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Archive for Meditation

Strengthen Your Inner Core with Spiritual Pilates

When I first took a physical pilates class I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had.  As I continued practicing the exercises regularly, I strengthened my newly found muscles and they quit complaining so loudly. As I have learned and practiced Spiritual Pilates, I have strengthened my inner wisdom muscles. My little ego self still complains, but not as loudly or as often as it did years ago.

I practiced Spiritual Pilates the other morning when I woke up with my thoughts spinning in an anxious jumble. At first, I lay in bed sorting my thoughts and working through all the stories. Then, as I shifted my focus from my head to my heart, my thoughts quieted and I could get some distance from the swirling circle of doom. My wisdom kicked in and got me back to center.

When I focused on the place of calm behind my heart, I realized that all the anxious thoughts were not all my thoughts. Have you had that experience?

It’s weird. You step into a cloud of thoughts that suddenly overpower your own thoughts. It’s kind of like when you turn a corner in the grocery store isle and are suddenly overpowered by a cloud of someone’s stinky fart. Most people have a sense of smell and notice the sudden difference in air quality. With thoughts it’s a little different because our culture doesn’t generally teach the discernment skill of noticing thoughts.

I had a weird thought experience while on a walk one day. I was walking along thinking about whatever random stuff came through my mind. Suddenly, I had a creepy feeling of fear and looked around me. Nothing suspicious to be seen.  No one in sight. I continued to the end of my route and returned the same way I had come. When I crossed the same spot where I had felt a wave of fear before, I suddenly felt fearful again. It felt as if I were walking through a cloud of fearful thoughts. I wondered whether someone else had been attacked on that spot or had had a frightening incident there and they had left a thought imprint. I’ve never heard anyone talk about that possibility, but that is what it felt like to me. I said a prayer of protection for myself and anyone who walked on the path. Since my prayer of protection, any time I have walked the same route, I have not felt fear anywhere on the path. The incident felt so odd that I have remembered it.

Everyone has the ability to pick up on other people’s thoughts. Some of us are empaths who pick up on thoughts and feelings more quickly. Some of us develop those skills over time. I admit that I did get a head start as a kid. One blessing I got from growing up in an alcoholic and dysfunctional family was to sharpen my intuitive abilities. I would walk into a room and put my antennae up to sort of sniff out the vibes in the room.  I would intuitively notice what was really going on under the surface that was not being discussed. I was not aware at the time that I was picking up on other peoples’ thoughts, but in hindsight, I understand that’s how my intuitive abilities were honed. Have you learned that discernment skill over time also? Do you pick up on other peoples’ thoughts and feelings?

When I woke up with anxious thoughts the other morning, it took me a few minutes to notice that I had woken up in a cloud of thoughts and feelings that were not all my own. There is a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now. A lot of people are thinking fearful thoughts and feeling afraid of all the craziness out there. If you are stuck in a cloud of fear, Hey, wake up! It’s not all yours! We empaths get a double whammy because we feel other people’s feelings and we don’t know they are not ours. That lesson took me awhile to learn and still bites me in the butt sometimes.

Having practiced Spiritual Pilates for a while, I can get back to a place of centeredness and calm more naturally.  I can quit spinning around with anxious thoughts and feelings more quickly.

If you would like a few tools to regain your center when you get off track, check out my book Seeking Serenity: How to Manage Anxiety and Love Your Life. The ebook is available to download from Amazon. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Serenity-Manage-Anxiety-Love-ebook/dp/B072C6FVVF/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503890103&sr=1-1&keywords=seeking+serenity

It’s one thing to read about something and another thing to do it. It’s one thing to read a steamy romance novel and another thing to have a steamy romance. It’s one thing to read a book about dancing and another thing to dance. You have to actually do the activity and not just read about it. I’ve noticed in my life that I can get to a certain level of a skill by practicing on my own. When I am ready to go to my next level of that skill, I want to work with someone who has more experience.

If you are ready to go to your next level of mindfulness and wellbeing and would like a guide on the path, you’re ready for my course in Spiritual Pilates: Aligning Body, Emotions, Mind and Spirit for Optimal Wellbeing. Click on this link: http://masteryintheartofliving.com/classes-and-workshops/

Let’s set up a time to talk about your journey.

Toggle to Joyful Center

gyroscope 5Attend my workshop, Toggle to Joy, as my guest, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 6-7:30pm at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Student Services Bldg, Riverview Rm SC200. In Toggle to Joy, learn about shifting the screen of your awareness from the small, outside shell of ego, to the ever-present, Infinite Joy at the Center of your being… struggle, toggle, JOY.  struggle, toggle, JOY!

Also, if you have wondered about how to integrate Complementary & Alternative Medicine into your career, check out the Anoka-Ramsey College Integrative Health & Healing Certificate Program when you come to the workshop.  http://www.anokaramsey.edu/classes/Certificates/Integrative%20Health%20and%20Healing%20-%20Certificate.aspx

Three Ways to Nurture Your Spirit

boston-park-in-fall

Fall time – a fun time of new beginnings, fall sweaters, pumpkin spice latte.
Fall can get stressful for me with the added parent meetings, workshops, and new projects to complete.

 

 

Three simple things I do when I am feeling stressed to nurture myself and nourish my spirit are:

  • Breathe – Most of us severely under-rate breathing on our daily importance scale.  With less oxygen on the planet than 100 years ago, our bodies have to work harder to stay oxygenated.  Breathing fully and deeply into the bottom of your lungs gives your body an energy boost from the extra oxygen.  Count in 4, hold 4, count out 8.  Try 4-5 of those full breaths several times a day to relax, restore and regroup.
  • Move – Physical movement helps you process the energy of the day moving through your life.  Feeling anxiously overwhelmed?  Try some aerobic exercise to jump start your fire and digest the energy more efficiently.  Feeling angrily stressed?  Try calming yoga movements to slow down and just be present.  I set aside time to move however my body wants to move in the moment.  Whatever movement you choose, MOVE to get out of your head and into your body where you can take action to reduce your stress.
  • Nourish – Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and the cleanest meat you can get.  The artificial ingredients in processed foods clog your system like cheese clogging a sieve.  When I am feeling stressed, a fresh veggie sandwich and pro biotics like fermented vegetable sauerkraut or a pro-biotic drink like kombucha gives me a lift.  Giving your body higher quality fuel will give you more stamina to deal with daily life.  If you can’t get high quality food, bless the food you do have with gratitude and raise the vibration of the food you are consuming.

When I want to push the refresh button on my life screen, I retreat.  Sometimes retreating to the bathtub for an hour suffices.  Other times, I am ready for the full weekend retreat get-away.  I was fortunate to get that weekend retreat away last weekend with a group of amazing women.  We laughed, danced, meditated and ate delicious food prepared especially for us.  I came home feeling refreshed and full of life.  I would like to offer you two delightful retreat opportunities!

Here are two retreat options for you to renew your spirit.
http://masteryintheartofliving.com/classes-and-workshops/

I hope you can join us!
Enjoy the Beautiful Fall Day!
Be Well,
Leah

Creating Positive Work and Home Environments With Intention

Rice Experiment 001

The Rice Experiment opened more than a few teenage eyes on how their words and intentions impact their environment. Hopefully, the lesson will translate into their homes and future workplaces. The middle school teens at our spiritual community conducted the Rice Experiment. After cooking a pot of rice, they placed a scoop of rice into separate, identical jars and sealed the lids. On the outside of one jar, they wrote “LOVE” while on the other jar they wrote, “HATE.” For the next week, they talked to the jars filling the LOVE jar with kind, loving, compassionate intentions and thoughts. They told the HATE jar it was stupid, ugly, mean and nasty. Then, they watched the results.

A year later, these same jars sit on the shelf of our teen room, telling the story of our intentions. The LOVE jar, filled with our divine, loving intentions, remains filled with white fluffy rice. The HATE jar started decomposing right away and quickly turned into a grey, slimy sludge. No kidding.

Vibrating energy patterns make up everything in the Universe – even your thoughts. The vibration of your thought patterns affects the environment around you. That phenomenon caught me unaware in my early 20’s. A boyfriend had given me a lovely, potted, flowering plant which flourished under my tender care. As soon as the boyfriend dumped me, the plant died. “I’m sorry little flower. I didn’t mean to kill you!” My negative thoughts about the giver of the plant had created a toxic environment in which the plant could not thrive.

How many times have you been in a toxic work environment where your life force felt jeopardized? Other peoples’ toxic thought vibrations set up a dissonance in your personal space. The complaining and whining can bring your vibration down until it affects your physical health – like the decomposing HATE rice jar.

The Good News: we control our own thoughts! Sweet! I don’t have to send out negative thought vibrations that ricochet into someone else’s negative thoughts adding to the cesspool of toxic emissions circulating through the office or home. I can choose to think positive, loving, kind, compassionate thoughts.

How do you get the train rolling down a different track once it’s in motion down the track of negativity? Switch tracks! Toggle the screen of your awareness to a new thought. Find something to appreciate: your amazing hand, the song on the radio, a color, a shadow pattern, a shimmering light. Toggle. But she said …. toggle… but they did that to me… toggle, toggle, toggle.

Appreciation changes the vibration of your thoughts to an upward spiral. You don’t have to switch to the JOY track right away. Switching from complaining to joy might require too big of a leap. Sometimes, when I am really mad, the best I can do is get to neutral. At least in neutral, you are not adding to the negative cesspool. From neutral, take one small step in the direction you want to go. Appreciate one thing. Then another. Then appreciate ten things. Notice any positive change in your environment. You might not notice a change in people around you right away, but keep it up and you will. Guaranteed.

Research by Dr. Masaru Emoto provides more elegant evidence than our rice jar experiment about the effect of thought vibrations on your environment. Dr. Emoto led a team of researchers to photograph frozen water crystals. Emoto found that frozen water crystals from a beaker labeled with positive words – love, joy, Mother Theresa – or submitted to healing music, created symmetrical crystal patterns that look like beautiful snowflakes.

Frozen water crystals taken from a beaker of polluted water, however, or one labeled with hateful words or submitted to heavy metal music, produced crystals that looked asymmetrical, broken, dark, cloudy and misshapen.

Even more importantly, Emoto’s team found that the broken crystal structure of the polluted water could be repaired. Misshapen water crystals became symmetrical and beautiful again when infused with loving, kind intentions – prayer therapy.

Now we know why prayer works on our bodies. The human body is over 50% water. When we pray over the body, the water molecules respond to the higher vibration thoughts. Other researchers, notably Dr. Larry Dossey, have shared research on the power of prayer in medical situations. Researchers documented that patients’ health improved when someone prayed for them – even when the patient did not know of the prayer.

Harnessing the power of your thoughts – toggling from a negative to a positive thought – will help you achieve your dreams and create an environment where you flourish. Try sending thought vibrations for harmony and wellbeing to the people around you to help foster a more harmonious work and home environment. When we humans learn to collectively harness the power of our shared vision, we will create a world that we DO want where all creation can thrive and prosper. Please join me in toggling to a life that includes more love, peace, freedom, harmony, prosperity and joy.

 

Leah Skurdal, is a public speaker, workshop facilitator, energy healer and author. Leah offers classes through her business, Mastery in the Art of Living in Lino Lakes, MN and other locations. She is author of the forthcoming book, “Toggle to Soul: Live in Joy.” Leah is available to speak to groups at breakfast or lunch meetings, social groups, classrooms and spiritual communities. She can be reached at leah.skurdal@gmail.com www.MasteryInTheArtofLiving.com

Mini Spiritual Retreat

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When have you taken time out for yourself lately?

Come to Saturday Sanctuary Mini Spiritual Retreat

  • to nourish yourself so you have more to give others
  • recharge your batteries so you feel refreshed and re-energized
  • listen to your own wisdom so you can hear your voice above the roar of demands on your time
  • breathe and move so you can slow down your mind

Saturday, April 25, 9:00am-12:00pm
at the Wellness Circle, 7094 Lake Dr. Lino Lakes, MN

Cost:  $90

For more information or to register call Leah:  651-472-3995

Mouse Musings

minnie mouseOur pet mouse, Isabel, died today. Well, not actually my pet mouse. She is (or was) my daughter’s pet mouse. Isabel came home at the end of a 5th grade science experiment about the merits of fruits and vegetables.

My surprise at the passing of Isabel the white mouse is that I might miss her just a teeny bit. As I cut up vegetables for dinner, I realized I would no longer save tidbits for Isabel. Never did I dream that I would save vegetable scraps for a mouse. Curious things we do as parents. Living with Isabel the white mouse has taught me a few other things about life.

For a while, Isabel ran on her wheel every night. We shut the door so not to listen to the squeaking plastic wheel turn all night long. One day, we realized that we had not heard the wheel for a time. When we investigated why Isabel had stopped running, we discovered that the wheel had become lodged during a cage cleaning and would not turn. We adjusted the wheel so that it turned properly again, but weeks later, Isabel still would not run.

We mused that Isabel had failed so many times at turning the wheel that she quit trying. Even though one more try would have proved that the wheel turned freely, Isabel Mouse would sit in the wheel but she would not run.

How often do people behave like Isabel? They feel dejected over failure and refuse to try again. When have I quit trying, when one more attempt would have created success?

Towards the end of her life, Isabel appeared agitated and climbed the sides of the cage regularly looking for a way out. Maybe the cage was too stinky. Now, Isabel Mouse is free. Her carbon atoms buried under a tree combine with the carbon of the earth. Her life force energy combines with the Universal Life Force. Isabel Mouse finally got out of her cage.

Do you notice, as I do, how often people trap themselves in a cage of their own making – prisoners of old patterns of thought? Where in my life do I cage myself in my old stinking thinking patterns?

During meditation, I free myself from the stinking cage of my limited thinking mind. Focusing awareness on my breathing, I watch my thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. With an open heart, I experience the freedom of aligning with Universal Life Force. I align with my Soul, connect to God, and feel free.

Thanks for the life lessons, Isabel Mouse. May you rest in peace.

Sending a Boomerang for Peace

boomerangActively commemorating the Season of Non-Violence, between the dates of Ghandi’s and ML King’s deaths, January 30-April 4, gives me an opportunity to send out a boomerang for peace.

During the Season of Non-Violence, I invite you to pay particular attention to any negativity you send out before it comes back at you like a boomerang. I experienced this first hand one morning when we were rushing to get to an event on time. In a crabby mood, I fussed at the kids about their lack of preparation and the possibility of arriving late. The tension in the air escalated. I fumed in the kitchen, hurriedly throwing together ingredients for a dish to bring to the third event in a day with back-to-back activities. In a careless, not-at-all-mindful moment, I knocked over a can of olives, sending the liquid flying all over the floor and behind the stove.

I took a deep breath, recognizing that I had just magnetically attracted that experience into my morning. Like attracts like. My negativity had come back to me like a boomerang.

Pulling the stove out to the center of the room, I cleaned the floor and the wall behind the stove while imagining that I was cleaning the negativity from my aura. The day got brighter. On that specific day, I had to focus several times on mindfulness in the moment.

Some days require the extra mindful awareness to my responses. The fellow in the next car flips me off because he doesn’t like the way I am driving. Breathe. When I am mindful of being the change I want to see in the world, I send a boomerang for peace, “I hope the rest of your day goes better.” If I am not paying attention, or if I have already collected too much negativity in the day, I may boomerang negativity back at him – which will come back to me later.

I invite you to bring mindful awareness into your daily interactions. Are you sending a boomerang for peace or for violence?

While attending kids’ sporting events in the past few years, I have sometimes noticed adults yelling or speaking rudely to players or refs. My daughter and I commented on a poster at a kids’ basketball tournament, which read: “Remember, this is a game. The players are kids. The coaches are volunteers. The refs are human. This is not the NBA. Have Fun!” I invite you to be aware of the level of respect in your tone of voice at your kids’ sporting events. Are your comments contributing to hostility or to fun?

Today, I had the opportunity to talk with middle-schoolers about non-violence. Gossip presented as the hot topic. One student suggested that when she hears negative talk about a friend, she weighs what she knows about the person and chooses not to believe negativity. Another student says that she walks away from negative talk and will come back when her friends change the topic.

A couple years ago, while assisting with two situations requiring conflict resolution among adults, we found that the root of the conflict started with miscommunications via electronic media. When volleying email and text messages back and forth, I invite you to be mindful of your intention. Others cannot hear your voice and may misinterpret your words. Misunderstandings over electronic communication can mess up relationships. When I get an email or text message that feels prickly to me, I try to communicate verbally in person or via phone call to sort out the underlying message.

Being the change I want to see in the world, as Ghandi urged, requires that I put mindfulness into practice in my daily life. It takes one set of skills to be mindful of my thoughts while sitting peacefully in meditation. Being mindful during daily interactions requires another set of skills. In what ways are your thoughts, words and actions contributing to peace or to violence? What is on the boomerang you are sending out today?

Leah Skurdal teaches classes on meditation and wellbeing at the Wellness Circle in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. For more information, click here. Or visit her website, www.MasteryInTheArtofLiving.com

Recharging Your Batteries Efficiently

When did you learn efficiency of time?
Daughter #2 and I arrive home at the same time. I shovel snow, eat a snack, pack an overnight bag for an away basketball tournament, throw in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen and am ready to go – in the time it takes for Daughter to finish packing the bag she started the night before.
When do we learn that level of efficiency? Apparently not at birth. Is it a personality characteristic or a mommy tool honed over years of supervising multiple activities? Perhaps both.
Sometimes that efficiency overlooks an important detail: ME Time. Sometimes I get so focused on getting things done that I neglect adding “Down time for myself” onto the TO Do list. Maybe you are like me and squeezing in an hour of yoga, 20 minutes of meditation and a cup of tea before bed is the best quality ME Time you get. Actually, that’s pretty good for one day, but paltry as the sum total for the week.
Some weeks feel like a roller coaster with hairpin turns. Maybe you land gracefully, ready to dance on Friday night. Maybe you catapault into a heap on the sofa with a bag of potato chips and a soda. By the end of the week your inner battery needs serious recharging.
When your batteries run low, here are three tips for efficiently recharging your body, mind and spirit before running off to your next activity.
Breathe. Find a quiet space for five minutes. Yes, you can. Go sit in the bathroom. Imagine that you are breathing through a nose in the center of your chest. Touch your thumb to each finger while saying, “I am at peace.” Repeat for ten heart breaths. Notice your energy move from your head to your heart. Listen to your inner voice.
Move. Find your own body rhythm and stretch. Reach overhead, up on your toes, stretch side to side, bend down low. Listen to your heartbeat. How does your body want to move? Notice, stretch and breathe into an area of tightness. Relax the back of your tongue. Wow! You didn’t know your tongue was tense until you relaxed it, did you?
Ask. What would feel good now? A luxurious, sweet smelling bath? Clean sheets on the bed? A foot massage? Extra care washing and moisturizing your face? Choose and schedule a self-pampering activity. Then, be sure to do it.
Efficiently recharging your batteries on a regular basis helps you stay out of depletion mode. You stay available for your loved ones, remain productively in the flow of the things you love to do, and you can monitor your own wellbeing. Periodically, though, a deeper recharging of your batteries benefits the entire clan as well as yourself. A weekend spa sounds great but not practical with our schedule. A half-day to myself feels doable and luxurious though. Dedicate some extended ME time just for yourself to nourish and renew yourself and to recharge your batteries. You will be glad you did.

Living on Purpose

When you are living your life on purpose, you feel connected to something bigger than yourself. You feel grounded and anchored in your core values. Your inner compass is set to Due North and when you get off track you can easily check your inner coordinates and get back on track. Mastery in the Art of Living helps you connect to your inner GPS and create the life you choose.