Mindful Breathing

What is stress? Stress is when your physical body responds to the problem. The body releases certain chemicals into the blood and your organism begins to work in a stress-mode. Do you remember moments like these? Your heart begins to beat faster, you start to sweat, your mouth gets dry, and all your muscles tighten? You become anxious and know that it is your panic attack coming to get you.

it is not just difficult but almost impossible to deal with seemingly simple life situations. You don’t react normally anymore.  Your anxiety is killing you. You easily get frustrated and reactive. These are many other symptoms affect all your life. Everything changes: your appetite, your sleep patterns. You become physically sick more often and it gets harder to recover from what looks like a simple virus.

Usually anxieties that you have are irrational and even stupid. But no matter how stupid a problem may sound to your friends or family, it seems serious to you.  If you ever experienced a panic attack, you know that it totally closes you up to the help from outside. People around you cannot help you. I remember how my husband and my daughter would try to tell me about my anxiety, but their words only made my anxiety worse.

Anxiety changes brain chemistry. It took me some time to learn to open to my family members and to trust them. I learned to express how I feel and that helped me to look at myself from a different perspective. Although your family or friends are very important as a support in winning your war with anxiety, you yourself must take the most responsibility.

First let us correct the word “war.” You can never “win the war” with anxiety, but you can learn to manage it fully, Why is it important no to “fight” anxiety? Any time you “fight” something, you add additional tension. Imagine that you are a mother and the anxiety si your crying baby. You do not get mad with the baby for crying. You come to your baby, take her in your arms, hug the little one, and your son or daughter stops crying. Similarly to this, you should no try to fight your anxiety.

Start with noticing the first symptoms of anxiety coming. Often when anxiety is in its full it is a bit too late to start. It is harder to manage a full blown up anxiety attack than to deal with anxiety when it only starts to show first symptoms. When I realized that I suffer from anxiety, I started to read a lot about it. I trained myself to notice the first symptoms.

It is very important to early recognize the symptoms of your panic. You will notice that you start breathing not only deeper, but faster. This cause hyperventilation effect. Your body receives unusual amount of oxygen and your heart rate goes up. when your heart is pounding, you feel throbbing everywhere, especially in your chest, and on your temples. Due to adrenaline in your blood you often feel shaking. I do not want to name all of the possible symptoms and I know haw hard it probably is to read them to you.

The first thing I learned is the power of conscious breathing. Now I look back at my first steps and it is almost seven years ago when I tried my first breathing exercise or meditation. At the beginning it was strange. I sat in a lotus position, placed my hands on my lap and took my first conscious breath in . After that I practiced various breathing techniques. I learned different forms of pranayama and ujjayj breath. But what is the most important of all is your mind. Your breath can be deep or it can be shallow, it can be fast or it can be slow – don’t change it. Marry your thought or your mid with your breath and relax into what happens nest. I promise you a miracle the first time you breathe in mindfully and breathe our mindfully. Your brain will switch from the panic mode to the mode of the observer. You will no longer be inside your panic. You will now be outside of it and inside your breath.

I will talk to you very soon, my friends.

Namaste, Evelyn Jablonski

Let’s Talk about Health

When we talk about health we think about our ability to function well and independently for a long period of time. We think about our physical body. We know that our body is a complex mechanism that consists of skeletal, muscular, circulatory, nervous, digestive, respiratory, endocrine, and many other important systems. For the body to work well all the systems need to be in balance.

To continue our discussion, let us first agree upon the major issue: health is good, health is natural. health is a gift and a right. This article is not on philosophy or theology. That is why I won’t be focusing on such things as the causes of sickness in this particular writing. Yet is is very important for believers to know that God’s will is always your ultimate health and well-being. Believing otherwise can slow down the process of healing and may negatively influence your body.

Of course, God’s ultimate goal is your well-being on all levels: wholesome and holistic. This writing will concentrate only on physical and maybe slightly on psychological health, but spiritual health or the health of your soul (if you believe in one, or mind if you believe in none) lays as the foundation of these. Goodness did not create misery and agony. Who did? As with sin, it is very much important to know, that regardless who particularly our religious tradition blame as the founding father of all evil, most of the times we create our own misery and the suffering we encounter is very often our own fault.

Regardless who you think created these bodies (even if you share an opinion that there was no creator at all whatsoever) let us agree upon this: our bodies have the system and the ability to realize that there is a problem within them, and they have the inner ability to fix this problem or heal on their own.

What is this ability to realize that there is a problem?We usually sense or feel that this or that organ or part of the body hurts. When this happens, we know that something needs fixing or adjusting. This capacity to realize what is going on in the body is not intellectual. It is a different type of body-mind intelligence that is called sense. We sense or feel pain or pleasure, we do not need to intellectualize about it.

Let me tell you this: modern man has somewhat lost this innate capacity to sense. It is not sharp in him anymore. We need to go to the doctors and see the blood test results to find out that we are dehydrated. Really? Or at times we see parents reminding their children to put on or take off some clothes: “You are hot; you are cold…” Won’t a child know? At least let us agree on this: that state of ignorance is not normal for humanity, it cripples us. So what is wrong with us?

A lack of common sense literally and figuratively is a great part the cause why our bodies don’t heal themselves so well anymore. A lack of this ability to sense goes against our natural ability to heal ourselves. So, first step towards healing is understanding oneself. I do not mean intellectually, I mean intuitively, instinctively. The first step towards healing is feeling!

What does it mean to feel? When I say feel I am not talking about a touch. I am talking about a certain type of listening to your body that will bring you an automotive feedback. You listen to your body with attention and care. When we speak about senses we usually refer to the five sense organs. The feeling I am talking about is not like that. With which of your five senses do you feel pain or discomfort? This discomfort is usually located inside your body. The 5 senses are directed outside. How do you know that it is your hand hurting and not your leg? Do you need special tools to tell you or do you simply know? Now, how bout knowing what is wrong on the inside? Can you distinguish with the same ease if it is your blood pressure that is too high or too low, whether it may be your heart rate, or may be the blood sugar dropped or is higher? Do you need measurements to tell you this? Why can’t you use the same mechanism you used that allowed you to distinguish whether it was your hand hurting and not your leg?

Have you ever heard people saying “there is something wrong with me?”How come we came to the point that we do not really know any more what exactly that is? where does this separation from the body come from? If something got inside your eye, what would you do? Will you take your hand, maybe water and come up to the mirror? In any case, I relieve you’d try to pull this thing out. You hand will almost automatically come to rub your eye, right? Why can’t we react similarly to discomfort caused by or to our inner organs? Or can we? I do not mean that we will take our hand and rub inside our bodies.

Yet have you heard that you can lower your blood pressure with the help of some simple breathing techniques? Or that you can lower your anxiety level and even control severe panic attacks completely? And you do not need to be a doctor and diagnose yourself to do this. If you learn to calm down and relax, most certainly your inner organs will start functioning properly on their own. A great number of our sicknesses  are caused  by stress. Others are caused by the lack of exercise and poor diet.

Let us stop treating stress as something positive. Ease is positive. Stress is negative. We need a certain type of intelligence to learn to operate daily with ease. We also need to practice. But when we practice healthy approaches to life, what exactly do we practice? What is this type of intelligence that can help us leave our lives healthy and with ease and how can we practice it? this type of practice is very different from any other type of practice. If we practice driving a car, soon driving becomes our second nature, and we start to drive automatically. So we can say that usual practice results in automaticity. The kind of practice that is needed for healthy living is just the opposite. what we must practice is alertness, openness to new experience, wakefulness, being totally present…

If we teach ourselves to be totally present every moment of our lives that quality of our alertness itself will be our helper and our healer. Let us talk about his quality a little more. On one hand it sounds almost miraculous. On the other hand it sounds confusing. What is it? It actually is a simple quality we all have. Some has this quality more developed than others. All humans have it. Animals can pay attention to what is going on around them very well, but they cannot do it on demand.

If your hearing is good, then you probably have no difficulty hearing the sounds in your room and outside. Yet only when you choose to do so on demand, only then do we start talking about this special quality. This quality has been called by different names but the names can sometimes confuse us more that having no names at all or having different names. What we need to understand clearly is that we need to practice paying attentive on demand.

So, what do we need to pay this attention to? Well, in real life, actually, to everything. In case of physical health – to your physical body in general and to very element of it in particular. But when we talk about practicing the quality of attention, we start with simple things. Let’s start with our five senses and practice paying attention to their objects one at a time. For example we can find an object of hearing that is some sound or that other and practice listening to it for two, three, five minutes in a row. You will immediately notice that doing so is not easy at all.

This quality will not automatically solve all our problems at the beginning, especially because at the beginning it will not be very strong, but with practice you will surely notice how it can help you recognize things you had never paid attention to before.

And interesting thing about this quality is that it pacifies or calms down every problem without even fighting it. It gives you feedback, insight, helps you to solve problems both easy ones and hard ones, and helps to come up with unexpected decisions. You’d be soon surprised what you’d start noticing. Not just more noise or that you are too hot or too hyper but also that you became mad, jealous or upset for no reason. And please, tell me this, if there ever is any good reason to be mad?

Health and Healing through Vipassana

When we feel that this or that life threatening situation is beyond our control, we choose to act in various ways. At times people get depressed, devastated and even mad. But this never helps to change the situation. What we need is the insight. Is there any good reason to be mad? What is important to learn it is to realize what exactly is the cause of my discomfort, pain, uneasiness, sadness, fear, and so on. When you think you found or realized what is the cause, stay there. Pay deep attention to it, don’t try to act compulsively, It does not mean you cannot act upon the problem fast. You can act fast if the situation demands and you are capable of doing it. But what is important to learn is that most of the time this is not the case. Most of the time in difficult situations rather than re-acting, acting compulsively, try to stop. Sounds like a strange advice at first, but wit…

Pay attention to everything what is going on and try to look at the situation as if you were watching the movie. Imagine yourself to be an independent observer. What will happen next will surprise you. Decision will come on its on. Don’t rush it. It may take longer to ease into the unknown, to let go and sit still. Don’t act and don’t even wait. Waiting implies impatience. So, don’t wait, just be there with this unknown, mysterious peace, and trust it. You won’t need to “come up” with what you should  do. There is something in you that knows more than you think. Some call this intuition.

Whatever you call this quality , it is very useful and can be developed. You need to have a very clear awareness of what exactly is happening. This awareness cannot be based on your desires or attachments, it should rather be based on letting go. As I said, although we are talking about insight, you are not necessarily “looking” for the insight. The peace that you make with the situation and the tranquility – they bring the insight. Put your mind to rest and abide in this state of deep calm. You can only acquire it if you have strong faith that you are totally supported and that everything is as it should be. Nothing is happening by accident, you know.

Often we cannot reach this insight because we are so “bewitched” or attached to the wall of illusion that separates us from reality. When you realize this wall, the liberation and the transformation are complete. You are not the same person any more. The difference between change and transformation is significant. You can change this or that situation, but the foundation of the problem remains the same. When real transformation happens, nothing of the past remains the same. Namaste.

This Quality of Mind that is called Mindfulness

It can be called many names. Some call it mindfulness, thoughtfulness, paying attention, awareness…All of these words are fine. Whatever you call this quality…There is no way anyone can overestimate its importance as long as you know that it is a tool and not a goal in itself. It is not a coincidence I am returning back to discussing mindfulness prior to getting more in depth into the discussion of intuition. Intuition may be compared to the spark that may appear in the result of proper connection of other wires. Those other wires are a lot of conditions, but the core foundation is mindfulness itself, no doubt.

There are various schools of thought that classify mindfulness in different ways. These classification, although very important for those schools of philosophy, play hardly any practical role for the person who simply wants to use the tools. Yet to give you a slight glimpse of what I am talking about, let me share this. Some say that consciousness is usually bound to the five senses we know. but at times consciousness itself is considered to be the sixth sense and at that point is often mixed up with intuition. Another important thing to learn about practical use of consciousness is that when we become conscious or act consciously on demand, we exercise what is often called thoughtfulness or mindfulness.

so, consciousness is the capacity that humans naturally have. Mindfulness is the choice and the acting upon this capacity. We all act every moment and even every second of our lives, even when e sit and do nothing. We think, we breathe, a lot of physiological and chemical activities are constantly taking place in our minds, energies, and bodies. When we pay no attention to what is going on we can say that we are in a sleepy mode and our awareness is low. Yet the moment we decide to start paying attention to any of those functions – we are in the mode of mindfulness, watchfulness, wakefulness, or choose your own word to describe it.

The difference is tremendous. It can be compared to being asleep and waking up. It brings choice and energy. Compare mind to the locomotive and energy to the wagons. Wherever that locomotive goes, the wagons follow. Wow! Want to try?Put your two hands on your laps and close your eyes. Now take some deep breaths. Several times. After that, with your eyes still closed, turn your hands upside down and still keep them on your laps. Now try to notice what exactly happens with your breath. How different your breath becomes? What part of the body do you breathe from when your hands lay up? What part do you breathe from, when they lay down? Take another experiment. Put your two hands in front of each other and hold them several inches apart. Now put your full attention to the pinkies only. Keep that attention fully on the pinkies for a minute and see what happens. Usually most of the people feel warmth immediately. Nothing strange about this warmth. There can be many different ways to explain what exactly happened. You start feeling energy flow in the part of your body you concentrate upon. Some scientists may call it blood rushing to those place, others call it all sorts of waves from electric to electromagnetic. I have never scientifically researched what kind of waves those tactfully are, this I am holding no side and no opinion about this. If you know more about this, please share in the comments. One thing I know for sure, that this is the result of your mindfulness working, the stronger your mind is the stronger the energy flow you receive. Talk to you very soon, namaste.

 

 

Telling My Story

When I turned 40 (and that happened 7 years ago) I realized that the health I had been always taking for granted needs to be taken care of or else… Now out of a sudden there was a bouquet of blood pressure and digestive problems; surgeries, stress, panic… I started reading about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. These changed my life. I lost weight, became capable of managing my stress easier. With so many wonderful people around and all over the world helping each other to stay fit and healthy, I believe that it is my turn now to share my own story of success, and allow those who are in need to learn from it and start believing in themselves. Enjoy!

Why Meditate?

With all the seemingly rising popularity of the topic of meditation in the West, there can still be found a lot of people for whom it is something new, and even a Tabu.

Why would somebody born and raised in the West meditate? Well, first of all meditation is the best and most effective way to calm down if you feel distressed. If you practice meditation, you can see the result immediately, and it will improve in weeks, months, and certainly in years. If you practice meditation regularly enough, I can almost guarantee you that you can fast get rid of many diseases: panic attacks, blood pressure, overweight…You can learn to manage your life situations with better clarity. So, are you in? Let us start here with some basics.

Sitting Down Meditation

The first and formats thing you will need to start is this: find the time for yourself. Unless you have a partner or a friend who is an experienced meditator or who is seriously willing to learn the art of meditation with you, here is my advice: meditate alone.

 

 

Find time and space.

This is of primary importance/ First thing first. It is very important to carefully find the place you will dedicate to daily meditation. You do not need a big spacious room, but it is important that both the space and the air is clean, and that it is quiet. Find time when nobody will bother you. If feel uncomfortable to dedicate the time for yourself, it’s O.K. Dedicate this tie to meditation, and treat the meditation with respect. You do not need to specifically decorate the room, but if you choose to do so, make sure you bring in some objects that will remind you of peaceful moments of your life. It can be some fresh flowers, some pictures of nature, some stones… If you have religious devotions and for that purpose use some icons or other objects of veneration, you are welcome to bring them in and incorporate into your meditation.

 

The Light and the Air

Of course I will recommend you to meditate outside every time you have this possibility, but I understand that in most cases this is not an option.  For that reason it is important to make sure that the quality of air in your room is good. Of course there are a lot of air purifiers in the market. Some are more expensive than others. I believe that eventually it might be a good thing for some to look into them (allergy air purifiers, ionic purifiers, asthma purifiers), but unless your air is very bad and you suffer from allergies severely, I believe that simply opening your windows to let the fresh air in can be enough. What I do recommend though is a small ionic lamp. Another name of that lamp is Himalayan salt lamp. There are many benefits that I see in this lamp. It can help with allergies; its warm glow relaxes and improves your mood. So, in case of this lamp you will have a soothing light, the air purifier, as well as the salt inhalator.

Where and How to Sit?

I always highly recommend meditation cushions or any other cushions for that purpose. Why? When you can sit on the chair, if your medical condition requires this, most meditation traditions recommend a cross-legged pose with the spine straight. Beginning meditation is usually not very long: ten to fifteen minutes of sitting, but to expect good results it is important to follow the guidelines as well as it is possible. If you decide to sit on the chair, make sure you have a soft pillow under your feet. It is good in both cases to remain barefoot during the meditation.

The Bells or the Singing Bowls

Each meditation is traditionally started and finished with the sound of a bell. Bells that are used for meditation purposes differ from those we are acquainted with in the West. The bells that are used in meditation are called singing bowls. At times larger gongs can be used, but they are not necessary in the house environment, and are usually for public meditation only. The singing bowls should be kept in your meditation place and used for meditation purposes only.  You can later look at the link on how to use the singing bowl.

Meditation Incense and Candles

I do not recommend meditation incense to everybody unless you have a practice of incense burning and are not allergic to the smells. In that case various soothing incense sticks can be purchased and many of them can be helpful. Candles are usually more tolerated by many people. If you are a candle lover, look for the candle with cool aroma and that of good quality. This is very important. Although candles are very helpful for meditation, it is better to use no candles at all than to use a candle that will spoil the quality of your air.

Essential Oils

Of course I agree that essential oils is the topic of it, they can be well used during the meditation practices. Essential oils differ from regular fat oils. As the name suggests, essential oils consist of the essence or the life of the plant. There are many different plants on the Earth that are capable to heal humans. During meditation it is possible to use any of those that match your needs, but as a rule, those that calm the mind and the body are the most beneficial. Valerian Root, Lavender, and many similar plants are great for that purpose.

How to Meditate?

The first thing you will do is sit quietly. This sitting is the building block of your meditation practice.