Tools & Practices
I’m a novice meditator, but it’s probably the most important tool I have for stress management and daily happiness. If you have suggestions to add to this list from your practice, I would love to add them! 5 Reasons to Meditate by Pema Chodron. How to meditate, Lion's Roar.
Guided Meditations: Ashok Gupta hosts the Meaning of Life app which has some great guided meditations for free. The Headspace app is a great place to start with 10 days of 10 minute meditations. There are a hundred good options on youtube (and some very annoying ones), and I specifically like some of the videos by AngelMeditations, Sarah Hall, and TheHonestGuys. I also like shamanic drumming, native american flute music, and singing bowls on days when I have better focus.
Tonglen: I’ve found tonglen to be really helpful when I’m experiencing strong emotions. Tonglen means “giving and taking” and helps connect the practitioner with the same emotion in millions of other people. Click here for some instruction from Pema Chodron, and here for a video I like by Tulku Tsori Rinpoche.
Yoga Nidra: Yoga nidra is sort of a hybrid between meditating and napping, and I've found it a fairly helpful practice for my insomnia. I've been using Karen Brody's program from her book Daring to Rest, and she has guided meditations available on the sounds true website here. There are also quite a few guided Yoga Nidra meditation options on youtube
Walking Meditation: Thich Nhat Hanh inspired me to try walking meditation. I like to use this simple practice: breathe in (for 3-4 steps), this moment. Breathe out (for 3-4 steps), precious moment. Or breathe in, gratitude. Breath out, smile. Click here for an article by TNH and here for a video. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thích Nhất Hạnh
Group Meditations: sometimes when I'm stuck, meditation with others is a huge help. If you don’t have friends/family who are on board and you are able to get out of the house, I found quite a few groups and classes around my community just by googling. Community for Spiritual Living groups and Sangha’s generally have free meditations. Meetup.com can actually be helpful too.
What's your favorite meditation technique?
GUPTA AMYGDALA RETRAINING PROGRAMME
"The Gupta Programme is a way of re-wiring the brain’s responses to bring back health and vitality." I've seen significant and lasting improvement using this DVD set & webinar series and would highly recommend it. In addition to improving my symptoms, it was a wonderful opportunity to effectively work through many of my limiting beliefs, traumas, and harmful thought patterns. These techniques are similar to, but more in depth than, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been known to help a lot of people cope with chronic illness. Though I found amydgala retraining worth the expense and effort, CBT is provided by many therapists who accept insurance, and might be a great alternative if you are unable to afford the Gupta programme at this time. Ashok Gupta also hosts the free Meaning of Life app which has wonderful videos and meditations.
If you're looking for a coach who has a lot of experience with the amygdala retraining techniques (and healing from chronic illness generally), I've worked with and would highly recommend Frances Goodall.
EFT & EMDR
Two tools that have been very helpful for me with processing difficult emotions and experiences are Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR).
EFT, aka Tapping, essentially combines acupressure with affirmations, and I've found it pretty powerful when combined with Gupta's amydgala retraining techniques. The EmoFree website has a some helpful info for getting started with EFT. I like Stefan Gonick's tutorial video, and also many of Brad Yates' videos.
Unlike EFT, EMDR is probably best to start with a practitioner, particularly if you're looking to address any serious trauma. The EMDR International Assoc has a therapist search, though they didn't have any in my immediate area, so I found mine (Kevin Brown & Teresa Maija) on Psychology Today's therapist search. However, in the case of an urgent situation like a panic attack, EMDR can be self administered, and here's a helpful article and video on how.
Intuitive Therapist, Stephanie Light. Hamilton MT. Stephanie has helped me access some incredibly valuable insights and is a healer I'd highly recommend.
Crystals: I'm also really new at using crystals, but if you like stones, they might be a great addition to your self-care arsenal.
Though I'm not a die-hard believer in metaphysical techniques, I absolutely think these tools can be really helpful if you're comfortable with accessing your own intuition (and maybe much more) this way.
If you have resources or wellness tips to share, please contact me.