What is Meditation? The Practice of Zazen

Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Meditation is a contemplative practice through which we can connect with ourselves at a deeper level, gaining access to thoughts, emotions, and attitudes from an observer’s point of view. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditationem, which means to think over, reflect, or consider. From my perspective, there are two types of meditation, with two different goals and outcomes. One goal may be to calm ourselves down and recharge. I call this restorative meditation. Another goal is to understand ourselves more, and life in general, by doing inner work in a meditative state. I call this insightful meditation.

Whatever type of meditation you take upon, I believe the practice in itself is great for well-being. Studies have shown that practicing meditation on a regular basis can improve self-awareness, decrease stress and anxiety levels, and boost the capacity to manage difficult negative emotions. I personally have been practicing Zazen, a gentle Buddhist meditation practice in which we simply, sit, settle in, and rest in a space of compassion toward ourselves and reality. In Zazen, we don’t compete to see who can sit in the most difficult position and for the longest period of time. Our goal is to sit down and explore our inquiring process.

I say explore because the aim of practicing Zazen is not to seek or find answers but to engage in the art of questioning life and our existence. Are we living or surviving? How can we improve our daily life? What problems do we need to tackle? Zazen invites us to gently tap into our natural curiosity and face the questions that arise from within ourselves, with compassion, and gentleness. We then welcome any answers but we don’t obsess over getting them, even when a question makes you feel agitated or upset. Through Zazen, we learn to lean into a question but also stay present with it, accepting that answers may or may not come and that if they do come they may not be fully satisfying.

While in mindfulness-based practices you are encouraged to let go of your thoughts and emotions, in Zazen we acknowledge thoughts and emotions as part of our questioning process. They arise so that we pay attention to what may be bothering us, which can help us find our center again. When a thought or emotion comes, we gently ask what it is. Where did it come from? How do we choose to approach it? We don’t fight against or dismiss them. We sit upright and face them, without clinging to the need of obtaining clear or elaborated answers. Sometimes we get a lot of insights, other times we don’t.

Concluding Thoughts

Meditation can offer you different benefits for well-being. These include increased self-awareness, a greater focus on the present moment, reduced stress, enhanced productivity, and improved self-regulation. I find Zazen meditation very useful and adequate to my needs and goals. I hope this post makes you curious to explore other meditation styles so that you can find one that suits your nature.

How to Tell the Difference Between Fear and Intuition?

How do you know whether you are tapping into your intuition, or simply engaging and entertaining unhelpful, fear-based thoughts? Is that inner voice your intuition or your fear speaking? This is a complex topic, and yet it represents a skill we need and can develop as highly sensitive people. I believe everyone can benefit from learning to differentiate between intuition and fear, but highly sensitive people even more because struggling to understand which one is speaking to us can lead us to an endless spiral of doubt and confusion.

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3 Techniques to Ground Yourself & Reduce Anxiety

Grounding, also known as earthing, is an important practice, especially for highly sensitive people and empaths, who are more prone to sense subtle energy. Grounding involves direct skin contact with the surface of the earth or with grounding devices. It helps us reconnect with the earth and rebalance our energy field. On top of an increased sense of well-being, earthing has been shown to reduce or alleviate inflammation related-problems such as redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Other findings also include positive effects on sleep as well as stress and anxiety reduction.

We seem to forget about it, but we are electrical beings. If you consider the number of electrical appliances we use and are exposed to today, it shouldn’t surprise you that we are living in a big electric bubble, with fewer and fewer opportunities to discharge the excess electric energy that runs through our bodies and organs. This creates imbalances in our nervous system, which is in itself electric in nature. These imbalances can in turn lead to serious mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being complications such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue, and depression. To counteract this issue and protect your well-being, you can add Grounding activities to your daily routine. Here are three examples to get you started.

Walk Barefoot

The easiest way to ground yourself is by going barefoot. Place your feet directly on the ground, especially on green grass, moist sand, or soil.

Take a Dive in the Ocean

The most effective way to use water as a grounding tool is by diving into the sea or swimming in a lake. You can also have a bath with Epsom salt.

Go Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing emerged in the 80s in Japan as a therapeutic practice to help people recover from technology burnout and alienation from nature. It consists of spending more time immersed in nature.

Concluding Thoughts

I believe the overall message of this blog post and practice is that the more time you spend in nature, the more healing benefits you get. Whether you choose to make direct contact with the earth by going barefoot or immerse yourself in a forest, your body will thank you and recover from its electrical imbalances. Practices such as these can help us prevent and alleviate health and well-being issues that plague modern men and women.

5 Offline Activities You Must Add To Your Well-being Routine

A 2015 study by Silentnight concluded that people nowadays spend more time on their mobile phones and laptops than sleeping. This means people are not only more exposed to several electromagnetic frequencies, which can negatively impact our health and wellbeing in the long run, but they are also depriving themselves of important healthy habits such as sleeping enough, having quality time with others or keeping an active lifestyle. To counteract this mindless tendency, in this post I’m suggesting you 5 different activities that will not only contribute to your wellbeing but also help you stay offline more often.

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6 Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person

This post is brought to you by Carrie Spencer from thespencersadventures.net who has a family mini-farm and is passionate about living self-sustainable and environmentally conscious.

“Valuing your time more than the pursuit of money is linked to greater happiness.” That’s what the experts at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology say, and they have the research to back it up.

It’s not really news that hobbies as part of a mental health getaway are good for you, though. Scientists have known for a long time that the mental and physical benefits hobbies offer to make the activities we do just for fun a very important part of our lives. In addition to making us happier for the moment, studies cited in Shape magazine show hobbies have worthwhile long-term effects as well, like making us smarter and more interesting and helping us meet people.

A few minutes a day of pleasurable activity can even help mitigate or avoid mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Here are 6 hobbies to bolster your mental health.

Physical Activity

From individual activities like running or swimming to organized group sports like soccer or kickball, physical activity is one of the most popular and beneficial ways to spend your free time because it engages both your body and your mind. And no matter what type of physical activity you choose, the benefits are the same. In addition to better overall health, physical activity causes your brain to release endorphins and serotonin, leaving you happier and less stressed.

Podcasting

Whether you want to educate, share knowledge, or entertain, a podcast is a terrific way to provide high-quality content for listeners. To get started, you’ll need to come up with a creative name for your podcast and invest in some equipment such as recording software and a high-quality microphone

Gardening

When most people think of gardening, rows, and rows of veggies come to mind. But like physical activity, there’s a type of garden for everyone. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, an herb garden might be a good place to start. Just a few small spots on your kitchen counter can be a big boost to your mood.

Want to take it a step further? Depending on how much space you have, you could do a few fruits and veggies in a raised bed, a vertical garden, or just a few hanging pots. Or, if you’d prefer to share the responsibility, community gardens are popular in urban and rural areas alike. Any way you do it, making things grow can give you a real sense of accomplishment, another one of the keys to happiness.

Arts & Crafts

There’s a reason “adult coloring” has become so popular. Self-expression through creativity is a top stress-reliever. As an added bonus, arts and crafts are typically easy and relatively inexpensive to access. For the do-it-yourself type, you can find free online courses on just about anything from hand-lettering to home renovation.

If you want a little more structure and direction, try your local community college’s continuing education program. Just remember that hobbies don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be beneficial. Even putting a pencil on a piece of paper for a few minutes counts.

Reading

If you’re looking for a hobby you can do anytime, anywhere, reading is for you. There are several apps that allow you to download and read just about anything right from your smartphone or tablet. It’s never been easier to get lost in a fictional world, learn something new, or thumb through the latest issue of your favorite magazine. Of course, if you prefer the weight of a book in your hand, local libraries and bookstores are still an option. It’s even possible to make reading a social activity by joining a book club, either virtually or in real life.

Collections of All Kinds

It doesn’t have to be stamps, comic books, or baseball cards, though those are excellent choices. You can collect just about anything, and searching for your next piece online or in-person is part of the fun. Seriously. A friend of mine collects action figures. He sold a third of his collection last year and made enough money to pay for his wedding!

Concluding Thoughts

And that’s just the start. Thankfully, anyone can experience these positive side effects because a hobby can be literally anything that brings you joy. It can be something you’ve enjoyed your whole life or something entirely new. It can be something you enjoy with a group or something you do entirely by yourself. It can take on any form and be done at any time of day.

You can even turn your hobby into a profitable side business or even a full-time career. If you need more space for a home office or studio, you may need to upgrade your residence. Just be sure you incorporate good time management practices to ensure you don’t overdo it. As long as you’re doing it because you want to and not because you have to, you’ll experience the positive mental and physical health benefits a hobby can provide.

3 Life-Changing Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

So I did a quick search, because there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and I found a couple of habits that are said to be part of the routine of multiple entrepreneurs. I think the most important thing about these habits is not exactly what you will get from them individually but the transformative energy you will generate while pursuing them. 

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