Meditation

By Lyca Shan | November 10, 2009

Articles from the Archives:
This heading indicates articles that I have not written myself, but think you might enjoy. (Note: If I do not credit a particular author then it was anonymously written.)
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The idea of transcending ourselves has been with man since the beginning of civilization, and one ancient practice has always come to the forefront in the search for the higher self; it is the practice of Meditation…
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Article By: Mark Altman:

Many believe that the mind is divided into three parts: the conscious, the sub-conscious, and the super conscious. Our conscious mind is usually cluttered with distractions and noise, our sub-conscious holds suppressed past experiences, fears, and (imagined) limitations, but the super conscious is where our perfection and mastery reside.Think back to a time in your life where everything “clicked”, and you could do no wrong. It may have been for only a few minutes, but for that brief time you were invincible. Maybe you were shooting hoops, and you just couldn’t miss. You felt so “on”, you knew that every shot should be a “swish”… and it was. Possibly you were playing tennis, and you felt as though you could return every shot… and you did. Perhaps you were painting, and you felt like no stroke from your brush could be wrong… and the canvas turned out to be beautiful. Whether you were dancing, playing a musical instrument, programming a computer, or public speaking, I imagine that at some time in your life, you have experienced such a transcendence of your regular limitations. This state is known as “superconsciousness”. If you have been to this space before, you would do anything to get there again. Unfortunately, therein lays the problem. When we try to analyze and pressure ourselves to reclaim “superconsciousness”, we almost certainly fail.

One way of attaining super consciousness is through meditation.
Meditation is the path to true self-awareness. Through meditation we can escape from the limitations that our conscious and sub-conscious mind subject us to.

Consider the following advice: “Do not fear mistakes, there are none” – Miles Davis.

About the Author:
Mark Altman is the webmaster of: http://www.soundsleeping.com a website containing free relaxing music, sleep-aids, stress reducing tools, relaxation advice, and an active discussion.
 

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Beginning Meditation

By Lyca Shan | November 6, 2009

Beginning Meditation

An Article by: Howard VanEs

In its’ simplest description, meditation can be described as a process of quieting your mind so that you can come into contact with quiet and peace that is always available to you inside. A regular practice of meditation offers many benefits including: overall stress reduction, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response), clearer thinking, more creative thinking, helps to quiet the mind, fosters an increased sense of peace and contentment, helps to balance the emotions, provides a connection to your Spirit.

An ongoing practice of meditation also helps to provide a context for observing thinking patterns and emotions as well as an opportunity to cultivate peace and relaxation. Hundreds of modern research studies now confirm what the yogis new 5000 years ago! There are various ways to meditate and they usually involve as point of focus such as your breath, a mantra or visualization. A variety of techniques are explained below.

Before you try them there are a few guidelines that are helpful to be aware of. The first has to do with time and place. It is ideal to meditate at the same time and the same place each time you meditate. In this way you create an association of meditating and peacefulness with the space you have chosen. Each time you come back to this space, you will anticipate the experience of meditation. Additionally, by using the same time and space, you will be developing a habit. This is important to nurture as the consistency of your practice is most important, even if it is just ten minutes a day. Dawn and dusk are traditional times to meditate, but anytime can work. Begin with ten to twenty minutes and work up to forty-five minutes if possible.

Another consideration regarding time is knowing when to stop. Some people just let their inner clock guide them while others prefer to use and alarm clock so they don’t have to be concerned about the time. If you practice regularly, you will most likely
find that your sense of time becomes exquisite, and you will automatically know when it is time to stop meditating. A comfortable and stable sitting position is also important. The classic meditation posture is the lotus position. The reason
for this is that is quite stable and the spine held erect. However most people in the West are not comfortable in this
position. The truth is that any stable seated posture can work – even sitting in a chair. Placing a folded blanket or meditation cushion under your sitz bones also makes sitting more comfortable. Some people find that their back muscles aren’t
strong enough and begin to ache when they sit in one position for more than a few minutes. If this is happening to you then
sit near a wall and when you feel you can no longer hold your back upright comfortably then move against the wall and you
will get the support you need. Whichever way you chose to sit just make sure it is stable, comfortable, and that your head
neck and spine are in one line, and erect.

As you begin meditate it is common to have any or all of the following experiences:

1.You mind wonders. This is quite natural and expected. Just bring yourself back to your point of focus.

2.You are not sure if you are doing it right. You are most likely doing it right. Meditation is pretty simple to do – more
challenging to stay with.

3.You will have memories, images or thoughts that you may have not thought about in years. Just acknowledge them and bring your awareness back to your point of focus.

4.You start to analyze yourself. Remember this is a time for meditation not for psychotherapy. Analyze later, meditate now.

5.You have certain revelations. Again, acknowledge these and then bring yourself back to your point of focus.

6.A body part is sore or itchy. The first time you feel something in your body, just acknowledge it and bring your awarness back to your point of focus. Often, it will go away. If it continues to irritate you then change your body positions.

Meditation Techniques Below are two classic meditation techniques. Feel free to try both and see which works best for you.

Ideally you will want to start with ten to twenty minutes and overtime you can work up to forty-five minutes if you like. A daily practice yields the most benefit and progress. It is better to practice for fifteen minutes every day than to practice for one hour once a week.Your mind is like any other muscle – the more your exercise it the stronger it becomes! Focusing on a sound or mantra In this method a sound or “mantra” is repeated over and over and over again, either silently or outloud. The mantra becomes a point of focus or "object". A universal mantra is “Om” which is said to be the sound of creation. Another is “Ham (pronounced “hung”) “Sa” which means “I am that” – referring to spirit. Ham is said as you inhale and Sa as you exhale. The breathing is relaxed and easy through your nostrils Just keep bringing your awarness back to the mantra as you find your mind wondering. Remember, there is no need to beat yourself up for this as it is a natural phenomenon . Overtime you will find that mind wonders less and less. Some people like to use their own words such as “peace”, “love” or “let go”. If you have a special word or short group of words that has meaning for you, try using it. Focusing on your breath: Breathing in through your nostrils and though your nostrils, notice the feeling of the breath at the very point it enters your nose and follow the feelings of the air moving into your nasal passage to appoint where it ends. As you begin to exhale, notice where in your nasal passages you first notice your breath again and trace the feeling of your breath to the point where it exits your nostrils. Continue to notice your breath in this way, gently bringing your attention back to your breath when you catch your mind wondering.

Another version of this technique is focus on the feeling of your torso moving in and out as your inhale and exhale. One last point. It is sometimes very helpful to practice with others. Consider finding a meditation class at a nearby yoga studio or parks and recreation department. Practicing with like minded people and a good instructor can be very inspiring!

About the Author:

Howard VanEs, M.A. has been studying and practicing yoga for over thirteen years and is a certified yoga instructor teaching in the East Bay area of San Francisco. He is author of "Beginning Yoga: A Practice Manual", co-creator of the audio CD "Shavasana/DeepRelaxation. Howard is also a former pscyhotherapist.

Here is a yoga site you may like to check out:  
http://www.letsdoyoga.com


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Improving Damaged Self Esteem

By Lyca Shan | October 21, 2009

So where do we begin? How do we go about improving damaged self esteem?  So many  of us have a history fraught with emotional hardships that have imprinted themselves on our inner awareness.  Our in-built meter of self worth has been kicked about, damaged and dented. An endless parade of different stories, yet so often the end result is the same: damaged self esteem.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are looking at something and somehow it suddenly looks completely different? You can’t even explain it, but your perception has changed and you see it from a new perspective, it could be a person, a situation, a written word or even a thing.

A rainy evening seen through the eyes of someone fighting depression -

"The inky roadway rolled ahead of me, pitch black, the space between night and the glow of an unseen dawn. Constant rain pressed the dampness further down into the earth, cold clinging to everything, a dull sky showing no signs of remorse."

-is a very different experience than that same rainy evening witnessed by someone in high spirits-

"I raised my face to the evening sky, the wind buffetting the wetness in a marvelous whisper of life quenching rain. Breathing in the cool night air, I closed my eyes and listened as the rain fell, rustling in sleepy waves, a comforting sound that lulled me into a gentle sleep…"

We have all suffered some form of conflict or abuse in our lives, but it is how we react to that abuse that will strengthen or weaken us. Our circumstances do not have to define who we are.

So let’s begin the journey together, discovering the resources for improving damaged self esteem.  It is possible to make our weakness our strength!

Here are some activities for improving damaged self esteem.

And of course we all have that little "gremlin" as I call it, lambasting our senses with self-doubt as we move through the journey of self improvement.

Meet my gremlin by clicking on this link!


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What Innovation Can Do to Your Life

By Lyca Shan | October 21, 2009

Articles from the Archives:
This heading indicates articles that I have not written myself, but think you might enjoy. (Note: If I do not credit a particular author then it was anonymously written.)


It’s a talent that everyone has, yet they think they don’t. The power of innovation. If you’ve ever marvelled at somebody’s creative prowess, guess what, you can create and innovate too. It just takes time. Everyone is born creative. The box of crayons in kindergarten were not limited to those who possessed potential; because the truth is, everybody has potential.

 You know how long it took to learn to ride a bike or drive or to never commit the same mistake again? It’s the same with innovation. It takes a  bit of practice and a lot of time before this mind function comes easily  when called. This article will teach you a few tips on how to bring innovation into your life.

 Don’t listen to what other people say. Follow the beat of your own drum. Allowing for the input of other people will only bring cacophony to the music you are trying to make. If you have an original idea, don’t waste your time and effort trying to make people understand. They won’t. And the help you will probably get comes in the form of negative feedback. If all those geniuses listened to their peers, we would probably still be living in the middle ages.

Spend time on it. I cannot stress that enough, although, please do not mistake this tip to tell you to quit your day job entirely. Do not. This involves some tricky time management but with a little discipline you’ll be able to squeeze both in.

Exercise. Take a walk. Run a mile or two. Send all those endorphins coursing through your veins. Exercising certainly clears and relaxes your mind and allows for anything to pop up.

Record your dreams. Aren’t some of them just the craziest things that your conscious mind would never have thought of? If you’ve had these dreams before, and I’m sure have, this only shows you the untapped innovative power you have lying within. So jot down those notes. Those dreams may just create an innovative spark in you.

Find your own style. You can always tell a Van Gogh from a Matisse. You’ll know Hemingway wrote something by the choice of words on the paper. So it is the same with you. People will appreciate your innovation more because it is uniquely yours and that no one else would have thought of what you were thinking. That will let people see how valuable an asset you are.

Don’t hide behind nifty gadgets or tools. You don’t need the most expensive set of paints to produce a masterpiece. The same way with writing. You don’t need some expensive fountain pen and really smooth paper for a bestseller. In fact, J.K. Rowling wrote the first book of the Harry Potter Series on bits of tissue. So what if you’ve got an expensive SLR camera if you’re a crappy photographer? Who cares if you’ve got a blinging laptop if you can’t write at all? The artist actually reduces the number of tools he has as he gets better at his craft: he knows what works and what doesn’t.

Nothing will work without passion. What wakes you up in the mornings? What keeps the flame burning? What is the one thing that you’ll die if you don’t do? Sometimes people with talent are overtaken by the people who want it more. Think the hare and the tortoise. Ellen Degeneres once said that if you’re not doing something that you want to do, then you don’t really want to do it. And that’s true. Sometimes you just want something so bad you become a virtual unstoppable. And that is passion. Passion will keep you going.

Don’t worry about inspiration. You can’t force it; inspiration hits when you least expect it to, for those unpredictable yet inevitable moments you should prepare. An idea could strike you on the subway, yet alas, you poor unfortunate soul; you have no sheet of paper to scribble down a thought that could change the world. Avoid these disasters. Have a pen and paper within your arm’s reach at all times.

I hope this article has helped you bring more innovation into your life. Keep in mind that you’re doing these things for your own satisfaction and not anybody else’s. But soon enough they will notice, and everything should snowball from there.

 


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Women and Stress

By Lyca Shan | October 18, 2009

Articles from the Archives:
This heading indicates articles that I have not written myself, but think you might enjoy. (Note: If I do not credit a particular author then it was anonymously written.)
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Here is an article I found on women and stress that I enjoyed.  It covers a lot of ground concerning the ever changing environment we live in and how that affects women in particular:

(All his information is at the bottom of the article as well.)

Women and Stress in Our Modern World
By L. John Mason

Stress Management for Women "I believe that everyone is experiencing higher levels of stress in the ‘Information Age.’ The pace of change has accelerated to the point where we are forced to confront more changes and faster paced changes in this day and age, than at any time in the past. Just the pace of development of new information has many of us just spinning to keep up. I remember getting my first new personal business computer in 1989. The hardware and software, though getting old, were still plenty functional for 3 years. I bought a new computer two months ago and I have had to "upgrade the software several times since then and the hardware was "old" when I was taking the machine out of the box. Read the rest of this entry »


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Women And Depression

By Lyca Shan | October 18, 2009

On the topic of women and depression: statistics have not been too friendly to us women as it appears we have the lions share of depressive tendencies.  Of course men suffer depression too, but for whatever reason woman and depression has become a serious issue.  Read the rest of this entry »


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Stress and Relaxation

By Lyca Shan | October 18, 2009

Articles from the Archives:
This heading indicates articles that I have not written myself, but think you might enjoy. (Note: If I do not credit a particular author then it was anonymously written.)
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Comabat Stress with Your Recommended Daily Allowance for Relaxation:

Stress is the curse of living in modern times. Everyone suffers from stress. And the stress we suffer takes a heavy toll on our bodies, emotions and minds. Feeling stressed out, worn out by fatigue or just simply having a miserable day, the best thing to do is relax.

Watching television may be a form of relaxation for some, but is not a recommended method by experts. When we watch TV we are bombarded with commercials, ads, sounds and images. So how do we achieve relaxation? If there are thousands of ways we can get stressed, one of them is not meeting deadlines, there are also many ways we can relax.

In recent studies, experts have determined that heart disease is linked to anger and irritability is linked to mental stress. Too much stress brings about ischemia that can lead to or cause a heart attack. Relaxation takes on added importance in light of this matter. Managing your anger and attitude is significant to heart health, and relaxation can help you manage stress.

One way of relaxation is transcendental meditation. Recent studies have also shown that this method might reduce artery blockage, which is a major cause for heart attack and stroke. People practice transcendental meditation by repeating uttering soothing sounds while meditating, this is to achieve total relaxation. The researchers found that practitioners of transcendental meditation significantly reduced the thickness of their arterial wall compared with those who didn’t practice transcendental meditation.

Another study on another method of relaxation, acupuncture, seems to reduce high blood pressure by initiating several body functions for the brain to release chemical compounds known as endorphins. Endorphin helps to relax muscles, ease panic, decrease pain, and reduce anxiety.

Yoga is also another method for relaxation and may also have similar effects like acupuncture. In another study, participants were subjected to several minutes of mental stress. Then they were subjected to various relaxation techniques, such as listening to nature sounds or classical music. Only those who did Yoga significantly reduced the time it took for their blood pressures to go back to normal. Yoga is a form of progressive relaxation.

Breathing is one of the easiest methods to relax. Breathing influences alamost all aspects of us, it affects our mind, our moods and our body. Simply focus on your breathing, after some time you can feel its effects right away.

There are several breathing techniques that can help you reduce stress.

Another easy way to achieve relaxation is exercise. If you feel irritated a simple half-hour of exercise will often settle things down. Although exercise is a great way to lose weight, it does not show you how to manage stress appropriately. Exercise should also be used in conjunction with other exercise method.

One great way of relaxation is getting a massage. To gain full relaxation, you need to totally surrender to the handling and touch of a professional therapist.

There are several types of massages that also give different levels of relaxation.

Another method of relaxation is Biofeedback. The usual biofeedback-training program includes a 10-hour sessions that is often spaced one week apart.

Hypnosis is one controversial relaxation technique. It is a good alternative for people who think that they have no idea what it feels like to be relaxed. It is also a good alternative for people with stress related health problems.

Drugs are extreme alternatives to relaxation. They are sometimes not safe and are not effective like the other relaxation methods. This method is only used by trained medical professionals on their patients.

These relaxation techniques are just some of the ways you can achieve relaxation.  Another reason why we need to relax, aside from lowering blood pressure in people and decreasing the chances of a stroke or a heart attack, is because stress produces hormones that suppress the immune system, relaxation gives the immune system time to recover and in doing so function more efficiently.

Relaxation lowers the activities within the brains’ limbic system; this is the emotional center of our brain.

Furthermore, the brain has a periodic need for a more pronounced activity on the right-hemisphere. Relaxation is one way of achieving this.

Relaxation can really be of good use once a relaxation technique is regularly built into your lifestyle. Choose a technique that you believe you can do regularly."

 


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Exploring inner dialogue as it relates to self esteem issues in women.

By Lyca Shan | October 15, 2009

For some reason, at least from my perspective, it seems that self esteem issues in women are fortified more readily in this culture.  This is by no means meant to detract from the importance of these issues in men as well, but as a woman I am better equipped to discuss self esteem issues in women. So this article tends to leans towards that perspective.

Your Inner Voice:

I think much of our conflicting inner dialog is lodged painfully in our own recollection of how we were valued at an impressionable age. Isn’t it true that you really are your own worst critic? That implanted voice constantly criticizing, nit picking and basically nagging it’s way through your day, drowning your confidence and eroding your self-esteem?

Read the rest of this entry »


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Self-Improvement and Sales?

By Lyca Shan | October 13, 2009

The Dilemma: Self-Improvement and Sales?
How do sales and profit fit into self-improvement? Isn’t it true we have a natural revulsion to the notion of a pushy sales person? The used car salesman is a stereotype displaying the less favorable attributes of opportunity seekers…why do I bring this up? Well I have quite a quandary myself concerning the idea of profit from my endeavors. Someone told me once that if you have something to offer the world, and you keep it to yourself, that you are essentially ripping everyone off…it’s a nice thought…to reap rewards for something of value that helps others, a symbiotic relationship of sorts.

The Problem: Is profit inherently wrong?
In the most basic sense it is an exchange of energy for energy in one form of another. Sustaining yourself and improving the world can’t be inherently wrong…and yet there is so much confusion and guilt flying around on the subject. The problem is that we are lost adrift in a sea of corrupt opportunists that drown out the people of quality. The truly self-driven shout the loudest.  How do we wade through this overwhelming ocean of claims?  Panacea for all ills, one stop shops for all our problems….snake oil dealers of the Internet?  Now more than ever, with the current information technology, instantaneous communication across the globe, it feeds even more into the fast food take on life, which just stokes the fires for those that offer everything for nothing.  

I’ll be the first to admit, I have encouraged the lazier side of my nature to seek out such offers on occasion, knowing really, that by the laws of the universe, you have to put something in to get something out….ah well…

Back to the subject at hand:  How can I offer those that visit my website, something of quality and feel good about it being a transaction?  Do I have something to sell that will help people and soothe my inherent concern with making a profit labeled as ultimately “bad” or inappropriate…having put 3 years of sweat blood and tears into writing my book, I have no qualms offering that for sale, as I put my heart and soul into it’s creation not as a commercial endeavor, but as something I was driven to do on a much deeper level…

Now in addition to that, I have started the process of introducing links to products that I enjoy, or that friends of mine have used and told me about. Though I have not tried every one myself, I only put those that I have good reviews on.

So I have come up with the “toolbox” approach.  A collection of tools; products that will assist people in their pursuit of self-improvement.  This website is meant to be the source of many resources to assist on this journey.  So I have decided to continue to add links to the “tools” I come across from different sources.  Some of them may be tools for purchase, others free for the taking.  Either way, I am attempting to keep the integrity of the site by offering only those things which move in the direction of self-improvement…I’ll try my best to keep snake oil off the menu…


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Personal Journaling

By Lyca Shan | October 12, 2009

Articles from the Archives:
This heading indicates articles that I have not written myself, but think you might enjoy. (Note: If I do not credit a particular author then it was anonymously written.)
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Article by: Wendy Betterini

One of the best ways to gain clarity about your life is by journaling your thoughts and feelings. Especially if you’re feeling conflicted or confused about certain situations, writing your thoughts out can be incredibly enlightening!You don’t have to be a "writer" to journal effectively. In fact, your writing skills don’t have to be good at all. Just the act of putting your thoughts into logical order and translating them to written form can help you to understand what you’re feeling, and why.Here are some tips to help you use journaling for personal growth:

1) Keep it simple. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fancy journal. In fact, unless you’re an experienced journaler, I recommend using an inexpensive, lined notebook. Then you won’t feel so much pressure to be "perfect" in what you write. You won’t be afraid to scribble and scrawl whatever happens to flow onto the paper.

2) Don’t hold back. When you journal for the purposes of personal growth, don’t try to edit yourself, or make your writing understandable to anyone else. The most freeing technique is to put your pen to paper and just write whatever comes to mind. No one else will see it unless you want them to, so let ‘er rip!

3) Focus on the feelings. If you find yourself stumped about what to write in your journal, begin with the phrase, "I feel…". This will usually get your thoughts and feelings flowing, and you will be better able to express them in writing.

4) Guided journaling. Another helpful technique is guided journaling, which means providing a prompt for yourself. Especially if you’re struggling with something specific, you can more easily get the words flowing with a nudge in the right direction. Some example prompts would be, "Describe your perfect career and the reasons it would fulfill you." Or, "Think about the most painful experience in your past and write about the ways it has affected who you are today."

5) Review your entries periodically. Going back to look at your journal entries can be very illuminating and provide amazing clarity about yourself. With time and practice, you will likely begin to see patterns in your thinking, behaviors, and beliefs.

The most important thing is to keep an objective mindset while you look at your entries. Don’t judge or belittle yourself. Keep the focus on personal growth and development. Instead of beating yourself up or cringing over your latest rant, ask yourself, "How can I use this knowledge to improve my circumstances now?"

If you’re not a natural writer, journaling may seem like a lot of effort at first. But it is so worth it! Because I am a writer, journaling is something I’ve always done. As a child, I kept written diaries that focused more on my day to day experiences.

"Dear Diary, today a cute boy smiled at me and I melted!" In my twenties, I decided I wanted to understand myself better, so I began keeping written journals with a focus on self-discovery. That practice has paid off in amazing ways over the past decade or so.You can also keep journals for other reasons besides personal growth. For example, you can begin a gratitude journal to jot down a few things you are thankful for each day, which will help you to feel more positive about your life. You can keep a spiritual growth journal to record prayers and meditations that were effective for you. You can keep a dream journal to learn more about the messages your dreams hold.

The possibilities are endless! If you really don’t like writing with pen and paper, you can also keep an online journal in the form of a blog. There are many providers that offer free membership accounts, with easy-to-use interfaces.

Two popular choices are http://Blogger.com and http://LiveJournal.com. However, if you keep an online journal, you might want to make it private so no one else can view it. It’s amazing what search engines can find nowadays, and you don’t want your neighbor or employer coming across your private thoughts. Most blog hosts allow an option to keep your blog non- viewable to the public. Or you can simply stay anonymous with your blog, but allow others to read it.

Use a pseudonym and don’t give any identifiable information about yourself.Finally, don’t feel that you have to follow any set rules with your journaling. Do what works best for you, and enjoy the journey! About the Author:Wendy Betterini is a freelance writer specializing in self-improvement and personal development concepts. Visit her website: http://www.WingsForTheHeart.com for free articles on positive thinking, goal-setting, self-esteem, personal growth, and more.


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