Friday, May 13, 2011

Meditation is a Quiet Revolution

For over 30 years, I have been meditating. For almost as many years, in workshops, consultations, friendly conversations, and writing, I have been encouraging, teaching, or leading people to meditate and create quiet times. During this time, the world has changed considerably, and so have I. My most important learning is: everyone is different. Certainly there are commonalities in meditating, but each individual is unique. I consider that meditation is one of the most empowering practices that anyone can engage in.

A "quiet revolution" is an oxymoron, of course. Meditation is generally a private, quiet practice. In North America its acceptance has changed dramatically over the last several years, although it is still not universally accepted. As with most revolutions, an underground is established before, during, and after the outward manifestations of the awakening. In this culture which I know, more and more individuals are speaking and writing about their meditation practice.

Meditating in groups is also common and very powerful, and yet each meditator still has a unique, quiet, private experience. In the workplace, meditation is rarely practiced openly, nor is it discussed, except in safe, small groups or among friends. When I was a frequent workshop presenter, I had many participants speak to me privately in hushed tones at break times to confess that they meditate. The voices may not be as hushed these days, but still there is a quietness, even a silence, about the practice in many settings.

I am comfortable with the variety of words used to describe meditation. My own purpose for meditation is to connect with the Divine and be replenished by the Source. Some speak about mystical experiences and higher consciousness, while others are more comfortable talking about relaxation, calmness, and resilience. Heightened awareness, intuition, imagery, and vision are frequently used to describe experiences of meditation. I find that helping others to express their own meditation experiences is a powerful process for them, even when the words do not flow smoothly.

Long-time meditators can find other long-time mediators easily. Meditators give off signals or vibrations that are calmer and more aligned with self than those who do not meditate or do not have a meditative-type practice that taps into higher consciousness. Gardening, yoga, certain athletic activities, and regular relaxation can achieve the same soothing signals when practiced in ways that achieve harmony with self.

No matter how or where you meditate, you must make a choice to meditate and practice it regularly in order to benefit fully. Full benefits come with regular practice over a period of time. Meditating only when stressed may certainly be beneficial in the immediate situation, but the long-term benefits of a regular practice include general well-being, health, a strong immune system, longevity, clarity of thought, and balance.

Meditation is sometimes associated with certain religions. Meditation can be practiced in any and all religions, but the two are not synonymous. In my work, I keep meditation distinct from religion; if my clients choose to join the two, that is fine. Those with strong religious beliefs gravitate to the types of meditation that fit their beliefs. Wikipedia has a comprehensive listing of meditation methods.

Regardless of the chosen method, the benefits of regular meditation, over time, are as varied as the individuals who meditate. It is quite common for long-time meditators to acknowledge they benefit physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Recently I received an email message from a long-time meditator in India talking about her meditation experiences. It was a delight to read. It became clear to me that she has integrated the same elements that I encourage people to discover and use.

She uses her breath to relax. She has several processes to handle mind chatter and stress so that she is not disturbed by them in her meditation. She has two different "focal points" for her attention. One is a visual focus, a traditional Indian lamp, which she visualizes as divine light that lightens her heart. Another focal point is one of the most famous mantras, Om, which she chants repeatedly, finding that it takes only a brief time to achieve the state of consciousness that is her purpose for meditation. And she has a regular practice.

Her message was a beautiful summary of what many long-term meditators might report. While working with both new and long-time meditators, I have discovered that the most difficult aspect of meditation is to practice it regularly. All the elements of meditation are easy to understand, but to sit and do it challenges many new meditators.

If you have not meditated before, it may seem mysterious. However, meditation is simple. I recommend a maximum of twenty minutes for new meditators. Here are the elements:

Arrange time when you will not be disturbed;

Sit in a comfortable position and relax;

Close your eyes, unless you prefer an open-eye meditation;

Breathe intentionally for a few breaths;

Choose a focal point, such as music, a chant, a pleasing image, a guiding voice;

Stay with the focal point; if your mind wanders, gently return to the focal point;

Bring the meditation to a close and return to your activities, refreshed.

If this is your first time meditating, you may feel that "nothing is happening" during the first few times you sit to meditate. That is a common sensation. At the end of your chosen meditation time, simply get up and continue with your day. The benefits are cumulative, which is why I advocate a regular practice.

If you want to meditate, yet are not meditating or are not meditating as frequently as you want, please be gentle with yourself. While it is true that only you can sit down and do it, you can also find ways to make it more appealing. In order to have a meditation practice, you must practice meditation. Above all else, follow your heart and trust your own inner guidance.

What about you? Do you want to be part of this quiet revolution? Are you already part of the revolution but wanting to meditate more regularly? If so, meditate one session at a time until it becomes a natural part of your life.

Source: Free Articles


About the Author

Copyright © 2007 Marshall House, http://www.mhmail.com. Jeanie Marshall, Personal Development Consultant and Coach with Marshall House, writes extensively on subjects related to personal development and empowerment. Her course to help people to meditate regularly is Meditate Now: 21 Days to Meditate Regularly. You may republish this article at your web site or blog, provided you include this paragraph and make all links active.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Free Web Based Conference Calls

 

As an advocate or activist there usually comes a time when you need to set up a conference call.  There are also times when you may just need to make a call that can be recorded easily.  Web-based conference calling can usually handle your need, whatever it may be in regards to having multiple callers, the ability to record, etc etc.

There are several free conference calling sites around, however I have found http://www.freeconferencing.com/ to be very easy to use, and it allows callers and host to call using Skype, enough time and callers per call.  The host of a call through freeconferencing.com also has the ability to record the conference calls, as well as using the host web controls to manage the call online in real time.

This is from the website:

Collaborate and conduct your meetings with our free, reservationless conference calling service. This teleconferencing service is simple to use, requiring only a name and email address to receive an instant account.

FreeConferencing.com accounts come with host web-based commands. This offering brings teleconferencing to the next level by providing instant conference call functionality to your computer screen. Features like recording, muting, conference lock, Q&A and more are all accessible by both regular touch tone and right on your computer with just a click of your mouse.

In addition, features like conference preferences, Call Detail Reports and recorded conference calls are available online from your account interface. Conference preferences allow you to set entry and exit tone to be on or off upon joining a conference call, set caller count to be on or off and disconnect callers if the host is not present on the conference call. Call Detail Reports and any recorded conference calls are stored in your account for easy retrieval or reference. Plus, there are no contracts, long term commitments or any hidden fees and it’s all available to you for FREE.
Learn more about host web controls in our
Frequently Asked Questions.

Getting Started
Get FREE Service for your free conferencing account with host web-based commands on the home page. Fill out the registration page and click submit. The following page will display your conferencing account and you will have automatic access to all web-based commands. You may begin conferencing immediately by notifying all participants of the day and time for your conference call.

Further details are provided under Support.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Google Reader

 

Someone asked a couple weeks ago how to keep up with all the blogs they read and not spend ALL day doing so.  My answer to that, in short, is use Google Reader.

If you are not familiar with Google Reader you should look into it.  Basically it is a feed reader like most others, but for me I’ve found it easier to use; and well since it is Google and I love Google stuff it just works for me.  Google Reader can also be used on most smart phones, which is another plus as far as I am concerned!

A feed reader is simply a tool for gathering all the feeds from everywhere for you, and putting them all in one place so you don’t have to go get them each time an update is made.  So rather than actually visiting 70 blogs each morning to see if anyone made a new post since yesterday, you can just go to Google Reader and see what is new since you last checked.

 To subscribe to a feed in Reader:

  • Click the Add Subscription link in your left-hand sidebar.
  • Enter the URL of the blog or site you'd like to subscribe to.

Most blogs have feed autodiscovery enabled, meaning the site will automatically tell Reader where to find a blog's feed. If this doesn't work, you'll have to add the URL of a site's feed directly. Find the RSS logo on the site in question, click it, and copy and paste the link into the 'add subscription' box. If you can't find an RSS logo on the site, the site may not offer RSS feeds.

(The above text in italics and the image is copied straight from the help section)

Blogger blogs that you follow (subscribe to) are automatically fed into your Google Reader.

When you have new items to view there will be a number in () beside the word Home, likewise in your list of feeds (that will be below the above section) each feed will show a number if there has been any updated content since your last visit.

You can have Google News and/or Alerts dumped into your Google Reader as well, which will help keep your email uncluttered.

Some blogs have their settings to where you can view the entire post in Google Reader without visiting the blog itself.  Others set it so that feed readers only show a snippet of the article or the first paragraph and then you would have to click from there to the blog in order to read the whole post.

As a side note here, I’d like to point out that once you visit a blog or site that you add to Google Reader, your IP address is not recorded each time you view the new content in the future.  AS LONG AS you do not return to the original site and ONLY read it in Google Reader.

I hope that this overview has given you enough information and links to get you going, but if not... feel free to ask me if you have any questions; I will be happy to walk you through it and help you get set up!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Using Gmail


I personally do not understand how anyone that receives more than five emails per day can use any email service other than GMail.  Especially if you are a member of any email based groups that produces email from several people, filtered through the group and into your email inbox.
This post is just a quick overview of GMail and is in no way intended to cover every function and/or feature.
First let’s take a look at price...it’s free...NEXT!  Because it is free and takes only a few minutes to set, I encourage everyone to start a gmail account and play with the different settings and features.  If you end up not liking it then delete it. 
The one thing I love about gmail is the way it threads messages.  No more flat inbox.  If you and someone else are having a back and forth conversation via email all of those messages with the same subject line are together in your inbox, not scattered all over the place based on the time they were sent.  This feature is extremely helpful for group emails where several people may respond to the same email.  There will be one line in your inbox (or folder you filter messages into) with the subject line for that conversation, when you click that you will then see all the responses and replies stacked together in chronological order.
The filtering and folders play an important role in saving time checking email.  I am a member of several Yahoo Groups and have all messages from all those groups sent to my inbox...what a nightmare.  I set up folders for each group and filtered the messages into the corresponding folders.  Now when I am rushed for time I can scan my inbox for new email without wading through all the group emails that may or may not actually apply to me.  I can save those for later when I have time.
I suggest that you set filters into folders to skip the Inbox and go only to the designated folder.  When there is a new message sent to that folder there will be a number beside the folder name indicating there are new messages and how many that are still unread.  This will keep your actual Inbox from becoming cluttered.  I filter everything, newsletters, email from friends and family, special interest emails, etc etc; not just group emails.
Not only does filtering keep my Inbox uncluttered it also makes searching for information I need a whole lot easier for me.
The next thing I think you should look at and set up is the Priority Inbox.  This is a somewhat new feature.  Read a How-To on this feature.  I can say that so far, I love it!
The next thing you should look at is the Labs section in the Settings.  There are tons of ways to customize GMail, so that it works for you the way that you want it to.  Just because one person may think certain things are useful, another may not; so play with this stuff, try it out, see what actually works for you. 
With GMail you can IM, Voice and Video Chat and now send SMS text messages and make phone calls all from inside your GMail tab.  Gotta love that. 
The overall reason I use GMail is that once I got it configured the way that works for me, have my filters set and all that... I can go through 100’s of emails in less than an hour.  Not every email that I get requires an answer from me, so I can sort those out quickly; delete what needs to go, file those that may need attention later into a folder and then just move on.  
If you have any questions please feel free to ask, I have been using GMail for several years and know my way around and if I don’t know the answer to your specific question right away I will find it for you.