A Pre Meditation Stage

When I started this post I had in mind to post a technique for meditation, but then knowing how hard and lengthy that would be to write about a subject like that without giving it its proper weight, I thought I’d divert a bit and start with the elements that would help prepare you for meditation and provide you as well with an atmosphere of mind relaxation.

The use of Incense and Fragrant Oils:

Incense and oils are highly mind stimulating as well as relaxing substances. A variety of products can be used for aromatherapy uses, to scent candles, in soap making, massage oils, bath oils, etc.

I recommend using incense sticks or cones as well as fragrant oils around the house; in the bedroom, bathroom, and living room and while meditating.

Vital things to remember though:

1- Use oils (not incense) in the bedroom and make sure that you don’t sleep while the burner is still on, take the burner out of the bedroom 15 min before you retire to bed.

2- Use oils (not incense) while meditating and take the burner out of the room 15 min before you start your meditation.

The above mentioned points are really important because while these substances are helpful in relaxing your mind and preparing you for deep relaxation, they can be really hazardous to your respiratory system if not used properly.

I personally prefer using incense around the house for their immediate effect on the mind, but if you are allergic to them or you are asthmatic, please refrain from using them and settle for fragrant oils.

And remember use only 1-2 drops of oil and mix it with water in the container on top of the burner.

Here are some fragrances I recommend for healing purposes, it is better to use each essence separately and not mix them

(All the products mentioned above can be found in most nature shops; try L’OCCITANE/ Sooq Sharq/ Q8):

Anger: Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, Orchid

Anxiety: Lavender, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Orchid.

Confidence: jasmine

Depression: Jasmine, Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood.

Fatigue and Exhaustion: Jasmine, Patchouli, Sandalwood.

Fear: Jasmine, Lemon, Sandalwood.

Grieve: Rose, Sandalwood.

Happiness and Peace: Rose, Sandalwood, Orchid.

Insecurity: Jasmine, Sandalwood.

Irritability: Lavender, Sandalwood.

Loneliness: Rose.

Memory and concentration: Lemon, Lemongrass.

Panic and Panic Attacks: Lavender, Rose.

Stress: Jasmine, Lavender, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Orchid.

Music

Music is the soul’s nourishment, and man has known the effect of music on his mind and soul all throughout history.

As for meditation I recommend the following CD’s of which most can be found in Virgin and The One:

-Zen Peace- AEOLIAH

-Silent Hearts-KARUNESH

– Meditation-Yoga-Reiki and relaxation-Waki

Reiki and Relaxation-Tao of Heaven (1)-

-New Age – Reiki and Relaxation-Tranquility

-Meditation-Buddhist Chant- Prajna Paramita

-New Age-Meditation-Relaxing-Solitudes

Japanese Flute-Yoga-

-Music for Meditation

-Yoga Zone- Music for Meditation

-Yoga Zone- Drum Meditation

-New Age-Meditation-Music for Sleeping

-Yoga- Zen Garden-Kokin Gumi-Feng Shui

-Solitudes-Zen meditation

-Yoga Meditation Four- Buddhist Drums, Bells

-Enya-Celtic Rain

-Vangelis-Himalaya

-Yoga-My Music-Tai Chi Relaxation

-Yoga- Tai Chi -08-Body, Mind&Sperit

-Xena-Tai Chi and Yoga

Mantra:

Mantra is a set of positive, reaffirmation sentences that one usually repeats while starting the mind relaxation session, and I will demonstrate the use of these sentences in my next post when I go through the actual art of meditation, there are so many types of mantras that can be used in a yoga session, all depending on the purpose of the mantra. Some use it as a connection to god, while others use it for some reaffirmation, and each yogi has his own mantra style; that’s why it’s not easily found in libraries or on the net. And like any paragraph; mantra has to start with a beginning, have a body, and an ending, therefore the sequence of mantra is very important. And it is also important to have a soft, mellow tune while reciting the mantra.

Here is an example of a self realization mantra I use in my yoga class:

– I had a hard, hectic day serving others; it is time for me to be with me, to befriend me, to get to know me better.

– I know that my mind is like a naughty child that will soon drift; therefore, I will treat him like a child and slowly deceive him to calmness.

– This time is totally and rightfully mine; I will not allow anyone or anything take these moments from me.

– I gather my thoughts and stack them on a shelf; I know they will be there when I finish, so for now they can stay there, while I enjoy my company.

– Now is time to meet me, the soul. The being that is not conditioned to the cruelties of the world, I am home, this is my origin: the pure me, the loving me, the honest me, the happy me, the witty me, the smart me.

– But wait, this is not all of me, there is also this body of mine, and I know it is beautifully created and I love every part of it, it is a real masterpiece.

– and my credentials, qualifications and accomplishments; let me take a closer look at them; I see that I have done a lot thus far, and I am proud of what I have done no matter how otherwise I was conditioned to believe.

– I know now that I’m already in love with this person who is me. And I know it is not egotism, rather, self worth.

– I deserve to be happy, I deserve to enjoy myself, I deserve the best coz I am the best.

– I know that only by loving myself I would be able to spread this love among others.

-all the noise outside does not belong to me now; I will not let them drift me from my ecstasy.

– it is time for me to drift together with this lovely creature who is me in a world of stillness, a world of calmness, a world of complete silence.

Now, not all yogis use mantra. But I see it very helpful, therefore I always use it. So if you like the idea and want to give it a try; design your own meditation mantra.

How to design your own meditation mantra?

You can tape your own voice by reciting the mantra mentioned above (or creating your own) and choose one of the meditation music as a background, and continue this music for another20 min on the same tape. Prepare this for yourself before we start the next session on meditation.

Candles:

The use of candles is very essential for indoor meditation practice, but make sure you DO NOT use scented candles while you meditate. But you can use them around the house to bring calmness to your atmosphere.

The candles that I recommend for meditation are the small types that come in small tin containers like the ones used for burners as shown in the picture above. They can be used in their cute little cups, but you don’t need containers for them; you can just place them in a glass. You can get them from IKEA, The One, or True Value (100 for almost 1.5 KD), these shops also have some nice varieties of candle cups. Get only three cups coz you will only need three candles in each meditation session.

Ching Ching


Skilful, Positive Thinking

On Monday, November 8, on my post “Your body is your pharmacy, and you are the doctor (continuation)”, one of my blogging buddies (Peach) have requesting more information about positive thinking, and I promised that I would dedicate a post to that, and here is goes:

The process of POSITIVE THINKING is very complex indeed. Although most of us can IMAGINE what does that mean, we hardly PRACTICE IT on a daily basis, and some might even THINK it’s a very negative, submissive way of LOOKING at things.

We are conditioned through our personal experiences TO LOOK negatively at things. For example: if a dear one was supposed to meet me at a certain time and did not show up, and there was no chance of me getting hold of him/her, I would naturally WORRY. Notice that I said naturally. And although by logic it is not natural to WORRY in this case because there are different PROBABILITIES of his/her delay, and WORRY is a combination of THOUGHTS that are only associated with negative FEELINGS, but most of us DO THAT and we call it natural because It is linked with FEELINGS that we THINK we don’t have any control over.

Notice that I have capitalized some of the words that are associated with thinking process in the last two paragraphs, and no that was not a mistake, I meant to do that to emphasize one thing; how does a human being conducts his life is nothing but a thought.

To clear this argument I will give you an example of the Bon way of thought development, Bon is a religion that was practiced in the Tibet long before Buddhism, only to show you man’s struggle through history to change his thought process and also to clarify how much our thinking process affects the way we choose to lead our lives:

In the ground, the monks would dig a small hole enough for one person standing up. In that hole a person is lowered and the top of the hole is then completely covered. This person would stay in this kinda grave for almost a week, and some minimal water and nourishment is passed to him once a day. They call this process a rebirth, and they claim that the person who goes through this process would change completely; he will be able to recognize his own energies as well as the energies emitted through matter. He would possess the ability to read other people’s minds as if he is listening to the words uttered by them. And can predict weather changes and disasters. He can also miraculously heal physical as well as emotional ailments through using these newly possessed energies.

How could this be done? Let’s think about it for a while as if me or you are the person in that hole.

First thing that would strike me is fear; fear of the darkness, fear of the creatures that might crawl over my body, fear of other metaphysical circumstances that I might encounter, and last the fear that I might not survive. All negative thinking.

Negative thinking is so powerfully destructive that they could actually kill the person.

But survival is a propensity in humans; therefore my thinking process has to change in order for me to survive.

Let’s examine how my thinking process could change:

First; I would have to get physically accustomed to the darkness and consider it a part of my natural state at the time being. Second; I would have to believe that now I am a part of this earth and all the creatures within it, and if I did not harm them and accepted their curious welcome, they would accept me in return and would not harm me. Third; if I did encounter any metaphysical circumstances, this is the chance for me to spread my knowledge above the norm and get accustomed to it. Fourth; I am a survival by nature, therefore I will definitely survive. Finally; the goal, the point of the rebirth in my thoughts is anticipation, yes, I am doing all this for a broader knowledge of my self, my energies, and how I could use them for the benefit of humanity. All positive thinking indeed.

In one of his posts; Marumbahttp://incarnata.blogspot.com/2004/11/mr-descartes-pls-allow-me-sir.html#comments” has defied DESCARTES’s aphorism “I THINK, THEREFORE, I AM” and he restated it as “I FEEL, THEREFORE, I AM..!”, and I do tend to agree with him and add to that ” I FEEL WHEN I RELATE,THEN I THINK, THERFORE I AM”. It’s the feeling that has to be restored so that the thoughts can change. Positive feelings are the natural traits of the soul; purity, love, honesty, patience, wisdom, abundance, mercy.

But you might argue that we are human and we can’t control our feelings. True; but what are the feelings that we could not control, if we have allowed ourselves through negative thinking to adopt those feelings in the first place. Thinking process here is vital to restore my positive feelings and deal with the circumstances positively, just like the person in the hole.

How can we change out thinking process?

This process is very hard considering it deals with CHANGE. Change is not easily done, it takes time, insistence, well power, and lots of practice, but it is worth it.

First; you have to let go of all negative thoughts you were conditioned to adopt.

Second; scratch out all the negative words in your vocabulary.

Third; in your vocabulary, try to minimize the use of two negative words that gives a positive meaning like; not sad, not tiered, not raining, not bad. Instead use the definite words like; happy, relaxed or active, sunny and bright, well.

Fourth and most importantly; learn from the turtle. Yes, the turtle. In Chinese wisdom the turtle is a creature which can separate itself from its shell and look at it from outside (a different perspective), take the load off of your shoulder and look at the problem from other perspectives, in a sense of how could you be a help instead of being a burden.

Fifth; take your time to notice little things in life and appreciate them as if you will die tomorrow and will not be able to enjoy them anymore. After all you never know how long you will live anyway.

And finally; I have chosen for you some wise notes from khalil Gibran’s book ” life’s wisdom” I hope you can treasure and recite them every time you are in doubt:

1- Your daily life is your temple and your religion. whenever you enter into it, take with you your all.

2- Love is the divine knowledge that enables men to see as much as the gods.

3- Life is not only merriment; life is desire and determination.

4- Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him.

5- Know your own true worth and you shall never perish.

6- I look up high to see only light, and never look down to see my shadow. This is the wisdom which a man must learn.

7- Thoughts have a higher dwelling place than the visible world.

8- Children dwelling in the doors of tomorrow, a place where they can never be, not even in their wildest dreams.

Enjoy life; it is worth it, for every thing is nothing but a thought.

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This is another photo of Lebanon taken from my friend’s balcony in Almansuriya, as requested by my blogging friend Shurouq in the last post

Your body is your pharmacy, and you are the doctor

How does your mental state affect your physical body?

We’re all familiar with our physical body; skin, organs, ligaments, glands, blood, and muscles. This is because autopsy has shown us that with naked eyes. But do we know anything about our astral body? The body which consists mainly of energy? Not many do. And physical tests are still too short in this region. Energy can’t be seen, but its effect is palpable. Just like an electric current; we can’t see it with naked eyes, but we do know it exists, and science has been able to prove it by measurements. But human energies differ in this aspect because the electrical current was purposely created, and therefore easily measured, and for the sake of mathematical calculations; the direction of the current is logically assumed. But body energies are not readily controlled; therefore there is no means to measure its accuracy. And although scientists have a big debate about this issue, the majority does not eliminate the probability of its existence.

Having cleared that out, let’s go back to the astral body. What is its main component?

Think of a body as just a balloon filled with air and has thousands of electrical currents flowing through it in all directions. These currents would naturally cress-cross each other like a large network. The point where they tend to have the most intersections is called the main energy center or the chakras. Other intersections are labeled as the minor energy centers. There are five nodes or main energy centers located along the spinal cord, and two in the head area, While 72,000 minor energy centers are scattered all around the body, of which the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot are most noticeable. I will only address the main energy centers and their association with hormones induction into the body because of their primary importance as related to the subject title.

Hormones are blood-borne messengers which communicate between different parts of the body. They are secreted in one part of the body (e.g., the gonads) and cause effects or responses in different, distant parts.

Main energy centers:

Crown Chakra

This Chakra is located at the top of the head. And it is associated with the Pineal Gland which is responsible for growth and maturity. It is believed that this gland is deactivated after adolescent years.

Brow Chakra

This chakra is located at the center of the forehead, a bit above the eyebrows and sometimes called the third eye. It is associated with the Pituitary Gland: to stimulate milk production after giving birth, stimulate the ovaries and testes, to control skin pigmentation, to increase absorption of water into the blood by the kidneys.

Throat Chakra

Located in the throat, and associated with the Thyroid Gland: disorders of this gland can cause such complaints as feeling run down and tired, poor attention span, inadequate metabolism rate.

Heart Chakra

Located at the center of the chest, and associated with the Thymus Gland

The Thymus is critically important in the body’s response to disease invasion; the immune system.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Located at the solar plexus, and associated with the human pancreas which is an amazing organ with two main functions; to help regulate many aspects of our metabolism and to produce the hormone functions of Endocrine which plays an important role in maintaining sugar and salt balance in our bodies

Orange Chakra

Located at the center of the abdomen and is also associated directly with the Endocrine gland which is mandatory for the reproductive system, and sexual organs.

Root Chakra

Located in the point between the anus and the sex organs, and associated with the Adrenal glands. The adrenal cortex produces other hormones necessary for fluid and electrolyte (salt) balance in the body such as cortisone. The adrenal cortex also makes sex hormones.

Having gone through all the main energy centers and their associating with the hormones is one step towards understanding the significant role of energy in our health, and that’s another story

to be continued.

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Toga Yoga

First of all, and before I get to the subject in mind, I’d like to clear one point that this article is not meant to give all the historical / sientifical information about Yoga.

Another point I’d like to clear is that there is no such thing as ” TogaYoga”, this was a mere term created by a friend, by which he meant: Cheers to Yoga.

The last and the most important point I’d like to clear here is that I’m trying my best to use minimum words to answer one question I’m always asked by new students in my Yoga classes ;

Why does my doctor recommend Yoga to me, I don’t have the flexible body it needs, nor I have the patience to sit still for 20 minutes pretending that I’m relaxed when I’m too hyper to do that.

Now to answer this question I’d have to publish a book. Yet I see it as my responsibility to give some ideas of this mysterious type of exercise that a lot of people around the world, have some vague idea about, or may be none at all.

What is Yoga?
Forget the scientific definition, what you need to know is that any proper Yoga practice have one major element; proper breathing through proper poses; this kind of practice maintains your physical body and nourishes it with vital energy, this energy is needed to relax your mind and therefore you can connect with your soul.

Physical benefits to the body:
There is a saying that goes like:” you are as young as your spinal cord”. Your spinal cord is the switchboard of your body, therefore; having it flexible would maintain your body longer.
How is this done?
Well, each basic exercise is designed to fully activate certain organs, legaments and glands, to explain this, I’ll give you an example :
we only engage one third of the upper lungs in our natural breathing process, which means that 2/3 of the lung is practically not used, these areas that are not used will show signs of decay as we grow older, and, therefore; the chance of fatigue and sickness to these parts will increase. But through practicing yoga the full capacity of the lung is forced to be activated and engaged.
This is true not only for the lungs, but for all the internal organs, ligaments, and glands.

Mental benefit:
Yoga provides you with the intelligence to let your mind control your body, and not visa versa. This is very essential; it manifests itself in your daily dealings; with yourself first, then with others. You see the ones that have been practicing yoga for some time are more balanced in their lifes, have clearer minds to make right decisions, and they definitely give each and every event its proper weight without exaggeration.

Spiritual benefit;
Yoga is not a religion. Therefore spirituality here refers to the happiness and ecstasy that you can bring into your world without waiting for some circumstance to create it for you. It’s more like re-designing yourself by digging deep and searching for the basic traits of your soul. Getting to know you, befriend you, and therefore love you, for only then you can love others and have more self confidence.

Now this whole thing is not some magical elixir, it’s just some simple mental techniques / mind exercises that you need to properly practice so you can get the full benefit.

How does it function?
Every proper yoga practice has to have some basic poses through which breathing is enhanced, this breathing not only provides the cells in your body with oxygen and nutrients, but also provids it with the vital energy to activate and harmonize seven main energy centers as well as thousands of other minor energy centers throughout your body, and therefore preparing your mind to be relaxed in the final session of the practice. And the result? A new you.

So to answer that question I’d have to say, yoga is not those acrobatic poses you see in books and magazines, some very easy poses can do the job if you gradually increase the time you spend in each pose and breath properly. Yoga is for everyone and everyone can practice it. And if you think you are hyper, most probably you need to practice yoga more than others.
ching ching

A Yoga Meditation

Nirvana

Dedicated to my sister Wajeeha Habeeb who had shown me “The Path”

In the death of night I rise

To wash away ugly vice

I enliven candle lights

And meditate into different heights

With sweet lavender oils I shoot

and start the “om shanti” salute

Like magic I start to float,

Soul out of my body I loot

I feel this wave of butterflies

In my limbs and behind my eyes

For a new dimension I demand

To open up at my command

Through my soul and through my mind

I seek calmness in a world unkind

I seek love, I seek purity

I seek the touch of immortality

I begin to see this tiny light

Emitting rays so soft and bright

Embracing me in delight

Resigning me to it’s might

Ecstasy is felt with such a sight

How could this be a dead night!

Tears of joy would start to pour

From my eyes and each pore

I realize I’m almost there

Surrounded with love and care

A constant love that is divine

In a place I know is mine

A bliss that could not be found

Except on regions beyond sound

Hush now hush, peaceful soul,

You’re in the attendance of “The Whole”