The Magic of Meditation

I have long been an advocate of making conscious choices about we put into and on our bodies. I see this as a way of creating wellness not only for ourselves but also for our planet. But I came to a point a number of years ago when I realised that this wasn’t the whole picture – that despite my best efforts to eat a mostly organic diet, to use the best certified organic products on my body, to lead an active life I was not feeling all that well, I was actually feeling disillusioned, and starting to doubt my ability to really experience the vitality and enjoyment I was seeking in life. What I discovered was that I was not also to paying attention the most important part of my body……my mind.

The mind, the most important part of the body? In my experience this is true – without care and attention to looking after the mind, all our other efforts can only get us so far. Until I began to get to know my mind, to observe my thoughts and responses I didn’t realise just how counter-productive they were to my health and wellbeing. Yes from the outside looking in I was doing all the “right” things, even surrounding myself with the right words in inspiring books and quotes, but on the inside my unexamined mind was slowly but surely stealing my vitality, joy and peace.

This is when I came to the life-changing practice of meditation, in particular the practice of awareness meditation. As I started to learn to quiet my mind, as I started to observe my habitual thoughts and responses I started to get to know and understand myself better, and very importantly I started to realise that I have a choice about how I want to experience life!!

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The benefits of meditation are becoming widely known and discussed. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance immunity, decrease blood pressure, people who meditate are reported to be happier, have greater clarity, focus and resilience. For me two of the most wonderful benefits of meditation are connection with myself and others and a clarity that leads to inspired action.

What about you?

Is your mind constantly racing, do you find it hard to keep up? Are you too busy to meditate?

Yes? Then now is the perfect time to start! We live in a society that seems to value busy-ness, thinking, planning, and doing. Unfortunately in our society getting to know and nurture our minds is still one of the last things people attend to, often it is easier and more convenient to attend to the needs of the body, changing our diets, choosing better products, embracing exercise, buying the latest self-help book. But what are the costs of this? Stress related illness is on the increase and indicators of happiness and quality of life are decreasing.

How do you want to experience life?

Rushed? Stressed? Feeling burnt out? Feeling angry, impatient and insensitive towards your partner, children and colleagues? Or

Calm, clear and decisive with the capacity and joy to support and inspire others to be great?

It has been humbling and also very liberating for me to see how my mind was not only eroding my sense of joy and peace but that it was having a detrimental impact on my relationships. I now know that I am responsible for how I respond, for how I impact others and that I alone can choose what kind of life I experience. It doesn’t get much more empowering than that!

Getting Started with Meditation

I see that meditation, is a “practice”. I find this idea helps people to understand that it is not just a one off activity, it is something we need to work on, it is for most of us a new way of living and relating that we must learn, it is a new habit we create in the brain. There are many techniques for meditation but one of the most important factors when you begin to meditate (like any new endeavour) is to have a vision for your practice – to know why you are doing this and to come back to this reason on a regular basis, it will really help you stay with your practice and reap the benefits.

I recommend you simply start with the breath – it is always with you, just spending 5-10 minutes each day sitting quietly, eyes closed and paying attention to your breathing is a wonderful way to begin meditating. Simply feel the breath coming in and going out of the body, that’s it. You can do this anywhere, at anytime but it is helpful when you begin to find a quiet place without distractions. For most people first thing in the morning or in the evening before bed are ideal times to practice. Yes the mind will wander, yes you may experience boredom, this is normal, all you need to do is remind yourself of why you are doing this and keep coming back to the breath.

If you can practice like this each day for 30 days you will definitely begin to

understand the magic of meditation.

For me, meditation is an essential in my self-care tool kit, I wholeheartedly encourage you to make it one in yours too.

What is your experience with meditation? What are your questions? Please leave your comments in the space below.

I wish you well with your practice, may you experience greater calm, clarity and connection in your life.

Namaste,

Bianca

The concept of Love

I facilitate a regular online meditation sessions and recently we commenced a new series “Nurturing Relationships”.

These sessions for me are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my own experiences, to share what is helping me live a beautiful life and pay forward the empowering teachings of the One World Academy

From my own personal journey and my experience as a One World Academy instructor I have come to see that the practice of awareness is key to the experience of love, compassion and connection. From a place of awareness love emerges and grows and this has certainly been my experience.

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When we are aware of ourselves, our thoughts and responses we are able to take responsibility for our state of being in the world, we can choose the contribution we make to our relationships and to our world, we can choose how we want to experience life. This for me is an empowering and beautiful practice, one that has helped me reconnect to love in my close relationships.

Taking responsibility for our inner state of being is one of the most important things we can do to nurture love in our relationships.

Bringing Awareness to Your Concept of Love

What does love mean to you? This is a big question……..but one worth taking some time to reflect upon.

Is love something you want to cultivate in your life?

Is there an absence of love in your life? How long do you feel love has been absent?

Does your idea, your concept of love match your experience of life and relationships?

Have you ever questioned your concept of love?

Being aware of our concept of love helps us to see new possibilities for growth, joy and connection in relationships

The experience of love is one of spaciousness, it is an expansive creative state, it connects, it includes – is this your experience of love? Or perhaps love has felt constrictive, conditional, exclusive, desperate or just not there?

For many of us love has become a concept, a concept based on our past experiences, on our expectations, on our need for validation, on our need to be at peace with ourselves. Love has become an ideal, associated with expectations rather than a lived experience.

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We love the idea of love, we idealise love, we make it the goal, the final destination in relationships, we define it and put in a box, we feel it and we expect it to remain the same. When we don’t feel it we fret, we make the other wrong, we doubt the relationship, at times we feel desperate. We want the other to meet our needs or be a certain way. We make conditions; we set traps and want the other to make up for our own insecurities.

Is it really possible for love to be experienced or to grow in such situations?

For me it has been valuable to also ask the question is my experience of love dependent on a situation or how the other behaves or measures up to my expectations? I would have never said that I love conditionally…..…..until I started practicing awareness that is, and I saw for myself, just how conditional love had become for me, that at times I would give it as a reward, other times I would take it away as a punishment. Initially this was hard for me to see about myself, but the more I practiced the more I saw that only in awareness could I see new possibilities in my relationships.

Perhaps you can to relate to this?

The Absence of Love

I posed the question before is there an absence of love in your life? Is it true – is love really absent?

What is really happening when we think that love is absent?

The answer to this emerges when we ask ourselves what makes the difference between the experience of love and the absence of love?

Just yesterday I had cause to reflect on this. I was returning to a place I love, with people I love…..but I was not feeling the same experience of love, I was not awestruck by peace and beauty. I chose to observe myself and I saw that I was embroiled in so many thoughts, I was feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. Seeing this I knew I had a choice to stay stuck in my thoughts on a runaway train going somewhere else or to acknowledge the thoughts but pay attention and stay present where I was. Then voila! the same beauty and peace were there, the feeling of my heart softening and opening was there, it was there all the time…..it was only me that had moved away from it……

This idea was a profound awakening for me at my first Freedom in Living retreat at the One World Academy – I had gone to this retreat wanting to find a way to reconnect to my husband and children, I was feeling disconnected and disillusioned. Over the course of the week it was like a slow but steady stream of pennies dropping, seeing how much love I was surrounded by, how much I had to be grateful for, how many problems there weren’t and I’ll never forget my children’s voices and faces appearing in one of the meditations telling me so clearly – “the love was always there Mummy, you were the one that went away, we want you to come back“.

Is it perhaps possible to see that love is always here – that its just that often we don’t pay attention to it, that often we don’t feel it because we have moved away from it when we become embroiled in our thoughts, that we don’t recognise it because we are clinging onto our concept of love?

Do you recognise and connect to the love that is all around you, here and NOW?

Love and connection just like happiness are internal experiences they have little to do with external situations, they are nurtured in awareness and this is absolutely an ongoing process, not a final destination we reach.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to bring awareness to your concept of love, to grow in awareness and understanding of yourself, so that you can take responsibility for what you bring to your relationships and contribute to our world.

Please share your experiences with us in the comments as we learn and grow together.

May the light of awareness shine in our lives and allow us to see the love that is all around us, here and NOW.

Namaste,

Bianca

P.S. If you are ready to embrace yourself and nurture your relationships with awareness please consider joining us for the Nurturing Relationships online series