Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Tag: Visualization

Busy Never Stops, But You Can: A Lesson In Imagination Meditation

Note:  This is a guest post by Adrienne Jurado from Experience Life Fully.

When was the last time you said, “Oh I would love to, but…” Or, “I wish I could, but…

“I’m just too busy.”

It seems like no matter what time of year or what day of the week, we are always too busy.

There are so many things throughout the day that demand our attention, things that must get done, like work or school.

There are the things we feel we should be doing. House chores. Catching up on email. Exercising. Volunteering.

Then there are things we really want to do. Spending time with pets, kids, family, and friends.  Traveling. Relaxing. Making a valuable contribution.

Every day, we are pulled in so many directions — so many people vying for our attention. It can even get to the point where the things and people we enjoy become a burden to us.

We end up stressed and overwhelmed.

It’s a slippery slope — once you start going down, it can be really difficult to regain your footing.

Pretty soon, you’re not getting enough sleep and you have very little energy. You start drinking more coffee, eating more sugary junk, and feeling too burnt out to exercise.  You’re too tired to focus and really accomplish much of anything.

All of that weight  can become uncomfortable, and your “must dos, should do, and want to dos” start turning into “don’t want to dos, can’t dos, and won’t dos.”

So how can we stop this vicious cycle before it completely bogs us down? How do we remove this weight so we can bring our minds back to a state of ease — a place where we are energized, motivated, and focused?

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Healing images and guides

TimeThief’s process of considering a new favicon for her blog and her comments on animal totems stimulated my thinking about healing images.  As someone obsessed with the word, the use of visual imagery is not second nature to me.  Nevertheless, I once clipped an image of a polar bear and her two cubs from an environmental calendar.

This image has traveled with me from the States to France, where I posted it on the wall of my bedroom for three years.  I was particularly drawn to the protective quality of this humongous bear, the way she lovingly watched over her two cubs in the space in front of her—one tentative little creature and the other perky and curious.

The polar bear as totem

Although I left the aforementioned image in Europe, the polar bear has clearly not left me.  An image of a polar bear came immediately to mind as I read through TimeThief’s blog post and has lingered since.  Perhaps this white knight has more messages for me?  I was prompted to learn about the significance of the polar bear as a totem. In traditional cultures, animal totems are seen as the source of spiritual guidance. You can learn the lessons they may hold for you by observing their characteristics, habits, and habitats.

The essential meaning and messages of the polar bear are “fearlessness, aggressive, provider, powerful.”

“Polar bears are known for their fearlessness and aggressiveness. Polar bears are good hunters and strong swimmers. Humans are their only predator. Because Polar bears are so high up on the food chain it is understandable why they are so fearless. When polar appears you will want to evaluate your fears by looking at the things that make you reactive or act out. Or, you may need to strengthen areas of personal weakness.  The Polar bear is a good provider for his family, anyone with Polar bear as his totem bears the honorable responsibility to provide for others. It is right for the strongest to care for the weakest. Polar bear totem asks that any aggressive behaviors you display are for defensive purposes and not meant to bully.”

“All the arctic totems are survivalists. Living in a cold climate and harsh environment demands stamina and determination to survive. Arctic totems teach the ability to thrive under the direst of circumstances.”

The polar bear brings additional meanings to my mind:

  • white as a symbol of purity of body, mind, and spirit;
  • the ability to swim through water symbolizing the capacity to move through emotions without getting stuck;
  • a harbinger of the dangers of global warming.

The polar bear with her qualities of fearlessness, power, protection, and knack for survival is without question a strong image for me.  Now that I am aware of all her special qualities, I will consciously embrace this totem as a guide through the next phase of my healing process.

There isn’t a single one of us who is not impacted by global warming, however the plight of the polar bear seems to be sparking the awareness of millions.  The documentary The Great Melt depicts the effect that climate change is already having on the Arctic habitat. The film hones in on the polar bear as one animal who cannot sustain itself over the progressively longer periods of warmer weather that are occurring due to global warming. When the ice melts, polar bears are unable to hunt for daily sustenance. This has always been the case, but it is the unnaturally protracted periods of warmth that are endangering the species. In fifty years time, the polar bear may be extinct. It was heart-wrenching to watch as these giants lumbered along, growing thinner with each passing day of the Arctic summer.

So I also feel a special connection with the polar bear because I too suffer from the impact of environmental toxins and choose to speak out about it to warn others.  Man is the polar bear’s only predator, but in this case we are not shooting them with guns, but killing them through our high level of oil consumption and other misuses of environmental toxins.

The turtle as totem

The turtle is another animal totem that speaks to me.

“The turtle is probably best known for its longevity. The turtle is a nomad who carries his home wherever he goes. The turtle’s shell serves as a protective shield from the elements and its predators. It lives on the beach, between water and land.  The turtle does not stress. Turtle moves slowly, reminding us to slow down. What is the hurry? If turtle appears you may need to start delegating your duties, or let go entirely of some things. You also may need to withdraw from others (retreat to your shell) and recoup your energies.”

As a highly sensitive person, I need to intentionally create a protective field around me, be aware of my stress patterns, function at a comfortable pace and not the frantic one dictated by our society, and withdraw from time-to-time to regroup.

Do you use imagery as part of your healing process?  What images speak to you?

Source:  Animal Totems

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Daily health habits

Whether you are healthy and want to stay well or are ill and want to recover, establishing daily health habits is a blueprint for success.  Many health habits can be practiced effectively a few times a week, but others—like drinking pure water—best occur on a daily basis.

Here are some steps to help you get started on establishing your own daily health habits or to fine-tune ones you may already have in place. My own daily routine is also shared to stimulate your own thinking about daily health habits suitable for you.

Preliminary steps to establishing daily health habits

1. Making the time
There’s no way around the fact that daily health habits take time.  A new routine automatically requires letting go of some of your other activities.  Since most of us already feel there’s not enough time or space in our day, this is a very easy place to get stuck.  In fact, many people are never able to get off the ground with a new habit because they are never able to make the time. Sound familiar?

To conquer this obstacle, take some time to consider and then list which activities you are willing to drop for the sake of your health goals.  You need to make a conscious choice or the tendency to put new health ways on hold may continue forever.  Spend a few days observing how your spend your time and which activities are expendable.  Then make a list and, at least, a 30-day commitment, to forgo one or more of these endeavors.  It makes sense to pinpoint ones that are counterproductive to health like watching too much television, surfing the internet endlessly, or working too much overtime.

Please don’t skip this step—it can indeed make the difference between success and failure.

2. Ease of implementation
Which health habit will be easiest for you to implement? Which one will bring you the quickest sense of joy and satisfaction?  Dieting, for example, is not easy for most people.  Start with easier goals, the ones that will make you feel a sense of satisfaction soon. Then move on to the more challenging ones.

3. Small steps

People often have a burst of enthusiasm at the beginning and then quickly let a new habit fall by the wayside.  To avoid this adverse result, start with small steps.  For example, if you are trying to eliminate a food from your diet, reduce the amount you eat by 1/3rd.  When you are acclimated to the change, reduce the amount by another 1/3rd.  When you are ready, let go of the last 1/3rd.  If you are trying a new exercise routine, start with 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increase your time allotment.  This will also save you from soreness, pain, and unnecessary injuries that can occur when you dive too rapidly into a new exercise regime.

4. Communicate your plan

Communicate your plan to your family and friends and ask for their support.  Carve out the time you need in concert with your family or significant other.

5. Partnering up with a friend

Partnering with a friend is an excellent method for success.  For example, walking everyday for 30 minutes at lunch with a friend is usually more fun than walking alone.  It will also give you the impetus to get moving on days when you feel resistance.

6. Set realistic goals

It’s better to start with just one new health habit and have it firmly in place, rather than starting with a long list, becoming overwhelmed and not accomplishing any of them.  I’ve always liked the SMART formula for goals. SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

7. Be creative

There are many ways to work around the challenges of a busy lifestyle.  For example, taking the stairs at work or parking your car in the far lot and walking are simple ways to increase daily movement and may only take 5 or 10 minutes of extra time.  This may be far easier than committing to an hour-long exercise class.

8. Use the power of visualization

Visualize your future self as you will look and feel after implementing your new daily health habit. Consider creating a “vision board” of the new you using photos and words from magazine articles on health. Use words that energize and inspire you like:  trim, fit, energetic, cheerful, healthy, muscular, strong, and so on.  If weight is a goal, place your ideal weight on the vision board too.  Then place the vision board in a prominent place.  Or write a letter to yourself filled with encouragement and a description of how you will look and feel by implementing the new habit.  Read it every morning or in the evening before going to bed.

The important point is to visualize the new you each and everyday in one way or the other.  A vision board or a letter to yourself can help that process, but neither is required.  A simple visualization is powerful in and of itself.

My daily health habits

To stimulate your thinking, here is a list of my daily health habits for nourishing body, mind, and spirit.   Some have been in place for years.  Others are new this year.

1. Physical activity – One to two hours of any combination of Chi Gong, gardening, and walking.  To avoid prolong sitting, I also aim for 5 minutes of movement in any given hour.

2. Good food – Eating organically grown produce and avoiding packaged and denatured foods, sugar, and alcohol.

3. Meditation – I incorporate regular meditation every morning and evening.  This includes a range of practices, not only sitting meditation.  I also integrate mindfulness and awareness into my daily activity.

4. Positivity – Pruning negativing from my life, practicing positivity, and surrounding myself with positive people.

5. Avoiding environmental chemicals and synthetic fragrance – This is a necessity for me. In my opinion, it is also a wise move for anyone given the dramatic increase in diseases triggered by toxic chemicals affecting both young children (including babies) and adults.

6. Eating mindfully – This habit hasn’t been easy for me to adopt at all.  I tend to rush through meals or allow my mind to churn away in the past or future.  Eating mindfully includes creating a peaceful setting for eating, giving thanks for my food, taking a deep breath before eating and continuing to breath through my meal, putting my fork down between bites, and, very important, chewing thoroughly until the food is liquid.  Chew 30 times if you are well and 50 times if you have digestive problems; this is the standard recommendation.

7. Drinking pure water – We are on a catchment system and hence have a whole house water filtration system.  However, you can find less expensive stand alone ceramic filters for drinking water and bath balls to filter bath water.

8. Managing stress –  Stress isn’t good for any one, but often we don’t see its pervasive health impact until years down the road. I’m currently taking an intensive look at my own stress patterns and learning to dissolve stress reactions when they arise.

9. Winding down before bedtime – Allowing 1-2 hours for stimulation-free, relaxed time before sleep.  This is also a challenging habit for me to create as it is tempting to continue on projects right smack up until bedtime.

It hasn’t been easy for me to establish healthy habits.  It something I’ve had to consciously choose, work at consistently, and recommit to again and again. Am I able to accomplish all the above every day?  Not always, but I don’t fret about it.  I just do the best I can.  Have I fully established all these positive habits?  I can answer a hearty yes for some of them like meditation.  Other ones are still a work in progress. With the help of a clear plan though, I am steadily making headway.

Please share your thoughts on establishing daily health habits.  Which healthy habits do you cherish the most?  How do you overcome obstacles to staying on tract with your newly formed health habits?

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Using dreamtime constructively

dreamtimeHave your ever noticed how the thoughts, emotions, and images you entertain in the hours and minutes before falling asleep enter your dreamspace?

Often the thought or emotion that I fall asleep with is the one I wake with and may be the one I ruminate upon all night long.

For example, if I’m ticked, I notice how this seed of anger germinates all night long and influences my mood the next morning.  In a similar fashion, if I spend the later hours of the evening on the internet, I notice how images I observed there appear, often in a nonsensical way, in dreamtime.  While the latter may not be detrimental, it doesn’t necessarily enhance my wellbeing.

Wouldn’t it be far better to use my dreamtime in an intentional and positive way?

Directing your mind

This can be easily accomplished by focusing one’s mind in a particular direction before retiring.

If you gently visualize healing images—your cells filled with 5-colored streams of pure light, for example—chances are you will wake up feeling refreshed.  Done consistently, it’s been shown by scientific research that affirmative visualizations can enhance healing and recovery in the body, even from serious illnesses like cancer.

If you imagine your body filled with love and joy and tenderly streaming this out from your heart to the world,  you will more likely wake filled with happiness.

If you lightly, without strain, focus your attention on sacred images or spiritual figures of significance to you, these will pervade your dreams often bringing meaning, insight, and wisdom.

Many healing and spiritual traditions utilize the power of mind immediately before and during dreamtime to achieve greater spiritual accomplishment.  They know the power of mind. Just as science is now coming to discover, this clearly shows us that the mind is pliable, workable, and changeable.

As the Buddha said, “We are what we think.”  We can change our mind for the better and have a positive and powerful influence on ourselves and the world around us.

How do you use dreamtime?

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