azaledonis

FOCUS RIGHT NOW - let Meditation and Mindfulness show you how.

It is currently early in the morning. I have a cup of coffee to my right, very quiet classical music in the background, my phone is off, I feel clear and peaceful. I slept very soundly, I woke up and after a quick run to the water closet I got in my chair and meditated.

The day begins feeling clear, peaceful and ready to focus on what I need and desire to focus on. I am far from a cool calm person, I am type A and proud of it, I just like the feeling of a peaceful type A person. Oxymoron perhaps but it works for me. And if you think you don't have time you are wrong. Every minute you put into working on your mind, you will find double those minutes available in your day.

You are a company, a parent, a leader, a volunteer, a host, a teacher, a creator, a factory worker, an artist, a friend, a lover, an employee, a person who works with many, a person who works alone; you are a person with a desire to utilize all that you have, to do all that you can do. You want to touch this world in a way that makes a difference, not to write in your obituary but to give to the world right now. Not only to give to the world but to receive from the world, right now. Don't miss a moment because we all know that moments are like our breath, they won't last forever.

Everyday you interact with two things, yourself and the people around you.
Everyday you carry around two things that you can’t get away from, your body and your mind. If you can connect with your body and mind, you will connect to what you interact with in a much more positive and productive way.

Can you focus on what you need to focus on? Do you lack that calm inner peace that you darn well know we all desire? Do you know how to balance work, life and family so that all are getting what they need? Do you know which needs and deserves more of your time?

Some cool person said "Life is like juggling 5 balls, each ball represents work, family, health, friends and spirit. Work is a rubber ball, if you drop it, it will bounce back. The rest of the balls are glass."

You walk down the hall, any hall, in your home, work, school, wherever. You pass a person that needs your attention, you have a choice, is it critical you give them your attention or is where you are headed more important? You probably think the answer is "I am a good person so I need to stop in the hall and give them my attention." Possibly you are right, however your attention is limited currency and you must use it frugally. Maybe your employee wanted to talk about the awesome band they saw last night and you need to get to your desk to finish a project that is due in an hour and critical to the company’s success. You adore your employee and are a huge music fan but you know what you need to focus on.

So, bravo, now you are struggling as to know where to put your focus, do you just blow off your employee, rushing by with a quick wave? This may sound silly but there is a way to effectively do both. A way to give a mere moment of focus to that employee to let them know you do care, you do want to hear all about it but you must get to that project now. You probably think that you already do that, but most of the time you don't. Most of the time we are rushing around like crazy people, busy, busy, busy and we are actually proud of being busy, busy people get things done. The old adage "Need something done, ask a busy person," that was me and I was very proud of it. Then I realized that the people around me didn't really know that I cared deeply, didn't know that what I needed to focus on was important, maybe to the company, maybe to the family, maybe just to ME!

I recently told my employees (and it took 14 years) that I needed time to write, time to think, time to teach and time to take mini retreats at my new tiny home I purchased because it was important to me and my wellbeing. I told them that I might have to be unavailable for a few hours, no text, no email, nada. This was so I could work on what I was passionate about. Then I wanted to hide because I knew they were going to judge me as a lazy person who didn't care. I was wrong. Instead they said, "that's great, you totally should do that, I am proud of you." I nearly had a heart attack, actually my heart was attacked with shear gratitude. They were smarter than me and knew that I was unfocused and to busy to a point of craze. That was when I realized I could do it all and at a peaceful pace.

What did this mean? It meant they could feel safe in their jobs, they knew I would always keep my eye on the company ball, they knew that if I was running to a meeting it was for a good reason and I would be back to give them my full attention. Real attention, caring attention where they can say what they want and I will listen, truly listen. I may not agree with what I heard but that doesn't matter because we all need to be heard. They listened to me when I told them what I needed, I felt understood, I felt loved, I felt peaceful. I felt like I could do anything. It is my honor as a human to make them feel the same.

This may sound like a lovely story but it is much more than that. It's about focus and how we can use our brains to the maximum capacity to be efficient and effective with our actions and to make sure our actions serve the outcome we desire.

Today it just happened that my meditation was focused toward compassion. Starting at the intimate family, working toward all beings in the world and ending with myself. "May you feel peace, may you be healthy, may you know you are loved." Maybe that is why my morning was so damn awesome.

Meditation and mindfulness needs to be learned just like a sport or playing an instrument. First you learn the basics, then you practice, and practice, and amazing things can happen.

Alexa Zaledonis has studied and practiced meditation and mindfulness for more than 30 years. She is certain this practice has guided her through the highs and lows of her life. Zaledonis teaches and coaches individuals, groups and corporations in simple but profound ways, making meditation and mindfulness accessible to everyone. Her goal is to make these practices as routine as brushing your teeth, you just do it, nearly impossible to forget.

Alexa has studied with great teachers like Sarah McLean and Kamini Desai and is available to bring these great teachings to you or your group. Meeting you where you are at… today. Follow her blog at EvenKeelLiving.com and follow her tips on Instagram @alexameditates.


alexa@evenkeelliving.com

My Nervous System is making me Nervous

 

Does this remind you of anyone? Time to get up (late and tired), get the kids ready, get myself ready, wonder what we will all eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Crap, you didn't feed the dog and of course no one else did either. Good thing you are running late, have a meeting you need to be at, your feeling fat, have no time to exercise and good thing that inside you are seriously annoyed at your significant other, but that can wait. For now, just "Grin and Bear it." But first, you take a moment to grab your phone and check your email and spend some quality time with social media because, well, your late.

 

Could this be you? This my friend is your SNS (sympathetic nervous system,) the fight or flight mode on overdrive. The other nervous system PNS (parasympathetic nervous system,) or rest and digest has gone back to bed. Although they both are always at work, your SNS has hijacked your brain.

 

In all honesty, this day is just another day like any other but our perception of it is stressful. The fight or flight system is not a bad thing, we need it. When a car is about to run over an old lady or a tiger is chasing us or an ax murderer is under your desk you can thank that system to: raise your heart rate and blood pressure, fire up your muscles to run, make you more alert and laser focused, increase the stress hormone cortisol and on and on. Sound great? Yes, except I am 99% certain there is no old lady, tiger or ax murderer around. And, this fight or flight hijack, day after day can take a toll on your overall health, is a waste of your energy and it truly plays hell on the neurological functioning of your brain.

 

Our world today, with nonstop information firing at us and a tidal wave of technology, does not help us to activate our rest and digest system (PNS), the one that creates balance and equilibrium in our body. This system does things like: conserves energy, slows the heart rate and increases intestinal and glandular activity. Rest and digest sounds way more fun than fight or flight, right?

 

Back to your ignorant significant other and the "grin and bear it" mantra. Does that make it easier, make you look cool and in control, does it make it go away? No. Suppressing emotions actually makes the emotions grow stronger. The brain is constantly trying to figure out if your world is dangerous or friendly and sending us signals through our emotions. Burying them does more harm than good. It is our "perception" of our world that guides us to run away (danger) or toward (reward) something. Running away, sadly is usually the response that wins. Just perceiving you are in danger makes us feel nervous. When you learn to identify and regulate your emotions and perceptions, now you really are calm, cool and collected and will enjoy the rest and digest part of your nervous system. And you are also healthier, sleeping better, thinking better, and gliding through life instead of stumbling through it.

 

What to do?                                                                                                                                                              

-       Slow down

-       Become more self-aware

-       Feel your emotions as they arise

-       Live Mindfully...

 

There's that “mindful” word again. It's not creepy or religious, you don't need to wear a robe, sit under the Bodhi tree or take a week off to attend an expensive retreat where they take all your technology away (although that does sound blissful.) Meditation and mindfulness tools will in fact combat stress and make you healthier. You need to take action and discharge the stress rather than waiting for it to dissipate on its own. Use these tools to become more stress and body aware before the next hijacking of your nervous system takes place.

 

 

Take Two:

Wake up (5 minutes early) after a good night’s sleep feeling refreshed and energized. Take those 5 minutes to do a simple body scan and breath awareness meditation. Sitting in a quiet place, close your eyes, just take one minute or so to bring your attention to each part of the body, release all tension, then relax over the next four minutes by non-judgmentally observing your breath, in and out. Super simple and a good start to learning about meditation! Now breeze through the kitchen grabbing food that you remembered days ago to stock the fridge with, gently remind the kids to feed the dog. Take one minute to feel the irritation inside of you, feel it again, take a few deep breaths, let it go. Congratulations, you just hit the reset button and you are now ready to mindfully take on the day!

 

If you want to learn more quickly on what actually happens to your brain from stress check out this short video - https://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-stress-affects-your-brain-madhumita-murgia