by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC

Whether you are new to meditating or a seasoned practitioner, I have summarized a list of commonly asked question that I have received about meditation which you should find useful. If you have questions that are not listed here, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Can you customize a meditation for me?

  • Yes, I can customize a meditation to meet your specific needs. For example, if you are feeling stuck and need help moving forward, I can create a guided meditation for your particular situation so you may continue to progress in your personal development goals.

How do I know if I am progressing?

  • You know you are progressing if there are behaviors in your life that have changed in a positive way due to meditating. For example, if one of your goals is to develop stronger will power, you may find that you are able to stand up for yourself in situations where you could not before.  

Where is the best place to meditate in my house?

  • If you are meditating at home, I recommend that you designate a room specifically for meditation. The space should be quiet, clean, and uncluttered with minimal distractions. Over time, the ambiance of your meditation room will feel peaceful and become a positive reinforcement for your practice.   

Is it okay if I fall asleep while meditating?

  • There might be times when you fall asleep while meditating. Occasionally, this is okay as your body is needing rest at that moment. However, the goal of meditation is not to fall asleep but to remain in a calm focus. In this relaxed but alert state, your conscious mind and subconscious mind are forming a bridge which allows important information to enter your awareness. You may get a sudden insight to a long standing issue you’ve been facing, and you need to be awake in order to process it.    

Can you meditate while walking?

  • A walking meditation can be done and is pleasant to do. When you are walking, the goal is to simply be in-the-moment, observing your surroundings and enjoying the scenery without making a judgement or forming emotional attachments to what you are experiencing. This is the art of mindfulness. You are being an unconditional observer within your environment, whether it be listening to the birds chirping, noticing the scent of a flower, or feeling a gentle breeze upon your skin.

Can meditation be used to help study for an exam?

  • Meditation can help a person concentrate better and have more mental focus. Studies have shown that people who meditate on a regular basis have unique brainwave patterns which are dominated by the Alpha and Theta frequencies. Alpha and Theta brainwave frequencies are associated with the ability to maintain a calm focus which is ideal when you want to study for an exam.  For more information about brainwave entrainment, you can read my blog here.   

Can meditation help with weight loss?

  • Yes, meditation is a great tool for weight loss because it helps the body decrease the cortisol levels in our body, minimizing your desire to binge and overeat. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when we are under stress. It plays a beneficial role in regulating our metabolism, but when we experience chronic stress, our cortisol levels become too high which is a significant factor in weight gain. Please read my blog, How Meditation Helps with Weight Loss, for more information on this topic.   

Do you have to breathe “in-through-your-nose” and “out-through-your-mouth” for meditation to be beneficial?

  • Focusing on your breath will help to keep your mind from wandering. It is not necessary to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth to obtain this benefit. You can certainly breathe this way if it is more helpful for you, but the key is AWARENESS. Becoming aware of your breathing helps to cultivate a single-minded focus which helps to keep distracting thoughts from entering your consciousness.    

Is it better to meditate in the morning or night?

  • You can meditate in the morning or night depending upon your preference. I personally prefer the morning as I am more awake and rested, and I am creating a positive tone for the rest of my day. Some people prefer meditating before bedtime as it helps them to sleep better. It is a matter of choice depending upon what you would like to accomplish with your meditation.   

How do you handle distracting thoughts that run through your mind?

  • Having thoughts arise in the mind is a common occurrence while meditating. When you notice that your mind is being distracted by unwanted thoughts, bring your attention back to your breath. Keep focusing on your breath with each inhale and exhale. It is a good practice to simply observe your thoughts without judging or becoming attached to them. Just allow them to be and flow through you. With consistent meditation practice, you will notice that your mental chatter quiets down and becomes less and less of an influence.    

Can I use meditation to help reach my goals?

  • Yes, during your meditations you can visualize what you would like to manifest. The technique of visualization is based on the Law of Attraction which means that we attract and manifest what we consistently focus upon. This is a proactive form of meditation. I recommend reading this well written article by the Chopra Center, How to Use Meditation to Visualize Your Goals, for more information.

What are the benefits of meditation?

  • Better Coping Skills – When you meditate on a regular basis, you are better able to cope with the anxiety of everyday living and remain calmer during stressful situations. The ability to handle your emotional responses to daily stressors is improved.
  • More Self Awareness – You will be able to recognize and stop negative thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth before they get out-of-control.   
  • Keener Intuition – Intuitive insights are able to come forth during your waking consciousness much more easily and guide you towards wiser decisions.    
  • More Joy – You will naturally experience more joy in your life because meditation opens your heart and aligns you with your true, authentic self. When you open your heart, you are touching the core essence of your being which is imbued with love, appreciation, kindness, and gratitude.       

by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC

It has been proven that meditation helps you lose weight, but how?

By regulating our cortisol levels, nourishing a balanced state of consciousness, and promoting a healthy state of mind, meditation is a powerful tool to help you shed those unwanted pounds.

Meditation helps to Regulate Cortisol

Cortisol is an important hormone released by the adrenal glands. It helps to regulate the body’s metabolism, especially when we are under stressful situations. Levels of cortisol rise during tension-filled times which is a natural part of our body’s “fight-or-flight” response to stress. It prepares the body by flooding it with glucose (blood sugar) and inhibiting insulin secretion, thereby preventing the glucose from being stored and making it available for immediate use by the body. After the stressful situation subsides, hormone levels return to normal.

However, when we are experiencing chronic stress, this can lead to chronic excess levels of cortisol which can cause weight gain. High levels of cortisol are known to promote storage of fat within visceral fat cells, those located under the muscle and deep in the abdomen. Chronically high levels of cortisol result in consistently high levels of blood sugar (along with insulin suppression) which leads to cells that are starved of glucose and crying out for energy. This scenario sends hunger signals to the brain which can cause overeating and any unused glucose is eventually stored as fat.

In a 2013 study conducted by the University of California, Davis (Saron et al), researchers found that mindfulness meditation had cut cortisol levels by more than half. Another study conducted in Thailand (Turakitwanakan et al) concurred that mindfulness meditation lowers the cortisol levels in the blood suggesting that it can lower stress and may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress such as psychiatric disorder, peptic ulcer and migraine.

Meditation helps to decrease Binge Eating

For many people going through emotional challenges such as depression, loneliness, or boredom, they often turn to food to help appease the emotional emptiness they are feeling inside. Comfort foods such as sweets, cakes, and pastries might make us feel ‘good’ for a couple of hours, but when the sugar crash hits, the desire to eat more sugary foods increases, and the vicious craving cycle begins. Meanwhile, the food has done nothing to truly mitigate the emotional distress that triggered the binge eating in the first place.

This is where meditation comes into play as it helps to soothe the stress and anxiety that is associated with our emotional roller coaster rides. Regular meditation practice increases our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which means that we remain calmer during stressful situations. We can better cope with the demands of our daily life and not get frazzled so easily. We can remain more even keeled during the taxing times, nurturing a balanced state of consciousness throughout the day. When we feel centered and more grounded with our emotions, we make better decisions and are less likely to react with the same binge eating impulse that we did before.

Meditation helps to Combat Food Addiction

The common traits of people with addictive behavior patterns (food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco) include: (1) lack of GABA, (2) beta waves dominate, and (3) dopamine levels rise and crash. The common traits of people who meditate on a regular basis, especially when combined with brainwave entrainment, include: (1) optimal levels of GABA, (2) alpha & theta waves dominate, and (3) dopamine levels increase but remain steady.

When there are optimal levels of GABA and our dopamine levels remain steady, the cravings for sugary food and the tendency to overeat will naturally diminish. Luckily, the science of brainwave entrainment can be used as tool to help steady our levels of GABA and dopamine.

  • Common Traits of People with Addictive Behavior Patterns
  • Lack of GABA
  • Beta Waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels rise and crash
  • Common Traits of People who Meditate on a Consistent Basis
  • Optimal levels of GABA
  • Alpha & Theta Waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels increase but remain steady

GABA: The calm brain chemical; reduces nerve cell excitability throughout the central nervous system. GABA is taken by mouth to relieve anxiety, improve mood, reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Beta Waves: Normal waking consciousness.

Dopamine: The euphoria-producing brain chemical.

Educate Yourself

If you are interested in learning more about meditation and how it can help you to reach your weight loss goals, please CONTACT ME for a Free Consultation at 508-282-7877 or email: susan@inspireyourjourney.com

References:

Aronson, Dina. “Cortisol – Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 11 No. 11 P. 38, Nov. 2009, www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml

EOC Institute – Why Mindfulness Meditation Is Such A Powerful Weight Loss Tool (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/4-ways-meditation-is-the-weight-loss-key-healthy-mind-healthy-body/

Kjaer TW, e. (2002). Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. PubMed.  NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11958969

Turakitwanakan W, e. (2013). Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1: S90-5. PubMed. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2372446

Saron, e. (2013). Mindfulness from meditation associated with lower stress hormone. Retrieved from https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/mindfulness-meditation-associated-lower-stress-hormone/

 

 

by Sue Kapatoes, MHA, CPC


What is the Higher Self?

Your higher self or your spirit, is the real You who communicates to you through gut feelings, insights, and intuitive hunches. Your higher self is anchored within your heart center and always connected to you. It is the overseer of your life. It can see the bigger picture when you cannot because our perspective is limited while residing in a physical body.

The higher self is wise because it figuratively and literally has a higher perspective. It is not impacted by the ups-and-downs of daily life which stimulate emotions. It lives as a pure being in a continuously expanded state. It observes the events of our lives without judgement and provides unconditional love for us whenever we need it.


Canoeing in a River

Picture yourself in a canoe rowing down a winding river. There are many twists and turns in this river, and you cannot see around the bends. As you approach each bend, you keep rowing; sometimes you are pleasantly surprised when you see calm waters in front of you; other times you are taken aback when you find yourself in the middle of a turbulent current that you did not anticipate. The person in the canoe is your physical self.

Now imagine you are flying in a helicopter looking down upon this scene. You can see yourself rowing in the canoe, but now you can see every twist and turn that is laid out before your journey. You see how far you have traveled, and how far you have to go before reaching your final destination. You are able to perceive the fullness of time: past, present, and future. The person in the helicopter is your higher self.

You may come upon a split in the river and have a choice to make. One choice will take you to the higher path of love, compassion, and joy – the other choice will lead you towards a lower path strewn with fear, judgement, and anger. This is where your higher self comes into play, for it will always try to guide you to the higher path.


The Higher Perspective

Higher Self – Expanding and extending throughout the Universe.
Gut Feelings – Bridge connecting higher self and physical self.
I – Your physical self with limited third dimensional perspective.

 

How Does the Higher Self Communicate?

Our spirit constantly speaks to us through dreams, hunches, intuitive insights, and most of all, feelings. It wants us to pay attention to its continual presence. The key is to listen to those inner cues because they are trying to guide us towards the path that will be the most beneficial for us at the time.

  • Gut Feelings: They are more like a knowing. To put it simply, if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t. We know this on an intuitive level. This is illustrated by the phenomenon of situational awareness in which someone can enter a room of people and immediately sense their energy. There could be a distinct air of tension among the group or a flow of positive energy reflecting a comfortable ease with one another. We have this sensory capability because the energy field surrounding our body interprets the energy field of another person instantly, before our brain even has the chance to process the situation.
  • Flashes of Insight: Downloads of information that are helpful. When I was trying to sell my condominium, I was debating about what to charge and could not decide upon a final price. When my fiancé and I were having a discussion about this topic, the number 245 suddenly appeared in my mind’s eye. I immediately knew that I was to charge $245K which is the exact amount that I received from the sale of my condo in 2017.
  • Intuitive Hunches: Subtle nudges towards something. We all get those inner cues to go to a particular store, attend a certain event, or just stay home and enjoy the family. Listen to those nudges as your higher self is speaking to you and trying to get you to pay attention.


How to Connect to Your Higher Self

Your higher self is always with you, but if you would like a stronger connection to help you navigate the avenues of life with greater ease and enjoyment, then you may follow these steps as a way to improve your connection:

  • Set Your Intention – Create an intention to have a stronger connection to your higher self and state it as often as you wish. I recommend to say it out loud as your voice carries a frequency that will magnify the power of your intention.
  • Listen to the Guidance – Once you ask to receive guidance from your higher self, it is important to listen, accept, and allow the wisdom to saturate your consciousness. It is very easy to shrug off a nudge, impulse, or gut feeling.
  • Implement the Guidance – Take the appropriate action to implement the guidance as you receive it.

Note: You know you are being guided by your higher self by the way that you feel. If you are feeling positive emotion, i.e. inspired, uplifted, or motivated, then your guidance is moving you in the right direction. You don’t always know the final outcome of a situation, but if your choices feel right, then they are supporting your movement forward.


The Benefits

  • Opens Doorways – When you are in alignment with your higher self, this connection opens doorways for higher knowledge to enter your consciousness which might otherwise be blocked from your awareness.
  • Support from the Higher Realms – The more attention we give to our higher self and implement its guidance, the more we are supported in our endeavors from the higher realms which means that the communication signals become stronger and clearer.
  • Clearer Understanding – Change is the Law of Nature. Being in alignment with our higher self does not mean there won’t be difficulties or challenges in our lives. Our understanding will continue to grow and evolve, allowing us to see obstacles as opportunities for growth.


Trust & Courage    

When you receive guidance from your Higher Self, it will take trust and courage to follow its advice, especially if you are just starting to become aware of the signs and signals. It is helpful to think of your connection with your higher self as any other relationship that you want to nourish and become stronger.

For example, if you want to build a stable relationship with your significant other, then you would show him or her how you care by the way you treat them. Your words, your intentions, and most of all, your actions will support or hinder the strength of this important connection.

In an ideal relationship, the energy that you share with another person is the energy that will be reciprocated back to you. This dynamic interchange is how it works with your higher self. If you are listening, paying attention, and following the guidance, then your Higher Self will meet you more than half-way with its consistent support and encouragement.


Letting Go

Surrendering to your higher self means surrendering to your heart and releasing what no longer serves you, especially negative thought patterns of the past. Our heart center is where we anchor our spirit/soul/higher self into our physical being.

  • To release: Breathe deeply in and out through your heart center. Allow yourself to feel the energy of unconditional love. The more you stay in heart-centered truth, the more love can flow into your life. This love can dissolve behavior imprints from the past, including addictions.
  • You must practice this simple technique over and over again until it begins to feel natural. As you breathe into the center of your heart, you are surrendering to the ease, grace, love, and wisdom that is a natural part of your being.
  • When you let go, you learn not to react emotionally but to respond from the heart. Negative emotional reactions will cause your energy field to constrict while positive responses will cause your energy field to expand.

You know that your energy field is constricted or expanded by the way that you feel. If you are experiencing a contracted state such as fear, judgment, or anger – you will feel closed, shut down, and withdrawn. If you are experiencing an expanded state such as love, compassion, or joy – you will feel open, expressive, and connected to family and friends.


Closing Thoughts

As you enhance your relationship with your higher self, this connection will result in more synchronicity and harmony within your life. Your higher self will help you to release what no longer serves you, especially negative thought patterns of the past. When you let go and allow the feeling of unconditional love to enter your heart, your life will be guided by the grace of your inner wisdom.

Key Words:  Higher Self, Stability, Stillness, Wisdom, Pure Being