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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

GOING DEEP: Mining the Gold Within



I received a warning from Spirit, a threat, if you will, that I needed to up the ante regarding my meditation “practice” (which was a hobby at best). I’d received channeled messages from On High for decades about the value in my meditating daily.  You know, like seriously meditating, not the way I had been, sometimes for a minute, sometimes for twenty, and sometimes not for weeks. Spirit pulled out the big guns and pointed one right at my head.  I needed help with something but they weren’t gonna give unless I paid up first. 

I had dabbled with meditation for years.  I even took a class, but fell asleep in the darkened room until I was awakened by a bang.  It was my head hitting the desk I was seated at.   Or was that automatic writing class?  At any rate, my days of meditating recreationally were over.

I was at yet another standstill in my life, financially, socially, you name the category, on the surface, things were dead.  Impatient for change, I was told the change would come from within, only when I meditated.  “Nothing will move in your life until you meditate longer and with regularity.  This is the only way your Higher Self can get your attention” my pal Nicole, a channeler said. They were done with hinting and suggesting to their recalcitrant ward.  Instead, they held my life ransom. I guess even God has Her limits when she’s got an agenda that needs tending to.

I’ve been threatened by Spirit before.  While many people think God wants us to behave, I’d once been admonished by Spirit to become sexually active.  I was too old to be on the shelf.  Depressed over the death of my second parent in my early twenties, I just wasn’t feeling jiggy.  The message from Spirit went roughly:  “It almost doesn’t matter who, what, when or where, but do something, for God’s sake! Don’t sit around waiting for the love of your life”.  Which I was. 

This is the very reason I have to start smoking each New Years.  I live alone and work at home.  I know an 80 year old nun in Houston that has a more active social life than I do. I’m so squeaky clean (save for cursing and drinking) that I have nothing to give up.

Except not-meditating.   

Well, I took this threat from Spirit as a real challenge.  “You want me to meditate?  God damn it, I’ll meditate!”  I sat down that very day and did something I’d never done before.  I meditated for nearly three hours.  Not all at once.  I did it in three separate sessions.  But I did it.  I fucking did it.  I could hear the spirits cheer “Hallelujah” when I finished my final session late that night.  And yes, after decades of ignoring their pleas for me to hunker down and “sit”, I felt very accomplished having finally “sat”, as if I’d just run a marathon.  Even though I just sat on my ass.

Spirit knows how to throw its weight around with me.  I pull cards from various tarot type decks every morning. There’s an angel card (or some shit) from one deck or another that admonishes GOD IS IN CHARGE.  Whenever I pull it, I think, “Jeez, what a control freak.  Alright, God, knock yourself out.  You're pushy, though!”  (God appreciates my perky personality.) 

The fact is, there are things that are out of our control and things (when fate pounds on our door) that behoove us to confront.  Even activities as simple as doing the dishes, laundry, or vacuuming.  We may not particularly want to do them, but when we do, we feel better.  We restore order to chaos.   And we don't smell. 

When I finally face the music these undesirable invitations inevitably produce transformation, despite my preliminary fear, trepidation, resentment, heel-dragging, and cursing.  On the day I asked when things would change for me, God played the Mafioso.  A black car pulled up.  The door was opened, a gun was waved. “Get in the back. ” Given my need for help, I was in no position to argue.  I went along for the ride.  I was good and sober when they threw me out of the car.  They meant business.

So what happened when I took my marching orders and started to meditate in earnest?

It was interesting.

Exhilarating.

A wave of experiences washed over and through me.

I worked through all those little things you’d expect, like restlessness, boredom, discomfort, thoughts like “This isn’t working”, “I have to pee”  “I have to blow my nose.”  “My nose itches.”  And you know how I dealt with them?  I went to the bathroom, blew my nose, and scratched when necessary.  I’m not into suffering.  I’m not an ascetic. And I don’t believe denial is the path to heaven, enlightenment, higher dimensions or higher consciousness.  Transcendence is not about killing our human aspect, or the ego.  It’s about taming it.  Civilizing it.  Incorporating it into the bigger, non-physical aspect of ourselves. Consciously connecting the human to the divine, effecting a powerful weave of the two. Once I addressed the issues of my nose and bladder, I hunkered back down to hook up with the higher dimensions.

Determined, I kept at this meditation thing thrice daily.  Spirit gave me a challenge and I accepted.  I sat and sat and sat some more.  And I got somewhere.  I started to experience different sensations, different states of consciousness.  Some were ecstatic.  Some were peaceful.  Some phases even seemed “thoughtless”, “empty” or “mindless” something I had deemed impossible.  I know now it’s possible to still the mind, and I won’t qualify it further than to say it’s a mystical experience and you’ll see for yourself when you get there. 

Time started to fly, then it disappeared altogether.  I enjoyed being alone in my soundproofed work studio, my top priority to be with myself and open up to higher states of being.  All the anxiety of needing to do, to get, to prove, to change, to fix, to produce, to procure, went out the window.  My only desired connection was to Me.  I was the experiment, the archeologist and excavation site, peeling away layers of my persona and the contrived construct of our “reality”.

I kept this up every day. 

I felt accomplished.  More peaceful and content.  Happier.

I was going places while going nowhere at all.   

I even purchased a magic carpet (a purple meditation pad and pillow) to continue my travels.  

While meditating, I allowed myself to play.  I started thinking happy thoughts. My goal was never to still the mind, it was simply to “go within” and engage myself on a deeper level. I indulged in daydreaming and creative visualization.  My varieties of experience were very much like watching clouds drift by.  I both allowed and created.  There were moments of bliss. 

Whereas previously I had looked elsewhere and outside for things to do, suddenly I was the activity. I had a date with myself, three times a day, and I did this religiously for at least a week.  The hunger for more outside was gone.  My questing was internal.  

I also experienced physical and energetic sensations, tingling in the palms of my hands, heat in my body, tingling in my third eye and head generally.  This is the good stuff, when you know circuits are firing and that psychic and spiritual energy is being activated and moved.  I was building my internal fire. 

Within a week I booked a job, my first audio book narration in almost a year.  Spirit was true to its word.  

Then more audio book recording work poured in, time returned and the clock started ticking.  My peace flew out the window as I booked job after job. My breathing became shallow and anxiety returned, the compulsion to audition for more jobs and to complete the ones I had creating mounting stress.  I realized I had to figure out a way to meld both worlds, one of productivity, the other of being. 

When I first started recording audio books a few years ago, two of my pets had just died back to back. My grief was profound, and I worked long and hard at the computer to distract from it. I was so stressed that I fell apart (carpal tunnel, compromised eyesight, back and shoulder pain, massive ear infections that exploded my head, and a thyroid condition).  When I stopped booking jobs I was relieved.  I needed to recover.  But then, I needed money. 

So, this was round two of recording books.  I was an experienced narrator and producer by now.  I had more pets. And I had new meditating skills. I was determined not to stress myself into sickness and despair.

I know that being healthy and happy is as important as earning money and being productive.  I had to find the balance.  But I wasn’t going to take an hour off to just “sit”, not now that I had ants in my pants with so much work to do. Performing and producing felt diametrically opposed to just being.  Additionally, when I’m recording, I don’t write.  That’s a different frequency as well. In fact, writing is a form of meditation for me.  Receiving ideas from the ethers requires being open to them.  It is both active and receptive, the very way I experience meditation.

While I wasn’t meditating as long and hard as I’d initially done to prove my mettle to Spirit, I was still dabbling, and I knew this was okay (I’m not a Rules Girl).  I also wasn’t working as long and hard as I’d done the last time I made myself sick from stress.   I was pacing myself.  Those were magic words.  I’d stop.  Take a walk with my dog.  Have a cup of tea.  Stretch.  I couldn’t work as hard as I’d done before.  That way lay madness.

I completed all my recording work and decided to enjoy my freedom, to start meditating in earnest again, and to write.  That’s when another recording project came in.  Sigh. I couldn’t stop the press again.  Life is not all or nothing. So, yet again, I had the opportunity to weave the worlds together and figure out some kind of comfortable flow between being and doing. I worked even more slowly this time (it was one book, vs. six projects, or fourteen, as I once simultaneously had). 

I’m also finessing my Zen calm. For instance, when there are interruptions or noises as I’m recording (they are legion) I’m not as upset as I used to get, and find I’m able to remain neutral at times, and better yet, sometimes even smile or laugh about the disturbance.  These are the benefits of meditation.  You go within to your ever-present center of peace and calm, and come out refreshed.   It’s your very own isolation tank, full night of sleep, walk in the woods, super food smoothie (or double espresso).

When we’re calm and centered we can weave through dimensions like we weave through traffic.  Learning to go from high stress human mode to peaceful meditation mode is not unlike shifting gears when you drive, learning to upshift to and downshift from the higher realms, and not become derailed altogether when you get in an accident, stuck in traffic, or barely escape a scrape.  As you deepen your practice you will adapt more quickly to the shifts.  There is an acclimation period as we meld the human and the divine aspects of ourselves, but it’s no different from getting out of the water after swimming, or cooling down after a long run.  The more frequently and deeply we connect with our eternal aspects, the easier it is to be Human.

Flexibility is the key to success.  If you can’t meditate one day, don’t beat yourself up.  Some days you don’t get enough sleep, or any exercise.  The more accepting you are of your changing needs and life’s fluctuations the easier it is to get back on track.

If you’re just not in the mood, don’t do something.  Yet sometimes if you just nudge yourself (to meditate, clear your desk, do your taxes, do the dishes) you can move through the activity into a place of peace. The more you get in alignment with yourself, and work with your moods, the more life flows easily and effortlessly. See if you can take things (and yourself) less seriously. 

If you’re feeling stressed, slow down.  No, stop, altogether and take stock of yourself. Walk out of the room. Take a nap.  Take a shower.  Take a walk. Listen to music. Have tea.  Coffee. A glass of wine.  Meditate.  There’s no right or wrong answer.  Trust your wanting. 

We need a balance of rest, play, work, time with others and time alone.  It’s never the same percentage each day.  Things are always shifting, morphing and moving, even when they seem still.

As I go deeper and higher in meditation, I still experience challenges in my personal life.  Meditation and spiritual growth don’t make your problems go away.  Your practice will dredge up issues in order to further clear your plate. Now that you’re revving your engine, what are you going to do with your Zen skills?  You’re going to race the Indy 500.  Challenge is the medium in which personal growth is cultured.   As your core strengthens, road blocks that seemed insurmountable turn into gentle speed bumps.  And speed bumps are good, because they remind us fast paced lunatics to slow down. 

My challenges have been legion, from work to money, health and social relationships, you name it.  However, my ability to bounce back to a happy or comfortable place, to have perspective, to not get upset or as engaged in drama as I used to, is greater due to the fact that I am regularly entering the higher realms and forging alliances there.  Think of your meditation practice as a secret garden, an inner sanctum, a country cottage, your private island.  Contemplate that there is an energetic team within and around you ready to serve your needs.  We all have an etheric entourage, but they cannot help us unless we solicit their guidance.   There is gold within, but you have to mine it. 

Think of the Dalai Lama’s bright energy, his endless enthusiasm, his frequent laughter.  They do not diminish the fact that the man works hard and travels frequently.  He’s old.  His country has been devastated by the Chinese, his friends and countrymen murdered, his temples destroyed.   Of course it weighs on him.  But he is resilient. 

The stronger a connection I create with Spirit, my Self, the more power and endurance I have to deal with the visible world of conflict and challenge. 

There’s a saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”  The world doesn’t change.  You change.  As you do, your experience of the world changes, and the world responds to your transformation.  Nothing exemplifies this better than Bill Murray’s character Phil in the movie Groundhog Day. Same shit, different day.  Rinse, repeat.  Life is just one boring humdrum hollow non-event for Phil. He keeps hitting his head against the wall with his cranky, pessimistic, selfish attitude, and it keeps him in the doghouse. When he starts playing with life, approaching it like an experiment, he engages himself passionately in the world.  By taking piano lessons, helping others, participating in social events, by truly living, he becomes happy, fulfilled and a hero. 

As I continue to ace my tests life becomes easier and better by the day.  The challenges fall away, for they’re not there to punish you.  They’re there to grow you.  I still walk into rooms and find that, for instance, my cat is eating my duvet (aided and abetted by her sister who ripped the thing open, exposing the feathers).  Instead of overreacting, I interrupted her mid-meal and repaired the duvet.

When we get into the flow of life, the machine starts working optimally.  Meditation is one of the most powerful ways we can lubricate our divine motorworks.  It revs the engine and raises our vibration so we can forge our human and divine selves into a dynamic driver/vehicle partnership. Our Soul, our Higher Self is simply a piece of God.  A chip off the old block.   It’s us in higher vibrational format.  Or consider the spectrum of light, some of which is invisible.  The human self is one end of the spectrum, the divine at the other.  However, they are connected. 

I’ve been on a conscious spiritual path my whole life, but as I up the ante by doing the inner work (which includes but is not limited to meditation) my psychic abilities have increased.  I have myriad signs, symbols and synchronicities happening on a daily basis, and it is a sheer pleasure to have the Universe interact with me in this playful and informative manner.  It’s because I’ve gone “online”.  I activated the connection.

A few short examples.  I was in the post office on April 21st.  As I was leaving, at 11:30 AM, I looked down to see a red Fender guitar pick on the ground.  I picked it up and contemplated it.  Why would I find this?  I’ve dated a few guitar players,  my mind scrolled through that Rolodex and settled on one who once toured with Prince.  I put the pick in my change purse, walked away and let the thought go.  Two hours later I discovered Prince was dead.  Yeah, I know, the pick should have been purple.

I dreamt of a pair of shoes belonging to a friend of mine who passed away this year.  They were red, used (kinda falling apart, actually) and smaller in size than I believe she actually wore.  When I checked email shortly after waking, I discovered her husband had organized a walk in her memory. 

I wrote a friend last week and when I didn’t hear back from her wondered what was up.  I dreamt about her this morning, she was speed-walking through a tunnel to get to me.  When I checked email this morning she had finally written back.   These are small things, but they are accurate, and I enjoy the heads up from the inner realm about their connection (and mine) to both worlds. 

And finally, a slightly bigger and more amusing example of how the Universe plays with us when we’re game.

While hunkering down to meditate, I employed a technique I’d read about and was intrigued by.  I invoked the words “Reveal Thyself” to whoever was listening, working with me, and encouraging my spiritual growth.  I’m not naming names.

I wanted to up the ante.  For while I can relax, center, and reach higher, deeper states of consciousness while meditating, I was hungry for more.  I wanted some flash, some pizzazz, you know, some psychic phenomena, like a vision, or a message I could hear with my ears, or in my mind.  It was Friday night.  I wanted fireworks.

While seated in meditation in a dark room I spoke the words aloud, “Reveal thyself to me. Show your face.  Make yourself useful! …”  Yada yada.  No sooner had the words been spoken than my room blazed with light.  So brilliant was this radiance that it stunned me out of my reverie. Talk about “Ask and it is given.”  Was it a burning bush in the middle of the room? My eyes popped open.  My wall of windows was illuminated by a blinding light so intense it could have beamed from a spaceship waiting to see if I needed a lift. 

I was peacefully meditating, asking for a stronger connection with higher dimensions, when God switched the lights on.  “Surprise”!  The room was electrified.

I must add that these windows haven’t been washed in so long that Zero Mostel’s line from Mel Brooks’1968 film The Producers comes to mind when I look at them, “Window’s so dirty you can’t tell if it’s day or night.”  He tosses some of his black coffee on the glass to “clean it” then casually swipes the mess with his tie. 

I don’t clean my windows often because I live on a busy thoroughfare in Manhattan and as soon as you clean them, soot instantly reappears. Cleaning the windows in NYC is an uphill battle that I gave up long ago.  Despite the grime, this UFO, or my Higher Self, was able to break through the crud. 

I leaped up and jumped to the window to see what was going on out there.  A light shone from the main thoroughfare near me, a big cross street in Manhattan, high up on a crane.  My first thought was that they were making a movie.  But why would they be shining the light in my apartment?  

The light swiveled. Perhaps they were doing road work? (a constant in this city).  I was curious to find out.  I grabbed my dog and went to see who was responsible for this “act of God”. 

The Good Wife was shooting down the block.  I spoke with a production assistant, a young man who meditates himself, and appreciated my humorous account of asking for “more” from Spirit and receiving it via network TV.  I then chatted with the two gaffers operating the crane that had temporarily focused on my apartment and asked how many watts were required to light up the night sky.  18,000. 

The following day I went to Central Park with my dog.  We bumped into a neighbor who had just been there and she warned, “It’s filled with assholes.” 

Milo and I waded through the hordes of selfie-taking shopaholic tourists in the park. A little boy lunged to grab my puppy, who bolted in terror. I blurted, “Don’t chase my dog!”  His grandma defended the little terror by lying. “It wasn’t intentional.  He tripped!” 

We passed a couple who just got engaged and a couple of bridal parties taking photos.  A ballerina en pointe posed for photos by Bethesda fountain.  A mostly toothless older Latino man wore torn fishnets and chipped nail polish.  He waved happily at me.  I waved back. 

It wasn’t until our walk in the park was coming to a close that I realized the full impact of the Burning Bush/UFO incident the day prior. Milo and I were descending a steep set of stone stairs which led from a wooden gazebo atop a mountainous hill when the lightbulb went on. 

I had asked Spirit to reveal itself.  18,000 watts lit up my room, making it feel like call and response in church.  I asked, and it was given. Yet, what was revealed?  Despite my dirty windows and because of my lack of window treatments, I was revealed.  I was exposed, as surely as if I were center stage in a spotlight.  I'm The One I was looking for. 

Like everybody else, I look for God and answers and messages outside of myself and keep forgetting what I believe. We are God. Each and every one of us is an expression of the divine, whether or not we behave in divine manner.  I know this, yet keep acting like a putz who needs help from a psychic hotline. 

Which is why Spirit told me to stop and meditate seriously.  Because this is when you discover the meaning of, “Be Still, and Know that I am God”.  When you are still and self-contained, you find out Who You Are.

The nature of consciousness is never ending expansion and transformation. God likes to stretch, explore, and even to party. What do you think geysers and waterfalls are doing? The more we step into our Divine Shoes, the more fun our lives become.  

Meditation is not nothing any more than outer space is empty.  There are worlds within.  The bible quote “In my father’s house are many mansions” refers to these many dimensions.  Close your eyes and See.


© 2016 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved.

Valerie is the author of RAVING VIOLET, MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion, and SWAMI SOUP. The books are available in print, e-book, and audio book, narrated by the author. 

Valerie leads Psychic Development/Guided Meditation/Healing/Past Life Regression Workshops at Namaste Healing Center, and privately, in New York City.  

For more information on Valerie's full lineup: http://valeriegilbert.weebly.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Meditation For People Who Don't Want To Meditate



(but are just a little bit curious)


People think meditation is doing nothing, but it’s not.  It’s active. Meditation is about focused discipline.  But it’s also about freedom.

Full disclosure right off the bat, I’m a terrible “formal” meditator.  I’ll look at the clock after one minute.  Seriously.  Sometimes I make it to three minutes, then I pass out (I do it before going to sleep, and upon waking up in the morning.  Sometimes.) But I’m really amazing at freestyle meditation.  Meditation my way.  This I can do for 15-30 minutes depending on the day. We’re all wired differently. You, too, can discover “your way”.  

Once you have some insight into what meditation is, what it isn’t, and learn a few tips and tools from me, you might be interested in dabbling yourself.

First of all, let’s get one misconception out of the way; you can’t turn off your thoughts.  It’s impossible.  The only way to stop thinking is to die or get a lobotomy.  Actually, when you die, your consciousness continues, it's just the brain that stops. Energy transforms but never disappears.  What you can do is tame your thoughts and choose the direction they go in.  

Start simply by consistently choosing thoughts that feel good, also known as "daydreaming". Do this in your conscious life, and in your "meditations".  Feeling good is the key to health, peace, accomplishment, and enlightenment.  Once you permit yourself to feel good, you can take those outrageous "daydreams" and allow them to simmer down into something more calm, peaceful, and more traditionally "meditative".  But you don't want to break the bronco (i.e. your wild mind). In fact, you know that doesn't work.  Can you coerce yourself into calm?

Criticizing, judging, and berating yourself all lead to feeling bad, which is the very opposite of peace.  It is this same "feeling bad" that creates all the discord, pain and violence in the world. When animals are in pain, they lash out.  If people truly understood that being happy is the key to world peace (happy people don't go around hurting others, do they?) they would start to prioritize their own joy.  It is not selfish to be happy, it is essential. It is not narcissism (narcissists are not happy people).  Joy creates self-reliance, which fosters brilliance and creativity. You want to love your self into harmony, which can transform into spiritual artistry. I'm talking about the path of least resistance, and that, my friends, is one of the secrets of life. Getting in the "flow" of life, instead of endlessly swimming upstream.  Feeling good is the key to it all. 

Why meditate in the first place?  It’s supposed to enhance one’s general wellbeing.  We want to add some calm to the “normal” crazy mix.  Meditation is good at helping to reign in the “wild mind”.  Whether you’re foaming at the mouth, frazzled by an overstuffed schedule, or just thinking crappy thoughts, it’s good to take your mind to the cleaners from time to time.

So, sanitize your ruminations.  Not just when you’re meditating, but all the time. Examine your thoughts; don’t let them spew out of your head willy-nilly.  Thoughts have tremendous creative power and can either lift you up or tear you down.  Do whatever you have to do to make your life more peaceful so that your “one-minute meditation” isn’t the only time you achieve some serenity.  You need to set the scene for the time when you actually do sit down to meditate.  How can you make your life, home and job, more tranquil, even “romantic”?  (i.e. pleasurable and appealing).

Invite peace into your life via warm baths and long naps.  Diet from negativity.  Change is an incremental process.  Start small, and you will build momentum.  Do you hang out with grumpy, cynical people?  Or do you hang out with overly peppy types, maybe positive on the surface, but who still bug the heck out of you?  Do you do too much and run yourself ragged? Some people are afraid to be alone and to sit still, and as a result, burn themselves out with constant activity and chatter.  If you're uncomfortable being alone, why?  If you're unhappy sitting still, ask yourself why here, too. You do have the answers.  Just dig a little.  Be an investigative reporter and study yourself.  Pull out a notebook and pen if you have to.  You're a fascinating creature.  Take some time to appreciate yourself. 

People associate meditation with austerity (just ask the Buddhists) but I don’t.  I equate it with pleasure.  It’s your meditation.  You get to decide what it is.  Meditation is focused thought.  It’s an invitation to make your life more “conscious”.  Since life is your creation, endeavor to make it a masterpiece, not an afterthought. 

How do you feel about silence?  There is tremendous fullness in silence when you are at peace with yourself.  Think of the sublime peace of the forest.  Now, of course there are sounds there, but overwhelmingly, it holds an atmosphere of peace and quiet.  Nature feeds our peace and it's important to seek her out, any way you can.  It's a little trickier in cities, however, it can be done.  For urban types we have to create our own peace, a challenge to be sure given the frenetic energy we are enveloped by.  

I chose to meditate this morning on the subway and as I closed my eyes I filled and surrounded my body with light.  I then radiated light and love to everyone on my train, and afterwards had a pleasant conversation with a man standing near me.  Even though I was running late, I experienced genuinely pleasant energy on this ride because I produced it.  Meditation is an act of creation.  And I arrived at my tap class right on time.  

I'm challenged by the constant concrete of my environs since I love nature, which most assuredly feeds my soul and wellbeing.  So where in the city can you find serenity?  Museums, parks, tea salons, book stores or boutiques (depending on the vibe).  Just today I left Times Square and walked through four mini parks in midtown Manhattan with waterfalls, and I basked in that soothing sound and energy for several minutes. (Falling water produces negative ions which make us feel positive.  This includes the shower.) I take bike rides around the perimeter of Manhattan where I'm exposed to wind, water, and get to see the sky, not a common sight in a city crammed with skyscrapers.  Frankly, Central Park has become too packed with people these days, however I still have a spot or two which remain sacred and silent.  Churches and chapels are also very calming to me.  For one, they're quiet, and two, many are quite beautiful.  

Candles, incense, mood lighting, tea and soothing music create peace in my home.  I don't have TV, and rarely keep my cell phone on. This sets the scene for when I meditate. It also sets the scene for my life.  Ultimately, they can become interchangeable.  Your life can become a "moving" meditation.  This simply means you are living with consciousness, intentionality, and sometimes grace, which is the outward manifestation of peace.  

I’m not suggesting you simply flush anger, sadness, grief, irritation, etc. down the toilet.  Those unhappy feelings are not bad in and of themselves; they are simply indicators that something is not right in your life. It’s your job to figure out what’s “off” and do something about it (to the best of your ability).  

Take stock of every aspect of your life.  What do you feed your head?  Nerve wracking “news”, gossip, and extraneous information?    Feed your head nutritious thoughts.  Kill the junk food. 

If you happen to be fixated on what’s wrong with the world (I told you not to listen to the news!) you’re definitely on a wild goose chase.  Give that one right up (unless you’ve got tangible ideas and are acting on them).  How many people spend time being angry about things they can’t change, and, better yet, don't even bother to try to?  These people just grouse and get ulcers, and frankly, pollute the planet with even more negativity.  Get right with yourself.  Establish peace within, and you will help to create peace without.  

This is about getting your own house in order.  And if you accede my point that angry, disgruntled people only add to the world's problems, can you see that the converse is also true? Happy people contribute to the peace on the planet, by virtue of simply Being.  Your vibration, your happiness quotient, your ever growing Spiritual Light truly heals this world.  I'm not discouraging you if you're politically inclined, taking action is key in this life, but be mindful of the attitude you hold when you work toward your goals.  "Fighting" for peace is an oxymoron. See if you can "keep the peace" even as you seek to grow it. Get Zen and contemplate "movement in silence" and "silence in movement". It's that Yin Yang thing.   

Don't worry about always maintaining your Zen calm. Don't worry about being happy all the time.  Our moods ebb and flow.  Our thoughts change, like clouds moving across the sky, and our feelings reflect our thoughts.  You never want to be rigid or static, and if you think of a body of water, sometimes wild, sometimes still, you'll understand that you are allowed those very same ebbs and flows. It's not about freezing the moment.  Go with the flow, but do take responsibility for your behavior.  As you get better at creating peace and happiness within, you'll be less rattled when you experience life's vicissitudes.  You're building a "happiness muscle" with your inner work and you will eventually sail more easily even over rough seas. 

Do you have enough time alone?  I spend a lot of time alone, and it suits me fine.  There is often soothing music in the background when I'm home (music is a vibration as surely as peace is).  I like being with people, too, but it’s important to enjoy your own company.  The more comfortable you become with peace and quiet, the more you will feel the fullness of that silence.  There’s a lot there when you sink into it.  But you need comfortable thoughts floating inside your head to feel relaxed.  Thoughts create feelings.  "I am calm." is a nice thought.  So is "everything is okay." Make up some thoughts right now that feel good to you.  These are mantras.  Use them.  

Imagine being in a beautiful forest (I love the forest. When you create your own scenario, you can go where you want.)  I once instructed a mother and her young son that I was leading in meditation to pick a beautiful, natural setting and the five year-old felt compelled to blurt out where he went.  Home Depot. That’s his idea of heaven.

Anyway, you’re in the forest and you have not a care in the world.  Breathe in the moist, clean air.  Know that it is soothing your lungs and revivifying your body. The sound of water streaming from a distant waterfall and babbling brook serve to further relax and rejuvenate you. The sky is blue, the sun is streaming through the green leaves, and you’re blanketed in the serenity and magic of nature.  Soft moss cushions your bare feet. You are at peace.  You are free.  There’s nowhere to go, nothing to do.  Just revel in that feeling now.  Take a deep breath.  Smile.  Stretch.

You just meditated.

You focused your mind on a particular topic, and that’s all meditation is. 

Some people stare at a candle flame, or focus on their inhalation and exhalation. Others repeat a mantra endlessly (that’s my idea of losing your mind, but whatever works for you). Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz) had a good mantra, and she only had to say it a few times: "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." The visual focus (eyes open), the mental focus, either on your breath or on a mantra, are simply tools to help you rein in those wild thoughts.  Another approach is to still the body and allow the mind to follow. Once you get the hang of it, you may not need the candle, the mantra, or the body to be in perfect stillness (you’ll want to keep the breathing part). Indeed, these things can become crutches.  We need to keep moving to continue growing.  Even in stillness.  We want active energy, not stagnation nor rigid, rote habit.  Even the peaceful candle flame flickers.  

I live the majority of my life in peace.  That means that my days have become a moving meditation on “Valerie”.  Because I am focused and calm (most of the time) I can enjoy “moving meditation” even while preparing breakfast or cleaning the kitty litter.  Coloring books are also a great way to focus and “lose yourself”.  Creativity aligns you with the "child's mind" where time and space do not exist.  Imagination, play, and desire expand into infinity, creating a mystical trance of sorts.  

Synchronicities start happening when you spend time in this state of mind.  Doors start opening for you where before they were shut.  When you move through life with consciousness, gratitude and grace, not bumbling around as so many people do, you are in the process of becoming more peaceful, contemplative, and meditative.  These qualities are conducive to a happy, relaxed and healthy life. That's the purpose of meditation anyway, to make you calmer, happier, and ultimately, more productive and peaceful as you waste less energy being frazzled.  

And don't think for a minute that I don't "let it rip" with loud music, wine, coffee, chocolate, laughter, raucousness and dance.  Flip sides of the same coin.  What good is calm if you don't also have celebration?  Remember, we're not looking to get a lobotomy here.  We're looking to have a good, happy, healthy, joyful, loving, creative and fulfilling life.  Right? The same Spirit that created babbling brooks also created thundering earthquakes.  We are fire and rain, peace and paradise. 

Focus on what makes you happy.  Eschew that which does not support your peace and wellbeing.  It can be done.  You may not be an island, but you can be selective.

Once in a while, try sitting down, taking some deep breaths, smiling, and see what happens when you close your eyes.  Let yourself daydream, even with your eyes open. There are no rules here.  Empower yourself with that thought. 

Think of pleasant things.  You may be surprised at how much time passes when you are having quiet fun, with or without engaging coloring books, contemplative cooking, or meditative quilting circles.  Time and space disappear. Get lost in the activity, in active, conscious, focused thought. This is meditation.  See where it takes you.  For while you may initially hold the reins, you may be surprised by Who and What takes over.  It can become a magic carpet ride.  Let your mind be blown.  

©2015 Valerie Gilbert All Rights Reserved

Valerie is the author of RAVING VIOLET, MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion, and SWAMI SOUP. The books are available in print, e-book, and audio book, narrated by the author. 

Valerie leads Psychic Development/Guided Meditation/Healing/Past Life Regression Workshops at Namaste Healing Center, and privately, in New York City.  

For more information on Valerie's full lineup: http://valeriegilbert.weebly.com