Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reflections on my Physical, Spiritual, and Psychological Well-Being

These are the reflections of my experiences in this course and how they have assisted in my well-being and ability to assist others.

Review of my unit 3 personal assessment:

Physical well-being: 8

Spiritual well-being: 7

Psychological well-being: 5

Looking back, I realized that my well-being has somewhat improved as I currently rate myself as follows:

Physical well-being: 9

Spiritual well-being: 8

Psychological well-being: 6

Truth be told, I arrived at these numbers based on the progression of the goals I established for myself during this course, which I am happy to say are in full swing. As I reflect on my goals, I feel a sense of accomplishment as I have dedicated myself to attend to my overall health as opposed to focusing solely on my physical health. As such, I am in a better place to keep progressing toward improving and maintaining my well-being.

With that, the goal for my physical well-being is to maintain my current exercise routine and include at least 2 other aerobic activities to prevent boredom as I was running 6 days a week. Besides, I wanted to develop upper body strength as my arms are were too skinny! As such, my goal was to vary my workouts with more circuit training exercises to include strength/resistance training in addition to cardio exercises. This way, I can focus on strength and cardio by working on different muscle groups while burning calories. Moreover, my goal of eating 6 small meals a day has helped to maintain my energy levels so that I can better focus on and perform my daily tasks.

For my psychological well-being, I have implemented guided meditation or loving-kindness practices after my workouts. As such, I am still maintaining yoga poses for flexibility, but also to help me shift into the mindset of preparing to meditate. In fact, it has become a routine for me now as I look forward to discovering the stillness and silence of mind; which helps me to find peace and become recharged. Even though I am working on taming my mind of its mental chatter, it can be difficult to diminish my preoccupation with negative thoughts and feelings when confronted with situations that create stress in my life. My goal is to maintain a sense of peace and calmness when bombarded with stressors by shifting my focus from the negative to the positive to help me gain control instead of automatically reacting during the trying times. Consequently, I rated this part of my well-being as mediocre as I am still a work in progress in this department; but I have learned this requires patience and time which tells me that I should not be so hard on myself when I fall short on those challenging days.

Last of all, one of the goals for my spiritual well-being is to re-establish my faith through daily devotions and attending church. I have implemented the goal of going back to church; which has helped my prayer life and communion with God and connect to other people who share a common belief. Indeed, it was an exhilarating experience to attend to my spiritual needs by going to church instead of committing to doing the same mundane routine every Sunday, which was really stressing me out. On the other hand, I still have not committed to daily devotions; so I am open to suggestions as I would like to find something that will speak to me in a profound way. In the meantime, I have been reading my Yoga Journal’s Daily Insight to inspire me and deepen my spiritual well-being. For instance, today’s article was based on how yoga provides many tools to help us cope when we are distressed. Hence, we become worried, anxious, or lose or cool when facing a stressful situation because our minds have a tendency to magnify minor disturbances that can appear threatening. As such, the article suggested engaging in a loving-kindness (metta) meditation to diminish self-concern and remind of us our interconnectedness with all beings.

Overall, this class has taught me the importance of finding time for me instead of stressing out over school work, kids, a messy house, difficult people, or the things I cannot control or change. As such, my eyes were opened when l discovered that I needed to attend to my inner life first by developing and growing psychologically and spiritually in order to improve my overall health instead of focusing solely on the physical part. Therefore, no matter what I do to improve my physical health, it can be affected if my inner health is neglected or underdeveloped. At first, this was not very encouraging, but I did not want to jeopardize my health by neglecting the very important part of my existence. After all, it made “perfect” sense to me! That said, I am able to find peace by focusing on my breath and observing my mind’s movements as I learn let go of negative thoughts and emotions that create tension and distress me. In addition, I am learning to cope with stress and life’s struggles instead of becoming overwhelmed, which is an encouraging step toward the development of my health and well-being. In addition, the benefits of meditation and visualization have been a rewarding experience, which have improved my outlook on life.

On the difficult scale, I would say that the workload for this class was intense, but it motivated me to go the extra mile by completing my assignments and implementing my health plan into action. I believe this experience will improve my ability to help others effectively as I gain a profound knowledge and understanding of integral health. While I may not be a perfect 10, I am inspired to be a role model for my family and others as I continue to work toward the development and improvement of my inner well-being. As such, the idea of attaining a perfect 10 is questionable as no one is perfect, which means there is always room for improvement. Besides, high scores are not indicative of health especially if there is a lack of inner control, self-confidence, or maintaining healthy relationships. If anything, one can become complacent when there is nothing to strive for which can cause them to backslide. With that said, we should start by improving our health and well-being first in order to share our challenges, struggles, rewards, and accomplishments; which can become a source of inspiration to guide and support those who may be curious or have a desire to make a change for a better way of life.

Thanks to everyone who provided kind words of encouragement that served to keep me going! I wish you good luck with your goals and aspirations.

Yours in health,



Dacher, E. (2006). Integral health: The path to human flourishing. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Yoga Journal: Daily Insight. (2011). Money Meditation. Retrieved on February 16, 2011 from:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Holistic/Integral Health Plan: Unit 9 Final Project


Why is it important for health and wellness professionals to develop psychologically, spiritually and physically? What areas do you need to develop to achieve the goals you have for yourself?

It is important for health and wellness professionals to develop psychologically, spiritually, and physically to gain a profound knowledge and understanding of holistic health in order to serve and guide their clients effectively. As such, “practice what you preach” should be the mindset for health and wellness professionals who seek to assist individuals improve health problems due to poor lifestyle choices and promote a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Thus, health and wellness professionals should lead by example, especially if they expect clients to adhere to their recommendations and/or advice. Moreover, they will be able to exhibit compassion, understanding, and empathy toward their clients and share personal testimonies in regard to their struggles and accomplishments; especially to those individuals who may have doubts about a particular health plan and healing process Personally, my physical health is quite strong, but I need to develop my psychological and spiritual health in order to achieve my goals.


How have you assessed your health in each domain? How do you score your wellness spiritually, physically, and psychologically?

On a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate my spiritual health, at best, at a 7 as I feel connected to the universe and bonded with my family, friends, nature, and the earth in general; but I would like to get back to church to reconnect my soul as I have neglected that aspect of my life. That in mind, I rate my psychological health at a 6 as I am still trying to maintain a sense of inner peace and calmness when bombarded with struggles and stress that cause me to waver. I meditate and practice yoga to help me feel balanced and centered; but probably not enough to sustain my inner health. In addition, I need to develop better skills on expressing myself to others rather than keeping my emotions to myself; which can become explosive if I become extremely stressed, agitated, or frustrated. Lastly, I rate my physical health at a 9 as I feel there is always room for improvement. I would like to focus more on maintaining my physical health by adding other fitness routines and not be too concerned about performance as I have a tendency to be too hard and critical of myself.

Goal development:

List at least one goal you have for yourself in each area, Physical, Psychological (mental health) and Spiritual.

Currently, one of my goals for my psychological health is to incorporate meditation and guided mental visualization as a daily routine so that I may develop skills to foster peace and calmness throughout the day by slowing down and taking time to sit in silence as opposed to being preoccupied with all I have to do and rushing through my daily tasks. In addition, these mental workouts are to help me clear my mind of its mental chatter riddled with distracting thoughts and emotions. Likewise, I plan to use more forgiveness so that I may release past grudges and grievances so that I may openly express my thoughts and emotions instead of keeping them bottled up inside. For my spiritual health, I plan on attending church to reconnect my soul and get back to reading daily devotions to keep me grounded in my faith and spirituality. Last but not least, I plan on maintaining my current exercise routine of cardio (running), strength (weight resistance), and flexibility (yoga) exercises that I engage in six days a week to support my physical health.

Practices for personal health:

What strategies can you implement to foster growth in each of the following domains; Physical, Psychological, and Spiritual. Provide at least two examples of exercises or practices in each domain. Explain how you will implement each example.

Physical strategies:

1. Cross train by adding cycling and swimming to my fitness routine to prevent my workout routine from becoming stagnant. I plan to cycle and swim when the weather becomes warmer at least 2 to 3 days a week.

2. Eat 6 small meals daily throughout the day to maintain peak energy level so that I do not become hungry and increase stress levels.

Psychological strategies:

1. Take a ballet class to help me express myself through the movement of dance and classical music. Needless to say, I danced when I was younger and still enjoy the creative expression of movement through dance which engages the mind, body, and spirit.

2. Meditate daily for 20 minutes to foster peace and calmness. During meditation, I plan to increase my self-esteem by reciting positive affirmations to keep me grounded so that I do not surrender to external stressors and lose my peace and calmness. In addition, I plan on lowering the expectations I have for myself and others so that I do not become frustrated or overwhelmed in stressful situations.

Spiritual strategies:

1. Read daily devotions that will encourage me and keep me focused on the positive things in my life.

2. Attend church to reconnect my soul where I can feel spiritually connected to others who can provide moral support, guidance, and fellowship.


How will you assess your progress or lack of progress in the next six months? What strategies can you use to assist in maintaining your long-term practices for health and wellness?

The best strategy for keeping track of my performance and progress is to keep a journal so that I can write down my goals, what exercises or activities I did for the day, make comments about my thoughts and feelings, and make note of any unpleasant or pleasant outcomes. I currently keep a workout journal to help me keep track of my exercise challenges, running times and distances, and my meals for the day. It helps me stay on track, and I am able to monitor my progress and know when I need to make adjustments, modifications, or increase my food intake. Keeping a journal will help me notice certain trends that may create a plateau in my workouts, the activities that may or may not be working for me, and identify strategies or goals that may be unrealistic or need tweaking. Likewise, I can monitor my stress levels by the activities and moments that may be creating stress in my life so that I can eliminate them and try another plan. Nonetheless, my plan is to maintain my current physical activities that help me reduce my stress levels and feel a sense of achievement and confidence about myself. Moreover, adding daily meditation, going to church, and expressing myself through dance should foster my psychological and spiritual health and help me heal as a whole person. In this manner, I will be able to develop peace, happiness, and health and become an inspiration to others.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rainbow Meditation and Meeting Asclepius

Overall, I have discovered that all the contemplative practices have provided some benefit one way or another as they are intended to develop psychospiritual development for one to tame and control his or her mind, extend and expand mental control, then finally stabilize calmness and stillness to reach awareness and unity consciousness (Dacher, 2006). However, the two practices I chose helped me to gain a sense of calmness, peace, and balance within myself as I discovered a beneficial way to purify my mind, heart, and thoughts. At times, emotional thoughts flood my mind, but I am usually able to detach and let them go as I find myself in a place of stillness and harmony.

For starters, the Rainbow Meditation happens to be one of my favorite practices because it requires focusing on the breath and visualizing images with guided prompts; which adds to the overall relaxation process and calming effect. I am able to clearly “see” the colors of the rainbow in my mind’s eye; and saying the suggested phrases also helps me to feel centered, loved, balanced, and connected, and so on. I don’t know if it’s because of the visualization of light and colors that help me to experience a warm sensation of healing energy; but this guided meditation is the one I return to time and time again when I need to unwind from stress or sit quietly in peace without having to rush mindlessly to the next thing that needs to be done. As such, this practice allows me to slow down and become more aware of my thoughts, emotions, and actions, and I feel at peace and balanced knowing that I have done something positive for me that will be a benefit in the long run.

Likewise, Meeting Asclepius requires visualizing a wise, loving person to foster feelings of peace, wisdom, love, joy, and connection. This exercise calls for reflection of positive qualities that can help purify one’s thoughts, feelings, and images as they visualize a transference of healing energy from their visual image to the crown of their head, their throat, and finally to their heart. After this practice, I feel a sense of connection to others as my mind, thoughts, and heart are purified with loving-kindness, compassion, wisdom, and peace.

At times, this practice can be quite emotional, but is effective for healing. Likewise, it can also be frustrating, especially when intrusive and distracting thoughts wander in and out of the mind. I have even found that sometimes I am not able to visualize someone who is wise and/or loving, and this discourages me as I am surrounded by many loving people who seem to have a hard time being wise. Perhaps, there are some issues that are still unresolved; I probably have to practice some more forgiveness and loving-kindness in order to release of grudges or grievances that are attached to my mind and heart. On the other hand, if I refrain from focusing too much on disturbing emotions, thoughts, and images that just seem to cling and would not go away; I have found that I should instead focus on slowing down my restless mind with deep, rhythmic breathing. Also, focusing on positive thoughts and images somehow help me to find stillness and peace; and the negative emotions and thoughts vanish as I allow myself to experience the healing and transformation.

These practices can be practiced on a daily basis as they do not require an extensive amount of time and can even be broken down into smaller sessions during the day. I prefer to practice them in the morning while things are still quiet and peaceful; this helps to jumpstart my mornings in a positive manner. However, some mornings require other obligations, so I have to practice them after my workouts, which seals in all the hard work and allows me to thoroughly cool down. With each practice, I am learning to gradually release of negative emotions that create conflicts and undesirable reactions that do not promote peace or wellness. As such, I still need to work on controlling impulsive thoughts and reactions to diminish mental suffering and pain; so that I attain clarity, wisdom and peace of mind. Inasmuch, these practices will help me to develop better skills, expand my consciousness, decrease stress, and enhance my interpersonal relationships as I progress toward a path of health, happiness, and wholeness. Meanwhile, I am disciplining myself to commit to these practices into my life on a daily basis as I realize that they require patience, dedication, perseverance, and effort so that I can attain human flourishing.



Dacher, E. (2006). Integral health: The path of human flourishing. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

“One cannot lead another where one has not gone himself”…

The saying, “One cannot lead another where one has not gone himself” simply means that one has to walk the walk before they can talk the talk or better yet, practice what you preach. What good would it do me if I tell my kids not to eat store-bought potato chips because they are unhealthy; yet, I am secretly indulging in them? If anything, I am being a hypocrite for expecting my kids to do as I say without heeding my own advice. If I expect positive things to happen, then the change has to begin with me.

Oftentimes, doctors do not see or treat their patients as the unique, complex individuals they are with many parts to the whole. As such, they tend to think they know what is wrong just by looking at charts, asking a few questions, and analyzing symptoms. But, do they really know the person sitting before them? Are they really listening to or looking into the eyes of their patients to understand their thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.? After all, many diseases today stem from emotional distress and mental suffering so it only makes sense that in order to facilitate total healing, health practitioners should discover the art of self-transformation to establish good relationships with their patients in order to prevent needless suffering and premature illnesses.

That said, I believe that health professionals do have an obligation to their clients to develop self-health; physically, psychologically, and spiritually. If we claim that our purpose is to help others achieve health and wellness, then we should tend to ourselves first to establish whole health as we gain compassion, intimacy, empathy, and knowledge.

What I see for implementing psychological and spiritual growth in my personal life is foremost; getting back to church to establish a heartfelt connection with other believers and help my kids grow closer to the truth as opposed to what they are exposed to at school. Besides, I am tired of making excuses and feeling out of touch spiritually as I continue to fill the void with my school work and contemplative practices. Sure, I am gaining knowledge and somewhat attending to my inner health, but what good is that if my spirituality is neglected? What I observe is me striving for perfection and being too hard on myself, which frustrates me. Nonetheless, I am a trying to be aware and mindful of any negative thoughts, actions, and speech, which is helping me to be create a healthier me as I work toward improving my inner and outer life.

Meeting Aesclepius

This contemplative practice is an effective tool for fostering loving-kindness, compassion, peace, love, and joy. As I settled down to visualize the image of a wise person, I recalled that the purpose of contemplative practices is not about relaxation but to establish inner freedom. The image of a dear friend was my wise and loving person; who helped to purify my mind, speech, and heart. I envisioned my friend sitting with me in communion as she shared her loving-kindness, wisdom, compassion, and love with me. I felt the warmth of her presence as a healing beam of light entered the crown of my head, my throat, and finally to my heart. Becoming this person was not difficult as I have been fortunate and blessed to spend three wonderful years with her before cancer carried her away in 2005. As I reflected on our friendship and memorable times together, I was able to find peace and joy knowing that she is still with me… and for that, I am truly thankful!

In a similar manner, meditative practices have allowed me to find stillness and peace within myself as I continue to learn how to tame and control my restless mind. I have to admit; it is not easy, as some days can be very stressful; but I am accepting this truth as I realize that anything worth obtaining takes time, effort, daily practice, and of course, faith! Step-by-step, I am progressing toward taming my mind to observe the stillness and peace and to facilitate an inner calm that will help me develop my psychological and spiritual growth.

As such, I believe that if I continue with daily practices, I will be able to improve to the next level of witnessing mind, calm-abiding; then eventually to unity consciousness. Indeed, the process takes time, preparation, effort, and so forth; but I am also learning to cultivate healthy characteristics, such as patience, discipline, awareness, and forgiveness in the process. In addition, I am discovering some difficult truths that need to be change or neglected in order for me to grow and develop mentally and spiritually. With that in mind, daily practices along with my commitment, perseverance, and fortitude will guide me along the path to achieving greater health and wellness.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Universal Loving-Kindness Meditation and Integral Assessment

Universal Loving-Kindness Meditation and Integral Assessment

To be honest, I was fine with the mini loving-kindness meditation…close your eyes for a minute and two and rest into the natural ease of my mind and body. No problem! But, how was I supposed to repeat the suggested phrases for 10 minutes if my eyes were closed? Really, I had to open my eyes at this point in order to repeat the phrases. I tried memorizing them, but that was not successful…I kept forgetting words or mixing up the order. Frustrated? Yes, I was…after all, I believe Dacher’s practices require more time in order for one to achieve the goal of taming one’s mind and controlling it. Personally, I have not gained the skill of taming my mind yet; I am still struggling with disruptive thoughts that constantly bombard my mind. Even if I attempt one contemplative practice and can achieve a calm mind; the peace of mind disappears once I resume my activities and the realities of life take over.

That said, the assessment did not reveal anything new about myself of which I was not already aware. I have a clear idea about my strengths and weakness, and it is just a matter of finding what really works as opposed to being a temporary fix. On a good note, my biological life is strong and the main focus of my daily activities. I engage in daily physical activities to work on endurance, flexibility, strength, and agility. In addition, I respect the environment and do not believe in animal cruelty; therefore, my diet reflects a concern for my beliefs as I maintain a sustainable diet of plant based foods; such as legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Likewise, I am working on maintaining a balance in my life with meditation, visualization, and deep breathing exercises to foster a sense of calmness, intentional focus, and awareness.

On the other hand, my psychospiritual life is weak as I have a tendency to keep my feelings to myself and not express myself verbally. I hold my emotions inward, which causes me to be angry and frustrated…mostly toward myself, and I have a tendency take my frustrations out on those close to me. However, I am working on being less reactive and more responsive by recognizing my body’s stress and anger cues, restructuring my thoughts in a positive manner, reducing my expectations of myself and others, and forgiving the past. At the same time, I am engaging in yoga, meditation, and contemplative practices so that I can learn to tame and control my mind of the constant chatter and negative thoughts and achieve stillness, clarity, and inner peace.

This is the one area that I realize requires my focus in order to achieve growth and development; but this too will take time. Besides, I have learned that this area tends to be underdeveloped and is the source of mental suffering and premature disease. Furthermore, it is the one area of my life that will improve other areas of my life so that I may discover inner strengths and qualities of wisdom and compassion to flourish instead of survive. Inasmuch, I am doing this not only for my health and wellness; but to teach others how they can also experience health, happiness, and wholeness. It just requires an intentional choice, patience, determination, and faith.

Be well!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Subtle Mind Practice Reflection

Hi everyone,

I am not sure about the subtle mind practice; the sound of the crashing waves was soothing; but somehow, my mind kept moving; just like the restless waves, which I found to be somewhat of a distraction. I kept my focus on my breathing; which helped me to clear my mind; but the guided prompts interrupted my stillness…even to the point of startling me once or twice.

When I compare the subtle mind to the loving-kindness practice, I recall how difficult it was for me also to initially engage in the exercise. In the loving-kindness practice, I had to intentionally release distracting thoughts so that I could focus on the suffering of others. Then, I was I was able to experience loving-kindness as I sent out feelings of health and joy to others in exchange for their suffering. I found that the loving-kindness practice allowed me to use my mind to visualize a process as opposed to the subtle mind practice which required focusing on the breath to remain anchored, observing the mind and its distracting thoughts, and trying to release those clinging thoughts…this was a difficult concept to grasp the first time around.

As such, this exercise practice is going to require patience and continued practice in order for me to experience calm-abiding. Maybe I am being too hard on myself, but I could not fathom the concept of witnessing my mind as being still and not visualizing or focusing on an object is not an easy task for me. This is quite frustrating as I frequently engage in yoga poses and guided meditation, which requires deep breathing to keep the mind focused and still. However, breathing in this exercise was more of a tense effort as I followed the prompts. It did not come easy, and I found my breathing to be labored; not all soothing or relaxing. While my body did appear to be calm and relaxed, my mind was on a different plane. I kept wondering if something mystical or mysterious was suppose to happen. When I closed my eyes, all I could see was moving colors, shadows, and shapes. Was this the still part of my mind? In all honesty, whatever distracting thoughts or images appeared in my mind only remained temporary. I literally had to force my attention to my breathing; which happened quite a bit. I admit that I have a long way to go; but at least I am willing to keep trying. This was my first practice; I imagine that each session will get better as time progresses.

What I have discovered from the contemplatives practices is that we do have the ability to tame our mind from its endless chatter. As such, when the mind is calm; the body is able to respond accordingly. Likewise, when we use our breath in a controlled, rhythmic manner, we learn to stabilize our minds and eventually; we find ourselves at a place where we can explore the deeper part of our minds. While I have not experienced the levels of calm-abiding or unity consciousness, I feel them there waiting to be discovered. If I have the ability to instill calmness to my body with rhythmic breathing and focused attention, I can only imagine what other possibilities are available within me.

As such, the mental clutter that bind us to ill-health disappears when our spirits are relaxed and are at peace; and this creates a balance within, which prompts healing and well-being. In any event, I have observed this connection in my life. What I have realized is that I have developed a sense of calmness and awareness in my life. For example, I have noticed that instead of instinctively reacting to stressors, I engage my brain to find a positive outcome as opposed to flying off the handle. In addition, I have learned to reduce stress by being more understanding with my kids as I choose not to have unrealistic expectations of them. Likewise, I find that engaging in mind-body practices, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery visualization, etc., allow me to find quality time to attend to my inner life. The more I attend to my inner life, the more I learn to take control of my health in a positive and creative way. I also believe that being responsible for one’s health does help to alleviate endless suffering and pain. When you take charge of your health, you find your purpose in life as you create a healthier world around you. Therefore, more than ever; we need to use our minds to get us on the path to health and wellness.

Stay healthy and enjoy the rest of your week!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A “Mental Workout” is Good for the Mind…

As an individual engages in physical exercise to improve his or her health, a “mental workout” is required for psychological health. In other words, we cannot expect to improve our physical health just by thinking about it; we have to move the body in some format to work the muscles, heart, lungs, etc. In the same manner, a “mental workout” exercises the mind in order to develop “consciousness and its healing capacities” (Dacher, p. 65). But this process requires diligence, perseverance, and patience if one expects to see a positive change. As Dacher explains, it is not possible for us to evolve our psychospiritual life and access its capacities and resources without daily practice (Dacher, p. 64). In as much, research shows that a trained mind can influence one’s physiology, hormonal system, and immune system. Likewise, recent studies show that the proven benefits of a “mental workout” include positively impacting attention, memory, perception, imagery, etc. (Dacher, p. 63). Further reports and studies also show that a mental workout can “transform the mind by reducing disturbing emotions that cause anger, hatred, fear, worry, confusion, and doubt and enhancing positive emotions such as patience, loving-kindness, openness, acceptance, and happiness” (Dacher, p. 63).

As such, one way I could implement mental workouts into my daily routine is by making an effort to do them first thing in the morning while my mind is still and not bombarded with my daily activities. Even if I am unable to practice mental workouts in the morning for some unexpected circumstance, I could manage to do at least one short session during the day. My goal is to develop my mental health in order to broaden my awareness, gain wisdom and understanding, and access my mind’s healing abilities to transform negative emotions into positive ones, such as patience, acceptance, and happiness. And who doesn’t want to improve their memory and attention? I also want to practice loving-kindness more often so that I can open my heart to others and be better prepared to progress toward psychospiritual flourishing.


Dacher, E. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Loving-kindness Exercise Reflection

The loving-kindness contemplative practice was a bit of a struggle for me…even though I was up early to avoid disruptions and maintain a relaxed state of mind; however, my mind was far from calm. It was my daughter’s 20th birthday, and I was feeling a bit guilty about my commitment to another school assignment and not spending quality time with her. Moreover, it was Sunday, and I kept thinking of the promise I made to myself about getting back into the routine of attending church services…but here I was once again doing another school assignment.

At least, there was the sound of crashing waves that provided some relaxation so I could attempt to clear my mind. Throughout the exercise, I followed the prompts with good intentions; however, I still had to struggle with disruptive thoughts and feelings. I had to literally force myself to fight off the “demons”; I even thought how is this going to make me relax? Then, I recalled reading that contemplative practices are not about rest and relaxation; they are more of a mental workout; or as Dacher states, “the progressive development of an expanded consciousness and its healing capacities” (Dacher, 2006, p. 65). No wonder I was experiencing such discomfort! I was expecting some external stimulation to provide relaxation.

Initially, I felt a tad uncomfortable trying to practice loving-kindness to those who are suffering as I did not think that I was able to help them. I realized that I was initially focusing on my immediate thoughts, feelings, and worries; somehow, I had to shift the focus away from me so that I could open my mind. Eventually, I was able let go of those feelings and focus on other people. I even realized that I do possess an authentic concern and compassion for others who are suffering; and by focusing on their suffering, whatever thoughts, worries, or concerns I had were suddenly not that important. I visualized their problems, insecurities, fears, pains, etc. and allowed them to enter into my heart with each inhalation, then to vanish on each exhalation. In the process, I sent out a prayer for happiness, health, and a brighter 2011.

I admit the exercise did take some effort on my part…as with anything meaningful in my life. If I could discipline myself to work out six days a week, eat healthy meals, complete my school assignments in a timely manner, and so on; why could I not apply the same discipline and effort to my mental health? And in spite of my initial discomfort, I felt the exercise was beneficial. While reflecting on the exercise afterward, I have to admit that whatever worries or concerns I had before were gone; I actually felt calm and looked forward to a positive day. Also, I was still able to spend quality time with my daughter later that day as we celebrated her special day. With that, I learned that by practicing loving-kindness, you get back what you give.


Dacher, E. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publicatons, Inc.