In this video, Stephanie explains metta meditation.
Today, set aside at least 15 minutes to practice metta, or loving-kindness, meditation.
Metta meditation is a practice that combines the serenity of meditation with the good feeling you get from giving. The practice of metta meditation starts with taking some deep breaths to get calm and centered.
Then turn your attention inward while repeating the following mantras: May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. Now think of someone in your life who you want to send some good intentions to and repeat these mantras: May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.
Connect to the feelings of goodwill that arise and use them to focus your mantras and meditation.
Mini Meditation Video with Stephanie
Take 5–10 minutes out of your day to practice some deep breathing.
You don’t have to choose any particular meditation practice. You can go for a short uninterrupted walk, sit in a quiet place, or simply focus on a candle flame.
The point of this exercise is to still your mind, release the tension from the day, and focus on the present moment.
This practice, done even for just a few minutes a day, can help slow down your mind, allowing you to better manage your thoughts and decisions.
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Why So Much Fear by Stephanie
I've always been fascinated with fear. Curious about why we have so much fear, seemingly everywhere. Rather than focus on why so much fear, I rather focus on what to do about it. For many of us fear keeps us stuck in a life pattern that makes us unhappy, stressed, confused, tired, etc.
What I have come to understand is that for many of us, fear is the default when we lack clarity about our life. Meaning, when we lack clarify about who we are, what we want, what matters to us, etc, we will often to stay stuck...in fear.
Why even discuss this?
A few reasons.
Like many of you, fear has impacted all areas of my life at one time for another and to differing degrees.
Owning a business whose mission is to provide sanctuary for body, mind and spirit is no small task in a world that consumes fear in all its forms and then projects it onto everyone and everything. What I have learned in our business is that when we are able to provide sanctuary for people...something radically starts to shift.
We begin to see people (ourselves too) awaken to who they really are, which is love, unconditional. It's beautiful. And excruciatingly painful too. Childbirth? Running an ultra marathon? When love is felt fears are faced. Paradox. Yes.
Dealing with fear causes us to experience a whole range of emotions. That's healthy. However, when intense emotions arise, many of us lose our way. We lose our way because we aren't clear on who we are, which is love and why we are here, which is to love.
Fear is at the root of all emotion that isn't love...jealousy, attachment, judgment. When we live in fear, we will suffer.
So, we need to deal with fear, in all its forms, if we wish to raise our children in a loving world.
In my experience, when you get right down to it, we are either operating from fear or from love.
And in order for the Sanctuary to "run" from love, instead of fear it's important, we are clear on our "offerings".
As in business, as in life.
Our personal mission guides our choices, our life. When we lack clarity about anything, the usual default is fear.
Fear of what? You name it. Fear of loss, rejection, the unknown, being who we are, missing out...the list is endless.
Fear as default applies to any area of life (relationship, career, money, spiritual practice, healthy, etc)
What to do?
Below are a few questions that help anchor me in the present so I continue to make choices that align with who I am, which is love.
1. Do I wish to experience inner peace or conflict?
Inner peace, of course!
Note: Some of us still like being in conflict...it provides a distraction of sorts and gives us an excuse not to take responsibility for our life. Ouch, yes. I get it. Some of us are in conflict and don't even know it. All have been true for me. It's part of the human condition at times. It's up to us to be aware and then make the choice again and again as life carries on...
2. What must I be willing to do in order to experience inner peace?
Be open to trying things that support this way of living. There are many things/ tools we can do/ use: books, meditation, a mentor, energy work, prayer, workshops, podcasts... I do all of this and then some :) The point is, I am willing to do what it takes to live a peaceful life. Over time, we may need more or less of these things/ tools based on what we are facing in life. More stressful times = more support. Make sense?
3. Who must I become to experience inner peace?
Become a student of inner peace. Know thyself. Use the tools above.
Today, right now, begin to practice: acceptance, non-judgment, non-attachment, presence, compassion... and the big one - forgiveness. These are only a few and often the ones that are most profound.
Many words, many suggestions. It's really quite simple.
If you focus on choosing inner peace and practicing forgiveness, the rest will follow in time.
True inner peace is unconditional love, joy...presence. When we experience true inner peace, we have clarity to make choices that align with who we are...meaning we make loving choices cause we remember we are love!
Practicing forgiveness frees us from the past (hurts) and future (worry). Forgiveness roots us in the present. Life only happens in the present. You are life. You are love!
The last point I want to share really makes the above "stick" for me by getting me into action, everyday, in small and when needed, larger ways:
"My desire for success in any area of life, must be greater than my fear."
Meaning, my desire to live from love in all areas of my life (this is how I define success) gives me the courage to face the fear and do what is required to continue.
"Transformation is through the body, not away from it. This is why no true master has ever advocating fighting or leaving the body, although their mind-based followers often have." -Eckhart Tolle
Last week I wrote about the difference between knowledge and knowing. I shared my experience with Eckhart Tolle and how the only true way to "know" something, is to experience it.
What are you noticing...knowing?
This week I encourage you to become curious about what and how your physical body is trying to communicate with you.
I often say our physical body is a portal to what is really happening deep within. By deep within I mean beyond the mind and it's thoughts/story/narrative.
For example, ever notice how physical pain causes us to "do" something when it no longer becomes tolerable?
It's the moment when we feel "we have had enough of feeling tired/achy/lonely" (i.e.: suffering) and decide it's time to make a change. Time for transformation!!!
Perhaps we decide to become conscious of our food habits and choose to eat better.
Or, maybe it's time to lace up those sneakers and exercise.
And for some it's time to ease up on the physical body and get a massage or finally try yoga, etc.
And still for others perhaps there's a sense of the inner body that feels "off". Anxious, afraid, alone...endless cycle of emotional up and down.
Why does connecting with the body matter?
From a practical sense, we need it in order to live so why not take care of it the best we can?
On a deeper level, the physical body is a powerful doorway for us to access wisdom and therefore transformation. Can't change what you don't know/want to know :)
And while some wisdom traditions may teach denying the body and/or ignoring the body, in my experience, it is the exact opposite. We must pay attention and learn. Then apply those lessons in the form of action.
How do we access the physical body, in a deeper sense?
Yet one thread runs through all of it and that is the practice of presence...awareness. A.K.A - paying attention.
Some of us pay attention quite naturally and either choose to take action or not. Doing nothing is also a choice :)
Others of us engage in movement practices - yoga/running/walking outside/dance... to help us get in touch/feel the inner body.
And still others rely on meditation, massage, or other forms of energy healing to assist in bring us into deeper awareness.
There's no right or wrong way.
And the "way" may change over time as you change. Nothing is permanent in this world of form. Ha!
As I say during our weekly meditation classes, the only "wrong" way to meditate is simply to not do it all.
And so it is with life and dealing with change. We will either consciously choose to listen to our body or not. Regardless, life / transformation happens anyway. We can embrace it (peaceful path) or fight it (suffering path).
I don't know about you. I rather the peaceful path.
Knowledge and Knowing by Stephanie
The difference between mental concepts/thoughts (knowledge) and experience (knowing)...
Earlier this month I had the incredible experience of embarking on a 6 month advanced training with Eckhart Tolle in California. Eckhart is author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) and the highly acclaimed follow-up A New Earth, which are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time.
While I have devoured many of his books and teachings over the years...filling my mind with mental concepts / thoughts to understand what is required to live a life of presence and purpose... this was the first time I was in his physical presence. WOW.
Words are not sufficient to describe the experience.
Life changing. Special. Humbling. Vast. Joyful. Peaceful. To name a few.
Yes, Eckhart re-iterated mental concepts and I gained "knowledge"
We experienced lovely meditation, discussion, reflection, and group work.
However, what impacted me the most, was the experience of simply being in his presence. No amount of knowledge, information, or mental concepts would come close to being in the experience.
In essence, what I experienced with Eckhart and my classmates was a "knowing". I actually felt his teachings, came to "know" them in my being, rather than in my head. The concepts/knowledge morphed into experience/knowing.
This leads me to what I want to share as it relates to you and those of you who are interested in our weekly meditation classes or any other endeavor that helps you awaken to life.
Over the years while teaching meditation there's tendency for people to want to have lots of knowledge and information about what meditation is, how we do it, are we doing it right, etc, etc. Lots of thoughts!
Our brain thirsts for endless knowledge and information in order to commit/believe. Our conditioned mind is so trapped in the doing of life, unless we know meditation is "doing something", we don't even give it a chance. We quit before we even show up for class.
The paradox is-- in meditation, we aren't "doing" anything. To take it a step further, we are actually un-learning and emptying the mind of information and knowledge. And so....
Similar to my experience with Eckhart, I can explain to someone conceptually (i.e. imparting knowledge) what meditation is, the benefits, etc. Basically giving enough information to help the conceptual mind "understand" and perhaps be convinced that it's worthwhile...because the mind values "information" and knowledge over "experience" or knowing. And this is what we must unlearn if we are to awaken.
However, anything I tell you conceptually is very surface level, appealing to the surface "I".
So while knowledge is valuable-- because yes-- the mind wants it and won't quiet down until it gets it...
The only true way to "know" something, is to experience it.
When we know something, we connect with the deeper "I" and have a connection beyond concepts.
Words become insufficient. Are you following me?
If you are thinking about trying something, stop. The mind is addicted to thoughts. Instead, try something. Feel it. Experience it. Get to know it.
Unless you experience meditation, it will be a concept. Unless you taste honey, it will be a concept. Unless you walk the beach in CA, it will be a concept. As in meditation, as in life.
We must unlearn that knowledge is more valuable than knowing.
When we are cut off from knowing, we are cut off from ourselves...and life itself.
Friends, this is what we must unlearn if we are to awaken and feel peace and joy in life.
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