Tag Archives: awareness

Spiritually Empowered Women…

Women all around the world are beginning to realize that being spiritually connected is their key to happiness and abundance. As they connect to Spirit, they listen and trust, and begin to realize their true value. When connected to Spirit, they find that magic happens and prosperity flows.

Women are spearheading our future. And spiritual women are leading the way. They’re "tapped in" and they’re using their innate gifts to serve the world. Spiritually empowered women aren’t concerned with getting ahead at the detriment of others. They won't do jobs or perform services just for the money.

Neither can they take unconscious advantage of the Earth's natural resources and her inhabitants. That was the old way. The new way is feminine. It is full of collaboration, community, creativity, fostering, nurturing and supporting one another.

Spiritually Empowered Women

So, you may wonder, how do women become spiritually empowered? The answers are simple…

They think less and feel more:

They realize their body always knows the truth. They tap their femininity, intuition, softness, gut feelings and embody their nurturing essence. They use tools like yoga and meditation to move their awareness from their head to their heart. They also nurture themselves with massages, hot baths, and eat healthy meals.

Within their body is where the deepest part of their essence abides. And the freer they feel to trust themselves the more they develop the courage the change themselves and to change and serve others.

They start where they are at:

They don’t wait until they finish the next course, or book, or work their way up to a six figure income. Spiritually empowered women begin living their dream life, now. They question that little voice that says “you’re not ready yet.” They instinctively know that if they don't love what they do, no amount of money will make them love it.

Each spiritually empowered woman has a unique purpose here on earth. That purpose becomes their passion and their service to the world. They do what they love, and they do it NOW! They are fully aware that the world needs the gifts that only they have. This enables them to raise their energetic vibration through living in alignment and balance with their Spirit.

They commit themselves to remaining mindful and to live with awareness:

They remain open, willing, tolerant and forgiving. They set intentions daily that re-affirm their deepest commitment to living a spiritually infused life. By creating daily rituals they reinforce and ignite their spirit. They familiarize themselves with their innermost thoughts and beliefs; those separate from their family, friends or partner. They challenge their fearful and limited beliefs, consciously releasing the past.

They create a sense of community:

By aligning with like-minded souls who nurture, inspire, encourage, support, they are able to remain accountable. They may join a women's circle or brainstorming group. They might attend community events at a yoga studio. They learn to uplift and empower other women. Spiritually empowered women see other women's success and beauty as proof of their own potential.

They are bold and take risks:

Spiritually empowered women are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. They don't feel the need to wait to be praised, discovered, or validated by another. They don't worry about what other people think. Oftentimes they don’t follow another’s path but instead clear their own path by walking it courageously.

Spiritually empowered women strive to be living fully in the present moment. They have learned to love themselves without judgment or undue criticism. They surrender their desires and thoughts and reunite with the love essence that is always within. They share, serve, and smile and the Universe rewards them for it.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Mindfulness: Benefits & Cultivation…

Mindfulness benefits…

As hinted at by the definitions in the previous post, “Mindfulness – What’s the Buzz”, increasing mindfulness helps one to become more focused, more creative, happier, healthier, more relaxed, and in control, and obviously, it can also help you more fully appreciate each precious “now” moment (which is all we have in reality).

There have been quite a few recent studies related to mindfulness and they have demonstrated that mindfulness training has the potential to:

1. Improve mental function, including memory and academic performance. In one particular study, students who did attention-building exercises had increased focus (with less mind-wandering), better short-term memory, and better performance on exams like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which is believed to be un-coachable.

2. Greatly help with weight loss and increased awareness, resulting in eating healthier foods. Mindful eating is paying attention to each and every bite and chewing slowly while paying attention to the sensory experience of eating (Harvard Medical School, “Womens Health”). Those who participated in mindfulness studies also lower calorie foods, even when they were hungrier than control groups.

3. Lead to better decision-making abilities. A number of experiments associate mindfulness meditation and the development of a natural tendency to be more mindfully aware with being less prone to the “sunk-cost bias,” a common tendency to stick with lost causes, such as a toxic relationship or dead-end job, simply because of one’s time and energy that has already been invested. Source: British Psychological Society (BPS) Research Digest.

4. Reduce stress and help cope with a variety of chronic health issues. A meta-analysis of 20 empirical reports found mindfulness increased both mental and physical well-being in patients with chronic pain, cancer, heart disease, and more according to Elsevier Health Sciences.

5. Improve immune function and create positive, physical changes in the brain that produced a sense of psychological well-being. The researchers measured brain activity before and after volunteers were trained in mindfulness meditation for eight-weeks, before determining these results (Psychosomatic Medicine).

These are in addition to all the other brain benefits we’ve seen from mindfulness meditation, e.g.; better focus, more creativity, less anxiety and depression, and more compassion, just to name a few.

How to Practice Cultivating Mindfulness…

Unfortunately, becoming mindful isn’t as simple as flipping a switch and then all of a sudden you’re locked into mindfulness for the rest of your life, although it is something you can cultivate.

By curbing distractions and just refusing to multitask for a time can help you focus more, but distraction-arresting tools might turn out to just be a sort of crutch. True mindfulness requires that you be more aware in even the busiest and most stressful situations and this is often when its usefulness as a tool is most appreciated.

An easy and effective way to get started is to set up triggers (or cues) to pull you back into the present moment whenever your mind begins to wander throughout that day. Take eating for example, remember to savor each bite, putting your fork down in between. While at work, you can set an chime, leave a post-it note or other reminder at regular intervals to remind you to pause and bring awareness into the moment. By pausing before you respond others will also help you to become more mindful in your relationships. Practices like receptive appreciation and consciously letting go of control work well to help you return to the present.

In the GRE study cited (#1 above), the mindfulness training that lead to better memory and learning involved the following six steps:

1. Sitting in an upright posture on the floor with legs crossed (or in a chair with legs straight) and gazing downward.

2. Distinguishing between naturally arising thoughts and elaborate thinking processes.

3. Minimizing the distracting quality of past and future concerns by reframing them as mental visualizations occurring in the present moment.

4. Using awareness of the breath (while breathing naturally) as an anchor for attention during meditation.

5. Repeatedly counting consecutive inhalations (or exhalations) for up to 21 counts.

6. Allowing the mind to return to a restful state naturally instead trying to suppress the the constant flow of thoughts.

This training may be called “mindfulness meditation” and it is one of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness. It’s an exercise for the brain, and it’s good to do it throughout all your daily activities, applying it to everything you encounter or experience.

Mindfulness is a concept reflected throughout Buddhism and no doubt the Buddha, who taught the middle way between secular (worldly) and spiritual concerns, would have agreed that there is a time for using mindfulness to discover both inner and outer truths, a time for using it to survive various challenges and tests, and a time to let go of mindfulness so that practical problems and situations may be addressed and used for creative and meaningful changes and purposes.

*Of related interest, click on: The Importance of Meditation to Yoga Practice

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Mindfulness – What’s the Buzz?


It seems as if the word “mindfulness” is seen and heard just about everywhere today, used to promote everything from weight loss regimes to being more productive at home and on the job. Being the hot topic that it is, mindfulness (like meditation) is getting more attention as more and more  studies reveal its many benefits. In some circles it may be viewed as psycho-babble, but there’s mounting evidence that being more mindful will enhance nearly every single aspect of your life; and this is spite of some common misconceptions; one being, it doesn’t take hours of sitting in padmasana (the lotus pose) to get you there.

“Mindfulness” has become a catch-all word that has many synonyms (awareness, attention, focus, presence, vigilance, etc.). The antonyms are not simply “mindlessness,” but also distractedness, inattention, apathy, heedlessness, etc.).

Mindfulness is a state of mind but can also be practiced as a type of meditation. Ironically, mindfulness can’t be developed by force. Sheer determination and willpower won’t do you much good at all. As a matter of fact, it will likely hinder progress. A mindful state is not attained by struggle. It gradually grows by simple realizing; letting go and just settling down in the present moment and allowing yourself to get comfortable with whatever experience is presenting itself. Now, this does not mean that mindfulness will happen all by itself. Energy is needed, effort is required. But this effort is not to be mistaken for force, instead it is cultivated by a gentle effort, almost an “effortless” effort. So the meditator cultivates the state of mindfulness by unceasingly reminding themselves in a gently way to maintain conscious awareness of whatever is happening right now. Perseverance and a light, easy touch are the secrets. Mindfulness is cultivated and deepened by constantly “pulling” oneself back into a state of awareness, gently, ever so gently. Whenever you’re exhibiting the state of mindfulness, you’ll find you’re fully engrossed in whatever happens to be going on around you.

You can also think of mindfulness as allowing yourself to be fully in the present moment. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center) defines it as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally; as if your life depended on it.” Although that seems to be a simple definition, being engaged 100% doesn’t necessarily come easy, especially in this modern world of endless distractions. It means actively listening and using all your senses (in even mundane situations like washing the dishes or getting dressed in the morning.

Rooted in Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness is considered extremely important on the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment (aka, bodhi) is a state of being where greed, hatred, delusion and other forms of negativity have been transcended and are absent from the mind. Mindfulness is actually an antidote to delusion and is considered as such a “siddhi” (a power developed from spiritual practice).

In a state of mindfulness, you see yourself exactly as you are. You see your own selfish behavior. You see your own suffering. And you see how you create that suffering. You see how you hurt others. You pierce right through the layer of lies that you normally tell yourself and you see what is really there. Mindfulness leads to wisdom

Mindfulness is not about trying to achieve anything, or make anything happen, it is just looking, observing without judging. So, desire and aversion are not involved in any way and competition and struggle really have no place in the process. Mindfulness does not aim at any particular thing, it just sees whatever is already present. The mindful state has a broader, deeper and larger function than concentration. It is an all-encompassing function, whereas concentration is exclusive, it singles out one item and ignores everything else. Mindfulness is all inclusive, standing back from any sort of focused attention and watching with a broad perspective, quickly realizing any changes that occur.

If you want to grow in mindfulness, patient acceptance of “what is” is the only course to follow. It grows one way and only one way; by continuous practice of mindfulness itself, by simply returning to that mindful state, and that means being extremely patient with yourself. Progress cannot be forced and it can’t be hurried, it proceeds according to own pace.

In summary, mindfulness is all about deliberately tuning in and being consciously aware of every experience. In William Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence” he describes the results of this kind of attentiveness… 

“To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.” 

Stay tuned, We will continue on this subject with “Mindfulness Benefits” and “How to Practice Cultivating Mindfulness”

*Of related interest, click on: The Importance of Meditation to Yoga Practice

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Develop a Positive Attitude with Yoga

The essence of all yoga practice is to remain positive in any situation that we find ourselves in. By remaining positive, our interactions with ourselves, others and the world at large become brighter, more productive and perpetuate a feeling of self-satisfaction, often referred to as the “feel good factor.” As a result we become healthier and more peaceful.

So how can yoga practice be used to develop this positive disposition? Simple, there’s a 3-step approach:

1 – Awareness

2 – Acceptance

3 – Attitude

Well now, let’s consider these three factors…

1.    Awareness:

We can begin by becoming aware of what we’re thinking and how our thinking process actually works. We systematically train ourselves to be aware at all times of how our mind is working; our thoughts, thinking patterns and tendencies. Practice making this a habit and if it seems difficult, there are two meditation techniques which can be of great help – Antar Mouna and Yoga Nidra. Both these techniques help in the withdrawal of our senses into introspection or silent witnessing.

*Antar Mouna (inner silence meditation) is a pratyahara technique, pratyahara being the first of the four inner limbs of Raja Yoga and deals with the activities of the conscious mind. Antar Mouna is the development of conscious awareness of all thoughts and mental activity. The technique involves creating, transforming and finally gaining control of the entire thought process.

*Yoga Nidra, generally referred to as “Yogic Sleep” is a 4000 year old guided meditation technique that leads to a deep and exquisite state of supreme stillness and insight where the body and mind can restore and rejuvenate. It can enable you to experience unshakeable peace, even during some of the most difficult times.

2.    Acceptance:

Ironically, increased awareness brings about a heightened sensitivity to the issues at hand, where we are at risk of becoming too judgmental and critical of both ourselves or of others. This can set the stage for sending us into a vicious cycle of negativity unless we learn to first accept things as they are.

Develop a stance of “it is okay” to simply observe things the way they are, without being obsessively driven to try to change or control them. Just by being a witness of all that arises establishes an attitude of acceptance that leads to genuine love and real compassion, establishing the “bedrock” of positive thinking.

3.    Attitude:

After we have fully accepted what lies within (or behind) our thoughts, we can then start working on how we “choose” to look at any particular situation, person or thing. These yoga techniques are essential in helping us to change our attitude. The Sankalpa (or resolve) that we establish through Antar Mouna and Yoga Nidra assists us in shaping our mind. This resolve in yoga is always takes the form of a positive statement e.g.; “I am becoming more positive every day”. Such positive conditioning when regularly used to fuel the mind will help greatly in shaping a positive attitude.

By regularly practicing these three (awareness, acceptance and attitude), you

Practicing Self-Enquiry in Daily Life

About Self-Enquiry…

The practice of Self-enquiry (“Atma-vichara” in Sanskrit) is the most important meditation practice in the Advaita-Vedanta tradition. It is the primary practice of the yoga of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), which is traditionally regarded as the highest of the yogas because it is the most direct method of attaining liberation through Self-realization. This is how the realization of our true nature (beyond the mind and the body) is achieved.

Self-enquiry is the culminating practice through which Self-realization (the realization of our true nature beyond mind and body) can be achieved. It is emphasized in the entire Vedantic tradition since the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Many texts of Advaita (non-dualistic Vedanta) describe it in detail, particularly the works of Shankaracharya, but also Ashtavakra Samhita, Avadhuta Gita, Yoga Vasishta and Adhyatma Ramayana.

Self-enquiry is known today mainly through the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (1878-1950) The Maharshi made this direct approach available to the general public, offering it as his main teaching to any individual who was capable of receiving the teaching.

The Actual Practice…

You may wonder… how do I put Self-enquiry into constant practice? There is only one way, by turning your attention inwards, to the sense of “I am” and that which is aware of the “I am.”

Simply put; turn your attention to the source of the ‘I’ thought.

Your hand doesn’t tell you it’s yours, you feel it is. There’s no part of the body that tells you it’s yours, not even the breath or heartbeats, yet you feel they are all yours. Thoughts keep appearing in the mind, they don’t tell you they are yours, but you believe that they are – that you’re the one who is thinking. From where does your sense of I, me, mine arise?

The objective is to discover your true self; therefore your practice begins with an enquiry into your real self by simply asking, “Who am I?”

Begin by setting aside some time for quiet reflection, preferably every day. To start, just ponder this question, “if I keep referring to everything, including body, senses, thoughts and mind as mine, then who am I? What is the source of this sense of “I, me and mine?” Where does this sense of ‘I’ arise from?

Ignore intruding thoughts and everything else that distracts you; keep your attention on this ‘I’ thought, remain intent on finding the very source from where it arises. If you keep paying attention in this manner, you’ll find that all other perceptions will start fading away.

If you get distracted, you can turn inwards again by asking; ‘I got distracted, but where did this feeling of ‘I’ arise from?

Soon you’ll find that you can keep this attention on your Self (the sense of ‘I’) by asking at any time during your normal daily routine; “Who is experiencing all this? Who is aware of all this?” Follow this by paying attention to where the sense of where ‘I’ arises from. It helps if you de-focus your eyes as you enquire, de-focusing will automatically draw your attention away from all other thoughts and objects in your perception.

Take a deep breath, pausing for a moment. Pay attention to the feeling/being when the lungs are full and the breath has stopped then stay with that feeling. Focus your attention on that ‘I am’ when the breath has stopped. Now, breathe out and pause for a moment, again noting the feeling/being when the breath has stopped and stay with that feeling.

You’ll begin to notice that this feeling is the same whenever the breath has stopped, whether after breathing in or breathing out.

Continue, but do not focus on the breathing itself, and notice how that being/feeling stays in the background even while the breath is going in and out. Now put your attention entirely on this feeling/being instead of the breath. As you do this, abide in that feeling/being as it appears in the gaps, do not focus on the breathing. If your mind wanders occasionally (and it will), bring your attention back to the pause (gap) between the breath and then keep paying attention to that. Abide in the pure awareness of your “being,” for as long as you can.

Eventually, you’ll be able to continue being aware of your being even during your normal daily activities. When walking, remain with the awareness that appears before each step is taken and after, and notice how this awareness stays with you in between the steps as well.

If when meditating using a name or mantra in your mind, be aware of the being/feeling in the gap between the repetitions until you stay with that; and then ignore the chanting.

When your mind seems extremely active (cluttered with too many thoughts), remind yourself to turn your attention to the pause between the breath as outlined above.

Remember to focus not on the objects that you see, but your awareness of the seeing (or hearing, smelling, touching, etc). Continue to remind yourself that all objects in your sensory perception merely prove that you are aware; meaning you turn your focus away from the objects themselves and into the awareness that you are aware.

Be aware of your being whenever and wherever possible and abide in that awareness, know that you are only awareness, not any object that you perceive, including your body, senses, thoughts or your mind. This is not an intellectual exercise, and these guiding, reminding thoughts should be kept to a minimum, always returning to abiding in the feeling of being.

*Note: If you wish to learn more about the subtleties of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings, the following books are recommended reading: “Be As You Are” by David Godman, “The Path of Sri Ramana Part One” by Sadhu Om, and Sayings from Sri Muruganar’s “The Garland of Guru’s (Sri Ramana Maharshi’s) Sayings”(click on title to read these e-books).

“The only true and full awareness is awareness of awareness. Till awareness is awareness of itself, it knows no peace at all”…Sri Muruganar