*** This program is no longer available. Since meditation has become a huge and healing part of my own life, I'm on a quest to find a new program for all of us. Stay tuned! ***
When I stumbled upon the Re-Awakening Meditation website, I was certain Steven Aitchison, author of the Change Your Thoughts blog, had written it to me personally. It won’t surprise me if you feel the same way, too.
I had played around with meditation, but worried whether I was doing is “right.” One friend insisted it only worked if you sat on a particular type cushion in the lotus position. Another was adamant that certain types of music must be played. Still another had strong opinions about incense vs. candles. How could something intended to reduce stress have so many stressful rules?
Life took a nerve-wracking turn in 2002 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For 5 years, I rode the treatment roller coaster and felt my everyday stress level skyrocket. Despite knowing anxiety only made me more ill, I couldn’t seem to shake it off. Ironically, I wasn’t afraid for myself, just burdened by the brutal schedule and the fears of my family and friends. I don’t tolerate medication very well – in fact, the treatment medication had added to my troubles - and knew that wasn’t my answer, but what was?
It as a dark time that led to a now-cherished practice.
A big breakthrough came in 2007 via a 40 day self-challenge. (Read the rest of this story in the Deliberate Creation blog post.) During the challenge, I began gravitating towards guided meditation.
Meditation by definition is focused attention while relaxing in the moment. Up until that point, my greatest meditation obstacle had been staying focused and not being led astray by all the distracting thoughts that came barging in to what was supposed to be quiet time. With guided meditation, you listen and respond to a guide. You focus on their voice and get the benefits of relaxing, relieved of fighting the clatter in your brain.
Guided meditation can be experienced in a class led by a trained teacher or in solitude listening to a guided meditation recording. Either way, the general format goes something like this:
Your meditation guide will ask you to sit or lie down comfortably. You then listen as your guide leads you through a series of calming visualizations. As you gradually relax and become more still, you may notice stress melting away and your mind becoming more clear and peaceful.
While in this deeply relaxed state of mind, your subconscious is open to positive suggestions, openness that makes you more receptive to improving or healing one or more aspects of your life. Guided meditations can be tailored towards almost any preferred focus - personal empowerment, positive or constructive thinking, emotional or physical healing, spiritual development, unleashing your full potential, or simply the sheer pleasure of experiencing profoundly deep relaxation.
For me, guided meditation seems almost effortless because the voice of the guide is doing the heavy lifting. It is an experience that is not only relaxing, but one that enhances my positive sense of self, transforms my perspective, heightens my awareness and appreciation, and inspires me to overcome challenges, all leading to living life to the fullest. It helps me to stop being my own worst enemy and start becoming the conduit to my best self. It has proved to be one of the easiest ways to enter into a state of deep relaxation and inner stillness. It’s also one of the most powerful ways to reduce stress and bring about positive personal changes.
Easy, effortless, powerful, effective. Now that’s potent medicine!
Let’s dig a little deeper….
Life can be tough. There is no instruction manual. Sure, there are tools and resources to help deal with everyday stress and strain, but with the explosion of the self-help and pharmaceutical industries, how do you tell the good stuff from the garbage?
As a fan of the wellness approach as my first line of defense, it bothered me that so many “solutions” focused more on soothing symptoms than preventing symptoms in the first place. Though I’m definitely not a purest, I do believe generally healthy lifestyle choices make a huge difference.
Applying that philosophy to my emotional health went something like this: If addressing physical issues from the inside out made sense, wouldn’t it also make sense to handle my inner issues proactively rather than waiting for them to explode emotionally in the moment? Instead of being bashed by heated feelings in stressful moments when things were already spiraling out of control, wouldn’t I get better results by making sure my emotions didn’t need to run amuck in the first place? Instead of hauling all my baggage into every situation, wouldn’t a better approach be to unpack some of that baggage and lighten my load?
Well sure, but that also turned into a bit of a head-on collision.
I’ve been an avid reader of personal development books my entire adult life. As a coach, I’ve been able to easily teach others. So why it was so hard for me to address what was knocking around inside me? What was keeping me from using – and benefitting from - my own good advice?
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the philosophy that we create a lot of our own troubles through our habits and thoughts. Depending on my mood that either felt empowering or as if I were to blame.
Then Steven Aitchison, creator of The Re-Awakening Guided Meditation, explained it in a way that made sense.
Conjure up a time when you felt really, truly, and deeply happy. Feel what that felt like. Immerse yourself in the glow of feeling happy, calm, and peaceful.
Hold that feeling and notice that other instances of feeling happy begin to bubble up. That’s because our minds are programmed to bring us more of whatever we are thinking about, especially when that thinking is fueled with emotion. If we are engrossed in feeling happy, our mind is scanning for more happy thoughts, dismissing the things that might make us feel down, depressed, stressed, anxious, or angry. Do this enough and happiness becomes a habit, our fundamental belief system.
Now turn that around. When we are feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, irritated, or victimized, our minds go scanning for more of those feelings. Left unchecked, these feelings become habit, turn into a belief system, and the mind looks for ways to verify these beliefs over and over again, which makes us spiral down even further into these feelings of despair.
Few people are aware of their everyday self talk patterns, especially their autopilot negative self talk. I’ve said things like, “I can’t do that,’ “I’m so stupid,” or “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say,” and worse. In moments when things didn’t turn out as planned, do you beat yourself up verbally? Is self-deprecation your autopilot mode?
Because this happens unconsciously, we rarely realize we are doing this to ourselves even though we are keenly aware of the results. Once we understand what is going on, we can actively and consciously seek to nurture the feelings we really want. We can become the navigator of our own lives instead of helplessly riding the wild, driverless, emotional roller coaster.
That one simple shift in thinking changed everything for me, setting me in a brand-new direction and changing the way I think – and feel – about life.
When I first dabbled with traditional meditation long ago, it seemed like a hassle. It felt like I had to try too hard or needed extensive training or had to commit too much time. I couldn’t quite acquire the habit and that is where the real benefits are accessed.
Guided meditation to the rescue.
Guided meditations are a popular alternative to traditional meditation techniques precisely because they require no previous training or effort to enjoy, and don’t require a lot of time. The Re-Awakening helps you bypass the hassle factor by leading you straight to images in your mind that are conducive to deep relaxation and a deep connection to heart, mind, and spirit. You’ll begin to feel the benefits almost immediately which will motivate you to continue meditating and building on those benefits. You’ll quickly notice feeling less stressed, less anxious, more able to cope, more productive, more at peace, and much more in control of your own life. You are no longer at the mercy of runaway emotions.
All this in just 10 – 20 minutes per day. If you can’t take 10-20 minutes out of your day to do something for yourself, then you need to start meditating RIGHT NOW.
Before understanding this, I thought meditating would take 20 minutes out of my day, reducing the amount of time I had for doing everything else. Instead, meditation gives me a huge boost. In as little as 10 minutes, I feel as if I’ve slept deeply and restfully for two hours. I feel more alert, less tired, more creative, more productive, and more serene. It feels as if I gain time in my days.
Steven teamed up with Angela Artemis, author of the Powered by Intuition blog, to create The Re-Awakening which includes 10 guided meditations narrated by Angela and Steven, giving you the choice of listening to the beautiful angelic voice of Angela or the soft Scottish brogue of Steven. They’ve also included an instructional manual and 3 guides with more information about the impact of meditation on your day and your life – all downloadable.
As someone who finds it extremely difficult to let go of marauding thoughts, especially if I am stressed, overloaded, or upset, I find guided meditation to be the perfect ticket for quickly achieving inner stillness and peace of mind, and The Re-Awakening has become my preferred guided meditation. Because it’s so easy, it’s suitable for people who are new to meditation. Because it’s so effective, it’s of great benefit to those who are experienced. For both, guided meditation can be used to experience a deeper or more vivid meditation, to delve deeper into the mind, or to target a specific aspect of personal development.
Won’t you join me?