Communication: Listening


“Are you listening to what I’m saying?”

Have you ever been asked or have you ever said, “Are you listening to what I’m saying?” What are we communicating when we ask this question?

You may feel that listening and hearing are different, but in essence, they are both auditory responses. We hear a sound and we take in the information associated with it. What can be different is the action taken…whether we react or respond. The best way to look at this is to not worry about semantics, but to focus on what is truly being asked: “Are you understanding what I’m saying? Are you here with me now? Are you in this present moment?”

>>> When we actively engage, we are able to fully understand and process the information <<<

When we are not in the present moment, the information is not able to be fully processed and can lead to many things like miscommunication, misunderstanding, judgement, preconceived outcomes/evaluations, etc. due to energy of past experiences and/or future fears. The most common issue from this is reacting versus responding.

Many times, when we are not listening, we choose to react to a situation because we didn’t take the time to allow the information to resonate. When we react, it usually is brash, quick, and can be aggressive in nature. When we listen and allow all information to resonate, we can take the time to feel out a situation and respond accordingly. Even if we don’t fully understand what is being communicated, responding by saying that can give us further clarity, rather than reacting and brushing it off with no intention to understand further. The more we focus on responding versus reacting, the more we are able to not jump to conclusions, get emotional, judge or blow things out of proportion.

Even when you are the communicator, take the time to feel whether or not your words are being listened to or heard. Take the time to feel out the situation and see if the person you are communicating to is listening. If not, seek to understand why that individual is not in the present moment and/or why that person is reacting versus responding. By showing that you’re listening and that you care will command their attention and bring them to the present, allowing your words to resonate, creating the opportunity for solid communication.

Furthermore, being present and attentive is a sign of respect – to our family, our friends, our co-workers, strangers and our loved ones. When we actively engage, we show that we are genuinely interested in what is being communicated. This allows the person who is communicating to feel valued, which in return, can give the communicator the opportunity to express what they are saying with more clarity. We may not agree with what is being said and that is okay, but we must continue to allow ourselves the opportunity to listen intently, because what is being said may provide growth and expansion.

Communication is the key to all relationships (romantic, friends, family, work, social, etc.). Taking the time to truly connect does take effort, but not as much effort as it takes to repair a miscommunication. So, put the effort in up front and it will save you both time and energy in the long run…in addition to strengthening your relationship(s) all around.

Engage Your Senses – Feel The World

girl

Do you remember when you were a child and everything around you felt so alive? The world was filled with so many colors, textures, sounds and you were out to explore every one of them. Does it still feel this way?

As infants and toddlers, we engage our senses constantly. When you observe a child under the age of 3, you’ll notice they touch, listen to, look at, smell and often attempt to taste everything around them. Their senses are how they gather information.

Returning focus to we as adults, how often on an average day do we pause to connect with and engage all five of our senses? This isn’t saying that we return to gathering information solely by our senses as we did when we were children. But, to go to the opposite side of this spectrum and not engage them regularly creates equally as much imbalance. Like all tools, our senses need to be maintained to be at peak performance.

A few moments of mindful engagement each day to stretch our sensory muscles can make a world of difference.

When we move from task-to-task or multitask without pause or being mindful of our senses, these senses begin to become desensitized. We have no time to process all of the input before moving on to the next stimulant. As a result, our senses become overwhelmed and eventually shift into a neutral state to handle the flow of activity. Suddenly everything feels the same because this is how we’ve chosen to experience the world. It’s simply one activity to the next – we’re floating through life.


How often do you eat while doing another activity versus focusing on the taste and texture of your food? Or listen to three things at one time versus focusing on listening to one of them and fully experience it?

 >>> Today, be mindful of your senses and how they engage in the world <<<

Pause to see, hear, smell, taste and feel each individual thing to its fullest. Take in the rich sound of a bird singing, the brilliant colors of the trees, the scent of flowers in the air, the comfortable feel of the blanket against your skin as you settle in for the night, the sweet taste of your afternoon snack. Moments taken to be mindful in this way allow your senses come alive – to reignite and rebalance. At the end of the day, take notice of any shifts in your body and/or perspective.

Active Meditation – Get Moving…Get Meditating!

 

When we say meditation, often thoughts immediately go to sitting in a low light room with candles flickering, music playing, sitting cross legged with our eyes closed and mind blank. But if you are like many, starting here in meditation would drive you absolutely mad!

We spend so much of our time in activity, that to begin meditating by abruptly stopping all activity and dropping into non-activity doesn’t calm the thoughts in the mind. It may actually do the opposite, giving time to feed the thoughts and agitating us more.

So what do we do if we desire to begin meditating but fall into this category? We can begin with Active Meditation.

In active meditation, we use movement to calm the mind, gradually bringing us into a space where we can sit in that quiet state without feeling we are going to crawl out of our skin. These activities slowly bring us out of our normal routine, connecting us with our environment, our bodies and eventually ourselves.

One example of Active Meditation is walking meditation. Here is how this might flow:
  • Find a quiet place in nature where you can spend anywhere from a few minutes to as long as you desire walking slowly – a park, your yard, anywhere that has some type of natural setting and isn’t overpowered by cars and noise
  • Begin to walk slowly and observe your environment – the colors of the trees and flowers, the feel of the wind against your skin, the smell in the air…bring all of your focus on what surrounds you.
  • Begin to bring your awareness onto your breath, as you continue to walk and observe. Deepen your breath by relaxing your stomach and expanding it as you breath in. Use each breath in to relax the stomach and deepen the breath just a bit more, until you feel your body begin to relax.
  • Take a moment to sit quietly and allow any feelings or emotions to present themselves once you feel relaxed. Don’t linger on any one of them. Simply allow them to present themselves and pass.
  • Gently return to your normal activity, when you feel ready, with the refreshed and renewed feeling.
>>> There is no single way to meditate <<<

…it is meant to command your awareness and become present. Whether you like to play music, paint, engage in good conversation with a friend, play a sport…. The key is to find the path that leads you to calming your thoughts and connecting with self. From here, the gates will open and meditation won’t seem like an endless struggle of fighting thoughts.

Meditation: Breathing Exercises


Why Is Breathing So Important?

Yes, breathing is absolutely important because it keeps you alive. However, breathing is much, much more than that. It is truly fascinating that our subconscious completely controls our breathing. Think about it…could you imagine what life would be like if we had to constantly monitor breathing in and breathing out? It would be extremely difficult to do multiple things at once, which leads to an important thing to recognize about breathing…

If you do switch your focus to breathing, you will realize what a tool it is. Simply focusing on breathing in and out will command your awareness. One of the keys to meditation is being present, in the now. Focusing your full attention to your breathing will make you be present. When you breathe, you may do this any way you like. What is recommended is to either sit down with your back against the wall or a pillow (on a couch for instance) or to lie down on your bed or floor. Any way you want to do your breathing exercises is fine, it is just important to be comfortable.

Hear yourself breathe and feel your body melt into the ground. Close your eyes and simply be.

Breathing Exercises

Here are a few breathing techniques that can be used for either relaxation or energy:

  • Relaxation
    • Deep Breath
      • Take one deep breath in through your nose (open up your diaphragm and release the tightness in your stomach as you breath in)
      • Hold the breath for a count of 3
      • Release the breath through your nose (don’t release quickly)
      • Repeat 11 times
    • Alternate Deep Breath
      • This will be the same as above
      • However, when you breath in, you will keep one nostril closed and the other nostril open, then vice versa when you breath out.
      • Example: Use your ring finger to close left nostril. Take a deep breathe in through the right nostril. Hold breath for 3 counts and then use your thumb to close the right nostril. Breath out through the left nostril that is now open. Keep left nostril open and breathe in. Then switch and etc.
      • Repeat 11 times
  • Energy
    • Fire Breath
      • Take 3 short breathes in through your nose then 3 short breaths out through your nose
      • Do this 4 times, then speed it up
      • Do the higher speed 4 times, then speed up again
      • Do the higher speed 4 times, then speed up again
      • This will be your highest speed – do this 4 times
      • After you complete this exercise, take a few deep breaths and realize how much deeper your breaths are and how much natural energy you now have

All You Need Is 2 Minutes…

Instead of watching that extra two minutes of TV or instead of surfing on the web that extra two minutes, take the time to relax and learn how to breathe.

How Can Meditation Benefit Me?

How Meditation Benefits You…

is solely based on how much you want it to. It can simply be a tool for relaxation and stress relief, or it can be the way you find out who you truly are and what your purpose is in life. For those who are beginners and just starting to understand what it means to meditate and how to meditate, finding out who you are and what your purpose in life is may seem like a lofty goal. And that may be true…but remember, you are your only limitation.

The more you take time to appreciate the message of meditation (being present), the more you will recognize how much it can benefit you. Start with the simple things: focus on your breathing, which will help alleviate built up stress that causes your mind to race and, subsequently, affects your moods, sleep and over all quality of life. Allow yourself to embrace the now. Breathing will also help teach you to focus on what you are doing, versus the norm of focusing on what you need to do or what you’ve already done.

Being present, in the now, is not easy. It takes dedication to unlearn what we have engrained in our daily lives. Once you have learned to be present, you will start to recognize that your days will go slower. Not in a bad way, it will just seem slightly slower because when you are present, you are able to think more clearly and respond versus react to situations. Many of us don’t live in the present because we are too busy worrying about what we did in the past or what may happen in the future.

 

> Regret only exists in the past and fear only exists in the future <

 

If you are constantly worried, your body builds up stress and automatically places you in the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we naturally rely on instinct and quick reactions. This is an issue because this doesn’t allow us to take the time to truly think about a situation. Many people make bad decisions and/or overreact because they are in this state. In addition, in this state, emotions can get the better of us and truly affect our behavior irrationally and negatively. Furthermore, living in this accelerated state of being and high level of stress can be extremely taxing on your body, leading to poor health.

If you are present, you have the time to respond to a situation versus react. Because you are responding, you will be able to make logical, clear and more succinct decisions. Also, you will be in a calmer and more relaxed natural state, leading to these benefits:

  • Provides a Sense of Peace and Balance 
  • Reduces Feelings of Anxiety and Anger 
  • Reduces Pain 
  • Increases Blood Flow 
  • Increases Energy 
  • Helps Reverse Heart Disease 
  • Helps Control Thoughts  (No, not other people’s thoughts, just your own.)
  • Reduces Stress

Taking time to meditate every day sounds tough, but in reality, all you need is two minutes! Two minutes per day can make all the difference in the world for you. If you haven’t tried meditating yet or if you have and you feel like you don’t know what you are doing…don’t worry, that’s normal!

To get yourself started on meditation, click here and read Meditation: 10 Tips for Beginners To Get You Started.

The Art & Science of Brainwaves

 

The human brain is made up of billions of neurons. At any given moment, millions of these neurons are sending electronic signals simultaneously to communicate with one another, producing electrical activity in the brain called brainwaves.

In normal states, people are in the Beta brainwave cycle. But we, as humans, have the amazing gift to consciously choose our brainwave cycle. Why is this a gift?

When we are aware of each brainwave pattern, its function and our current activities, we can leverage our brain as a tool at a much deeper level. For example, if you are completing a large project that requires great focus and new skills, then relaxing into the Alpha brainwave cycle may assist you greatly. In the Alpha cycle, we are in a state where we are much more able to absorb new information, remain focused and be creative. We can choose this brainwave pattern through practices such as meditation and actions such as listening to brainwave music.


> We can consciously choose to shift our brainwave pattern <


But don’t just take our word for it. According to neuroscientists who researched the effect of decreasing the brain rhythm and entering the Alpha state through meditation and relaxation, there is a significant increases in mental clarity and memory that lasted from several hours and to several days. (http://www.doctorhugo.org)
 

Brainwaves Defined & Samples

Alpha (7.5-14Hz)
Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation. These waves a great when you are focused on programming the mind for success. They heighten your imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration.

Sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNy83FRIfgc

Beta (14-40Hz)
Beta brain waves are associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. They are important for effective functioning throughout the day, but they can also create stress, anxiety and restlessness. These waves are not often used alone in meditation music, but may be blended to increase alertness while in a meditative state.

Sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtLz_qOknnk

Theta (4-7.5Hz)
Theta brain waves are present during deep meditation and light sleep, including the all-important REM dream state. It is at the Alpha-Theta border, from 7Hz to 8Hz, where the optimal range for visualization, mind programming and using the creative power of your mind begins. At this frequency, you are conscious of your surroundings, but your body is in deep relaxation.

Sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7EHidYj9BQ

Delta (0.5-4Hz)
The Delta frequency is the slowest of the frequencies. It is experienced in deep dreamless sleep and in very deep, transcendental meditation where awareness is fully detached.

Sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzBk98Gb0JU

Gamma (above 40Hz)
This range is the most recently discovered and is the fastest frequency vibrating above 40Hz. While little is known about this state of mind, initial research shows Gamma waves are associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing.

Sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clwVxrQ3vFo

MEDITATION: 10 TIPS FOR BEGINNERS TO GET YOU STARTED


WHAT EXACTLY IS MEDITATION?

Meditation is the art of focusing your complete, undivided attention to one thing (usually yourself). It is a way for you to quiet your mind and your body – to get away from the daily stresses of life. Many of us are caught up worrying about our future or regretting the past. Meditation is designed to help you understand what it truly means to live in the “NOW.” Being present isn’t easy, and it takes time.

You may be more familiar with the term “visualization,” and you might be asking, “What’s the difference?” Visualization is very similar and an exceptional tool – a tool to help you visually understand and know what you desire to become. Meditation is a tool to help you understand who and what you already are.

 

11262117_1616713588575101_5906989689310655011_n

 


10 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED

  1. Find Time. Find time for your meditation. It can be as simple as just a couple of minutes out of the day. Figure out the time that is best for you whether that’s in the early morning when your mind is fresh, mid-day to take a break from the hectic day or in the evening to recap and finish off the day on a healthy and good note.
  2. Find a comfortable place in your home, outside, wherever – all that matters is that that place is quiet, safe and meaningful to you.
  3. Sit or lie down. You may meditate however you feel called to do so, but make sure however you meditate, you are comfortable. It is recommended that you either lie down on your back or sit up straight so that your spine is in line, creating an even energy flow.
  4. Use Incense. Incense is not a necessity, but it does help unlock and heighten your senses. Any incense can work, Nag Champa is recommended.
  5. Use a soft light. While meditating, it helps to have a soft light near you. A Himalayan Salt Lamp is recommended.
  6. Music. Music is not a necessity, but definitely helps. Youtube has great meditation music. Make sure it is meditation music with either Delta Waves or Theta Waves. Play this music lightly in the background – it will help balance your brain waves.
  7. Breathe. Start with focusing on your breath. The simplicity of deep breathing in and breathing out will command your awareness. You may breathe with your eyes open, but generally with your eyes closed helps.
  8. Notice your body. While breathing, start to focus on your energy. Follow that energy as it moves from the top of your head, through your arms, down your body, all the way to your legs and feet.
  9. Do not stress. Meditation is designed to get rid of your stress. Stress, worrying, anxiety and fear all exist only in the future. The first couple times you meditate may be difficult. Many of us have gotten into the habit of constantly having to be doing something. Remember, you are DOING, so focus on that, and that alone.
  10. Be Grateful. After your meditation, take a few moments to recognize what you just experienced and the love that you will feel for yourself and the world. Take that love and light and share it with others.


MANY WHO START MEDITATION, DON’T STICK WITH IT…

Something very important to understand about meditation is that it doesn’t happen over night. There is a reason why they call it the “practice” of meditation, because you must practice, practice, practice. You only need a few minutes out of the day to meditate. Instead of watching that extra five minutes of TV or instead of surfing on the web that extra five minutes, take the time to meditate as this is a gift by you, for you. You will notice that time will start to slow down, you will start to think more clearly and, most importantly, you will learn how to be your true self.