bee happy * bee well * bee positive

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Positive affirmations & meditation

   Wouldn't it be great if we had magic or super hero powers and could make our dreams come true just by thinking about them? Have you ever used a positive affirmation? Did it work for you? Or did you find it too hard to believe or forget to do it after a while because nothing happened? These are common situations. But I am here to tell that there are ways to use positive affirmations that can make them more effective. I call this Positive Projection.
     Lets look at a few ways I think positive projections can be used successfully.

 * positive projections as a way to hold intention:
Setting an intention can be as simple as making a to-do list for your day, but generally it is thought of as the guiding desire for something you want to accomplish, a big picture goal. I had an intention to become a nurse. When I thought about that goal I wasn't sure how I would get there. But I had an idea... I registered for college, took the required courses, the state RN exam and tada... I am a nurse. Of course it took a few years. Using written positive affirmations can be a physical reminder of what your intention is. By reading them daily you create a center of focus, like making a to do list for your life. It keeps you on track
  * positive projections as a way to focus:
When we focus our attention on a subject we tend to notice examples of it in our environment. This is called confirmation bias. Not always considered a positive thing it is a good for us because focus is a critical component of intention. As I mentioned above it took awhile to become a nurse. That was my intention. As I worked toward my goal I started noticing people in nursing uniforms wherever I went.  There was a nursing Barbie and stuffed nurse dog in my bedroom. All this kept my eyes focused on the prize.  Any visual, tactile or physical reminder can increase our focus and every instance reinforces our intention.
  *positive projections as an adjunct to meditation:
Meditation is a way to sooth the talking heads that dominate so many of our waking hours. With practice it can potentially allow us to access deeper parts of ourselves. Reading or reciting a positive projection before, during or just after meditation is a way to make them more effective. This is because when you are meditating there is less negative backtalk to counteract the affirmation. Positive projections don't have to be believed to be effective, they just need to be consistently reinforced. Eventually they change your perception because you are taking a proactive stance for your intention. When you combine meditation with your positive affirmations they are experienced at a deeper level in your soul, creating space for a new reality.
   * some other tips:
Positive projections should be positive ie: it is better to project 1) "I am abundant", rather then 2) "I don't want to be poor". This is because of the focus: 1) is abundance, 2) is poverty. Due to confirmation bias statement number 2 will create a focus on lack... so not what you want. Keep it positive. Watch out for seemingly positive statements that are actually negative.  A good example of this are the "I am releasing" statements, which once again focus on what you don't want. My other tip is to take actions towards your goals. Even the teeniset, tinyest, itty, bitty little action will create positive energy and  reinforce your intention. Take a class, read a book, google it... your positive projections can be broken down into small manageable steps. We were given the greatest gift imaginable in this life...the gift of mind over matter. Use your mind positively and you will be amazed at what you can manifest.

                 Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down.
                 Read your positive projection silently or aloud.
                 Meditate using your favorite method for your usual amount of time.
                 As you are finishing, but before you get up,
                 read your projection again.

                                      That's it.

                 Notice any thoughts you may have had that point you in the direction you wish to go.Take actions, even the smallest ones count. Trust yourself and do what feels natural to you, don't push it. Go as fast or as slow as you need too. If you stumble, meditate on your projection again and see if there is an adjustment you can make. You are on your journey, thats the point.
    Positive projection is a powerful tool when used in a consistent manner and it can help you live a happier life as well by teaching you how to root out those insidious negative thought patterns you don't even realize are there. For me it is a continual source of personal growth and fulfillment. I'm sure it will work for you.
                    blissings, amber

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Letting the Earth heal my pain

      Lately I have been spending 15 or so minutes a day outside barefoot on my patio, because I read a tweet by Dr.Christine Northrup that said doing so for 10 weeks caused folks to "experience pain relief". I decided to try it because my right leg has been hurting for a couple of months ( old ski owee). It's only been a week, so I can't say yet if it is successful.  What I can say is that this has become a second daily meditation for me and I couldn't be happier about that.
      In my last blog I wrote about  pilgrimages in everyday life. But as many of us know...we take our own advice sparingly. My habit was to get up, meditate,walk my small patio labyrinth, make tea and watch the news. A downer way to start the day hearing about the local car accidents, thefts, DWI's, or worse. Supposedly I was checking on the weather, but all the other dismal stuff came with the temperature. The juxtaposition of the serenity of meditating and spiraling and the harsh reality of... whatever the reporters are reporting today, was a bit unsettling and had the potential to set the tone for the day.
      So now I meditate: sitting- breathing or counting and head outside to earth with my tea. The ground is cool this time of the year. Wrapped in a sweater, I walk the labyrinth, putter in my plants, chat with the cats or just sit (the study said standing) and listen to the bubbling of my fountain. It is so peaceful and just like meditation I let the moments flow, let the thoughts pass without much notice, my feet in constant contact with the patio soothing my leg but more so my soul. I draw in the natural electromagnetic vibration of the earth and align my inner vibrations.
      In the story of the Buddha's enlightenment as he was meditating under the Bodhi tree, Mara the Lord of Illusion was trying to tempt him. When that failed Mara asked the Buddha what right he had to attain enlightenment and the Buddha simply put his fingers over his knee to touch the earth, calling the earth to witness.
     I have often wondered what this meant. It is depicted in numerous representations-art and statues, but little has been written about the subject to explain it. A Goddess of the earth features in a scant few of the stories, but I am convinced he was earthing. He aligned with the energy of the earth and sent Mara packing.
     I plan on continuing my research on the Buddha calling the earth to witness. It is depicted far too often to be insignificant. But for now I will continue to earth as often as I can, calling the earth to sooth and heal.

                Find a place outside where you can sit or stand comfortably.
                Grass, dirt, sand, bark or cement, are all ok.
                Slip off your shoes or place your hands on the ground in full contact,
                 (if it is cold your hands are probably best)
                Relax... meditate, listen to music, drink tea: whatever soothes you.
                Do this for 15 minutes or longer.

      This is a good daily activity similar to meditation practice, connecting us back to nature at a time when disconnection is the norm. As my feet connect with the earth I am reminded that stones and crystals have metaphysical attributes and are electromagnetically charged as well...we can talk about that another time when we look into the use of prayer beads for meditation. For now, if you are interested in earthing, more details can be found at
 or you can read Dr. Northrup's tweet on Facebook at

                                         blissings, amber

MENDs FYI tidbit:
    If you are like me you have a few herbs growing in your backyard or on your window sill. Autumn is the time to harvest them unless you are a southern hemisphere visitor to this page=time for you to plant. :)  Here in the north just clip your branches, make into bundles and hang in a dry spot out of direct sunlight. When they are completely dry you can store them in a glass jar, in a cotton tea bag or you can make flavored salt in a recycled salt or pepper grinder. Put 2-3 parts leaves only of your herb (they do not need to be pre-ground)  into a bowl and 1 part salt, mix then funnel into your clean, dry recycled grinder.You can use more salt...I prefer more herb flavor. I used mint, rosemary, thyme and basil. Woodier plants like rosemary can be used independently, but leafy herbs need a little salt to move them through the grinder.  To use just grind onto foods for some extra flavor.

 see you soon...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pilgrimages: How to find the sacred in the everyday living.
passageway to a pilgrimage

    Have you ever wished that you could take a spiritual trip, say to see the pyramids in Egypt, to swim in the Dead Sea in Israel or to walk the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral. These classic spiritual journeys are the stuff pilgrimages are made of, but many of us may never find the time or resources to take a spiritual journey far from home. No matter- there are plenty of small pilgrimages that can be taken in your neighborhood, at nearby destinations or even in your own backyard.
    According to  the Free Dictionary: 
 pilgrimage is  1. a journey to a shrine or other sacred place  2. a journey or long search made for exalted or sentimental reasons.  Journey seems to be the main theme, but a journey may be physical, emotional, spiritual, even personal growth is a journey.
     The easiest journey of this type is the simple act of meditating. Taking the time to sit and experience the moment just as it is, is a journey of the spirit, moving inward away from the mundane and allowing yourself a respite from the demands of daily life.  Even without the focus of meditation as a refuge, time spent in nature can be a pilgrimage whether to the park, nearby woods or lake, or just as far as the lawn chair in your backyard. Allow yourself the time to sit and soak up the sights and sounds, turn off the phone and relax for a few moments. If your children are playing in the yard or park, observe them as though they were a rare life form (because that is what they are, kids today- parents tomorrow). If you do decide to journey to your lawn chair or farther, take a moment to ground yourself by placing your bare feet or hands on the lawn or even the concrete and allow the energy of the earth to move through you. The earth has electromagnetic energy that our human bodies were made to be in contact with on a daily basis. Today we live in insulated homes, wear insulated clothing and shoes and drive in insulated vehicles, so even when we are in nature it has a hard time interacting with us.  Some days the only nature I experience is the walk from the house to my car and the clouds I see as I drive to...where-ever, it is not enough.
     Another simple pilgrimage is a trip to your local museum, bio-park or historic venue. I once traveled to the east coast to visit my parents siblings (I was 11 or 12) and we went to see Fort McHenry where the Star Spangled Banner was written. My Aunt and Uncle had lived in the area for 30+ years and had never been there even though it was only a few miles away. What treasures are waiting for discovery in your neck of the woods? Transporting yourself to ancient cultures, pouring into visual playgrounds, or expanding your mind with science exhibits can be just the ticket to a journey of respite that will take you virtually anywhere your pilgrim self has a fancy to go.
     That is how I see it: it doesn't have to be a trip to Stonehenge, although you might enjoy that, it is more a mini-vacation that refreshes you and lifts your spirits. And while I think that a classic pilgrimage   is a wonderful experience, I don't think that it is the end all bee all for everyone. I firmly believe that small dedicated excursions, physical or psychological, are pilgrimages we can all make and greatly benefit from.
      Which brings me to my favorite pilgrimage of all, labyrinths. A labyrinth is a unicursal path. You walk in to the center, turn around and walk back out. It is not a maze which purposely has blind avenues and requires one to solve it's riddle. Depictions of labyrinths have been found from ancient Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, the British Isles and in the Native American US southwest. While it is impossible to know exactly what purpose an ancient or medieval labyrinth was created for, we can choose to create a space for pilgrimage when we encounter one new or old. The labyrinth represents a journey and since you can set an intention or question as you begin the journey, I feel it is sacred in it's essential nature.
       You may be able to locate a labyrinth in your local area to experience one first hand. There are several in my city. A good resource to find one near you is World Wide Labyrinth Locator or you can create one of your own. I have 2 in my small yard. The one picture here is painted, with sample size paint from the local hardware store, on my patio. It is about 6 feet across and has 3 circuits. The one pictured above and to the right is painted on my backyard fence and it is also has 3 circuits. There is one that I laid out with rocks years ago when I lived on my son's property in a pine forest (pictured on my blog of June 24, 2012) 7 circuits and I have drawn, used wire and beads,stamped and bought a few others including a 12 x12 inch wooden finger board.
      The simplest labyrinth is a simple spiral. Classical labyrinths usually turn in and out so that at times you seem to be heading for the center and at times away in the manner of a journey where the destinations is not always in sight. But a spiral has a simple unicursal path and is the prototype all labyrinths originated from.  You can easily draw a spiral  with childrens sidewalk chalk on your driveway or patio. Or you can go to to learn how to draw a classic 3or 7 circuit layout or a Chartres medieval labyrinth on paper to use with your finger or in your yard to walk. I have seen one in a front yard near my home. Which ever way you decide to go, simple spiral or trip to a Cathedral, handheld finger board or hiking a forest path in the mountains, the local museum or just to your lawn chair to watch the kids run through the sprinkler, a pilgrimage awaits you right there in your everyday life.

                                 Take a piece of 8x11 paper, computer or notebook paper is great or recycle a paper bag. Draw a spiral starting from the center, where your first loop is about1-2 inches to give you a resting place and continue to spiral out so that the paths between the lines are about 1/4 inch wide. Draw until it feels done or you run out of space on the paper. Place your finger (dominant if you want a comfortable journey or non-dominant if you want more stimulation) at the farthest edge of the spiral and begin to follow the path to the center. A choice here: you can ask a question, set an intention, dedicate your journey or just see what comes up. I have a little dedication I say and I ground for a moment before walking into my patio labyrinth. When you get to the center pause for a moment or 2 and when you are ready follow the path back to where you started.

      Did anything come up or was it just an experience of relaxed focus?  Last week as I walked my eyes kept bothering me and I ended up walking with my eyes closed for most of the time. Still I made it to the center and back and as I paused I realized it was a message. I am in a very transitional phase of my life and I am not sure exactly how I will get to where I am going. Just like my walk that day I am going "blindly" at times, but my spiral trip reminded me that if I just keep going I will get to where I need to go.
      In medieval times pilgrimages were taken by Europeans to the middle east as a form of Piety or religious devotion. Today I recommend pilgrimage as a type of meditation, a way to reconnect with what is whole and sacred or special in your life. It's a way to center ourselves in our daily life and enjoy the simple beauty that surrounds us, in a trip to the museum with our family, a hike on the beach or a few moments lounging under a tree in our yard. A pilgrimage is available to you anytime, now you just have to choose which journey you will take today.
                      blissings, amber

  PS: If you have time I would highly recommend that you find a walking labyrinth in your neighborhood or city to have the experience of one firsthand. The proprioceptive (the sense of where you are in space) quality of a 7 or cathedral circuit rocking you as you spiral in and out adds a dimension that cannot be duplicated with a finger labyrinth. And due to recent popularity they are popping up at hospitals, churches and events in most areas. Happy journey :) !

MENDs FYI tidbit:
    Walking is a great way to improve your health and unless you are under the age of 1 you already know how to do it. It's easy to start a walking program with minimal expense and time. You will need a comfortable pair of shoes, a water bottle and a way to time yourself. Start out slowly: 5-10 minutes of moderate strolling and work yourself up in 5 minute increments until you reach 30 to 45 minutes. According to the CDC 150 minutes of brisk walking a week ( that's 30 minutes 5 times a week) and a couple of days doing some muscle strenghtening exercise is enough to improve your health.
If you find that you can't walk for long periods of time they recommend that you break it up into 10 minute sessions. Ten minutes walking in place while you watch the evening weather report counts, that is what I do. Small hand weights or resistance bands cost very little so if you use them while you watch the rest of the news you will have met both requirements. Especially if you watch the news twice a day as I do and every day (20 minutes x 7 = 140 minutes). I love this because it is very hot in the summer and snows in the winter here, but I can stay active year round. Walking is natural and has many health benefits. It's easy to fit into even the busiest schedule and most of us already know how to do it. Be sure to check with your Doctor to ask if you are healthy enough to use walking as exercise and I am pretty sure a big smile will light up her face because you did. A few steps is all it takes.

see you soon...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

      Sometimes I try to do too much at one time and I feel overwhelmed. Does this happen to you? Mindfulness is the practice of doing only one thing at a time and being aware of what you are doing in this moment because it is the only moment there is. This can be a challenge in today's world because we live, potentially overloaded, with our smart phones, TVs, computers and various other devices beckoning in our every waking moment. By practicing mindfulness we can regain our equilibrium and peace of mind.
      I am old enough to remember when phones had party lines and you were sharing the line with 4 of your neighbors. When you wanted to make a call you lifted the receiver and listened quietly.  If one of them was on the line you hung up and tried again later when the line was open. If you left home to do whatever, the phone stayed put.  Now even tweens, ages 8-11, have phones and we are on call 24/7.  It is rare to allow ourselves the space to focus solely on on thing.
      I am not saying that it is a simple thing to be mindful and focus on just one thing like a mantra or your breath, sometimes the best you can do is accept that your talking heads are out of control or your leg hurts or whatever. You can hang in there or give up for today, it is all part of the practice. Today I could not settle, so I didn't, but I continued to time myself and although I got up and made tea, I went back and sat. Today my meditation was actually about making and drinking tea and it worked. I was able to focus on one thing mindfully.
Yada,Yada, owww!
     Some days mindfulness is not so easy. A couple of weeks ago I was at yoga class and the talking heads were screaming- ow this hurts, I hate this, and other trash talk, even though I wanted to be there and the instructor is very gentle and caring. Desperate and even feeling a bit unkind, I decided to try mantra. I repeated a Tibetan mantra: Om Ah Hum that I like because it is the first 3 letters in the Tibetan alphabet (kind of like reciting 1-2-3). My body instantly softened, my breath slowed and I was able to finish the pose. As the class progressed, the mantra would occasionally slip from my mind, letting the talking heads turn up the volume. As soon as I would notice ( rather quickly because they can be quite deafening) I would go back to the mantra. With the mantra I made it through the class and I was grateful because I know I need yoga in my health arsenal to keep stiffness in check.
Om Ah Hum, Om Ah Hum...better.
       Mindfulness is said to be our natural state, but don't tell your ego that. The part of our mind that the talking heads live in has an agenda all of it's own. It wants no pain, ever and it will tell you in no uncertain terms what it does not like. You see it always wants to be happy, very like a baby. When you sit down to meditate or for that matter do any thing that requires focus the ego tends to be resistant. It wants to chat about about your upcoming vacation or it will remind you that there is laundry that is waiting. It promises that there will be time later to meditate, but it is secretly hoping you'll forget and watch that cooking show instead.
         This is why a time to practice everyday and a small commitment to 5 or 10 or even 20 minutes daily is your true best friend if you want to reap the benefits of meditation.  In the beginning you may not "feel" anything, or you may have very brief glimpses of the stillness that is as refreshing as a cool breeze on a stale hot day.  You may sit with little or a lot of effort, but it is all worthwhile. Acceptance is the key. Whatever happens while you sit is the practice. Sure it is good to follow your breath or your chosen mantra as much as possible, but just sitting  and accepting whatever your experience of that day is...well that is meditation.
          I sit each day when I wake up for 15 to 30 minutes. I time myself and no matter what, even if my feet and ego jump up I go back and finish my sit. The one exception is if I fall asleep, which many people find happening to them as well. Meditation is quiet awareness, sleep is sleep. If I fall asleep I start over when I am more awake, because if you find you are falling asleep regularly with meditation, you may need more sleep. This is especially true for me because of my work schedule. I recently painted a small labyrinth on my patio. I find if I walk it just after waking it improves my meditation without waking up the talking heads. For many years I made tea, then meditated with the cup in my hand to insure I was awake and aware.
        I can tell you that I look forward to the moments of stillness that fill me when I meditate. Total peace of mind is a gift all of us can benefit from. I do not find the stillness every day, but I know it is there. That is what has motivated me to meditate as regularly as I can and as mindfully as I can for all these years. Most importantly I remember that acceptance of whatever this moment provides is all part of the experience, whether it is fidgeting or a talking head marathon. I hope you find mindfulness in your meditation and with time it can be a asset in your daily life as well. You see mindfulness can be used any time you want to quiet your mind and focus on the task at hand. It can make you a more aware driver, help you to really listen to your children, or pass the big math test in college. Being able to quietly focus is a gift, free to those who will take a few moments to cultivate it.

         try this,
                                     brew a cup of tea...just the way you like it
                                     find a comfortable place to sit
                                     feel the warmth of the cup in your hand
                                     smell or taste the tea
                                     appreciate the color of the tea and the cup
                                     close you eyes, allow yourself to rest with the tea in your hand
                                     when you are ready drink the tea
                                     slow or fast
                                     accepting that as you drink there is tea in this moment
                                     it is gone in the next
                                     this is mindful tea drinking

Mindfulness can be applied to any activity. We may not be able to find it when we are multitasking, but even then it is there. Practice makes perfect and remembering to practice, making time to practice will improve the quality of your life. I know because it has improved mine. You may not be able to recognize it right away, but the benefits begin when you do.

          blissings, amber

Next time: Positive Projection, focused intention and meditation

see you soon...

MENDs FYI tidbit:
I bet you thought cruciferous vegetables, you know the ones that are so good for you, only came in broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprout flavors.  Not true these anti-inflammatory superstars include green leafy vegetables like watercress,spinach, arugula and bok choy. Other members of this family include radishes, daikon and regular or napa cabbages. Choose your favorites and toss with tomatoes, some feta cheese, black olives and toasted sunflower seeds for a quick salad. Top with a salad dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, a dab of honey mustard, salt and pepper to taste and you have got a wonderful salad for a treat...say after a yoga work out?  There are cruciferous vegetables in season through out most of the year, so you can eat local and healthy every day. These veggies are great roasted and in stir fry as well.. so next time you see some, give them a try.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Impermanence: agent of change

     Hi all,  in my last blog I had stated that I would talk about mindfulness in daily actions, but this week I have experienced 2 big events in my life and I feel like the subject of impermanence is really where I am sitting.
      For most people impermanence is associated with loss, but it is actually  just a big word for change. Change can be good, bad or neutral. Everything is changing around and within us every moment. Nothing stays the same, although some things change so slowly that the change is not immediately noticed. Rocks and children are good examples. Ask any parent about their child and they will tell you that although they seem the same from day to day, a quick look at a few holiday pictures will show you just how much they have grown. Rocks on the other hand never seem to change, but a close look at the Grand Canyon or the Cliffs of Dover proves that rocks do change, albeit slowly...very slowly.
     The truth is that all things appear, manifest and vanish
 in every instantaneous moment of the now, the only time that actually exists.  The me who just typed those words is already gone as the new me types these words. A continuation of that last moment me, but not the same me , because of the actions that I am taking writing this blog. The first me did not have the same memories that the second me has.
      To be mindful (I guess I am writing about mindfulness after all) is to only do one thing at a time, not too easy in our on-line, multitasking world. It also means being aware of the impermanent nature of our selves and our world in this moment. Everything is changing, now.
      This week change/impermanence came right up to me and said hello and goodbye. Hello because as some of you may know I have been very busy over the last few weeks setting up this blog and a web site. Both are published now and it is exciting  for me to have a means to share my voice with you. My passion is being expressed and I happily spend time working on the gift that these sites has given me. I am very mindful while I work on them because time slips away, so that there is only me, the computer, and my intention that those I am meant to reach, to share with, can now find me. It is ironic however that when I say hello, I am saying goodbye as well. The text goes out and I'm on to my next piece, letting go so it has a life of it's own.
    Not all change is so fluid, unfortunately. This week saw the death of my beloved pet, Zero. This is a painful loss. Zero was only 8 years old. He was fine one day, seemed under the weather the next and  just like that he was gone. It tore my heart out. He was a beautiful black Bombay cat, sleek and tall like a statue of Bast and  he had a little kink at the end of his tail, so when he laid it across his toes it curled. I tried to find a picture of him sitting like that for this blog then I remembered that whenever I attempted to take his picture he would always move (unless he was asleep).  You see he was always on the move, always changing and that had been a source of joy and pain during our time together. He often sat with me as I meditated and he will be sorely missed. I have 2 other cats, but the house is strangely quiet without Zero on the prowl.  Now I  understand what SARK meant in her book "Glad No Matter What" when she wrote  "...he will be dead for such a long time" about her father.
   Impermanence  or change is with us every moment., without it there would be no growth, no progress, no hope. The only thing in this world that doesn't change is the reality, the truth of impermanence/change.  I am joyous about finding my voice and sharing it with those who care to listen, and so empty without my kitty pal Zero. I can accept both. Mindfulness about change is all about acceptance of whatever changes occur.

   This week no new meditation technique, except to say...
                                   take time to appreciate the ones you love
                                   take time to love yourself,
                                   and don't worry too much about change
                                   just let it flow to you and through you
                                   and remember change is...  the one thing that never changes.

     blissings, amber

You can find my web pages at
 a more extensive MENDs blog is there, but I will continue to post MENDs tips here in the future as well,
 hope to see you...

Up next: well, so many topics, so hard to choose... it's a mystery, now

see you soon...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mantras: a mute button for my talking head.

       Do you have days when the talking heads in your mind seem to overwhelm you?  You know that little voice that says...oohh he's hot, or do these pants make me look fat, or any number of other wanted and unwanted thoughts that can tire you out and make you wish for a moments peace... from yourself?  I know I have and mantra is one of the easiest ways to quiet the mind and  it is flexible as well.

        The simplest mantra of all is to count your breath. Just sit comfortably, or lie down, lightly touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth (this helps manage the amount of saliva you produce) and as you breath in and out count to 20 (or 10) on the out breath.  Do this about 5 times and you will find about 10 minutes has passed...Congratulations you just meditated using a mantra!

        Counting is easy because we already know how to do it.  I often use this method when I can't quiet the talking heads enough to follow my breath.  I am not trying to stop my thoughts, I  am giving myself a stronger focal point to concentrate on, a concrete thought rather than something we normally pay little attention to.  When I notice I am thinking, I just go back to number 1 and start again.  I also have times when the counting slips away and there is silence or just my breath as well.  This is the stillness that is the fruit of practicing meditation.

          There are potentially as many mantras to choose from as there are words or even nonsense words and there are  quite a few that are well established from various religions. Most established mantras are sacred words and some have specific actions such as to cultivate compassion or for healing. You have probably heard some of them: AUM or OM a very old Sanskrit mantra  (popular with the hippies of the 60's), Om mani padme hum- a Tibetan mantra, or Om namah  shivaya which was prominent in the book "Eat Pray Love".

           I first learned to meditate by going to the Transcendental Meditation Center near my home.  I was taken to a small booth with a chair and dim lights. The TM instructor told me a word, a mantra chosen for me based on my answers to a questionnaire completed earlier.  I was told to close my eyes and repeat the word silently to myself and that I should do this for 20 minutes at which time they would let me know to stop and I should slowly open my eyes and allow myself to "awaken", although I had not been asleep. This is the general format most sitting meditation takes with only the specific method and time allotment as variables.

          I later found out that the mantra they had given me was based on a Hindu Goddess. At the time I thought nothing of the religious implication of the mantra, but as time has passed I realized that I did not want to "pray" to a God or Goddess I really do not believe in. I was not interested in repeating long motto type mantras such as "be the change you want to see in the world" Gandhi, either... too complicated.  So I experimented with positive words like peace, love abundance, bee, happy and others, but most had too many implications, giving the talking heads more fuel for the fire ( so not what I was after). Then I tried nonsense words... I strung a couple of  sounds together...hmmm better. Eventually I just turned back to counting when I wanted to use mantra.

         The beauty and flexibility of mantras is what makes them an ideal  and easy way to quiet our minds, creating a mute button for the audio of our talking heads. Do what feels natural for you.  There are many web sites where you can find , Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and various other spiritual beliefs mantras, or design your own using a word or saying that resonates with you.

             sit quietly and repeat your mantra

            Some people use prayer beads (more on those later) to keep track of how many repetitions they have done or you can time yourself, I have used both methods. Either way, a few moments spent meditating using a mantra can be like a vacation for your mind and that will have benefits for your health and well being as well.

blissings, amber

             Up next: more about mindfulness: lets drink tea or drive the car or...?
see you soon...

MENDs FYI: Omega 3 has been in the news a lot lately.  The benefits of eating or supplementing them include; anti-inflammatory activity, offering protection from heart disease, they help in cognition and  may decrease depression. There are several sources in nature including wild salmon, sardines, flax seed and chia seeds. To learn more about this essential fatty acid go to
   Usana's BiOmega is a high quality supplement, manufactured to the strictest standards and it has a lemony taste. I take it daily and recommend it for anyone who doesn't like to eat or taste me.
If you would like to know more about the supplements I take leave me a comment below.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


      When you are going some where that you have never been before it is common to use a map to plan your way. You can use an atlas or a GPS in your car, even your smart phone can guide you as you go.  I have a MAPp that I use to guide me during meditation and you can use it too.

      MAPp is an acronym for mindfulness, acceptance and positive projection. We will look each of these separately and then we can put them together and see where it takes us.

       One of the easiest ways to meditate is to watch your breath. You simply look for the in and out phases of each respiration, noticing the pause between each breath which I have found (after much searching...must be a slow learner) comes at the end of your exhalation.  It is the point of stillness. Take a moment now, if you'd  like, to see if you can find the pause.  The very act of noticing the pause and concentrating on it is an example of mindfulness.

        Generally, mindfulness is explained as being centered in the present moment.  It is not about an experience that is surreal or about being "zoned out".  That is why you may hear the phrase "just so".  My understanding of  just so-ness is that is is accepting things as they are right now.  So if you are "sitting" (comfortably... it is not necessary to sit in pretzel mode unless you can and like to) and watching your breath, noticing the pause, accepting whatever noise, distractions or thoughts that come your way, but staying focused on your breath you are meditating.  You are mindful.

         Acceptance has several meanings. First is the acceptance we discussed above: just so acceptance.  The other kind of acceptance is letting go of expectations when we meditate.  We accept whatever experience comes while we sit.

        At times I have trouble letting my thoughts float like clouds above my head barely noticed. (oooh that one is  :(  an angry client...Ow). At that point acceptance can be letting my head talk, embracing the noise which is of my own making as I continue to watch my breath between the comments or I may switch from watching my breath to a mantra (a repeated word or phrase) accepting that I require a more focused type of meditation today.

       How do you decide? Look at the struggle level.  Meditation is not about everything being happy and positive all the time, stuff comes up, but it is about the practice. Sitting as it is generally called is effective when we practice it on a regular basis.  10 minutes a day is a good amount of time to start with, but fighting or struggling through it defeats the purpose. It isn't necessary to struggle either, because there are many different ways to practice, some that require no "sitting" at all.

       So I accept when my talking head comes for a visit, I accept that my leg is asleep or my nose is running.  I accept the neighbor mowing his lawn, I accept that I may find it better to practice with an alternative method of meditating today.  I accept 10 minutes of mindfulness to the best of my ability, whatever that experience is. Perfect! You are mindful and accepting now.

         Let's move on to positive projection. You won't find this mentioned in most meditation classes, because it is not mindful or accepting, it is a desire.  Desires are not centered in now, they are in the future. You want peace of mind and the health benefits that less stress will bring so you meditate, but even as you sit the results are in the future. Sitting is the present experience. Positive projection is the why.

        I think of it as a walk to the lake at the  park.  You want to go sit by the lake so you walk the three blocks to get there. As you walk the first block you enjoy the fresh air and the trees. You are mindful. The next block you continue to walk enjoying the flowers when suddenly a tree branch falls. You notice it, step around it and continue on your way. You are accepting. The last block passes quickly and there you are at the lake in the park. It is peacefully lapping the shore just as you imagined it would be when you set out. Just as you projected, I will walk to the lake and now you have.  That is my the simplest explanation of positive projection.

        I do not think meditation is goal oriented in and of  itself, but I realize that meditation has an aspect that is about intention. Positive projection is the part of the MAPp where we acknowledge and perhaps set our intention. The mind is a powerful tool in our life. It can bring us joy or sorrow. That is why we want our projections to be positive.  Meditation is about quieting the mind and connecting with the stillness that is at the center of who we really are, beyond joy and sorrow.  When we can glimpse that place we can continue to follow the map of our lives with better health and well being.

      The map is easy to follow. Why not give it a try?

      Take a moment to sit
      Watch your breath flowing in and out
      Notice the pause between breaths

      That is the point of stillness 

       Gift yourself a few moments each day to meditate: mindful, accepting and positive.
       You deserve it!

        blissings, amber

Is brown rice really better for you than white rice?
Although brown and white rice have very similar calorie and carbohydrate contents, brown rice has more fiber, magnesium, B1 and B3.  To learn more go to
I prefer the chewy texture of brown rice, especially when used as a side to eggplant curry. Yum!

    Up Next: Mantras, an easy way to quiet the talking heads who join you like a bad house guest when you meditate.
         See you soon...

PS: please excuse the white highlighting, it is unintentional and i am working to fix it, thanks