Meditation

Meditation is prayer. It is a way of becoming quiet of calming the mind and getting in touch with our inner spirit. It is the art of focusing 100% of your attention in one area. I have meditated for years. However, I never made a consistent practice of it until now. I just didn’t made it important, but because I feel so much more relaxed after mediating I include it as a powerful combat mode to kick depression. Here are some simple steps that we can both follow to help us make it a daily practice. I will be with you along the way, you are never alone my friend. Here goes:

1. Early in the morning and before you go to sleep are great times to meditate.

2. Begin by stretching to loosen your muscles.

3. Sit in a comfortable position.

4. Focus your attention on the point between your eyebrows.

5. Breathe out and breathe in.

6, Sit for just a few minutes to begin with and as days go by add minutes as you are able.

It is better to mediate for five minutes twice a day than not to meditate at all. So let’s be kind to ourselves and make it a simple and joyful moment of peace, calm and equanimity. At one time I got very competitive with my meditation, if I heard someone was sitting for half an hour, I felt I had to do that. Or if someone was sitting for three hours, I felt I wasn’t putting forth the right effort and that they were a better meditator than me.

My friend, don’t do that. Depression would love you to be all competitive, because it knows if you get into being competitive with meditation, you will undoubtedly give it up. Meditation is not a competitive sport. It is simply sitting down, or walking quietly, or even standing or laying down, and becoming still. It is letting your thoughts pass through your mind so you do not pay them any particular attention. That is the art of meditation, to let things go. So let things go and sit and be still….and above all enjoy!

There are also mantras that you can use to help calm your mind and stop it from chattering away to you. Read any book on meditation and you will find many different mantras that you can use. For example silently repeating the sound of “Om” as you breathe in and out, or silently saying the word “Love.”

Today, let’s meditate. Please join me.

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Dance

It follows as night follows day, that if I talk about music, the next day I just have to talk about dance. Dancing is magical and transforming. It breathes new life into our mind, bodies and spirits. It triggers long-forgotten memories and turns depression into joy. Researchers say regular dancing gives you a great mind-body workout. It keeps your brain healthy as you age by increasing the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow.  Just remembering dance steps, and sequences boosts your brain power! A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week makes people less likely to develop dementia.

Life Warrior dancing is a great combat move to kick depression. So let’s experiment. If you used to dance and are getting back into it, you can pick up where you left off.  Maybe you have a friend you can go with. There are all kinds of places you can get dance classes: dance school, dance studio, health club, or community recreation center. Some YMCAs, churches, or synagogues offer group dance classes followed by a social hour. And if you are differently abled, there is even wheelchair dancing or Dancing Dreams, a non-profit organization that provides classes for aspiring dancers with mental and physical disabilities….or DanceAbility International that brings together people with and without disabilities.

Today, my friend, you are going to kick depression. You are going to go on line and find out where there are some dance classes near you. If you don’t have a friend who can go with you, call the place up and find out if they will take single people. I am absolutely certain they will! This may be a big push for you. I am not saying to actually go and dance if you really, really hate it. But for today, just find out where you can go and dance. If it feels something you would like to do….then my friend let’s do it. Let’s dance depression out of our lives and tap into our hearts with the steps of life.

Posted in awareness, Breathe, combat move, Dance, Depression, Kick Depression, Love, Self-Help | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Music

Music is food for the soul. It uplifts, inspires and brings joy and clarity. I have actually cried listening to music; who can forget Elton John playing Candle in the Wind? All music is beautiful: the lyrics, the instruments and the voices. I love many different types of music. Right now I am listening to The Walrus on the Celtic Grace album by the Aureole Trio. And now, on comes A Day Without Rain by Enya. I use Pandora, and it plays on my TV as I write. In the mornings we often play Frank Sinatra. I know it shows our age, but we just love it. I can’t imagine a world without music. I even love the sappy music in grocery stores and elevators. It’s not always my choice of music, but then it’s good to expand our musical habits.

There’s a new study from Austria’s General Hospital of Salzburg that shows how valuable music is to our health. In the study, 65 patients aged between 21 and 68 with chronic back pain after back surgery were divided into two groups. One group received standard medical care and physiotherapy. The other group as well as getting medical care and attention listened to music and received visualisation classes (25 minutes every day for three weeks). Results found the group who listened to music and used imagery experienced better pain relief than the group who did not.

Clinical psychologist Franz Wendtner who led the study says: “Music is an important part of our physical and emotional wellbeing – ever since we were babies in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms. Listening to music for about 25 minutes every day for at least ten days can help prevent back pain and also make you sleep better.”

Experts believe any type of classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven can help relieve muscle pain. Calm, slow music is also thought to help. I actually enjoy most types of music. My grandchildren are great for introducing me to new music. I hear all different kinds just because they are around and playing it.

Depression of course does not like music. It would never think to put on an uplifting piece of classical music. It would much rather you had deaf ears to any kind of creative sound. But when you think of all the creativity and inspiration that goes into a piece of music, how can we deny ourselves the joy of listening?

We use music to celebrate every kind of ritual, and so of course depression doesn’t want to celebrate! Why would it? Celebrating life and having vitality is not what depression wants. Depression wants to keep us stuck in a dark, soundless place where we just let life pass us by. But why wait for an official celebration to play music? We need to fill our souls with music every day. I notice that even monks and nuns who have taken a vow of silence always seem to sing at some point in the day. Life without song is a life unsung. Today let’s sing our lives into being. We don’t have to sing alone; there are so many voices out there already singing. Just pick a favorite and listen. And if you can muster up the energy to sing along, then do it. Celebrate your life with a song—it is worth celebrating every day—and we must do it for ourselves because it feels soooo good.

Posted in Action, Breathe, combat move, Depression, Flow, Fun, Happiness, Kick Depression, Life Warrior, Listen, Love, Music, Vitality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teddy

When I was a little girl I had a teddy. He was blonde brown and had two brown glass eyes. He started out life quite fluffy, but over the years he became quite flat and his fur was matted—but I loved Teddy with all my heart. When we went on vacation Teddy had to come with us, and I agonized that he was put in a suitcase. How would he breathe, so he had to come out and I held him all the way to our vacation caravan.

I don’t have teddy any more, he must have gotten too dirty over the years, or maybe I just left him behind. I have new teddy’s now, two of them: one dark brown and one blonde brown. I don’t think of them much, they basically just sit on one of my meditation cushions. One looking at the ceiling and the other out the window. They remind me of my childhood when I believed in my teddy. I believed that teddy could look after me and protect me when I slept. He was a real friend.

It’s important to have something like a teddy in our lives.

Depression hates teddy bears. Anything that brings comfort is not to be loved or enjoyed. So teddy bears are shunned and most likely thrown out or put on a top shelf gathering dust. But if you think about it; why does a child love teddy bears and soft cuddly toys? They love them because they are soft and cuddly. They make children feel better. So why wouldn’t a teddy bear speak to the child that is still within us?

Today, find a teddy bear or a soft toy. It doesn’t have to be a big one. Any teddy or soft toy will do. I want you to go ahead and give it a hug. I am going to do it right now alongside you. Just a minute while I grab teddy. How funny, my dark brown teddy actually has quite a grumpy face—so I gave it a hug to make it feel better.

It reminds me of the other week. I was at my daughter’s house helping her do some laundry. Her laundry room is in the basement and not exactly inspiring. And there were three of four old teddy bears lying on a shelf. So I stuck them up in-between the pipes and had them waving—it turned a boring laundry room into a happier place.

Being a life warrior and learning combat moves to kick depression is about seeking out the small things in life that make life a little bit more joy filled. Every time you make a combat move to kick depression you are helping everyone around you. When my daughter goes into her laundry room I bet she smiles. She may think, ‘oh mom!’ But ‘oh mom’ made her smile! My friend let’s smile today.

Posted in Action, awareness, Breathe, combat move, Depression, Happiness, Kick Depression, Life Warrior, Purpose, Self-Help, smile, Vitality, Wake Up | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tchotchkies

Tchotchies is derived from the Yiddish language to describe little decorative things of no purpose that we love to set around the house. I love tchotchkies. The word alone tumbles around the mouth like hot buttered toast. I think everyone should have at least one or two scattered around the home. We have so many our house is a veritable tchotchkie fest. I think they all get up in the middle of the night and talk to each other, “Why are you here?” “I have no idea.” “What’s your purpose?” “I don’t have one, the home owners just love me!” “Yeah, me too.”

And that is the whole purpose of a tchotchkie, to have no purpose.  A grumpy person might look at a tchotchkie and want to hurl it out the window. Grumpiness makes a person feel there is no purpose in life, and a tchotchkie is like throwing it in their face. “Nah, nah, nah na na–me tchotchkie–living proof there is no purpose.” I remember one time wanting to get rid of my husband’s tchotchkie’s just because I was depressed and didn’t want anyone else to be happy. A tchotchkie as the definition describes is something of no purpose that we love to set around the house—and what would a depressed person do with that kind of thing?

How many tchotchkies do you have in your home? Did you lovingly set them in place. My husband does that. He loves to go around the house and move his tchotchkies around. Now that I have used my combat moves to kick depression, I love his tchotchkies. They remind me of loving things just because.

There is no reason to love a tchotchkie except that it is there. It has no use, no intrinsic value. A tchotchkie should not be valuable in monetary terms otherwise it has a purpose, and a tchotchkie has no purpose except to be loved.

Today, look at your tchotchkies, and if you don’t have any, please go out and purchase something. It doesn’t have to cost much—you can find something at Good Will. Find your tchotchkie and put it somewhere where you can see it when you wake up in the morning. I have one that I am looking at right now. It is a camel. It’s about two feet tall and is made of ceramic and colorfully painted. It used to stand outside the front door until it fell over and chipped. We stuck it together of course—because that’s what you do with tchotchkies. Today, remind yourself that not everything has to have a purpose except to be loved and make you feel good. Good luck with your tchotchkie hunting—and remember to place them in places where they will just love to be.

Posted in Art, awareness, Believe, combat move, Depression, Fun, Happiness, Kick Depression, Life Warrior, Purpose, Self-Help, Tchotchkie | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Programs

Jeff my hubby is driving me to O’Hare airport. I am flying into Rochester, NY, then driving to Canandaigua to deliver a class called Introduction to Strategic Planning. Road-works decorate the highway: flaggers wave to slow us down; back hoe excavators and cranes darken the skyline with angled steel edges.

We are driving in the fast lane, inches from the concrete teeth of the road barrier. Most of us are over the speed limit of 55 MPH, so it feels a bit hairy. Whenever I’m worried I talk. I turn to Jeff’s profile and say something that I have been thinking about, “How do I be funny when I’m not funny?”

“You are funny!”

“Okay.” That ends the conversation and now I am rooting round my brain files to find something else to talk about. “Do you believe in God?”

Jeff looks upwards as if to God and says, “Help me God!” I repeat my question, “Seriously, do you believe in God.” He looks up again, “Help me God!” We do this a couple more times ’til I burst out laughing. “I don’t know if God exists.” smiles Jeff. “A lot of people do believe, and that’s okay with me.”

“Don’t worry. I’m just doing my talking program,” I tell him, “I mean we’re all just a bunch of programs aren’t we.” There’s nothing wrong with programs, because we all have them. They start when we’re young watching and listening to our parents, friends and family interact. Our brain comes up with these amazing programs to help deal with life. We have our angry program when we feel frustrated, and our happy program when things are going well. And as we keep using the programs they become habits and patterns until we don’t even realize they’re running.

But, if I name the program that is running in my head, and if I can be objective enough to determine if the program is benefiting me or not, then I can decide whether to keep it running or terminate it and run a different program. I know it sounds kinda simple, but, some of my negative programs feel so normal they run by themselves and I go along without even knowing. Once I realize I have the power to run different programs, well now I get to choose.

Today, I decided to run a different travel program. Instead of being upset at plane delays, or grumpy people I am going to run a fun travel program where I enjoy myself no matter what the airport, car hire or hotel receptionist throws my way.

My friend, what program are you running today? Are you happy with your program? Do you feel in charge or is it in charge of you? Are you the program designer or is the program running itself without anyone monitoring the results? Today my friend, be aware of your programs—if they suit your needs GREAT keep them running. If they are not serving you well STOP and run a different program. You are in charge. You are the designer.

Yes, someone in your past may have hacked into your life and written some funky code—but today it’s time to take over and write some new code. What program do you want to run? Myself I want to be funny so I’ll end with a joke. A thousand and one lightbulbs walk into a bar and the barman says, “Sorry we don’t serve lightbulbs here.” And the lightbulbs say, “Lighten up mate!”

I know it’s not that funny, but it’s a start and my friend that’s all we need to do–make a fresh start and start afresh.

Posted in Action, combat move, Control, Depression, Fun, God, Happiness, Kick Depression | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen

Listening is so overrated. I say that because we all learn about how important it is to listen, and yet so few of us actually do take the time to listen. Yes, it actually takes time to listen. And the time it takes to listen seems like nothing is happening. Because we are not seeming to be doing anything. We are not talking and so we feel that we are not being heard. We are not taking action, so it feels we are not doing anything. We are not being listened to, so we feel that we are not at the forefront of the topic—like we are not important.

Listening is a big obstacle for our ego. Our ego is our sense of self-esteem or self-importance so when we are listening our ego has to sit on the shelf. It sits on our shoulders so to speak, and it talks to us, “I know the answer to this. I can help. Let me talk, please let me talk. Stop talking so I can dispense my wisdom. I know what to do. Stop talking and I can tell you what to do!” And so we interrupt. We say our piece, but does the other person really listen to our profound wisdom? Of course not. While you are speaking their ego is going through the same conversation. “Please stop talking so I can get a word in.” and so it goes. We call it communication but often times it is just people giving their own view-point, telling their own story and dispensing their own wisdom. I guess that’s why I enjoy writing. I can dispense my own wisdom uninterrupted!

And yet, I am listening to you. I decided to write this blog because I had gone through the experience of being depressed. And after years and years of finding ways to overcome my depression I realized one day that I have a suitcase full of combat moves to kick depression. I decided to share them. If you are still with me, that is wonderful because I listened to your needs, and here are some ideas. You may not try them all. You may not even try one; but somewhere along the way, something may click. Today it is about listening.

Depression does not want to listen. It wants to be the only voice. And it is a big, big voice. It doesn’t sound big when we are lying in bed unable to get up. Or when we are living our daily lives barely able to function. But have you noticed when you stand up and start going a different way, choosing a path of possible joy and contentment, the voice of depression will rise up, “Stay in bed. Don’t communicate. Stop working. Don’t take a walk. Don’t call your friends.”

Today, don’t listen to the voice of depression. Instead, listen to your loved ones. Listen to a therapist, listen to a co-worker who wants to tell you about their vacation, or the problems they are having with their teens, or your boss who has some new ideas and new projects. Listen instead to people instead of the voice of depression. Just for today. Because when you listen to the right voices today, and you do it today, and today and today…all those today’s become your tomorrows and pretty soon they become your future and your past and you are balanced in the middle listening and enjoying the experience of being the listener.

Posted in awareness, combat move, Depression, helping people, Kick Depression, Life Warrior, Listen, Self-Help | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment