Mindfulness

The Best of Intentions, Spiritually Speaking

My Experience with Meditation for Self-Discovery

For many years, I was happy to meditate the way I had been taught: deep breathing followed by fifteen minutes of letting my thoughts come and go, morning and evening. (Note:  Sometimes I skipped because life happened and sometimes I skipped quite deliberately; just want to make sure you know I am human!) I became a calmer mom, wife, and employee.  I noticed more self-compassion.  Those “annoying” people in my life seemed to improve their attitudes!  I understood the joy of being content.  However, after a while, I felt my satisfaction slipping away.  Anxiety over “my purpose,” days of preferring to be a hermit followed by days of loneliness, inability to meditate consistently, feeling either uber-fidgety or low and depressed while hating myself for it….

What was wrong with me?  I questioned spirituality itself.  Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this stuff?  Maybe the mindfulness ride was over?  Perhaps I was just destined to live out life with a slightly melancholy mindset.  Blame it on my DNA and, you know, you can’t beat Mother Nature.

Then my guru told me about meditating with INTENTION.  My internal cynic said, “Yeah, sure…. sounds like a gimmick to me.” Meditation with intention, meditation for self-discovery.  He instructed me to do the usual deep breathing but, as I slipped into the minutes of meditation, I was to set a deliberate intention by asking a specific question that needed an answer.  Eventually I landed on this:   “What is getting in the way of my spirituality?”  (“No expectation; let’s see what happens…”) So, as instructed, I meditated with intention…. once, twice….and by the end of that second sitting I had three clear, real answers that had popped into my consciousness.  I was simply astonished.  In a short intentional space of time I discovered that my spirituality was compromised by (1) often worrying about results, (2) spending too much time on digital distractions (Facebook, news on the iPhone) and (3) lack of faith in the answers I have inside. Specific answers, to the point!

Learning about myself has been one of the greatest joys of my mindfulness journey.  Having this simple tool of meditating with intention gives me yet another avenue for self-discovery.  With awareness of what was getting in the way of my spirituality, I am finding even more contentment and gratitude in every day of my life. “Doing is believing!”

~Kathy Babula

This content was originally posted on our site in 2017

Want to learn more about using mindfulness meditation for your own self-discovery?

Guru Ranjit’s eight week mindfulness meditation program is specially designed to give you the support and guidance you need to create a daily practice that will benefit you for the rest of your life. This simple yet powerful tool will take you to a state of profound relaxation, will dissolve fatigue and accumulated stress, and will renew your creativity and passion for life.

Access greater calm, confidence and creativity. As your awareness increases, so does your joy.

Meditation and Breathing Techniques Can Help You Alleviate Anxiety and Panic

Find yourself feeling depressed, anxious, or fearful due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak and the uncertain circumstances it has brought? The CDC assures us that it’s a natural reaction to the stress of having our normal routines and usual social interactions changed so drastically in such an abrupt manner. While social distancing is necessary to preserve our physical health and well-being, it is also important to remember to take steps to maintain our mental health.

A widespread health scare can cause you to have:

  • Trouble sleeping or focusing
  • Changes to your diet and sleep patterns
  • Deterioration or flareups of chronic health conditions
  • Increased reliance on alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism

Meditation and Anxiety

Meditation and its role in treating anxiety is gaining more attention as more people and health experts explore mindfulness and how that approach to life can ease stress and assist you in better responding to things in your daily life that are triggers for you.

Confronting Anxiety with Mindfulness

  1. To begin, open yourself to what is happening at the present moment. The intention is to purposely make yourself open to be more in tune to what is happening right now, without focusing on any singular thing or allowing a worry to distract you. Allow yourself to receive as many ideas, feelings, and sensations as possible.
  2. Concentrate on your breathing. Take long, slow breaths taking the time to hear and feel each inhalation and exhalation as air enters and leaves the body.
  3. Listen to your body and pay attention to how it reacts to your awareness of the moment as you slow down to focus on your breath.

Guided Meditation with Guru Ranjit

Charlotte Meditation was founded by meditation master Guru Ranjit, who had the opportunity to receive instruction in meditation, yoga, and ayurvedic health practices from Guru Dhirendra Brahmachari, a renowned expert in mindfulness practices. Ranjit spent two years studying with Guru Brhmachari on a regular basis.

Guru Ranjit chose to further his studies into mindful practices by visiting numerous monasteries and shrines in India and Nepal to receive instruction from the monks. What Ranjit learned about mindfulness and successfully applied in his own life gave him the inner peace to deal with the stresses faced while he worked in the corporate world.

Are you self-isolating and/or working from home due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak? Find a quiet, comfortable place in your home and play this video to let Guru Ranjit guide you through a meditation exercise you can do at home twice a day to help you cope with your anxiety in a healthy, productive manner.

How Meditation and Mindfulness Soothes Anxiety

Mindfulness helps by allowing you to deal with difficult feelings by learning to experience them as they come without over-analyzing them. Mindfulness encourages you to acknowledge and validate all your feelings, an action you can take that assists you in refraining from worry that only increases your anxiety level. It is better to experience the feelings, painful memories, and worrisome thoughts honestly than to try and suppress them.

Meditation is a helpful mindfulness exercise as it encourages you to be present in the moment, finding a release from painful memories of the past or fears of what may come in the future. We have the tendency to use our energy in a negative way, attempting to suppress painful memories or push down fearful thoughts. Mindfulness encourages us to embrace all our feelings and thoughts so that once we have accomplished this, we look deeper and understand the root cause of our anxieties and fears. This is where true healing can begin.

Dr. Bob Stahl explains:

“In essence, practicing mindfulness is a process of learning to trust and stay with feelings of discomfort rather than trying to escape from or analyze them. This often leads to a remarkable shift; time and again your feelings will show you everything you need to know about them—and something you need to know for your own well-being.”

 

Eventually, coronavirus will be adequately addressed, and we will all return to our normal routines. While you are at home with some extra time on your hands, take the time to learn about our Mindfulness Meditation Program. By learning valuable tools that will aid you in achieving calmness, you can find the ability to relax and enjoy every aspect of your life.

For more information about Charlotte Meditation, email or call 704.277.6049.

Finding Your Happiness: Why is it so Elusive?

Angela

When most people are questioned about what will bring them happiness, they list good health, wealth or a successful career, fulfilling and successful relationships, and the ability to pursue work they find satisfying. While most individuals can explain that they want a happy life, a growing number of people express difficulty in attaining this goal.

Recognizing this need, Charlotte Meditation has developed a new Find Your Happiness Program based on mindfulness meditation that focuses on helping you rediscover your joy and learn to effectively cope with the stresses each of us face in our daily lives. You will learn valuable tools that will aid you in achieving calmness and the ability to focus more in every aspect of your life.

The Role Mindfulness Plays in Discovering and Embracing Your Personal Happiness

What exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is an approach to life where a person makes a conscious choice to be completely present, with an awareness of their actions and surroundings without allowing extemporaneous events or circumstances beyond their control to have an unduly negative impact on their well-being.

Human beings are naturally equipped to act mindfully but need to learn how to practice it. Practicing meditation is fundamentally important to achieving mindfulness. Meditation is a learned skill and as you develop your practice, you will find physical, mental, and spiritual benefits that will help you come to a better understanding of yourself through self-reflection. You will approach life with an open mind that allows you to see opportunities and embrace a wider world view.

It is important to note that mindfulness is not about changing who you are. The goal of mindfulness is to come to a greater personal understanding and become the best version of yourself that you can be.

Mindfulness Meditation

The many benefits of mindfulness meditation have been proven by multiple evidence-based studies. A 2010 scientific study published in Psychological Medicine found that numerous research studies have demonstrated a link between mindfulness meditation and benefits to physical and mental health that are demonstrated in the short-term and long-term well-being of those who practice it.

Studies using electroencephalographic (commonly known as EEG) tests have shown that alpha and theta brainwave activity substantially increases while a person is meditating. Theta activity is responsible for imagination and intuition and allows us to tap into deeper feelings of relaxation and contentment. Alpha brainwaves signal the brain is in its resting state. Increased alpha wave activity has been shown to improve alertness and induce calmness.

Charlotte Meditation’s Approach to Teaching Mindfulness Meditation

While we all have the ability to live mindfully, meditation is a learned skill that requires regular practice. Led by founder Master Guru Ranjit, Charlotte Meditation’s Find Your Happiness Program is designed to teach you the proper way to meditate. The course is built on the core principle that you learn meditation by doing it, so the focus is on the importance of regularly practicing meditation.

Meditation Master Teacher: Guru Ranjit

A native of India, Ranjit had the opportunity to receive instruction in meditation, yoga, and ayurvedic health practices from Guru Dhirendra Brahmachari, a renowned and much sought-after expert in mindfulness practices. Ranjit spent two years studying with Guru Brhmachari on a regular basis.

Ranjit chose to further his studies into mindfulness practices by visiting numerous monasteries and shrines in India and Nepal to receive further instruction from the monks. What Ranjit learned about mindfulness and successfully applied in his own life gave him the inner peace to maintain a work-life balance and deal with the stresses faced while he worked in the corporate world.

In 2004, his interest and belief in the power of meditation to improve lives inspired him to open Charlotte Meditation and return to focusing on meditation on a full-time basis.

The Find Your Happiness Program

Ranjit brings 25 years of expertise to assist his clients in achieving emotional freedom, renewed physical health, and a higher level of consciousness by practicing simple meditation and yoga.

Ranjit designed the new Find Your Happiness Program to help you discover peace as well as personal and professional prosperity. The program offers a personalized journey where you are given the tools to declutter your mind, discover what happiness means to you, and use meditative focus to achieve your goals.

To learn more about the Find Your Happiness Program and register for the 8-week class today, visit  Charlotte Meditation/Find Your Happiness. For more information about Charlotte Meditation, email or call 704.277.6049.

Mindful Eating, Mindful Living

2020. The start of a new decade. Time to turn over a new leaf and set some goals.  Let me guess, are “manage my stress” and “lose some weight” on your list?  Consider this: you can kill two birds with one stone by committing to a practice of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness:  paying attention to the present on purpose without judgment.”  We live much of our lives without awareness, unconsciously hustling from one task to the next, attached to the Almighty Check List.  Never mind what is happening right now in front of us, we look to the outcome which isn’t even here yet.  Crazy, right?  If you are feeling frazzled, it could be that you are constantly living in a future that has not yet arrived.  That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Chances are, you are trained to produce results whether it is in your profession and/or your role in your family or your circle of friends.  Our brains respond to this “get it done now” stress by resorting to a “fight or flight” reaction which isn’t just an attitude but a very real physiological event.  You are training yourself to overreact to whatever comes down the pike.  Aren’t you exhausted??

Mindfulness is your ticket to reducing stress and anxiety.  A good practitioner will teach you practical skills that help you stay grounded in the present by simply noticing and accepting what is really happening inside you and around you instead of mindlessly resisting and covering up stress with hurried distraction, overindulgence or procrastination.

Which brings us to that “lose some weight” thing.  What better place to start a mindfulness practice than through mindful eating?  If you look at the big picture, what gets in the way of eating thoughtfully and nutritionally is often a lifestyle full of stress.  Perhaps you have lost weight (again and again) only to gain it back.  Instead of turning to another food plan alone, why not give mindful eating a try?

An easy way to start is with a raisin (or a grape.) (OK, you might want to practice this first time by yourself if you are worried that others will think you have gone cray-cray…) Turn off the TV, put the phone away  and focus on your food.  Approach it with all senses.  As you pick up the raisin, feel its texture: wrinkly? smooth?  See its color: is it really purple?  Now roll it around in your fingertips and smell it. (Yes, I said smell it…with caution. Sucking it up your nostril is not allowed.) What do you notice?

Now put it in your mouth and, without chewing, roll it around and again notice texture.  Slowly begin to bite into your raisin and notice what happens….sweetness? tartness?  saliva out the wazoo?  Chew without hurrying until that anticipated moment when you swallow.  Take a deep breath and notice how you feel?

Now a raisin is a wild and crazy experiment but imagine taking a more mindful approach to eating a meal: slowly, deliberately with as much focus on the senses as you can muster. There is a good chance that eating with such awareness will not only relax you but will also help you to notice when you are full.  Mindfulness is all about mind-body connection and that one little raisin can put you on a path to a better relationship with your food which means better nutrition, less stress about diet and healthy “what’s right for you” weight loss.

Mindful eating is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mindful living.  Practicing mindfulness skills on a daily basis has proven to be life-changing for me. Learning to be aware of and manage my over-thinking means knowing what to do and what not to do with wise responses instead of knee-jerk reactions. I live with more balance and clarity, knowing when and where I want to put my precious energy.  Instead of spending thoughts and emotions on trying to control situations and people, I have learned to let things unfold naturally and calmly, no manipulation needed.  Being a perfectionist, I am astonished at how far I’ve come, and I owe it all to Ranjit Deora’s Mindfulness Meditation program.

I spent much of my life seeking “the answer” to my ruthless anxieties, including twelve-step programs and private therapists.  While I gained something from all of them, it is through Ranjit’s simple but powerful lessons that I have found tremendous relief and joy.  Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  I am not a salesperson, I do not mean for this to be a promotional piece, but I can tell you without a single doubt that eight one-hour lessons at Charlotte Meditation have given me tools for a lifetime. Trust me, they can do the same for you and could be the best self-care you give yourself as the new decade begins.  Here’s to a 2020 full of mindful self-discovery!

~Kathy Babula~

Reduce Anxiety Through Meditation: A New Mother’s Perspective

Written by Megan Brevard

I found my way to meditation through a series of unfortunate events, and yes, I mean it. In 2012, I ended a toxic relationship and struggled to cope with what I knew was the best decision for my future but what felt like a failure. Enter my good friend Kathy, also a client of Charlotte Meditation, who recommended that I go see Guru Ranjit. Feeling like I was at a loss for what to do and wanting to take a healthy action, I made an appointment with Ranjit.

At the first session with Ranjit, I found myself retelling all the horrible stories of the failed relationship and my related fears. To this storm of worry and anxiety, Ranjit’s calming presence gave me comfort. He has a presence that suggests hope and positivity even when it feels impossible. Meditation and breathing made me aware of my thoughts and their powers. I began to feel like I could sense when I was having negative thoughts, and how to manage my response to them.  Emotions are a choice, your breath is the tool. These techniques have supported me through countless personal and professional stressors.

Now, seven years later, those same lessons of breath and meditation have continually come to my aid as a new mother. My new mama brain panics and shouts internally, “Help, my child is crying for no apparent reason! I’ve checked his diaper; feeding, rocking, and nothing is working, what do I do?”  My internal voice says, “Breathe.” (I  can hear Ranjit saying this with a smile.) My fears/anxiety for my baby awaken me at 3 a.m., my brain is in full “monkey mind” mode, full of racing thoughts and emotions. My internal voice says, “Breathe.” And as I focus on my breathing, feeling the air entering and leaving my body, I relax. I soften, knowing this is one way I can comfort myself and therefore improve my ability to comfort my child.

Surprisingly, this simple act of breathing slows down heart rate, lowers blood pressure and centers me in the moment. Does it completely change reality? No. However, it changes my response to it. Meditation gives me a space between my thoughts and emotions. I visualize my thoughts/emotions on the other side of a long hallway and the breathing helps me pause before responding. This ongoing lesson helps me be a healthier mother and wife, able to reduce my anxiety so I can pay attention to what truly is important.

Mental Health Meditation

Observing Mental Health Month in Charlotte

Learn the self-healing technique of meditation for your mental health conditions.

Depression and anxiety are real, common and treatable, and recovery is possible.

Offering FREE group session on May 16th at 6 pm

Register now by email rdeora@charlottemeditation.com or phone 704.277.6049

Learn Mindful Eating through Meditation

Are your New Year’s resolutions already falling by the wayside? It’s very easy to write off your goals, continuing your old habits of 2018. Was losing weight on your list? While setting specific goals of pounds dropped is a valid approach, if you want to take care of yourself by reaching a healthy weight or living a healthier lifestyle, you may want to begin by establishing a habit of mindfulness meditation.

“Mindfulness meditation?  What does that have to do with success in weight loss when I can just (pick one) join a pre-packaged food plan/ drink those special milkshakes/ stay away from carbs/ go ‘Paleo’?”

Perhaps you have heard of “mindful eating”. Learning to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger are the key. Physical hunger has cues such as your stomach growling and your body feeling low on energy. The hunger itself grows slowly over time and the food you eat is satisfying to you. Emotional eating involves very specific cravings which, when acted upon, cause lingering feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction. But how do you cultivate the awareness necessary to know the difference?

The answer is simple: through mindfulness meditation. “Are you kidding me?? How on earth can sitting every day in meditation, letting my thoughts come and go, help me lose weight?” It all boils down to clarity, being aware of not only what you are eating but why. Only you have those answers for yourself and, in order to retrieve them, you must be relaxed and peaceful inside.

Meditation = relaxation = clarity of thoughts = knowing the cause of your suffering = knowing what to do and what not to do with confidence and success going forward.

It’s that simple.

So perhaps your weight loss journey begins by first establishing a meditation practice instead of resolving to lose 20 pounds. Through a foundation of meditation you will connect with yourself, discover what makes you “tick,” and gain the self-understanding that is necessary to achieve any goal. Losing weight and being healthy are important, but inner peace and clarity are the essential first steps.

3 Ways to Outwit Social Anxiety During the Holidays

Guru Ranjit Deora’s recent interview with Mitra Malek offers mindfulness strategies you can use to help avoid the pitfalls of social anxiety during this holiday season. 

Feel overwhelmed? Of course you do. That’s the downside to this time of year: gift shopping, house decorating, coordinating schedules, planning meals, attending events. It all adds up, leaving you riddled with anxiety.

“Anxiety during the holidays is much more than in ordinary life,” says master meditation teacher Guru Ranjit Deora, founder of Charlotte Meditation, which has a program focused on treating anxiety. “There are more activities happening in your personal life, your social life, your work.”

One major source is holiday get-togethers. They often spark anxiety because so much is in play, Deora says. “There are people who are shy. They are not outgoing. They think, ‘my sister-in-law is going to say something to me I don’t like.’”

Or someone might feel inferior, that they won’t be treated as an equal, a common family-dynamic struggle. They might think, “If I make a pie, maybe no one will like it,” Deora says.

And there are those who fear things that might not even occur to another person: “Oh no, I have to go to my friend’s house for Christmas. She has two big dogs. I’m not comfortable with dogs,” he says.

The list of triggers is endless. The steps to combat them, thankfully, is shorter.

Deora suggests using mindfulness: “thinking or doing something with a purpose in the present, without judgment.”

“If you think something is going to be a problem, how can you avoid or solve that problem?” Deora asks. “Anxiety is fear of failure in the future. We are worried about the future: What will happen? How am I going to take care of it? If you use your mindfulness, you can find a way to handle it.”

In sum, people often feel anxiety because they believe they can’t get a handle on something. “Your mind is working. The mind wants something to think about,” Deora says. “It is the job of the mind to think. Whether you think negative or positive, it’s up to you.”

Here are three mindfulness solutions to anxiety-ridden scenarios Deora has found common:

1. Be nice

 Anxiety inducer: You don’t get along with a family member.

Mindfulness solution: “Instead of expecting some sort of negative thing and worrying about it, be nice to that person,” Deora suggests. “If you’re extra nice, the other person will have an extra hard time not being nice.”

2. Listen

Anxiety inducer: Your friend’s friend demands lots of attention, always talking (let’s be honest: bragging, maybe even makings things up) about himself.

Mindfulness solution: “Listen, accept, let it go,” he says. “Purposely, just listen to the guy, accept whatever nonsense you think he’s saying, and let it go. Everybody wants to tell their own story.”

3. Make an effort.

Anxiety inducer: Your boss is a bear, always faulting you, and now you’ve got to spend out-of-office time with him at a party.

Mindfulness solution: “When the boss is nasty, you avoid him, and you don’t want to talk to him,” Deora says. “But you are creating more of a barrier. It’s better to engage.” And it can be simple: Start today, by walking by your boss’s office when you get to work. Say “good morning.” Say “good night” as you leave work. You’ll likely see a shift within two weeks, Deora says. If your runway before the office fete is much shorter, nourish your new habit during the festivities, going out of your way to say “hello” and “goodbye.” It’ll make the party more pleasant, and then you can reap the rewards of your cumulative effort in coming weeks.

This article was originally published at https://www.vitacost.com/blog/home-family/wellness/holiday-stress-and-social-anxiety.html

Journalist and yoga teacher Mitra Malek regularly writes and edits content related to personal health, including for Yoga Journal, where she was an editor. Learn more at mitramalek.com.

Managing Holiday Stress with Mindfulness and Gratitude

Starting around mid-November, my stress has a way of whirling itself into a tornado of chaos. So many things to prepare, to remember, to DO – people to reach out to, family relationships to manage, presents to buy, food to cook, errands to run! Traffic increasing, long lines at the store, bank accounts letting out more than they’re taking in… The tumult of the next six weeks is supposed to culminate in a joy-filled holiday break of reflection and celebration, infused with the spirit of giving. So HOW exactly do I maintain my peace in the midst of the madness? By finding the place inside of me where everything is quiet and still instead of expecting to find it outside of me, by depending on my own mindfulness practice of gratitude in the present moment.

Focused on gratitude, I ALLOW myself to feel the peace and happiness that accompany it. Guru Ranjit always says that stress is resistance within my body and my mind, so by ‘flipping the switch’ of my focus towards thoughts and emotions that are easy to embrace, I remove resistance and find a path of positive forward motion. When feeling resistance to an activity, I focus on performing the activity with all of my awareness, intentionally guiding myself towards thoughts of gratitude. For instance, when I resist the logistical nightmares of lining up multiple family gatherings and preparing adequately for each one, I guide my thoughts towards how lucky I feel to have so many loved ones with whom I share the holidays and how grateful I am that I have the resources to give gifts, food and time to these people that I love.

By releasing resistance within my body, I engage more fully in whatever task is at hand. At meals I focus on eating mindfully; I worry less about calories and instead appreciate the love and energy that has gone into every bite. During cleaning, cooking and running errands, I am mindful of my breathing. Most importantly, though, during all of my interactions, I speak and listen mindfully. Tense conversations and friction at extended family functions are an opportunity to be grateful for those you love and a chance to choose silence and a smile instead of jumping into the fray.

I find that when my heart is full of gratitude, kindness comes much more easily to me. I interact with others, focusing on the hope that they are loved, healthy, happy and safe. Self-care is easier with a heart and mind full of gratitude, and by practicing kindness towards myself, I have more to offer others. As Guru likes to remind me, I can’t give to others what I don’t already have within. That’s why true charity starts at home.

So this holiday season, when the stress rises to a fever pitch, I know to turn my attention first to my breath and then to my gratitude. Resistance fades as I let the happiness and peace associated with gratefulness roll in. Then I can focus on what I need to do and truly enjoy the ride to that joy-filled holiday break of reflection and celebration.

~Ashley Moye~

Weaving a Tapestry of Laughter and Joy around the Pillars of Your Life

Carrying Guru Ranjit’s words as inspiration, “Breathing and meditation are the two pillars of life that make the building solid,” I walked in to a local elementary school, excited to begin my first solo lesson of the fall as a certified meditation teacher. Representing Youth Meditation (the non-profit arm of Charlotte Meditation), I hoped to provide these children with tools they can use in order to build a solid life of clarity and peace. Instead, through my interactions with the first and second graders during my first week of classes I rediscovered another essential tool of my own – laughter and joy. By weaving these materials around my pillars of breathing and meditation, I infuse my entire life with a sense of safety, companionship and warmth.

In our Youth Meditation curriculum, we traditionally begin our eight-week sessions with laughter yoga, using the exercises to build an open environment where we can laugh and feel comfortable with each other, ready to have fun with the next eight weeks of practice. Laughter yoga has been around for thousands of years, beginning in India as a way to bring villages together – and yes, while there is something inherently awkward and uncomfortable about forcing foolishness with each other, the awkwardness almost immediately gives way into authentic laughter. By the close of a good laughter yoga session, I end up engaging completely, dropping reservations and finding delight in nothing but the joy of laughter with others. In my Youth Meditation classes, students who were initially reserved, nervous or withdrawn bloomed in front of my eyes as I gripped their hands and looked deeply into their eyes before breaking out in to a smile, chuckling with each other for no reason besides “it’s fun to laugh together.”

This experience with the children impacted me in a powerful way. As someone who has spent a large amount of time in a troubleshooting field, seeing errors and anomalies without even looking (four leaf clovers have always been an easy find!), I often struggled to see positives when a negative was present. Guru recommended the practice of intentional meditation so I practiced purposefully being aware of all things good, positive and right surrounding me instead of the things that weren’t. I was amazed at the immediate difference it made in my interior life and in the way that people related to me and felt in my company. So many wonderful things that were ALREADY present in my daily moments slipped outside my notice when I trained my attention on the failures of myself, the world and others for the sake of “continuous improvement.” I finally saw that the potential for laughter, joy and positive connections with others was present in every mindful moment.

I stand by Guru’s statement that breathing and meditation are the pillars of life – but my experience with my students reminded me that cultivating and maintaining laughter and joy is the next essential step.  If I weave laughter and joy around my pillars of breathing and meditation, I find myself surrounded by contentment and happiness. The positive is ALWAYS present, but I have to maintain openness within my mind and body in order to truly embrace it!

~Ashley Moye~