Tag Archives: Benefits

Can a Smile Change Everything?

Harvest, Harvest Festival, PumpkinThe holidays are coming, with all of their joys and stresses. Days are growing shorter, the weather is increasingly unpredictable, and holiday memories from childhood, young adulthood, and other times in our lives that lie dormant through the rest of the year begin to emerge.

As the example below illustrates, maturing in Mindlfulness oriented Meditation practices like Christian Tantric Meditation helps us to become more “self aware” regarding our own inner experiences and the world around us.  We also become practiced in using tools like “intentional smiling” that are available for letting go of some of our negative experiences, thoughts, and behaviors, and increasing our positive experiences.

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The morning commute was dark and rainy, and the traffic was bumper to bumper. Joe’s grumpy mood seemed to be reinforced by his surroundings as he inched along in his car, trying to get rain-933490_640to work.   Maybe it was the darkening days of late autumn, maybe it was the prospect of dealing with the upcoming holidays. Whatever the reason, this mood was as familiar to him as a miserable old friend.

In past years, Joe knew his grumpiness would tend to alienate his family, and he would increase his own alcohol and food consumption. This year was different however, because Joe had been developing self awareness of his own moods and emotions. This learned self awareness was just one of the positive outcomes he experienced from practicing Christian Tantric Meditation over the past several weeks.

Joe remembered some advice that was repeated throughout the Christian Tantric Meditation “Self Emptying” instructions he had received; “smile, accept, and let it go.” At the moment, the thought of smiling seemed to sour his mood even more, for no apparent reason.

emoticon-937609_640Perhaps in spite of himself, he forced a large distorted smile to his face. Alone, in his car, creeping along in the dark and the rain, surrounded by other unfortunate souls trapped in the same traffic he was a part of, he smiled so hard his eyes squinted and watered. He pictured himself with his teeth bared like some crazy hyena. And in spite of himself, he chuckled. He exhaled. He inhaled. He exhaled again. His forced smile relaxed into a natural grin.

He thought of a saying he had heard from a grumpy old actor from the 1920’s, W.C. Fields, “Smile first thing in the morning and get it over with.” This made him smile even more.

Feeling better, he recognized that in the midst of the cleansing rain, the filtered morning light was eroding the darkness and the traffic had started moving again. He was grateful.

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If you are interested in learning more about developing self awareness skills and tools like “intentional smiling” that are included in Christian Tantric Meditation, consider attending a Workshop.

Our introductory workshops introduce the skills of mindfulness, mind stabilization, and opening consciousness.  Please visit http://sunrisemeditation.org/workshops/ to register online or call 678-358-8775 for more information.

Our next class is scheduled for Saturday November 14th in Sautee Georgia near Helen Georgia.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving, this might be an ideal time to visit, to take a meditation class, and to enjoy the late autumn beauty of the North Georgia Mountains. Just over an hour from Atlanta, the act of getting away and taking in fresh air itself makes the trip worthwhile.

Easter Meditation and News

Greetings Clients, Colleagues, and Friends!

Rather than publishing a Blog directly this month, I have been blessed with an invitation By Kimberly Holman to share my blog through ContemplativeTheology.com.   The blog is entitled “Easter Compassion Meditation” and in it I continue to illustrate Christian Tantric Meditation techniques and experiences through narrative examples.  Kimberly gets credit for adding beautiful and meaningful illustrations to the blog.  Thank you Kimberly!

A great deal has been happening with Ecumenical Wellness.  We are working towards opening a Meditation Studio and Counseling Center in Sautee Georgia, near Helen Georgia.  The plan is to offer people the opportunity to participate in Meditation classes as part of their own holiday, day trip, or retreat weekend to the beautiful North Georgia mountains.  Stay tuned for details!

I want to thank everyone who has supported and purchased our publication, Christian Tantric Meditation.  If you have read and enjoyed the book, please consider adding a review to our publication page at Amazon.com.

I wish everyone a blessed and joyful Christian Holy week.  Whatever Spiritual or non-Spiritual, Religious or non-Religious, faith or non-faith traditions we associate with or participate in, may we experience and appreciate the hope of Resurrection that comes with Spring.  Happy Easter!

Letting Go of Anxieties with Meditation

It was a day like any other day, dreary and oppressive with cold rain, and yet pregnant with possibility. Gary had been practicing Christian Tantric Meditation fairly regularly for almost a year, so he was well versed in the process, but lately he had been practicing less and less frequently.

cropped-20141025_163721_1.jpgHe knew the benefits, and he felt the consequences of not practicing creeping back into his life. Work was crazy, his wife and kids demanding, and he was drinking more than usual, which only meant 1 or 2 extra drinks on the weekend, but still, he could feel it. He was slipping away again, losing himself to the cares and demands of the world. He was also letting his temper go a little too far lately, feeling sorry for himself and blaming others for his growing sense of loneliness and lack of control.

“Lack of control” he thought to himself, smiling grimly. He remembered. He remembered the freedom and joy he felt when he truly surrendered his desires and attachments. Pushing himself, he remembered the love he felt when he surrendered his resentments and invited Christ into his heart. He remembered the feeling of hope and strength he felt when he surrendered his burdens and fears.

Motivated now, he placed his phone in “airplane mode” and retrieved the neglected cushions from closet. He had practiced in a chair for several months, but eventually purchased a meditation cushion set.  He sat on the cushions cross legged at first, noting his sense of imbalance with his knees in the air. Carefully, he folded his left foot against his right thigh, and then pulled his right heel into his right thigh. Once his right knee was somewhat locked in place, he shifted his right leg downward while lifting his right foot and resting it against his left calf.

His knees were now naturally extended to the floor, creating a satisfying 3 point weight distribution with his seat elevated on the cushions. He noted that his right foot was not crossing his left at the ankle, as that would result in a numb foot within five minutes.

He closed his eyes and briefly and noted the thoughts running through his head, the things he needed to be doing, the demands of life, and he turned his attention to his breathing. He recognized the feeling of cool air entering his nostrils, his mouth, and into his lungs. He recognized the feeling of his chest rising and falling. He consciously began breathing with his belly, allowing it to expand and relax naturally as he inhaled and exhaled.

His racing thoughts began to diminish quickly, as his breathing deepened. He consciously straightened his back, and adjusted himself a little to increase his sense of balance. Because of his experience in the practice, his mind and body automatically responded to his breathing.

He imagined the space that his mind occupied, and consciously let go of his desires. His outward desires appeared first in his mind, desires for control. With every breath they drifted away. Then his deeper desires appeared, his desires for success and happiness. He let them go as well, leaving in their place a clear blue sky in his mind.

His attention turned to his heart. He imagined his breath entering his body, and sweeping through his heart. He imagined letting go of his resentments, directed towards people he encountered recently, and long term resentments he held against family members. As an angry grandfather figure came into his mind, he resisted the temptation to work on this issue. He had practiced letting go of this image many times before, and he would have more opportunities later. Somehow he knew he needed to dwell elsewhere this time. Breathing, he allowed the image to drift away.

His attention moved to his core. There. He felt it. A persistent knot. A low ache that just sat there, haunting him day and night. He had felt it before, but never really recognized it. Until now.

Curious, he decided to imagine the space that the ache occupied. He imagined its shape, its position. It was definitely located in his stomach area, on the left side of his body. He breathed slowly and deeply, imagining every breath soothing and healing the inflamed aching area that his consciousness  occupied.

Because of his training, his mind drifted to his fears. Definitely present, but vague. Nothing specific to let go of. Still, he breathed, and imagined his generalized fear dissipating with every breath.

He also thought of his many burdens. Again, nothing specific, no one huge concern. Just a large volume of little issues. Insurance, bills, children’s schooling, etc etc. Breathing, he let them go, little by little with every breath.

He felt better, but he noted that the ache was still present.

His curiosity aroused even further, he decided to let go of his training, and forget even the recognition of fears and burdens within his core. He let it all go, all structure, all training, all thoughts, all feelings. He breathed deeply and allowed himself to just dwell there, in his core area of consciousness.

Eventually, a new sense began to grow within him, replacing the dull ache and general anxiety. He began to feel hopeful. He began to recognize the opportunities in his life, and the strengths that he had built over time, his experience and accomplishments.

He allowed his consciousness to open up and occupy his entire body. The resentment towards the demands placed upon him were replaced by feelings of love in his heart. His wife, his children. His dog. The rain, the firm earth, green lawns and flowers. God. Love. All there in his heart.

The desires to control all of those demanding voices and images in his mind were replaced by a clear blue sky. He recognized that it wasn’t in his power to make others happy. They need to find happiness on their own. He could be present, he could love, he could support, but he couldn’t bring happiness. He recognized that his attempts to bring happiness to others actually did more harm than good, as they turned to him rather than to their own resources, their own faith, their own in-dwelling sense of God.

Dwelling in the space his entire body occupied, he imagined every breath filling him completely, cleansing and healing. He rested there. He allowed his awareness to expand to include the room, the house, the yard, the neighborhood, and all the living creatures that were a part of his surroundings.

Feeling relieved, he recognized that the knot in his stomach had dissipated. He returned his attention back to his breathing, and he slowly emerged. He opened his eyes and smiled.

🙂

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

It’s easy to find articles and books describing the benefits of meditation. A quick search on Google or Google Scholar quickly reveals many articles describing benefits of meditation. And the varieties of meditation described in the articles are wide ranging as well, including mindfulness, compassion and Spiritually oriented meditation techniques.

While scholarly articles are important in providing statistical proof of benefits, sometimes illustrations can speak more clesunset_smallarly.

For example, everyone has tools for dealing with stress. Some people deal with stress by escaping or seeking a path of least resistance, while others deal with stress by taking control, sometimes aggressively. Through the practice of mindfulness meditation, a person can begin to recognize how they habitually react to situations and learn to “catch themselves” before reacting automatically.

Consider the case of Charlie, who had a habit of yelling and blaming others when he misplaced something. One day Charlie couldn’t find his lucky argyle socks, and his first reaction was to yell out loud to anyone within ear shot “who stole my lucky socks!”

After meditating for a few weeks, Charlie again couldn’t find his socks, but when he was about to shout, he hesitated, smiled at himself for recognizing his reaction, and chose another pair of socks instead. As a result everyone in the house had a better day, including Charlie.

Consider also the case of Jane, who routinely “tries to fix” situations she has no control over. One day Jane’s husband, Charlie, (a different Charlie…) couldn’t find his favorite golf socks. She was about to leave the house for work, but instead she stopped and went through his drawers until she found the socks he claimed were missing. She left the house late and experienced stress at work as a result. After Jane practiced mindfulness meditation for a few weeks, Charlie lost his socks again, and Jane started to react as always, but this time she caught herself. She smiled at herself for recognizing her reaction and said “Charlie, you’re just going to have to figure it out for yourself, I don’t want to be late for work.” As a result, Jane had a better day at work, and Charlie learned something about himself, his wife, and something about the relative importance of “lucky socks” as well.

While these examples are simple, they are fairly accurate representations of how mindfulness meditation begins to help a person. With more time and practice, simple little changes build upon themselves. As Charlie continues to develop awareness and new tools for personal accountability, his relationships with his family and peers at work improve. And as Jane continues to develop awareness and new tools for asserting herself, her relationships with her family and her peers at work improve also.

These examples represent positive outcomes from developing self awareness through mindfulness meditation.  Many other benefits are possible from compassion meditation and from meditation that incorporates Christian Spirituality. Christian Tantric Meditation addresses all three of these meditation discipline areas.

Like a physical workout increases strength and stamina, regular practice of Christian Tantric Meditation increases a person’s capacity for mindfulness, compassion, and Spirituality. And like a physical workout, with regular practice, these capacities expand within a person, yielding personal, professional, and relationship benefits.