What is Meditation and the Benefits of Living A More Spiritual-Forward Life [Episode #812]
This week’s topic is: What is Meditation and the Benefits of Living A More Spiritual-Forward Life
I can say personally that I grew up being part of a religion. I was Catholic, and then I started to focus a lot in college, and I was very concerned with my body and energy and acne and my weight. And then when I was backpacking and I went to India and other countries, I started to get called into living a spiritual life, which is to me more expansive than just a particular religion, although that can mean spirituality for you.
Spirituality to me is living, breathing, going through life with this awareness of spirit, of energy, higher power, divine intelligence, God, spirit, source, whatever word you want to use that is running through everything.
And it changes every part of our lives. From personal experience, it creates deep meaning and fulfillment and deep connection with ourselves and with others. It gives us a different expanded perspective of life. We understand at the core that we are one, that we are unified, that our goal is inner peace and harmony and moving towards unconditional love. It changes the way that we look at food and how we spend our time.
And today I’ll get into some actual research, even though this topic is very personal and the experiences of meditation are in my personal experience beyond words, what meditating regularly has done for me. Also, how really orienting my life around spirituality has settled me and how it could help you if you’re interested in adding this into your daily life.
I am a new listener and love the podcast. I am also new to meditating and I would like my family to try and practice meditation but I don’t know how to explain it to them. What would you say the purpose of a meditation practice is, is there a proper way to practice and how will it benefit them?
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Kimberly: 00:00 <silence> Namaste. Loves and welcome back to our Thursday q and a show where our topic today is one of my favorite things to talk about. The title for our show is, What is Meditation and the Benefits of Living A More Spiritual-Forward Life. So I can say personally that I grew up being part of a religion. I was Catholic, and then I started to focus on a lot in college, and I was very concerned with my body and energy and acne and my weight. And then when I was backpacking and I went to India and other countries, I started to get called into living a spiritual life, which is to me more, um, expansive than just a, um, a particular religion, although that can mean spirituality for you. Spirituality to me is living, breathing, going through life with this awareness of spirit of energy, higher power, divine intelligence, God, spirit, source, whatever word you wanna use that is running through everything.
01:13 And it changes every part of our lives. It creates, you know, for me, I say from personal experience, it, it creates deep meaning and fulfillment and deep connection with ourselves and with others. It gives us a different expanded perspective of life. We understand at the core that we are one, that we are unified, that our goal is inner peace and harmony and moving towards unconditional love. It changes the way that we look at food and how we spend our time. And so I’ll get into some actual research today, even though this topic is very personal and the experiences of meditation are in my personal experience beyond words, what meditating regularly has done for me and also really orienting my life around spirituality has settled me. It’s calmed me. It’s given me great peace, great joy. I used to be restless all the time. I used to be looking for the next thing.
02:22 I used to be just never really peaceful. And there was a lot of distractions on a lot of movement in my life. And now I have a far greater ability to introspect, to look at myself, to love myself, to feel confident in who I am, but to still see the things that I need to work on instead of projecting our power out to the external world, blaming others, being in a victim mindset. So there’s great empowerment that comes when we understand that we are formless, we are form, we have this human body, but we are the true self as well. The energy, the soul inside of us that’s connected to source and spirit and all things. And when we, again, reorient our life this way, what it feels like to me is living, let’s see the ocean analogy. We’re down in the depths where it’s more still and steady and the waves are still lapping up at the surface.
03:24 There’s still challenges in life. There’s things happening. We have to commute, we have to deal with traffic, we have to deal with work changes, we have to deal with temper tantrums from our kids. We have to deal with busy schedules, but we have this deeper anchor at our center, the true self which we access through the inside of us. We access through meditation, through our hearts. And if we don’t have this anchor of spirituality, it means that we’re tied to the ego, we’re tied to the happenings of life. We’re on the surface being tossed around, and we can feel very vulnerable and we can feel very up and down with our moods, with emotions that come our way with things that we see on the news or in social media. We don’t have that deeper anchor. So we’ll get into in our show today more research, which I will link to in the show notes.
What is Meditation?
04:17 But there are many benefits, physiological and psychological on all levels of our being. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, for meditating and orienting back to spirituality, which again, for me personally doesn’t mean just religion. Although religion can be part of that, it can be expansive into a whole lifestyle and way of being and living and more, um, you know, non-specific to one religion. So for instance, I really aligned to the teachings of the great yoga guru Paramahansa Yogananda, who came to America in 1920 with this message that this universal consciousness, this love, was actually the same message of Jesus Christ and Bhagavan Krishna of India. And he was saying, at the core of all true religions is this similar message of love and loving one another and finding the love inside of us and this connection inside of us. And this, you know, surrender, this idea of surrendering the little self, the ego to the larger universal consciousness that’s inside of all of us.
05:35 So I aligned very much to that because as I traveled around the world, I really love to learn about yoga and Hinduism and Buddhism and um, Islam and Judaism, and to really see that what, you know, in my personal opinion, what really matters, the through line of love and connection and unity. And we all have different paths up the mountain to God. But I really subscribe to this idea of spirituality, which is the inner truth, the core of all these messages. So we don’t have to get caught up in separatism on the surface saying, oh, well this is different than what I practice, or this religion’s different than my religion. You, I respect all different beliefs and all different opinions, but what I believe in spirituality is we come into our true nature, the true self, which is peace and love and compassion and caring for one another.
06:30 And that supersedes differences and different opinions and different rituals and different practices. So we can have all our different, um, different ways of being and living, but still connect with all, connect with each other. So I’m very excited to get more into our show, but little reminder to please leave us a review wherever you listen to our show, especially if you’ve benefited in any way. It’s an amazing way to support. And another great way to spread the love and share is to literally share this episode or any episode with a loved one, a colleague, a neighbor that you think would benefit from that message. So we can all be conduits this connectivity of the web of all of us. We can still spread resources, knowledge, information that we align with. And I also recommend for yourself making sure to subscribe to our show. And that way you stay in the flow of all our Thursday q and as and our Monday interview shows.
Question around the topic of: What is Meditation and the Benefits of Living A More Spiritual-Forward Life: I am a new listener and love the podcast. I am also new to meditating and I would like my family to try and practice meditation but I don’t know how to explain it to them. What would you say the purpose of a meditation practice is, is there a proper way to practice and how will it benefit them?
07:32 Alright, all that being said, let’s get deeper into our topic today. Our question comes from Alana, from Scottsdale, Arizona. Hello Alana. Thank you so much for writing in. I appreciate you so much for being part of our community, sending you much love from my heart. And you write, I’m a new listener and I love the podcast. I’m also new to med meditating and I would like my family to try to practice meditation, but I don’t know how to explain it to them. What will you say the purpose of a meditation practice is and is there a proper way to practice and how will it benefit them? So I’ll stop by, start by saying that there are many, many different forms of meditation that are out there that are, there are ones that I would consider to be more disassociative, they’re more for relaxation. They’re about taking your mind into a happy place or somewhere where you are not. And that can be helpful for people. There is tmm, there are Buddhist meditations. There are these more modern types of meditations that are made up by people. What I personally believe is that we want to yolk ourselves, connect ourselves, align ourselves with great wisdom, with, with a great
Kimberly: 08:54 Master teacher guru who came before who really understands the benefits which are union, union with the true self. So to be found deep inside of us is this anchor of real security and safety and confidence and love and peace and bliss and joy and all these things that we’re looking for. So that’s ultimately where we’re going. So we really want to align with a type of meditation that has come from a great one. And I’ll speak personally that I practice crea yoga. It’s what I spoke about in my last book. You are More Than You Think You Are, which is this ancient practice mentioned in the yoga sutras called Crea Yoga. And it’s really about going into your spine, going into your central nervous system, disconnecting from external senses, which pull us out into our peripheral nervous system where we’re constantly reacting on the surface of life.
09:55 It’s about calling us back into our center. And again, when we do this, we start to turn on our peak potential, our creativity, and the meditations that we will be putting on our website very soon. I have reformatted our sauna meditations to be called the Heart Aligned Meditation System, which combines some of the teachings of Yogananda with science, and I’m very excited to share those with you. Soon I’ll announce when those are up there. We’re actually running a study, a formal study right now in Los Angeles, um, for our heart align meditation study. So I’m very excited to be running it right now. I’ll be announcing it soon more about our results. We have 30 people going through this four week study, which is measuring, um, depression, anxiety, stress, and coherence, which is an alignment between your heart, your brain, and your nervous system. So more to come.
10:57 Um, but again, I just wanna say that Alana, to answer to your question, there’s many different ways of meditating. So I encourage you, you know, personally, I feel it is important to align to a master or a guru as I’ve aligned to Yogananda, meaning someone that knows the way, someone that is where we wanna be. Someone who has contacted this place of deep unity and strength and sight of us only that person can teach us. Otherwise, it’s like the blind leading the blind, right? Guru, this word means to go from darkness to light. So whoever you align to, whatever teachings you’re, you’re following, make sure that they really go all the way to the core. Otherwise, you could go on a place like the Calm app or Headspace, and there’s all kinds of people and teachers on there. And you know, some of them may be great, some of them perhaps not as aligned, right?
11:56 So we wanna make sure, use your heart, use your intuition here that you’re going to someone who is really go, has been is where you want to be. And I’m going to, um, read a quote now from Yogananda. This is from a, a essay called Regain Your Divine Nature. When you meditate deeply, that gives substantiation to your spiritual thoughts. The longer and deeper you meditate on a regular basis, the more you find there is no difference between work and meditation. That is to say whether you are working or meditating, you remain immersed in the divine consciousness of the blissful spirit. You no longer identify yourself with the activities and aches and pains of a mortal body. You realize you are pure spirit. So I would say that is the goal of meditation, is to create this deep union where we start to cast away ideas of limitation within ourselves.
13:02 And we start to come to this place of pure potentiality and pure creativity. And that has definitely been my personal experience when I started meditating, when I started practicing Korea, yoga is when I started writing books. So the practicality of it is I started to create something as Yoga Nunez says, out of nothing, out of, you know, I was a struggling backpacker in New York City or I just come back from backpacking, I was hustling, I was teaching yoga, going back to nutrition school, teaching yoga privates as well as group classes, working at a raw food cafe in the East Village, really living month to month. And then I started to deeply go into my spine and turn on these energy centers, these chakras, and just start to have a different energy. And I started to get book deals and I started to write and I started to work with celebrities and I started to create.
13:52 So there is a very deep, practical power to meditating in the right way. Again, I’m not talking about the more you know, shall we say, and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but you know, they have a purpose as well. But the meditations that are really just about relaxation or disassociating you to another place which may feel soothing in the moment, but the meditations I’m talking about are really going inside of you to your power. We all have so much power inside of our spines, inside of our energy field, inside of our hearts, and we need to learn how to access that. So in a practical um, vein, now we’ll turn to research. The JAMA Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine from 2014 found that meditation programs showed evidence of reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. I hope our current study going on now will also contribute to that body of
Kimberly: 14:50 Research. Another study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research in 2017 showed that mindfulness meditation reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Wonderful. Again, anxiety being tossed around feeling like, you know, we’re out of control. All this projecting forward, future-based thinking can really, um, throw us off. So it’s so important that we find this groundedness, which very much does come from meditation. More research published in the National Library of Medicine found that loving kindness meditation, this is usually a meditation associated with Buddhism, was associated with increased positive emotions and reduced symptoms of depression. So when we are meditating more regularly, it’s like we get out of our box, out of this hyper fixation of me, me, me. That’s been my experience, my little self. Naturally I find that we become more caring and loving and kind because we’re not so trapped up in our own reactivity and our own emotional pain.
16:06 There’s challenges to work through, there’s things to process through, but we start to understand that there’s more, that we are more and we can connect more to others. A study by the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 2018 published in the National Library of Medicine, found that mindfulness meditation was linked to enhanced emotional regulation. Back to that practicality. There is much research in many books now about ai, emotional intelligence being more important to our overall life success than iq, than our intellectual abilities. So if we’re able to better manage our emotions and our reactivity, we tend to have more healthier, harmonious relationships, both at work and at home. More studies relate to cognitive function. A study published in psychological science in 2012 found that PA participants who practice meditation showed improved attention and working memory. So this is really important because it means that when we settle ourselves, we actually start to syncopate, create more coherence with our brainwaves and access to different parts of our brain.
17:24 So the erratic thoughts, feeling like we’re out of control with our thinking can start to modulate itself. A review published in the Annals of New York Academy of Sciences in 2014 found that meditation had a positive effect on executive function, attention and memory. So there is so much research here. I’m gonna, you know, sort of pick through some of this and we will list this all in the show notes email@example.com. I encourage you to take a peek to look at some of the research out there because sometimes formal science and formal research allows us to believe in something more. It allows us to really understand deeper found. This is from the Jama Internal Medicine Journal from 2014 found that meditation was reduced with, uh, associated with reduced blood pressure. So this is where the psychological does become the physiological. Our thoughts are, you know, stress is not just the events, but our reaction.
18:28 We start to, you know, our nervous system starts to go bananas. And then of course, what falls in alignment with that is our heart rates, our breathing rate, our blood pressure, all these things are very much affected. And you know, again, there’s a lot here. I’m just gonna pick through some, there’s more. We will link to this is from the Harvard School of Public Health, linked spirituality with better health outcomes and patient care. So Harvard is even measuring spirituality. Now, this belief in something beyond ourselves, this knowingness from our intuition, not just something that can be proven, but inside of us, our deep hearts, our deep intuition says to us, we are part of something bigger. There is something linking all of us. And Yogananda says that the highest form of intuition is to know the true self. To know that we are not just this bag of bones and skin, but we are the soul. We are part of spirit. We are like little waves in this ocean of the bigger collective, the all of Spirit, which runs through all things that is the highest form of intuition.
Benefits of Living A More Spiritual-Forward Life
19:46 So the benefits of living a more spiritually forward life orienting our life to spirituality. And I’ll get into what that could look like in just a moment. But the benefits of orienting, reorienting our life include enhanced wellbeing, a deeper sense, real wellbeing, right? Which we talk about in our four cornerstones, really spanning the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of us. Feeling a sense of purpose, feeling content fulfilled, happy, joyful in our daily life, reducing stress, feeling more accepting and resilient in challenging situations, improving our mental health so that we ward off anxiety, depression, just these ups and downs. We tend to feel more clear. And that has really been my personal experience, is getting rid of all the fuzziness. We start to realize, wow, I’m having a lot of circular thoughts and this concentration, this deep will that builds through meditation allows us to blast through and to direct our energy more. And our thoughts. What is the highest and best use of my energy today is something we can ask ourselves. Where will I place my attention and energy? And then we start to become aware because meditation builds awareness. Oh my goodness, I’m thinking again about this guilt of something that happened yesterday or I’m still beating myself up or whatever it happens to be.
21:24 And then we continue to build stronger relationships because spirituality fosters this sense of connectedness. It brings us out of narcissism and just thinking about ourselves. And we can start to align more to the greater good and to the good of others. We’re able to increase our self-awareness and introspect and create deeper self-reflection. We’re able to benefit our own health because again, the more anchored we are within, we’re more centered, we’re less susceptible to reactivity about everything happening outside of us. We become more resilient in adversity. In challenging times, my practice was essential. I deepened into my spiritual practice when my mother was passing away out of her body. And if I didn’t have it, I think I would’ve had a very, very different experience. If this is all we think, there is this surface of life and if someone around us gets hurt or, or ourselves or is passing out of their body, it can feel, you know, like a real catastrophe.
22:35 But through our intuition, if we understand, or this is my personal belief, when someone’s passing away, they are not dying. Their soul is going to a different place. You know, whether we believe in reincarnation, heaven, higher realm, the astral realm, whatever, whatever, you know, I believe that we just change form. And so we grieve the loss for ourselves. We grieve that we don’t have the same type of physical relationship, and that of course is normal, but that we can also connect to the soul. I connect very much to my mother to this day, and we can be happy for them that they have shed the heaviness of the physical body, at least temporarily. If and when they do reincarnate into another body, or if and when they just merge to higher spirit or go to heaven or whatever else we believe. It gives us a different belief system. If there is great challenge, we believe that, you know, spirit has given us these challenges to grow stronger and to hone ourselves down. It’s not to punish us. And so
Kimberly: 23:46 We reshift our perspective and we can continue to get stronger and deeper and more peaceful, even despite great challenging circumstances around us, whether they be physical, economic, financial, you know, family, relationship related or whatever. And along with that, we can cultivate a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for this moment and for what is around us. So it’s funny, this morning I was actually playing Monopoly with my son and he started to get into a bad mood because I was winning. And he, you know, he just had a series of really bad roles and he said, I don’t wanna play anymore. And I said to him, just take a moment and shift into your heart and be grateful for this moment. Be grateful that we get to play together and there’s so much around us that to be grateful for. And he really did it.
24:41 And then the smile started to come on his face and he came back into the game and he actually did end up winning. But this shift into expansiveness, this, you know, gratitude is such a spiritual quality because it shows us the fullness of life. Instead of training our minds to look for what is not here and lack, we look to this fullness and you know, the shiva, its the yogic shiva, its this part of Hinduism talk about, you know, Shiva as God and that shiva ness, allness, this world is actually perfect in a way we can look at it. Everything is unfolding as it’s meant to look, as it’s meant to be and look like. So even though through the lens of ego and you know, the human way of looking at things is, oh my gosh, there’s so much that needs to be fixed.
25:29 There’s so much wrong. Sure, there’s lots to improve on a certain level, but in another level we can sink into this piece of saying everything is unfolding and growing and going the way it’s actually meant to. And then we, the next part of spirituality is ethical behavior. We, you know, ethical can sound like a charged word, but we can say that we are more kind, honest, compassionate. We stick to ideals, whether those are in Christianity, the 10 Commandments or in yoga, the yamas and the niyamas, the codes of conduct. Most all religions and spiritual teachings have a set code of being in the world, which guide us and allow us to really, I believe, be our best selves. So I’ll share another quick story. We, um, were reading the, the yamas and the niyamas. I was reading them with my older son and one of them is truthfulness Satya. And it goes on to say, in this text we were reading, it’s not just not lying, but it’s also not withholding information from loved ones. And so he kind, he took it
Kimberly: 26:42 In and then a little while he said, mama, I have to tell you something. So we don’t really do screens in our family. My son also goes to Waldorf school. So that’s, you know, no media. Um, and we don’t have TVs or anything at home. We are fairly, you know, screen freak except for the planes. He watches some things and sometimes I’ll let him watch little YouTube, but not a lot. And so he was looking at something on Amazon, I let him look at a toy or something for Christmas and he clicked to a little video and he watched it. It wasn’t the hugest deal, but he actually came forward and told me, because he had been withholding it, it was a heaviness, it’s a burden. So when we live according to these ideals and these, these um, principles, we tend to feel lighter. We feel good about who we are and the choices that we’re making, which align to our true self and to our nature.
27:37 And another benefit lastly is improved focus and concentration. And I have definitely found this to be true because when we meditate, we learn to sit and to be, we learn to direct our breath, our Aya, and we get out of this hustle and bustle. It used to be so hard for me to sit in meditation and even seven minutes would feel like a lifetime. Now I can sit for hours, but it’s taken me many years, well over a decade to get here. So if you’re feeling restless, that is normal, natural, you are not alone. And over time your ability to get deeper and stronger and meditation will continue to build over time. So how a spiritually oriented life could look like is to create a sadana for yourself. And I definitely recommend starting with a morning sadana, a morning practice that’s regular. So for me, my morning practice is meditation.
28:35 And you can try our guided meditations, which are under 10 minutes. As as I mentioned, we’ll be adding our heart aligned meditations, which are based on some of Yogananda’s teachings and also science. And then I also pray, I set an intention for the day. So that is how my morning starts, and it really does direct the flow of the day. I invite God and spirit into all of my activities for the day. I also start the day, part of my prayer is surrendering my ego at the altar of spirit. I pray for higher intuition and understanding to come into all my thoughts, words, actions, deeds, and will. That is my personal practice. I encourage you to create your own, but for me it’s prayer and meditation. Sometimes I journal, sometimes I write out my intentions for the day. But if it’s, you know, lesson time, it’s always prayer and meditation. And then same thing in the evening, it’s prayer and meditation. And throughout the day I may say little prayers and meditations, but it’s always
Kimberly: 29:40 This at the beginning and the end of the day. So when it comes to Asad and when it comes to orienting your life, it should be regular. So whether that’s, you know, prayer in the morning, I encourage you to do it as many mornings as you can. We also say grace before meals. It orients us. You know this, this juncture of mealtime also to spirit. So these are some of the ways that I encourage, of course. So personal, find your own ways, find your own practices. But this is our fourth cornerstone, not sequential, but it’s this anchor spiritual growth. The other cornerstones we teach here at Solluna, our food body and emotional wellbeing. I find that the spiritual growth cornerstone is the most important because it runs through everything. It gives you the intuition to know what to eat. It gives you the intuition to know how to take care of your body and so on.
30:34 So it’s very important in my opinion. If you’re listening to this right now, there is something drawing you towards a more spiritually oriented life, which is wonderful. Please check out our many other resources. Meditations, my latest book. You are more than You Think You Are, will support you greatly in this way. It is a spiritual book. So let me know other questions you have about this. And I also talk about the difference between religion, spirituality, expansion, unity, many topics in that new book. So it’ll be a wonderful one for you to continue to deepen. We will link to the research of the show and other podcasts I think you would enjoy firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be back here Monday for our next interview show. Until then, take great care of yourself, sending you so much love and so much support, gratitude, appreciation and blessings. Aloha and namaste.