Mindful Focus – For Students in School and Students of Life


Mindful FocusMeditation

It’s the time of year when the specter of final exams is close enough to create a cloud of visceral fear that trails behind students. Test anxiety can grip the most dedicated scholar and ruin the end result of their month-long efforts.

When I was studying for the bar exam, I hit a wall of fear. I graduated from law school with respectable grades, had a great job at the firm I wanted and was ready to start my career. I had climbed the mountain and was ready to begin my next adventure.

But one thing stood in my way.

The Bar Exam. Just typing those words still causes my heart to race a tiny bit. It is a cruel joke on aspiring lawyers. Endure 3 years of law school, and you’re still not done. Graduate and receive your J.D. degree.

And you’re still not a lawyer.

The Bar Exam is the final hurdle. The last summit to conquer before you can practice law. You have a bit over two months to study (at least in my state), and you don’t know if you passed until four months later. You have already started your legal career, and your future career depends on passing. The first time.

To say that law graduates studying for the bar are under a bit of pressure is such an understatement I won’t even try to come up with an appropriate analogy.

Taking exams and staying calm under stress is an art and a science. When I was studying for the bar exam, I didn’t know how to stay centered, mindful and focused. I somehow managed to pass (Thank God).

I wish I knew then what I know now.

How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help You Focus

According to Jon Kabat-Zin, generally considered to be the “father” of mindfulness in the West,

Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as nonreactively, as non-judgmentally and open heartedly as possible.

When you practice being in the moment, then the next, and the next, your experience of the moment is at its peak. The past no longer exists, and the future has not yet arrived. All that is important is the here and now, which you experience without judgment.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live? Research studies have proven the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of mindfulness. Peace, calm, and compassion as just a few of the many ways that practicing mindfulness can change your life.

As a student, being mindful while you study can help you understand and remember the information. Setting the intention of focus, awareness, and memory before you study is the key. And the best way to do that is to listen to a guided meditation.

Meditation is one way to achieve mindfulness. By slowing down and watching your breath, you focus your attention on what is happening at this moment. Stress and anxiety cannot exist in this space. Your mind is clear, and when the meditation is over, that clarity will help you focus on the information you are learning.

It’s using your mind to improve your mind.

The Mindful Focus Meditation

Find a comfortable place to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Your back should be straight but loose. This meditation is less than 25 minutes, so give yourself about 30 minutes for the entire process. No interruptions (cell phones on mute, computer on mute) and no distractions.

Listen to this meditation in the morning as soon as you wake up. It will help you stay focused in class or when you are studying. If you listen again during the day or at night, it will ease anxiety and increase confidence in your ability to understand, remember and retain the information.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

A New Way to Heart Dance


Instead of having guests on the Heart Dancing Radio Show, I decided to teach on various topics, using mindfulness concepts as a foundation. I also created guided meditations to support each lesson. The topics I chose to explore may seem random (money, fear of flying, and focus), but underneath each one lies a current of fear. And fear is what I want you to embrace and love.

As you dive deep into this information and incorporate the meditations into a daily practice, you will discover your interior world shifting and opening. You may also find that you are calmer, more peaceful and less reactive. Whatever the benefits are, please enjoy these next episodes made with my heart full of love and light.

Money Magic

The concept of money has been abused, judged and manipulated ever since it was first conceived. Money and power are forever linked together in cultural beliefs and patterns. Those with money have influence. Those without money are faceless and unimportant.

Where do you fall on the scale of money, importance and power? How does that make you feel about yourself? Are you afraid of money or what its disappearance could do to you?

I have had my own struggles with money and often fell into the trap of judging myself when my bank account balance was low. Punishing myself for my misdeeds (did I really need that pair of shoes) kept me from seeing the real issue I had with money. It was always based on fear and judgment.

Judgment and fear always cloud your view of yourself. Neither one helps you grow or evolve into a better person.

It wasn’t money’s fault that I indulged in buying impulsively. Just because my bank balance dipped dangerously low to being overdrawn wasn’t because of my lack of a making six figure income. Money was not treating me unfairly or shunning my efforts to become wealthy.

No matter how hard I tried to assign blame, it wasn’t money’s fault.

The outside forces that shaped my thoughts, beliefs and attitudes about money were just signposts on my journey. When I finally woke up and realized that the real journey happened in my interior world (shaped by my thoughts and beliefs), I regained my power of choice. From that point of power, I made different choices and changed my Money Story.

Fear is no longer an active force in my money relationship. I found another way to be with money and I want to share it with you.

The Power to Choose

When you look at your beliefs and attitudes about money, do they support your growth or encourage your fear? It is crucial that you identify what you believe so you can change them.

Cultural money myths and beliefs support the ideas of limitation, lack and competition. If you fail, fear becomes your companion. If you succeed, fear is still your shadow because you can always misstep. Money becomes the enemy and you are its victim.

There is a different way to be with money. Disregard the cultural myths around money and see it for what it is: ENERGY.

Money is simply the exchange of energy. When you use your debit card or cash to buy something, you are exchanging energy for something of value (which is also energy).

When you don’t have enough money for something you want, it’s because you don’t have that amount of energy to exchange. No guilt, shame or judgment. And definitely — NO FEAR!

If you want that thing badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to increase your energy levels to be able to enter into the exchange. Simple, right?

An easy way to remember that money = energy is this: MONEY is MOwn Natural Energy Yield. When you produce a service or product, that is your yield. When you pay with what you have produced, that is because of your yield. If your yield is less than what you want, then produce more. It’s all energy!

There is one more step in the process.

Mindfulness and Money 

Mindfulness is a way to reconnect with life by staying in the present moment. No judging. No expectation. Just pure and simple being.

Guided meditations clear the clutter of the mind, establish connection to a greater source and align your body, mind and spirit.

The combination of both of these practices, focused on the energy of money, creates a powerful synergy. Introducing: The Money Magic Meditation.

As you are guided into a deep place in yourself, you will see money from a new perspective.

This meditation should only be played when you are not driving or operating any kind of equipment. Ideally, you should be in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed for one hour. Have a journal or pad handy to make a note of the insights you receive during the meditation. What you may discover will surprise you!

Listen often and notice your beliefs and attitudes shift around the concepts of wealth and money. As you beliefs change, so will your actions. As you make different choices, your money story will grow and evolve. Almost like magic!

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

P.S. To learn more about me, please visit KathrynEriksen.com. Let’s dance together!

Moment by Moment


christian-holzinger-433986“Welcome to another moment in life.”

The rustic sign hung a bit crooked on the cracked wall, having seen many years of wind, rain, and sun as it faced the ocean. The outdoor restaurant in Key West was also weather-worn, much like its regular customers.

I sat by myself at a table facing that same body of water, not as sculpted by the elements as I was beaten down by myself.

I was taking a holiday to get away from the muddle I had made of my life. Only to discover that it still lived inside my head, playing over and over again in full technicolor.

A young man with a messy man bun walked up to me, casually holding a pen and a pad to take my order. At first, I didn’t see him, because the view of the beach, palm trees, and the ocean had entranced my attention. It was only after he said, “Ready to order?” that I turned toward him.

“Oh hi!” I said, brightly. My life had fallen apart, and I was still trying to look put together. “I’ll take the shrimp tacos and iced tea.”

He nodded and started to walk away. That’s when I noticed the other signs that hung over the bar, the doors and any spare space on the walls.

“Be who you are. Everyone else is taken.”

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult; we just need to remember to do it.”

I stood up abruptly, motioning the waiter to come back over to my table. “What is the name of this place again?”

He looked at me a bit warily and pointed to the large sign over the bar. “Now and Zen,” it said in large, simple script.

I nodded and sat back down, remembering why I had come to this island at the southernmost tip of the United States. It was to rediscover who I was before I became who the world told me to be. And coming to the Now and Zen restaurant was the starting point back to myself.

“Is Henry here?” I called to the retreating back of my server. He glanced over his shoulder and pointed to the kitchen.

Suddenly, a face appeared in the small opening between the kitchen and the restaurant. A muffled yell and then…Henry burst forth like a comet, tail blazing with light.

I was enveloped in Henry’s arms, the hug so tight that the air burst out of my lungs. I hugged him back, laughing at his exuberance. He rocked me back and forth, saying over and over, “Oh Mia, Mia! I am so glad you’re here!”

The sadness that I carried with me like an extra layer of clothing disappeared in that embrace. I let myself go and absorbed his love, knowing that it would fill me up like nothing else. My healing began in those few moments of complete acceptance.

Finally, we pulled apart.

Henry looked deeply into my eyes, touching my soul. My initial reaction was to break the contact, but I forced myself to stay still as he took his assessment of my emotional and spiritual condition. Much like a doctor takes the pulse and listens to her patient’s heartbeat, Henry was taking my spiritual pulse.

He pulled me into another embrace and whispered in my ear, “I have to keep cooking, but let’s talk later.” He hugged me one more time, kissed my forehead and went back into the kitchen.

Sometime later, Henry sat down at my table, bits of food stain on his shirt and shorts. His weathered face showed his age, but not his eyes. Deep blue with a calm, penetrating gaze, Henry could look deeply into another person’s eyes and touch their soul.

He reached across the table and grabbed my hands, smiling as he squeezed them affectionately. His low, gravely voice hummed a sea-faring tune that was calming and poetic at the same time. He waited for me to begin speaking, silently granting permission and creating the safe space for me to become vulnerable.

I took a deep breath and nodded, looking down at our hands. His, dark brown and worn; mine, lily white from lack of sun.

“I couldn’t help her,” I whispered. The shame and pain of helplessness overcame me, and I began sobbing quietly. Henry moved his chair around to sit next to me, holding me in his arms as I grieved.

When my crying jag was finished, I looked up and understood why I came. My mother’s only brother was the one person who would know why I was punishing myself about her last days.

Henry smiled gently and handed me a napkin. As I cleaned up my face, he spoke softly. “You loved her to the end, Mia. She crossed over knowing that you loved her.”

I nodded miserably, but the shame of old grievances was still there. As I took a breath and looked out to sea, I realized that only I could release this shame that threatened to engulf me.

“I should have been there sooner,” I offered as proof of my guilt.

Henry shook his head. He sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me directly, all comfort and care transformed into a laser focus. He wanted me to hear his next words, and his body language was like a neon sign, pointing to this moment.

“Close your eyes and take a deep breath.”

I did as I was told and waited. After a few deep, calming breaths, Henry continued.

“You are here, right now, searching for answers to a question that has no answer.” His voice was soft but insistent. “Regret keeps you locked in the past. Let it go now.”

I nodded and took another deep breath. I could feel the tension leave my body and I smiled at the relief found in the release. A spark of hope became a flame as I breathed in the salty air, held it and then released it in time with the ocean’s pulse.

We sat that way for several minutes. The ocean was soothing, the breeze cooling and I was loosening. All because I trusted Henry and allowed him to open a space for my healing.

Suddenly, I felt another presence near me. My eyes and mouth flew open at the sight of a seagull perched on the railing, about 2 feet from our table. The bird was staring intently at me, while it fluffed its wings and settled more firmly on the wooden perch.

Henry laughed and nodded. “That’s how you know you released something,” he said with a slight tease in his tone.

I glanced at him but kept my attention focused on the bird. It was still staring at me. It was a bit unnerving.

He added slyly, “When a bird comes to visit at just the right moment, you know it means more than it seems.”

This time, I looked at him directly. “You mean…?”

He nodded. “That’s a sign from your mom that she’s O.K. She’s telling you to stop punishing yourself and accept what happened. It was all in divine order.”

As the words fell from his lips and the meaning entered my consciousness, the seagull stretched its wings, preparing to fly. But just before it lifted off, it did something astonishing. It winked…at me!

“Did you see that?” I exclaimed with wonder in my voice. I could almost hear my mother laughing with me. I stood up and raised my arms wide, receiving the gift she had just given me.

The sun warmed my face and arms as I said, “Thank you!”

Henry grinned and joined me in the celebration. His arm hung around my waist as his other arm raised up. Together, we stood in open gratitude.

He turned and smiled into my shining eyes. His next words were simple, yet profound.

“Welcome to another moment of life!”

 

 

 

 

Here to Serve


Dear Ego-Based Human:

One of the significant differences between dogs and humans is the mental construct called “Ego.” Humans create their egos, and it is the single, most destructive psychological device that leads the most people away from themselves.

What is Your Ego?

Your ego is the image of you have yourself. It is your social mask, the face that you show to the world. Ego is concerned with the preservation of itself and causes separation and discord. You know when your ego is talking when:

  • You are caught in circling thoughts;
  • Your emotions are the lens through which you interpret and judge the world;
  • Your worth is dependent on events, people or things outside of you; and
  • Your attempt to control or manipulate events, people or things to validate yourself.

Dogs don’t have egos. We know we are love on four legs and we are here to love in every moment. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is for us; you as a human have to end the war with your ego and reconnect with your soul.

What is Your Soul?

Your soul is the Source of Unconditional Love. It is the bridge between your humanness and your beingness. It never changes, cannot be destroyed and will always be part of who you are.

When you spend time in stillness, silence, meditation or journal writing, you are reconnecting with your soul. When you walk in nature and feel a presence surround you that flows through all living things, you are in touch with your soul. When you listen to your intuition and don’t question its advice, you are aligned with your soul.

The easiest way to tell if you are living from your ego or your soul is to check in with your feelings. Are you feeling constricted, limited, fearful or judgmental? You are listening too much to the seductive voice of your ego. When you only concentrate on what is good for you, it’s your ego.

Your soul work is the exact opposite. Feelings of expansiveness, abundance, love, and light always accompany soul work. Putting the welfare of others before yourself and serving others are beacons of soul work.

Remember that you are love on two legs. See the world from your love perspective, and your life will change forever. When you are love, you freely share your energy with others, serving them instead of your ego. When you share your soul place (the home of love), you open yourself to receive. It’s a never-ending cycle of love energy that you choose in every moment.

And as a last resort, spend time with your dog. He can help you restore your relationship with your soul.

Love is my middle name2

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you to the moon and back!

Avatar

P.S.  If you have never started or been able to practice a daily meditation and journal ritual, I may have the solution. Click over to 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge and join their email list. You will receive a daily email with a short lesson, a meditation, journaling prompts and intention setting tools. It could be the start of a life-long journey!

Be Here Now


Dear Beautiful Human:

Are you happy? Right now, as you read these words, are you happy?

No? That is why I am sharing these insights about how dogs live in the world, happy in every moment. You can do that too, but you have forgotten. Or you have allowed regrets about the past or worries about the future to cloud your present moment.

It’s time to stop allowing the past or future to pollute your present moment.

How? Just look at your dog as you are driving down the road. He is either hanging his head out the window, relishing all of the delicious smells that rush by, or blissfully asleep in the back seat. Either way, do you think your dog is sorry about the fact that he chewed up your favorite pair of shoes? Or worried about where you may be taking him?

Not a chance! Your dog is in the moment, enjoying everything it has to offer him.

You can train yourself to do the same – you just have to be mindful of when your thoughts are full of past regret or future worry. When you notice that, stop, take several deep breaths, and settle back into now. You will discover that your sense of anxiety is less, you laugh more and smile for no reason.

You might even call yourself…h-a-p-p-y!

In these days leading up to your big Heart day, I asked some friends of mine to help me remind you that you came from love, you are love and you are seen.

Be Here Now

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Much love and doggie kisses,

Avatar

P.S.  Why not check out my book, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present? It makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for the dog lovers in your life.

What Makes You Come Alive?


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  – Howard Thurman

It’s the year-end, and you may not be happy with how 2017 treated you. You may have started setting your goals for 2018, determined to have a better year.

Instead of being regretful, frustrated and angry at the world, why not try a different approach?21 Day Challenge

It’s the 21-Day Heart Dancing Challenge. Designed to help you create a daily mindfulness practice, it also will change your perspective on yourself, your life, and your place in the world.

Don’t believe me? Nothing I say will convince your intellect that a daily mindfulness practice brings more peace, happiness, and joy in your life. The skeptic in you will always resist. The cynic that loves to snicker at these concepts is probably having a field day right now.

I can’t fight your skeptical or cynical voices. They’re in your head, not mine.

What I can do is throw down a challenge. Join the 21-Day Heart Dancing Challenge, establish your daily practice of meditation, journaling, and intentional creation. If you have faithfully completed each day’s work, and you still don’t believe in the power of daily practice, I will publicly acknowledge that you were right.

On the other hand, if you find at the end of the challenge that you have changed and feel more alive, then we both win.

Do we have a deal?

What Does An Actress Know About the LOA?


I have to share a quick story. I have been a student of positive psychology, mindfulness, and meditation for many years. Whenever someone would teach about the Law of Attraction, however, my mind immediately shut down, because it always seemed too good to be true.

I am supposed to see myself driving a brand new car and poof! It will be sitting in my garage? That seemed a bit of a stretch.

Someone forgot to place the order because my new Benz never showed up!

The visualization step would always trip me up. I was told to visualize my heart’s desire, feel as if it was already here, and step back into my world knowing that it was on its way.

But how do you energize your intentions with emotions that are authentic enough to communicate with the Universe?

Enter Jennifer Grace, stage right.

Jennifer discovered the missing ingredient, and she tells us about it during this 20-minute interview. Her background as a professional actress, her ability to clearly teach these concepts and her passion for sharing are almost tangible. Jennifer wrote Directing Your Destiny, and created a powerful 4 week course to show you how to become the writer, producer, and director of your dreams.

I became a student of Directing Your Destiny and had many “aha” moments. I felt so strongly about Directing Your Destiny that I became one of Jennifer’s first Certified Coaches in this material!

Jennifer was kind enough to appear on the Heart Dancing Radio Show and we had a great chat. She explains why she wrote Directing Your Destiny and the impact that teaching the course material has had on her students. Listen here to this great interview.

My next class starts on Sunday, January 14, 2018 and ends on February 4, 2018. We meet for one hour each week, and you are supported meditations, journal prompts and mindfulness tools. The process sounds deceptively simple, but if used consistently, will create changes in your life.

To learn more, please schedule a 15 minute interview with me to see if this class is a good fit.

Just go to: HeartDancingYourDestiny.AcuityScheduling.com

or check out the course description here: KathrynEriksen.com/heart-dancing-destiny.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.