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Meditation, or how it changed my life

Meditation, or how it changed my life

Nowadays everyone is talking about meditation – all the more so given the current pandemic, where mental health is on everyone’s agenda more than before.

I came across the concept of meditation some years ago – at the time, I was thinking: “Yeah, sure, yet another buzzword, just like kale or whatever” – I didn’t think it could work in my case, to be honest I thought it was just a waste of time.

Also, I really didn’t believe either that I could just “stop” my stream of thoughts – and that the battle was lost even before it was started. I tried at some point to meditate, but I was not able to be present in the moment – I just had too much going on in my mind at the time. I even tried looking at a candle’s light (that is supposed to help, to have a fixed point to look at), maybe it worked for some seconds or so, but not for too long a time.

So I just tossed the whole “meditation” thing aside and moved on with my life.

Then, at one of my previous workplaces, there was this workshop on meditation – and I decided to give it another try.

I must admit I found it more interesting and approachable – the trainer helped, in that she told us about the “myths” related to meditation, in that you cannot “stop” your thoughts – and you should not even try. That was good, I thought, at least it’s something I could work with and helped to reduce some of the pressure.

Then, I also liked about that particular session that we focused on our breathing, and all the bodily sensations – how our body felt against the chair, our soles on the ground, the temperature in the room, the outside noises, how not to pay too much attention to any distractions or sensations, like itching – it was like a “heightening of senses” experience. Which, again, I very much enjoyed.

Then some time passed and I completely forgot about meditation – I liked that first session, but did not actively seek it afterwards.

People were talking about the apps they were using and that some other more “mundane” activities could also be considered some sort of meditation experience – for instance, cleaning, as a means of focusing on house chores, which can help with acquiring a sense of control and is anxiety reducing. I can say that indeed, for me this works as well, when I wash the dishes.

And forward to the more “present” moment – really appreciate the wordplay here! – I think what also counted a lot in my personal journey with meditation were two things:

Firstly, reconnecting with nature, spending more time outdoors, hiking, just listening to the birds, the tree leaves, walking in the forest – when you truly connect with nature, it’s a truly awesome experience! It’s almost like a revelation! You suddenly feel connected to the universe, to something greater than you, to infinite energy – and that can be summed up as life, or happiness, I believe. I spoke with some other friends as well and they all confirmed that indeed, spending time in nature, observing, is such an awesome meditation experience for them! I cannot agree more! And plus, it helps so much with clearing your head – especially during walks – or “forcing” you to be present – as when hiking.

Secondly, I read almost all of Eckhart Tolle’s books – and they are all about learning to be present – and that is the only moment that matters, and the only way to achieve peace and true inner happiness. It’s quite easy reading, easy to follow, but nevertheless, highly spiritual and wise.

So finally, I decided to try meditation when it was offered as a benefit at the company I am currently working at – 3 months trial. An acquaintance actually joked about this, something like “Why do you need 3 months trial ? Is your job that difficult?”. Funny indeed.

Meditopia is the app – and I must say I am crazy about it! I recommended it to everyone, really – friends, family, colleagues!

I was reading previously on some blogs that I am following about some people using meditation apps and about the sleep stories – and I was curious about trying that.

So I started using the app in February and by now, I am meditating daily! I started indeed with the sleep stories – and there are a lot of stories, told so beautifully, it’s almost magical! It really introduces you into a calming, magical, spiritual atmosphere. And there are also sleep stories for children, which I believe it’s truly interesting, as it introduces them to the meditation practice, and also enhances their imagination – and plus, children love stories, in whatever form they may come!

Then I tried nature sounds – oceans and birds chirping, fireplace sounds, the universe, the moon, the earth, rain and thunder. My favourites so far are universe sounds and rain – rain particularly has such a calming effect on me!

And then I moved on to the actual meditation practice – I started small, with 2-3 minutes meditation, then extended to 10, 15, 20 and 20+ minutes.

There are a lot of forms of meditation – less guided meditation, where you can experiment more with how you approach meditation; meditation focused on different themes (compassion, focus, gratitude, anxiety, self confidence, self love, acceptance, etc); short meditation practices, such as for 2-3 minutes or small breaks; sleep meditation practices and techniques; meditation based on your current mood and feelings.

Some common points in the meditation practice: focus on breathing and different breathing techniques (these also help anchoring you in the present); body scan to identify any tension in your body or just to examine how you feel at that moment; reflecting on your emotions – current and also past; and in some meditation practices you may also use visualisation as a technique for enhancing the experience.

It’s better to start small and not put too much pressure on yourself just from the start – take it easy and in time, it will all fall into place. But don’t practise it too sporadically either. Meditation is for the mind just as sport is for your body – you need to practise it daily, to exercise your muscles and see continuous effects. And speaking of sport, I can say meditation also helps with your fitness motivation, in that you are more likely to be getting active. So that is yet another benefit of it.

What I also like is the “inspiration” section, where you can find daily doses of inspiration – which provides more insights into feelings and also suggests different approaches to understanding and managing them, or just, make you consider a different way of thinking. Good food for thought, so to speak.

Other nice features: you can save meditation programs and music in a sort of personal library, for watching later; what contributes to a sense of belonging and inclusion is that you can know, at any given time, how many other different people are meditating with you – for example, 14179 people are meditating right now.

The profile part is also interesting, as there is where all of your personal progress is tracked – you have the mindful meter, which increases each day you meditate; session count; number of mindful minutes; badges, for when you meditate for multiple consecutive days, or for being a note taker or music listener (yes, you can also take notes after each meditation, and also share your experience on social media); you can also see your history (in multiple views – per week, month, year, etc), your journey (a more detailed view of your meditations).

We have talked a lot about the app and its features – but now, let’s consider the benefits of meditation.

Personally, since I started meditating, I can now say it has a tremendous effect on your mind and overall mood and energy.

I feel much calmer and peaceful, happier, less critical (of myself and others), less judgemental, more compassionate (of myself and others), much more focused, more motivated (even when it comes to approaching less pleasant tasks), more self confident, more patient, I sleep better and fall asleep much faster (and wake up feeling much more refreshed and energetic). And I feel much more connected to my feelings and emotions, and to nature and the universe.

For me, meditation is now part of my life, not just a buzzword – I incorporated it into my life and I cannot wait every day to find a moment to meditate, even (or especially) during busy days. I’ve been meditating for more than a month now every day and so it has become a habit.

Why did I say I wish I practised it earlier in my life ?

Because it’s amazing how fast you can experience its effects and benefits and how it contributes to a more balanced life and overall mood. In the past, I used to have a more negative mindset, focus only on the problems and not the solutions, I used to be more impatient when it came to wanting something, much more anxious and had negative thought patters. I had trouble with my sleep and my mind wouldn’t ever stop running. If I knew the effect of meditation, I would have started practising it earlier to cope with these personal limitations and understand (and accept) myself and my emotions much more easily.

But I am glad I discovered and embraced it anyway – better late than never. Now I am sure I will never give up on it.

 

 

 

 

 

Cand e liniste si pur și simplu perfect

Cand e liniste si pur și simplu perfect

Știți sentimentul acela de împăcare și liniște profunda ?

In care nu ai nici o grija, pur și simplu ești atât de împăcat, atât de prezent și simți ca totul s-a așezat cum se putea mai bine ?

Azi l-am simțit din plin – și doamne, cât mi-a plăcut. Best feeling. Again and again.

Bonus: un apus sfâșietor de superb și noul album Kings of Leon pe fundal.

In cautarea nedefinitului

In cautarea nedefinitului

Cineva mi-a spus odata ca ma pricep la scris.

Asa ca m-am decis sa scriu.

Sa continui sa scriu.

Sa las cuvintele sa se reverse din mine.

Ok, so.

Demult voiam sa scriu despre un subiect controversat, inca, poate, considerat tabu. Sau trecut sub tacere, Sau in orice caz, nu mentionat cand faci smalltalk. Sau nu cu oricine.

Dar am sa imi asum riscul, pornind de la premisa ca in anumite cercuri, acest lucru este firesc si benefic, nu tabu. Si mai ales, extrem de relevant in contextul actual.

Asadar, voiam sa scriu despre terapie si perspectiva mea asupra ei, modul in care o percep eu.

Terapia chiar te scoate din zona de confort!

Da, afli chestii noi despre tine (si ceilalti), dar uneori tot acest proces este atat de greu.

Ma lovesc de niste intrebari uncomfortable de-a dreptul.

Si nici macar nu ma astept la asta!

Pentru ca, de cele mai multe ori, nu sunt pregatita pentru asta. Nu ma astept la asta.

Ma trezesc aruncata direct in valtoare! Fara colac, fara nimic.

Tocmai de aceea, uneori, tot procesul asta terapeutic e atat de greu. Emotional. Obositor. Epuizant.

Oare, merita ?

Da, merita.

Pentru ca nu exista scurtaturi cand vine vorba de tine. Si de ceilalti.

Trebuie sa treci prin foc si sabie.

Trebuie sa treci prin infern.

Trebuie sa treci prin padurea deasa si intunecata, fara lanterna, fara sabie, doar cu mainile goale.

Fara busola, fara ghid, fara ajutoare.

And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s difficult as fuck.

Dar iti dai seama ca merita cu prisosinta si ca nu exista alta cale.

Trebuie doar sa mergi inainte cu credinta, sa perseverezi si sa speri ca vei ajunge la lumina.

Si la tine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoliosis does not define anyone

Scoliosis does not define anyone

If you look at the statistics and infographics, Romania is among the first countries in Europe with a high rate of scoliosis in children and teenagers.

And yet, there is currently no dedicated NGO for this in our country. The only good initiative I saw while doing some research was a camp dedicated to children suffering from scoliosis, organized by Ortoprofil.

Nothing else apart from this – no initiatives to educate people, no legislation for school screening programs to be implemented.

Not even one single NGO. Or project to raise awareness.

For a condition as serious as this, bearing severe implications, I personally find that nothing much has been done, which is rather concerning, to say the very least.

Let’s see some facts and figures:

  • 80% of children and teenagers suffering from scoliosis are girls.
  • 5% of the children in Romania are suffering from this condition (2-3% global population)
  • 11% – white people are suffering from this
  • Some claim it can be genetic, while others claim it’s not – it’s quite controversial, as is the fact that its cause is unknown. There are also some opinions it might be influenced by a hormone  called leptin (which could explain the higher rates in females?), or theories of congenital or intrauterine conditions. It’s really hard to say, I guess.
  • Other factors which contribute to it: a period of sudden growth (especially at puberty; the thoracolumbar type has an even earlier onset); inadequate footwear; a deficit in vitamin D; heavy backpack; incorrect position at desk.

I created two Facebook pages, one for a national approach, the other global, with a hope to help raise awareness and build a community.

Traiesc cu Scolioza: https://www.facebook.com/traiesccuscolioza

Living with scoliosis:https://www.facebook.com/Living-with-scoliosis-100686725095102

 

Noi suntem aici sa construim o casa

Noi suntem aici sa construim o casa

Desigur, si in acceptia materiala – insa nu despre asta vreau sa vorbesc azi.

Suntem aici sa construim casa noastra, cea formata din valorile, codul nostru moral si de etica, principiile si perspectiva noastra de viata.

Casa noastra de suflet.

Cea pe care poate evitam sa o cercetam pana in adancuri, din anumite temeri – dar cea care, in esenta, ne dezvaluie adevaratul nostru eu.

Mereu am fost de parere ca daca alegi cu inima si in acord cu cine esti tu, nu o sa ai de pierdut. Desigur, viata nu e doar un sir lung de succese, mai avem parte si de pierderi sau lectii dureroase, insa in cele din urma, aceasta abordare s-a dovedit mereu in favoarea mea.

E vorba sa iti asculti instinctul – si cu timpul, inveti sa il asculti mai mult, mai bine. Sa nu il mai ignori, crezand ca incearca sa te pacaleasca. Instinctul, acea voce sau feeling care uneori ne cicaleste, de fapt are cele mai bune intentii pentru noi. Noi gresim cand il trimitem la plimbare – si ne convingem ulterior, spunand “ce bine era daca imi ascultam instinctul…”.

Nu spun sa ignoram ratiunea sau considerentele practice – sunt in favoarea lor oricand – doar, uneori, sa stam noi cu noi, in tihna, si sa ascultam cu adevarat ce vine din miezul fiintei noastre. O sa gasim cele mai mari comori…

Sa iubim, sa radem, sa iertam. Sa nu ne mai lasam dominati de ego.

Sa ne jucam, sa fim buni, plini de compasiune…sa traim in prezent.

Oamenii pe care ii admir cel mai mult si care ma inspira sunt cei care nu s-au lasat doborati de nimic, nici de greutati, nici de resentimente, nici de incertitudini…cei care s-au ridicat inca o data si inca o data…si inca o data…

Si cred ca noi toti, desi suntem atat de diferiti, suntem totusi atat de asemanatori…

E suficient sa privesti noaptea cerul plin de stele.

Si atunci vei simti pacea.

Prezentul.

Vocea ta.

Universul si sacrul din tine.

 

 

 

Why I am a feminist (and not, at the same time)

Why I am a feminist (and not, at the same time)

Was reading the other day a book on modern feminism and it just occurred to me that my father was a feminist in essence.

I always felt it, I just did not realize it at the moment.

Why so ?

Because he always used to tell me that I should aim to be an independent woman, to fight for what I want, to make it happen.

He was a firm believer that if you set your mind to it, you can achieve it – no matter how hard it might seem. Nothing is impossible.

And that a woman should strive to ensure her independence, so as not to depend on a man.

In this sense, he was a true inspiration to me – and a feminist in the good sense, not exaggerating things.

How unusual, some might argue, for a man to be a feminist.

Because nowadays I see that on this topic, some express some rather distorted views.

To me, feminism should be more about accepting (and embracing) the differences between men and women, trying to work better together, to achieve things. And women should embrace their feminine side.

Of course, they should also be assertive and realize their strength, abilities and qualities – and express them, but not aggressively. Aggression leads nowhere.

I feel however reassured that we are going in the right direction and making progress, seeing all the initiates and amazing work women have done so far.

So I am optimistic about the next thing to come – we are slowly shifting the patriarchal paradigm.