Today the benefits of mediation are being quoted more and more often. During a recent Wall Street Journal event, in a counter-point to reporting about sales, profits and growing the fourth largest tech company in the world, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff talked about the importance of gratefulness, clearing your mind and attention to breathing. Laurel Holland, author of Courageous Woman: Live Your Inner Strength, recently appeared on television talk show Virginia Today, and said that if you could do just one thing to change your life, it should be meditation. Today on WBUR-FM in Boston, Jon Kabat-Zinn (one of my all-time favorite authors and speakers) told program hosts on Here and Now that meditation has come a long way since he developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for patients at the University of Massachusetts hospital in the 1980s.
According to Kabat-Zinn, "There are very interesting things that happen when people shift from doing to being, in that you can see major changes in brain structure within eight weeks. The reason we’re into this is because of the results. The real reason that mindfulness is valuable is that it’s intrinsically valuable for its own sake – your life improves.”
Rarely a day goes by that I don't read or hear something about the benefits of meditation. My mom always told me, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true." She has been right in every instance until now. The results of regular meditation do sound too good to be true, but study after study and anecdote after anecdote confirm the life-affirming, health-enhancing results from making meditation a part of our lives.
How do you get started?
It's easy. Sit. Breathe. Really. See why it's so hard to believe? Of course there are many different ways to meditate. However, the studies keep confirming that it is simply the quiet, mind-clearing breathing that leads the way to more clarity, new levels of intuition, better sleep, lower blood pressure, less stress and increased health.
For some, it is helpful to focus on a physical item or to have a meditation ritual. That's why we have created The Infinity Angel meditation beads. You can choose from The Infinity Angel Wellness Beads or The Infinity Angel Chakra Beads. Both types of meditation beads include the story of how The Infinity Angel came about and are packaged in a gossamer bag with a sample meditation.
I have been so gratified to receive such wonderful comments from those who have given our meditation beads to loved ones. A dear friend in Massachusetts buys a dozen Infinity Angel Wellness Beads at a time so that she can have them on hand to give to loved ones dealing with illness or other life challenges. On one occasion, we sent several strings to a lovely woman in Ireland, who shared them with the women she loved. One recipient did The Infinity Angel Wellness Meditation walking the beach in Ireland every morning. Another woman asked for her Infinity Angel Wellness Beads on her deathbed, asking her sister to recite the entire meditation to her.
These stories, and others like them, have really impacted me. It's wonderful when something you create can bring such comfort to others. I am grateful every day for this opportunity and for that morning when I "discovered" The Infinity Angel on the beach here in Ogunquit, Maine.
If you or a loved one needs a little help in starting a life-changing meditation practice, we welcome you to explore our website. Sometimes it just takes a little something to hold in your hand, or something inspiring to read, in order to feel the confidence and inspiration to trust yourself to just sit and breathe.
It really is that easy. Believe. Do it over and over again and before you know it, your life really can change in subtle, and then dramatic, ways.
Our daughter, Eliza, turned 21 yesterday. We felt lucky to be with her in New York City to celebrate. I experienced that melange of mother emotions that accompanies so many of life's milestones. The need for that oh-so-delicate balance between holding tightly and letting go completely was palpable as we said good-by and watched her walk back into her own life. That very struggle was there for me on the day sixteen years ago when I put Eliza (and her older sister, Molly, five years before that) on the kindergarten school bus. The same emotion swelled like a tsunami when we dropped Molly off at college in New York City, and then watched Eliza follow in her footsteps. Tears and silence were my immediate means of communication.
In the years since, I've cried after airport drop-offs watching them go for semesters abroad to Ghana and Paris, wondering if they'd be safe and happy...and they were. I was thrilled that Molly got engaged in Italy this summer and that she's enjoyed her move to Knoxville with her fiancé, which gave way to a new job she loves. When the physical distance goes from 90 minutes to a 15-hour car ride, you know it's a milestone. And I'm already holding my breath for a day in September of next year, when our older daughter will stretch that invisible chord even further when she comes home to speak her wedding vows by the ocean I look at every day.
Each of these milestones in life holds skyrocketing emotions of joy and pride, and are often wrapped around feelings of fear and sadness deep down inside, because it's hard when life changes dramatically. It's all about letting go. Allowing children to be inspired and try new things. Giving yourself permission to sink into the feeling that you've done a good job raising human beings who are contributing to a better world, but wishing they were little again for just one minute.
There have been other life markers...my mother and father passing away. My older sister's much-too-early and unexpected leaving of this Earth. These are our most human times and they deserve recognition and celebration. It's important to celebrate even the most painful moments and help one another through them.
That's why I believe I created The Infinity Angel...or, I should say, why she found me on Ogunquit Beach more than a decade ago. She is a reminder that everything you need is already here, that everything will be alright. She is often a physical memento of, as my mom always said, "This too shall pass." Because everything does change, pass, move along. The only constant is impermanence. I get it, but I need gentle reminders. Each milestone teaches me that lesson again in a new way.
We have learned that The Infinity Angel is embraced as an appropriate marker for life's milestones, a way to share the emotion of one of these transitions when words alone can't express your feelings. When I hear the stories about who gives and receives a Touchstone or a Nugget, when I am told anecdotes about the people who hold The Infinity Angel in their hands or pockets or purses, I am grateful to be part of their emotional communication. I share each of their milestones in a very tiny way and I feel richer for it.
I have several friends who are about to deliver their children to college for the first time this week. I hear their stories and remember the emotional roller coaster so well. Whether it is The Infinity Angel or another talisman they tuck into a suitcase to be discovered later or hand to their loved one as the tears begin to fall, it's important to find a way to communicate the emotions that no words will ever express.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of some of your most poignant times.