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.