As a meditation teacher, I meet people every day who have pre-conceived notions about meditation. People assume that we have to sit in an uncomfortable position with our backs straight and legs crossed, that we have to clear our minds of thoughts, and maybe even that we need to be hippies with flowing hair, meditating in a grassy field with birds chirping and rainbows. Most people realize that meditation can help with stress management, and maybe even with anxiety and insomnia. But did you realize that meditation is also used as a high-performance tool?
One of my missions in life, particularly in this post-medicine meditation stage of my career, is to help people understand the power of the mind-body connection. Too often in my medical career, both patients and docs interpreted ‘your symptoms are stress related’ as ‘you are a wack-job and a faker’. Here’s a personal story that I love sharing with my clients to illustrate just how much control we have over our bodies, and just how attached (consciously or subconsiously) we can become to our symptoms.
Have you ever wondered why our FEAR voice (also called the inner critic, or ego) gets SO loud whenever we try to make a change in our lives? Have you ever gotten so inspired by something, only to be immediately flooded with your own negative thoughts and critiques about your idea, to the point that you just give up?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the pitfalls of rigidity recently. Strict adherence to a certain set of beliefs, or a certain pattern of behavior, without allowing anything else in. It keeps finding me, in conversations and in personal experiences. Since I started meditating 7 years ago, I was pretty much convinced that my particular type of meditation was the answer to all of life’s woes. There wasn’t anything that wouldn’t get better, eventually, with enough meditation. I appreciated that other people had practices that worked for them, but I secretly thought to myself that I had it all figured out, and they didn’t. ‘If only they practiced this type of meditation, they would…’
Jazz Fest in New Orleans. It’s my favorite place in the world, the highlight of my year. It’s not exactly what people think of when they think of spirituality, though. This year I brought a new friend with me, and I was telling someone, after the fact, that she was such a great Jazz Fest companion because not only was she awesome, but she was able to take care of herself so well. That prompted them to ask me: “what on earth happens there that she needs to take care of herself? Isn’t it supposed to be fun?”.
For you Princess Bride fans out there, Jazz Fest is like the fire swamp. Sure, there are obstacles, but once you figure them out (where to find air conditioning, how to find real toilets instead of porta-potties), you can live there quite happily for some time. Here are the top 9 life lessons I have learned at Jazz Fest: