Challenge Day Two: Dispelling Fear Through Meditation

“Before a person can accomplish anything of an enduring nature in the world, she must first of all acquire some measure of success in the management of her own mind. If a person cannot govern the forces within herself, she cannot hold a firm hand upon the outer activities that form her visible life.” – Mastery of Destiny

river meditationAs I begin this journey of facing my fears, I need to remember that that fear is afraid of itself. Whenever I face it, I need to greet it by name and imagine myself saying to the fear, “Hey you, I see you there and you can’t scare me. I know you want me to run screaming from you, but I am not going to. If you want a piece of me bring it.”
Fear can’t stand up to that kind of awareness. I must continue practicing this and eventually I will transform my anxiety into an ability to rise to the occasion.

Of the list of fears that I wrote yesterday, I included on the list several things that I do not intend to deal with this month. For instance, on that list was the fear of rodents particularly rats and mice. I am not dealing with that because as of right now I live in a home where they are nonexistent. Same goes for my fear of snakes. I don’t need to deal with that fear either. Nor am I going to deal with the fear of heights. No bungee jumping or skydiving this month. I have more pressing fears to face.

The fears that I face are in my own mind. In order gain control of my fears, I need to first gain control of my own thinking. It is said that you learn what it is that you need to learn when you are ready, and yesterday, I saw an interview about Dan Harris talking about his own anxiety and that he dealt with it by using meditation. His new book 10% Happier is at the top of the New York Times Best Seller’s List.

So, for me, today I have begun meditating. I will meditate five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. The meditating that I am talking about is simple to do, once I have determined that is what I intend doing.

Here’s how simple it is. Set a timer for five minutes. Sit upright in a chair in a quiet location. Close your eyes. Now for the next five minutes, focus on your breathing. When (not if, because they are guaranteed to occur) thoughts come into your mind, dismiss them and return your focus on your breathing.

This is not just something that is toted by “unwashed hippies and rogue gurus”. Many studies have been done concerning meditation and many believe that it is more effective than anxiety medications. Meditation rewires the brain from the anxious flight or fight response to a more restful response to life’s challenges including fear.

The meditation I described above only requires five minutes twice a day. I think I can take five minutes to develop the restful parts of my brain and make them stronger than the fears and anxieties that I feel. Are you willing to also begin developing this fear fighting tool in your life as well? Please comment! It can get very lonely here in cyberspace!



We Must Decide What We Want and Go for It!

This Day in the American Revolution

The Fall of Fort Vincennes (also known as Fort Sackville)

The Fall of Fort Vincennes (also known as Fort Sackville)

George Rogers Clark captured Fort Vincennes (Vincennes, Indiana) from British on February 24, 1779 from British Governor Henry Hamilton. On February twenty-third, the Americans surrounded the fort manned by 90 British soldiers. The patriots were outnumbered, but tricked the British and their Indian allies by dividing their own army into groups of ten so that it appeared that they had more than a thousand surrounding the fort. The Indians, in fear of capture, deserted the British to defend the fort themselves. Clark’s army took the fort without a single casualty. With the capture of the fort, the British army was removed from the Illinois territory, and the Native American tribes stopped attacking settlements in nearby Kentucky.

It is amazing what can happen in one short year. Just twelve months earlier, the main American force had trudged into Valley Forge a ragged, downtrodden lot. By the following April, the American’s were given a shot in the arm when the French sided with the Americans in the war and this turned things around. The following winter, Americans were back on track and this time had the British on the run.

Determining What We Really Want

Just as most of the Americans prior to the army’s winter at Valley Forge were waffling between whether they really wanted to remain independent from Great Britain or whether they wanted to give up and return to colonialism. I think we all have those moments. Sometimes we give up on the dreams that we had because they seemed too hard. Sometimes we press through. That was what happened for the Americans during 1778. They solidified their stance and when George Rogers Clark and his men surrounded Fort Vincennes, they were determined to raise the American flag above that fort. They had determined what they wanted and they were going after it.

As I read this, I think about the fact that I too have been waffling about what I want and what I want to do in certain areas of my life. For instance, in a few months I will be finishing my liberal arts degree, and I will need to begin working full time. In addition, I have been waffling about creating more healthful habits. During past few weeks I have been beginning to change a few of my habits, but as far as I can tell, I am still like the men who were training at Valley Forge. This past weekend I came to my own crossroads. Like the Americans who limped into Valley Forge, I have faced defeat after defeat. I felt as though nothing seems to have gone my way. The problem with me was that it is time that I determine what path that I will take. Will I be defeated, or will I become successful.

I have been waffling about what I want to do with this blog, and I think that I have finally figured out what I want to do with it. I am going to continue the history lessons, but I am going to develop other topics on this blog as well. . I’m going to focus more creating a healthy life style. I am going to talk about developing not only a healthier lifestyle, but a more sustainable lifestyle as well. I’ll explain more about my plans on Wednesday.

Over this past weekend, I wrote a short booklet called: Vegetable Gardening in the Shade. I will to be starting a newsletter called: The Cygnet Brown Newsletter. Please feel free to sign up and get Vegetable Gardening in the Shade and join the newsletter.

What’s Your Hurry?

Have you ever stopped to think about the reason that we Americans are in so much of a hurry? me_on_the_laptopWhy is it that we are always in a rush to get wherever we are going? A few days ago I watched someone pass me seven times while I was on my way home from dropping my husband off at his truck. The person was stopped by the same stop lights that I was stopped at, the person definitely seemed to be in a hurry, but the hurrying wasn’t getting that person to where he or she wanted to go any more quickly than I was going. In addition, the constant passing and cutting bumper riding that the person was doing was not only endangering that individual’s health by the stress he or she was creating for him or herself, it was putting other people in the cars around that person as well. I contrasted this with myself who was in no hurry to get to where I felt no stress getting where I wanted to go, yet, I was getting there as quickly as the stressed out person was getting to wherever he or she was going.

Sometimes you just need to stop fighting the current and simply enjoy the ride.

Sometimes you just need to stop fighting the current and simply enjoy the ride.

How does this relate to either of my resolutions, to finish what I start or loving more?  It relates to how I finish what I start because it reminds me that it is important for me to plan my time properly so that I do not procrastinate and wait until the last minute to finish whatever I want to finish. In addition, it reminds me that I need to allot myself enough time to finish those items. I will get to where I want to go just as quickly and with a lot less pain if I stop to enjoy the journey as I will if I try to rush toward my next goal. It is not that important that I rush to where I want to go. It is more important that I learn to be mindful of where I am and where I want to go. This is why having decided to designate Monday, Wednesday and Friday to post blogs here on The Ugly Duckling, post hubs on Hubpages on Tuesday and Thursdays, why I am limiting my novel writing to 2800 words per week as well as why I am making simple changes in habits related to my health rather than dieting.

      One of the main habits that I want to focus on is being mindful of what I eat and drink. We Americans are so obsessed with rushing around, that we don’t take the time to enjoy what we eat or what we drink. I want to learn to stop and really enjoy the food that I am putting into my mouth. Did you ever notice that the first bite always tastes the best? Part of that has to do with the fact that we salivate in the anticipation of eating and our taste buds and our brain is prepared to set out and enjoy whatever it is that we put into our mouths. I want to be able to take the time actually  to  look at my food. I want to see the symmetry of an apple, the colors of a salad. I want to see all the bright colors of my salad, the green of the lettuce, cucumber and green onion, the creamy whiteness  of the meat, nuts, or dried beans, the redness of the tomatoes , the purpleness of cabbage the orange of carrots, and the bright colors of the fruit that I eat after the salad. I want to listen to the crunch of the vegetables as I chew, feel the tingle of the vinegar in the vinaigrette on my tongue, smell the mixture of smells from the salad, as I load each item onto my fork and put it up under my nose to put it into my mouth. Contrast this wolfing down without really tasting a bland dry fast food hamburger and bun, the same mass produced bun, pickle, catsup, onion, and mustard, and the salty cardboard fries that we have had every other time that we drove up to the drive-through window. Imagine then drinking the overly sweet drink so that we can wash the colorless, flavorless food-replacing substance that would have absolutely no flavor if it were not for the salt and sugar content.

I do not want to miss out on the simple pleasures in life. I want to enjoy the journey every step of the way and I certainly can’t do that if I am in too much of a hurry. Life is meant to enjoy, not hurry through.

Changing Habits Rather Than Dieting

Saturday, I had my hair cut and colored and my daughter had her hair cut as well. It was our day out, so we went to the mall and went to The Body Shoppe and got a makeup makeover. It was so much fun. Shannon, my hairdresser and I talked about how if she was not a hairdresser she would love to have been a psychologist because a psychologist does a lot of the same things a hairdresser does, except, the hairdresser can help a girl feel better about herself. As I told Shannon and Keven, (the guy doing my makeover), I love it when I can get the instant gratification that getting my hair done and getting new makeup can make a woman feel more like a lady. I said that it certainly beat eating properly or doing exercise in making a person look better.me_on_the_laptop

Yesterday, I was working on the current college course I am taking physiological psychology and was reading the chapter on obesity and I learned some scientific information concerning why we gain weight and how to use that information to help us lose weight. Of course, the science looks at the idea that taking a pill of some sort or having some sort of surgery could be the answer, but realistically, we can learn to change our thinking, change our habits, and thereby improve our health. I’m working on an article that I will be posting tomorrow that will tell in better detail the research and how to make the necessary changes.

Essentially, I intend to begin making gradual changes rather than going on a diet. It’s too easy to sabotage a diet. For one thing, the thinking is wrong. If I told you “don’t think about a soft creamy bowl of ice cream dripping with hot fudge topping, topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry, what are you going to think about? I’ll bet your mouth is even watering. (Yeah, mine too.) I can tell you that any time I have ever been on a diet, I have thought about food most of the day, every day I was on the diet. From the moment I started my diet, I agonized about how I was denying myself food. So, rather than diet, I intend to develop small habits and maintain them for a long time. Once those habits are established, I will add to those habits.

Four changes that I want to make right away would be to take a vitamin 3 times per day (recommended daily dose, 3 tablets per day), drink water (one when I awaken in the morning, one before each meal and four other times during the day), be mindful of what I am eating, and then intend to decrease my food intake by just 100 calories a day for the rest of the month. The idea is not to obsess about restricting my diet. Instead, I want to do more to add healthy changes. That’s where the vitamin and the water come in. I am simply adding small positive changes. A few little changes over a period of time can make a big difference in the long run.