5 Keys to a Successful Meditation Practice

I recommend beginning a meditation practice with a strong intention.   At my Ignite Your Best Mindset Group, I tell participants that when your desire is heartfelt, your commitment will be much stronger.  This is the first of five steps to make your meditation a success long-term to empower your best life.

If you don’t set a firm intention, you’ll eventually lose sight of the reason you’re meditating, and be off course.   When you are aware of your intention, it’s like you’re the great batter who is consciously aware of every muscle as he moves his body toward the ball to score a homerun.  Be like that athlete who succeeds!

To set an intention, write down your answers to the follow questions:

  • What is my deepest desire for meditating?
  • How many minutes am I willing to dedicate to the practice?
  • How many days a week am I truly willing to meditate?
  • What is my deepest desire to achieve; is it connecting to your higher power, stress relief, more peace?

Now make an intention from your answers.  For example, “I will commit to a practice of at least 5 to 20 minutes of meditating or Guided Imagery each day to wake up and empower my best life.”  Or it could be, “I intend to do five minutes of meditation three times a week for stress relief.” Whatever you choose and say will be just right for you.  The most important thing is to write down your intention and begin.  When you calm your mind, go inside, you are now aligned with your higher self to inspire and expect great things.

Here are the 5 keys to a successful practice:

  1. Set an intention
  2. Align with Your Higher Power or the Divine
  3. Tune into your body and breath
  4. Welcome your thoughts and feelings
  5. Tap into a sense of wellbeing, joy, and compassion

In future blog posts, I will go more in depth with the other keys to a successful meditation practice.  You can also work with a meditation coach to help setup a strong practice.

Vicki Atlas is a Best Mindset Coach, a Guided Imagery Specialist, and Producer.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace and wellbeing to children and adults.  Find her at HeartTalkNow.com and CalmingCorner.com for kids. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

How to Grow More Resilient

Category 5 hurricanes, wildfires, political unrest, and now a nuclear threat. The news can be quite upsetting.  During these difficult times, how can we find strength? Where does resilience come from? The right side of our brain may contain the answer.

You may have seen Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor on Oprah’s “SuperSoul Sunday.”  Dr. Bolte had suffered a stroke in her left brain.  She lost most of her physical functioning.  However, the stroke opened up the right side of her brain even more.  In her book “My Stroke of Insight,” she talks about how she had felt a deep connection to the Divine that brought intense feelings of peace, love, and joy.

This experience was so powerful, she was tempted to sit back and enjoy these feelings.  Yet, she knew she had to seek help to live.  Eventually, she was able to dial the phone and survived.  Dr. Bolte believes those higher feelings of love and joy are found in the right creative side of the brain, not in the thinking left side of the brain.

That explains why if we are constantly thinking, and pushing our brains even harder for a solution, the answer comes only after we go for a walk or take a shower.  Letting go allows us to receive from the right brain.  So to combat stressful thinking, Guided Imagery can help us tap into the more creative, right hemisphere of love, peace, and joy.  This is where our real power lies.  Just closing our eyes connects us to the right side of the brain and that’s how Imagery begins.If you haven’t experienced Guided Imagery, please click on this link to download our FREE Guided meditation.  Click Here.

Sometimes just observing feelings in a meditative state can help them be released and flow through us and not get stuck.   Setting aside time for this can help us grasp our true nature.  We are human.  We have feelings.  Accepting the good and the bad feelings allows us to open up to compassion for ourselves and others.  Tuning in to our right side of our brain through meditation and Guided Imagery can help us build resilience.

Vicki Atlas is a Best Mindset Coach, a Guided Imagery Specialist, Former Radio Host and Producer.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace, healing, and wellbeing to children and adults.  Find her at HeartTalkNow.com and CalmingCorner.com, for kids. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

 

Affirmations to Empower Your Life

We lost a great leader in the transformational movement and someone who knew the power of words and affirmations.  Best-selling Author Louise Hay and Founder of Hay House Publications passed away at the age of 90 on August 30, 2017.   She will be missed by many who have come to enjoy her writings, teachings, and affirmations.  Yet, her legacy will live on in the lives she touched at Hay House.  This affirmation is one of my favorites: “All is Well! Everything is working out for my highest good.  Out of this situation, only good will come. And I am safe.”   It’s a great affirmation to say to yourself when you feel unsettled or something does not go your way.

Louise had claimed this affirmation brought miracles to her life.  As she often said, most of us don’t speak very kindly to ourselves.  How’s that been working?   Why not choose another way?  Louise believed that what we think and say, affects our reality.  So be very careful with the thoughts you choose.   That’s why she believed in affirmations that would counteract the negative thoughts that we think.  Louise had a daily practice of saying affirmations in the morning and throughout her day to lift her spirits.  Many transformational leaders, including Tony Robbins and Bob Proctor also practice affirmations.

How do you uplift your life with the words that you choose?   Do you tell yourself you are stupid because you make a silly mistake?  Or you’re not smart or pretty enough.  Or, the world is so unfair.   How’s that working for you?  Why not replace that thought with “The universe is inspiring for my good?”  Or, “I am joyfully living on purpose with ease and abundance.”  I like that one and plan to add that to my daily list.

What’s more is that we may teach affirmations to our children.   Imagine kids that say to themselves.  “I am loved, safe, and protected.”  “I am smart, strong, and everybody loves me.”   It’s so much more loving than the critical thoughts or words we may hear from others.   Here’s a great affirmation to teach your children that I learned a long time ago from Best-selling Author Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.  When someone says a mean remark, say to yourself, “No matter what you say or do, I’m still a worthwhile person!”  For this week, why not come up with a few powerful “I am” statements about what you want to create in your life. Keep your affirmations in the present tense.  And together, come up with a few for your children.  By the way, “All is Well and will be well!”

Vicki Atlas is a Best Mindset Coach, Guided Imagery Specialist, Former Radio Host and Producer.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace and wellbeing to children and adults.  Find her at HeartTalkNow.com and CalmingCorner.com for kids. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

Helping Kids Succeed Through Imagery

Alison suffers from Migraines and has headaches that are very painful and hot.  She describes them as pressure and pounding on her head.  Her headaches went away after she learned to visualize a loving white light to cool down her head while learning to relax her body. Then, there’s Josh who suffered from test anxiety at age 16.  But through his imagery of staying calm and focused on exams, he scored higher on his tests.  These are just a few of my young clients who are using the power of their imagination to feel better and thrive.

Children continue to feel stress at home and at school. Our kids deserve to be equipped with tools to help them better cope. As for parents and teachers, raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children often feels overwhelming. Parents and educators deserve to know and practice mind-body tools, as well.

Through learning Guided Imagery and visualization, kids will develop emotional self-care to better meet challenges.  Research shows children who use Guided Imagery have better focus and attention—even those children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.)  They score higher in school and on tests.  Imagery also has been shown in studies to help children heal quicker with less pain from surgery and chronic stomach problems.

Parents and children practicing these techniques together bring more powerful results and it can be a great bonding experience.  If parents successfully teach their kids effective imagery techniques to solve their problems, their world could be transformed. If teachers could help children access their learning potential, through imagery, education could thrive.

For the next few blogs, I will discuss some techniques that you may try at home or at school with your children to help them with calm.

#1: The Balloon Breath

This is a technique of breathing slowly and deeply into the belly while focusing attention around the navel. We begin filling up deep into our belly.  This type of diaphragmatic breathing centers and calms children.

You can breath in slowly…filling up with air…then let it out very slowly…  Once more breath in deep, slowly,  then let it out.   (Do this for at least two minutes.)

One teen, who was frequently upset, was able to calm himself and reduce his stress from an 8 to a 2 by practicing his balloon breath several times a day. He found it made him feel especially peaceful when he focused his attention on his heart.  You may feel like you are breathing in and out from your heart.  Gratitude is so important to feel when doing this special breathing.

# 2: Relaxing the Body

Progressive relaxation of the body is a gentle way to calm yourself.  You begin with a light from above—it can be any color that the children wishes.   Then the light pours in from above through the head, face, neck, shoulder, and gradually moving into the legs and arms peacefully, lovingly…with relaxation spreading into each part.  Once the children are physically relaxed you can go into a script that will help the child feel loved, be more at peace, change unwanted behaviors and beliefs, and be ready for new discoveries.

In our next segment, we’ll talk about some other ideas for imagery and stories for stress-relief and healing.  (Please note that patient names were replaced.)

Vicki Atlas is a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner and Meditation Coach.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace and healing to children and adults. Find her at HeartTalkNow.com and CalmingCorner.com for kids.  She’s helping children, educators, and parents awaken to their best life. You can email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

5-Steps to Shift Your Mindset

Have you ever felt stuck in your life?  Unhappy with the results you’re creating?  It’s time to shift your mindset and old beliefs with this 5-step process.  The creator of this paradigm-shift exercise is Author Bob Proctor, featured in “The Secret,” the movie about the Law of Attraction.  There may be something in your subconscious, your pattern of beliefs or mindset, that is getting in your way.

After doing this exercise over the weekend, there’s been a shift in my energy, releasing the old to bring in the new. There’s a method to re-write what you do want to occur in your life.

Here are the 5 Steps:

  1. Decide what you want to focus on for this exercise. Think about the results you’re getting in one area in your life that you want to change, maybe it’s some aspect of your business or relationship.
  2. Write down the situation the way it currently is. What you are currently upset or unhappy about? Get all of your feelings and thoughts about the issue on paper.  What is keeping you up at night?  Maybe it’s your business, and you’re not bringing in enough sales, or you want more special time with your loved one.   
  3. Then get out a second sheet of paper and write out what you want to create in your life.  Write…“I’m so happy and grateful now that…” and then complete the sentence in the present tense.  Write down all the wonderful things you’ll have once this result is achieved.
  4. Now take the first sheet–with all your awful thoughts and feelings–and burn it. Burn the paper in a fire pit or in a bowl covered with aluminum foil and let it go.
  5. Take the second sheet of paper of what you want to create and carry that with you for a week, referring to it often. Also write out what you want to create dozens of times a day morning and night.  Then read out loud what you wrote.

At first, you may not believe what you are writing or saying. But after a while, it won’t seem so odd, and you’ll even start to believe it.  Then you will know you are beginning to reach your subconscious mind.   You may take it even further by closing your eyes and visualize what you want to occur with all the feeling you can muster. Do this for a few minutes. This will plant the new way of being into your new mindset.

Vicki Atlas is a Best Mindset Coach and certified in Guided Imagery.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace to children and helping educators and parents awaken to their best life. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

Is Your Inner Coach Supportive?

Do you have a supportive inner coach?  And how do we nurture a more loving inner voice?

Near Death Experiences have always fascinated me, in which people are pronounced dead but come back to life.  Do these Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) really occur?  Do patients really go though the light, experience Heaven, or is it the mind hallucinating?

Anita Moorjani, who wrote the book Dying to be Me, experienced something truly amazing with her Near Death Experience.   Dying of cancer while in a coma, she had a miracle occur.   When brought back to life, she had a spontaneous remission whereby her cancer totally disappeared.  While in this higher place, she felt such incredible love–far beyond what any of us can imagine.  Yet, she was told by her deceased father that it was not her time, that her husband and family still needed her.  When she came back after her NDE, she saw her world in a new light.  She realized the old Anita had been extremely harsh and critical of herself, and she no longer wanted to live like this.  We truly have a nurturing supporter higher self—if we pause and let the power in.  Here are some of the things Anita has discovered:

  • Overcome the mind and shift to the heart
  • Create gaps between thoughts, so the soul can hear us
  • Being of service is the “Real Work.”
  • Being attached to outcomes creates stress
  • Trust the Universe has the best plan for you
  • And focus on the states you desire and choose more happiness

You may want to take the following actions that Anita Moorjani recommends in her book:

  1. Go on a “mind fast” to clear your energy to receive inspiration.  Be free of phones, computer and media for 24 hours.
  2. Practice loving yourself more by asking, “What brings me joy?” And then do those things that bring you joy.

Share what brings you joy and how your inner self can be more supportive.

Vicki Atlas is a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner and Meditation Coach.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace to children and helping educators and parents awaken to their best life. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

5 Steps to Silence Your Critical Voice

How do you make peace with that inner critical voice?  As I begin writing, thoughts appear: “You’re not good enough; What do you have to say that hasn’t been said? How can you help, if your mind is full of junk?”  Ruminating thoughts and negative chatter like this stops us from reaching our dreams and goals and can also lead to depression.

Today, are you ready to take the challenge with me?  Make peace with that inner critic that says you’re not smart enough, or pretty enough? You’re too fat.  You’re too poor.  You don’t know what you’re doing.  Let’s decide today that we’ll shine a light on ways to silence the voice.  What if we had tools to make peace with that negative voice when it starts chiming in?

Well NOW you do.  And here are what Positive Psychology studies are suggesting.

Look for the positive.  Amplify Your Strengths:  Some research has suggested that we need five positive thoughts for every negative voice we carry around in our heads to feel balanced, happy, and productive.  We often assume focusing on our weaknesses will help, when actually, amplifying our strengths is more important and MORE productive.

Ask for the Positive:  When bosses or others are critical, make sure you ask them for positive feedback as well.   They may not realize the power of the mind.  Neuroscientists studying learning have found this to be the case—when you expect and compliment what’s going right, this expands, and your team will perform stronger.   They haven’t reached their potential and they’re more apt to dig in to fix it. They also learn better, too, than from harsh criticism.

Name the critical voice as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Bird-Man” the lead character has a very demeaning voice.   Whenever you hear the mean voice—label it.  Bring it to awareness, “Oh there’s that critical voice.”   Mentally reassure the crazy critic that you got this, you can handle this, and don’t need help. With practice, you’ll label it quickly.

Get out of your head and into the present moment.  When you live in the moment, your inner voices go silent. From that point, you are operating from your heart, your deeper mind. You are then following your infinite wisdom, rather than your Ego thinking brain.  To become present in the moment,  take a few breaths, become aware of your body or your immediate surroundings.  This breaks the grip.

Make peace and ask the voice to be more of a coach.   I learned this from Jack Canfield, best-selling author of the “Success Principles.”  At one point, he had a conversation with his inner critic, and said, “Hey, I need you to be more supportive, less critical.  This other way is clearly NOT working.”   From that point on, the voice seemed more positive, more supportive.

 And if all else fails, picture that voice and its big mouth-yakking away.  Now, take a huge piece of black tape.  Cover up the mouth with all of your might.   Now, you cannot hear or make out the words. Ha ha!  That’s one way to fix it!

Please share this blog post and comment how you silence your critical voice.

Vicki Atlas is a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner and Meditation Coach.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace to children and adults and helping you enlighten your life.  She produces the CalmingCorner.com for kids and is helping educators and parents awaken to their best life. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

 

Lean into Positivity

A friend recently asked about the benefits of Guided Imagery.  How does tuning into grace and ease for healthier living sound to you?  Here’s the definition: Guided Imagery is a relaxation technique in which words, sounds, and music are used to evoke positive mental images, feelings, and thoughts.  There are over a thousand studies confirming Guided Imagery and meditation can aid health, improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance well-being.   Children also benefit from leaning into positivity.

All of us can use a little peace from daily stress and the over-active monkey-mind. That’s the chatter of thoughts, many times negative, that seem to go on endlessly. Meditation and Guided Imagery are one of the best tools we have to build brain elasticity and counter negativity and stress. Guided meditation is so easy–turn on, tune in, and power up your life.  Plus, guided imagery can lead to an increase in positive experiences, and connect us to the present moment. Ample research concludes that having a regular practice of Guided Imagery and meditation produces benefits for mental and physical wellbeing. Some of these include:

  • Decreased anxiety, depression, and sleep issues
  • Reduced blood pressure and hypertension
  • Lowered cholesterol levels
  • Less production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline
  • More efficient oxygen use by the body and improved immune function
  • Plus, increasing the anti-aging hormone DHEA

It’s an exciting time because the research in quantum physics shows that your perception of reality affects and may even alter your reality. So if the majority of the time you are experiencing negative thinking and beliefs, that is what you will draw into your life. So focus on the good–lean into positivity and gratitude–and watch how your health and wellbeing improve!  Check out our Guided Imagery programs at HeartTalkNow.com.  We even have one you can download for free.

Wishing you peace!

Vicki Atlas is a Certified Guided Imagery Practitioner and Meditation Coach.   Atlas is passionate about bringing more peace to children and helping educators and parents awaken to their best life. You can connect with her on Twitter and email her at Vicki@HeartTalkNow.com

7 Tips for Meditating

We’ve all heard about the benefits of meditating for stress relief, focus, creativity and adding more joy.  At Heart Talk Now, we help stressed-out professionals, parents, and preschools.  Since May is Meditation Month and being a Certified Guided Imagery Coach, let’s get a practice going.  Here are 7 helpful tips for meditating… 

  1. Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
  2. Sit rather than lie down, if you can, to prevent sleep
  3. Pick a regular time of day morning or evening, or both
  4. Know that thoughts will come in—just let them float away like clouds
  5. Come to your practice with an attitude of gratitude
  6. Let go of doing it “perfectly;” practice will make it easier
  7. Commit to doing meditation for 21 days to make it a habit

Here are a few suggestions.  To begin your brief meditation, sit up straight in a chair, close your eyes, and do a meditative breath.  Breathe in on a count of four, hold for four, then breathe out on a count of four, and pause for four.  This breathing technique is used by the Navy Seals for calm and focus after every important mission.  They call it the “Boxed Breath.”  Do this meditative breath or what I like to call “16 Seconds to Bliss” for a few rounds.  Then let go of counting and breathe in and out normally.   If counting to four is too difficult due to breathing issues, try counting to 2 or 3 instead.

If thoughts come in, let them go and return to your breath, and you may try saying to yourself “peace” or “I am more peaceful.”  Say this mantra or focus on your breathing. Do this meditation for five minutes the first week, then each week add five more minutes until you reach 20 minutes.  Who doesn’t have five minutes?  You can do this.

There’s an important Harvard Study that showed within eight weeks of meditating, brain scans show more calm and focus in crucial areas of the brain for those who meditated compared to a control group who did not meditate.

To make meditation simple, we also have a wealth of Guided Meditations at HeartTalkNow.com—just tune in, turn on, power up your life.  “Stress Buster” is quite popular as well as “Embrace Love, Release Fear,” for releasing worry.   Working with a meditation teacher or coach also can be quite helpful.

Wishing you peace!

Vicki

HeartTalkNow.com

 

Help Children Thrive with Guided Imagery

There’s research that teaching young people Guided Imagery and mindfulness techniques can help their young minds develop stronger and improve academic performance.

How would you like your children to feel…

  • Much calmer and happier?
  • Get along better with their peers?
  • Improve their learning and focus?

Teaching Mindfulness and Guided Imagery to children can help bring more calm, less stress, and help their cognitive abilities and focus.   Research studies show how Guided Imagery and meditation strengthens the part of the brain in the prefrontal cortex, where focus and cognition are impacted.   It also enhances overall wellbeing as it calms the reptilian part of the brain–the fight or flight response.

It’s great that some educators are beginning to teach mindfulness and meditation in schools.  The results speak for themselves with schools who are introducing meditation instead of detention.  Schools that adopted that in Baltimore showed that attendance increases as suspension rates go down.

Meditation and mindfulness can help children build emotional intelligence and resilience, as well.   But it is so much more than that.  These kids will begin to accept themselves—even the hard feelings–with more compassion and loving kindness.

Even young Children can learn breathing techniques that help them to be more present.  We teach a technique called “Take Five-High Five.”  If you breathe and settle for five seconds, it can help bring a child to a more relaxed state, so she is more available to learn and get along with others.  Our aim is to begin early.  Check out the CalmingCorner.com where Guided Imagery and Mindfulness are calming kids at preschools.

Wishing you peace,

Vicki

 

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