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Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
3 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
Trailer - I'm Back with a New Season One
Everyday I try and figure out how on earth a person could get through a day without meditating.? I know I couldn't. Well of course I could but why would I do that? I need a rested body and mind and a nervous system ready to hold up to what ever is thrown at it and there is a lot. It's a never ending battle. I am 100% certain if I can meditate anyone can but hey you're not me right? You have your own stuff going on. You are extremely unique. However, after a decade or so of teaching, you might be surprised but I hear a lot of the same stories. We are often more similar than you might care to believe. This podcast will be my constant effort to throw meditative spaghetti at you and see what sticks. It just takes one noodle to fill you up. Listen to some stories, reminders, motivations, facts and skills. Maybe some handholding or instructive baby steps. What ever it is, I will try to lead you down a path where it's your life, but better. Some shows talk about meditation and then you experience it at the end. I haven't found that works for me or my students so I'm going head first into a new routine. Listen to this podcast when ever you want. Day or night, running or sitting, no rules. Then when you are ready, I will give you a way to start experiencing the effects of meditation. In the long run, I refuse to let you be all talk, I want to see action that moves you down the right path. The path that you intentionally set for yourself. No need to wait. Let's dive in. Go big or go home. Tune in to the first season of getting started down the road to peace. Each season will last about a month will a consistent theme. We will build this castle one beautiful stone at a time. Let's be victorious together.
4 minutes | Jan 4, 2022
Dry January Meditation Bliss
Join me for 31 days of meditation designed to help you slide into a peaceful, dry, healthy January.
36 minutes | Dec 30, 2021
EP 37: COVID, Flu, Cold, Need Rest? - I know one thing that can help
One of the number one things we need, when trying to recover from illness, is for the body to rest. But when your sick, sometimes even sleep isn't restful enough. Symptoms and medicines can really make our rest a bit wonky. Join me for a meditation to help you rest deeply, boost your immune system and help the recovery process. I am on day 5 of being sick but on the mend. This helped me tremendously so I had to share it with you!
20 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
Isn't Life a Pain? Meditation as a Bit of Medication.
Life is full of all kinds of pain: physical, mental, emotional. Perhaps you are getting ready for surgery, mending a broken heart or trying to limit your pain medication. Perhaps your pain is coupled with depression or maybe you just want to feel better. Today we will discuss how meditation can help ease the pain. And in the meantime add oodles of additional benefits to your life. Link to NPR Article
7 minutes | Sep 1, 2021
EP 36 Five- Minute Meditation - Safe Place
As we seek to build our resilience you can use this short five-minute guided meditation as your anchor to the present, safe, moment.
15 minutes | Aug 24, 2021
Epiode 35: Where Did Your Mojo Go? Finding Resilience
Feeling out of sorts, a bit wonky? This pandemic has left a lot of us with a desire to make a change but hesitation or procrastination is affecting our ability to flourish. Let's see how you can move forward in life and make changes a bit more easily. You don't need to change your whole life right now, start small and see big things unfold. We are lacking resilience and it is time to pump it up and find out mojo!
27 minutes | Nov 23, 2020
EP34: Guided Meditation Experience - I am Peace
This episode of The Alexa Z Show provides listeners with a Guided Meditation experience called Yoga Nidra. The intention of this meditation is to provide a feeling of peace. Alexa discusses how this 20-minute meditation done once, or better yet, a few times a week, can be just the thing we need during the pandemic to soothe our souls and calm our nervous system.
14 minutes | Oct 19, 2020
EP33: Why You Should Get Back on the Meditation Horse and Stay on It.
SUMMARY This episode of The Alexa Z Show discusses her "list" that causes a whole range of negative emotions within her, and the analogy of riding a horse to go the direction that you want to go. She talks about taking 5 minutes of calm to control your emotions and avoid negative thoughts from taking over. This short time, every single day, is all you need to overcome your own list of negativity. QUOTES 05:45 "I want you to get away from all the emotions that are connected to that crappy list I just gave you. The emotions of fear and anxiety and grief and sorrow and, I'm getting all the bad ones, exhaustion, confusion, depression." 06:57 "I had that thought and then I had this feeling and then that reaction happened. Normal, that's the way we think it goes. It's the exact opposite. Your emotions arrive first and your thoughts come later." 08:00 "Do you want to be right or do you want to win?" 09:53 "Take 5 minutes for yourself and realize, scientifically, that you are using that mindful time to calm, make that nerve, make everything that's going up to your brain slow down." 11:23 "You want to guide that horse. You want to guide yourself in the direction that you want to go. You want to not be reactive. You want to build your own path" ------------------------------ HIGHLIGHTS 02:59 Acknowledging your list of negativity 07:23 Control your feelings to control your thoughts 09:36 Using 5 minutes to calm your vagus nerve Resources : www.alexazshow.com
10 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
EP:32 Making Courageous Decisions and Feeling Strong About it
SUMMARY This episode of The Alexa Z Show discusses the relationship of courageous decisions and meditation. Alexa begins by acknowledging the rapid changes everyone is dealing with and how to show up with the clearest mind to take action. She also shares her own thoughts about selfishness and giving up and her determination to make the best decisions that affect herself, her business, and all the people whose lives she touches. Alexa also discusses how the stillness of meditation provides the clarity you need to make sincere and courageous decisions. QUOTES 00:43 "Any change can be scary. But with the help of a clear head and an open heart, meditation can help you unlock the courage to do just about anything." 02:08 "If you're not healthy, clear, and in touch with your inner self, then the quality of your actions is definitely going to suffer." 03:13 "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives." - WillIam A. Foster 06:43 "If you can take explicit action, or at least hope your action is explicit, then whatever the consequences are—good, bad, or indifferent—you can deal with it." 08:01 "You sit and be quiet. The insight will be more insightful and that piece of your body that you are giving restful time and peace, it will give you also that clear, peaceful mind and the courage to make sincere, clear, and intelligent decisions." HIGHLIGHTS 01:34 Dealing with change & showing up the best you can be 05:38 Doing what's best for you & the dealing with the guilt that comes with it 07:06 Taking care of yourself first ------------------------------ RESOURCES https://www.alexazmeditates.com/podcast
13 minutes | Jun 23, 2020
EP31 Stop Latching on to that Useless Story You Created and Get Back to Life
In this episode, I will shed some light on how meditation can help us stop latching on to stories in our minds that limit our abilities and, ultimately, our success. Are you going back to work, are you still quarantined, are you ready for your kids to get out of zoom class and start living a healthy life? But are you scared? We know the immediate future is far from normal, but with a daily dose of peaceful gumption, you can do it. Hold tight, and let's figure this out, ok? Hey there, Alexa Z here, and I am back to work. Not only teaching meditation, but my spa is open, and I am massaging and meditating my way out of a pothole—a big pothole. This hole is big enough that I can barely see daylight, and it smells a bit like I have been in it too long. This pothole holds some miserable stories. Stories like: I may go broke, trying to get the business up and running. I am working my ass off and will continue to lose money until we go bankrupt. I have injuries that I am ignoring, so I will probably need spinal fusion soon. My employees won't come back. My husband is going to start to hate me because all I do is work. I spend the rest of my life working a job I am not sure I have passion for anymore. Now here is the truth. There is financial distress and hard work ahead, and I need to stay healthy and avoid injury. That is about the extent of the truth in those stories. The rest is made up of exaggerated, bullshit excuses for why I might fail or why my life sucks. What are your stories? I am sorry to say this, but we all have stories filled with sorrow, despair, illness, and sadly even death. So how is that working for you? I love hearing people's stories, and I love that I can help people through using meditation to sort stuff out, get out of the head and into the heart, blah blah blah. But, I must tell you the truth, I was beginning to get tired of people's stories. I hear young and old people cry and moan over how hard their lives are now that they have to go back to work in this awful life where we have to wear a mask and all I can think is "holy crap you have never experienced hardship have you?" You have a job, and you can perform it? Lucky you. I want to say, "shut the hell up and stop complaining you entitled, lazy little shit." And this is where I said to myself ENOUGH. You don't mean any of that, that is not you, you feel for these people, and you want to help, but you can't even get out of your way because I have become a little selfish shit. Meditation - calm down, observe your thoughts, let them pass, do not latch on to them. 75,000 thoughts, most mundane, and the ones in the pothole are NOT the ones I want to spend time with. So why do I latch onto them? Because it's easy. It takes no effort to be carried away by a distraction. It just happens to be a shitty distraction. Lately, my personal practice has surrounded thoughts and letting go, and right now, that is so hard! But every morning I do it like a soldier on a mission. Sit, let go of thoughts, be aware of them, don't get hung up on how many are floating by, and don't get angry they negative thoughts. Just permit yourself for even 5 minutes to let go and hang out. Be with yourself and watch them float by like clouds. By letting go, you gain freedom, and this freedom can last the whole day—the freedom to guide your body mind and spirit to the right place. This place in your mind is one of peace, productivity, and positivity. Use your mind to choose where you put your attention and energy. Start small, find the courage to let yourself start over every day like it was a new day because it is a new day, and if you aren't present for it, then it is just another day gone lost not found. If you are meditating, don't stop, actually do a bit more. If you haven't started, what is stopping you? You know this is a meditation motivation podcast, so I know you want to learn. If you are stuck, go to my website at www.alexazmeditates.com and click on a free consult. No strings attached, I do like to help.
19 minutes | May 28, 2020
EP 30 Stop Surviving and Start Thriving – A Meditator’s look into what you might have missed in the middle of this COVID Pandemic
In today's episode, I am going to address a topic that might make you feel a bit uncomfortable. I like to call it, "Well, what the heck am I going to do now?" There is no way around it, life is going to look different soon, and like me, you may be rethinking life a bit. If you are working, maybe it doesn't feel right; if you are not working, perhaps you don't want to go back to the job you were in, or you want the way you live your daily life to look a bit different. How does meditation help you dig through all of this muck? There are many ways, and without meditation, I may be sitting here crying instead of plotting about how I can thrive and not just survive. No meditation won't solve all of your problems, but it may help a lot more than you think. Hey there, Alexa Z here. It's been a while since I sat down to write a podcast. One month and a few weeks to be not exact, and I was not happy about the break. Truthfully, I was pissed at myself because I vowed for one year not to miss a week, and well, crap happened. My husband told me I should stop being so hard on myself. My Coach told me not to write until it was in me to write. Well here we are and it feels great! On March 16th my Spa closed due to COVID, my twenty employees were temporarily laid off and blah blah blah, life changed. The worst part is that at this moment I have NO idea what comes next. I know that we will reopen one day, but I don't know what day or even if clients will come back, but I can't just give up, right? Well, I guess I could, but according to my inner compass, that is not an option. The inner compass, you ask? You know that part of you deep inside that knows the answer to just about everything. But you thought you just heard me say that I have no idea what will happen, so how can my inner self know the answer. Well, the quieter I become, the more it speaks to me. I have responsibilities to my family, my creditors, and my employees, I can't just rollover. But I can start imagining, without fear, but with a more playful attitude. What could change? Big things, little things, something I can control in a world that appears to be taking away all of my control? Did you ever hear a friend say, "just put it out to the universe, the answer will come." I am here to say that it is a total bunch of BS unless you give the universe a bit of help. Don't be lazy, keep moving, drink from the fire hose of life, and see what new flavor may be in store for you. Or perhaps George Bernard Shaw put it more eloquently, "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." What have you learned during this quarantine? Or what have you learned by deciding not to learn? The easiest way to describe something is through a story, and mine is the one I know best, so maybe you can relate. I started thinking about another career, yup, because CPA, Massage Therapist, Spa Owner, Meditation Teacher wasn't quite enough right now. I was a bit forced since once we reopen, my paycheck will probably stay in the uncashed pile for quite a while. However, that wasn't really why. The real reason was I had the time to think about what I was missing in life, and I was shocked to find that I missed using my old brain. The part of my mind that used to crunch numbers and keep finances all nice and tidy for people. Now, wait, this isn't all about work and money; it's about how you want to spend your time. PS - I am writing this from Maine, where my husband and I now realize that we want to grow old someday. See personal stuff for me, too, not all biz. But that will be another episode! Take a moment and close your eyes, take a long, slow inhale, and a slow complete exhale. Do it two more times. Now breathe normally and bring to mind an experience or better yet a feeling that made you feel great, or perhaps made you say ah-ha, I forgot how good that felt. Once the world is back to the new normal, will these experiences/feelings end? Maybe, that is up to you. Back to my story, which yes, is connected to work, but it is relating to my ah-ha. Once we were mandated to close, I had to apply for disaster relief loans, grants, and anything else I could find, even before I understood it all. You can't let the grass grow under your feet in times like this. Get the money fast before it is gone. Then get it and wonder what to do with it, possibly give it back. The funniest thing was, I found myself enjoying applying for them. I enjoyed reading all the rules that changed every day, and it didn't even make me mad. I found the whole process quite fascinating. I loved explaining it to other small businesses. Then I would go back to the reality that I was filling them out for MY business that after 17 years might fail, and then I would cry a lot. Come on; this isn't all rainbows and unicorns. How to stop crying and forge ahead with a clear mind and an open heart? Meditation. It balances our emotional and logical brains, our body, and our soul. If you can take away reaction and replace it with action, great things can happen. Oh, the other essential thing I learned is that I love working from home. I was born to work alone or at least with just a small group. Over the years, my circle has gone from hundreds to dozens, to a bunch to a handful, and I handful is my happy place. I learned that I love, love, love teaching meditation, but not so much about its business side. Sadly things cost money; this podcast costs money; my teaching platforms cost thousands; I have to charge money. I will never stop teaching, but I have to figure out not to make teaching meditation part of my career path. Meditation is as essential as food and water; I don't' want to start hating it because I have to talk about it more than practice it! I know there are people out there who know what I am talking about. Hmmm, will work for food and shelter? I digress. What about meditation, you ask? It brings out courage. Sitting in stillness, listening to your inner wisdom is better than Netflix and Ben and Jerry's. Courage is hard to find, but we must. Now, does that mean I have it all figured out? Far from it. But I am getting closer. I learned so much, not just a new industry; I learned what I like. I learned what jazzes me even when others might find it boring, trite, weird, who cares! Now instead of fearing what comes next, I am excited to take all my spaghetti and start throwing it against the wall. And when the tears or fears may yet arise, because you know they will, you find courage in asking for help, a hug or maybe just some Ben and Jerry's. It's all going to be ok. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. Now please take some time. I am NOT saying get a Ph.D. or become a concert pianist; I am just saying open your heart and mind and dig deep. You are already amazing, but I am sure that underneath all that fantastic stuff is even another layer of amazing. Be the best version of yourself. Don't stop trying. Get more sleep Drink more water Turn the TV off and find a book Tell your kids you love them, again Have a date night with someone you love (or better yet yourself) Take a bath (unless you're quarantine dirty then go with a long shower) Know that life will continue even if the tennis and swim club is closed. Eat all the leftovers in the fridge. Throw nothing away! Be Present Meditate Don't know how? Well, golly, there's the thing you should learn. The best time to learn to meditate is in the middle of a crisis, and I think we found one.
14 minutes | Apr 9, 2020
EP29 Learn to Mindfully Say No and Turn FOMO into JOMO
We live in a society where social media is steering our subconscious. Driving us towards what we think we should be doing, and often that has nothing to do with what we want to be doing. Everyone on Instagram is playing at the beach because the thermometer has barely hit 65 (although it's only the beginning of March, and it should be snowing. You think, oh my god, I better get outside and enjoy this magnificent weather because, well, it may never come again. But in reality, you had a hectic week, you are exhausted, and you were looking forward to a fireplace and a book. So, turn up the air-conditioning, light a fire and get your darn book. Last I checked, you are in charge of your life. In this episode, I am going to shed some light on the art and glory of saying no. Why does this have anything to do with meditation, you ask? Well, thanks for asking because it has heaps to do with it. And the answer comes from deep inside the most incredible work of art, which is you. However, this beautiful place seems to get often smothered underneath perhaps: lack of confidence, a desire to please, a fear of being judged, a need to be appreciated, a "Fear of Missing Out" (FOMO). By the end of this brief episode, you are going to want to run out the door and say no to everything that does not fit the blueprint of the life you want to create. And this my friend creates, JOMO. The "Joy of Missing Out." ___________________________________ Hey there, Alexa Z here, and thank you for saying yes to listening to this podcast when you easily could have said no. And since it was easy, I ask that that you quickly hit subscribe to this to keep me going. Then at that time, a podcast drops; you will know about it and can easily say yes or no to listening! It's all up to you. No guilt! How many times have you said yes to something and then lamented over why you said yes? So much so that you find yourself making up lies to get out of whatever you answered yes to and then living with the guilt of the lie. And 99% of the time, no one would care if you said no. Just as fears are something we learn, saying yes to everything can become a learned habit. We are programmed starting from when we are very young that NO is an inappropriate or rude answer. Eat your broccoli, NO, share your toys, NO. It just isn't the right answer. But saying yes to things when you wanted to say no can cause so much angst. Why bother? Think of a time you said yes instead of no and asked yourself why? Then ask it a few more times. For example, my friends want to go to a concert in NYC, and I said yes, but I wish I said no. Why? Because I don't have enough money. But you really don't want them to know that. Why? Because I don't make as much money as they do. I don't want to be judged regarding my career choice. Why? Because I love my career, but they don't understand? Why? Because I feel like they will judge me. Why? Because all my life I have been judged, my mother always said I wasn't good enough. Do you see where I am going with this? There are things deep inside us that keep us from listening to what sometimes can be a straightforward question. My executive coach taught me this "Yum or Yuck?" Sometimes it is that easy, and here is where meditation can help. Here is a true story: Wanting to be more vulnerable. Talk about the guy who didn't want to go on the golf trip. Meditation made him feel, clear, confident, and nonreactive, and he said NO and was so happy. What about people who have restricted diets or maybe are on a diet? Did you ever hear the comedian John Mulaney do the bit on canceling plans? It goes something like this: "It's so much easier not to do things than to do things. It's 100% easier not to do things and so much fun not to do things, especially when you were supposed to do them. In terms of instant relief canceling plans is like heroin - instant joy. Kids don't like that - they say awwwwww we didn't do anything all day. Did you ever as an adult what they did over the weekend, and they said they didn't do anything, and their face lights up!" Although funny, this is pretty spot on. But it's hard. Meditation and mindfulness give us space to build our inner voice, our inner courage because it helps us be more comfortable being ourselves. For example, in a self-inquiry meditation, we ask ourselves a question such as "who am I" and be comfortable just sitting with the question without even answering it." We are building courage through listening to our inner wisdom and intuition. There is nothing more satisfying then saying exactly what we want to say without question and without worrying about the outcome. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. If you haven't read it or you haven't read it in years, please do! My personal meditation addition goes like this: Be impeccable with your word. Be true to yourself; you are worth it. Don't take anything personally. Do not judge or be judged Don't make assumptions. Be mindful that we are all humans with our own stories. Own yours, but don't makeup someone else's. Always do your best. Start with this one, and the rest will follow. Use mindful actions to remind yourself always to do your best. Use your daily practice to nourish yourself and be the very best you can be. A truthful, courageous and confident human. Homework: Say no once and see how it feels. Yum or Yuck? Give it a try. Slow down before you speak, listen to your inner wisdom. Ask yourself why you are saying yes and then ask again and maybe a third or fourth time. With all the craziness in the world, especially now with the Corona Virus, remember to take time to care for yourself. Meditation helps increase your immune system and calm the nervous system. If you haven't started, why not join my next group of Tators in the class beginning on April 19th. And it's all done online, so no need to worry about infection. It's going to be fun, easy, and useful. Join me next week for another week of March Un-madness Peace out tators
19 minutes | Apr 2, 2020
EP 28 Why the Best Time To Learn to Meditate is in the Middle of a Sh*t Storm
In this episode, I am going to explain why right now is the perfect time to learn to meditate, not when life is great, peaceful, and fairy lights are glowing around your lawn. If you are not sleeping, feeling stressed, totally unfocused, and perhaps a bit bitter, this is the podcast for you! Hey There, Alexa Z here, I told my husband I am committed to never missing a podcast for at least 24 months, and I made it to week 27 and then fell off. It wasn't that I didn't have an episode to launch; it was that the topic no longer fit in this midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. Also, I own a small business, shout out to all small business owners. In 17 years, I never could have guessed that I would be applying for grants and praying to make it through along with my 20 employees. My thoughts are with all of you. I have spent two days reading through relief acts, but as soon as you finish one, the next one comes out, and sometimes they seem to contradict each other. What comes first, the chicken or the egg. Now let's say you are not a small business owner, and perhaps you are laid off, and you're wondering what your company is doing about all of this? Independent worker, gig worker, sole proprietor, the list goes on. Now maybe you get to have your kids home 24/7 and don't want to blurt out "oh my god, am I maneuvering through online/home education properly? Or am I doing a disservice to my child? You didn't sign up for this. I can't lie, when I see pictures of organized sock drawers, and completed 5000 piece jigsaw puzzles on social media; I want to scream. I think I am down to one pair of clean underwear. I stopped to write this on my way to the washing machine. But I am not mad, maybe a bit jealous. ACTUALLY, no, I am not. I like who I am and how I roll, and I think it is fantastic to take time; time is very precious, and it is a limited commodity. It is quite surprising that we are being given time and we get to chose what to do with it. Time is limited and Attention is limited. There are 24 hours in a day; you can not add another one. Where you put your attention is your choice. This podcast is about looking back over the past few weeks, looking forward a few weeks, and at this moment right now, what we call the present moment, deciding, is there any other way I would like to approach my life? Another puzzle, a basement organization, maybe, but how do you feel when you stop and reflect for a moment. What if all those tasks were done not to be distracted from the chaos but to be present amongst it all. When we are fully present, then we are entirely paying attention, that other limited commodity. My husband has been busy with projects and simultaneously listening to an online music theory class. Multi-tasking doesn't work except in his case, it is a rote task (say throwing out old papers) and listening to the course. Nice! He is very compassionate about his guitars, and I am happy to see him delve into learning. But he had seven days off and now is working 12 hours a day, and like anyone, I heard him say, where did those days go? What are you learning? Many people appear to be doing remarkable things like online exercise and yoga classes, learning a new language, learning to cook fresh meals. It sounds like a lot of good stress relieving stuff going on, but in the midst of it all, I am still getting lots of calls. I AM SO STRESSED OUT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, ALL I AM DOING IS CLEANING, I AM BORED AND SCARED, I HATE MY JOB, etc. When is your next free meditation? But guess what, those are the people that don't show up for the meditation. Here is what I see happening. Avoidance, procrastination, and nonsensical reasoning. I need to learn to meditate, but I can't now I am too stressed out. Just sitting still in silence makes me crazy. I am here to tell you that this is the perfect time to learn to meditate. Is it hard to meditate in times of high stress? Of course, but anything worth having can be a little tough at first. But with meditation, you can start right now, and the training will be so powerful. Not only can you immediately watch yourself change in a stressful environment, but you can take that skill, practice, one maybe two times a day, and when this is all over, you will have a tool that you can use for life. There is no way in hell that when this is all done, you will not need meditation. You needed it yesterday, and today and tomorrow and a year from now. I love the fact that I am buried in stress and relief acts. Do I like stress? No, what I love is the fact that my endurance is endless. I may hit a wall, but I see the wall and walk away before it crushes me. I still get a decent night's sleep, and I wake up with a fresh attitude, and I get right back in the ring. Meditation has made me not only healthier but courageous. If I approach this virus bitterly and fulls of sarcasm, then I might as well roll over and pee on myself like a submissive pup. People say, well, why pay for a class when I can learn online for free. My answer is, "well, why haven't you?" I know for myself that I can't wait to go back to my monthly paid yoga studio. Even though they are giving online free classes, I don't want to take them. I pay attention to what I pay for. I want my teacher to see my face and fix my droopy down dog with the soft touch of her hand. I don't want free; I want effective. I want something that makes me feel like I am part of a group. But yes, I want a good deal always, and especially now when paychecks are but a recent memory. I have no sponsors, I front all my podcast costs, and I try not to be a person who sells themself but today need to be my sponsor.
18 minutes | Mar 16, 2020
EP27: March Un-Madness Week 2 - It's 2 am, and Yet Again, I am Wide Awake!
In today's episode, we will explore Mindful Sleep. As we age, our sleep patterns change, and those changes can be downright unpleasant. Even if you're a young buck who sleeps poorly, this episode is for you too! There are a few ways to look at these exhausting annoyances and some mindful methods to improve them. We know meditation can improve sleep, but what happens as we age and how can our meditation practice can help us at 2 am when we were staring at the ceiling trying to solve world peace and figure out if the light really does go out in our refrigerator when we close the door. Sleep is a critical part of our health. Please don't say, "oh well, I am just getting older. I will just nap more." NO, NO, NO, life is too short to sleep through, and during those waking hours, you want to feel like a spring chicken. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hey There, Alexa Z here, and it is week 2 of March Un-Madness! Please remember, as we talk about how fantastic meditation and mindfulness is, if you need help learning and sticking to these practices, I am always here to help. I have a class launching in April. If you are interested, go to www.alexazmeditates.com/help, and I will let you know all about it. Now, let's dig right into the topic of sleep. I will split into three pieces. What meditation does for sleep. What happens to our sleep as we age? What can you do to set yourself up for a better night's rest before, during, and after sleep? Yes, this means you need to listen until the end to get the tips to use tonight. Sorry, but we must go through one and two to understand three. Don't worry; the podcast is short. Meditation and Sleep In episode 6, I talked about all the reasons why sleep is essential and how sleep is the number one way to reduce stress (go ahead back and give it a listen if you missed it). As a quick review, sleep is fantastic, but no one seems to get the right amount and quality of sleep to wash out all the stress, then stress begins to build up. Exercise is fantastic, but it only gets rid of current stress, it tends not to attack all of the past stresses. Meditation, on the other hand, does two amazing things (well many but here are the top ones for today,) it helps get rid of current AND past stress and the practice builds your sleep muscles. In the perfect world, we would glide through non REM, and REM brain wave sleep like this: Beta – awake and aware, Alpha – gentle bridge to sleep, Theta going deeper into dreamy land and Delta the most restorative waves of all. We need that gentle cycle about every 90 minutes, but that isn't always the case, hence why sometimes you sleep eight hours and wake up still tired! The Alpha waves are very low in today's crazy world, and meditation helps to strengthen them! Meditation mimics good sleep. We meditate our way through Beta, Alpha, and Theta, and if that isn't cool enough, try Yoga Nidra and get down into those Delta waves (listen to episode 8 on Nidra or go to my website and try the free one on the home page.) What Happens as We Age? Ok, I am the queen of simple, so let's see if I can stay the queen. What most of us find is that as we get older: Sleep patterns change. It is harder to fall asleep. You have to pee more. Your joints hurt. Caffeine can have more of an effect on you. Sleep Apnea Restless Leg Syndrome Reflux And other body issues or illnesses. You wake up more often because you spend less time in a deep sleep. Your neurological receptors begin to weaken These receptors connect with your sleep chemicals, making it harder for your brain to figure out when you are tired and when you are supposed to be awake. Now at this point, you are probably getting depressed and tired and want to take a nap. But wait, even naps don't feel as good anymore. Plus, the more you nap, the harder it is to get to sleep at night. It becomes a vicious circle. Another reminder: Meditation helps your health, your brain waves, your pain tolerance, your immune system, your circadian rhythms, etc. Using Mindfulness to Get You to Sleep (or perhaps back to sleep!) As you continue your Meditation practice and keep building those strong brain muscles, shifting around grey and white matter in your brain, lowering your stress levels, etc. What kind of mindfulness can you practice starting tonight at two or three am? First, start with a better pre-sleep routine. From figuring out your natural sleep cycle to uncluttering your bedroom, to changing up your activities and screen time. You can get a list from my sleep episode freebie at www.alexazmeditates.com/sleep which also includes a meditation to help you get to sleep Before bed, take a moment to close the day down with an evening ritual – write everything down you want to do the next day and put it away! Get in bed and be mindful of yourself and your bed. Use all of your senses, the feel of the sheets against your skin, the pillow under your head, the smells of the room, the little sounds near and far that are just part of the environment, the sensations of the body from the inside out. Lie in stillness and gratitude and leave the thinking mind and enter the feeling mind. Move to the attention of your breath. Maybe the belly is ever so slightly moving the covers. Or perhaps a hand or small pillow on your stomach can help you feel the movement. Instead of counting sheep, gently count your breath. Body Scan your way from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Every so slowly, no labeling, just noticing. As thoughts drift in, we know they will, observe them without labeling them and gently return to your breath. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I return to a childhood prayer, and I say it silently and ever so slowly to myself a few words at a time. Say two to three words, then stop and take a breath, now the next words and so forth. Use your mindfulness to notice how human you are, how caught up you can become, then without judgment permit yourself to think about it later. Have compassion for yourself, know that you are reasonable, and the more you leave the stress of being awake behind, the more you are offering yourself rest even if you are not sound asleep. So many ways to be mindful. My kindness to myself is to turn on a Nidra first thing in the morning. It helps give me more rest and goes back to helping my brain waves. If this is all fun and exciting, but you need some help learning meditation and mindful practices, you need a bit of personal handholding, maybe some group coaching and a dose of accountability, then go to alexazmeditates.com/help. The next class begins in April. Now go forth and approach tonight's sleep with a mindful attitude. Go gently and with compassion for yourself. Our age is not a detriment, we earned these years, and we can make them the best they can be. Still, first, we need to be present enough to notice things that are off and then do our best to insert nourishing practices into our life like meditation, proper nutrition, exercise, and surround ourselves with loving people. We are all in this crazy world together. Let's take it in stride. Less napping more meditation! Peace out Tators. Next week let's talk about mindfully saying NO and loving the outcome. Resources Interested in learning to Meditate in April? Click here to find out more Want to get your hands on the Sleep Freebie? Click here for a free checklist on better sleep .
12 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
EP26 - March Un-Madness- Week 1 - Mindful Communication
We work hard to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice, but where do you see the benefits playing out? If you don't see benefits, then you won't keep practicing. If you limit your interests to just one thing, then you are missing the magic of the practice. It's ok if you are practicing for symptom relief, but I want more for you. I hope the symptoms pass, but don't ignore the rest of the magic. Each week for the remainder of March, I will pick one topic to deep dive and give you a bit of homework, or shall I say a direction to follow for the week. In today's episode, I am going to concentrate on a topic that is critical to your relationships, happiness, good decision making, and many other positive aspects of your wellbeing. This giant elephant is called communication. You may think you are already great at it, but I guarantee you can always be better, and you can always use your skills to help others better communicators. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If over four weeks I can get you to notice four separate things that make a difference in your life, then you will be four weeks closer to you never wanting to miss a day of meditation and mindfulness again! This morning I met a man who, when he found out I teach meditation he said: "I try to meditate, but after a week I seem to lose my steam, I start feeling calmer, and then I forget to do it." If I had a dollar for every person that said that to me, I would be a millionaire. We started discussing other aspects of life that can change by being more mindful and communication popped into my mind because that was precisely what I found the two of us doing well, talking! We had never met, he spoke, I listened with my full attention and then he spoke and did the same. Sounds pretty mundane right? Well, it isn't. Most people are horrible communicators. We speak, wanting to be heard and get irritated when we don't think we are being listened to. We think of our response before the other person has even finished their sentence, and eye contact seems to be a thing of the past. TV on behind the person? Phone text going off? Maybe you're slowly even walking away while listening or looking at the clock? You know I am right. Where does mindfulness come into play? Our meditation strengthens our muscles of focus, awareness, and compassion. Now let's use that muscle to pay attention this week to our actions in the realm of listening. Listen – I mean really listen. Make a choice right now to listen to someone today. Hell, pick one person or one time. Start small. I don't care. Be Fully Present– this is a big one. You chose to listen, now commit to the activity. Put all else aside, no mind wandering, no multi-tasking. We want to prove we can do it and see the benefits of what excellent communication can do, and a bonus is that you will get more done because you will probably have only ONE conversation with an actual outcome, and you can move on! Each time you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention to your breath. Just observe your breath for even a second, and you will ground yourself back in the conversation. Stop Judging- Amid a world of racial bias that appears to be recently exacerbated by the Corona Virus, I think this is super important. How often do you get a call or have an employee walk in, and immediately you think, "oh, not this again or geez this person is clueless? It's not right, right? But we still do it. This week, drop the judgment toward the person you are communicating with AND toward yourself. Just be nice, super-duper, uber generous and nice. That's another added benefit of mindfulness. It makes you a nicer person! Reacting – Since you are now choosing to listen, be present and not judge, take a little time to notice if you are reacting. Let's go real slow. Significant others wants you to do the dishes because you are pretty darn pig-like and never do the dishes, a fact not judgment. As they are requesting your assistance, notice if you are already reacting in your brain. I worked all day, I am exhausted, and we have a deal, I don't do dishes. STOP, notice you are reacting and really listen. See if you hear something that you haven't heard before. Just chill out and continue with steps one through three. See what happens. Open up and see the conversation with a wide-angle lens! PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE Try this exercise once a day, even if it is when the barista is giving you your coffee. If you want to try a more formal practice, you can do one that I have learned many times in the corporate world. From 20 years ago to 20 minutes ago, this one is very common but very profound. Pick someone to practice with and choose a time limit, say 2 minutes. One person talks (I don't care about what), and the other listens without interrupting, leading the conversation, no questions, no influence: Max – a head nod. Then switch. See elementary, right? Try it. It's not that easy. Talk about what you experienced afterward. I know, do it with one of your kids or any kid. It's a beautiful learning experience. Ok, that is it—one week of Mindful Communication. Just like a seated meditation, the more you practice, the easier it gets. The more you see benefits in your life the apter you are to keep at your practice If this is all fun and exciting, but you need some help learning meditation and mindful practices, you need a bit of personal hand-holding, maybe some group coaching and a dose of accountability, then go to alexazmeditates.com/help. The next class begins in April. No go play nice and communicate mindfully and join me next Monday as I attack Mindful Sleep! Want to learn more about my upcoming class? Click Here - It's FUN!
30 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
EP25: ADD and Anxiety in the Youth an Interview with Katie Tolley
In today's episode, we will be discussing a very important topic that is near and dear to me, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and anxiety in our youth. I am lucky enough to have Katie Tolley back on the show. Katie was part of Episode 19: What is Integrative Health? Katie Tolley is part of the team at Turning Point Health Center, which has offices in Annapolis and Columbia, Maryland. She also runs a health and wellness consulting business, KT Consulting. Katie is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and child and adolescent mental health specialist. What makes this all even more amazing is that she started learning much more about nutrition and integrative medicine just before her son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of eight. Get ready for a fascinating and informative discussion with Katie! Hey there! Welcome to the Alexa Z show! I am so excited to have Katie here today! The topic today is ADD, anxiety in the youth. I am excited but also a little anxious to discuss this topic because my youth was filled with anxiety. Also, many of my clients have children who also suffer from anxiety. Alexa: Can you explain the difference between ADD and ADHD? Katie: This topic is so widely talked about, but it is still very misunderstood. I shared an article with some friends yesterday about the aspects of ADD and ADHD and how it affects children. Every day there is another question or another topic that relates to ADD and ADHD in children. So, to answer your question, on ADD, ADHD, and anxiety, how are they the same and how are they different. ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder. ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder Diagnostically, we refer to all as ADHD with or without hyperactivity. The difference can be as simple as whether the child displays hyperactivity or not. When we do not see the outward hyperactivity (fidgeting, doodling, inability to sit still), the child is suppressing/internalizing the hyperactivity. Also, outward hyperactivity can turn into inward anxiety. Alexa: Even if somebody had ADHD, it doesn't matter. The most important thing is that we are discussing ADD today. So, there are anxieties that are not ADD. Katie: Absolutely! The everyday life of a modern-day teen can cause anxiety. There is a lot of pressure to get good grades, perform well in sports, perform in extra-curricular activities, get into college, and sometimes to have a job. All of the pressures cause these kids a lot of worries. Screen-time, diet, and sleep also play a huge role in anxiety in our youth. Often, anxiety is misdiagnosed as ADD. Alexa: As a parent, how do you know that something is going on with your child? How can parents identify there is something serious going on versus regular daily stresses? Katie: Some kids do just put pressure on themselves. It is normal for a three-year-old not to pay attention and to have difficulty focusing. When the inability to focus or pay attention interferes with daily living, such as the ability to learn, the ability to nourish themselves, the ability to get ready to do an activity, sports, or church, that is when it becomes a serious issue. The symptoms such as fidgeting, inability to focus, or distractability become interferences in the accomplishment of being a successful human being; this is when we enter the diagnostic level. Alexa: What is the root cause of ADD and anxiety? Where does it come from? Katie: Do we all have a little bit of ADHD? I say absolutely. Let's use a scale of 1 to 10 to determine our levels of ADHD. Many of us walk around the world at the level of 2 or 3 simply because of screens, jobs, and schedules; it is easy to be distracted because our minds are thinking of multiple things at once. Multitasking is a perfect example of ADHD. You try to go from one thing to another, but you get distracted. Multitasking can be a little difficult. Alexa: For more on this, listen to my podcast episode on multitasking. Katie: The root cause can be the inflammatory process inflammation, systemic inflammation, Inflammation from: different environmental sources, inflammation caused by food, pathogens, toxins, metals, chemicals. When the inflammation affects the brain, it is called neuroinflammation. When we see symptoms similar to ADHD, anxiety, ADD, we sometimes wonder if it is ADHD, anxiety, ADD, or are these symptoms telling us about something else. Alexa: What are some components of inflammation? From the standpoint of ADD, what kind of inflammation are we talking about? Katie: Inflammation in the brain can surface as hard to concentrate focused attention memory issues It is vital to address neuro-inflammation in our youth because it will lead to disease processes as they age. Parkinson's Dementia Alzheimer's Alexa: Can you talk more about neuro-inflammation? Katie: Neurotransmitters that play a significant role in ADHD, anxiety, and ADD are dopamines and serotonin. Dopamine is our focus neurotransmitter and helps with memory. Serotonin affects our mood and sleep. If we are not sleeping well, we will have trouble focusing. If we don't have the right balance of serotonin, it will affect our mood and can lead to anxiety and depression issues. The effects of inflammation on our neurotransmitters do not start in the brain; the inflammation begins in the stomach. Alexa: 50 percent of our dopamine and 90 percent of serotonin starts in our gut. Gut doctors are addressing gut issues, and brain doctors are addressing brain issues, but it does not seem like many doctors are putting all the health issues of their patients together. Katie: If you are in a particular discipline, you learn that discipline very well, and you don't necessarily connect the other health systems. In integrative medicine, we link all the health systems together. You are correct in that serotonin comes from the gut. Serotonin helps with anxiety. Serotonin also creates melatonin. If we have inflammation in the stomach, and we don't have proper serotonin levels, we will have issues with anxiety, depression, and sleep. Dopamine is made in the gut, dependant on nutrition. Dopamine converts to norepinephrine and epinephrine, which is our energy. If our dopamine is not converting to norepinephrine and epinephrine, then we have a lot of fatigue, physical and mental. Metal fatigue plays a huge role in your memory, focus, concentration. When you are fatigued, hyper-activity may kick in because your body is trying to wake itself up. Alexa: Can you talk about nutrition? Where do parents start? Katie: So many people are concerned with eliminating things from their diets. I like to start with what we should add to our diets. It is easy to think, just avoid the foods that bother us! We really need to add nutrition that helps to convert our serotonin into melatonin and dopamine into norepinephrine and epinephrine. Even before I see a patient, they can help themselves by taking: Omega 3 Vitamin D Probiotic Magnesium Vitamins B-complex It is not always as simple as adding the above list into your health routine. Some people may have sensitivities. It is essential to see an experienced professional to help you navigate down your health path. Alexa: You mentioned Lyme and Mold. We talked about inflammation, and the next thing is toxicity. Katie: When we identify the root causes of inflammation, we can determine what is causing all the symptoms. I believe that ADHD as a group of symptoms that are warning us that something more serious could be going on in our health. When we don't address those symptoms, we become sicker over time. When I first start evaluating a patient, I always check if the patient may have Lyme disease or is the patient getting ill from mold because both have a significant neurotoxic component. Mold and Lyme disease are relatively new to the world of medicine. Chemicals, metals, and other environmental toxins also lead to neuroinflammation. Alexa: Where is all the mold coming from? Katie: Mold comes moisture. If you do a google search on where to find mold, it will say food and water-damaged buildings. Here, in the Mid-Atlantic region, our schools are very old and water damaged, so our kids are exposed to those toxins all day long. Alexa: What about drugs? Katie: When ADHD was first diagnosed, it was revolutionary when Ritalin came about. In past generations, ADHD went undiagnosed. Awareness of ADHD was not prominent, even though many kids displayed symptoms for ADHD. Instead, kids were seen as lazy, failures, unmotivated, and had no ambition. Prescription drugs such as Adderall, etc. can be helpful. Early in my career, I found that it was challenging to find the right medication for children. The more I learned about integrative medicine, the more I believed that addressing the root cause is imperative. We can prescribe medication that helps elevate dopamine so that the patient can focus. Still, the cause of the inflammation is going to continue to assault the dopamine levels—resulting in the medication and the inflammation to cause a seesaw effect with the patient's dopamine. Alexa: I work with a lot of people with anxieties, many of who are on anxiety medication. I am not against medication. I wish that people who do need prescriptions have them, and people who don't need them should not be prescribed any. Katie: I have a patient who is in her mid-teens. She has a lot of anxiety. When she first came to me, she was on heavy-duty anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications. Some of them were under the label of anti-psychotic. Unfortunately, kids who do not find success with anti-anxiety medication end up on anti-psychotic drugs as an anti-anxiety medicine. I first started to help her address her inflammation through supplements, diet, meditation, psychotherapy, and off of the heavy duty-medication. She continued to have some issues, so I prescribed her a small dosage of Prozac. When we talk about anxiety, we are talking about serotonin. We have to address the gut issues but, at the s
43 minutes | Feb 24, 2020
EP24: Demystifying Meditation with Sarah McLean
Summary In today’s episode, with the help of Sarah McLean, the owner of the McLean Meditation Institute, my personal teacher, and a woman with an unusual and exciting background, we will demystify meditation. There are so many brands and types of meditation out there; it can be downright confusing. The important thing is to understand a bit, not make it too hard, and, most importantly, do not delay your practice! Without practice, you are missing all the amazing benefits of meditation. Sarah’s joining us from Santa Barbara, California, and will tell you her journey to demystify meditation. She will tell you tales of her time in the Army, in an ashram in India, and travels on a nine-month mountain bike trek through faraway lands. She will touch on many experiences from Transcendental Meditation, working with Deepak Chopra to ah-ha moments on a rooftop in Georgetown, DC. She did all the work, and we all benefit from her discoveries. On last week’s show, we talked about three things to make your meditation a slam dunk: desire, focus, and a nonjudgmental attitude (which I learned long ago from Sarah herself.) This episode is perfect timing because Sarah will take those three things and go deeper as she unravels the mysteries of meditation. My suggestion is to listen intently but listen gently, like the awareness of breath in meditation. You know you are breathing but get lost in the beauty of its simplicity. Do not control or change; just follow and enjoy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Podcast Hey there, Alexa Z here! I am so excited and a little nervous because I have Sarah McLean, my meditation teacher, on the line. She is kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to help me, help you demystify meditation, specifically the different types/brands of meditation. I found Sarah after many years of meditating. I started meditating when I was 17 years old because I had terrible panic attacks. Meditation was a pill for me. I wish I could go back and start again; I would because now I know all the opportunities meditation has provided me, and I would have had a more consistent practice from the start. Alexa: I want to welcome Sarah! Again, I am a little nervous and excited. This will be a fun back and forth conversation. I am also a bit jealous because I know you are in Santa Barbara, California, and the weather is a lot nicer than the rain, drizzle, and cold here in Annapolis, Maryland. Sarah: Well, it is a bit like heaven on earth, sorry to make you jealous. Maybe we can practice Mudita, which is sympathetic joy, I hope you can feel happy for me, that I get to live in Santa Barbara after trying to convince my husband to move here for 17 years. It's great to be here, and Maryland is not too shabby. Alexa: No, it isn't, and knowing that I can visit and take more classes at your new meditation center with you in Santa Barbara, makes me super happy. So let's, get right into it. Let's demystify meditation. The reason why this came to mind is that my students, clients, and even strangers come to me and say they have been studying meditation but have not started their practice. Typically, they say they are waiting for a particular time in there life to begin meditating or that they need to continue to learn about meditation before starting a practice. Sarah, what do you think about all of this. Why is it so confusing? Sarah: There are so many different types, categories of meditation Uses Formal and informal Religious, historical origin Different names in other languages Brand new/Brand names I'll share a little bit about my story and how I got into meditation. More importantly, how I realized I did not know anything about meditation. Alexa: Oh, that's perfect! Sarah: When I was younger, I was in the military. I wanted to be a spy, but that didn't work out. I wanted to understand the mysteries of life. I did not become a spy; instead, I became a behavioral specialist; that's when I started to learn the mysteries of the mind. I worked with Soldiers who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). Back then, we used medication versus meditation. Luckily for me, I was introduced to a body awareness practice. I was sitting outside of a psychiatric hospital, where, unfortunately, that's where many Soldiers who were really suffering would end up. Our whole platoon was sitting out on the lawn when one of the male nurses introduced me to a body scan. He had us all laydown, and he guided us from our head to our toes, allowing us to relax. It was only about 10 minutes. In the end, I realized that I worked with very stressed Soldiers, and I didn't even realize the amount of stress I was carrying. That moment planted a seed in me. After I got out of the Army, I looked into contemplative practices. I spent a lot of time exploring world traditions, looking for the secrets of life. I was on my mountain bike for about nine months and bicycled half-way around the world. I kept looking for the answers. I found it when I was sitting in my room in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. I was on the top of a three-story of a brownstone, learning to meditate using a silent mantra practice, through Transcendental Meditation (TM). Again, there was a contrast on how I felt before I learned, and after I silently repeated a mantra that I had no idea what it meant. It was another "ah-ha" moment. A few months after that, I moved to a TM community. I answered the phones and discussed mind, body, health. I was working with Deepak Chopra, who, at the time, no one was familiar with. People were looking for alternative practices and alternative healing. Many people would seek our help because of health reasons such as chemotherapy didn't work, diagnosed with Parkinson's, or depressed. I would ask all who called, "do you meditate?" They would answer with, yes, while I am watching TV, driving to work, or in the shower. I would have to convince them all to learn to meditate because meditation was required to be in the TM community. In 1990, meditation was not a "buzz word." No one talked about mindfulness. People would come to the community, and I would teach them about meditation. Unfortunately, at the time, I thought there was only one way to meditate. Though I had that great experience with the body scan, I was still "drinking the kool-aid" on the brand name of TM. So even when someone told me they were Upasana, insight, or mindfulness, or a different type of meditation, I wouldn't give it much credit. Alexa: I have known you for a long time, and I have heard all your stories, but it is so fun to listen to it in order; it's starting to make so much sense to me. I have a lot of military people in this town, and a lot of military people listen to my podcast. I want everyone to take note that Sarah started her journey with meditation in the Army. How long ago was that? Sarah: It was 1980/1981. It was only done by a rouge male nurse, who felt the need to take us aside and try the body awareness practice. Meditation was not mandated to be a part of our training. Alexa: It still isn't mandated, but it is interesting that you initially thought you would become a spy, you ended up learning about body scans. A lot of meditators feel that we can't be a meditator unless I do what Sarah does, go all those places, learn all those things. You taught me through your experiences that I can learn, and I don't have to live in an ashram for years. I am really grateful for that! Sarah: You are welcome! Alexa: Thank you for doing all the learning for all of us. Sarah: I wasn't the mainstream kind of gal, I didn't want just to get married and have kids, get a job, and retire. My motivation in life was, can I find out the mysteries of this existence? What is it that animates all of creation? I know I am a little weird, but that was what was right for me. I have to fast-forward after working and being in the TM organization for years. I won't go into the whole story, as you can google it. Deepak Chopra and I got kicked out of TM. Getting kicked out of an organization tells me one thing, that is that it is exclusive, not inclusive. How can you get kicked out of a meditation organization?! Well, some ways are to change your guru, changing your job, or changes that some tell you not to, but you do it anyway. I am in good company, so is Deepak Chopra. There is also Ravi Shankar, who does the Art of Living program. Many have been "kicked out" of TM. That was a warning for me, how can TM be a great organization? TM practice is a great practice. After I left the TM organization, I went to California with Deepak in 1992/1993. We opened up a health center. He came up with his practice, which was also a silent practice that is not TM. Deepak's practice is called Primordial Sound Meditation. I started to learn that there are a variety of practices available and they all work. You can stare at the sky, a fire, etc. to use as your object of meditation. There are so many types of meditation. Zen Buddist Tradition paying attention to your breath counting your breath asking yourself questions that stopped the mind walking meditation imagination meditation Scientists are researching meditation. I have been a research subject in a few studies. Scientists have a hard time differentiating the different types of meditation. Here are a few ways that I categorize mediation: Focus awareness/concentration meditation Open awareness meditation- Advanced practices Guided meditation Imagery meditation When I was in India, I learned more about meditation. Guru Eat, pray, love Chanting Devotion After India, I moved into a Zen Buddist Monastery. I wanted to give up the whole notion of devotion and move into emptiness. I want to share the basics of meditation. You went into meditation because you wanted to get rid of your anxiety. I went into meditation because I had a very stressful childhood, and I also suffered from panic attacks. I wanted to feel that life mattered, I mattered, and a deep sense of love. There are three basic ingredients to any type of meditation.&nbs
20 minutes | Feb 16, 2020
EP 23: Three Things to Make Meditation a Slam Dunk
In today's episode, I am going to discuss three things to make your meditation a slam dunk. By slam dunk I mean a practice that is simple, effective and best of all YOU WILL STICK TO IT! There are many methods, brands and apps, and apps for your apps, but today let's get back to the basics. Let's get back to the why and the how and get your practice on the tracks headed to the destination of your choice. You can study until you are old and gray, but the practice does not work unless you practice! Meditation is a training, and after years of teaching and watching students stop and start, get excited and sometimes frustrated, I think I have found the secret sauce to success. Whether you are just starting out, you keep starting and stopping or have started but don't feel like the results are robust enough to keep you coming back, well hold on. I will layout a simple plan that will help you to that magical destination. One where you can find peace clarity, compassion, courage, and your inner badass. Now get ready, hit subscribe, smile, get a beverage, and I will right back. You don't want to miss this. Hey There, Alexa Z here with my favorite three things that can make your meditation practice a slam dunk. First, my suggestion is for you to listen to this podcast until the end; no note-taking necessary. Please hear me out, listen and, more importantly, feel what I am trying to get at. In the end, I will give you a link where you can print out a few fun things to use to make these three elements of my secret sauce all your own. When I first began to teach meditation formally, I always remembered my teacher Sarah McLean saying all you need to meditate are three things: a desire, a focus, and a nonjudgmental attitude. This made sense to me and I have repeated it at least 10,000 times over the years. However, of late, I have found a way to expand on all three of these. Right from the get-go, to help make your practice very personal because you are unique and your needs are individual. One size does not fit all. In my first one on one session with a client, we go through the following exercise, and it tends to shed light on why the person wanted to learn to meditate, to begin with. I also help map out how on earth this practice is going to fit into their life efficiently and effectively. And most importantly, add an extra dose of accountability. Let's Dive In NUMBER ONE: Why Are You Meditating? Desire: Before you take on something new most likely you have a desire, even if that desire was nudged on from someone like perhaps your doctor telling you have to lower your blood pressure. Or maybe the urge came from a place deep within like the desire to have less stress and more peace in your life. Or possibly to improve something like memory, your sleep, focus, or creativity. Or maybe to change a habit like quitting smoking or alcohol or improving your diet. This is where I get people to dive deeper. The best way I can do this is through my own example: Panic attacks - I had them and I needed them to stop! If I really had someone walk me through this, which later came through a lot of soul searching and a lot of counseling, I would have discovered Low self-esteem Poor body image Fears (financial, abandonment) What are all of the reasons you want to meditate? If it is just one, I ask you to dig a little deeper. In my freebie at the end, you will be given a one-page worksheet to get you to develop the full story. I want you to tuck that completed page away and pull it out every time you think you don't want to practice or when you are wondering if anything is starting to shift. It is all connected! NUMBER TWO: Start Simple and Stick to It! Focus – As I said when I opened the show, you can learn many methods of meditation, mainly a type of focused concentration (think zooming in) or open awareness (wide-angle lens). The second type should come after the first type, a bit more advanced and there is no prize if you go to open awareness first. You don't go to hot, challenging yoga vinyasa flow level three if you have learned the basics first. Well you can but you will become frustrated and most likely will hurt yourself. With that being said, I am going to make a recommendation. Start with body and breath awareness and do it every day for a bit. It is incredibly useful and how relaxing does it sound to know that you can sit down without having to make a decision on what to try today. It was like when I decided to wear jeans and white button-downs every day. It was as though life gave me a giant gift, mainly of time. And thankfully, I own 9 white button-downs. Back to Meditation. Body and breath awareness. I have people still doing this simple but profound practice year after year. To help you start or get back on track, I will give you a 10-minute body and breath practice AND a calendar to track 7 days. This is HUGE, 7 days of accountability. You miss a day, you go back to day one. The calendar has a few bullet points to review each day before you begin to keep your mind settled and focused on the final ingredient in my secret sauce (or Sarah's sauce with my added touches based directly from client experiences) NUMBER THREE: Rituals Nonjudgmental Attitude or Attitude I reminded my client of this yesterday in a text string, and she came back with "No Judgment – that's a novel idea with laughing emoticons) It's hard, I get it! But think of it this way, life is hard, habits are hard, so to shift the mindset, let's thing NON-ISSUE. I will list a few things and then you repeat (right now) This is a non-issue If today is harder than yesterday It doesn't feel like it's working I keep fidgeting I can't stop my mind I don't have time – bzzzzzz wrong answer – I got you on that one. It would help if you didn't lay judgment on your life because you are short of time. I want to prove to you, through the results of your practice, that you DO have the time. The calendars' notes will remind you of the nonjudgmental things to practice during your training, and the last part of your freebie will help you with time. It's called your Morning Ritual. Yes, I want you to practice first thing in the morning, but it is later in the morning or midday I will not lay judgment. Here is the secret sauce. It would help if you had a ritual and then a backup ritual. We all know how the morning can shake out, but first, we try, and if we do not succeed, we already have a backup plan. That plan can be as simple as what happened to me this morning. I sat down to meditate after feeding the dogs like I always do, and my husband came down the stairs and said, "is their anyway you can help me do yoga for 10 minutes" after I picked myself up off the floor from fainting I said YES. This was a miracle I was witnessing. No worries, I have a backup plan. I walk to my planner and insert a break before lunch, earlier if I can. Done, back up plan. No stress. Super easy. I think you get the point, but now I want you to look at part three of the freebie. A morning ritual worksheet AND a backup plan. I have some tips for setting it up, and you must know that when you think it through and write it down – it works. To reiterate: ONE – Desire – dig deep – go check off all of them TWO – Focus – Start with what I have you and note it on the calendar THREE – Create a nonjudgmental attitude starting with a Morning Ritual that also is a non-issue because you also have a backup plan. And next week, my teacher Sarah McLean herself will be on the show to really expand on these three things and on demystifying all those brands and methods out there. HERE IS WHAT YOU DO: Click Here for Freebie Or paste www.alexazmeditates.com/slamdunk into your browser PRINT THEM OUT – This is NOT difficult, and it works I swear Small steps will bring great strides. If this didn't work, I wouldn't be here today. I really mean that I wouldn't be here. Later Tators!
18 minutes | Feb 10, 2020
EP22: Emotional Intelligence – Let Meditation Enhance and Expand this Valuable Asset
Intro In today's episode, I am going to shed a little light on emotional intelligence. You might think you don't need to listen to this episode because you know all about it, you might have even read Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence. Hold tight! I am here to talk about how meditation can improve your emotional intelligence, why we should always enhance emotional intelligence, and how it can make you a better person and a better leader. Increasing your emotional intelligence is just one more magical gift that meditation can offer. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hey there, Alexa Z here! Before we jump into the topic of mindfulness, meditation, and emotional intelligence, I would like you to take a moment and check-in with yourself. Ask yourself, what are my emotions and feelings right now. When I work with children, I ask, "What's the weather today?" For example, sometimes, I feel stormy and sunny at the same time, as though my weather is a bit oxymoronic. Hold on to your thoughts on what your emotions are right now, and I will talk about them again a little bit later. If you have read Daniel Goleman's book on emotional intelligence, you may have some knowledge about this topic. I personally like to keep it simple. There are excellent reasons why we need emotional intelligence. Usually, you hear about emotional intelligence with leadership. Everyone should be a good leader, whether you are a leader in a company or your family, or merely making your way through life. Imagine if you could not perceive that an employee or a family member, or your friend, is frustrated or upset. Imagine if you could not tune in to what others are feeling, and you are unable to connect with them. Research calls tuning in to another's emotions as emotional intelligence. Research also indicates that emotional intelligence is what differentiates great leaders from average leaders. In Daniel Goleman's book, he includes a study that involved approximately 200 executives. The study found that their emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or emotional quotient, was twice as relevant to performance compared to their IQ. and their technical abilities. Approximately 70% of the time, people with high emotional intelligence can outperform and attain superior leadership positions at a faster pace than those who have a high IQ and technical abilities. I have always been fascinated by emotional intelligence. I am relatively smart, but I do not have a stellar IQ. There are some aspects I can't change about myself. But, I can improve my emotional intelligence. Not only can I develop my emotional intelligence, but I must continuously work on it. Your IQ stays the same, the way you learned in the past is the same way you learn today; it does not change. Your personality doesn't really change. I always say that I am an introvert hiding in an extroverts body. That won't change. Emotional intelligence continually comes up when I teach meditation. One of the first things I ask is, what are your desires to meditate, and what was one thing that brought you here to learn how to meditate? Very often, the response I hear is to stop being so emotional and to stop being reactive. I also understand their to desire to balance their emotions, logic, and reasoning. At the beginning of this episode, I asked how you were feeling. You likely had to pause for a minute and think about it. It's not easy to tune into your own emotions. Those who can tune in to their feelings are excellent leaders because they also can easily tune into the feelings of those around them. For example, if I am in tune with my emotions and feelings, I can easily tune in to the emotions and feelings of perhaps an employee I am meeting. I can use what I have learned about my employee's feelings and emotions to determine my actions; I want my actions to have the most significant outcome and success for myself and my employees. The act of properly using your emotional brain isn't only applicable to your employees; it applies to your family, your friends, and everyone you come in contact with. Tuning in to your feelings and those around isn't as easy as it sounds. Our emotions are coming at us so fast that it seems that they do not travel through our brain in a logical order. We can fix this! What are emotions? Emotions are a neurological response to very strong stimuli. Your rational brain needs to catch up to your feelings. As your emotions are coming through your brainstem and entering your brain, we need to differentiate and discriminate amongst those feelings before they get to our executive prefrontal cortex, before we react. In meditation, we are helping our brain to become more aware of our feelings and emotions; and also our bodies. The more we meditate, the better we are at discriminating and tuning in to our own and others' emotions resulting in more rational thinking and decision making. There will be fewer days where you say to yourself, "I wish I didn't make that decision based on my crappy mood." You will have more control over your reactions when your employee or your spouse is upset. You will be able to identify that your emotions are high because their emotions are high, which will lead to better decisions and successful outcomes. Years ago, I was teaching a woman who had a 5-year-old child. This woman just wanted to be able to deal with her 5-year-old. In her words, her child was cute, adorable, but crazy. She likely would have preferred for me to teach meditation to her child instead, but I believe mom must learn how to meditate first. I taught her about body scanning, and how our bodies are brilliantly intuned with our emotions. If we are in tune with our bodies, we will be in tune with our feelings. The woman began to notice, in real-time, that when she was feeling wound up, her child would also become wound up. The calmer she grew, her child began to respond and become calm. Simple but profound. When you are meditating, you are training yourself to be more aware of sensations. Noticing when things change, noticing what our triggers are. Emotional intelligence requires clear communication between the rational part of your brain and the emotional center. Think of a seesaw. You have a brain on one side and a heart on the other. You might know someone so smart, but you want to smack them because everything they say comes from a high intellectual level but is missing any trace of emotion. Often, they make decisions based on their highly logical brain but fail because no emotions were considered. Logic, reason, and emotion, how do we get all these parts of the brain working together? Meditation helps you become in touch with your self-awareness in real-time. Self-awareness in real-time and emotional awareness helps your brain get one more second to catch up. In that one second, magic can happen. Your anterior cingulate, the part that helps balance your brain; it lights up when you are meditating. The practice and training are helping balance your brain. In 2017, Daniel Goleman wrote a subsequent book called Altered Traits - Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. Worth reading! While you are meditating, I would like you to notice sensations. I always say, "get out of the thinking mind and enter the feeling mind" and "be a human being and not a human doing." Start your meditation with a body scan, and think to yourself, "How am I feeling right now?", "What am I feeling?" and "Where am I feeling it?" You might start to think about how long have you felt this way; you might even want to name that emotion. Then think, how is this emotion affecting me right now in my performance in my life, home or work. Devote your meditation to getting in touch with the feeling part of you. Sometimes, suddenly that action of I know what to do comes up. In that action, there is action, not reaction. To summarize; you can change your emotional intelligence, and you can be as great as you want to be. I know you want to be great because I know you want to be in a world where you can perceive your emotions and those around you. You don't live under a rock, we have people around us all the time, and I know that you are a caring and compassionate person. If you only take one thing away from this episode it is that meditation does a lot of great stuff, including helping your emotional intelligence. Try some of this stuff in your meditation. See how it feels. Shoot me a text, DM, email, or a smoke signal, tell me how it's going. That's it for today, Tators! Alexa Z Meditates Website
12 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
EP21: Are You Good at Multitasking? No, you are not, nor should you be!
In today's episode, we are going to shed some light on multitasking. You might be tired of hearing about multitasking, and monotasking is getting a little blase. If you are like me, repetition is necessary. I wear the badge of honor when it comes to multitasking. In the past 30 years, any interview I had, when asked what my three top skills were, multitasking was always one of them. As I get older, I still think that I do well when it comes to multitasking. However, I see I don't get as much done as I used to. Often there are distractions, mind-wandering, and more often than not, my top three tasks on my to-do list were not completed. I now know that those top three are the three that move the needle. I must prioritize my top three tasks. Multitasking is a thing of the past. The new cool kids, slow down, get more done, are more accurate, down goes the stress, and up goes the productivity. Does it sound like you need a dose of that? Or, do you believe you are one of the chosen ones and are a great multitasker? Stay tuned! Multitasking is not fun. Most of us are endlessly and unsuccessfully trying to make the needle move. Intro Hey there! Alexa Z here! First, let me start off by saying if you are driving, walking, washing dishes, folding towels, and also listening to me, that's okay. You can do rote tasks in multiples. My motto is to keep it simple. Let's make this short and sweet, so you can go forth and get stuff done. Plus, facts are facts; you can't argue how the brain works. When you are splitting your resources or your attention on multiple things, you start to slide down the slippery slope to inaccuracies. Multitasking isn't doing multiple things at the same time. It's content switching. The brain does not like to go forward to do one task; then, when you start another task, you have to put your brain in reverse. It may just be for a split second, put your mind in reverse, now forward to the next task. Back-up, go forward, back-up, go forward. This back and forth causes the brain to become exhausted, resulting in a 50% error rate, and it takes twice as long to complete a task. Have you heard of the saying, "if you want something done, ask a busy person"? I do agree, but now I have reformated that thought. Asking a busy person is fine as long as they move slowly, not sloth-like but undistracted from task to task. Our brain is never doing two things at the same time; the mind is merely switching back and forth. As you switch back in forth, there is a residue that is left, which causes your brain to be unclear. When have you multitask for an entire day and felt great? Your brain has a process. For example, you want ice cream. The anterior part of your brain sets that goal; the posterior part of the prefrontal brain helps the rest of you go to the freezer and get the ice cream. That might be a silly example, but imagine that your brain is going through that process with important tasks. Your brain is continually setting goals and processing how to get it done in multiple fashions. We get such a high when checking things off of our to-do list. Let's use our electronic devices as an example. We have multiple tabs opened, email, instant messenger, and we are working on a task. We don't have a plan. If you are on vacation and have some work you have to address, most likely, you create a plan to make sure that you still spend time and are present with your family while taking care of responsibility for your job. You might set a specific time to check your emails once a day so that you are not distracted while doing activities with your family. When you set a particular time to check on your emails, you can focus and get through them much more quickly than if you had been checking your email throughout the day. When you always check your email, your mind wanders, and you end up on Instagram, Facebook, etc. Your mind is wandering 47% of the time, switching tasks constantly, and you wonder why you are not getting any task completed. It has been said that you forget 1 out of 3 tasks. Have you ever learned to juggle? It is very challenging. Juggling is a lot like mindfulness. As you switch and grab the different objects, you must concentrate on one object to catch and toss it before the next object comes. I want to learn to juggle as it is an excellent mindfulness practice. What is effected by multitasking? Everything! Multitasking decreases accuracy, crushes your creative thinking, you become anxious, it hurts short-term memory, and time is lost. Exercise: Time yourself Write, "I can multitask." Stop Write, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13." Stop Write both "I can multitask" and "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13." together but go back and forth from "I can multitask" and the number sequence for each character. For example, write "I" in one line, then "1" below it, back and write "c," and back down write "2"... This activity shows that multitasking does not help you get tasks done quicker or accurately. How does meditation help with multitasking? Meditation trains your brain to focus on one thing at a time. When you meditate, you might use one of the following to focus on: breath, mantra, or your body. The brain and body are working together. It is now scientifically known that we have a body, mind, and energy system. It is a beautiful feeling when they are in sync. Meditation trains your brain to ignore distractions. While meditating, you can focus on your breath, notice the distraction, and return to your breath. Maintaining a regular meditation practice helps your neuropathways, reactivity, and makes doing multiple tasks much more manageable. Keep up with your daily meditation and notice how much you get done. Go with monotasking and get rid of multitasking. Ready to Learn: Sign up to find out when Alexa's next class launches! Get on the List Now!
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