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15 Jun

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

An excerpt from LOVE ON EVERY BREATH by Lama Palden Drolma

At this time, when our human family is facing many challenges, it is more important than ever that we find peace and sustenance in our hearts. In the new book Love on Every Breath: Tonglen Meditation for Transforming Pain into Joy, author Lama Palden Drolma introduces a profound, ancient meditation that has been practiced in isolated mountain retreats in the Himalayas for centuries, which is now available to the modern world.

In the standard Tonglen, the meditator simply breathes in the suffering of others and then breathes out love and compassion to them, but this approach does not always work well for Westerners, who often find it difficult to get past the ego’s roadblocks. That is why Lama Palden prefers to teach the more user-friendly “Love on Every Breath” variation to Westerners, which comes from the Shangpa lineage of two enlightened women.

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

Love on Every Breath is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana meditation from the Shangpa lineage that combines breath, awareness, imagination, and an energetic transformation process. The meditation brings all these components together in a powerful way in order to open our hearts, to reveal and cultivate our kindness, love, compassion, and wisdom. In Tibetan, this is called the Extraordinary Tonglen, since it uses special techniques of Vajrayana to transform suffering. The Tibetan word tonglen is composed of two words — tong means “giving or sending,” and len means “receiving or taking.” First, we open ourselves to receive and feel the suffering of ourselves and others, breathing it into our heart center. This is the “taking.” The suffering is then instantaneously and effortlessly liberated in the heart and transformed by a special method into unconditional love. At this point, on the out-breath, love and healing energy are sent back out to whomever you are doing the meditation for at the moment, whether yourself or another. This is the “sending.”

The primary purpose of the Love on Every Breath meditation is to cultivate our love and compassion, to transform and liberate our heart. When we come from a place of love, everything shifts for us. This book gives you the tools to transform and empower yourself and come to a place of creative engaged freedom.

The Love on Every Breath meditation is not an exotic Himalayan practice, but it is something that emerges out of us spontaneously and naturally. It is inherent in us to want to remove suffering — others’ or our own. The problem for many children (and adults) is that we absorb the suffering of others, and then it stagnates inside of us. Love on Every Breath gives a way for the suffering to be liberated in the body and the psyche and emerge as compassion. There is a felt sense as this happens.

 

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

The Love on Every Breath meditation has eight steps. The complete meditation is done as a sitting practice and takes about forty-five minutes to an hour from start to finish, but the practice is highly adaptable and can be easily abbreviated.

 

Here is a brief description of each step. In step 1, Resting in Open Awareness, we let go of everything. We let go of the past and the future; we let go of any and all ideas about ourselves or others; we completely let go into our bodies and into relaxing. We become aware of our mind so that we don’t allow it to wander into thinking. Rather, we stay present with what is. Usually, the easiest way to do this is to join our attention and breath. This anchors us in our body, and in our felt sensations, instead of in our thoughts. This is a doorway into calm abiding. We simply rest in awareness and openness; openness is synonymous with emptiness.

 

In step 2, Seeking Refuge in Awakened Sanctuary, we go for refuge, for sanctuary, to the awakened ones. This helps create a context and the space for our meditation. We also ask the buddhas and other awakened beings to support us during our meditation.

 

In step 3, Cultivating Awakened Mind, we engender the altruistic intention to fully awaken to be able to help liberate all beings from suffering.

 

In the fourth step, Stepping into Love, we invite an awakened being, traditionally Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, to be present above the crown of our head.

 

Following our heartfelt prayers, Chenrezig dissolves into ourselves, and we meditate that we become inseparable from Chenrezig. The awakened mind is then established in the heart center as a crystal vajra of light, which is a symbol of the indestructible, pure luminous empty reality of who we truly are, our buddha nature. The vajra is what transforms the suffering — not our individual personality or ego. This saves our ego from saying, “I don’t want to take in more suffering! I have enough of my own!”

 

The Vajra that Appears in our Heart Center

 

In the fifth step, Taking and Sending for Yourself, we imagine our ordinary self in front of us and contemplate our pain and wounds, meeting ourselves with loving awareness. We breathe in our suffering as a dark smoke-like substance, breathing it right into our heart center. As soon as it touches the vajra of light, we visualize a lightning bolt arising from the vajra, transforming all suffering into white light, symbolic of unconditional awakened love and healing energy. When we are breathing out, this white light goes into the heart center of our ordinary self, where it heals, illuminates, and awakens.

 

In the sixth step, Taking and Sending for Others, we meditate on a loved one, and gradually we include others. As in the previous step, we contemplate their suffering, big and small, see it as dark smoke, and breathe it into the vajra in our heart. When the suffering touches the vajra, it is instantly transformed. Then, on the out-breath, we imagine the white light going into the person or people, filling them with light and healing, and eventually bringing about their awakening.

 

Chenrezig, together with the vajra of awakening, greatly enlarges our capacity to welcome the suffering and transform it. Slowly we expand our meditation out to various people and groups of people, until finally all beings are included. We rest in the love and joy of all of us awakened together.

 

Step 7, Dissolving, involves dissolving our visualization, completely letting go, and resting in open awareness. Then in step 8, Dedicating, we dedicate any and all benefit of our meditation to the awakening of all beings.

 

# # #

 

Lama Palden Drolma is the author of Love on Every Breath. A licensed psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and coach, she has studied Buddhism in the Himalayas with some of the most preeminent Tibetan masters of the twentieth century. Following a traditional three-year retreat under his guidance, Kalu Rinpoche authorized her to become one of the first Western lamas. She subsequently founded the Sukhasiddhi Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist teaching center in Fairfax, California. Visit her online at http://www.lamapalden.org.

 

Excerpted from the book Love on Every Breath. Copyright © 2019 by Lama Palden Drolma. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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17 Apr

Intuition: Your Soul Signals

An excerpt from Energy Speaks by Lee Harris

Most of us intuitively feel that reality contains a spiritual dimension hidden from our five senses. For author Lee Harris, that spiritual dimension became startlingly real one day when he began communicating with “the Zs,” a group of nonphysical beings from another plane of reality. At first, Lee dismissed the Zs as figments of his imagination, but they spoke with such wisdom and compassion that he became convinced of their existence. He quickly discovered that they had profound insights to offer into the big issues facing all of us: relationships, prosperity, health, and more.

 

In Energy Speaks: Messages from Spirit on Living, Loving, and, Harris distills the Zs’ wisdom into a concise and practical guide for conscious living that promises that each one of us is an irreplaceable part of something much greater than ourselves, and that help is always available to us from unexpected sources. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Our destiny is being reframed and reshaped every day depending on how we show up: The truths we tell. The choices we make. The willingness to grow and change.

 

Destiny says, “Okay, we’ll give her this new boyfriend to help her get over the boyfriend she was with a year ago.”

 

You start to date that new guy, but then you meet someone else, too — someone who is a lot more like your old boyfriend.

 

So this is the choice point. You’re offered an upgrade boyfriend or the old pattern.

 

This time, you choose the old pattern. You choose what is your habit.

 

Now, even though it’s not going so well with the old pattern in a new form, it’s familiar. In a little bit of time, either you get to the point where you say, “You know what? I’ve already done this relationship dynamic before. Thank you. You’re very nice, but this is not for me.” Or your resolve crumbles and you go back into your comfort zone.

 

Six months later, you’re looking sickly and have run out of energy. You’re turning up at events holding the hand of the more predictable boyfriend, and your friends are nervous to say anything to you (kind of like you were with Jill). Your last boyfriend was a bit tricky, and they don’t want to get in the middle of that again. Meanwhile, you’re just going down, down, down, inside your own soul. Stuck in the habit.

 

It doesn’t have to go that way. Your destiny path is constantly signaling you through your intuition. The beauty of intuition is that it’s like a GPS installed by your soul — constantly rerouting and rewiring you based on your choices. It’s calibrating you to more and more courage and honesty. It’s leading you to greater empowerment and freedom of being and expression.

 

Of course, following your intuition doesn’t mean that every wish is going to come true, that every situation is going to work out the way you first envision it, or that the path will be clear of all obstacles. Well, I had this intuition that I was going to be Joe Smith’s girlfriend. So what happens inside you when being with Joe Smith isn’t what plays out for you? Do you decide that your intuition isn’t trustworthy? Do you mistreat yourself in some way? Or are you kind to yourself around the disappointments and hurts that you sometimes feel? Do you recognize that the situation has changed, and so, too, can you?

 

We get attached to various pathways, destinations, and outcomes. And we forget that the only attachment our soul has is to our growth. All it wants to know is: are we growing and expanding? Our soul doesn’t say, “Yes, she needs to marry that woman named Yvonne, and it will all be great! Gay marriage is on the way, so that will work out well. They’re going to have a house in Birmingham, and they’re going to have three kids.” No. The soul is overseeing the deeper undercurrents of transformation, less focused on the specifics. “She needs to experience empowered love without restriction.”

 

Destiny says:

We put Yvonne there for her, and she didn’t pick Yvonne. And while there was a possibility that she would stay with Yvonne, she walked away from Yvonne after a month because she was not quite ready for that depth of love. She chose the next one in line so she could see how painful her relationships can be when her choices aren’t aligned with her innermost being, and she stayed with that person for six months until she got sick.

We are constantly redirecting and being redirected. And learning to tune our dial to the frequency of our intuition makes for a more fun-filled journey…no matter how many twists and turns there are along the way.

 

# # #

 

Lee Harris the author of Energy Speaks: Messages from Spirit on Living, Loving, and Awakening. He is also an intuitive medium, transformational leader, musician, and visual artist. In 2004, he began holding channeling sessions and readings in his home, and today he leads workshops throughout the world. A native of England, he is now based in California. Visit him online at https://www.leeharrisenergy.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Energy Speaks. Copyright ©2019 by Lee Harris. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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17 Apr

REVEALING THE REAL YOU IN LOVE

The Letter Code CoverAn excerpt taking from The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love

By Dr. Krystal White, Ph.D
Go to www.thelettercode.com/resources to take the quiz and find out what YOUR letter is.

You know the feeling of being completely yourself, unencumbered and free. It feels like a peaceful contentment. We all want relationships, especially romantic partnerships, where we can be intimately and positively connected to our significant others and be our true selves at the same time. We need to find our own centers to achieve this dynamic. Feeling successful in our relationships is reliant on our ability to uncover and respond to our hidden core love needs.

If you’re like me, you live in a complicated world and find yourself to be rather complicated, too. Being “authentic” is not as easy as it sounds. You need to shift through lots of detail on the surface to quickly get to the simple, real you underneath all the roles, responsibilities, and rules you have adopted. Your letter code is a hack for deciphering all this superficial stuff to get to the most essential way you genuinely connect with your significant others.

Your letter code reveals the basic need you are seeking to fulfill in love—and have been all your life—although you may not have known it. It dictates how you fundamentally relate to your romantic partners and explains the reason why. Everybody has a combination of needs that, when met, facilitate them in clicking with their partner. The love connection just flows when this occurs.

You know this clicking when you feel it. It happens when you are loving from your real code and not a false one. Staying close to your code— your real center of love—will quickly reduce how much effort you put forth to connect, and it will increase your experience of being in the right place to feel love.

In this book, you will be guided to classify your behavior, feelings, and thoughts into their most essential form. Knowing our codes helps us quickly translate and communicate our real selves to the significant others we’d like to love better.

People have only one of four main romantic love profiles that explains their patterns of connectivity. The needs that underlie each of these profiles are recognizable and easy to understand. The four letter codes represent essential patterns of thought, feeling, and actions. These are expressed in how emotionally close or distant people like to be in relationship with their significant others. They also help us decipher the degree to which we seek either autonomy or support from them.

Under different circumstances, some people need either to move emotionally closer to their partners or emotionally away from their partners. Other people don’t need to move at all, needing instead to remain grounded, while either standing together or standing apart. Each of these four behavioral styles conveys how people achieve connectivity with their significant others.

In this book, I’m giving you a quick tool for understanding the four main types of psychological needs driving how we love. Without psychobabble or spending time trying to deduce the origins of your profile, I’m going to give you quick, user-friendly information on how much support, togetherness, groundedness, and separation you naturally need in your love life to click with a partner.

How to feel fulfilled, happy, and aligned with a significant other may have been hidden to you up to now. But I want you to be able to see the real you in love. Knowing your letter code has the potential to powerfully change the way you love from here on out.

You Get the Picture

 

Consider the body language when two people approach one another in greeting. Some people lean in, some people stand upright, and some lean away. Some people even want to be so close that they are practically standing on top of one another.

These physical patterns are like the lines making up letters in an alphabet. Imagine that each person’s body is a straight line. Lines join together to make a letter, just as two adults connect together to form a couple. Being able to read the letters is a hack that can help you quickly understand yourself.

It is not possible to accurately discern anybody’s relationship needs purely from observing the way he or she approaches others. What you see is not what you get. But you can decipher your own core needs in a relationship by examining what’s beneath your patterns of feeling, thinking, wanting, and behaving in love.

The reason to do this is because you can’t change what you can’t see. Once you can see your letter code, you’ll be more effective in connecting with others while being the real you.

The Different Ways We Touch

Looking at how the lines of our energy and behavior touch and connect reveals commonalities and differences in our core needs in relationship.

 

Leaning In

Some people need to lean into a relationship, wanting to establish a mutually supportive connection. If this feels right for you, you want not only to assist your partner, but to also lift her up emotionally. You want both of you to be there to help each other when vulnerable, and receive a significant degree of support from the connection. Without this consistent support, you will feel that something just isn’t right. You may feel slight unease, disappointment, or frustration—perhaps assuming that you are being taken for granted or mistreated. Or you could feel self-judgmental, becoming dissatisfied with yourself for not being enough or doing well enough to have earned and received the support you wanted.

You may be a person who naturally needs a significant degree of emotional vulnerability. You appreciate it when you are needed; and if you are being honest with yourself, you like it when you can trust it is safe for you to need someone. Getting this need met provides you with an essential sense of stability.

Leaning Back

Some people need to lean back from a relationship, wanting to diverge from their significant others. If this sounds like you, there are times when you will seek to go into a completely different direction from your significant other. You  need periodic diversion away from being a couple in order to feel satisfied. Leaning away occasionally, or even frequently, gives you space to reflect on your own life, to feel more gratitude for the relationship, and to bring vitality and renewed passion back to your relationship.

If your partner does not like or genuinely value this type of leaning away, you may feel frustrated, ashamed, or guilty of your desire. You may establish destructive habits to gain this freedom or to repress your need for it. Neither is an ideal solution. By contrast, if you can lovingly express your need to have separate experiences and your partner is willing to embrace your need, as a couple you may discover that adventures external to your partnership actually brings integrity to the relationship.

Standing Side by Side

Some people feel a need to be grounded and upright. They prefer to touch in ways where each person isn’t required to lean in to connect. They prefer to stand side by side in love. If this sounds like you, you tend to find purpose in maintaining a solid, rooted foundation. You feel fulfilled by being steadfast in your commitments, and you value a strong work ethic. You view relationships as partnerships where two people care about each other’s wellbeing and take responsibility for themselves as well. It feels important to you to see eye to eye with your partner and to function as equals.

Reaching Out

Some people are looking for companionship from their significant others. Companionship provides a bridge of connection between otherwise separate entities. If you deeply appreciate it when your partner reaches out to you in reciprocity to enjoy common interests, tasks/projects, activities, and experiences, this may be your preferred dynamic. Sharing and collaborating is a link to your significant other that provides a clear way for you to enhance your mutual pleasure.

Focus on Yourself First

In the next four chapters, you’re going to learn how to decipher your personal letter code and hidden relationship needs. It doesn’t matter if you are in a long-term relationship, such as a marriage, or if you are only casually dating right now. In either case, you have built-in, natural ways of joining your life with a person you genuinely want to love. Once you know your core need and can more easily see it behind your thoughts, emotions, and actions, then you can start to build (or rebuild) your love life from a foundation of empowered awareness rather than false interpretations.

Each letter code visually represents the type of relationship a person is either consciously or unconsciously trying to create according to his or her personal motivation. Understand your letter code and you’ll be clued in about your innermost need.

 

Beware! Trying to guess your significant other’s letter code could lead to disconnection. Remember, these needs are mostly hidden from us. We can spend many years superficially reading our relationships one way, while the truth of what we need is completely the opposite. You’ll get much better results if you work on deciphering your own motivation first before you try to guide your significant partner to decode his/her own needs.

 

Focus on yourself. That often serves as a powerful tool to influence others to do the same.

 

 

KRYSTAL WHITE, Ph.D., is a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities.

 

Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master’s degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in mind, brain, and education from Harvard University.

 

For more information, please visit www.thelettercode.com and www.drkrystalwhite.com or connect with Dr. White on Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

The Letter Code is available on Amazon, www.thelettercode.com, and wherever books are sold.

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19 Mar

Why Buddha Never Had Alzheimer’s

Guest post by Dr. Sen

Meditation has come a long way since its primordial moments in the deep recesses of a forest, where ancient sages practiced this art as a way of life. From the teachings of Buddha to the research-laden laboratories of Ivy League institutes, it has taken a groundbreaking journey, offering one blessing after another. Scientific tests run by the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard Medical School, among others across the globe, are both testimony and tribute to the endless potential of meditation.

Modern medical management adamantly follows strict, evidence-based findings. Nothing is considered standard unless it is held in our palms and felt. Any proposed advance must follow formal research protocols. A hypothesis is stated; the hypothetical drug and a placebo are given to “active” and “control” groups, respectively, and the results of each are compared. If tests show significant benefits reached through statistical analysis, the drug goes through further trials before being considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, considering its philosophical origins, meditation has gone through identical research routes. The screaming headlines from various universities, much of which has been published in various journals, cannot be ignored. Meditation is being increasingly recognized as a powerful management tool for a variety of mental ailments. Specifically, it has emerged as a comprehensive therapy for minds affected by stress, depression, loss of memory, and other behavioral disorders.

 

“Prevention is better than cure,” said Desiderius Erasmus. Allow me to take the next step, bend the Dutch philosopher’s quote, and re-write it as follows: Prevention is the mother of all cure. Allow me to take you back to way before the fatherhood of Hippocrates, before any medical pedigree was created, to days of patient care when resources were scarce and ideas quite stilted, when diseases flourished and death wooed at will. How did the “doctors” address suffering in those days? How much was prevention, and how much was treatment? It is amazing how many scholarly, emotional, and financial resources we have delivered since then and continue to deliver in the cure of human suffering.

Yet how little do we invest in understanding the birth and development of a brewing disease before its obvious visibility. We doff our hats to the incredible discoveries pouring in from all corners of science. In cancer, for example, since the advent of nitrogen mustard (one of the first anti-cancer drugs), through the numerous permutations and combinations of chemotherapeutic drugs, radiation, and radioimmunotherapy, to the present surplus market of monoclonal antibodies—we have been hurling anything and everything at cancer that is at our disposal. Despite all these remarkable innovative strides, patients continue to succumb to the disease.

If you dig in the mud, you will know the reason. All these drugs and procedures are truly lifesaving, except that when patients present with signs and symptoms of cancer, the disease has already traversed many miles. It is common knowledge that at this advanced stage, any malignancy is meant to be recalcitrant, not by choice, but by definition. Once the blood or lymph nodes or the nerves pick up the mutated process from the primary organ affected, we are looking at a potential disaster. Reins at this moment will fail to harness the beast, which has been let loose and is determined to kill. The problem lies in our approach. We scientists are hunting for a light that is actually hunting for us. We are grappling with the trunk of a tree, when the roots are being left untouched.

When it comes to healing Alzheimer’s disease, we face an identical crisis. Can scientists detect a pathology at its very inception? Can they diagnose the disease when only a hint exists? Along with our intellectual aggression to develop new cures, we must foster an equivalent fervor to capture the disease before it can mature. In order to do that, we need to remove the rust that has collected in the arts of diagnosis that used to be considered masterpieces. We need to start all over again, as students of truth, with the belief that permanence of any solution lies in the prevention of that very problem. Meditation and yoga, as well as spirituality and other holistic approaches offer the promise of such permanence in the art of their practice. They brew well before organs mature, and linger long after they wither. They become priceless accompaniments in our striving for a disease-free sojourn through life.


Shuvendu Sen, MD, is Director, Medical education, and Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program at Raritan Bay Medical Center, Meridian Hackensack University. Dr. Sen has been named to America’s Best Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for received the Oscar E. Edwards Award from the American College of Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for research, teaching, and community contribution.

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15 Mar

“Sleepy… Verrrrry Sleepy…”

“You are feeling sleepy… verrry sleepy…” Those are the words that we think of when we imagine being hypnotized. You may have seen a stage show where a hypnosis performer gets people from the audience into a trance, and then gets them to act silly. But could hypnosis really be used to help us sleep better? For many, the answer is a resounding yes!

 

I studied hypnotherapy and got my certification years ago. I’ve found that this is an effective tool to use in many areas of our lives.

 

Hypnotherapy has been used to treat various ailments since the 18th century, although hypnosis itself dates way back to prehistoric days. Hypnosis isn’t magic, or brainwashing, it is actually a heightened state of concentration. There are many times we’ve been in a state of hypnosis and not even been aware of it – for example, when we are engrossed in a really good movie, or super focused on solving a problem. That’s when the rest of the world somehow goes away. We might be called for dinner and not even be aware of it. That’s how hypnosis works.

 

Hypnosis is often performed by a certified hypnotherapist who guides a person into a trance-like state where suggestions can then be given to the subconscious mind to help that person improve a golf game, increase their confidence levels, decrease anxiety, overcome a fear, or attain other goals such as getting a restful night’s sleep. But we don’t necessarily need a hypnotherapist to achieve these results. We can use self-hypnosis, a technique very similar to guided meditation.

 

When we have trouble getting to sleep, it’s likely that we are having trouble relaxing for one reason or another. We may be stressed, worried, or feeling anxious. Self-hypnosis is one way that we can help fix the relaxation response that triggers sleep. Hypnosis helps us to refocus our thoughts by focusing instead on certain words, music, or a soothing voice. In this way we basically retrain the brain to once again relax when it is time to sleep. We provide the mind and body all it needs to calmly drift off into a pleasant sleep state.

 

The benefit, of course, is that when we awaken from a great night’s sleep we feel more energetic and focused. So, we are naturally more productive and motivated!

 

There are many self-hypnosis apps and recordings available and you can try some to see what works for you. Some of these programs use “binaural beats” as a background “white noise” kind of sound. Before sleep the brain must achieve the delta frequency. Binaural beats, a combination of sound frequencies, are used as a tool to help sync the brainwaves to that delta frequency.

 

Autogenic training, also called Autogenic therapy, is one form of self-hypnosis. This relaxation technique was developed by Johannes Schulz, a German psychiatrist, in 1932. With Autogenics, through a series of sessions, we gradually learn to relax the limbs, heart space and breath.  The idea is to induce a feeling of warmth throughout most of the body, and a feeling of coolness in the forehead. It is a way for us to influence our own autonomic nervous system to counterbalance the effects of stress. The Autogenics technique creates a physiological response, preparing us for sleep.

 

To practice Autogenics follow these guidelines:

 

– Practice alone, in quiet, or with soft background music or environmental sounds.

– Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and no shoes.

– Practice before meals so that the digestive process doesn’t interfere with the relaxation process.

– Take your time, do not rush.

– Sit comfortably in a chair, or lie down.

– If you are practicing at bedtime, make sure your room is conducive for sleep, and that your mattress is comfortable and supportive.

– Now follow these six steps:

 

1) Warm -up: Begin slow, deep breathing. Inhale for one beat, exhale for two. With each breath, increase the duration of the inhales and exhales, always doubling the length of time for the exhales.  Breath to six counts in, and twelve counts out. Then reverse the process all the way back down to one count in and two counts out.

 

2) Heavy and Warm – Heaviness and warmth represent muscular relaxation.  Visualize and actually feel your limbs becoming heavy. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My arms and legs are” and on the exhale: “heavy and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

3) A Calm Heart – Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My heartbeat and breathing are” and on the exhale: “calm and steady.” Repeat two more times.

 

4) A Warm Stomach – this helps you to add a central warmth and peace to your body. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My stomach is” and on the exhale: “soft and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

5) A Cool Forehead – This helps you provide a calm, stabilizing coolness to the forehead. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My forehead is” and on the exhale: “cool.” Repeat two more times.

 

6) Completion. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “I feel” and on the exhale: “supremely calm.” Repeat two more times.

 

It is important to memorize this “script” so that you don’t have to spend energy trying to remember the words. Many people find it beneficial to record their own voice with the prompts, and this may be a good way to start. The repetition of the words helps to get the body and mind into a calm, relaxed state, which in turns promotes peaceful sleep.

 

When you are first learning Autogenics, practice this routine three times throughout the day. Before breakfast, before lunchtime, and then right before bedtime so that it helps you to fall asleep. Give it some time to see the best results. Most people notice a big, positive shift in their sleep patterns after a few weeks of practicing Autogenics.

 

Important note: Never listen to any hypnosis recording or try to use self-hypnosis while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. Also, hypnosis is not recommended for those with epilepsy or for those with any kind of psychosis. Always follow the advice of your health professional.

 

Here is a sleep hypnosis recording I made just for you!

Download
References

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Yourself-Sleep-Using-Hypnosis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogenic_training

https://bebrainfit.com/autogenic-training/

https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/24/the-science-of-hypnosis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_hypnosis

Lissa Coffey is the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. More sleep tips at www.bettersleep.org

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23 Feb

Strengthen the Higher Self

An excerpt from Feed Your Soul by Carly Pollack

There are countless diets, cleanses, and 30-day challenges all geared to help people lose weight, heal their digestion, and feel more energy. Yet, these temporary protocols fall short when it comes to true transformation. With all of the nutrition guidance available, why do millions of people weigh more than they want and feel anxious and depressed about it?

 

Nutrition expert Carly Pollack lived this vicious cycle until trial and error, and over a decade of academic study and self-healing, led her to the incredible insights she’s shared with thousands. In Feed Your Soul: Nutritional Wisdom to Lose Weight Permanently and Live Fulfilled, she presents her unique understanding of body science, brain wiring, and spiritual principles to facilitate real, long-term change. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Before you can regain control of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotional state, you must first take a closer look at your internal guidance system. Two different voices are guiding you, and although they both sound like you, one is a much pushier, more obnoxious version and therefore steals most of your attention. This loud voice comes from your monkey mind, which I simply call the “mind” and many spiritual teachers call the “ego.”

 

The mind developed as a way to protect us; it was a means of survival. It helped us avoid danger and kept us alive by continually warning us of what could go wrong. As we have evolved as a species, the mind, sadly, has not. Think of it as an outdated computer that drives you crazy more than it helps you get things done. Now, I’m not saying the mind doesn’t step up in life-or-death situations. I’m talking about the other 99.999 percent of the time here.

 

The mind creates chaos through fear, judgment, comparison, and negativity. Its favorite diatribe is the one that convinces us of scarcity. We aren’t pretty, skinny, or rich enough. There isn’t enough time in the day, there aren’t enough good people in the world, and we don’t have enough willpower to make things happen. Whatever the heck it is, there just isn’t enough of it!

 

The mind’s second favorite story is that something is happening or has happened to us that “shouldn’t be” happening (or “shouldn’t have” happened). It convinces us that we aren’t supposed to have problems — and when we do, the mind creates massive suffering. The mind is excellent at dress-rehearsing a worst-case scenario. It finds a way to judge and blame as much as possible. If you aren’t judging someone else, then you are judging yourself. This constant uninvited commentary is the background of your every waking moment. From the minute you open your eyes to the moment your head hits the pillow, your mind does not shut up. Yeah, mind, I’m calling you out big-time, and I’m telling you to take a backseat; and PS, nobody likes you.

 

Luckily, there is a second guiding voice, and this one comes from your heart and soul, otherwise referred to as your intuition, true self, or inner wisdom. I like to call this voice my “higher self” because it triggers me to think about what I would say to myself if I were holding myself in the highest regard. Find a name for this place of wisdom that feels good to you, and begin to call on this voice to take the upper hand. Your higher self comes through in a whisper, a gentle guidance. It is always kind, compassionate, and loving. This voice lives only in the present moment, and it is available to us anytime we can quiet the mind enough to hear it. From this place, we are never arguing with “what is” because we are living in the moment, making new decisions as they arise.

 

Close your eyes right now (well, after you read these instructions) and place your right hand on your belly and your left hand over your heart. Take three slow, deep breaths. Now ask yourself gently, “What does my higher self have to say about this issue?” If you don’t hear anything right away, simply say, “I’m willing to slow down my mind and make room for my highest wisdom to come through.”

 

Because your mind has taken center stage for most of your life, it may take some practice to get your higher self to begin speaking up. Next time you are in a place of mental anguish, prompt yourself with the following questions:

 

  • What would I tell my best friend in this situation? What would be my sage advice?
  • Could this mean something different? What if the opposite of what I’m thinking is true?
  • What would love do? What would love say?
  • What do I think my future self (twenty years from now) would tell me about this problem or situation?

 

Listening to your higher self is the first step to taking back control from the mind. Witnessing your thoughts without giving in to them, while stepping back and deciding what you choose to think, is one of the most powerful tools you have for living a joyful life. If you control your mind, you control your plate. If you control your plate, you take back control of your body and your health.

 

# # #

 

Carly Pollack is the author of Feed Your Soul and is the founder of Nutritional Wisdom, a thriving private practice based in Austin, Texas. A Certified Clinical Nutritionist with a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, Carly has been awarded Best Nutritionist in Austin five years running and has helped over 10,000 people achieve their health and happiness goals. Visit her online at www.carlypollack.com

 

Excerpted from the book Feed Your Soul. Copyright ©2019 by Carly Pollack. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

 

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23 Feb

Guidelines for Effective Communication

An excerpt from Loving through Your Differences by James L. Creighton, PhD

Couples fight. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Sometimes these fights provide comic relief. At other times they threaten the very survival of the relationship.

 

Psychologist and relationship consultant James Creighton wrote his new book Loving through Your Differences: Building Strong Relationships from Separate Realities to help reduce conflict between couples, especially those that are based on different perceptions or experiences of reality. The book’s primary aim is to empower couples with the knowledge and practical skills they need to choose to live happily and productively together, finding excitement and fulfillment, rather than disappointment and frustration, in their differences. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt.

 

# # #

 

In order for couples to jointly reexamine the meanings that they give to each other’s behavior and find new ways of relating to each other, they need to share feelings, thoughts, and beliefs at a very deep level. This requires that both partners feel safe — meaning that they don’t feel judged or criticized for feeling the way they do.

 

To create a safe environment, couples need to communicate responsibly. This means avoiding behaviors that force the other person into polarized positions. When conflicts get out of control, it is difficult to acknowledge how our own interpretations may have added to the dispute. Yet it is this kind of behavior that can move disputes beyond arguments over who is right into intimate sharing about our most important feelings.

 

Both people must learn to recognize and avoid communication rooted in blame or judgment, concentrating instead on communicating emotions and the meanings that create them. Even when the other person’s communication seems to create conflict, you can make choices about how you respond. If you can imagine that each of you is a country, your job is to describe what’s going on in your country rather than interpreting or judging what’s going on in the other one.

 

Guidelines for Responsible Communication

 

Here are some basic guidelines for communicating your feelings in a way that reduces defensiveness and reaction:

 

  • Take Responsibility for Your Feelings One of the biggest causes of fights between loved ones is blaming the other person for your feeling: “You made me feel…” As we’ve discussed, your feelings are not caused by an external event alone, but also by the meaning you give to the event. Those meanings are yours, not the other person’s. If we’re brutally honest, you made you feel whatever you feel.

 

When you say the other person is responsible for what you feel, that person is likely to feel blamed or accused. They may become defensive and want to protect themselves. We have the beginnings of a full-on battle.

  • State Feelings, Not JudgmentsWhen we are in conflicts rooted in different perceptions and different emotional realities, it is imperative that we communicate feelings, not judgments. Acknowledging our feelings — feeling hurt, rejected, or angry — is essential to understanding our emotional realities. But expressing judgments — saying that our partner is being unkind, unfair, or cruel — gets in the way. It makes it almost impossible to turn the search for understanding into an exciting joint venture. Instead, both people feel accused, put down, and angry.

 

Most of us have learned to communicate in what can be called “you” messages, which are often expressions that judge, challenge, or blame the other person, like these:

“You made me feel…” (blaming the other person for your feelings)

“You are being…” (judging the other person)

“Why are you…?” (challenging or questioning the other person)

One way to remind yourself to communicate a feeling, not a judgment, is to start your sentence with “I’m…” or “I feel…” Psychologists and counselors refer to this kind of message as an “I” message. Here is a comparison of “you” messages and “I” messages:

  • Connect Your Feelings to a Description of the Behavior or CircumstancesIt’s true that just stating a feeling is not enough. If all Alice says is “I’m embarrassed,” Jorge is not going to understand her. Some explanation is needed for why she is embarrassed. But this is a place where judgments can slip in. Efforts to communicate feelings sometimes go awry. For example, Alice might say: “I was really embarrassed when you were so rude.” The only word Jorge will hear in that entire sentence is rude. That’s because Alice has connected her feelings with a big fat judgment. She’s mixed an “I” message with a “you” message.

 

Just putting “I feel” in front of a judgment doesn’t make it any less of a judgment. If Alice were to confine her comments to a description of Jorge’s behavior, avoiding judgment, she might say: “I really felt embarrassed when you said what you did to Irene.” That’s an effort to describe Jorge’s behavior without judging it.

  • Tell the Other Person What You NeedSometimes it’s enough for couples to share their feelings about something that has happened; at other times it is helpful for them to tell the each other what they need in order to avoid conflict in the future. For example, when Peter comes home from work, he finds it really upsetting if the house is all messy. Having an orderly environment helps him feel at ease. He’d really like to come home to a tidy house. But he and his wife have three kids, all under seven years old.

Here is Peter’s attempt to send an “I” message:

I’m upset when the toys are left on the floor. I really need calm and order when I first get home from work.

He takes responsibility for his feelings by saying “I’m upset,” rather than “You are upsetting me.”

 

He tries to communicate a feeling rather than a judgment with “I’m upset” rather than “You’re not keeping the kids under control.”

 

He describes a behavior rather than judging it: “when the toys are left on the floor” instead of “when everything is so messy.”

 

And he expresses what he needs: “I really need calm and order when I first get home from work.”

 

To put it another way, you can construct an “I” message as follows:

 

I’m (or “I feel”) _________ [emotion] when _________ [description of behavior or circumstances]. I need _________ [the change you would like to see].

 

“I” messages do not automatically bring about the result you want. People may still feel upset, hurt, or angry even when you send a good “I” message. Your job is to express your feelings in ways that minimize the risk that the other person will feel the need to react defensively. Their feelings are their own responsibility. If both people send “I” messages, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of a fight, or speed the recovery if you are both upset.

 

# # #

 

James L. Creighton, PhD, is the author of Loving through Your Differences and several other books. He has worked with couples and conducted communications training for nearly 50 years around the world. Visit him online at www.jameslcreighton.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Loving through Your Differences. Copyright ©2019 by James L. Creighton. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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11 Feb

Crafting the Perfect Love Letter

By: Dalma Heyn & Richard Marek, authors of How to Fall in Love

 

Let me tell you a story of a botched attempt at crafting love letters.

The hero of How to Fall in Love : A Novel is a master of love letters—of reading, collecting appreciating them.  He is putting together a retrospective of one of the greatest love-letter anthologists of all time, and in doing so, reads history’s most elegant and familiar love letters, from those of James Joyce to those of Napoleon.  But, knowledgeable as he is, when it comes time for him to write a love letter to his own beloved, Eve, he caves. He can’t do it. Here he is, surrounded by the world’s most brilliant love letters, and he feels as if his own words will sound silly and empty and banal.  So he “borrows” those of the greats instead of speaking in his own voice, admittedly a rather tongue-tied voice, and pretends they’re his own.

Of course that can’t work! He’s plagiarizing, for one thing. For another, he’s broken the only one rule there is in love-letter writing, and that’s SPEAK FROM YOUR HEART.  You can’t copy another’s love letters. You can’t steal others’ expressions of love.  You can’t even mimic them. A love letter is nothing else if not a genuine, heartfelt, authentic, idiosyncratic articulation of your own very personal, very specific feelings for the unique object of your love. It’s your rhythm; your humor; your way of relating.

Other than being as specific as you can about your feelings and making sure you’re writing something pure and not loaded or hiding another agenda (a love letter must have no agenda other than to express your bursting feelings), there are no rules of craft. Unlike the business letter, with its carefully presented details and rigid format; or the letter of apology, with its crucially important elements of regret for bad behavior and desire to make it up to the offended person; the love letter is a completely wild and lawless entity. It can be on scrap paper. It can be written with lipstick on a mirror.  Nothing is limited to procedure, per se,  in the love letter—neither format nor grammar nor substance, even.  Only that the lover express with clarity and imagination precisely what’s in the writer’s heart, and do so, it is hoped, in a way that the beloved is touched, moved, charmed, amused.  It’s a work of art, the love letter. Not replicable. It can’t be duplicated because only the writer feels the specific feelings and he can’t feel that way about anybody else or express himself to anyone else in this form. How personal that fact is! So his goal is to convey, maybe with some wit and imagination, that which will strike the beloved as real and true and specific to her. Specificity is key:  you’re after connection, after all, and to connect well, your emotions must resonate with your lover.  And only you know how that can be done. Because after all, only you know her this well. It’s your love  and your love alone that has broken through to her. You have a pipeline to her heart , as she has to yours.

If there are any “rules” at all, they’re rules of forethought. You’re bursting with the need to express your feelings—but is this a good moment? Is your lover so occupied with other things that to present a letter now is just  bad timing– and inflicting on her your deepest feelings is going to feel more like a burden than a joy? Are you writing a letter at a time you’re bound to get hurt, or be cast aside—because of external events? Think carefully about timing.  And, are you able to put yourself  aside enough to speak only of appreciation and the miracle of love—and not, instead, itemize all the ways you’re being boosted by love?  (A letter that says, in effect, I love you because you do this and this for me and without you I’d never have accomplished this and this and this…is an eloquent thank-you note.  But a love letter it isn’t.)

A love letter is generous. It’s specific. It’s unafraid. It’s in your voice. It’s about the beloved and only the beloved. It’s a bare-your-soul expression that only you can write—so write it when you feel emotions well up in your heart along with the glorious urge to express them.

***

IS YOUR LOVE LETTER SWOON-WORTHY ENOUGH TO WIN A TIFFANY RING?

New York Times Best-Selling Authors Share Tips to Win

The 2019 Love Letter Contest

In the era of online dating, Cupid’s age-old trappings like hand-written love notes have fallen by the wayside. But this timeless display of affection will never go out of style. Given the rarity, a love letter could be just what you need to win over that crush, rekindle the romance, or even show your squad-love for Galentine’s Day. When was the last time you told someone you loved how you really felt?  Where do you even begin?

Luckily, expert writers Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek have your back.

This husband and wife team of New York Times best-selling authors are sharing insight and advice to communicating love in the digital age.  

Whether it’s platonic or romantic, Heyn and Marek will show your audience secrets to crafting the perfect love letter, the three things every lover note must have, and the complexity of communicating love in the age of Tinder. They also have examples of hilarious “worst ever” letters that encourage the audience to respond with their own “worst evers.”

ABOUT THE 2019 LOVE LETTER CONTEST:

To celebrate the release on Feb 5 of their new book, How to Fall in Love, Heyn and Marek are on a nationwide search to find the perfect love letter. The 2019 Love Letter Contest runs until April 30, it is totally free to enter, and the winner will be announced on May 15.

The winner will receive:

  • A rose-gold Tiffany Paloma Picasso Love Ring  (valued at $500).
  • A framed, gorgeously hand-written copy of their letter.
  • Your winning letter shared (if the winner chooses) with our entire social network.

Participating is easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Bare your soul in writing (okay, that part might not be all that easy).
  2. Send your love letter to us at thestoryplant@thestoryplant.com.
  3. That’s it! (You might, of course, want to share the love letter with the person you were writing it to, but that’s entirely up to you.)

To see the complete set of contest rules, click HERE.

 

ABOUT AUTHORS DALMA HEYN & RICHARD MAREK:

Husband and wife team Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek are the authors of  How to Fall in Love , a provocative love story for the digital age. Heyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Erotic Silence of the American Wife, Marriage Shock and Drama Kings.  Her books, published in 35 countries, have been best-sellers both here and abroad. Richard Marek is one of the most accomplished book editors and publishers of his generation, working with writers James Baldwin, Thomas Harris, and Robert Ludlum, among many others. He is the author of Works of Genius and has ghostwritten a number of best-sellers.

 

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04 Feb

Ancient Secrets of Seduction

“Tantra” means “instrument of the body.” It sounds exotic, but it is actually very simple. Tantra teaches us to use all five of our senses consciously, because our senses are how we are connected with the physical world. And of course, it is with our five senses that we connect with each other, too. If you’re looking to up the romance quotient in your relationship, here are a few tips from ancient India. And for good measure, let’s use the romantic rose in each example. Red roses were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red signifies desire!

Touch (“Sparsa” in Sanskrit)

The skin marks the visible limits of the body; it is where we make contact with the world. Our skin is our largest organ, and 16% of our body weight. With touch we experience much of our environment: temperature, clothes, sheets, shower, etc. Wake up the sense of touch with massage. Use different materials and textures, such as a feather, a velvet hat, baby powder, a silk scarf, or rose petals. Infuse sesame oil, or unscented body lotion with rose petals, or rose essential oil for a wonderful massage oil.

Smell (“Gandha” in Sanskrit)

Women are particularly sensitive to smells. Our pheromones are the scents that we give off without even realizing it. These pheromones train us to recognize and desire our partners. When people stop smoking, they are amazed by how much they rediscover their sense of smell. Studies have shown that the loss of the olfactory sense is often accompanied by a loss in sexual interest, so it is a good idea to keep our noses functioning optimally! Fragrances have quite an allure to them. Roses just smell like romance. Use rose-scented candles, and sprinkle rose petals in the bathtub. Shower together with rose-scented shower gel.

Taste (“Rasa” in Sanskrit)

Is it any wonder that we say we have a certain “taste” in partners? The tongue is super-sensitive. By blocking out the other senses, by closing your eyes for example, you can focus on the taste more fully. Love is sweet — there’s a reason why we call each other honey and sweetie and cupcake! Savor and delight in the tastes and textures of various foods and drinks: whipped cream, chocolate, a strawberry — and, yes, rose! Sweet rose tea is made for romance! It smells wonderful and tastes divine — and it is the perfect way to end a romantic meal. Tulsi Rose Tea has the added benefit of helping you to relax, and de-stress…to get you in the mood for romance! It is easy to make your own blend of rose tea with dried rose petals, or dried rosebuds, steeped in hot water.

Sound (“Sabda” in Sanskrit)

Sounds have a profound effect on the body. Studies have shown that sounds can open up our inner pharmacy and balance our physiology. They can help us to be healthier, and to generally feel better. What sound do roses make? They’re silent. Sweet and soft. Whisper sweet nothings to your loved one. Play soft, sweet music. Dance with the rose between your teeth, let your body move to the rhythm, breathe gently into your partner’s ear.

Sight (“Rupa” in Sanskrit)

For romance, it’s all about lighting. Think pink — use rose-colored light bulbs, so you naturally see things more rosy! Dine by candlelight. Spread rose petals on the table. Make a trail of rose petals that leads to a surprise. Do a few Bollywood shimmies, put on a show. Look into each other’s eyes until you get lost. Feel the intense connection that you create.

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21 Jan

Better Sleep Can Warm Up A Relationship

For couples having trouble under the sheets, improving their relationship could be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.

Catching extra winks together in bed can significantly help improve a relationship. A good night’s sleep is restorative to the mind and body, gives us energy and improves our mood—all attributes that can make us better partners in romantic relationships. On the other hand, a poor night’s sleep —often the result of a couple’s mismatched sleep styles— can be a major problem for a relationship.

Many couples can live happily together, but they can’t sleep well side-by-side, which can negatively impact their relationship. Sleeping together is an important way for couples to feel connected with each other. And not getting enough sleep can leave us feeling sluggish, cranky and hard to get along with.

If your partner’s sleep style is keeping you up at night here are some tips to bring harmony back to the bedroom and into your relationship:

1.
Problem: Your partner kicks in his or her sleep, waking you up.
Solution: Make sure your bed gives each sleeper enough sleep surface to move around comfortably. For couples sharing a bed, the mattress should be at least queen-sized.

2.
Problem: Your partner likes it hot, you like it cool.
Solution: Ideally, your bedroom should be a cool 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. But a few simple adjustments can make it possible for a person who craves heat and a person who craves cool to sleep side by side comfortably.
• Double-fold the blankets so there is more coverage on one side.
• Invest in a dual-control electric blanket or a twin-sized electric blanket on one side.

3.
Problem: Your partner snores, keeping you up at night.
Solution: Snoring can be a serious health concern, so make sure to consult your physician. If your partner’s snoring is not a serious health condition, try alternative treatments like investing in anti-snore pillows, sprays or nasal strips that are designed to help people breathe more easily.

4.
Problem: Your partner tosses and turns.
Solution: It may be your mattress. Mattresses should be evaluated for optimum comfort and support every five to seven years.

5.
Problem: Your partner loves to cuddle, but you like your space while you sleep.
Solution: Compromise. Before falling asleep, spend some time snuggling together and then agree to sleep apart.

6.
Problem: Your sleep schedules don’t match.
Solution: Try finding a bedtime that works for both of you. Be considerate if you are a night owl or an early riser compared to your sleep partner. Keep overhead lights off and use minimal lighting while you are awake and your partner is asleep.

A bad night’s sleep affects your mood, work and relationships with others. Sleep, like proper diet and exercise, is essential to overall well-being.

More sleep tips at BetterSleep.org

Sleep Tips video

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