Yes, I’m jumping on the meditation bandwagon.


I already know it makes me feel better.  I already know it primes me for a great day.  I already have read lots of reasons why I should, but yet I have not cemented a daily practice.  I think because I expect myself to sit down for 30 minutes right away.  My new expectation- 10 minutes every morning and night.  I can do ten minutes.

So, if you want to improve at something, your best course of action is to teach it.  So I’ve compiled my top 15 reasons why I will meditate daily from now on.  I have 5 health reasons, 5 happiness and well-being, and five performance related reasons.

I loved a line by Emma Seppala, PhD – she says, it’s quite simply mental hygiene.  It’s like keeping your house clean, but this is your insides.

So here they are in no order of importance, because it’s all important.

For my Health:

  1. It significantly reduces stress and anxiety.  I tend to be a worst case scenario person, and I’ve been making huge steps in changing that mindset, but it takes true vigilance.  I know that when I maintain this positive habit, those negative feelings creep in less.  I ended up in a hospital 2 years ago because of a panic attack I misread as a heart attack.
  2. Research on Transcendental Meditation (TM), for example, has found reduced blood pressure and insulin resistance (useful for preventing diabetes), slowing of biological aging, and even a 48% reduction in the rates of heart attackstroke and death. (link here for Medical News Today)  Ok I know I can’t PREVENT death…that’s a funny statistic.
  3. It will keep me healthy and ward off pesky ailments.  Studies show that mindfulness meditation can decrease symptoms of the cold and flu by 50%.   Even without reading tons of medical journals, I have observed that my more self aware friends who have a meditation practice are virtually never sick.  While those that seem to let more chaos lead their life are sick way more often!
  4. I’m a stress eater, and since meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, I will stop sabotaging all my hard work exercising and having healthy eating habits whenever I let stress take over.
  5. I will be more focused and aware of my body, and be able to prevent strain and injury during workouts.  Even by slowing down and not rushing, I won’t be tempted to be sloppy while doing strenuous tasks, (because there is no such thing as multi-tasking).

For my Happiness and Well-being

  1. So that I can love more fully and be loved more fully.  Studies show that compassion for others, for oneself and the capacity to receive compassion from others improves with meditation.
  2. Because when you give more, you get more.  By praying (I consider meditation to be prayer) for the well-being of others, we draw well-being to ourselves. Even just over 9 weeks, you can increase your experiences of positive emotions.
  3. When I become mindful of myself and my ego, I will err less on the side of my ego in my relationships, my marriage, my friendships.  I can focus on healthy, loving transactions and keep my not-self from inflicting chaos and suffering.
  4. So that I can believe there is ENOUGH.  My beliefs that I don’t have enough money or time are the same as believing there is not enough love – they are all the same.  It’s a sign of my lack of faith in God’s abundance and meditation/prayer brings me closer to His abundant Love.
  5. So I can feel gratitude down into every cell of my body, and be able to share that Love and Faith with everyone I encounter.  When I am mindful of my moods and my negative emotions, I can keep them from effecting others negatively.

To Be MORE and DO MORE:

  1. I used to believe in multi-tasking.  I prided myself on my ability to multi task. And it ends up I was just a chicken with its head cut off running around in circles.  As I have learned to slow down, what I DO is more effective and produces better results.  Mindfulness meditation will further this growth.
  2. Meditation can actually enhance your brain and neurological system, strengthening and healing the myelin sheaths in our brains.  This allows for more rapid cognitive functioning and decreases memory loss and neurological disorders. (see here)
  3. To increase mental functioning including executive thinking, cognition and attention (and who in this modern age doesn’t need a better attention span?) (see here)
  4. To decrease rigid thinking and be open to creative problem solving – so I can see solutions and opportunities in everything!
  5. Because being mindful will allow me to say what I mean, and mean what I say, to do things more quickly without being waylaid by random thoughts and rabbit holes in my brain.  Meditation will allow me to communicate more effectively with others.  In essence, by slowing down, I can speed up!

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Sometimes patience is the only answer.


I’m a crazy cat lady.  Actually, my husband and I are both crazy cat people.  We started with one each that we brought into our relationship and have lost both of our original babies, and somehow over the last year ended up with 3 cats.  I’m not really writing about cats.  The cats are a vehicle for the message, so be patient.

We lost an old cat to age and disease and went to the local shelter to donate all his old meds.  While there we decided to “browse” the kitty section.  HA!  You know what happens when you browse the kitty section?  They offer you two for one.  Michael immediately picked up a little black kitty, who was of course adorable and purring and playful and wouldn’t put him down for the rest of the afternoon.  They bonded immediately.

I took a look around and after playing with several cats, decided I really liked the style of this monster of a cat – the largest cat I’d ever seen and he was sitting half in and half out of the cat door leading to the outside play area, blocking everyone else from having fun.  What a guy.  Obstinate and funny.  He had a squinty eye like John Wayne does while glaring at bad guys atop his steed.  He was aloof too.  Mine!  All mine!  Gimme that cat!

So we bring him home and named him Caesar.  He’s as tall as my knees and his paws are about half the size of my palm.  He’s HUGE.  And while cats do take a while to get acclimated to each other and figure out the balance of the pack, this guy didn’t even try.  He just sat in the garage all the time and would only come in to eat.  He’s about 3.5 years old and had been a Tom until he was at the shelter for 2 months, so I guess he wasn’t social in his younger years.  The middle cat (the one that had been in our house longest) would spat at him and hiss and chase him around every time he tried to come inside even though he is easily 2 times his size.  I couldn’t figure out if he was chicken shit, or just didn’t want to put in the effort.  He always curled up in the back corner of our garage and would stay there unless he was eating or the other thing that cats do.

Finally when it started to get cold, I decided to give him a bed.  I found an old comforter that I folded up and put in his corner and for the first time, that cat showed appreciation.  He even purred.  He stomped down into a comfy spot and then wouldn’t leave that spot except to eat or the other thing that cats do.

2-3 months in the territorial fighting stopped.  3.5 months in, every once in a blue moon Caesar would come inside to lay on the living room floor in a sunny spot and I would throw him a toy.  You should see this big boy with toys. He is SO HAPPY to have a toy.  I hate to compare my cat to a human orphan, but his eyes weren’t much different than a child that received his first toy.  But still, no love, no affection.  Still won’t sit on our furniture, still won’t sit in your lap. Just reaaaaalllly happy about his toys.

3 weeks ago he got into one hell of a fight with another cat down the way, during the middle of freezing rain.  When he came inside, scratched and bleeding and muddy and soaking wet, he let me towel him off, but went back to skulk in the garage.

Fast forward to two days ago (about 5 months since we got him), and I walked into the living room and he was laying BELLY UP on our love seat.   Laying there sleeping away like he hadn’t slept in years.  I pet him, I loved on him and he purred his ass off.  It was crazy.  I had to take a photo and send it to my husband.  Unreal!  Then last night, as I’m sitting on the love seat reading email and wasting time, he comes running up and jumps right onto my lap.  Again – unreal!  After all this time…and here we are, he’s finally part of the family.

Which got me thinking. I’m not the most patient person in the world.  I don’t wait for a lot of things.  But I’d given up on this guy ever bonding with us, and just gave him space.  Sometimes, things (and people) might just take a while to come around to our love and affection.  Sometimes, I can’t make it happen or force it, and all I can do is be patient.  It’s the lesson of my life – I swear God put me here to learn patience.  Maybe I’m finally getting somewhere.

Here’s Caesar this morning. Curled up with the little black cat we got the same day.  (You’ll have to ask me for his name, it’s hilarious).

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True Friendship


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They say that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.

I say: So choose wisely.

A long (not so long?) time ago, I was a medieval lit major at LSU.  I had this noble group of teachers who did a group taught class.  One was a history professor, one was world religions, one was English and the other philosophy.  They so fervently believed in what they were teaching, that often I felt more enlightened and more love than I did attending church.  One particular lesson was about Bonaventure’s “Journey of the Mind to God.”  If you’re a medieval lit buff like I was, you’ll understand the symbolism of God’s perfect love, the Rose and the travels of our spirits to a higher and higher circle of being…..ok I’m probably boring most of you.  Here’s the big takeaway I got from the whole process:

A true friendship is one where you both help each other grow and achieve and become MORE than what you are, and in the process become more loving and God-like.

You can call this Christian/peaceful/enlightened/whatever floats your boat, but they called it divinization back in the day.  (Funny, that word is so old my spell check won’t accept it.  What’s my computer got against divine love?)

In the process of true friendship, you become more and return to a more spiritual state of being than you were in the beginning.  When I was 20 this sounded wonderful, but impractical; and how were we to find God at the bottom of a beer can and pack of cigarettes?  I’m sure we thought we were doing the best we could.  Now that I’m in my 30s I see this happening in my life all the time.  But it wasn’t until I opened my mind to improvement and wanted to be more than what I was that many of those friends appeared.  It’s as if opening your soul to the possibility and telling God, praying to Him that you want to be a better human allows your path to cross with other like minded people.  And once those friendships start, you lose that fear of “what if they don’t like me anymore,” or maybe they will judge me for this, and any number of silly things that stress a normal relationship.  There’s never anger, only patience.  There’s never judgment, only understanding.  There’s an honesty and support like none other in these friends.  I count about a handful of them – some mentors, some partners, some friends – in my life right now….but I know there will be others.  We will be drawn to each other by a higher power and as one can help me step up higher into my possibilities, then I can help others.  It’s teamwork.  When I think about it, I imagine little pockets of teams all over the world trying to better themselves and the world around them.  Maybe they’re surrounded by chaos and other people who are immersed in the stress and worry and pain of their own tiny battles, but with each person they can connect with, they can make a change and make a difference.

I listened to a recording by Jeffery Coombs, who is a trainer and coach for business owners and network marketers.  He talked about how some people have clear minds and can make decisions, while others are simply caught in the chaos of their own lives and can never make decisions or give a direct answer.  I have a friend like that – she’s just caught in the chaos, and she can’t and won’t even answer a simple question like “Can you come over for dinner?” with a yes or no.  She has to hem and haw.  Because she’s worried about how her answer will make someone else feel, she can’t answer.  My circle of friends I spoke of before – one of the greatest gifts they shared with me is direct communication.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, and give simple direct answers.  Cut through the chaos.  With a true friendship where you can be so completely honest, there is no delay, there is no hesitation.  Where before I let her hesitation irk me, now I’ve learned to tell the friend – it’s ok – just tell me yes or no.  Either way, I still love you.

So if you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, don’t you want those five to be people that are helping each other, not keeping each other down?  Think about this, please, and give yourself the chance to experience more joy and love in life, and then to help someone do the same.

As always, if you like this post, please comment and share!  Thanks for reading!

Your friend,

Bethany

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