Heidi Carlin’s personal experience and professional training helps readers participate in a guided journaling exploration to find increased happiness. This journal includes inspirational messages on topics like meditation, Naikan, Reiki, spirituality, and other healing tools.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.27(d)|
Read an Excerpt
MEDITATION – HEARING YOUR INNER VOICE
In my humble opinion, pretty much anything can be called meditation. Sitting cross legged and practicing emptying the mind is probably the most traditional way of thinking about meditation. But I have come to realize there are many ways to meditate. Taking a walk in the woods or on the beach, anywhere in nature, really, can be a form of meditation. Writing in your journal about what comes to mind is a form of meditation. Drawing or painting is a way to meditate.
The main point of meditation is really just to empty the mind of mundane or scattered thoughts and to contemplate the present; focusing on what is immediately in front of you at that moment. Many westerners are intimidated by practicing meditation, but I believe everyone can do it, especially since I can do it. And trust me, I am scatter brained and very easily distracted. In writing this paragraph alone, I had several non-related thoughts arise, and I was able to pull myself back to this page.
The trick with meditation is to practice non-judgment. Okay, I sat down to meditate, and my grocery list came into my head instead. Fine. Now let's get back to emptying my mind and moving past the grocery list; I wonder what else there is that will come up!
Simply accepting and acknowledging when you are getting side tracked, and not judging yourself for it is, I believe, a main concept of practicing effective meditation, no matter what form of meditation you choose.
Let us practice meditation together. Let me show you how it has helped in my life, and show you there is no right or wrong way, just your way, to practicing becoming the more mindful person you may want to be. Explore the different ways to meditate and see what resonates. Enjoy!
Meditation Message 1: Breathe deeply. It really does bring calmness.
Why: I am a Registered Yoga Teacher and we have always been taught to breathe deeply when you are in Yoga class. When doing Viniyoga, my favorite kind of therapeutic Yoga, we often match our movement with our breath. It has an amazingly calming and focusing effect on me. Staying present has often been a challenge for me, especially when I am feeling particularly anxious that day. It's so easy to start thinking about things that worry you, and then you realize that worry is totally irrational, and then you think about how silly you are being so irrational, but then your anxious mind tells you, no it's real, you really should worry about this. ... and it goes on and on. Have you been there? Yeah, me too.
When I go down that highway of scary thoughts, I try my best to tap the brakes and take the Deep Breath exit. When I begin to take that first deep breath, my mind instantly takes a tiny break. I can feel my mind re-center. Ah, that feels better. But often, by the second breath, I'm back to worrying. Okay, that's fine. Just keep breathing. And so I do. And then I start to count: breathe in for 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe out for 1, 2, 3, 4. Repeat at least four times. I promise you will feel a tiny difference. And you might want to do it again next time you're feeling overwhelmed.
Your turn: Write a sentence about how you feel right now. Then sit quietly and breathe counting to 4 on the inhale and to 4 on the exhale four times. Next, practice the same breath while moving your arms above your head while inhaling and moving them back down to your side while exhaling four times. Close your eyes to really focus on the breath and movement. Write about how you feel now. Has anything shifted? Do you notice a tiny difference in your mindset or maybe even a big difference? Would you like to do it again and maybe even incorporate this into a daily or weekly routine? Did you get inspired to add something else like a gentle turn of your head? Reflect on what you are feeling and maybe even try it again in another day or two and write about how you might feel different on different days.
Meditation Message 2: Eat mindfully and with presence and contentment.
Why: When I was in Yoga teacher training, they taught us about Ayurveda the ancient form of healing mainly through food and mindful eating. Some monks eat in complete silence and total devotion to the food in front of them. In reading The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie recently it all came back to me. Little Snow Lion (the cat) explains in the book in exquisite detail how something tastes, and reminds the reader that eating when totally present will enhance the flavor and the experience.
When I eat with total attention, and believe me it's a challenge for my monkey brain sometimes, the sense of satisfaction I get from eating drastically increases. My favorite thing to do is to close my eyes when I eat. Cutting out visual perception causes my taste receptors to come alive and the flavor seems to increase. I can really enjoy the different textures of the food in my mouth and how lovely it is to chew everything carefully. Digestion begins in your mouth, so chewing your food completely will help your tummy work less. It will also slow down your rate of food intake, thus allowing your brain to catch up with your stomach, and let you know when you are full before you are over-stuffed.
Your turn: Be completely present with your food for just one meal. You may even want to close your eyes while chewing your food and notice how the flavors change when you take your eyes out of the sensation equation. Write how you feel and what you noticed. You just might want to do it again and again!
Meditation Message 3: Everything is possible because perfection does not exist.
Why: What is perfection? Really, what is it? Is it what you think is perfect, or what I think is perfect? Because I can pretty much guarantee you right now your sense of perfection will be different than mine. The best advice I can give when being worried about being perfect is to just be you! Be the best you can be, and that will be wonderfully awesome! You already have your very best within you! I believe we all have a spark of God (or whatever you want to call the creator of all things) within us and he/she gave us free will to be whatever we want to be. We are wonderful just the way we are right now; and we have the power to be even better, we just have to choose to be better. But not perfect, because perfect is that spark within you. You already have it. You can stop worrying that you will never be perfect, you already have that spark within you; you just have to let it out.
Your turn: Write about your perception of perfection. Has it fooled you lately or maybe all of your life? Maybe your mother or other influential person in your life has told you what should be perfect. Can you realize that belief in perfection could be false and let go of your belief of a certain perfection perception you have been holding on to? How can you change your way of being hard on yourself (we are all our worst critic) by letting go of perfection?
Meditation Message 4: Everything is connected. The water coming from your faucet is the same water the dinosaurs peed in a long time ago.
Why: Well, that is called the hydrologic cycle, Google it, if you wish. But think about it. Trees are turned into paper, building materials, fuel to heat your home, etc. Water is not just water. It is contained in clouds, in lakes and rivers, in underground caves, etc. You drink and wash with the water coming from your faucet. It has been collected and cleaned up for you to use from rivers, lakes, or underground. You brush your teeth, make coffee or tea with that water. That water then returns into the cycle by you peeing it out, or simply flowing back into your sink, as you accidentally leave the faucet running too long and your cup overflows. Our bodies are also made of mostly water. Amazing, isn't it? And when we die, it begins again; that beautiful cycle of life, as we are returned to the Earth.
Your turn: Reflect on the seemingly fleeting moments that actually happen again and again. How trees grow leaves, drop them, and grow them again in the next season. Think about your daily activities and how things come and go. Reflect upon this magical cycle of life and how you are an active participant in that cycle.
Meditation Message 5: Be with yourself. Just for one minute. You might learn something amazing.
Why: During the course of each day, we have to be different people. The responsible adult who gets out of bed to go to work on time. The mother or father who coaxes their kid out of bed. We have to make choices to eat the proper food or feel terrible when we eat junk. We have to do a lot of things each day we may not necessarily want to do, but we do them because we know we have to or because it's the right thing to do. And I'm a Gemini! I have several faces! I usually come across as happy and confident. A coworker referred to me as bubbly. Yes, I'm a nice person. I love helping people and will always try to find empathy for everyone, even if they make me madder than hell. And I will easily slip into the mode of looking out for everyone else first. When I then drop exhausted on the couch one evening wondering why I am so terribly grumpy and tired, it hits me. I haven't really been myself in a while. And usually that is where it stays for another few days, because, hey, it's always easier to procrastinate on things that concern yourself. But then, after a few days, my tiredness will get the best of me, and it's time to just be. I close my eyes, maybe play some nice music, and I just AM. I am just being myself breathing, just being myself feeling the exhaustion and frustration of the past days when I was different versions of myself, but not truly myself. And I just am. And when I just am, amazing things happen. I realize that I actually wasn't serving my friends and family by putting them first. I realize when I snapped at a person I love so very much it wasn't because they were being stupid, it was because I was not being myself, and I got impatient. And then the five minutes glide away, but I feel refreshed and rejuvenated, because just for a few minutes, I was myself again. I was able to have a hissy fit inside and say what I wanted to say and now I feel better again. That, my friends, is the best form of mediation I have found so far.
Your turn: Reflect on how often in a day you do things that your true inner self would not want to do. While some of those things are necessary (like going to work to keep a steady income and a roof over your head), many of the things we do daily are really not necessary and not serving anyone, even though our ego tells us we have to do this for someone. Write about your feelings when you actually just sit and be yourself. Don't be shy to write out the nasties and the frustrations you may be feeling. Writing them on paper makes them leave your body, and that is a good thing. Release. Let go. Be yourself. Enjoy!
NAIKAN – THE ART OF GRATITUDE
My Reiki Teacher Bridget Lambert recommended the book Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech to me in one of our sessions. This book has changed my life. It taught me to be grateful for everything. And I mean every little thing! When you sit down to eat, I may say a prayer thanking Spirit/God for the food I am about to eat. Naikan goes further. It asks me to be grateful for the food I eat, for the person who stocked the grocery store where I got my food, the cashier, the person who delivered the food to the grocery store, the person who serviced the truck used to deliver that food to my grocery store, the farmer who planted the seeds that grew into the food in front of me, the seed for growing, the soil for allowing the seed to grow, the sun, air, and soil for providing the nutrition the seed needed to grow, and so on.
Naikan and practicing gratitude will teach you to slow down and enjoy the little things, as each and every little thing is part of a big thing. And that big thing is called the Universe.
Naikan Message 1: Practicing Gratitude in your daily life may cause an improvement in your attitude toward your surroundings.
Why: Naikan changed the way I thought about things and proved to me we are all one. Once you think about each activity in your life this way, you will most likely feel immensely humbled that you even exist. It is so easy to forget the little steps that are necessary to make anything happen.
There is a beautiful quote in the Naikan book, which really affected me. It is on page 47 of that powerful book:
"In the Midst of Pain
Once, not long ago, it was a hearty tree providing shade, food, and oxygen – a world of its own.
For a hundred years, perhaps more, it flourished with breath and life.
Then it was cut, sawed, ground, and pressed until it found itself softly resting between two friends.
Peacefully and patiently it waited for the moment it would burst forth into the world and exercise the meaning of its life.
And now that moment has come. It gracefully caressed my cheek, wiping the tears from my eyes and taking on my pain as its own.
All those years as seed, tree, wood, and tissue in preparation for the fleeting moment it would console my sadness.
As it gives its life to comfort me I almost failed to see the kindness of its deed.
Wrapped up in self-centered pain, tear-blinded, I nearly missed its selfless service. Who will give witness to such compassion if not me?
Shriveled and soaked, it died while serving a fool who discarded thousands of its brothers and sisters without a thanks – not one tear shed in gratitude.
Teach me to see through the teardrop, that in the midst of pain I may understand the true source of the softness against my face.
Teach me to cry with my eyes wide open."
Your turn: Write about a simple process that happens daily like getting the mail, eating, driving to work, turning on the light in the evening, etc. Think about ALL the things that have to happen (you may not even know them all, but really try to think about all the steps in the process) before that piece of mail arrives in your mail box or that piece of food in your mouth. Enjoy the experience of finding full awareness!
Naikan Message 2: Compassion helps you better deal with crazy people. You must remember that you can only control your own actions and reactions, so control your dissatisfied feelings (anger, frustration, etc.) by learning more compassion when someone upsets you.
Why: We don't/can't really know every detail of someone else's life to understand why/how they react to certain situations. The next time you don't like the way someone acts, try to respond with compassion. Just send the person a bubble of compassion and love. Make it your favorite color, or green, for healing, or pink, for love. Do not give away your power by getting aggravated or playing the victim. Two specific people in my life come to mind. They tried their best to be catty, snarky, rude, hurtful, and condescending. I realized these two people were so miserable in their lives, they had to try to put me down to feel better about themselves. This lifted a huge veil of sorrow off me, as I realized it really wasn't about me. The sorrow left me and true compassion entered into my heart for those two people. I felt truly sad for them. They must really be suffering to be that hurtful to others.
Your turn: Has someone hurt you? Can you imagine how they may be feeling? Going outside your place of hurt or being annoyed with that person, can you see why they may do the things they do? You may never know how they really feel, as we are never intimately part of their life's experiences, and we can never know how people react to certain challenges. Can you imagine how or why they are so difficult?
Naikan Message 3: Painful events suck, but they make us better people in the end.
Why: I've had my share of painful experiences from my childhood into adulthood. A little while ago my first-born kitty passed away after honoring me with her sassy body and Spirit for 16 years. As much as I'm hurting inside and missing her, I wouldn't give up all the memories she helped me make – even when she puked on my new carpet – I bought a little pet carpet cleaner robot thing. One of the coolest gadgets, if you ask me. There is something positive to be gleaned out of each event, even if you do not immediately see it.
Your Turn: What painful events are you grateful for now? Process and feel how far you have come. You can do this; you already have done so much! Everyone's journey is unique and marvelous. Even if you are in the midst of a painful event now, I can pretty much guarantee you that you are further along today than you were yesterday. So reflect on how far you have come. Own your greatness!
Naikan Message 4: When you feel yourself going to a place of judgment, stop, and send compassion.
Why: I caught myself judging a young woman recently. What I noticed is that I don't like judging anymore. I've been through too much in my life to now sit on my high horse pretending to know better than anyone else. I have been hurt by judgmental people in my life. So why would I do the thing I hate so much? To make myself feel better? Really? Does that really make me feel better? Nope! Compassion wins the day yet again! And I feel so much better now!
Excerpted from "Infinite Happiness"
Copyright © 2017 Heidi Carlin, RYT.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction – How to use this Journal, vii,
1. Meditation – Hearing your Inner Voice, 1,
2. Naikan – The Art of Gratitude, 23,
3. Reiki – The Universal Energy of Love, 45,
4. Spirituality – What it means to You, 67,
5. Healing Tools – Continue finding Happiness, 91,
In Gratitude, 115,
About the Author, 117,