//
archives

Archive for

Dogs Are Great Partners For Achieving Mindfulness

Dogs don’t know each other by name, but by the energy they project and the activities they share. They know humans in the same way.  – Cesar Milan, Dog Whisperer
A relationship with a dog is a lesson in mindfulness.  Dogs respond to the energy people, animals and places project.  Cesar Milan, the famous Dog Whisperer, has made a career out of helping troubled dogs transition back into well-balanced, socially fit dogs.  Usually, the root of the problem is with the interactions encouraged by the dog owner, so Cesar spends just as much time working with the owner as he does the dog.

Dogs live in the Now, and in order to understand their behavior and have a functional relationship with them, the dog owner, or any human benefits from becoming aware of the energy they are projecting when around the dog.   This encourages a state of mindfulness that benefits both the dog and human.  The dogs respond very quickly to a change in energy, and Cesar has demonstrated many instances where the dog appears to have a completely different personality within 10 minutes of his interaction.

To have a well-balanced dog living with you as a dog owner, you must assume the role of pack leader.  If no one has claimed that role, the dog will.  A human who presents himself in a calm, assertive way toward the dog will be seen as a leader by that dog.  This relationship builds an awareness in the owner of his own state of mind, encourages self-confidence and allows the dog the maximum freedom and rewarding interactions.  Because dogs are completely reactive and express their true selves at all times, the owner gets very tangible feedback on their state of being.  Dogs are great companions for achieving a state of mindfulness and an exchange of unconditional love.

Cesar Milan has his own TV show and some sample past episodes can be viewed on his website.
Advertisements

iPhone Apps That Guide and Assist With Mindfulness

I’m currently reviewing some iPhone apps that guide and assist with the goal of being more mindful.  There are many free ones available and some that are worth a try.  The ones I’m currently trying are

The Now

This App is described as,

…an app to help you retrain your mind to live more fully in the moment.  The Now accomplishes this using a technique called continuous mindfulness training.  This process works by using periodic cues.  In this case, free iPhone push notifications with an audible chime and relevant message, to remind you to be fully focused on the present.  The ultimate goal being to make mindfulness essentially continuous.
It has received 56 reviews giving a rating of over 4 stars so people are receiving positive benefit from this simple program.   The app pushes inspirational quotes and techniques for becoming present in that moment as reminders.  Over the course of 21 days, the notifications become more frequent, beginning with about 4 per day.  Some example messages are,
 
Savor a song in a new way.  Listen to lyrics that you’ve never carefully focused on before.
Close your eyes immediately.  Break your current thought process and remember what your primary goals were for the day.

The main complaint users had was that it was not continuous, only lasting 21 days.  The main compliment was that they liked the action oriented reminder to help them focus throughout a busy day.

Pocket Zen

With this app, you can ‘get Zen moments delivered daily … timeless words of wisdom delivered straight to your mobile for a moment of reflection wherever you go.’

It comes with 50 quotes and provides 4 additional quote packs at a $0.99.  You can bookmark your favorite quotes to refer to at any time or share any one of the quotes via twitter, facebook, mail, message.  It also provides a copy button to transfer a quote anywhere.  The look is very nice with beautiful graphics and readable display.  Reviewers have given it a 3 star rating with most complaints addressing the loss of the favorite quotes from a previous version.

From their description,

We use a crutch process well call “Observe.”
When you notice yourself thinking (when you become aware of using Mind) end the thought with an expression – use your thumb to tap. The gong will vibrate and sound for several seconds. During this time, the sound/sensation will provide you a physical texture upon which to focus your attention. Hear, touch and in that feeling, let go of the thought entirely.
 The tapping refers to a gong which both vibrates and makes a sound when you tap on the screen.  This is the primary function of the app – to draw your Mind’s attention to the sound and feel of the gong.  There is an option to set a timer to go off at an interval of your choosing or you can just open the app whenever you want to focus back on the moment.  It’s an extremely simple app that can be used in a sort of Pavlovian way to train your mind to stop what it’s thinking about and focus on the gong.

It has a 3.5 star rating with only 7 reviewers who give it a thumbs up.  For those that like to have something to do with their hands, this would be a handy tool.

Omvana

From their website,
Omvana offers two types of tracks, vocal tracks with inspirational speeches, poetry, hypnosis tracks, personal growth talks and guided meditations. And ambient sounds which include sounds of nature, meditation sounds, relaxation tracks and even advanced binaural beats designed to relax your brain hemispheres.
MIX any vocal track with any ambient sound to create your own unique meditation experience. Take an inspiring speech or poem and turn it into a meditation by combining it with binaural beats. Or take any of our world class personal growth tracks and customize them for meditation, sleep, hypnosis, relaxed listening or more by replacing the default ambient sound with anything you choose.
 The app comes with a set of 6 tracks to mix with a simple interface that allows you to swipe in carousel format in order to choose 2 separate tracks.  If you would like to expand your selection, you can purchase from 100’s of tracks at their store, ranging in priced from $0.99 to $7.99+.  You can also record your own track and add it to the collection.  Any mix you create can be shared via Facebook or Twitter.  It has received a 5 star rating from 21 reviewers.
 

Life Purpose Lite

From their website,
“The Life Purpose App” provides a powerful (and formerly secret) method to clarify each reader’s life path and purpose, including the core challenges and strengths you were born to address. Each of us is unique (just as no tree is exactly like any other). But just as redwoods that are different from birches or oaks, each of us is born with a different “frequency” or pattern we are here to fulfill. Anyone who has perused the book will enthusiastically testify to its accuracy and accessibility. Understanding your own life path — to reaffirm, clarify and focus your strengths and address your challenges — can be extremely validating and liberating. Equally so, understanding the challenges and gifts of your parents, children, and others can change relationships and lives.
This app provides access to information in Dan Millman’s books that talk about life purpose.  To find out about your life purpose and themes to explore, you enter in your birth date and the app pulls up relevant information for you to explore.  It’s pretty reading intensive and the lite version only contains very short excerpts.  You would need to purchase the $9.99 app to gain access to the complete information.

The lite version is only worthwhile as a way to explore whether you would like to spend $9.99 to purchase the complete app.

Life Guidance and Inspiration

From their description,
Looking for insight? Facing a crisis? Or simply needing support? Find the guidance and inspiration that will help you live a happier and more fulfilled life. Discover the best strategy to help you meet life’s challenges and overcome difficulties. Access your inner wisdom and realise your spiritual potential.
This free iPhone app shows you how to use your intuition to find answers to specific questions and receive daily readings. Get instant insight into the root cause of a problem.  Discover optimum self-help strategies to support you.
The free version provides a reading using two cards in a two step process.  The first card explores the theme of life wisdom.  Three default questions are provided or you can ask your own.  An example question is, ‘What is holding me back from living a happy and fulfilled life?’  After selecting the question to explore, you use your intuition to select a card that suggests what might be holding you back.  For instance, negative beliefs.  Next you select a card for guidance.  For example, you might select, ‘Patience’, and the card will offer a suggestion for how to achieve more of it.  After the second reading, you are provided with a summary of the question and the two cards you selected.  You can save the result;, share it to twitter, Facebook or email; or select a new reading.  This app is self-guided in that it relies on your intuition to show you the relevant information.
This app has not yet been rated in the app store.

Total Awake

From their website,
Total Awake is an ultimate app for people interested in mindfulness and meditation training. Total Awake provides many kinds of meditation training such as Breathing Meditation (Anapanasati), Moving Meditation and Walking Meditation (Jong Grom). Moreover, Many special alarm features make you mindful all day long…
This app is based on Buddhism and contains many features, including customizable ones.  I’m not familiar with Buddhism, so I can’t comment on how closely it keeps to the philosophy.  Of its many bells and whistles, it has many alarms.  There is a customizable alarm for waking up, an interval alarm for bringing you back to mindfulness, an alarm that triggers with every footstep for mindful walking, an alarm triggered by the volume of your voice for mindful talking, and an alarm that will let you know when you are driving too fast for mindful driving.
 
You can set a count down timer to play soft sounds while falling asleep.  Or you can try a breathing meditation that tells ‘you exactly when you have to Inhale, Retain, Exhale and Sustain to let you practise a lot easier.’  You can also opt to play a background sound while performing the breathing meditation.
The home page is a dashboard that visually displays your progress throughout 3 different categories: precept, mindfulness and merit.  The merit and precept mode are supposed to guide you toward neutral thinking by completing checklists of things to do or not do for each day.  There is a large calendar display that you can use to access saved data from previous days.
Finally, the app provides access to articles on their blog and allows you to download content for offline reading.

For mindfulness training, the precept and merit features are not necessary.  The mindfulness tools are very nice, especially the feature of customizing your own alarm sounds which include gradual increases in sound.

AWElife

From their website,
AWElife was created to help people collaborate, connect and share resources to create an Abundant, Well & Enlightened world. With this app, you can become a member of AWElife, connect with amazing, dynamic and conscious people, share your value and views, find collaborators and resources you need. As well, you can get conscious news, media and information on topic like environment, ecology, renewable energy, wellness, social justice and personal development.
The main features of the app are that it provides news feeds for various topics, such as, abundance, enlightenment and community, and that it has a discussion forum and chat for members to talk and relate.  Although the navigation was not clear at times, it’s nice having an app geared toward creating a community of like-minded people who can find people to co-create with more easily.  It is essentially the community website put into a mobile app so you can take it on the go.

Mindfulness Tool – Using the Reporter App to Track Your State of Mind

With the explosion of apps, there are many options out there to help keep you on track with your goals and focused on maintaining a positive state of mind.  Since our minds are constantly wandering off, any tool which supports baby steps toward a more mindful existence are very helpful.  An app tool called Reporter built by Friends of the Web has features which enable you to query your mood and/or mindfulness level at specified intervals during the day.  For instance, you can set the number of times you are queried per day, which determines the frequency your attention is brought back to your goal.  This tools is described as
“…an all-purpose life-tracking app that relies on random samples to gather information and build understanding.”
You can create your own questions to bring your attention to your progress on staying positive and present.  The questions can be formatted as multiple choice, yes/no, notes, tokens, etc. for quick answers.  Examples of some questions you might ask yourself are,

  • What is your mood?
  • What is affecting your mood?
  • Is your attention fully on what you are doing?
  • Close eyes – can you see in detail where you are?
  • Have you been inspired today?
  • At the end of the day – what did you learn today regarding mindfulness?

The Reporter app keeps track of your answers over time so you can visually see your progress.  Below is a screenshot of sample data on moods using multiple choice.  The icons are from the Emoji series.

Reporter App Screenshot
Use the app as a mindfulness reminder.  Use it as a positive state of mind reminder.  When the alerts come in, answer the questions and take a few moments to bring yourself into the here and now.  Raptitude.com has an example of paying attention to Now when you receive a reminder:

When you open a door, drop your train of thought outright (you can pick it up again shortly) and watch your hand grasp the doorknob. Pull the door open with purpose and patience. Feel its weight. Watch as a new scene is revealed. Feel the new air of the room you are entering. Listen to the sound of the first room give way to the sound of the new room. Feel this transition with undivided attention.

Absorb your environment so that you are aware of what you are immersed in and how you are interacting with it.  You can include a question tracking the number of minutes you were able to spend being mindful after each Reporter session.

Give Yourself a Lift With Gratitude

Candle HolderAlso known as a Rampage of Appreciation, beginning your day with 10 minutes of non-stop appreciation for what is in your life right now gets you off to a great start of your day.  The trick is to elevate your mood, then do your thinking or talking.  If you look to something outside of yourself to pick you up, you are not doing an inspired act.  First come the good thoughts, then comes inspiration to take you through a more enjoyable day.  If you run through what you love in your head while feeling your enjoyment of those things, you center yourself into a good feeling place.  An example might be thinking about how warm and cozy the bed is in the morning and taking time to just feel the enjoyment of being warm and cozy.  Writing a list of things that make you smile and keeping it with you throughout the day is a way to provide yourself with a handy pick me up tool you can turn to whenever your mood is dropping.  It’s okay to feel in a positive mood when you are surrounded by others who are down.  It takes a sense of confidence in yourself to not conform to the moods and attitudes of others around you, but you are worth it.

I believe the concept of looking after oneself despite others’ current mindset is one of the hardest things for people to do.  It is human nature to care about others and have empathy for them, but others benefit more from your uplifting mood than from you matching a negative mood.  Keeping yourself centered in the midst of chaos is a daunting task.  Believe in yourself.  You cannot expect anyone else to believe in you until you believe in yourself.  People will flock to those who radiate positivity and benefit from that positivity more than empathy.  Just as you can start a crowd laughing by laughing yourself, a positive mood can be infectious.  Make a habit of appreciation by practicing daily – it will be a tool that integrates seamlessly into your life.

There are many iPhone/iPad app tools that enable you to make lists and track progress.  They range from calendar apps to list apps.  Some examples are the Day One Calendar App, TapList and the default Notes and Reminder Apps that come with the phone.  A future post will cover some apps in more detail that enable you to more easily consciously manage your mood and thoughts.

The New Lego Movie – Everything is Awesome

This is a great kids movie that is currently a new release.  The story is about a prophecy that says a Master Builder, one who can assembly any contraption instantly, will save the lego population from an evil guy who wants to control and micromanage everything.  When a very ordinary guy who can’t build anything satisfies the requirements for the prophecy, he is deemed the Master Builder.  Although he can’t build anything they approve of (his ideas are unique to him and not seen as impressive), they decide he can learn.  At some point in the movie, the wizard guy who made the prophecy tells him he needs to believe in his own ideas, not what others think, in order to evolve into a Master Builder.  As he becomes more trusting in his own self, he builds something seen as totally useless that actually does save them at some point.  In his attempt to fulfill the prophecy, he fails because he is trying to be what others think he should be.  So the wizard tells him, in a Matrix like fashion, that he made the prophecy up.  This enables Emmett to go on and actually fulfill the prophecy.  The theme pushed by the movie is that for this evil to made irrelevant, everyone must begin creating exactly what he/she is inspired to create, no matter how crazy it is.  A great theme to end with.  And the theme song is a big picker upper with great lyrics to uplift.  The song is available on YouTube here.  With lyrics like

Lost my job, there’s a new opportunity.  More free time for my awesome community
‘”It’s awesome to win and it’s awesome to lose’

you can’t go wrong.

Happier – an iPhone App

I’ve recently upgraded to an iPhone after sticking with the basic Sprint model for 9 years.  While exploring apps, I came across Happier.  This is a app that enables people to share moments that make them smile by contributing to a social gratitude journal.  You can upload photos or any token of your happy moment to share or comment on others’ moments.  The goal with this app is to share appreciation for moments in your life.  It’s a great tool for implementation of rampages of appreciation.

The Abe Forum

For a place to go to for positive rampages and discussions, the Abe Forum is a network of people determined to be positive.  I recommend the Rampages of Appreciation thread when you want a lift.  This forum is for people who are motivated by Esther Hick’s rendition of an energy called Abraham.  Her site can be found here where the daily quote makes it worth visiting daily.

James Tyberonn Sums It Up

This excerpt from James Tyberonn’s article in the Feb 2014 edition of the Sedona Journal  encapsulates the basic idea behind how life works that I am using as a guideline for the tools and techniques on this site.

The …essential truth is that all souls …create their own circumstances and experiences within Earth dimensions.  You are here to learn responsible creation.  Many of you …find it hard to believe that you  also create your daily life scenario, especially when the events that occur are unpleasant.

We tell you that the very unfolding of the events you experience day by day is determined by your beliefs and attitude, as well as the expectations formed and projected by both.  Period!

Both positive and negative attitudes, conscious or not, manifest into your reality.  If you project a mentality of lack, you create lack.  If you dwell on worry and fear, you draw them to yourself.  Thus your beliefs and the thoughts that are projected from your core belief must be directed consciously in a consistently productive attitude.  This takes effort.

Accordingly, the great lesson of each life – each soul’s journey – is to learn how to direct thoughts in deliberate, positive directions.  Otherwise you will find yourself in a difficult conundrum, a cage of your own construction.  You are here to learn responsible creation, and that is a great truth.  And when you truly comprehend this, your path becomes clearer.

The idea that we can consciously direct our thoughts, change our beliefs and guide our lives in the direction we desire is a powerful one.  It also requires absolute recognition and management of our beliefs, attitudes and thoughts, which takes effort as emphasized (by me) in bold in the quote.  This effort is continuous and takes determination to succeed against what sometimes seems all odds.  In support of this effort, I will post any relevant websites, tools, motivational concepts to act as pick me ups and realignment techniques in order to stay the course.  The idea is to become a Master Builder of one’s life.

%d bloggers like this: