Meditation: Guide to Joyful Living

Easy Meditation technique to de-stress and explore deeper meaning in your life. Practical guide by alternative health practitioner Beth Steeve.

Meditation, Mindfulness, Guided Visualization. 

What do they all have in common?  They are essentially the same thing, an easily learned technique to downshift your brain action from the active Beta, to relaxed Alpha and finally – with some practice – the insightful meditative state of Theta. (Delta will be deep sleep, which is critical for immunity restoration.)

Brain Wave Graph
Brain Waves Defined

The best way to learn and practice meditation is to find a class, a group.  Not only is it easier to to learn with someone showing you the way, but the power of group meditation is awesome. It is usually easier to dial down to the light trance state of meditation. But if you don’t have the luxury of a local group, no worries!  Check out my new book Meditation: Guide to Joyful LivingClick here  to order your copy at Amazon.  It is the perfect compliment to assist in your quest to find joyful space in your life.

But for now, we’ll go through the basic steps to a simple meditation. All that is required is your desire, a quiet place and the focus of your mind.

Expectations:  The first thing to understand is that meditation may feel a little like daydreaming.  Don’t expect to fall into a deep trance state, although it may happen.  It is more likely that you will struggle with your mind playing hamster on a wheel, or a persistent to-do list.  Gently push those thoughts down and offer a quiet thanks. Concentrate on breathing deeply through your nose. Set a timer for 20 minutes or so, which will release that nagging from the back of your mind.

You might want to work on a particular issue with your meditation: find an answer to a question, a direction, or scan your body for healing, or simply de-stress. These are just ideas.

Meditation: The Basic Steps:

  • Set your intention.
  • Sit quietly, breath deeply.
  • Count down to allow your mind to shift.  I use 21, but you can experiment.
  • Allow emptiness to fill you – that is an oxymoron!
  • If images or messages come, just let them. Try not to manipulate the experience. Manipulation will pull you back out of the trance state.
  • When your timer goes off, count back up or reverse whatever process you used to shift states.
  • Write down your experiences.

    Transmute hurt to joy.
    Transmute Hurt into Joyfulness in your life.
Add a 20 minute meditation practice to your life to connect the dots of duty and pleasure and peace.

 

Copyright©2016BethSteeve

Happiness: The Meaning of Life

Happiness is more complicated than just living the American dream. I was working on my upcoming book Meditation: Guide to Joyful Living, when I recalled reading an account of the Dalai Lama at a ski resort.

A couple of keystrokes in Google Search brought the story onto my computer screen and I reread it. Published by Slate Magazine, it was just as funny and inspiring as I remembered. I am attaching a link here so that you can read it, too.  The Dalai Lama is the living example of joyful living.

As I read, I laughed out loud – again.  And I was inspired – again.  The “Big” question was posed by a waitress at the end of His Holiness’ day on the slopes, “What is the meaning of life?”

Happiness is the Dalai Lama on Ski Lift, courtesy of Bob Shaw
Happiness is the Dalai Lama on a Ski Lift. Courtesy of Bob Shaw

The Dalai Lama answered immediately. “The meaning of life is happiness.” He raised his finger, leaning forward, focusing on her as if she were the only person in the world. “Hard question is not, ‘What is meaning of life?’ That is easy question to answer! No, hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big house? Accomplishment? Friends? Or …” He paused. “Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make true happiness?” He gave this last question a peculiar emphasis and then fell silent, gazing at her with a smile.” Douglas Preston © Slate Magazine, Feb 26, 2014

            Happiness = Good Heart

I’m not Buddhist. Most people in Iowa and the Midwest are not.  But could not something be learned from a faith that puts “compassion and good heart” at the top of the list to create happiness? And it is refreshing to find a faith that claims happiness as a valid pursuit in life. Not the happiness of Stuff, but the happiness of the Heart.

How many people would sleep better at night knowing that the endeavors of their day were fueled by compassion? How would you feel about going to work knowing that what was expected of you was to act with “good heart”?

“Good Heart” does not negate the need to be attentive, to get the job done in a timely manner, to be accountable.

Part of good heart might just be doing everything with attentiveness, integrity and well… good heart. Good heart toward those you work for, those you work with, and for those who will eventually be the end users of whatever you are working on.

How would our world change with just that one, simple adjustment in attitude? Could our employers still make a profit? Might they even make more? Their reciprocal obligation would be a living wage, safe working conditions, reasonable health benefits.

What is the cost of greed and corruption in our lives?  In our souls? Does desperation to feed and house and clothes one’s family naturally lead to corruption of the spirit? Of course not.  But desperation can create desperate acts. And any act can be justified by the psyche. If you think not, read the testimony of a serial killer.

Is the happiness-barrier simply that we want too much stuff?  Addictions siphon our assets, our earnings. Accountability is another facet of “good heart.” If we are accountable to ourselves first, if we have resources and if we are diligent with those resources, we can sleep at night. If we are fair and if others are fair. Lots of ‘ifs.’

The reality is that you can only control your own actions and reactions, it is your attitude that creates peace and calm in your life.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule.  Is that not the recipe for happiness?

Go with God, and be of “good heart.”

 

Copyright©2016 Beth Steeve

7 Ways to Ease the Load of Hosting

7 Ways to Host Thanksgiving without turning into the family slave. Get an Attitude Adjustment with these Simple 7 ways to share the load of holiday hosting. Here’s how…

7 Steps to Happy Holiday Dinners

Thanksgiving Inequity:  Typically men rest, women work.

Attitude Adjustment: Thanksgiving is more than the bird.
Thanksgiving is more than just the bird.

Attitude Adjustment? Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is not really a woman’s holiday.  How can hours cleaning the house, hours and dollars spent planning and preparing a meal that is consumed in an hour if people linger at the table, twenty minutes if they fill their plates and wolf it down, then go back to the ballgame.  Often walking away from the mess.  By Attitude Adjustment I mean that we women need to approach Thanksgiving as an All-Inclusive Family Event!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of Thanks and Grace.

So I mean Attitude Adjustment in the kindest terms. Thanksgiving is a time of thankfulness, thankful for the year of blessings, thankful for your family, thankful for the simple fact that you can put a turkey and all of the trimmings on the table.  I am grateful for this day of grace.  But. I want to enjoy the day. I’ve been brainstorming on how to accomplish that family dinner without feeling like the family slave.

Attitude Adjustment: Turkey with candles, flowers, and a pot of tea.
Attitude Adjustment: it’s not just about the bird, pamper yourself while you get ready.

Hosting “Attitude Adjustment” How-tos:

  1. Take the day off on Wednesday if at all possible. Cook the turkey.  Drain off the broth & refrigerate. Bone the turkey.  (It may not be as showy, but serving is a breeze.  Heat gently the hour before serving.)
  2. Prepare the Big Item:  Turkey, the dressing and the gravy.  The turkey makes these things easy. (Why? BROTH!)   click here to see my post on natural flavorings.  Or opt for another Main Dish without the extensive prep.
  3. Delegate. Ask for help.  This sounds simplistic – but seriously – for many women, this is the hardest part.
    • Ask families to bring a dish – parcel out the big things like Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pies, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce, Salads.  If they pick them up at the store, it’s ok.  Let go of the control factor.
  4. Pamper yourself while you work:  pace yourself with break time.  Have a cup of tea, watch the birds at the feeder.  Breathe. Turn on music. Light candles and put out flowers. Make the house feel festive.
  5. Keep the goal in mindA warm family time.  Let go of perfection.  Don’t worry about how clean your house is, it will need to be cleaned when they leave anyway.  Instead, light the candles, set out the flowers and welcome everyone with smiles and hugs.
  6. Remember: Hosting is a gift. It is the ultimate family experience.  Include your family in the action.  If you don’t, and you quit doing it because of the effort – no one wins.
  7. Alternative – Order the entire meal from the grocery store and relax! 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!   Thank God for His Bounty and Grace!

 

A Child’s Death

A Child’s Death. Why does God take our children? One person’s faith explained through reincarnation, faith in God’s plan.

If you’ve experienced your child’s death, you are a member in a Club no one wants to join. You know the bitterness felt, the rage and confusion. Progressing to acceptance requires faith.

Looking around there are a surprising number of people who have membership, which begs the question: why? Why does God take these precious ones, whom we love more than our own lives?   Sometimes it is death over long painful  years of torturous treatments, and sometimes just in the flash of seconds.

A child’s death is God’s biggest test of faith.

A Child's Death. Author's Son with his Grandfather.
My son Mark with my dad. 1st Grandchild on both sides of family.

Why does He take these young ones early, disrupting the Natural Law that says the old die and the young carry forward?

I’ve heard lots of reasons. And my belief system isn’t based on our accepted Christian theology, although I believe it is part of that theology, just somehow lost in the shuffle of the centuries since Christ walked the earth as a man. So I want to clearly state that I believe in God and his reign over our existence.

But I believe it is more complicated than we are taught. I believe we all have many lives, lives in which we work out learning projects. I liken it to directed study. You sit down with God and figure out what you’re going to accomplish in your next life. We each have lessons, and we have also known many of the people around us before. Agreements with these people (made before our birth) help us along our way in each lifetime. I feel there was something I had to

Child's Death: Son Mark
Mark with Donald Duck in Florida

learn from losing this child who was the foundation of my life. The reciprocal would be that he had completed his lessons by that time, and he didn’t need to stay any longer.

It is an explanation that allows me to move on in my life.  I, too, had my time of pain and grief, and a crippling sense of the meaninglessness of my life.

Faith allowed me to reach for a new life, and to experience joy again.

By faith I believe. I believe that this is what has been asked of me and that my right action is to accept God’s decision – because I have no memory of accepting this burden before I was born. That does not mean that I don’t continue to mourn, and to feel loss and to doubt: am I right, or am I just justifying the guilt of not protecting my child better?  A child’s death requires that each must find our own way.

A Child’s Death: By faith you will know. By faith you will grow.

That said, I miss you, Mark, and wish I could put my arms around you in a big birthday hug.

Pets Support Our Emotional Core

Love Your Pet? Pets Support our Emotional Core. How something (a pet) that makes more work fills that invisible void and supports our emotional core.

If pet companions support one’s emotional core, my emotional core is again supported.  The mystery is solved.  My foundling Sadie is really Ducky, my neighbor’s dog.  But Ducky was wandering and her owner is working long hours.  It has worked out amicably,  I think.  Ducky has come to live with us, she has changed her name to Sadie and no longer wanders.  Not yet anyway.  Her mom has visitation rights.  If you missed it, Check out  Dumped Dog? Post:

Animals Help Us Connect to Our Emotional Core

So what is Ducky/Sadie doing in a blog about simplifying your life?  Good question because animals really don’t do a lot of simplifying.  But then neither does doing Self-Help Acupressure Treatments or Cooking from Scratch.  But what each one of these three seemingly unlinked subjects do is they connect a person to his or her emotional core.  And being connected to your emotional core is all about getting rid of pretension in your life and concentrating on the important.  Let’s face it, children (and grandchildren) do not make your life easier, but they connect you to your core – those important things in life that make your life feel worthwhile and valuable – and melt your heart!

Sadie: Filling the Emotional Core
Sadie: Overlooking her domain.

Your Emotional Core is what must be fed to make your life feel worthwhile and valuable.  You feed your emotional core by healing and integrating your mind, body

and spirit.

Maggie.Dog Companion
My Mom with her constant companion, Maggie

Whole foods, acupressure and natural healing techniques heal your mind, body and spirit – and the natural environment we live in.  Animals are part of our environment and return our gift of love in countless ways, big and small.  I think it is true that some people just aren’t ‘animal people,’ but if you are – animals fill some nameless void within you.   I must be an animal person because I love having animals around me.  Sadie fills a void that is always there when I am without animal companionship – whether I have an animal taking care of me or not!  (Obviously I am not classifying my husband in that category!)

Animal companions have gotten a lot of press in recent years for therapy.  Dogs and cats are taken into care centers to interact with patients and residents.  There are therapeutic horseback riding opportunities – if you are lucky enough to live close to a facility – and that’s not even getting into the emotional benefits of guide dogs for blind and handicapped individuals.   Just a few of the benefits of pets include helping people fight depression, stress, and high blood pressure – in other words:  supporting your emotional core!

Copyright © 2015 by Beth Steeve

5 Tips 4 Acupressure Self-Help Technique

How Do I Make the Acupressure Self-help Techniques More Effective? 5 ways to make your technique more effective, plus links for specific ailments. SIMPLIFY your life with Self-Help Techniques to improve and maintain your health.

It Doesn’t Seem Like Anything Happens When I Press Points!

Five “Points” to keep in mind when doing Acupressure Self-Help:

Typical Acupressure Self-Help Hold
Typical-Acupressure-Self-Help Hold
  1. Be Attentive:  you can watch TV, or listen to the radio, but listen to your body, too.
  2. Use 2 Hands on Your Body:  You are increasing circulation between the points.
  3. Be persistent: don’t do it once and say it didn’t help.  If you have a cold, do the pattern several times, then do it again every few hours.  In 24 hours you’ll be on your way to recovery.
  4. Be Repetitive:  (Just as this point is!)  Do the pattern until you feel your head clearing, or some indication that your body is responding.
  5. Be Patient:  Remember that it takes as long as 24 hours for the benefits to cycle through your body.

THE POINT BEING:   Acupressure can be used to help your body heal nearly anything!  The key is persistence and not waiting until you have a major issue screaming out of control.

The beauty of acupressure self-help forms is that they are easily learned and used for effective healthcare.

What exactly is Acupressure and Hows Can it Simplify my Life?

You may well ask. Acupressure is an ancient healing form used for thousands of years in Asia.  It works on the same meridian theory as acupuncture, predating the use of needles.  Meridians are energy lines or channels aligned in complex networks that nourish every part of the body.  Using established patterns to stimulate better circulation means the body gets a boost to self-heal.  Self-care is very effective to alleviate symptoms for colds, sinus congestion, better sleep patterns, even improving circulation to hands and feet.  Addressing small things often keeps them from becoming big things.   Acupressure Self-help is the first thing I turn to when I feel a cold coming on, have a stomachache, everything!

The best book you can find for simple self-help patterns is Acupressure’s Potent Points: Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments  by Michael Reed Gach (which was my introduction to acupressure nearly twenty years ago.)

For more great information and easy tutorials, check out Michael Reed Gach’s Acupressure.com site.

This link is a great example of an easy technique for:  Sinus Relief

An internet search of “self-help acupressure training” will turn up a list of ways to get started:  from online to books to in-class training.  I’ve included a few links to get you started:

Jin Shin Do in-class training

Acupressure.com online training

Getting a session is an excellent way to be introduced into the benefits of touch therapies.  Here are a few websites that offer practitioner listings:

SO:  I Challenge You to SIMPLIFY your life and take back your confidence in your ability to positively impact your own – and your family’s – health!

Copyright © 2015 by Beth Steeve

3 Basic Kitchen Utensils

Take stock of your kitchen utensils: the cookware, the knives, the spatulas & stirrers. Use utensils that make you feel good and fit your needs. Sometimes the little jobs work best with hand tools.

  Ready to Switch to Scratch?

First You Need To Get Ready:  Kitchen Utensils

If you’ve been cooking out of boxes and cans, now is the time to try cooking from Scratch, in other words – Whole Food Cooking – and you need the right kitchen utensils!

1.  Take Stock of Your Kitchen Tools.

  • Cookware: If you are going to be cooking more, you will be happier using utensils that make you feel good.  I have a dutch oven that is thirty years old, and it does show some wear, but it is virtually impossible to damage – or burn anything in.  It is a blue Le Creuset brand and maybe I’ll have my ashes buried in it.  You don’t have to love yours that much!
  • A good knife: A good knife that will hold an edge and has good heft for chopping is a must.  For me, it is quicker to chop on a cutting board then put it in the dishwasher Cleaver.Paring Knife.smthan getting choppers out for one onion or a couple of cloves of garlic.  But that is my choice, you must find what works best for you.  Hand chopping requires a knife:  I found a cleaver at a flea market when I decided I needed one, and I love it.  Don’t need to be buried with it, though.

    Utensils
    My “Must-Have” Cooking Utensils
  • Utensils:  My utensil holder is jammed.  I love bamboo stirrers, big dippers, spatulas – you name it.  If there are more than one, and one’s in the dishwasher – I have plenty.  Those are my shears on the edge – can’t live without them, they cut everything from herbs to pizza.
  • We haven’t talked about the big things, the electric gadgets like food processors, but that will come another day.  You can find any kitchen utensil you need – or something to your own liking – at Amazon.com/Le Creuset cookware It’s not about looks, so you can also go check out flea markets or second-hand stores, the important thing is to find something that makes you feel good, and feels good to use.
  • Basic Scratch Cooking Requires Basic, Feel-Good Kitchen Utensils!

  • Copyright © 2015 by Beth Steeve

Dumped Dog? Welcome Sadie

Dumped Dog? Heartbreak of unwanted pets. The gift of love is reciprocated by “rescued” animals; add a pet to your home that’s worth his weight in love.

Dumped? Our Found Friend
Dumped? Sadie, Our Found Friend

Found Friend

Living on a farm makes one the target of unwanted pet dumping.  Dumped dogs and cats.  It is so sad.

Last week as I left our farm to go to town, I saw this little dog in the road near the corner. It was about a mile from our house and there were men working nearby.  I figured she was with them.  Several nights later I was returning home and as I neared the same corner, she appeared in my headlights.  I stopped the car and picked her up.  She weighed nothing, even though – as you can see – she appeared well filled out.  So my guess is she hadn’t eaten much in previous few days.  Poor baby!  She looks like a beagle with short, stumpy legs and she weighs about twelve pounds now.  Does she have someone looking for her?  Maybe.

“Dumped” is Often a Death Sentence

Of course, Sadie could just be lost.  But dumped dogs and cats are a major problem in rural areas.  People decide they don’t want a dog and local shelters are often full, or there is a fee to leave an animal.  Many people seem incapable of putting a picture on Facebook or in a local paper for a possible adoption.  This summer we had about twenty male cats come through, why all male we have no idea. Then we heard the local shelter wasn’t taking any cats because they were full.  Most people who live in the country already have their animals:  it is a myth that there is “always room for another.”   They can be killed by predators, by vehicles, by starvation…. and by residents that don’t want them.

Online Resources for Adoptions:  Solutions When You Can’t Keep Your Pet

Do an internet search for “pet adoptions” and you will be amazed at the list that pops up.  There will be sites for adopting and for solutions if you have a pet you cannot keep. For many, The Humane Society is still the first place to go to get information on adoption or finding solutions when a pet isn’t working out for a family.  Click here for The Humane Society.

Petfinder.com

Best Friends blogsite

Rescued and ‘found’ pets are often the most loving.  First of all, they seem to appreciate the fact that they are getting a home.  They are often older, and therefore past the chewing, digging stage of puppies.  It isn’t unusual to find that they are already spayed, neutered or declawed (cats).  If you’ve been thinking about a pet, go check out the local shelter first. We got our first dog at a shelter as a puppy, lively and lovely, she lived to the ripe old age of thirteen.   The first day Sadie was here, she made a tour of the perimeter of our yard, including checking out the shrubbery and pastures.  I felt like we’d just gotten an alarm system installed!  Don’t let a dumped dog or cat be the fate of your pet.

PS:  If Sadie is your dog, you can contact me, but I’m not sure I can give her up!

Copyright © 2015 by Beth Steeve