means less worry. And that's good news.
If possible move. Yes, just get up and change posture, change positions if you can. Breathe as you do this since focusing on breathing will help reroute the number of neural pathways away from worry and into being aware of how the oxygen goes in and out of your lungs. 
If getting up is not possible, because you are in a small room with a number of people in a meeting for instance, or in a car, try tapping your fingers and toes. You may try to synchronize the movements, or let them jazz it up, but either way you are telling your brain you want less energy devoted to worry and more to physical activity. 
Try humming a little tune. Humming in a low volume decreases the number of neuronal highways hosting your worry thoughts like VW's on the Autobahn. The humming will release some of those pesky thoughts dedicated to what you'll do if and when something negative happens. This release allows you to be more present by reducing the amount of neuronal space dedicated to worrying. 
Finally one of the very best things you can do to reduce your worries and improve your state of mind is daydream. That's right. Let your imagination go and find yourself in that peaceful place of beauty and quiet calm. Your brain will respond to this flight of fancy in exactly the same way as if you were really there, on vacation. 

Next time you find yourself in a flurry of worry, try any or all of these ideas: write down a list of what bothers you, move some part or all of your body, focus on your breathing, hum a little tune and imagine yourself in your happy place. It works! 

Imagination Vacation!

Right now give yourself an Imagination Vacation. Select one of your chronic worry items and exchange it for Imagination: see, feel, hear, touch, taste the opposite. No worry but the fulfillment of what you want.
You feel better right?
That’s because our brains do not make difference between what we imagine and what is physically present. So go ahead and imagine, well, every detail of the life you want. It’s a free Imagination Vacation!

Our thoughts create the kinds of hormones, endorphins, all the tiny substances that flood through our bodies. When we imagine already having what we want, the substances we create buoy up a natural feeling of well-being and contentment. As you'll see here whatever our emotional state, our bodies respond.

What's exciting about this is how our brains do not make a difference between what is occurring in our physical world and what our imaginations bring to us! Therefore, when we imagine the life we want, having that new car, having the love of our life, experiencing that adventure, whatever it may be our bodies supply us with the feeling as though we in physical world have already achieved. 

As we experience this and as we practice this state, we share it without effort with everyone else. That's the secret of the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness and so much more. 

So take an Imagination Vacation right now. For best results, practice regularly throughout today. 

Wellness Wednesday August 31st, 2016

Silence for Greater Brain Power  
Shshshsh…don’t make a sound! Silence, the new/old discovery, encourages growth of brain cells, especially in the hippocampus.
pic of hippocampus
This organ sits (silently we may presume) storing memories, especially those that will go in long term memory.

What’s vitally important about science discovering the power of silence? Imagine an office space where the air holds only hushed sounds of a few conversations, where phones and copy machines and typing, doors and (horror!) music are gone, in favour of that thick soothing layer of no noise.

Consider shopping in stores where the latest blast of someone’s favourite choice of music just doesn’t happen, leaving you to really focus on what you want and why. All right, so that’s not how marketers will approach this information, but maybe, eventually…

If silence affects one area of the brain positively that leads us to consider other areas may also be served by silence. And meditation, that latest path to adding years of positive living, health, well-being to your life span? Uh huh. Silence.

So consider giving yourself a short pause of complete silence. Think of silence as your best ally toward a more peaceful life.  Even ten minutes during a lunch break (look for a museum, a park, a library close by your office) or after work as the de-fusing time between work and home. Or offer a night cap to your day with a period of silence. And sleep better for it. 

Wellness Wednesday  August 24th 2016This fractal stands as the logo for
Logo for Stouffville Yoga Life Studio              Right now what you feel matters. Your feeling in this moment affects your life, yes, but according to Gregg Braden “…The acts of meditation, prayer and emotion are the key to success in changing the outcome, or altering the fabric of reality, as we know it.” So right now, change your mind! It’s that simple. Reach for a more contented place.
How to do this? Memory. Remember when you felt good. Was it on the weekend, during the night, yesterday or last year; it doesn’t matter when, just reach for that memory and that feeling.
Meditation like this begins to shape your life toward the positive. Before long you find your mind reaching for the best, the warmest, the most positive feeling in every moment. With that comes spontaneous gratitude.

For more on meditation and its power to shape your life, consider registering for Meditation Works: Here’s How  on September 10th at Stouffville Yoga Life. We’ll discover, discuss and experience more about meditation and its power to help you live the way you want to: in positive, loving energy.

For a weekly boost, come to Monday night meditation at
42 Somerville St in Stouffville, the Stouffville Yoga Life studio, where we chant for a few minutes, then rest in silence before talking again half an hour later. In just one half hour weekly you strengthen your ability to live in contentment, peace and gratitude. 

Wellness Wednesday August 17th 2016 

You’d like to meditate, but it’s the wrong time. Or you’d like to meditate but your place is the wrong place, too noisy, too much distraction. Ah, yes, you’d like a peaceful, totally quiet place where you would, for sure, sit in ease and perfect your meditation practice.

For meditation practice to help you navigate the turbulence of your daily life, it is best done right in the center of the storm. Try to meditate while your family romps in the next room. Sit quietly yourself, letting the waves of sound roll through you. That meditation garners strength for today’s busy life.

It’s a deep illusion that the perfect time or place for meditation will come to you. Our minds’ ability to create perfection, and to give up whenever perfection does not arise, holds us back from so much,
including beginning meditation practice.

Instead begin your practice within the busyness and imperfection. Arrive at your mat with all the distractions and chaos of your life and just try. With an uncompromising approach, discipline and commitment you will find the perfect quiet, the essential calm place where it has been all along—within.

Join us every Monday evening at 9 pm for half an hour of practice. With regular commitment you'll soon find yourself being the peace in the centre of the storm. 
Then, on September 10th between 2 and 4 pm join me for a full discussion of meditation, how it works according to Neuroscience, and much more. You'll practice a few different styles of meditation, different postures and have the opportunity to ask any questions you have. Tailor your meditation practice to your life. Join me September 10th at 
Stouffville Yoga Life 
42 Somerville St. 

Meditation, Neuroscience, Visualizing

Just picture the cool shade beneath a canopy of tree covering. Feel for a moment in your mind 
the hint of moisture, the cooling darkness. 
Welcome to cooling your internal temperature! It's that easy. 
Our brains do not make the difference between what we imagine and what is physically happening. Therefore on a hot summer day, when you repeat to yourself how hot it is, you actually encourage yourself to experience the heat. 
Turn down the heat by imagining the opposite. Try the shade of this lovely glen! It really is that simple. 

For more on Meditation and Depression, click this link.

Do Chakras have Their Own Colour? 

May 16 2016

Years ago, a secret sign showed how a person had committed to meditation: a thin, red, cotton string worn around the neck. The string acted as a kind of calling card. You knew who was meditating, who was connected already with some teacher from those who had not yet heard the good news about Awakening.
red string used as medicine in Tibetan Buddhism

The thread was often tied in a tiny knot in the centre and signifies the thread of life that connects the student to the teacher. It is considered medicine and is given out after the precious ceremonies central to all Tibetan meditations, the Wongs. 

That was over forty years ago. Now meditation systems, teachers, signs and symbols fill our eyes and the sounds of mantras come to us very easily especially over the internet.
How do we know what we're learning is correct? Take Chakras, for instance. Pictures of a meditating body with the chakras lit up from within abound on free images from the internet. The trouble is, people believe chakras HAVE a colour.
Not true. Chakras are energy centres that resonate within the vibrations of the Nadis, those psychic branches that may be imagined looking like the branches of trees in November here in Canada. The twigs and ends may not touch but reach toward each other. These Nadis carry the energy of Prajna, the basic energy force of everything, everywhere.
This is Tibetan teaching: Prajna, which is energy collects in Nadis, which collect Prajna until Chakras develop.
Colours for Chakras change regularly

Chakras may be thought of as wheels, or flowers. And they are horizontal. That's right. Not vertical, like buttons on your shirt, but horizontal, like when you imagine your breath entering your lungs and you remember to include the back of your lungs too! 3D and horizontal, the chakras have at their centre a hollow tube which runs through the centre of your body. That's the channels about which I'll write more later.
For now, just get this information: Chakras are not any particular colour. The colours seen frequently when Chakras are depicted are there to help us visualize the chakras.

Here's the most important point: when you meditate, if you discover say a light blue colour coming from the area of your chest where the ribs meet, or maybe a bit higher, you are likely seeing a representation of your heart chakra at that moment.

Don't struggle to get that colour another time. Just note it down in your notes at the end of your meditation.
What? You don't take notes? Stay tuned for the way to review and take notes after meditation and why this is important.

Soul Retrieval, Tibetan La Go with Lama Zazup Rinpoche 

May 2  2016

In the centre of the front of this room a Dais rises about 3 ft high, fronted by the brocade of yellow and blue, colours of Medicine Buddha, blazoned with the double Dorje so common in Tibetan iconography. This is where Lama Zazup Rinpoche will sit. 

Soul Retrieval Tibetan La Go with Lama Zazup Rinpoche

The double Dorje hanging from the front of the Dais is one of the central implements in Tibetan Buddhism and symbolizes, among other more esoteric meanings, a steadfastness of consciousness, stability that is unshakable.  

A sudden tingle of memory rings through my body as the air flows with smoke, the sweet scent of Tibetan incense filling the room. Flowers! Carnations of vivid red, pure white, splashy yellow, two large vases on the shrine full of these flowers. The shrine also supports three tiers the top one holding a statue of Medicine Buddha. To the right, food! Plates of goodies, three rounds of fruit and more flowers.

A large tangka of Medicine Buddha
Medicine Buddha helps reconnect wandering soul aspects to physical container

decorates the right side of the Dais. Tibetan prayer flags, their centre picture of a horse running depicting the Tibetan understanding of energy in the human body, hang around the audience, sheets of blue, yellow, green, red and white. The fact that we are in Owen Sound, a small, redneck community in Ontario gives this event a feeling of having arrived from another planet. 

Yet these symbols comfort me, as familiar as they have become through over forty years of attending ceremonies, listening to Teachers, receiving Wongs, and repeating meditation mantras, hours and hours of mantra repetition on my own. What is different this time is this ceremony unfolds as medicine for life force, or as the Tibetans called it, La. This time we're here to experience Soul Retrieval, strengthening and rebuilding life force after it has been weakened. Stay tuned for more. 


     Mandlebrot Set with its repetition amidst infinite potential represents very clearly the exact experience of meditation: meditate, repeat, repeat, repeat then in what seems like a spontaneous splurge of the Universe, Change!

     A new pattern emerges with all its exciting possibilities and sense of freedom from the old.

     Although we hear most frequently these days about Mindfulness Meditation (Kabot-Zinn’s Western clothing on the ancient technique of Vipassana or watching the breath meditations), Tibetan Vajrayana Tantric meditations, along with the classic 40 Meditations, open up the explorer’s experience.

     As varied and unique as some of these practices may be, each bringing its vivid color and exact textured shape to the meditator’s mind, at the center of each sits the one, same intention: release from suffering.

     Like our friend the sitting cat, or Buddha, the Mandlebrot Set in its fascinating ever changing dynamic, meditation offers a path of almost infinite variety and change, with the same centre focus.

     I began meditating when I was 14, learned how to meditate over seven years of travel with my teacher, the contentious Karma Tenzin Dorge Namgyal Rinpoche, proclaimed by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa to be the lineage (reincarnated) Master of the Namgyals: those who bring the teachings to the New World.

     My Teacher, being Western, also brought the New World teachings to the old as he explored travel, deep sea diving, astronomy, computers, sculpting as well as the Western Mysteries of Astrology and Tarot as methods for helping release human suffering. He held nothing back including his many flaws and angers and therefore stands as the best model: a very bad example.

If you would like to try meditating with us by Skype, let me know at:

 If you are interested in how Visualization meditations parallel the latest from Neuroscience, check out my book Medicine Buddha/ Medicine Mind

In Praise of Slow Reading by Tarchin Hearn 

"I don't just read with words. I read with feeling, intuition, physicality and intellectual astuteness. I read with eyes of inter-being." Read more here
snail's pace advises the author about reading

Affirmations: Meditation On The Go! Neuroscience says Listen In and Change Your Brain!

Breast Cancer Healing Visualization Meditation by Namgyal Rinpoche 

DUKKHA: Gateway to the Truth

Sesame Street's Best Meditation!

Connect with me!

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