Accept yourself through meditation

Meditation

Sitting in silence, sitting in acceptance.

Learning to accept the person you are is much easier said than done. Although we probably don’t like to admit it, it hurts when someone doesn’t like us, or judges us unfairly.  Each time it happens it can make us question who we are, and easily turn into feelings of inadequacy.

One of the cornerstones of a good meditation practice is to have no judgment.  When I teach mindfulness and meditation, I explain this as ‘practicing having no judgment at all about you, your meditation practice and simply everything’.  Here is a key phrase that really helps me so I share it with my students:

If you don’t judge,  you can’t get frustrated.

Think about that phrase for a moment . . . and do this:  think about one irritating thing in your life.  Now just for a moment, remove your judgments about this thing or person.  When you do this, doesn’t it completely lighten up how you experience that thing now?  If it doesn’t then you haven’t really removed the judgment, have you.  Try again.

This is a big practice that is much easier said than done.  Meditation can be a wonderful tool to ease the judgments you have in life, and the result is remarkable – more peace in your life.

Now apply that practice to yourself.  If you sit in meditation, say, just a few minutes a day, and practice having no judgment of yourself, imagine how that would cultivate an amazing sense of peace in your life – a sense of self-acceptance.

We are all probably too hard on ourselves on the most part – we don’t feel worthy enough, pretty enough, thin enough, popular enough, wealthy enough…

Here’s a meditation for you:

Identify judgments you have about yourself.  Just sit quietly in meditation and run through things that you judge yourself on.  Then practice removing those judgments.  Feel what it is like when those judgments are gone and you find self-acceptance.

Please try this practice.  I wish you peace and joy in your life.  Happy meditating!

~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.

Christmas Mindfulness

Christmas treeThis time of year is filled with a myriad of experiences – joy, stress, time off work or the overwhelming feeling that Christmas is coming much too fast!

This is a gentle reminder to practice mindfulness at this time of year.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to things as they are.

How would you practice Mindfulness at this time of year?

There are many opportunities to practice mindfulness!  Here are a few:

Non-judging – not getting caught in a stream of likes and dislikes.  Catching yourself when tending to judge, such as when people are behaving ‘selfishly’ or ‘arrogantly’ at a party.  Watch when you might start to judge, and what thoughts or feelings may arise without acting on them in any way.

Patience – allowing things to be exactly as they are, watching them unfold at their own pace.  Not rushing to get from one moment to the next.  Christmas shopping is definitely a time to practice patience!  When standing in line, simply ‘be’, and it’s a good time to do a standing meditation.

Acceptance – Seeing things as they are in the present moment.  Accepting doesn’t mean we have to like the way things are, or passively resign ourselves to them. It simply means developing a willingness to see things as they are.  If you feel roped into too many social events, for example, try seeing them with a willingness to go with the flow and have the experiences they give to you.

Be present – stay present and in the ‘now’.  Giving 100% attention to whatever you are doing means you aren’t ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  If you are having a conversation with someone, give them all your attention.  If you are cooking dinner for a party, be present, and enjoy preparing the dinner, and stop worrying if things will turn out perfectly.

At this time, I thank all my readers, and I wish you a beautiful Christmas filled with inner joy.

~Wendy

 

 

Having the courage to stand your ground

standing

Stand solid, stand alone if necessary.

When you have cancer, it brings out opinions in people. “You should listen to your doctor”, “I heard this herb cures cancer, you should take it”, “How can vitamin D prevent cancer, that’s ridiculous”, etc…

When you have cancer, or any other chronic condition, you will get suggestions from all directions from friends and family. This can be simply overwhelming, to the point where you just don’t know what to believe, and who to listen to.  But, do you know what?  Through all that confusion, it simply means that these people care enough about you to try to help.

Sometimes it could be a doctor’s recommendation that you don’t agree with, or feel the need to investigate her recommendation before you make a decision. In our western society, we are raised to listen to authority, especially our doctors.

I’ve come to realize since my diagnosis in 2010, that I can be an empowered patient.  It took me awhile to not only educate myself on what options are out there in the world that are not just surgery and drugs, but to muster up the courage to question, research, form my own opinions and ultimately act on them.

This courage is not easy. Sitting face-to-face with a well-respected oncologist and not taking her advice is difficult, especially when she looks at me disapprovingly for even daring to question her recommendation. I’m not one to cause conflict, but I am one who knows what I want.  I take an integrative approach to my health – using both western and so-called ‘alternative’ or complementary methods.  I don’t dismiss either, and I think all methods should be considered and the best way chosen for a particular condition.

Do you ever question when your doctor grabs a prescription form rather than discusses what could be the root of your ailment?  If you don’t, you should, especially if you have a chronic situation.  Our bodies have the capacity to self-heal, and sometimes we should not readily accept that it’s normal to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic digestion problems, etc. Most western doctors don’t have the time, or interest, to talk to you about holistic health care. I don’t blame them, but you can take control of your own research and decisions.

If you are someone who has that little voice in your head when you have a health condition and really don’t like to take drugs or have surgery, then please listen to that little voice and take the time to explore, see different doctors, and talk to lots of people about alternatives.  If you find something that you believe is right for you, have the courage to stand your ground despite what others think.

Standing your ground applies to anything in your life, not just what you choose for your own healthcare.  Honour yourself. Honour what you believe is right for you. Listen to what others say but still do what is right for yourself.

Stand your ground, respectfully.

~Wendy

I recently wrote this post: ‘Can you let go of someone’s bad decision?’.  It’s about letting go of someone else’s decisions, but in the context of the above post, turn it around 180 degrees… can you help others let go of your decisions?  Help others realize they need to respect your decisions and not judge?

 

When you don’t judge, you can’t get frustrated

judge

How often are you passing judgment each day?

This is one of my basic and common messages when I teach my meditation classes, because if beginner meditators can stop judging their meditation ‘performance’ they will have much better success.

“When you don’t judge, you can’t get frustrated.”

When I say it, I see faces in the audience get curious, and as they think about it, they start to understand it.  The concept is so simple and extremely powerful for yourself.

If you stop judging things in your life, then how can you get frustrated with them?  You can gain some inner peace simply by lightening up and finding some acceptance.

Here is an example I encountered last night:

The scenario…

I saw an invitation to something called a ‘Mantra Meditation evening’, which really sounded intriguing so I took the chance and decided to go, even though I wouldn’t know anyone there and no details were given.  My mind was producing the experience even before I went – I imagined a lovely evening where a guide would lead the group through different chants or mantras to music, and mixed with quiet meditation time.  I was looking forward to it.

As I arrived, the turnout was modest, maybe 30 people, and as the facilitator opened the evening he said something about singing.  I thought to myself “Singing?  Oh no!  I can’t sing!  He’d better not really mean that, this is supposed to be about mantras and meditation! There’s no way I’m going to sing!“.

Well, sure enough, he began to play a really unique electric guitar of some kind that I had never seen, and he started singing spiritual songs.  Hardly anyone sang along. Internally, I felt my resistance shoot through the roof.  While I like music, I am not a singer! And this wasn’t mantra meditation at all!

Here’s what I did….  

I did not shut down.  I did not get up and walk out because what they advertised was not what they delivered.  I did not get angry.  I distinctly made a conscious observation of my internal resistance and stopped judging the situation.  I decided to let my judgment go, and opened up to experiencing the situation. Gosh, I even sang along to a few of the songs!!  I surprised myself.  Instead of feeling angry and resentful for 90 minutes, I made the shift quite early to not judge the evening based upon my expectations.

After it was over and I reflected on the experience, I knew the likelihood of ever attending this event again was basically nil, but I wished them well and chalked it up to having a new experience.

My example didn’t result in some happiness-generating or euphoric event, but it did neutralize what would have otherwise been a very frustrating and angry experience created in my own mind.

So, as we humans are judging and having opinions about hundreds of things per day, think about some examples of how your experience would be different if you stopped judging it.  Wouldn’t you have a difference experience?  How would your life be different?  I think you would find some peace that may surprise you.

Thank you kindly for reading.

~Wendy

Holiday season social stress

Christmas stressDo you get stressed over the holiday season?  If you do, you’re certainly not alone.  You’ve probably heard statistics that report the incidence of stress-related health issues like heart attacks and strokes are at a peak at Christmas and New Years.

This is a time that is ‘supposed’ to be joyful, so why the stress?  I think, for some, we are reacting to the additional pressure of social engagements, Christmas shopping, decorating and all the additional running around.

What’s my advice?  Practice non-judgment and having no expectations.  Sometimes I know there are times where you can’t ‘get out of’ some kind of family or social engagement that you dread going to, but what you can control is what attitude you go into it with.

For example, let’s say every year you go to your sister’s place for Christmas eve dinner, and the same bunch of people are invited. Most of the people are those you definitely would not choose to be around, and the discussions get sarcastic and borderline argumentative. You just dread the thought of going!

Taking a non-judgment and no expectations approach looks like this:

  • arriving at the event as if it’s your first time, having no expectations or pre-judgments about what’s going to happen or what someone is going to be like
  • While you’re engaging with people, don’t judge them as they are talking. Eliminate your self-talk that may usually sounds like ‘that guy is just stupid, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about’.
  • Instead, take on the role of an observer, of a witness.  Just observe what is happening, how someone is talking, what emotions they must be feeling, etc, but without judging it.  With this approach your own ego isn’t fed, and in fact, you will feel a sense of freedom from the angst you normally feel. Perhaps almost treat this way of non-judgment observation as a little game or experiment for yourself.

One of my favourite sayings is ‘if you don’t judge it, you can’t get frustrated with it’.

So head into the holiday season with this approach if you normally feel stressed, and see what difference it can make, for you!

~Wendy