Five Minutes of Bliss: Thanksgiving Edition - Give Gratitude and Gain Peace of Mind

Here's something you may not be aware of.  Gratitude expressed to others is something that is an important gift to yourself.  Put another way, giving thanks makes the heart of the giver feel happy and at ease.  Harnessing the power of this engine of good feeling is not difficult.  In just 5 minutes per day you can put the energy of gratefulness to work for you.

Source: Pitterle Postings 

How do you feel when you are grateful?  Happy, appreciative, satisfied, relaxed, excited?  Pretty good huh?  Sometimes you may also feel sad that you don't deserve something or overwhelmed by your good fortune.  Still, those are the kinds of "problems" a lot of us would like to be working on.  They are usually accompanied by a wistful sort of happiness.  An acceptance of our great luck.   A tempered joy.

There is imperical evidence that even just thinking about what you are glad to have in your life will make you happier and more comfortable. Developing this attitude of gratitude with proven techniques is not hard nor time consuming.  What follows is a clinically tested practice, that, if done regularly, leads to increased satisfaction with life.

  Here's how:

Spend 5 minutes each day thinking of  3 things that transpired in the last 24 hours for which you are grateful.  If you can identify a person to thank, send them a text, call and leave a nice message, make a note to thank them next time you see them or express your gratitude in some other way.  Expressing your gratefulness makes the feeling more concrete.  Completing the circuit in this way turbo-charges the positive energy.

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens Ecard

Doing this regularly will develop the pathways in your brain that go to the place of recognizing your good fortune, your connections to others and your general happiness.  It might start on Thanksgiving Day but if you keep it up throughout the year, next Thanksgiving you will be thankful for a generally improved attitude and deeper connections to the people who support your growth and happiness.

When you do this and have some positive experiences to share or any questions, I'd love to hear about it.

Thank you to the people who have sent me nice comments throughout the years on my email writings and then these blogs.  The positive feedback has made this work very gratifying, fun to do and encouraged me to continue.  Thanks to everyone who has become a follower.  This public display of support is a clear indication that these writings are reaching people and important in somebodies life.  Finally, thanks to everyone who has given me their attention here in the last few years.  I'm glad you've taken the time to check out what I'm offering.  Every visit makes creating this blog more worthwhile for me.

Source:  Ray Greenberg

Five Minutes of Bliss: The Soothing Gesture: facing the taboo on self touch

One of the simplest ways to find contentment and sooth yourself if your feathers are ruffled is to touch yourself in a way that feels reassuring and healing.  Each of us may have a different way to do this.  It is a simple path to self connection, portable and extremely comforting.  Inhibitions and cultural norms may have kept us from exploring such personal intimate contact, but we are adults now and get to choose for ourselves what to embrace and what to reject.

I suggest you take some time to explore the possibilities.  In a quiet moment try out some ways of being in physical contact with your self.  Clasp your fingers and let your hands rest in your lap.  See how it feels.  Interlace your fingers.  How is that different? Let one hand hold the wrist of the other hand.  Hold both wrists at once.  Hold your forearms.  Hold your elbows.  Gently hug yourself.  Let your hand or hands rest on different parts of the body.  Try the heart center, your thighs, belly, whatever you fell drawn to.  The only right way is your way.

Fingers Interlaced

soothing gesture holding wrist

clasping forearms comfort of touch

For some reason, when I tried this some years ago, I immediately loved the solidity of holding my forearms and letting them rest on my stomach.  It felt instantly grounding and warm.  Experimenting with it over time I have found this gesture and variations on it comforting over and over again.  It is a special secret way for me to settle down when I'm feeling agitated.  I'm glad I have it.

I used to do this at night in bed when I would be awakened by an unsettling dream.  Lately, I like a lighter touch.  Lying on my side I let my arms rest on each other in front of my body.  This is also soothing for me.

At different times I have been drawn to putting my hand on my cheek or face or head or neck.  When lying on my back I like to cross my ankles so I have a top leg laying across a bottom leg for maximum warm contact.  There are as many ways to do this as there are ways to touch myself, I suppose, but I still have a special fondness for the forearm clasp.  A nice thing about that position, is that it can be done for three or four breaths whenever I have my hands free, giving myself a little self soothing vacation.

I have been hobbled in my personal development by some nasty ideas about authenticity and the value of things.  Somehow in my cultural development, I came to think that activities which are soothing but do not get at the root of a problem are a waste of time.   Now I think this is way off base.  Self soothing is really important.  It can keep you feeling safe while you do the hard work of finding the causes of things, making it less scary to do that kind of work.  If you know you have ways of centering and feeling whole, taking risks is easier to do.  Since all growth comes with some degree of risk, having tools to manage the sense of danger creates a critical layer of safety as a base for exploration.  Besides, taking good care of yourself by making yourself feel good is a nice thing to do.

Another side benefit of getting comfortable with self touch as a means to self soothing is that it has helped me to use soothing touch with friends and loved ones.  Not that I'm suddenly all touchy-feely.  I'm not.  I have lots of boundaries around personal space, but when I think touch is called for I'm more confident sharing it.  Since I have spent time enjoying my own gentle touch, I recognize it as something valuable I can share with others.

Letting yourself relax and ground through small physical gestures can be a great gift to your peace, equanimity and joy in life.  Giving yourself this benefit is a little piece of self care you can administer at any time.  I hope it is as good for you, as it has been for me.

When you do this and have some positive experiences to share or any questions, I'd love to hear about it.

ray greenberg smiles
    New self portrait.

Five Minutes of Bliss: Learn to think different through Self Hypnosis

You want to hear something funny?  I've got a growing list of 78 techniques for relaxing and making life more worth living and when I went to write this week's blog I found I didn't want to write about any of them.  I had picked one out last week and started to write it up.  It was something that has been a real boon for my life, something I love, value and want to share about, self empathy.  It is a great and important practice for healing old wounds and opening up to whatever is percolating inside you.  I really do want to write about it, but it is not what was up for me this week and I even more want to talk about something alive in my heart and in my life.  So this week I was involved in self hypnosis.  In fact I've been experiencing the benefits of self hypnosis for a few weeks now and I can hardly wait to tell you about it.

About a month ago I took the book The Healing Code out of the library.  My overall impression of it is that it is a terrible piece of trash.  The authors seem to love hauling out all kinds of new age, half truth, mumbo jumbo to explain why their process works.  And the claims of how it works are big, big ones about curing things like cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and Parkinson's disease.  If it was all that and a bag of chips as they seem to believe, you would think there would be healers all over the internet pointing to this practice.  Look around.  You won't find them.  There seems to be a number of "affiliate healers" trying to cash in on the popularity of the Healing Code, but very few unpaid testimonials sprouting up organically.  Now, here's the real paradox.  If you ignore all the sneaky ways the book's authors lure you to their website and try to sell you more and more Healing Code stuff and you skip over the pages upon pages of unsupported testimonials they put in their book and all the malarky about the unique power of their practice, they actually have developed a cool system of self hypnosis that I'm guessing really improves peoples lives.  I've enjoyed it and I think you will too!  How is that for an endorsement?

the healing code book reviewed

If you are like me, you are thinking self hypnosis sounds way uncool and inauthentic.  Maybe.  But 30 to 40 percent of the benefits of many medications are due to placebo effect.  Why not harness the potential of personal belief to make your life better?  It is free, powerful and beneficial.  And if the things you focus on improving come from deep stirrings inside of you, what could be bad?

Here is a nutshell version of the process of the healing code.  Spend a little time thinking of your problems, physical, mental, occupational, emotional, whatever.  Pick the one you most want to do something about.  Pray to the infinite or whoever you pray to that all the bad associations, adverse ideas and corrupt physical manifestations of and about this problem will be cleansed and healed by light and love.  And pray for the maximum effectiveness of this prayer.

Once you have set this intention choose an affirmation that relates to it and repeat it to yourself for anywhere from five to thirty minutes while sending healing energy back at yourself by pointing your fingers at various parts of your head and neck.  That is it.  In two paragraphs in this blog you've got the essence of their 300 page book and multi-million dollar industry.  God Bless America.

The book further suggests you practice three times a day, more if possible.  Part of the process is to sit with the problem for a few minutes and find your earliest memory of the feeling it conjures in you.  This felt sense may be caused by something very different from your current circumstances in that early memory.  In my case I was feeling scared, anxious and insecure about a business problem and when I stayed with the feelings I traced them back to some really old stuff about being rushed to grow up by my Mom.  I couldn't do anything fast enough or right enough for her.  Whether it was potty training, walking, talking, writing or whatever I was always a day late and a dollar short in her eyes.  She was terribly impatient with me and I internalized this in many ways.  I find it hard to take pleasure in my accomplishments, always focusing on the next challenge rather than savoring what I've done.  I'm quick to find my own flaws and to put myself down and I take it very personally when things go wrong.  I have often felt unloved and unlovable and have spent a lot of time trying to earn positive attention, crestfallen, when I don't receive it.  Whoa!  This business problem lead me to some very deep and painful introspection.

And at the core of my feelings about being pushed and belittled for years and years was an anger too hot to express that has been keeping me from coming into love.  My expectations of mistreatment and lack of ability to understand or forgive have kept me in a defensive posture also containing bottled up hatred.  Ick.  I've made a lot of progress with my stuff over many years of practice and attention but this central issue seemed immovable.  The healing code process gave me the insight to be able to connect these old feelings with my current problems and then a tool to replace the old hurt with new understanding.

I selected an affirmation about forgiveness, knowing that those who abuse me were themselves abused and that I would choose not to perpetuate the cycle of violence with hatred but rather start a new virtuous cycle with forgiveness and love.  I did this for a few days but did not really feel the forgiveness so I switched to a self soothing affirmation about being valuable and lovable.  I was able to shower my little boy self with patience and understanding in the same situations where I had been rushed and taunted.  This was very strengthening for me.

And then on Yom Kippur, a day set aside for fasting and reflection I was doing a very meditative Continuum Body Movement practice, when suddenly I felt like I was my impatient mother.  I embodied her frustration at having a late in life child she wasn't expecting.  I felt her annoyance at being stuck back in the house raising an infant, just when she was getting ready to spread her wings and enter the greater world.  I came into her resentment and I understood.  Wow.  In that moment I felt compassion for her and peace around our dynamic.

Happy Mother and Child Photo
    Source: Danielle & Lilliyan Flickr by Robert Whitehead

Since that time I haven't always been able to come into a place of forgiveness, when I think about those difficult situations.  Old habits of mind die hard.   But now, when I repeat the forgiveness affirmation, I connect with it on a deep level that was not accessible to me only a few short months ago.  And I don't think I ever would have been able to come into that loving place without conditioning my mind with the focus of my desire to be healed.  More and more I feel love and compassion for my mother in situations that in the past drew my impatience and fearful ire.  As to the business problem that started me on this path my sense is that getting unblocked on this old piece is helping me with my current situation.  The miracle cure may be set in motion but only time will tell that story.

To wrap this up I have two practices to share.  One is a simple self hypnosis technique that I have found very effective and the other is a reiteration of a modified healing code type of routine.

Here's how:
     An effective way to modify behavior and overcome obstacles is to repeat an affirmation and visualize yourself manifesting your new behavior for five minutes or so as you are drifting off to sleep.  I used this technique to overcome my shyness and fear around speaking to girls I was interested in knowing better.  Two rules here.  One is to frame the affirmation into a positive statement as if your new behavior has already manifested.  Not,  "I wish I could talk to women that interest me and not be scared of them" but "I am well received when I talk to women who attract me and I approach them with confidence."    The other rule is to not dwell in the place of the behavior you want to change.  Imagine only the new behavior you are now developing.  Sportsmen and women can improve their games just by thinking about manifesting perfect performances.  So can we.  I recommend you repeat your affirmation for a few minutes and then try to conjure a situation where you are manifesting the new behavior for a few minutes while you drift off to sleep.  This really sets the intention deep in your mind and will make it easier to manifest when the situation arises.  An added bonus of this simple practice is that you don't have to carve out any extra time to do it.

The more elaborate healing practice involves picking a problem you want to positively effect.  Go back to your earliest memory of the felt sense of this problem, even if the circumstances are very different.  Set the intention to cure this problem in a prayer as described above.  Then repeat an affirmation designed to replace the uncomfortable feelings with a new mindset.  Do this for five minutes or more sending the affirmation to different parts of your body where you think it will be most useful, especially focusing on the space between the eyebrows and the spiritual heart.  This last part is in lieu of and very different from the finger pointing in The Healing Code.  Be resolute in your desire to heal, practice everyday, multiple times a day if possible and your desired outcomes are sure to manifest.

When you do this and have some positive experiences to share or any questions, I'd love to hear about it.