Posts Tagged ‘grief’

23 ways meditation can improve your life right now

I truly believe meditation can impact our lives in positive, astounding ways. I noticed this firsthand when my daily meditations and my animal Reiki practice helped me to fight breast cancer, twice. But I’m not the only one: Meditation is going mainstream, with more people than ever before jumping on board, eager to experience for themselves the amazing benefits of meditation that have been supported by scientific studies. Discipline yourself for astounding results.

The benefits are numerous and broad; in fact, meditation is almost like a “happy pill” that any of us can take, and it doesn’t cost a thing. The best part is, it’s easier than you think. It can be done anywhere; meditation doesn’t require a formal setup. You can do it while walking the dog, while in the pasture with your horse, while sitting still on a bench. There really is no wrong way to meditate, as long as your heartful intention is there. 

If you haven’t found time to meditate lately, here are 23 reasons to put it back on the priority list. (I personally like to meditate with animals; how about you?) Check out these 23 ways meditation can improve your life right now:

1. You’ll sleep better. Insomniacs, rejoice! Mindfulness meditation improves the quality of a person’s sleep, especially in older adults.

2. You’ll lower your blood pressure. Studies have indicated that mindfulness meditation, which helps you let go of pent-up tension, is a natural way to help lower your blood pressure. Some people even attribute their daily meditation discipline to allowing them the ability to reduce their dependence on blood-pressure medications.

3. Meditation helps you to better handle stressful situations. When you are able to get into a quiet, mindful space on a daily basis, you’ll feel calmer overall, allowing you to regulate your emotions and better handle the daily stressors that typically might send you over the edge.

4. Meditation decreases depression and anxiety. Mark Ruffalo is one celebrity who has spoken out about how meditation “saved him” from anxiety. But countless others with depression and anxious thoughts are feeling the benefits as well. Even cancer centers across the country offer meditation rooms for patients. Training our thoughts to focus on the “right now” instead of anxiety-producing thoughts is so helpful when you’re going through a tough time. And yes, I know this from firsthand experience, too!

5. Meditation helps to relieve pain. Amazing but true: Studies have shown that meditation can sometimes take the place of narcotics for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Though not a cure, as pain sufferers will tell you, even a small bit of relief can be priceless. I found meditation absolutely essential to help me relieve the physical and emotional pain of breast cancer treatment.

6. You’ll boost your immune system. In fact, a recent UCLA study found that HIV patients who practiced meditation were able to “slow down” the drop in their CD-4 cells (these are the immune cells that are attacked and destroyed by the virus).

7. You’ll feel the positive results of meditation in just minutes. It’s true! In study after study, it’s shown that you’ll feel the benefits of meditation in no time at all. And though every minute counts, if you want to feel the best results, shoot for at least 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days, according to Carnegie Mellon University.

8. Meditation makes a person more compassionate. The science shows this to be true. And as I have found in my work with animals, the compassion and kindness we feel after connecting with our inner self through meditation extends not just toward fellow humans, but to animals as well.

9. The “little things” won’t upset you the way they usually do. Meditating helps you to focus on the big picture of what matters in this day; it trains your heart and mind toward living mindfully and in the now. As a result, you’ll feel better able to peacefully navigate your day when small stressors crop up. For added inspiration, try this book: The Big Book of Small Stuff: 100 of the Best Inspirations from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

10. People who meditate are happier. Happiness is something we all strive for, isn’t it? Meditation helps to take us there—in fact, studies show you’re actually “rewiring your brain” for happiness. Science says there are seven habits we can practice for a happier life. Guess what? Meditation will nurture all of them!

11. Meditation helps to boost your memory and ability to focus and learn. Students who took part in “mindfulness training” did better on the GRE than those who did not. And remember, kids are never too young to learn how to meditate (and experience the positive effects of it!).

12. Your overall quality of life will improve. In addition to all of the scientifically backed health benefits of meditation, you’ll begin to feel more fulfillment in your daily life. Here are 10 profound tips from a Buddhist Monk on living a fulfilled life.

13. You’ll feel calmer throughout your day. When you’re able to find your Zen, you can bring balance into your family and work life, and your day will run smoother.

14. You’ll be more successful in work. Meditation is a success secret of CEOs and famous actors. Even corporations like Google and Apple encourage their employees to meditate—because it helps the bottom line. Here are three reasons everyone at Google is meditating.

15. It can help you to quit smoking and other addictive behaviors. This woman did it, and you can, too.

16. Meditation can reduce your risk of a heart attack. Meditation helps you to reduce the amount of stress you feel in life—which can help you combat cardiovascular disease, as this article from the American Heart Association points out.

17. Some researchers believe meditation can even protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

18. Meditation can help you manage grief. When dealing with grief and loss, it can feel as if nothing will ever help. But when you meditate, you are training your mind away from the hurts of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. I used meditation to manage my grief when my beloved dog Dakota passed away.

19. Meditation helps you deal with traumatic events in your past. Related to #18 above, veterans and those suffering from PTSD have found much help in meditation.

20. It will help you to be present and really live in this very moment. How many of us rush, rush, rush through each day? But then we wonder where the day went and wish we could slow down. Part of living a mindful life is living (and enjoying) the moment as we experience it. Meditation can help you to embrace more of these moments.

21. You’ll attain a better understanding of your deepest self. Meditation can help you answer this question: What is the true purpose of your life? Additionally, meditation can help to strengthen your connection to your intuition.

22. Meditation can help you feel inspired in new ways. Need to do some brainstorming? Is there a problem that needs solving? Focusing your mind in meditation can help you see things in new and different ways.

23. It literally reshapes your brain. Who knew “reshaping” your brain could improve your life … but it does! All of the positives listed above result from meditation’s physiological effects on the brain itself. Here’s a fascinating TED Talk on the subject:

How does meditation improve your daily life?

How to honor a beloved animal that has passed

When my dog (and animal Reiki teacher, and best canine companion) Dakota died a few years ago, I was absolutely devastated. He was old, and of course I knew he couldn’t live forever, but still, I didn’t want to face the inevitable. And when he finally passed, my world fell apart, and my heart broke into a million pieces. It was months (and maybe even years) before I started to find my way back and life began to feel “OK” again.

During those dark times, I wanted to find a way to cope but didn’t know how. I wanted to honor his memory but nothing felt right. Slowly, as days unfolded into weeks, I began to find solace in a few small things. And looking back now from a place of strength, I see that these three little steps, which seemed so inconsequential at the time, actually helped me on my journey toward peace and acceptance. Here’s what worked for me:

1. Create a lasting memory: One of the first things I did was go through all the hundreds of photos I’d taken of Dakota throughout his life, from his rescue from animal control as a puppy all the way up through my toddler daughter petting and hugging him. But most of these photos had ended up in a box gathering dust. Then I realized: I could use these photos and create a lasting memory of his life and share his amazing self with the world by making a tribute video thanking him for all the love and joy he brought me for so many years. After many hours and help from a video production company, I have this beautiful video that still brings me to tears when I watch it. I have to thank Natalie Merchant’s record label for allowing me the rights to use her song “Kind and Generous” as the background music. The lyrics perfectly fit my Dakota.

2. Make a dedication: I have always turned to meditation for help during difficult times, but after Dakota died, I felt lost and found I literally couldn’t meditate; he had always been by my side and now all I felt was emptiness. But then my Reiki teacher told me of the Buddhist monks who dedicate their meditations to their teacher after he passes. Something clicked within me and I thought, “I can do that, too!” And so I began to dedicate my meditations to Dakota and his memory, and I was able to meditate again. It doesn’t have to be a meditation; you can dedicate anything that is meaningful to you to your animal’s memory.

3. Statuary: There is something so peaceful and beautiful about statuary. After Dakota’s death, I found a statue of St. Francis petting a wolf, and it looked so much like Dakota. I placed it in my yard with a rock engraved with “Pups,” which was his nickname. And now, several years later, every time I look at it I think of Dakota. And when flowers grow around it, it looks so beautiful. My sister Charlotte tells me she also uses a beautiful Persian cat statue in her yard to honor her feline soul mate Sterling, who passed after several years fighting Polycystic Kidney Disease. It is a daily reminder of his beautiful life and a special place she can adorn with flowers in his honor.

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Sterling

As a side note, I want to mention there are a multitude of resources for pet owners coping with the loss of their animal. It’s important to remember you are not alone, and there are others going through the same thing as you. Petloss.com, the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and the ASPCA all offer a multitude of resources.

I would love to hear: What ways have you honored your beloved animals after their passing?