The Art of Re-directing Your Thoughts

As I drive up Central California, destination B.C. Canada, a flood of thoughts and images begin to fill my mind as I gaze off into the open road and the majestic landscape. My mind is active, my body on auto-pilot as the minutes turn into hours of open two way roads. I begin to observe my thoughts and take note of their positive or negative direction….

As we hustle through each day, repeating our daily habits: The same routine, the drive to work, the same drive home stuck in traffic, we train our bodies and minds to run by routine. We must remember that our mind needs to be enticed, focused, plugged in, like a switchboard operator. The question is, do you have control of the plugs? Where are your thoughts wandering to? Are these subconscious thoughts stressful? Joyful? Scattered? Confused? These are the thoughts that lay the foundation to your reality. They have the potential to become harmful to your health, but also become healing, cleansing and rejuvenating.

operators

As we move throughout the day on auto-pilot, our minds will begin to wander, while the breath follows closely behind.. If these wandering thoughts are stressful then the breath becomes shortened, resulting in less oxygen to the entire body. How powerful is that? One thought can change your body. When we think stressful thoughts it has a physical effect on our body, within each cell. Resulting in physical tension, chronic pain, and the body working in overdrive.

These moments on auto-pilot are where the problems can be created…

The mind must be plugged into something. If you don’t control the plug, your mind will find something to think about. The plug will control you. These are the thoughts that shape your reality.

So how do we control this reaction?

We must recognize stressful thoughts and breathing patterns and the key to this recognition and control (with practice) is mental effort. Yes, it takes work. You must train yourself, just like you have trained yourself to ride a bike, perform a new task at work, cook meals, and each time the task was performed you became more efficient, requiring less time for the same amount of work.

Remember the last time you got in your car and later you realized that you automatically started driving to work? Or the moment when you were driving a long distance and you then realize you have no recollection of the last few miles?

Those are the moments we are on auto-pilot.

commuting-womanWe must learn to recognize where our mind goes during these moments…

This involves pulling out the stressful plugs and plugging back into where ever YOU want your mind to go. You have choice.

Recognize the thought and then connect it with a calm breathing pattern.

And YES, this would mean you are talking to yourself. But that is what mental effort is essentially; talking and directing you through this life.

If your breath is always shortened or being held due to stressful thoughts and environments then how is your body able to heal correctly? Or heal at all? And yes, your body has the capacity to heal itself and even improve itself.

What if you spent the time in your car or at work actually pumping oxygen to the entire body instead of depriving it? How much better do you think you would feel? Oxygen is the fuel just like your engine requires gas and oil.

So whenever you remember or recognize a stressful thought, take deep a breath into the belly, trying to inhale and exhale for as long as you can (You can check out my post about belly breathing for more info) and try to keep your thoughts positive. There is power in connecting a deep calm breath to a positive thought.

This is where the training begins….

Create the reality you want within your daydream….Use mantras (i.e. I am strong, I am abundant, I will succeed) or just keep your daydreams filled with happy thoughts and memories. You can also focus on what is going on at that moment, notice your surroundings, the sounds, sites, etc. Be present. Your body will thank you…. OR spend that time thinking of all the negative things that could happen. That is up to you….

Let’s Recap:

When you are on autopilot or plugged into stressful thoughts, you must pull them out, and redirect the plug. Take control. As you learn to recognize thought patterns and replace them with deep breath and positive thoughts you will notice that you are naturally taking deeper breaths or thinking more positive thoughts, automatically.

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So where else can you apply this:

  • At work
  • Waiting in line
  • Before bed
  • The list goes on… what would you add to this list??
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5 Tools for Transitioning Through Change

How well do you transition through change? Whether it is a job, moving out of town or across the world, relationships ending or serious injury. These times in our lives are meant to make us stronger, not bring us down. But how do you make this happen? How do you find the strength to push through the fog and resistance of equal and opposite forces? As we begin to shed into a new chapter there is a period of pain and/or discomfort. Not knowing what may happen will bring about anxiety and stress and dwelling in the past will just bring sorrow.  This thick viscous movement felt in all directions is what can hold us back or, with the right tools, may catapult us forward, you may even have to take a few steps back to gain some momentum.

Metamorphosis of butterfly

Having gone through a few thick and uncomfortable situations I have learned how to utilize certain tools to heal myself emotionally and physically. The worst thing that you can do for yourself is keep it bottled up inside. Also, remember that our bodies remember everything that happens to us, but our minds tend to forget. So as you utilize the tools that you are given keep in mind that sometimes pain from the past must resurface in order to be released.

1. Breath/Meditate:

If you have not read my other blog posts, please do. Your breath is what helps regulate the stress in your life. When we are stressed we are getting less oxygen to our bodies, causing physical tension that may lead to chronic pain or injury.

Focusing on your breath is meditation. Every time I find my mind cluttered and tumbling down this road of unwanted thought of what could be or what has happened I take a few deep breaths, picturing light entering and all that is not wanted leaving my body.

2.  Movement:

We must move to release tension and blockages that physical and mental stress causes within our bodies. Yoga, running, climbing, hiking, surfing, dancing ( my personal favorite!) or just a good kick ass workout, it doesn’t matter what the activity is but you must MOVE! Find the flow state where time is obsolete and you are fully immersed in the activity.flow movement

I find that yoga or a few simple stretches is one of the most effective ways to heal and release tension. Making sure that you are inhales and exhales are at least 3-4 seconds long, always exhaling into a stretch. It will also calm the body and allow for your automatic processes to function efficiently.

3. Set Goals:

What do you really want? Write it down. Put them in a place where you will look at them every day. Know what you want and know that there will always be challenges and setbacks. It is always important that these goals are from the heart, not the head (ego). If your intention is in the right place life will have a much better flow. 

4. Self-talk:

Yep, that’s right. Talk to your self, out loud or in your head.  Its ok if you look crazy, we are all a little crazy…

Our mind does not know the difference between actually seeing a situation with our eyes or picturing the situation in our minds.  So if we are always thinking about the bad things that could happen it is affecting our bodies as though it really happened.

With meditation you will learn to direct and control your thoughts. If we can learn to picture what we want, feel it and believe it as though it has already happened, then if things don’t go your way you know that was suppose to happen and you used all of your power to create what you thought you needed.

So create mantras that you can repeat to your self. “I am” statements can be a powerful tool.

Self-Talk lionI am strong

I am beautiful

I am capable

I am light

I am happy

I am love

Etc….

You may also use “I can” and “I will”. I utilize these words when I find myself focusing on the negative. I repeat the statements over and over again with a smile on my face. 🙂 Make sure that when you say them you feel and believe the words that are being spoken. You can not fool your mind, it knows your true intention and belief.

Create the life you want.

5. Find support:

The final piece of the puzzle is support from family, friend, or a therapist. We all need a sense of community, to know that we are loved and supported. Transition is not always the most graceful and fun experience, but it is what makes us strong and expands our capacity to handle anything that comes our way. Do not be afraid, you are not alone.

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These are only a few of the tools that can be utilized during challenging times. It is important to listen to our mind and body and understand that our reality is a reflection of ourselves. Work on fine-tuning your self and your reality should adjust as a result.

 

3 Easy Meditations

We lay in bed, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep as thoughts race through our heads. All that is desired is some relief, relief from the constant stimulation that rings.

cantsleep3

Meditation   is not about “shutting down”, but about quieting, redirecting and controlling your thoughts. When we reduce the chatter then we may listen to our heart, not be stuck in our heads.

This can be done anytime and anywhere. When we are able to take control of our thoughts that is when we truly begin to take control of our mind, body, and the reality in which we live.

Each of these meditations will help you to root into the now. When you learn to focus on the senses, sights, or sounds around you and within you, you begin to grow the roots. Being in the now is about focusing on what is happening in the present moment, not what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow.

 

  1. Meditate on each breath.

The breath is a tool that allows us to make connections between our mind (brain/central nervous system) and the body (every muscle, patch of skin, organ, and tissue).  The second we direct our thoughts to controlling the breath is the moment that we begin to take control of tools that we are given. This brain and body are the tools that we must use to act out our thoughts, the breath is what connects the two, links them together so that they work as one. Sometimes if you are off balance, the two will become disoriented, and will bring your body into dis-ease.

All right, now you may be asking, how do I practice a breathing meditation?

Breathing meditation is simple. You THINK about your breath.

Everyone is different, for some it may be easier to feel the breath, others may picture the movement of the breath, or you may find it difficult to practice either way, and that is ok too. It may take some time to be able to see and feel what is happening, but with the right amount of intention anything is possible.

You may lie down or sit up tall in a chair with your feet planted on the floor, just make sure the spine is straight. You may also practice this meditation in the car, at your office, standing in line at the grocery store. If you are breathing, then this meditation can be practiced .

Place your hand over your belly, and breath into your hand (if you are in a public you can keep your hands at your sides or on the steering wheel). As you inhale your belly should rise/move away from the spine, as you exhale your belly should fall/ move towards the spine.  If you are unable to breath into your belly, keep trying! Soon enough your body will catch up to your intention.

You may observe your breath for as long as you want. I would set a timer for 3-5 minutes to start; I like to use the app Secondspro. With this app I am able to set a gong sound to signal the end of the time or transition from one meditation to another.

Remember that your mind will wander! That is OK, it is natural, all you must do is acknowledge that your mind wandered and come back to the breath. This will bring you even deeper into relaxation.

 

  1. Candle light meditation (Improve your concentration!)

The candle light meditation is about improving your concentration and awareness. You will begin by finding a comfortable seat, on a chair or meditation pillow/chair.

Grab a candle, one where the flame will be visible, not in a votive or glass. You will place the candle a  3 feet or so in front of you, preferably at eye level, but it is not crucial.

White-candle-flame-2

Begin with the eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths. Open your eyes then begin to stare at the flame. Once you have painted a mental picture of the flame, close your eyes. Keep the picture in your mind, if the mind wanders bring it back to the flame.

If you lose the picture open your eyes and stare at the flame for about 10-20 seconds, then close your eyes again. You can set a timer for 5-10 minutes.

It is important for you to be able to hold an image within the mind, imagery is one of the many ways to improve confidence and strengthen your concentration.

 

  1. Walking/moving meditation

Meditation is not always about being still. It is about where your focus resides. What are you thinking about? Where has your mind taken you?

Whenever you are on the move, this meditation can be practiced. The best place for a walking meditation is in nature, but just about anywhere will work. As you are walking start to breathe with intention and settle your thoughts. Now begin to ask, what sounds are around me? Are there cars, people talking, a horn honking? What do you see? What do you feel? Keep asking yourself questions about your current surroundings and feelings. If you notice your mind wondering just gently ask another question and bring yourself back to the present moment.

walking meditation

The mind is the most powerful tool that we own. Learn to control your thoughts, connect with your breath, and become aware of your surroundings. When this is achieved we then have the ability to take hold of our reality and respond to our environment with better awareness .

 

 

 

 

 

Primal Coding: Deep Belly Breathing

 

My journey with the breath began a few years back. I was in search of something within me that I had not yet uncovered. My outlook was changing and my mind was in need of a rest, always racing day in and day out. I was in search for something to stop the chatter. I began to practice breath-work and meditation on my own and then discovered Kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga is a deep spiritual practice and not for the weary, but for those who are not afraid to challenge the body and mind. As I begin to practice Kundalini yoga and get deeper into my meditation and breathing practices I began to notice how the breath was enabling me to push past the discomfort. I had finally taken control of the chatter. Today,  I utilized the knowledge gained from the numerous books that I have read, kundalini yoga, and all the experiences from my personal practice to teach others how to control the breath and take their mind and body off auto-pilot. Pranayama-3

The foundation of ALL pranayama (breath-work) is the ability to breathe into the abdomen and utilize the appropriate muscle to breathe. The abdominals, diaphragm, and intercostals (muscles between the rig-cage) are the muscles we are suppose to use with each breath. The problem is when our mind is cluttered with stressful thoughts our breath will be come stressed and then move up into the chest. If we are always stressed then we are always breathing only into the chest. This causes us to use the muscles of our neck and shoulders, which leads to headaches, back and neck pain, along with low back pain due to tightness within the diaphragm (attaches to lumbar spine and rib cage). In the video below I explain WHY, WHEN, and HOW to breath into the belly. Enjoy!