How meditation can benefit you

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Meditation is an amazing technique that anyone can do. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, feel disconnected from yourself, or find that life moves too fast, meditation can help you to slow down and reconnect to yourself. There are as many ways to meditate as there are variations in our weather, and so if you haven’t yet tried it, it’s just a matter of finding a method that works for you.

The very basics of meditation involve bringing your attention to your breath. Focusing on your breath is such a calming activity, that within just a few minutes you can shift from tense and stressed to calm and centred. Ahhhh.  So deceptively simple and game changing.

When you meditate you switch off from the noise and busyness of the outside world and go within, entering a space that has been with you your entire life, but is often not given much credit or attention. This is your inner life: the world of thoughts, emotions and sensations, of your conscious and subconscious mind; and it’s also the place when you can deepen and expand your consciousness and experience deep states of peace.

Bringing your attention inward will gradually reconnect you to the wisdom of your body, which is always giving you somatic clues of sensations, feelings, symptoms and urges that tell you if you are in harmony or disharmony with your environment, your relationships, your job or your identity. When you are living out of alignment with your true nature (your soul), your body lets you know. This skill alone is priceless, because your body always has your back!  It just takes a bit of practice to understand how your body speaks to you, and to differentiate this from the biggest block to listening to yourself: fear of change. So meditation is not only exceptional for reducing stress, it also reconnects you to your body’s intuition and knowing in a way that nothing else will.

A particularly enjoyable and easy way to meditate is within a group.  There is something special about group meditation: the community, the shared energy, the buzz of sitting in deep stillness together. With group meditation, all you have to do is be open to your experience, and you absorb useful techniques and skills that can you can bring to enrich your own practice at home.

If you have ever wondered about how meditation might help you, I will be giving a free talk and guided meditation experience about the benefits of meditation and how it connects you to your body’s wisdom at the Lotus Centre, on Wednesday, 6 May, 7.30 – 8.45 pm. I also run group meditation classes on Monday nights, 7.30 – 9 pm at the Lotus Centre.  If you would like to find out more about this class, or register for the talk on 6 May, please call Laurelle on 0416 172 709 or email laurelle@transformcounselling.com.au

7 compelling reasons to meditate!

7 compelling reasons to meditate!

Would you like to find an effective way to stay calm and centred in stressful situations instead of being hijacked by your emotions? Would you like to understand yourself better? Meditation is excellent for reducing stress levels and enhancing your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Here are 7 compelling reasons for bringing meditation into your life.

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  1. Meditation helps you to relax and realign

Slowing down, breathing deeply and being still, even for just 5 minutes a day, deeply relaxes and realigns your entire body. The more frequently you practice meditation, the easier you will be able to access a relaxed state just by bringing your awareness to your breath and your body for a couple of minutes a few times throughout your day. This ability is very useful during stressful situations.

  1. Meditation reduces stress

Meditation is a very powerful antidote to stress, because you give your body a chance to take a break from the inner stress response (which for many of us is constantly on) and come back into balance. Given the strong correlation between stress and illness, it’s never been more important to find effective ways to counteract stress for your overall health and well-being.

  1. Meditation brings you into the present moment

Practising being “present” is an excellent skill to learn, as when you bring your awareness into your body and what you are feeling and sensing right now, you realise that most of the time you are anywhere but present: your mind is either imagining future scenarios or replaying past situations. If you are stuck in the future or the past you miss what’s happening right now! So the skill of presence is training yourself to bring your attention to what’s happening right now in your body through your senses, and then you can appreciate and do more with the life that you have.

  1. Meditation helps you to manage your emotions

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or there’s some funky energy in your body, meditation gives you the space and opportunity to process your emotions. Emotions are not meant to stay stuck in your body. When you feel your emotions fully, you can gain insight into what’s really going on for you and the emotions tend to recede.

  1. Meditation connects you to your heart and intuition

Your body has the most extraordinary technology – your emotions are signposts towards how you feel about your life and relationships, your heart knows what’s true for you where it really counts and your intuition is an incredible in-built radar system that mysteriously but masterfully pulls you in the direction of your highest good. These intangible and less understood intelligences are not yet valued in our rational society. But they are amazing and worth tapping into and, best of all, you don’t need to believe in any philosophy or woo woo to use them to your advantage. Meditation is the best way to connect to your heart knowing and intuition, because you have to be very quiet and open to hear what it has to say.

  1. Meditation increases self-awareness and self-knowledge

Spend time with yourself in meditation and you’ll get to know yourself better. With practice in slowing down and focusing your awareness, you’ll start to get occasional glimpses of your habitual responses in your relationships, dysfunctional patterns of behaviour that keep you stuck or in chaos and the limiting beliefs that have been driving you for a lifetime. This is the aim of inner work, as when your previously unconscious patterns become conscious, you can then work on changing them for the better.

  1. Meditation opens you to the sacred in life

Meditation can help you access a state of deep peace, spaciousness and bliss that is as humbling as it is mysterious. There is undoubtedly much more to our consciousness than most people know. When you connect to the deeper parts of yourself in meditation, you realise that you are uniquely independent and interconnected to every person on this planet. Meditation is the ultimate practice for connecting to the sacred, mystical and transcendent elements of life.

The great thing about meditation is there are many different ways to do it and you don’t have to believe in any religious or spiritual philosophy. If you are starting out it’s worth trying a few different methods to find what works best for you. I offer transformative group meditation classes at various times in the Northern Beaches, Sydney. To find out more, please contact laurelle@transformcounselling.com.au.

Why your most difficult relationship can be your greatest teacher

Are you in a difficult relationship with someone in your life or a challenging situation that presses every one of your buttons and triggers an unusually strong reaction in you? Does the very thought of this person or situation send you into a mental spin that lasts for days, weeks, even months?

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Have you ever wondered how you could improve things so there’s less charge and more harmony, at least from your side?

Whether it’s a past relationship or a provocative situation that still upsets you, or a relationship that you can’t end because they’re family or you live or work with them, then the most empowering approach is to change your inner orientation to that person or situation.

Why on earth would you want to do that, when they’re the person with the issue, you might ask?

Good question.

The simple answer is you have very little control over how others behave. If someone chooses to be rude, offensive, judgmental, unfair, irrational or narcissistic, that’s their issue. You can’t change them no matter how much you would like them to be different. Yet how you react to them and how you continue to relive their words and actions is your responsibility; that’s your issue.

Once you recognise that you have no power in trying to control how others behave, the question becomes, well where do I have power in this relationship or situation? What is in my control? What are they are triggering in me?  Can I accept this person for who they are or the situation for what it is? Asking yourself these types of questions is significantly more empowering than blaming and resenting others, and can in fact be game changing.

You may notice that you don’t like how you feel when you’re with this person. It can bring up uncomfortable feelings (ie powerlessness, anger, frustration, resentment) and you may behave with them in a way that doesn’t feel like “you”. That’s because you often leave yourself when you’re with challenging people.  It can feel like they take your power, but in actuality you give your power away.

When you react strongly to someone, chances are something about them hooks you back into your old unfinished business from the past that has nothing to do with this person. This is classic shadow dancing: you each trigger old hurts and wounds in the other.

It’s also a ripe opportunity for learning how to become less triggered in these situations.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The interesting thing about personal growth is pretty much everything that goes on in your life is actually about you. It’s about how you relate to others and to yourself. Sounds narcissistic, but it’s far from it. Your relationships mirror back to you your relationship to your life. So if you find yourself triggered by someone, instead of ruminating over what they said or did, please pause for a moment and ask yourself:

What if they are teaching me about how to be more accepting, more loving, more connected to others?

What if they are showing me what my unmet needs are?

What if they are teaching me about empathy, patience, and tolerance?

What if they are teaching me how to stick up for myself, find my voice, not take things so personally, or how to have stronger boundaries in my relationships?

Ultimately, it’s about acceptance.  Acceptance of yourself and acceptance of others as they are. And with acceptance, comes the freedom to make different choices. Most of us receive feedback and instruction on our behaviour until we leave school, but after that there are less opportunities for real feedback on the areas in us that could do with a bit more attention.

These tricky situations and relationships are your best opportunities to make real leaps in your personal growth and maturity, because they show you your blind spots in a way that no one else will. They are a gift (albeit of the painful variety…). It might sound crazy to welcome your adversaries and be grateful for what they teach you, but if you are able to do this, then you are doing true soul work. What’s more, as you start to extract the lessons and apply the hard-won understandings to your life, you may well find yourself unfazed by similar situations in the future.

Announcing new weekly meditation group in Northern Beaches Sydney!

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Forest Meditators is a new weekly meditation group in Oxford Falls (in the Forest and Northern Beaches area of Sydney) open to anyone interested in meditation, self-development and connecting with like-minded people.

Meditation is an increasingly popular life skill that helps you to slow down, relax and become more present to yourself and your life.  It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen concentration, intuition and enhance well-being.

Many people find it easier to meditate in a group than alone, and these meditations are guided to help you to relax and not have to worry about the “how”.  Meditation is a life skill that’s about connecting to yourself and becoming more present to your life.  It’s a wonderful practice of self-care.

Suitable for beginners or regular meditators of all ages and stages of life.  You don’t need any special skill to do it!

Please spread the word and share this with anyone who might be interested.

First group starts tomorrow, Wednesday, 5 November at 10 am – 11 am!  They will be held weekly until mid-December.

To RSVP and for more details, please register at http://www.meetup.com/Forest-Meditators/  or email laurelle@transformcounselling.com.au

Hope to see you there!