Self-care has been super trendy recently, and I love that so many people are making it a priority to put their health and well-being first. But we still have some work to do on the self-care front!
So many of us wait until things get really bad before we say: Whoa, I need to take better care of myself. We work super long hours and check email in bed and eat junk food for breakfast until our bodies force us to stop. Often this happens in a pretty unpleasant way.
Instead of waiting for the panic attack or emotional meltdown or skin breakout or bad news at the doctor’s office, we need to get proactive. Here’s an example: I partnered with LensCrafters to give a talk on the importance of health and self-care and conducted a meditation to celebrate this. And before this partnership I can’t tell you when I last had my eyes examined! I have good eyesight so I don’t really think about it too much. But just because I only need reading glasses doesn’t mean I can just forget about my eyes and that really crucial aspect of my health. So thanks to LensCrafters I got an eye exam and I know that it’s an important part of my overall health and about staying healthy.
This concept of becoming conscious of our self-care can one be very preventive. It helps us sustain health, in both body and mind, instead of breaking down in some way and having to repair. It’s all about shifting your lens on life — and one really powerful way to do that is through meditation.
Why You Need a Meditation Practice
Meditation is so powerful that it can transform a totally chaotic day into a completely empowered day. When you start a meditation you might be looking through the lens of fear. But when you finish your meditation, you’ve experienced a shift. Maybe it’s subtle — your fear has lost some strength. Or maybe it’s a total turnaround. Either way it’s a miracle.
Meditation has become the most beneficial and most important practice in my life because it’s the way I reduce stress. I feel physically stronger, more youthful, more peaceful. A study on Transcendental Meditation, which is a kind of mantra meditation, showed that one 20-minute meditation can lower your cortisol levels by 30 percent, whereas a full night’s sleep will lower your cortisol levels by only 10 percent. Pretty powerful stuff, considering cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress!
So let me ask you a few questions…
Do you ever feel a little out of control in your life? (I know I do.)
Do you feel stressed out at least once in your day?
Are you exhausted by 4 or 5 o’clock?
Do you ever have trouble sleeping?
Ever feel irrational at times, like you just can’t ground your thoughts?
These are all symptoms of being out of alignment with our source energy, out of alignment with sustainable energy, out of alignment with a natural state. One of the most valuable tools for restoring this natural state is a meditation practice. One major theme in my work, across all my meditations and books and courses, is the simple mantra that shifting your perception creates miraculous change. As my mentor, the late Wayne Dyer, once said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I’m going to share with you three meditations that can help you change the way you look at things. The first meditation is about shifting energy, the second is about shifting your thought patterns and the third one is about shifting the words that you use.
Why is all of this so important? Here’s the thing: When you feel out of whack, your thoughts are out of whack — and ultimately what’s happening is that your energy starts to vibrate in a negative frequency. You’re very frantic or very chaotic, and even if you can keep it mostly below the surface others can feel it subconsciously. What happens when you’re in that state? Do people want to hang out with you? No. Do people want to hire you? No. Do people want to give you a raise? No. Do they want to date you? No.
But we can learn how to harness that energy, harness our thoughts, harness our experiences, and that’s when we start to vibrate at a positive frequency. We start to feel more grounded, more connected, more purposeful and more aligned. That is the energy that attracts what we want, the energy that opens up invisible doors, the energy that makes you a magnet for what you desire — and I do not say that lightly.
I know it sounds heady, might even sound like some mumbo-jumbo to you. But I am super grounded in this message, which is that when we change our energy, we change our perception and we can change our lens on life. So the three meditations that I’m giving you are very beautiful practices because they can shift your energy and thought patterns very quickly.
Meditation #1: Shift your energy
Let’s begin with the energy shift. Have you ever noticed that you’re just not breathing? The truth is, most people are walking around frantic and out of breath. You likely take shallow breaths or hold your breath frequently without even realizing it. To come back to a peaceful state we need to change our breath pattern. This is a simple and super effective Kundalini meditation, which is a form of yoga that I teach. It’s a very easy breath pattern that helps you bust through the blocks, shift your energy and change that vibrational state:
- Put your hand on your stomach.
- Breathe in and out of your nose so that on the inhale your stomach extends and on the exhale it contracts.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose at a normal rate for 1 minute or longer.
This is a fantastic meditation to do before you go for a job interview, send an email you think you might regret, anytime when you want to calm and ground your energy.
Meditation #2: Shift Your Thought Patterns
The second meditation is about changing our thoughts — and this often requires a mantra. A mantra is a single pointed focus. It’s a simple phrase, a couple of words, that you repeat so that you can redirect your chaotic thoughts. When you redirect your thoughts you can let go and release them. The beauty of a mantra-based meditation is that your crazy thoughts will always come in and that’s okay — you just return to the mantra. People often say, “I can’t meditate because my mind is crazy. There are too many thoughts.” Well, actually, that’s good! That’s a good sign. If your mind is going crazy in meditation that means it’s an active meditation and you’re actually clearing something. Let thoughts come up, negative or positive or neutral. Just gently return to the mantra each time. Here’s the meditation, which is awesome for beginners:
- Take your thumb place it under your wrist and your forefingers on top of your pulse.
- Close your eyes.
- We are going to use the mantra “Sat Nam.” Sat is truth and nam is name: Truth identified; the truth is your name.
- Inhale the mantra and exhale the mantra with Sat Nam at the beat of your pulse. So with each beat it is Sat Nam, Sat Nam, however fast your pulse is going.
- Repeat it silently to yourself, taking calm, deep breaths.
This is a practice you can do anywhere, anytime. You can be on the park bench, you can be at your desk with your eyes open, you can just go right to it when you feel like your thoughts are getting the best of you.
I do a mantra-based meditation for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. You can do it for just two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the afternoon, or five or 10, whatever works for you. The morning practice is like a mental shower, and the afternoon practice is that coffee break. It reenergizes you and focuses you. In time it will change your life.
Meditation #3: Change Your Words
The next and final meditation is to change your words, your daily affirmations, what you speak in the world. If you want to change your lens on life you need to change what you’re saying. If you are walking around saying “I’m not supported,” then guess what? You will not be supported. If you are walking around saying “There’s not enough,” there will never be enough. If you are walking around saying “I’m open to creative possibilities,” then there will be plenty of opportunities. What you focus on creates an energy and that energy creates experiences that you have in your life and I can say that with conviction.
There is a beautiful Kundalini meditation that combines a mantra and a mudra—a mudra is a hand position. For this meditation you tap each finger to your thumb beginning with your pointer finger, then middle finger, then ring finger, then pinky finger. With each tap you say one word of this mantra: Peace begins with me. So:
- Using one hand, tap your pointer finger to your thumb and silently or out loud say Peace
- Tap your middle finger to your thumb and think or say begins
- Tap your ring finger to your thumb and think or say with
- Tap your pinky finger to your thumb and think or say me
This is a beautiful practice because you can’t really think of anything else while saying it. You’ve got a single pointed focus, your mantra, “Peace begins with me.” It’s a fantastic meditation for any circumstance. You want to fall asleep at night, you want to forgive somebody, you want to forgive yourself, you want to change your attitude before you go into a meeting, you want to calm down in a situation that freaks you out: Peace begins with me.
It was a pleasure to host the mediation event at MNDFL studio in NYC in partnership with LensCrafters. Practice these meditations and you will change your lens on life.